Makkah forum takes steps to engage private sector in region’s development

The Makkah Economic Forum aims to unify the efforts of the public and private sectors under one umbrella. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 09 May 2018

Makkah forum takes steps to engage private sector in region’s development

  • The MEF aims to unify the efforts of the public and private sectors to attract the largest number of investors and businesspersons.
  • The investment cost of the sacrificial meat waste management factory is SR88 million ($23 million).

JEDDAH: The Makkah Economic Forum (MEF) has lined up a series of highly engaging activities spread across the entire year to involve the private sector as an active partner in the region’s development programs and help realize the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. 

The comprehensive activities, which begin tomorrow, May 9, will help identify the current challenges and opportunities in the market and build on the momentum created by the recent two-day MEF 2018 event in Jeddah to encourage local and international business investments in the region’s development projects.

The engagements will primarily be focused on four of the 12 Vision realization programs: National Industrial Development and Logistics, Enriching the Hajj and Umrah Experience, Public Investment Fund and Tourism, and Improving the Quality of Life. 

“The year-long activities organized as part of the Makkah Economic Forum will create dialogues to encourage and facilitate effective collaboration to make the private sector an active partner in activating the vision realization programs,” said Dr. Lama Al-Sulaiman vice chairwoman and board member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce.

Events organized as part of the year-long activities will cover some very interesting topics such as the importance of developing marketing skills to standout within today’s marketing noise and clutter, and surviving change in a rapidly evolving environment.

The Makkah Economic Forum aims to unify the efforts of the public and private sectors under one umbrella to attract the largest number of investors and businesspersons at all levels.

Investment opportunities

Eight investment opportunities in the Hajj and Umrah sector were launched by the Makkah Development Commission on Monday at the Makkah Economic Forum.

The opportunities are for a sacrificial meat waste management factory; a project to support services for people with special needs; the Miqat Qarn Al-Manazel development project; a food factory for pilgrims project; a Makkah-made products factory; a Makkah Gate development project; a downtown terminal project; and a Makkah and Madinah historical sites development project.

The investment cost of the sacrificial meat waste management factory is SR88 million ($23 million). The project aims to build a factory that can manage the huge amounts of waste resulting from sacrificial meat.

The project of support services for people with special needs will cost SR24 million and aims to provide high-quality services for the physically challenged and the elderly during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.

The Qarn Al-Manazel development project, which involves an investment of SR50 million, aims to renovate the areas near Qarn Al-Manazil Miqat, where shopping areas and washing facilities will be built.

The food factory for pilgrims project, costing SR90 million, will build and operate a food factory in the Muzdalifah area to provide high-quality food to pilgrims at affordable prices.

The Makkah-made product factory, costing SR175 million, will construct a commercial center to promote products made in Makkah and Madinah, including souvenirs, local food and other commodities.

The Makkah Gate development project, costing SR130 million, aims to build and operate the Makkah Gate as well as provide a parking area and commercial buildings for rent.

The downtown terminal project, costing SR85 million, will build and operate a downtown station accessible to all five-star hotels. It aims to reduce the pressure on local and international terminals and improve the visitor experience.

The Makkah and Madinah historical sites development project involves an investment of SR425 million to renovate four historical sites in Makkah and Madinah — Jabal Al-Noor, Jabal Thor, Jabal Al-Romat and Arwah Ibn Al-Zubair Palace.

90-year anniversary: How the Arab world came to know Tintin and Popeye

Updated 18 January 2019

90-year anniversary: How the Arab world came to know Tintin and Popeye

  • Middle Eastern fans fondly look back at two comic icons who share a birthday this year, although they’re not without controversy
  • An Egyptian publisher printed Tintin in Arabic, while Popeye was broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 and Spacetoon

Popeye, the scruffy sailor who remains one of the most loveable characters of all time, has been a popular fixture in Middle Eastern pop culture since the early 1980s. In addition to mountains of merchandise, particularly stuffed toys, being available in local shops, the cartoons were broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 (in their original English) and on Spacetoon (with Arabic dubbing). 
“I remember the first time I watched Popeye,” Zainab Basrawi, a 36-year-old insurance lawyer and self-professed Popeye enthusiast, told Arab News. “I learned to love spinach just from watching him save Olive every time. I believed him. I think he was a great influence on children to subtly ease them into eating their greens.”
Just one week after Tintin first appeared in “Le Petit Vingtieme,” Popeye made his debut on Jan. 17, 1929 as a side character in the daily King Features comic strip “Thimble Theatre.”
Created by the American cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar, the one-eyed sailor with bulging forearms quickly grew in popularity, becoming the star of his own strip, an animated TV cartoon and a 1980 movie starring
Robin Williams. The theme song from the cartoon, “I’m Popeye the Sailorman,” is one of the most recognized pieces of music in pop culture history.
Compared to boyish, clean-cut, good- natured Tintin, Popeye is his polar opposite.
The sailor is rough, gruff and extremely tough, famous for the super-strength he gets from eating canned spinach, and his never-ending love triangle with his girlfriend Olive Oyl and rival Bluto.
Like Tintin, as a relic from another era, Popeye has also been criticized for racial stereotypes. In “Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves,” he is shown beating up poorly made caricatures of Arab men. In “You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap,” the Japanese characters in the cartoon get the same treatment.
However, literary critic Sophie Cline said the comic strip is reflective of the time it was created in, almost a century ago. “I think it’s important not to ignore these pieces of our history, or hide them away, but rather to own up to our mistakes and learn from them,” she told Arab News.
She alluded to the new disclaimer that now precedes old Looney Tunes cartoons, informing viewers that their outdated “racial prejudices” no longer reflect Warner Bros. values but are “products of their time.”
“Popeye cartoons reflect the common view of the era,” she said. “A disclaimer should be enough.”

Tintin, one of the world’s most famous fictional journalists, traveled the world seeking stories and adventure, so he naturally spent a good amount of time in the Middle East.
Created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known by his pseudonym Herge (say his initials in reverse out loud in a French accent), Tintin travels the region in four of his books: “Cigars of the Pharaoh,” “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” “Land of Black Gold” and “The Red Sea Sharks.”
Tintin gained more of a foothold in the region when Egyptian publisher Dar Al-Maarif began printing the comics in Arabic in 1971. Renaming him “Tantan,” Dar Al-Maarif continued to publish the comics weekly
until 1980.
“Tintin has been one of my idols for as long as I can remember,” said Haytham Faisal, a journalist from Cairo. “I literally became a journalist because I wanted to be him. My dad used to take me to buy the comics from the local bookstore. I remember them being so expensive, so they were a rare treat. I’d always think twice before buying them, but I couldn’t always wait for the next comic to see what new story they have next. I still have some of them, they were that precious to me.”
Before appearing in book format, Tintin and his constant companion, the dog Snowy, were first introduced to audiences in “Le Petit Vingtieme,” or “The Little Twentieth,” a supplement to the Belgian newspaper “Le Vingtieme Siecle” (The Twentieth Century) on Jan. 4, 1929. Herge, however, maintained that Tintin was actually “born” on Jan. 10, when “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets” began its serialization in the paper.
Despite the fact that he never seems to hand in any stories, the loveable and quirky Tintin is portrayed as talented at his profession, so much so that he is shown to be in high demand, with many press agencies offering him bribes for his dispatches.
Over the years, Tintin’s face has been used to advertise quintessentially French items such as Citroen cars and La Vache Qui Rit cheese. Enthusiasts of Tintin lore, known as Tintinolo- gists, have written entire books devoted to him.
Since 1929, more than 250 million copies of the Tintin comic books have been sold. His adventures have been translated in more than 110 languages, and the books are sold in almost every country in the world.
Tintin continues to grow in popularity, even 90 years on. He was the star of a full-length feature film, directed by Steven Spielberg, in 2011 and of an animated television series. The latter was broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 between 1991 and 1992 and a dubbed version has been on MBC 3 since 2003.
However, the history of Tintin has not been without its hiccups. Over the years, critics have argued that, like many of the comics of the era, it should undergo censorship or even outright banning from bookstores and libraries. One of the more troublesome ones is his second adventure, “Tintin in the Congo.”
The natives Tintin visits are crude stereo- types of African people, who are portrayed as ignorant and uneducated, and the references to slavery, such as when the natives refer to Tintin as “master,” make the comics hard to stomach.
Similarly, “Land of Black Gold,” which takes place in a fictional Red Sea state named Khemed, is also banned in several Middle Eastern countries today for its stereotypical portrayal of Arabs.
While some argue the comics are simply byproducts of their era, they are nonetheless somewhat difficult to revisit in the modern era. Attempts have been made to soften some of the references, with edits being made to “Tintin in the Congo” in 1975, but is that enough?
Not according to the London-based human rights lawyer David Enright, who wrote in the Guardian newspaper that “Tintin in the Congo” shouldn’t be sold to children. “Books are precious, but so are the minds of young children. It is vital that our children learn and explore the grotesque history of slavery, racism and anti-Semitism, but in the proper context of the school curriculum.”