As ‘Capital of Arab Tourism’, Abha to bring investment opportunities

Abha has a diverse environment with forests and towering highlands.
Updated 02 January 2017

As ‘Capital of Arab Tourism’, Abha to bring investment opportunities

ABHA: Abha’s status as “Capital of Arab Tourism” for 2017 will bring dozens of investment opportunities, experts have said.
The Saudi city was earlier named the tourism capital for this year by the Arab Tourism Organization.
Abha has a diverse environment, with forests in the parks Soudah, Dulghan, Al-Hubala, and towering highlands in addition to the eastern plains and western coasts.
Asir Municipality seeks to keep pace with the celebration of the coronation of the city of Abha as the Capital of Arab Tourism 2017 through offering dozens of investment opportunities inside the city to help attract investors.
Director-general of investment in the region Ali Al-Haid explained that tender specifications for those opportunities include international conferences and exhibitions areas, a shopping mall, hotel, two restaurants at two distinct tourist sites in addition to a number of other opportunities.
“The project of exhibition and conference, the airport’s mall and hotel which is located on an area of 200,000 square meters will contribute to the revitalization of tourism in the region throughout the year as well as embracing many programs, events and conferences,” he said.
Al-Haid said that these opportunities include “a shopping mall on King Abdullah Road in an area of 30,000 square meters, near the King Faisal Medical City and the hostel university, in addition to 5-star hotels and villas.”
Al-Haid said that the opportunities include the operation, maintenance and investment of the Airport Park, which has been carried out at a cost of SR33.375 million in a total area of 125,000 square meters.

Middle East's love affair with the moon and space

Updated 6 min 6 sec ago

Middle East's love affair with the moon and space

  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia are inaugurating a new era of Arab space exploration
  • Saudi Prince Sultan entered the history books when he journeyed into space on Discovery in 1985

RIYADH: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before schools were due to start after summer vacation. 

Fifty years ago today, Saudis joined the world in gathering around TV sets to watch a live broadcast of what was once thought impossible: American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took man’s first steps on the moon. 

Armstrong famously said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” True to his words, advancement in space has skyrocketed since the Apollo 11 mission, opening up doors for space scientists to reach for the stars.

It was only 16 years later that Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman became the first Arab, Muslim — and royal — astronaut to travel into space. Before traveling to Houston for the Apollo mission anniversary, he sat down with Arab News in an exclusive interview to talk about his NASA mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in June 1985.

Prince Sultan, recently appointed chairman of the Saudi Space Commission, was only 13 when he watched the historic moon landing on TV. The picture quality might have been poor and the sound garbled, but footage of the landing captured his imagination.

“Humans made airplanes and made advances in industry, but for humans to leave their own planet, that’s really something else,” Prince Sultan told Arab News. 

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.”

It has been more than 30 years since space last had an Arab visitor (Syria’s Muhammed Faris became the second Arab in space on board USSR’s Soyuz spacecraft in 1987). But this September, the first Emirati will become the latest Arab visitor when he joins a team of astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS).

Hazza Al-Mansoori will travel to space on board a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft that is due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25.