Watch: Christian expats celebrating festive season in Saudi Arabia

Photo of happy Santa Claus waving at children in a private celebration in Jeddah. (Screenshot)
Updated 24 December 2018

Watch: Christian expats celebrating festive season in Saudi Arabia

  • Santa Claus sat around a pile of gifts where each present had a child’s name written across it to be given to them individually for the Christian annual celebration

JEDDAH: Images showing Santa Claus giving out presents to happy children could have been shot anywhere in the world, possibly except in Saudi Arabia. This is why when a recent Snapchat video emerged showing a festive season celebration occurring in the Saudi city of Jeddah it immediately went viral and raised questions.
However, it is true… Santa Claus did come to town and the private celebration took place in Jeddah on Saturday as a group of Christians came together to celebrate this religious occasion before they went on annual leave.
The small gathering portrayed the Christmas spirit, where children were sitting happily as they anticipated a smiling Santa’s calling. Santa Claus sat around a pile of gifts where each present had a child’s name written across it to be given to them individually for the Christian annual celebration.
The video was shot by a Saudi presenter Hashim Abdullah, who was invited to MC the event. His Snapchat account is dedicated to covering events across the Kingdom. The Kingdom has been encouraging peaceful coexistence and interfaith tolerance as of late, especially after King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initiated interfaith dialogue with Lebanese Maronite Christian Patriarch in November 2017.
The visit was followed by many; the king met with the chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue at the Vatican earlier in April, while Crown Prince Mohammed met with Archbishop of Canterbury during his UK visit.
As the video of the Christmas celebration went viral, a minority misunderstood the contents of the video and criticized it, causing Saudis to step up to defend the celebration, calling it a normal occurrence and stating that it makes them happy to see celebrations of other faiths.


Saudi Arabia’s Alkhobar becomes international role model for business continuity

Sultan Al-Zaidi (L) and Fahad Al-Jubeir.
Updated 21 September 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Alkhobar becomes international role model for business continuity

  • Alkhobar has pushed for a paperless municipality and emphasized the introduction of online services for residents

JEDDAH: Alkhobar municipality, along with Europe’s largest industrial manufacturing company Siemens, has been hailed as a role model for management excellence and business continuity.
The municipality has been awarded international certification for its excellence in managing crises and risks under difficult circumstances, in recognition of its administrative achievements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quality Austria (QA) awarded Alkhobar Municipality and Siemens with ISO 22301 and ISO 9001 certificates, which are concerned with business continuity management, especially during the pandemic.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent and nongovernmental body. Its standards are internationally agreed by experts and are seen as the best way of doing something.
Alkhobar has pushed for a paperless municipality and emphasized the introduction of online services for residents.
Its mayor, Sultan bin Hamid Al-Zaidi, said that the municipality’s ISO achievement was in line with achieving the goals of the Eastern Province municipality. He added that the aim was to make Alkhobar a distinguished city, like other places in the province.
The Mayor of the Eastern Province, Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Jubeir, said that municipalities were keen to implement the most advanced administrative systems and provide the best services to beneficiaries.
“This comes in line with the objectives of municipal transformation, part of the National Transformation Program 2020 of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan which states that the Kingdom, with its outputs and services, should provide an international role model of quality and mastery, and raise the level of services provided by services and economic development agencies and enterprises,” Al-Jubeir told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHT

Business continuity was primarily done through strategic planning and taking into account the different local factors and needs of provinces and municipalities.

He added that the municipality had launched initiatives and programs seeking to make the Eastern Province and its governorates pioneers in administrative and service qualities, as well as improving public services.
According to QA’s regional manager, Dr. Mohamed Hassan, business continuity was primarily done through strategic planning and taking into account the different local factors and needs of provinces and municipalities.
“These instructions are then transformed into applicable programs and strategies at the amana (provincial government) level,” he wrote in an article. “Since the Eastern Province is, in this respect, the leading province in the Kingdom, the guidelines are finalized in consultation with the EP’s mayor, Fahad Al-Jubeir.”
The article gave examples of Alkhobar’s strategic emergency plans and said it had made arrangements with companies such as Al-Yamama for the prevention of damage from flash floods or storms.
It added that other public contractors, such as Nabatat, ensured that green spaces and parks in the city remained relaxing destinations for people, even on exceptionally hot summer days.
“A successful example of service digitization is the Balady software, which makes all municipality services available to citizens online. Moreover, the Balagat software offers a service in which complaints and suggestions from citizens can be reported and followed up online,” the article said. “If a complaint is not solved within 24 hours, it is automatically forwarded to the mayor of the Eastern Province, Al-Jubeir.”
The ministry’s foresight in initiating plans and preparations, the online software systems used and the high-quality standards in the municipality all helped in increasing the effectiveness of the business continuity management system.