Young Saudi falconer woos visitors at Riyadh exhibition

Ahmed Al-Chahwan, 12, a sixth grade student from the Qassim region, was born and raised among falcons. (SPA)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Young Saudi falconer woos visitors at Riyadh exhibition

RIYADH: Among the many falconers attending the very first falcons and hunting exhibition currently being held in Riyadh, one young man managed to turn quite a few heads.
In fact, visitors gathered around Ahmed Al-Chahwan, 12, as the young boy held two falcons at a time on his small arms.
A sixth grade student from the Qassim region, Ahmed was born and raised among these birds of prey thanks to his father’s avid hobby.
He himself owns two that he has used for hunting several times and has traveled 400km with his father to take part in this exhibition, which concludes on Saturday.
The exhibition, which kicked off on Wednesday, is “reflective of our cultural identity, which in many ways mirrors the Arabian Peninsula over the centuries,” says Ahmed.
He said the exhibition, which aims to introduce a joint platform through which amateurs and professionals can interact, as well as include other falconers from the Gulf, has witnessed a high turnout thanks to its thorough set-up.
The Kingdom is one of 11 countries on the UNESCO list of falcon-breeding countries and is home to many falcon species, as well as a major passageway for other migrating birds of prey. The exhibition features simulations of hunting trips and wildlife in an attempt to make the experience as close to reality as possible. The various sections of the exhibition are also a simulation of oases featuring hills, highlands, sand dunes and some lakes.
Falcons are considered a vital part of life among Bedouins, who see them as a symbol of bravery and nobility.
Indeed, falconry has allowed Ahmed to persevere well beyond his age. While children his age play video games, he spends his time training the majestic animals, garnering the admiration of fellow falconers who are decades his senior.
His father relies on him to tend to the falcons. He is fully responsible for feeding, handling and housing them, and he often accompanies his father on trips outdoors to train them.
“I decided to take part in the exhibition, which is the first of its kind, the moment I heard about it,” he said.
Ahmed’s father commends his son’s interaction with the falcons and says he is his main partner in all hunting trips. “He still manages to focus on his studies despite this full-time job,” he said.
The pair expressed gratitude for the establishment of the Saudi Falcons Club, which they say was a long-awaited initiative among avid fans.


Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. (Supplied)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

  • The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021
  • SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is fast catching up with the world’s ever-growing energy and technology scene ahead of 2030. In fact, the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) may soon prove a global destination for energy industry investors.

The new energy city mega-project is being developed by Saudi Aramco, which received authoritization to embark on the initiative in the summer, and is operated, managed and maintained in partnership with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON). 

With projections that the megacity will create more than 100,000 jobs, it is considered one of the most up-and-coming energy parks in the world.

SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower.

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. 

The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021, while the final phase of the project is set for completion in 2035. With all this on track, the 50-square-kilometer project is poised to be a magnet for foreign and domestic investment. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday. (SPA)

What’s more, Aramco’s espousal of SPARK will also help businesses indulge in technological development, manufacturing and exports channels and build a world-class energy supply chain. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Energy Minister and Aramco Chairman Khalid Al-Falih declared SPARK a special economic zone (SEZ) in which businesses can enjoy exclusive benefits. 

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our first anchor partners at SPARK,” said Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin Nasser.

SPARK has already attracted investment from foreign and local companies to produce and manufacture goods and services. The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $1.6 billion. 

The park is set to attract industrial investors in the water, power, petrochemical and wastewater sectors, among others. 

Facilities at SPARK will also help investors bridge gaps in local production back home, increasing competition in the long run. 

“This energy city is exciting because it brings together a multitude of businesses,” Mark McCollum, president and CEO of Weatherford Corp, told SPARK.

“We firmly believe that collaboration and cooperation among service companies and individual providers to the energy sector is vital in breaking new ground.”

The King Salman Energy Park is also set to promote small and medium-sized enterprises. With focus on energy production, it also provides opportunities for investment in residential and commercial real estate projects.

Nasser said that the “King Salman Energy Park will spur a new era of growth for one of the Kingdom’s already thriving sectors. What’s more, it will serve as a central gateway to the region’s economies since Aramco is at the heart of the global oil and gas industry.”