Experts eye Red Sea as top tourist destination in KSA

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People stand on the corniche at sunset in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. (REUTERS)
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People stand on the corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Updated 18 September 2018

Experts eye Red Sea as top tourist destination in KSA

  • The project’s environmental standards will define the number of hotel rooms and housing units that will be built
  • The project’s first phase is due for completion by late 2022

JEDDAH: The Red Sea Development Co., owned by the Public Investment Fund and responsible for executing the Red Sea Project, has announced the formation of its advisory board, which includes 12 international experts in business, tourism, sustainability and environmental conservation.
The advisory board will help to develop the agenda and plan for the Red Sea Project, to develop and implement updated international criteria in environmental protection and the restoration of natural characteristics, sustainable development, innovation and luxury tourism, in the project situated on Saudi Arabia’s Western coast at a crossroad that links the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The project targets establishing an ultra-luxury tourist destination for nature, adventure, health and recreation and culture and it is considered one of the key components of Saudi Vision 2030.
John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Co., said: “Seeking these consultants to guide the company is considered an important factor to execute the project on an international level, and these experts’ experience will help us exceed the ambitious plans of Saudi Vision 2030 for the tourism sector. The advisory board members will occupy multifunctional positions while working with the board of directors of the Red Sea Development Company and its executive team, and they will advise the company’s board of directors headed by Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
“They will use their broad expertise to suggest the best practices in a number of areas and specializations, present to potential investors and partners opportunities presented by the tourism sector.”
“The advisory board members met in New York for the first time in March 2018, to discuss their initial visions for the project. Their second meeting took place in Saudi Arabia in July when the team visited the project, its unique land and maritime environmental systems, and presented their views on the strategies of development and sustainability in the project.”
Pagano added: “The advisory board will play a vital role in the development of the project. The board members’ insights and ideas were extremely valuable in the assessment of our current plan’s effectiveness. That will allow us to create a unique tourism destination for our guests and the citizens of Saudi Arabia, as we work on setting new international standards to protect, preserve, restore and provide an exceptional experience for the next generations.”
The Red Sea Development Co. was founded on May 10, 2018, as a closed joint stock company owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, to execute the Red Sea Project which is considered a luxury destination that brings together a beautiful landscape, adventure and culture and promotes a healthy lifestyle. It is situated along Saudi Arabia’s western coast and creates a center linking the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The Red Sea Project was launched by the Chairman of the Public Fund, Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on July 31, 2017, and the company will work on developing unique treasures, along a 200km coastline and more than 50 islands and lakes, coral reefs, marine environments, mountains and inactive volcanoes, and heritage sites with the authentic Saudi hospitality.
The project’s first phase will include hotels and residential units and an airport, along with unique landmarks, all of which provide a perfect environment for partnerships with the biggest international investors. The project’s environmental standards will define the number of hotel rooms and housing units that will be built.
A calculated number of visitors will be permitted to experience the place to protect the environmental system, enrich their experiences and maintain the project’s exclusive tourism destination. The project’s first phase is due for completion by late 2022.

Misk Global Forum: Panelists spoke about future skills, AI and social intelligence on the first day

Updated 23 min 22 sec ago

Misk Global Forum: Panelists spoke about future skills, AI and social intelligence on the first day

  • Princesses and politicians, entrepreneurs, an Olympian and football legend joined forces to power a skills revolution

“What does the future look like, in a world where everything is changing?” This question rang out as a video montage played at the “Skills for Our Tomorrow” Misk Global Forum on Wednesday.

From the vantage point of  the third annual forum in Riyadh, the future buzzed with possibilities as more than 3,500 delegates were treated to sessions with political ministers, princesses, inventors, entrepreneurs and athletes. They had all assembled to share their vision of what is needed to deliver the skills that will be needed in future.

Weam Al-Dakheel, the first woman to anchor the main evening news on Saudi Arabian TV, introduced the forum’s executive manager Shaima Hamidaddin. “We want you to be inspired, not just by our speakers, but by your fellow guests,” said Hamidaddin, as she welcomed delegates. 

Hamidaddin asked for a show of hands from different parts of the world, showing that there were delegates from every continent except Antarctica — the forum would work on that for next year, she promised. She then asked for a show of hands for those under the age of 35 to demonstrate that this was the youngest Misk Global Forum yet.

She added that thanks to technology, we are already more connected than ever before, but urged people to interact with the speakers and guests from different cultures. “We must seize the opportunity for uniquely human collaboration,” she said.

As the moderator of the first session, “It’s All About Skills,” Arab News’ editor in chief Faisal J. Abbas began by holding up the morning’s newspaper: “Two years ago people used to read the news like this,” he said.

But as he pointed out, the news industry has changed drastically, with digitally connected audiences increasingly using online platforms such as Twitter.

With media tweeting out his comments, Abbas introduced his guests: Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi, the Kingdom’s minister of labor and social development; Shaima Hamidaddin; Jayathma Wickramanayake of Sri Lanka, the UN Secretary-General’s envoy on youth and Sue Siegel, chief innovation officer for General Electric.

Abbas asked Al-Rajhi how the government was tackling the challenge of finding jobs for young people. “With Vision 2030 programs ... we have a lot of initiatives and there is potential,” the minister said. “We all need to work together and collaborate with the education system, employers who create the jobs and the ministry to give a clear direction of where we are going today.”

Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas hosted a panel on skills. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)

Asked whether job creation is considered to be an issue worldwide, the UN youth envoy said: “It is not a national or regional issue but a global one: Our world is younger than it has ever been before.” 

Wickramanayake said that by 2030, South Asia and Africa will supply 60 percent of the world’s workforce. “We have a large majority of young people who are working but still live in poverty,” she said, adding it is important to invest in them. “If we are serious then this is the time to make those investments to be productive citizens and employees and employers.”

A group that has been making just this sort of investment in Saudi Arabia is the forum’s organizer, the Misk Foundation, which. was founded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2011. 

Abbas asked the question that is on everyone’s minds these days: Are machines going to take our jobs? Siegel answered that while everybody looks at artificial intelligence and has this fear, actually AI will create new jobs and be used for more mundane tasks. 

AI was the topic of another session later in the day. Julia Glidden, general manager, global government industry for IBM Corporation in the US, said it is really important to know what AI is not. “It comes back to you and what you bring to your societies, which is your humanity, your passion, your vision and creativity, because machines will never replace that,” she said. 

Another panel on the topic of social intelligence stressed that technology could sometimes hinder people from interacting with the world around them.  Adeeb Alblooshi, the UAE’s youngest inventor, said it is important to develop social intelligence. 

He advised young people: “You have to start simple by understanding little things people do and that’s how you can gain experience. You don’t need to have the best equipment and the latest technology to develop. Just don’t give up ... always have faith.” 

Princess Reema bint Bandar, deputy of planning and development at the Saudi General Sport Authority. (Basher Saleh/Arab News)

The day wasn’t just about skills and intelligence. Athletes led the afternoon sessions, including a panel on the Future of Sport moderated by Princess Reema bint Bandar, deputy of planning and development at the Saudi General Sport Authority. 

Lubna Al-Omair, the first Saudi female Olympic fencer, interviewed Amir Khan, the Olympic medalist and light-welterweight world champion, who appeared wearing traditional Saudi clothes. He said that he hoped to help the next generation of Saudi boxers to become Olympic champions, and the only way to do this is by opening academies here. 

British boxing legend Amir Khan. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)

Khan said he believes there is a reason Saudis are good boxers: “Maybe it is in their blood — they are warriors.”

Winding up the day, Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho appeared on stage to a chorus of cheers and gave a talk entitled “The Discipline — and Fun — of Teamwork. ”

His advice for the audience? “Prepare yourself and help your colleague or team member,” he said. “Humility is important. Try to stay humble.”

He also said to train hard, read as much as you can and don’t fear failure. “I failed a lot of times,” he said. “Football is like that. You can’t always win. You have to seek lessons from the defeats and not lose hope.” 

Now retired, Ronaldinho is more concerned with giving back. “After I stopped playing, I have soccer academies. That’s what I’m proud of, and it has given me pleasure. To give something back (as a) thanks to football and everything it has given me.”

The forum was continuing at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Center on Thursday.

Brazilian soccer great Ronaldinho. (Ziyad Alarfja/Arab News)