Wadi Hanifa: A desert oasis running through Riyadh

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Wadi Hanifa: An oasis of relaxation and time out in Riyadh.
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Wadi Hanifa was once a waste disposal site and has been transformed into the largest natural open resort in the Kingdom.
Updated 29 June 2017
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Wadi Hanifa: A desert oasis running through Riyadh

RIYADH: Once a waste disposal site, Wadi Hanifa is now a beautiful valley running a length of nearly 120 km from the northwest to the southeast of the capital.
Known in the pre-Islamic era as Wadi Al-Irdh, it was renamed Wadi Hanifa after the Bani Hanifa tribe that populated the area.
Riyadh grew substantially and expansion destroyed the environmental balance in the scenic valley, leading to erosion.
“The once fertile and scenic Wadi Hanifa suffered as the capital city rapidly expanded,” said a local, adding that the growing city used the river valley as a throughway for utility lines and a dumping ground for construction waste. Later, industrial activities were launched in the area, turning it into a dump for waste disposal.
In 1986, the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) launched a plan to turn the dump into a nature reserve, attracting local and foreign visitors, and encouraging investments. The redevelopment plan involved creating water channels, trails, and spots for visitors to observe the spectacular views the valley has to offer.
Riyadh’s first large sewage treatment facility channeled 400,000 to 650,000 cubic meters of runoff daily, creating an area of small lakes south of Riyadh. This area grew and a 100 km green corridor was created.
According to the ADA, the decision taken in 1986 proved to be a significant milestone as it helped transform the valley into the largest natural reserve in the Kingdom. The wetlands became a stop for migratory birds and a popular area for recreation.
The valley, located on the outskirts of the capital, has water channels, green corridors, walkways and picnic spots for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty that includes orchards and farms, making it a major attraction for both Riyadh residents and visitors.
Abdullah Ahmad, who resides in the nearby Wadi Laban area, said: “Riyadh residents were in need of such a site in the city, having the opportunity to enjoy nature and a clean environment away from built-up places.”
Zakir Khan, a regular visitor to the natur reserve, said: “It’s a great place for a picnic. I go there all the time with my family for a barbecue… Surrounded by mountains and a lake, it is a beautiful and quite popular place among picnickers. The best part is, it is not even far from the city.”


Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams. (Shutterstock)
Updated 5 min 2 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

  • Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019
  • Criminal phishing attacks rising sharply, cybersecurity experts warn

RIYADH: Online phishing attacks are on the rise with experts warning of increasing numbers of cyber-raids targeting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Phishing is a type of fraud where criminals target online victims, using deception to acquire users’ credentials, ranging from passwords to credit card and bank account details, and other financially sensitive information.
Cybersecurity experts say the numbers of attacks worldwide have risen dramatically, increasing from over 2 million in the first two weeks of February last year to more than 4.3 million in the same period this year.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University (KSU), told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia, due to its strong position in political, social and economic spheres, has been a key target for cyber-intrusions by state and nonstate actors aiming to compromise its national security.
“Various types of malware and scams, especially phishing, are used to target critical information infrastructure, which serve as the backbone of the economy,” he said.
More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams, said Khan, who is also the founder and CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, a Washington-based cybersecurity think tank.
“Computer users in Saudi Arabia have been confronted with more than 30 million phishing emails in recent years,” he said.
Khan said that awareness, training and “cyber-hygiene” were important to protect users and organizations from phishing scams.
KSU has developed a pioneering cybersecurity awareness product, “Rawam,” which helps organizations train employees to deal with malicious hacking, malware, ransomware, phishing and cyberattacks.
The bilingual tool has been used to train 100,000 staff in 40 different organizations, he said.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) last month warned of the growing likelihood of cyberattacks in the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.
Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019, released ahead of the annual forum in Davos.
Cybersecurity experts from the Kaspersky Lab, a multinational digital security provider, detected a sharp increase in phishing activities on the eve of the Valentine’s Day.
The overall number of user attempts to visit fraudulent websites detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab in the first half of February exceeded 4.3 million.
“The spike offers a reminder that we should be cautious when surfing the web, even if we are just buying flowers for our loved one,” said Andrey Kostin, a senior web content analyst.