New initiatives for local community to develop KSA's Al-Ula heritage site

Al-Ula region, roughly the size of Belgium, is home to a number of archaeological treasures and ancient cities — some dating back 4,000 years — and is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. (SPA)
Updated 24 August 2018
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New initiatives for local community to develop KSA's Al-Ula heritage site

  • Al-Ula is home to a number of archaeological treasures and ancient cities — some dating back 4,000 years
  • It is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site

JEDDAH: Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture and governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, launched on Wednesday a program of initiatives that will put the local community at the heart of the preservation and development of the region.
The five initiatives came after the prince met with members of the Al-Ula community as part of his vision for developing the region with its inhabitants in mind.
During his visit to the province of Al-Ula, Prince Badr confirmed that everyone in the region is an ambassador of originality, hospitality, heritage and beautiful nature.
He added that everyone will benefit from the outcome of these initiatives, noting that the region will witness more sustainability and prosperity.
The new initiatives include a scholarship program for local students, the creation of a community council, a community heritage action program which will provide 2,500 part-time opportunities, expansion of connectivity and telecommunication in the region and the establishment of a disability rehabilitation and support center.

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Prince Badr explained that the scholarship program provides promising opportunities to Al-Ula boys and girls in international elite academic institutions in the US, UK, France and other countries. The students chosen in January 2018 will move by the end of this month to start their scholarship programs abroad.
In the second phase of the program, the commission will provide 300 additional opportunities to double the number of scholarships that will qualify more students to get diplomas, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields such as tourism, hospitality, agricultural technology, archaeology, history.
Community leaders will be given the opportunity to present their views, submit proposals and solutions on issues related to the development of local infrastructure, protecting the cultural and natural heritage while providing 2,500 part-time jobs for citizens.
The commission will also provide a communication network program that is essential for sustainable development and growth, as well as addressing network issues.
It is also working with a group of partners to enhance the region’s telecommunications network, expand existing coverage and prepare a comprehensive rehabilitation center program to provide support to the Al-Ula community.
Prince Badr met a number of residents in Al-Ula and briefed them on the steps taken to achieve the highest added value to the community during all future stages of development.
He announced the formation of a senate that includes local community leaders, to participate in the region’s infrastructure development for the benefit of everyone.


Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

Updated 21 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

RIYADH: A joint press conference between the MBC Group, the General Entertainment Authority, and Cirque du Soleil was held at King Fahd Stadium on Thursday afternoon to answer media questions and give some details about Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming special performance, part of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day celebrations. The show is slated to be one of the biggest performed by the Cirque and their first in Saudi Arabia. It is a one-night-only, exclusive event, designed especially for this occasion.
Daniel Fortin, vice president of Creation at Cirque du Soleil, teased the audience with a few details of the upcoming show. “With a cast and crew of over 300, this is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Without giving too much of the plot away, the story is centered around the sun, and takes place from sunset to sunrise. Everything from the costumes to the stage props was created as a homage to Saudi culture. You’ll see a lot of Bedouin influences in the staging and in the music. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, such as traditional Bedouin tents, desert scenery, even the stadium itself.”
The show has been in development for six months, and the cast and crew have been preparing for the show at the King Fahd International Stadium since the beginning of August.
The show will contain new technology, and 16 unprecedented acrobatic acts. However, Fortin refused to share too many details. “You’ll just have to see what we have planned at the show.” He said. “But I think you will be impressed. We’re doing things we’ve never done before.”
Tickets to the show sold out in less than 48 hours after their release; an incredible feat as the show has allocated more than 27,000 seats for the performance. Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, spokesperson for the General Entertainment Authority, was pleased— but not entirely surprised— by the public’s reaction to news of the show. “We felt that variety in the types of events we brought to Saudi Arabia was important,” he said, “and we conducted a number of research workshops to determine what sort of events would be well-received by the public. Cirque du Soleil was mentioned frequently in our research, so we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to bring them here.”
MBC head of events Omar Al Radi also expects a big response to the televising of the show, which he estimates will break records. “We’re broadcasting the show live on both our local and international channels, such as those in Europe and in America.” he said.
“We’re expecting over 200 million views. Probably record-breaking numbers. MBC is proud to have been part of bringing this historic event to Saudi Arabia, and we can’t wait for you to see it.”