Jeddah has never been greener, but authorities say their work has just begun

These green spaces have become a recreational resource for residents in Jeddah. (SPA)
Updated 19 October 2018
0

Jeddah has never been greener, but authorities say their work has just begun

  • Jeddah mayor: The secretariat has signed partnership agreements with the private sector and institutions for initiatives to develop parks, buildings and pedestrian walkways
  • The city has organized a number of cultural and recreational events for visitors to the parks

RIYADH: Five hundred parks in Jeddah have contributed to softening the public face presented to the world and its visitors by the Bride of the Red Sea. 

These green breathing spaces have become a resource for Jeddah locals and visitors alike. They are vital pieces in the patchwork of green spaces that are estimated to cover 20 million square meters.

Jeddah municipality has a commitment to increasing green spaces in Jeddah through garden and reforestation projects throughout the province.

The mayor of Jeddah province, Saleh Ali Al-Turki, said that the Secretariat is in the process of improving and developing the parks and increasing green spaces. 

He added that the secretariat has signed partnership agreements with the private sector and institutions for initiatives to develop parks, buildings and pedestrian walkways.

Al-Turki stressed that public parks are important elements to improve the environment and the quality of life. As such it is important to foster partnerships between the public and private sectors to develop this environmental element.

These efforts are supported by the work of Friends of Jeddah Parks, within the framework of social responsibility and with a strong partnership with governmental bodies and donors to create and care for public gardens and open spaces and benefit from them while promoting recreational, cultural, sporting, health and intellectual activities and contributing to bond with members of society.

Park expansion

The province of Jeddah has managed to expand the establishment of such parks throughout the province’s neighborhoods, taking into account the geographical scope and urban sprawl, amid strengthening the role of the private sector and civil society institutions in supporting, caring for and establishing public parks in the context of social responsibility. 

It has also succeeded in organizing a number of cultural and recreational events for the parks’ visitors, and maintaining them as a social forum for a number of families and children.

There is ongoing work to establish short- and medium-term plans to improve the parks, in addition to expanding green spaces throughout the province through implementing additional projects so that these resources are able to cater for a large number of visitors and citizens. The parks need to be maintained as social, recreational, sporting and environmental outlets.

In addition to the parks, there are recreational clubs and centers, which provide children, young people and families with playgrounds, green spaces, playgrounds, and paved areas.

Dhaban Marine Park, which is located 40km north of Jeddah, is part of the government’s initiative to provide appropriate environmental and recreational places for Jeddah’s citizens and visitors. It covers an area of 110,000 square meters along the waterfront. It is equipped with recreational facilities and football fields for children, in addition to a mosque, pathways, a versatile football field, children’s games, sandy beaches and a fishing area that includes tools and sporting equipment on the pedestrian’s walkway.

Best in Jeddah

The park’s landscaping and green areas cover 38,000 square meters with 312 palm trees, 5,000 trees and bushes, children’s play areas for 25 different sports. 

As one of the best parks in Jeddah, this is a beautiful recreational area where all family members can spend a special day and young people can benefit in a space dedicated for them. It also offers a sandy beach equipped for fishing.

Jeddah’s landmark Al-Saif Beach covers an area of 500 square kilometers and stretches over three kilometers. It was created as part of the initiative to develop the southern corniche to serve a large segment of citizens. It is equipped with public utilities to attract tourists and become an outlet for families and visitors of Jeddah.

Al-Saif Beach is a maritime façade that attracts all segments of society with its infrastructure, recreational areas and green spaces, family areas and children’s play areas. Not only does it offer public facilities such as automated smart toilets, parking lots and specialized prayer areas it also has a sandy beach for beach ball games.


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

Updated 18 January 2019
0

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.”