New book looks at fascinating Riyadh

New book looks at fascinating Riyadh
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New book looks at fascinating Riyadh
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Updated 30 November 2012

New book looks at fascinating Riyadh

New book looks at fascinating Riyadh

Mohsen Al-Dajani grew up as a bedouin in the desert of Arabia. Each night he would gaze at the stars in the sky before going to sleep. Al-Dajani launched his second book “Riyadh, Heart of Arabia” here Wednesday and opened his gallery show along Uroba Road where his unique works will be on display for the next five days.
“This book is my second station in a long journey to explore the hidden beauty of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Dajani said. “My discovery of Saudi cities started with Taif, which was the theme of my first book, ‘Taif of Arabia’ in 2009. I will continue to explore every corner of what I believe remains of the undiscovered land.”
He added: “When the flock headed to see faraway places, I chose to remain in the nest, stopping by places with a critical mind and eye, where most have just passed quickly by, unaware of a remarkable undiscovered beauty.”
It is the first English book about Riyadh since 1983. “We spent more than three years in the making, the research part is approved by Darah, and reviewed by Awaidhah Al-Juhani at King Saud University with support of Abdulaziz bin Slema at the Ministry of Culture and Information” he observed.
He continued: “Driving my beloved Range Rover along never-ending streets, from one wadi to another, from the top of ancient escarpments, down to the golden dunes at their base: a camera secured to a tripod on my shoulder, working on this project has become a veteran’s mission during these last three years."
He points out that through this book, he is “striving to give valuable information together with fine images: we will help you discover the city’s past through its remaining gems; its attractive desert and raw nature; and a plethora of modern sites scattered around the city.”
Al-Dajani, who is an artist by hobby, observes that after living in the desert and open country during his early life, he had to move to the city to pursue his education. He attended King Faisal Air Academy in 1992 and graduated in 1995 as a fighter pilot to serve in the Royal Saudi Air Force. He now works as a lieutenant colonel and fighter pilot instructor for F-15.
He often felt that life in a big city was like living as a caged bird. His love for the beauty of nature inspired his interest in photography. As a result, his camera eventually replaced his hunting rifle.
Riyadh Gov. Prince Sattam says in the preface of the book: "The story of Riyadh has been a remarkable success story in terms of its growth and development unlike any in the region for over half a century.
"It reflects hard work and dedication of the government, which transformed Riyadh into an oasis of luxury and well-being for present and future generations."
He said that not only is Riyadh the capital city of the Kingdom, but it is also a leading national center, housing world-class institutions and administrative bodies, and attracting political activities, educational, health, cultural, economic and environmental organizations. Besides being an incubator for international and regional bodies, it also serves as a global model of contemporary urban development in its various forms.
Despite its short life compared to many other capitals around the world, Prince Sattam notes that, “Riyadh’s journey to where it is now has been long in experience, unique in its performance and ambitious in its goals.”
Riyadh has become a humanitarian and contemporary oasis and also a model for others to follow, besides being a home for all to achieve their ambitions and live comfortably. The idea, materials and images in this book have been collected and photographed over a span of three years.
Al-Dajani said: “During the period we were fortunate to have met many people who helped us bring this book to reality. Their support and encouragement formed the backbone that helped us in our research, writing and traveling.
"To produce something at the end of the day that we think is deserving of the city of Riyadh.
The Kingdom is a vast country the size of Western Europe, occupying an area of 2.24 million sq. km, making it the world’s 14th largest country. However, the bulk of this huge land is desert; dry hot and barren. No one could survive in such a harsh and tough environment except camels, palm trees and we the Bedouins of this country."
“This is why most of the country’s population was nomadic until about 50 years when my people began to reside in settlements as a result of the new oil revenue,” he adds.
Co-author Brian Salter observes that when he first arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1998, he went to work in Jeddah; but he did not move to Riyadh until a few years later. At the time he did not have a clue what to expect.
As he puts it: “Riyadh — even a decade ago — was still relatively unknown as a destination, except for travelers making their way to the holy cities as part of their Haj or Umrah journeys, and I remembered searching almost in vain for information both in bookshops and on the Internet.”
He continues: “What I do remember was how little colleagues and friends in Jeddah knew about the Saudi capital. There seemed to be tremendous gulf between the populations of these two great cities and many of my Jeddah friends were frankly incredulous that I should be the slightest bit interested in actually wanting to visit the place. I was lucky to have arrived in the cooler winter months for at the start of my new job I had no transport. That gave me the incentive to walk around the city whenever possible, discovering back streets that I would never have used had I been driving as I did later on.”
Salter points out that he was able to get a good feel for the geography of the city as he plodded the shortest routes from point a to point b helped by his invaluable GPS unit. “What I found surpassed even my wildest expectations. Unlike many other cities in the Gulf region, here was a city steeped in history. Its architecture was truly stunning — a conglomeration of buildings that truly pushed the boundaries in merging modern design with comfortable living. It was a city filled with parks and museums with shopping centers that rubbed shoulders with historical sites.”
He concludes: “And the history that was inexorably locked up in both the old and the new, as modern developments strived to incorporate a feel for what had gone before, made the place even more fascinating to explore. The fact that Riyadh was changing so fast also added to the excitement of a city that never slept. Because change was going on all around, it was easy not to appreciate the small, subtle changes that gradually changed the face of the city.”


Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
Updated 21 April 2021

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
  • Room is fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the machines to move about and take food to customers

MAKKAH: We’ve all been there … you order a meal in a restaurant, and the waiter arrives with a pasta salad instead of a chicken biryani.
There are no such issues at Restaurant Robot in Jazan. As the name suggests, the waiters are not fallible human beings, but robots powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence.
Six robot assistants are operating in the city center restaurant to deliver trays of Asian dishes to patrons. The system was originally set up as a precaution to reduce human contact during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has proved a hit with visitors.
In a system designed by young Saudi engineer Reham Omar, the restaurant interior has been fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the robots to move about and take food to customers.
“Thanks to the sensors, the robots can sense anything standing near them, allowing them to stop walking or change their routes accordingly,” she told Arab News
“Each robot has had a map of the restaurant interior and the location of each table programmed into their memory. When the robot gets to the targeted table, customers can pick up their food and order the robot to leave.”
Omar said the idea had been developed by drawing on the experiences of other countries, and with support from the Saudi government for the food industry.
“We are proud of our project, as small as it is,” she said. “Customers are loving the robots and are impressed with the idea.
“Cultures are changing, and people are now eager to discover new technologies that can improve their quality of life.”


Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
  • OPCW oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention
  • The Kingdom has been a member of the council since 1997

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has been re-elected as a member of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in the Asia section, until 2023.
It happened at The Hague, in the Netherlands, on Tuesday during the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties, which oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Ziyad Al-Attiyah, the Saudi ambassador to the Netherlands and the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the OPCW, thanked the nations that supported the re-election of his country, and said that it is a reflection of Saudi Arabia’s status under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 
The Kingdom looks forward to working with the rest of the council’s members to enhance the implementation of the CWC, he added.
Al-Attiyah affirmed his country’s desire to strengthen cooperation as part of the efforts to prohibit weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation, and to ensure the Middle East becomes a region free of such weapons to enhance international peace and security.
He added that the Kingdom’s chemical industries sector is one of the largest in the region and growing steadily, which makes it one of the leading countries in this field among the membership of Executive Council.
Saudi Arabia has been a member of the council — the main body of the OPCW — since its inception in 1997. It’s membership is made up of 41 countries, representing five geographic areas, that are elected for terms of two years at a time.


Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia renewed its call for Iran to engage in ongoing negotiations in Vienna, avoid escalation and not expose the region to more tension.
This came following a council of ministers meeting, chaired by King Salman on Tuesday.

The Cabinet reiterated that it is closely following the current developments related to Iran's nuclear program, citing the emphasis of the Kingdom's call for Iran to get involved in the current negotiations, prevent escalation and desist from jeopardizing the regional security and stability to further tension. 
The Saudi government also urged the international community to reach an agreement with stronger and longer determinants that are implemented through monitoring and control measures to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons and developing the necessary capabilities.

The Cabinet also renewed condemnation of the Iran-backed Houthi terrorist militia's attempts to target civilians as well as civilian facilities in the Kingdom in a systematic and intentional manner, through using bomb laden drones and ballistic missiles.


Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects. (SPA)
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
  • The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries

JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) on Tuesday confirmed 34 cases of blood clots or thrombosis and low platelet count among people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The authority suggests the existence of seven possible cases of thrombosis that are related to the vaccine, due to the absence of other reasons for the appearance of clots in them,” the SFDA said in a statement.
However, the authority also said that thrombocytopenia and blood-clotting immune response associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to be confirmed in these cases.
It said based on the local reports received, the rate of occurrence of these symptoms in conjunction with the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the Kingdom is “very rare.”
The SFDA said that all approved vaccines for the coronavirus (COVID-19) being used in the Kingdom are safe. It stressed that the desired benefits of the vaccine in question outweigh the potential risks.
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects along with the local and international scientific evidence and data available.

FASTFACTS

• The Kingdom reports a 55 percent increase in the number of cases among women.

• 1,070 new infections were reported on Tuesday.

The SFDA advised recipients of the vaccine to consult a doctor or go to the nearest health center if any of the following symptoms appear or continue for more than three days after receiving a vaccine: Dizziness, severe and persistent headache, nausea or vomiting, issues with vision, shortness of breath, severe pain in the chest or abdomen or coldness in the extremities, swelling of the legs, small blood spots under the skin other than the injection site.
Dr. Abdullah Asiri, an infectious diseases consultant at the Saudi Ministry of Health, allayed public fears following the reports.
“How can a wrong conclusion deduced from a generalization become the most circulated news?” he wrote on Twitter. “In short, not every blood clotting after vaccinations is due to vaccinations. Thanks to vaccines, lives are saved every day. We have not yet had confirmed cases of platelet deficiency and blood clotting immune responses associated ‘hypothetically’ with COVID-19 vaccines.”
Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, a Ministry of Health spokesman, said: “We are still monitoring an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, which is the highest since the beginning of this year. There has also been an increase in cases among females by 55 percent.”
The Ministry of Health reported 1,070 new confirmed cases in the Kingdom over the past 24 hours, meaning 407,010 people have now contracted the virus. Of the 9,626 active cases, 1,105 were in critical condition. There were 12 fatalities, which brought the national death toll to 6,846.
The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries.


Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness
The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched a campaign encouraging people to walk or run 20 kilometers for 20 days during Ramadan. (SPA)
Updated 20 April 2021

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness
  • The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched ‘Step Together’ campaign to help people stay active during the holy month

JEDDAH: While consuming excessive food during the month of Ramadan goes against the purpose of the holy month, for many Saudis and people of the region, it is a time to indulge in special foods, which often leads to overeating.

For years, Saudis have been facing problems with obesity, with unhealthy diets leading to a variety of poor health conditions. While numerous campaigns have been launched to combat this issue, including by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA), their advice seems to fall on deaf ears during Ramadan.
Arab News spoke to experts — nutritionists and fitness trainers — who discussed their tips to help curb hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
Saudi fitness trainer Nouf Hamadallah, 37, explained that there is no best time to exercise during Ramadan; rather, the time and intensity of the workout can vary from person to person.
“Exercising during Ramadan depends on the flexibility of one’s schedule. There’s no specific time to work out. Most people who believe this are misinformed by what they read,” she told Arab News.

FASTFACTS

• A nationwide cross-sectional survey conducted over phone interviews across 13 regions of the Kingdom in June 2020 showed that the national weighted prevalence of obesity was 24.7 percent.

• It highlighted that obesity was significantly associated with Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, among other diseases.

“One common bit of advice in popular articles says that if people work out before iftar, they will burn calories and lose weight. But this depends on their goals and calorie
intake. Some people cannot work out while fasting because they feel sick and nauseous, and their blood sugar drops. Then they become discouraged from exercising, not knowing that all they have to do is change the timing and nature of their workout. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.”
She added that it is easy to lose muscle mass if people do not choose the right foods for iftar and sahoor, also stressing that it is essential to hydrate during breakfast. Should one choose to work out right before iftar, a protein shake and a nutrient-dense meal with few carbs are advised in breaking fast.

If anyone wants to adopt healthy habits or break bad ones, Ramadan is an excellent chance to do so.

Arwa Bajkhaif, Dietician

“What you eat for sahoor will determine your energy levels for the next day, too. It should be a meal with a good amount of protein and vegetables,” said Hamadallah. “When your body is depleted of energy, the first thing you look for is sugar, and that’s what we want to avoid.”
Digestive problems such as acid reflux also occur due to poor eating habits in Ramadan, she added, and people with such digestive issues need to take note of the specific foods that irritate their stomachs.
She recommended that they avoid these foods if they are planning to exercise and instead have a few dates, soup and maybe a cup of coffee before beginning their workout, saving a full meal for afterward.
Iftar and sahoor also need to be divided into portions to avoid digestive problems, she added.
Saudi clinical and sports dietitian Arwa Bajkhaif, 29, said Ramadan is a “golden opportunity” to fast and practice self-control. If anyone wants to adopt healthy habits or break bad ones, Ramadan is an excellent chance to do so.

What you eat for sahoor will determine your energy levels for the next day.

Nouf Hamadallah, Fitness trainer

“People should know their dietary requirements and follow a suitable diet for their particular health situation during the holy month of Ramadan,” Bajkaif told Arab News
“For individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend seeing an endocrinologist for insulin and medication adjustments and a clinical dietitian for follow-ups to adjust the amount and type of carbohydrates accordingly.”
As for changing one’s eating habits, she suggested that people should not adopt more than three easy and healthy habits. “Being realistic and specific is key to achieving health goals.”
Saudi dietitian Alaa Gotah advised people to drink plenty of water between iftar and sahoor, avoid sugary drinks especially during iftar to maintain insulin levels, and eat plenty of hydrating food such as salads while limiting the intake of carbohydrates and sweets.
She stressed that fasting cleanses the body of toxins and forces cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present.
“Sahoor should include a healthy amount of fiber, which stays for a long time in the intestines. To reduce the feeling of thirst and hunger, it’s recommended to eat fruits that contain dietary fiber and magnesium, such as bananas, dates and watermelon,” Gotah told Arab News.  
A nationwide cross-sectional survey conducted over phone interviews across 13 regions in June 2020 titled “Obesity in Saudi Arabia in 2020: Prevalence, Distribution, and its Current Association with Various Health Conditions” showed that the national weighted prevalence of obesity was 24.7 percent.
The study highlighted that obesity was significantly associated with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, among other diseases.
The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched a campaign to help people stay active during the holy month, presenting the Ramadan edition of “Step Together,” where people are encouraged to walk or run 20 kilometers for 20 days during Ramadan.