ThePlace: Saudi Arabia’s ‘vegetable basket’

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Qassim province is the biggest producer of dates in Saudi Arabia. (SPA file photo)
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Qassim province is the biggest producer of dates in Saudi Arabia. (SPA file photo)
Updated 22 July 2018
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ThePlace: Saudi Arabia’s ‘vegetable basket’

  • Qassim in central Saudi Arabia hosts more than 8 million palm trees, which produce 205,000 tons of high quality dates every year

Al-Qassim is known for its agricultural value to Saudi Arabia. Due to the province’s fertile farming land, it is widely referred to as the Kingdom’s “vegetable basket.”

As the lushest part of the country, it is responsible for most of the Kingdom’s agriculture. Al-Qassim boasts the largest number of greenhouses in Saudi Arabia, producing a wide range of agricultural produce, including dates. 

The province hosts more than 8 million palm trees, which produce 205,000 tons of luxury dates annually that are exported regionally and internationally.

The capital of Al-Qassim, Buraidah, hosts a yearly date festival that is attended by many people, including those from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, who stock up on dates.

Al-Qassim’s farms and orchards attract nature lovers and city dwellers who wish to relax amid its palms and scenery.

These orchards have recently become an attraction for nature lovers, along with anyone who wants to get away from it all and relax. With greenery and tall palm trees surrounding the fields, Al-Qassim’s natural beauty, environmental splendor and fresh water make it the perfect destination.

Visitors come from all over to enjoy the magnificent views and get away from the dull routine of life. They are transported back in time by the simplicity showcased in the orchards by the farmers’ mud houses, and the work these laborers do from dawn until sunset, relying on authentic and traditional agricultural methods.

As well as being a tourist attraction, Al-Qassim is also known for the quality of its product. With so many farms and orchards in the region, and thanks to the fertility of its soil, a wide variety of crops can be grown, including wheat, dates, fruits and vegetables, which are sold across the Kingdom. • Photo by Saudi Press Agency


FaceOf: Fahad bin Sulaiman Altekhaifi, president of the General Authority for Statistics 

Updated 22 August 2018
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FaceOf: Fahad bin Sulaiman Altekhaifi, president of the General Authority for Statistics 

Fahad bin Sulaiman Altekhaifi has been the president of the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) since his appointment to the post in May 2016.

On Monday GASTAT announced this year’s Hajj statistics, revealing detailed information on the number of pilgrims (which amounted to 2,371,675) performing Hajj this year, their genders, nationalities and whether they arrived through air, land or seaports.

The president conveyed his gratitude to all government and security entities that helped the authority to collect data, and praised the 450 GASTAT researchers who worked to compile the information and deliver it to the public.

He said that the collected data would help facilitate better experiences and easier pilgrimages for future programs, and better services for pilgrims — from social to health, and transportation to security and food.

Altekhaifi received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from King Saud University in 1992, a master’s degree in statistics from Colorado State University in 1996, and his applied statistics and research methodology Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado in 2001.

He worked as a manager of a financial program at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh from 1993 to 2005. For two years after that, he was a project director at the EIS department in Zuhair Fayez Partnership Consultants.

In 2007, Altekhaifi was appointed a manager of the research department at the Capital Market Authority, before becoming assistant deputy minister for development in November 2011. 

In June 2015, he was the director general of the Central Department of Statistics and Information. He served as the acting president of GASTAT in February 2016, before being appointed president on May 2016.