Leading Saudis look forward to Obama visit

Updated 28 March 2014

Leading Saudis look forward to Obama visit

Several leading Saudi businessmen and government officials have high hopes that US President Barack Obama's visit would strengthen political ties, expand trade between the two countries and introduce measures to resolve crises in the region.
Shoura Council member Fayez Al-Shehri told Arab News that he hopes Obama understands the situation in the Middle East. “We anticipate that the visiting president would take suitable measures to maintain peace and justice in the region,” he said.
Al-Shehri said the United States has not been serious over the past three years about resolving issues in the region. This attitude has aggravated crises in Libya, Egypt and Syria, he said.
Ibrahim Al-Qayid, executive member of the National Society for Human Rights, said Obama's visit comes at a time when certain regional issues have to be resolved.
“Saudi Arabia is a leading power in the region and President Obama's visit would ensure the world community has renewed hopes for peace, security and prosperity in the region with the full support of the United States.”
He said America should support the opposition in Syria to fight against the regime in Damascus. The US should also use its influence to bring about democratic changes in certain countries, he said.
Fuad Al-Bogari, a member of the Saudi-US Business Council, said the Kingdom was happy to host the president. “The relationship between the two countries dates back to the meeting in 1945 between King Abdul Aziz and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal.”
He said the Kingdom harnessed American technology to develop its oil resources in the Kingdom. “We expect the visit to strengthen political and economic bilateral relations.”
He said that Saudi Arabia, because of its leading role in the Middle East, is concerned about the progress and prosperity of Muslim countries. He said Syria and Palestine remain major concerns for the Kingdom.


Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

First prize winners of this year’s tournament came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 27 min 27 sec ago

Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

  • First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW

RIYADH: Baloot, a card game similar to bridge, has developed from a traditional game — usually played at family gatherings — to an online game for your mobile phone.
The Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports launched in Riyadh the third baloot tournament, which has attracted more than 18,000 participants including 40 female teams. The total prize money is SR2 million ($533,234).
The third baloot tournament showed an unprecedented number of players this year, bolstered by the participation of female players.
First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. Second prize winners received cash prizes of SR500,000 and third place players won SR100,000.
The electronic version is now more popular among Saudis than the original, which requires at least four players.
“The main feature that these baloot apps provide is that I can play the game anytime and anywhere, I don’t need to wait until I find three more people to complete the team,” said Saad Al-Amri, an undergrad student from Abha. “I also don’t lose control as I sometimes do when I play it with my relatives,” he added.
However, Al-Amri admits that playing baloot online made him more addicted to the game, saying that some days he spends 3 hours playing.
Baloot apps are not new and the market continues to grow. Apple’s App Store boasts over 30 Baloot apps. In Android’s Google Play store, the number of apps is even higher, ranging from platforms for playing the game, to apps that teaches the rules, to calculators that help users track their scores in the traditional version.
On top of the list of apps are two famous versions called “Kammelna” and “Baloot VIP,” with both reaching over 1 million downloads.
There are other apps that are less popular but also have strong downloads figures. “Tarbeeat Baloot” and “iBaloot” have just over half a million and 100,000 downloads respectively.
According to the website of “Kammelna,” a Saudi app, they started working on it in 2008, and currently have more than 1 million subscribers, with an updated ranking list for the best 100 players published daily.
Baloot apps can charge paid subscriptions, ranging from monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually. Some apps sell points to customers who can replace them with special features in the game.
Subscriptions start from around SR30 per month, giving users additional features such as access to a special playing room and the ability to start private conversations with other players. Some apps have unique tournaments to encourage users to compete with each other and win points that they can use in future games.