Fertile market: Saudi farms ready to welcome tourists

A Saudi man inspects dates at his farm in Buraidah. (AFP)
Updated 28 April 2018
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Fertile market: Saudi farms ready to welcome tourists

  • Agritourism in the Kingdom could create a new tourist market, says SCTH official
  • More than 80 licenses for agricultural tourism have been issued throughout the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s farmers will be encouraged to open their farms to visitors under plans to diversify tourism in the Kingdom and take advantage of the worldwide popularity of agritourism.
Farm stays and rural tourism represent a growing market around the globe, and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is working with other government agencies to benefit from the opportunities it offers as part of Vision 2030 plan to reform the economy.
Majed Al-Sheddi, SCTH director general of media relations, said the commission’s partners included the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MoMRA), Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, and the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF).
Agritourism in the Kingdom could create a new tourist market, strengthen social and cultural ties between different communities and bridge the gap between urban and rural populations, Al-Sheddi said.
The Agricultural and Rural Tourism Project, Aryaf, recently met with SCTH team members to review a plan adopted by SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman.
Discussions focused on the licensing of small properties in regions and cities, the protection and licensing of farms with historic significance, such as Aryaf Unaizah and Al-Diriyah farms; and licensing of agricultural and rural tourism operators.
The Aryaf initiative aims to increase jobs and improve income for farmers through agritourism, allowing them to develop their products and tourism activities in a way that boosts local economies.
Agricultural and rural tourism workshops for entrepreneurs and farmers have been organized by the SCTH in all Saudi provinces. More than 80 licenses for agricultural tourism have been issued in Riyadh, Qassim, Al-Ahsa, Hail, Tabuk, Najran, Jeddah, Madinah and Taif.
The SCTH believes agritourism represents a fertile environment for future development and investment in the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030 as it will help both farmers and the tourists.
Agriculture and rural tourism will also strengthen coherence between city dwellers and the rural population by sharing the Kingdom’s potential and accomplishments among different regions, the SCTH said.


Tanween festival: Seeking the unusual? You’ll find it at Ithra

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), which organized the Tanween festival, is a creative feat in itself. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 15 October 2018
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Tanween festival: Seeking the unusual? You’ll find it at Ithra

  • Tanween encourages people to see something in a new way, try something they had not done before and explore their relationship to disruption

DHAHRAN: “Beyond Unconventional” is the subtitle of Ithra’s first Tanween creativity festival, and it is true to its word from what the Arab News team witnessed on its opening weekend at Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, aka Ithra, in Dhahran.

Running from Oct. 11 to 27 with talks, workshops, performances and installations, the three weeks are divided into themes: this week is “Humanities’ Response to Disruption,” in art, science and technology; the second week is “Manufacturing and Communication,” including disruptive technologies such as AI and big data; the third and final week is “Fashion Technology/Adventures in Disruption.” Curating this year’s festival is Robert Frith, the creative director of Ithra’s Idea Lab, who has worked as head of exhibitions at Christie’s and as a senior exhibition designer at the British Museum.

As it says in the program: “Tanween encourages people to see something in a new way, try something they had not done before and explore their relationship to disruption.” Many of the installations and speakers addressed the theme of disruption, including Adam Savage, who visited Saudi Arabia for the first time.

INSTALLATIONS

Heart Catherization

Abdullah Al-Othman

One doesn’t need to visit Ithra to experience Tanween. Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Othman wrapped a building in Al-Khobar entirely in tinfoil “in a symbolic gesture to its frozen state, making a statement about the absurdity of thinking that the cycle of change could ever be stopped.” We found it driving through the narrow streets near the Corniche, glinting in the sunlight, mosque-goers passing it by with barely a raised eyebrow.

Silent Fall

Studio Swine 

Founded by Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves, it presents an “interactive intallation and multi sensory experience” consisting of “delicate mist-filled blossoms that disappear on contact with skin and surfaces.” It’s like a waterfall of durable white bubbles continuously falling from above making random patterns as they slowly drift down. Likely to be one of the festival’s Instagram hits.

The Drifter

Dutch Studio Drift

A block of what looks like concrete floats slowly along “a controlled 3D path.” “The Drifter creates a performance in its space, calling on the viewer to reconsider the relationship with our living environment, which is often accepted as static and lifeless,” the creators Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta said. There was nothing static or lifeless as visitors here laughed in delight as they pretended to lift it.

 

• AN photos by Ziyad Alarfaj