Saudi heritage workers to be trained in France

Updated 12 April 2018
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Saudi heritage workers to be trained in France

  • The first 200 recruits have already begun their basic training in hospitality in Riyadh
  • Training will start from autumn this year

The first employees hired to work at Saudi Arabia’s premier heritage site will be partly trained in France, starting from autumn this year.

The Royal Commission of Al-Ula (RCU) has signed an agreement with Campus France, described as the leading international academic and vocational public institution in France, to train young Saudis who will work at the soon-to-be-developed tourism business in the northwest of the country. The first 200 recruits — all high school graduates or university students — have already begun their basic training in hospitality in Riyadh, studying foreign languages, technology and the history of the 22,000 square kilometers that make up a vast region packed with archaeological and cultural treasures from the ancient world. 

The memorandum of understanding was signed by RCU Gov. Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan (also the owner of Arab News) and Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs, in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron. Although it is with a French educational establishment, Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the RCU, said young Saudis would also be sent to Britain and the US to further their training. 

Under the Saudi-French cooperation deal, French expertise will guide the development of tourism in Al-Ula, preservation of the ancient sites and protection of the natural environment and also nurture the local economy, such as the production and marketing of handicrafts.

Gérard Mestrallet, appointed President Macron’s special envoy for Al-Ula, said: “The signing of this agreement is the birth of a historic project that binds our two countries through an in-depth cultural dialogue.”

The RCU is also joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition on the civilizations of Al-Ula, which will open in spring 2019.


Misk forum connects global youth

High-tech passes allow participants to connect and swap contact details at the touch of a button.
Updated 6 min 14 sec ago
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Misk forum connects global youth

  • It was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most
  • More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world

Young leaders, entrepreneurs, students and inventors mingled in innovative ways at the Misk Global Forum, with name tags that sent delegates’ connections to an app at the press of a flashing button. 

But at the end of the day it was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most.

“I’m seeing people from all over the world gathered here in Riyadh, which has become the center of opportunities,” said Jomana Khoj, a 26-year-old animator from Makkah, before the forum wrapped up on Thursday. 

“Thanks, Misk, for helping us, the youth, gather here and connect with other youth from around the world.”

The forum included “Skills Garages,” workshop spaces with whiteboard tables that could be written on during group brainstorms, with sessions on “The Art of Persuasion” and “Landing Your Dream Tech Job.”

Top left: Paintings displayed in a 360-degree fashion. Bottom left: Participants had a chance to learn about every aspect of the Misk Foundation’s work. Right: Young people exploring their skills, potential and passions during workshops.

The workshop spaces served as a hub for visitors from North America, Africa, Asia and Europe, with many attendees commending the amount of innovation the forum provided. 

“I feel this year’s content is well chosen,” said Faisal Al-Sudairy, a 24-year-old participant. “We really need to prepare ourselves for the future, especially in this fast-changing era, and to know more about what skills we should acquire.”

The workshops catered to developing youths’ skills for the future economy. More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world. 

It was the third annual forum organized by the Misk Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 2011 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  

In the main hall, called the “Skills Factory,” Thursday’s opening session included a speech by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, the UAE’s minister of state for higher education and advanced skills.

“Misk Majlis,” another designated area, provided a relaxed and informal setting that focused on helping delegates build their personal brands. Traditional floor cushions and couches represented traditional Arab social gatherings. 

In the majlis, Misk Innovation held a talk to publicize its new brand and partnership with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm 500 Startups. 

The accelerator program for tech startups in the Middle East and North Africa will last 16 weeks starting from Jan. 27, 2019. Applications close on Dec. 15.

The Misk Art area introduced visitors to works by many renowned Saudi artists, such as Taha Sabban and Safia bin Zager. 

The vibrant hall displayed a large image of a sophisticated woman from Hijaz wearing the traditional Hijazi headdress and sitting on a beautiful ornamental wooden chair well known in the Saudi region. The image provided a transcendence between the past and present.

The Misk Art Institute had a unique section at the forum that was divided into two rooms. One was to showcase paintings and drawings of four pioneering Saudi artists. 

The other room had huge LED screens that gave people a 360-degree experience. The screens displayed paintings in an interactive way and synchronized with tailored music.

The halls were lined with inspirational quotes and the faces of well-known figures. It should come as no surprise that the most popular one was of Misk’s founder, with delegates taking selfies alongside the crown prince’s
smiling face.