ThePlace: Saudi Arabia’s Souq Okaz

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Updated 16 October 2018
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ThePlace: Saudi Arabia’s Souq Okaz

  • The souq represents an important chapter in the history of the Arabs before Islam. It was more than a trade fair, serving as a cultural, social, economic and political gathering of Arabs
  • The souq is a unique chance to dive into a 1,000-year-old culture

Souq Okaz is a unique tourism destination in Taif, and is considered one of the most important in the Kingdom.
For 1,500 years, the festival has organized poetry contests, horse shows and textile workshops. It has become a go-to annual event for those wishing to discover Saudi Arabia’s roots.
In this mountainous town in the middle of the desert, one can discover the foundations of Saudi culture through shows, traditional clothing, handicrafts, art and textiles. The souq is a unique chance to dive into a 1,000-year-old culture.
Many tourists from around the world visit the souq, which has provided a unique historical and artistic forum gathering intellectuals and people interested in literature and culture.
Over the years, it has undergone comprehensive development due to the efforts of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal. The addition of new activities this year will boost the Saudi tourism sector.
The souq represents an important chapter in the history of the Arabs before Islam. It was more than a trade fair, serving as a cultural, social, economic and political gathering of Arabs.
This year’s edition, which will end on July 13, was opened under the patronage of King Salman, with Egypt the honorary guest.
This is the second edition since the king gave the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) the responsibility of organizing the event, in coordination with executive bodies in Makkah and Taif.
Each year, the souq hands out 12 pan-Arab awards, including for poetry, handicrafts, creativity, photography, folkloric art, theatrics and creativity, fine arts and entrepreneurship. The value of the prizes totals SR2.2 million ($586,510) annually.


World boxing champ Amir Khan eyes Kingdom for new academy

Updated 14 November 2018
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World boxing champ Amir Khan eyes Kingdom for new academy

  • The former boxing world champion said there were a lot of warriors in Saudi Arabia
  • Khan said he believes the Kingdom possesses a lot of talent

RIYADH: British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan wants to open a boxing academy in Saudi Arabia, and hopes the Kingdom will see rising stars become Olympic champions soon.

Speaking at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday, he said the only way to achieve this was by opening academies in the Kingdom.  

“I believe that there is so much talent in Saudi, but there aren’t many boxing clubs,” he said.

Speaking at the midday session of the forum in a session titled “What Defines Me,” Khan said he believed there was a reason Saudis are good boxers: “Maybe it is in their blood – they are warriors.”

The former world champion and Olympic medalist, arrived on stage at the event wearing traditional Saudi clothes, both the thobe and shomakh, and was interviewed by Lubna Al-Omair, the first Saudi female Olympic fencer.

Khan has a charitable foundation in his name that is dedicated to empowering disadvantaged young people globally.

“All around the world I build boxing academies, (including in) England, Pakistan,” he said. “It is a way to give back and help the less fortunate. We travel all around the world to help the poor, the youth ... in the future they will do the same.”

Khan credited his father for placing him in a boxing club. “When I was young, I was hyperactive, always misbehaving, and my father took me to the boxing club. Boxing gave me discipline.”  

And he credited fans for his motivation, explaining: “At 17 I became a household name and couldn’t walk the streets without people stopping me for a picture. People are looking up to me and wanting me to succeed, and that was my motivation.”

Khan said boxing helps develop self-discipline and emotional intelligence. “Boxing teaches you to be disciplined,” he said.

“What boxing teaches you is not to fight outside. If a fight is taking place, I walk away.”

Khan also had advice for athletes in training: “The harder you work in the gym, the easier it will be in the game,” he said.

And he added: “Work hard and never give up. I always like to work harder than my opponents.”