Archeological team to restore 'The Stone of Antar'

Updated 04 March 2013
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Archeological team to restore 'The Stone of Antar'

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has sent a specialist team an area north of Uyun Al Jawa District to restore the Stone of Antar ibn Shaddad. Ibn Shaddad, commonly known as Antar, was a renowned Arabian hero and poet in the period before Islam. Antar, it is believed, used to meet his lover Abla, who he desired to marry, at the stone structure.
The archeological team are tasked with cleaning the graffiti using scientific methods and restoring the stone as a symbol of love and loyalty.
This procedure comes in response to the directives of Prince Faisal bin Bandar, governor of Qassim Region, who instructed officials to remove distortions found on the site.
Awad Al-Zahrani, director general of museums at the SCTA, urged residents in the region to preserve the historical sites of their country as they are national treasures.
One of Antar's poems was immortalized when it became one of the Hanged Poems. Know as Mu'allaqat, these poems were considered the best of their time. In pre-Islamic times a gathering know as Okaz Fair, held near modern day Taif, was attended by contestants who presented their odes to judges, who would select the best work. These poems were written in golden letters and hung on the walls of the Kaaba in Makkah for pilgrims to admire.


Saudi Red Sea project to offer visa on arrival for tourists

Updated 59 min 10 sec ago
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Saudi Red Sea project to offer visa on arrival for tourists

  • Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project has been registered as a standalone company
  • The venture will be will be headed by John Pagano, former director of London’s Canary Wharf business zone

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project will offer visas on arrival for overseas visitors following the creation of a company to deliver the ambitious project.
The project marked a milestone on Sunday with its incorporation as a standalone closed joint-stock company, The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), wholly owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The company, which in October announced Virgin Group founder Richard Branson as one of its board members, on Sunday said it had recruited John Pagano, the former managing director of development for the UK’s Canary Wharf Group as its chief executive.
The newly-incorporated company will now move forward with the creation of its Special Economic Zone, with its own regulatory framework, it said in a statement.
The framework will be separate from the base economy, with a special emphasis on environmental sustainability, and will offering visa on entry, relaxed social norms, and improved business regulations.
“The destination will provide a unique sense of place for visitors and offer nature lovers, adventurers, cultural explorers and guests looking to escape and rejuvenate, a wide range of exclusive experiences, combining luxury, tranquillity, adventure and beautiful landscapes,” said Pagano.
The first phase of The Red Sea Project — which will occupy an area greater than the size of Belgium between the cities of Al-Wajh and Umluj — will include hotels and residential units, along with a new costal town, an airport and a marina, and is due for completion by late 2022, the company said.
Authorities hope the project will create as many as 35,000 jobs and contribute SR15 billion ($3.99 billion) to the local economy.
The project, unveiled last July by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is one of the key developments in Saudi Arabia’s strategy to develop its tourism sector, alongside Qiddiya, an entertainment resort near Riyadh that will be two-and-a-half times the size of Disney World.
The country’s Vision 2030 economic development plan is targeting the creation of 1.2 million new jobs in the Saudi tourism sector by 2030.