King Abdullah Park ‘undamaged, functioning’

Updated 11 October 2013
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King Abdullah Park ‘undamaged, functioning’

Officials in Riyadh have brushed off rumors and media reports the new King Abdullah Malaz Park has been damaged in any manner.
“There is no truth whatsoever in the tampering and vandalism reports (of the park) claimed by some social media users and local newspapers,” Abdullah Al-Muqbil, secretary of the Riyadh region, said in a statement issued yesterday.
Mohammed Suleiman, director-general of the garden and landscape architecture at the Riyadh secretariat, said the park’s main attraction, the “Dancing Fountain,” was still in operation. He said the caretakers were maintaining the park.
Reports of the alleged vandalism went viral last week that claimed there was garbage lying around, broken plastic seats, damaged flowerpots, and mud in the new fountain.
Agreeing with the officials’ statements, an expatriate who requested anonymity told Arab News the fountain was operating smoothly when he went to the park.
“I went with my family on Tuesday night and saw the breathtaking dancing fountain.” He took photographs and videos because his children loved the show, he said and showed a video to support his claim. Some Saudi netizens said they did not know whom to believe.
“There are people spreading lies and rumors on their social media accounts to cut livelihoods and threaten others for their personal interests. They have lost credibility,” user bird1234 commented.
Another user called on government officials to determine the truth and punish those telling lies.
Riyadh Gov. Prince Khalid bin Bandar opened the park with much fanfare only last week, showcasing the giant fountain and its colorful laser lighting.
Visitors earlier claimed that the fountain was not working because children had thrown mud into it. Vandals had also broken seats and flowerpots, they claimed.
Speaking with Arab News then, Mohsin Ali Khan, a Riyadh-based accountant, had said he was angry at the damage done and urged the city authorities to deploy guards at the park.
Nabeel Nasir, an IT professional in the city, said the police should arrest and punish the perpetrators. “Such punishments will deter miscreants from defacing public property,” Nasir said.
Abdullah Ahmad, who went to the park Thursday last week with his family, was disappointed to find it in such a poor state. He was not able to “enjoy the laser show and dancing musical fountain.”
The 318,000-sqm state-of-the-art park is close to Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium and was built as a venue for heritage exhibitions and recreational activities during the holidays.
It consists of a 12-meter-wide pedestrian corridor, surrounded by lush greenery and illuminated lamps mounted on poles. It opened to young people for two days and families for five days.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.