New Saudi initiative for giant entertainment and sports city welcomed

Updated 09 April 2017
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New Saudi initiative for giant entertainment and sports city welcomed

RIYADH: An ambitious plan to build a giant 334-square kilometer sports and entertainment city near Riyadh, the first of its kind in the world, has been wholeheartedly welcomed by a cross-section of Saudi public, especially those working in the entertainment industry. The mega project announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, minister of defense, includes a Six Flags theme park inside the city.
“The proposed mega city, announced by the Deputy Crown Prince, is a major step within the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030,” said Jamal Hasan Al-Mukhalafi of the Ministry of Culture & Information, here Saturday. Al-Mukhalafi said that “the project reflects the keen desire of the Saudi government to fulfil the needs of Saudi society and to cope with the global developments in all areas.”
“No doubt, the mega city is envisioned to become a major facility to host sports tournaments besides possibly giving us the ability to bid for major regional and national sports events,” said Talal Al-Arify, a director who owns a licensed production house in the Saudi capital. He expressed hopes that the mega city will have “facility for film-making, shooting documentaries, and in-house production.”
“In fact, this initiative of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will help youngsters to work and pursue their career in the entertainment and leisure sector locally,” said Al-Arify. He said that a large number of young Saudi boys and girls, who are either working in the entertainment sector or enrolled in TV/Film academies in different countries, will eventually return back, if such facilities are created in the Kingdom.
“The establishment of the cultural and entertainment city will also help to promote understanding and brotherhood,” said Dr Ibrahim Al-Qayid, founding member of the Riyadh-based National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), here Saturday. He said that “the proximity to Riyadh makes this a great location for a sports and entertainment complex.”
“The mega city will also draw millions of visitors annually besides providing ... billions of dollars in commercial opportunities,” said Al-Qayid optimistically. This new sports and entertainment city, in fact, will have four geographical segments — an entertainment area, a car sports area, a general sports area and a housing and hospitality area.
Asked about his views on the plan to establish the giant entertainment city, Ghaffar Ahmed, a Pakistani actor, who co-starred in the famous “Ja Jawazat” song, said that “the mega entertainment complex will change the cultural landscape of the Kingdom.” “The city is definitely going to be one of the biggest development projects around,” added Ahmed, who is working on a few documentary projects at the moment.
Aside from gaming, culture and arts facilities, the project also involves developing residential units, world famous restaurants as well as international hotel brands. The city will be developed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed. The project comes to support the Saudi Vision 2030 by creating opportunities in different sectors for investments. The foundation stone of the project will be laid in 2018, while its first stage will be opened in 2022.


Saudi women at the wheel: the first 24 hours

Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena getting ready to driver her car as Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving iib Saturday midnight. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 24 June 2018
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Saudi women at the wheel: the first 24 hours

  • The General Security has already reported that it will be providing the required provisions for female drivers in Saudi Arabia.
  • Private insurance company Najm, in partnership with the General Department of Traffic, has hired 40 women and trained them to respond to road accidents involving female drivers.

JEDDAH:  Women around the Kingdom have turned the ignition in their cars for the first time on their home soil and hit the roads throughout the country. They have gone on social media to express their joy at this monumental occasion which has officially changed the course of their lives. 

Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena was among the very first women to drive in the Kingdom as soon as the clock struck midnight. 

Women in their cars enthusiastically and wholeheartedly cheered on their fellow female drivers on this memorable night. 

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated, said Almaeena.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urges all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.”

Almaeena highlighted the significance of being a defensive driver. “I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”

On how society is adapting to this major change, Almaeena said: “Tomorrow is the first day, mentally and psychologically it already had that shift. As I mentioned, it’s a paradigm shift. In perception and how they view women, their capabilities — as equal partners. 

“Mentally it’s already there, and physically we will see — as we start — more and more encouragement for both men and women. Even some of the women who weren’t feeling comfortable about driving, it’s going to be encouraging for them, in a live demonstration and evidence that women can do it.” 

As roads around Saudi Arabia have been inhabited by a new breed of drivers, how has this affected the traffic flow in Saudi Arabia?

 “As of 12 a.m., the implementation of the Supreme Court order to enable women to drive and the implementation of traffic regulations to both men and women is officially in effect," said Col. Sami Al-Shwairkh, the official spokesman for General Security in the Kingdom. "The security and traffic status on all roads and areas around the Kingdom have been reported as normal. There have not been any records from our monitoring of any unusual occurrences on the road throughout the Kingdom.” 

To commemorate this occasion, as seen in the pictures circulating on social media, traffic policemen were handing roses to female drivers early on Sunday.

The General Security has already reported that it will be providing the required provisions for female drivers in Saudi Arabia.

Private insurance company Najm, in partnership with the General Department of Traffic, has hired 40 women and trained them to respond to road accidents involving female drivers.

The General Directorate of Traffic has completed all preparations to employ women on the country’s traffic police force.