NEOM airport welcomes its first Saudi Arabian Airlines flight

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NEOM airport welcomed its first Saudi Arabian Airlines flight Thursday with 130 people on board. (SPA)
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NEOM’s vision is to make it the best place in the world for living and working. (SPA)
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Passengers traveled to NEOM via two Saudi airlines Airbus A320 aircrafts. (SPA)
Updated 11 January 2019

NEOM airport welcomes its first Saudi Arabian Airlines flight

  • NEOM, a $500 billion megacity, is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s strategic vision to diversify its economy
  • The project’s vision is to make it the best place in the world for living and working

JEDDAH: NEOM airport welcomed its first Saudi Arabian Airlines flight Thursday with 130 passengers on board, the Saudi Press Agency reported. NEOM, a $500 billion megacity in the Kingdom’s northwest, is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s vision to diversify its economy.
Passengers traveled to NEOM on two Airbus A320 planes to familiarize themselves with the area as they are working on the project.
NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said: “We wanted our employees to experience the project which they have been working on to make a success since its inception last year.
There is a big difference between knowing the details of the project in theory and visiting it practically, exploring its treasures, beauty, and heritage.”
He thanked Saudi Arabian Airlines for facilitating the trip, and said  he looked forward to further cooperation with them and with other transport companies to serve NEOM residents and visitors in the future.

Sustainable solution
NEOM, backed by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, will operate as an independent economic zone that is powered solely by renewable energy sources and has its own laws and regulations.
Saleh Al-Jasser, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, said: “We are happy to present this unique opportunity to NEOM employees to visit the location and explore its cultural characteristics and rich environment.
“We strongly believe in this ambitious project and hope that this flight serves as the start of a long-term and prosperous partnership with NEOM and its great opportunities that will support Saudi Vision 2030.”
He added that NEOM would write a new story for the future and economy of the region.
NEOM Bay was chosen for Thursday’s meeting and will be the first area developed in the project.
The entire project encompasses 26,500 sq. km of land, ranging from scenic coastline to desert to snow-capped mountains.
There is a plan to establish a network of airports in NEOM that will include an international airport with world-class standards.
Project planners have identified 16 economic sectors to create a sustainable economy which are expected to eventually generate an estimated annual income of $100 billion.


Turning a new leaf: Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region ditches qat crops for coffee trees

The growth of the educational landscape in the region, in addition to the success of the coffee industry, are some factors that help the authorities combat qat abuse. (SPA/Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2020

Turning a new leaf: Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region ditches qat crops for coffee trees

  • The Khawlani coffee bean is being offered to UNESCO for inclusion on a heritage list

JAZAN: Efforts to draw the younger generation in the Kingdom’s Jazan region away from the harmful and addictive substance qat are succeeding, with even the crop being replaced by coffee trees to support the booming coffee business.
Qat, a plant that is native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, is a stimulant that triggers excitement and alertness. But it can also cause anxiety, insomnia and aggravate pre-existing mental health conditions.
It grew in the Jazan region along with coffee trees. But the strength of the coffee industry, combined with an increased awareness about the harmful nature of qat, has led to its gradual disappearance.
The governor of Al-Dayer, Nayef bin Lebdah, said the people of Jazan were proud of the Khawlani coffee bean. He also said that coffee beans were much more economically beneficial than qat.
“All newly planted qat trees have been completely uprooted,” he told Arab News. “All the people have found that planting coffee beans is much more feasible and rewarding than qat. Attempts to smuggle qat have also dropped thanks to the security efforts along the border with Yemen. Add to that, young people themselves have concluded that their future will be in coffee beans.”
Teacher Yahiya Shareef Al-Maliki viewed qat as an “intruder’’ and said the coffee tree was the region’s indigenous product.
“In 1970, there were only four people who used to chew qat in the entire governorate,” he told Arab News. “It then started to become common among the people here in 1995 due to opening the borders that caused importing qat from abroad.”

FASTFACTS

• In 2014, people reconsidered coffee as an alternative crop and young people started to grow coffee beans with the help of unlimited support from the governorate.

• Some 50,000 seedlings were distributed and farmers began to restore the profession of their fathers.

• The governorate replanted more than 10,000 genuine Khawlani coffee seedlings and gave them to the farmers.

The increase in qat cultivation affected the planting of coffee beans, he added, but in 2014 people reconsidered coffee as an alternative crop and young people started to grow coffee beans with the help of unlimited support from the governorate. “Some 50,000 seedlings were distributed and farmers began to restore the profession of their fathers.”
People in Jazan used to waste their time and money on qat, he said. They would gather and chew qat for many hours, he added, hours that could have been spent working. But the growth of the educational landscape in the region, in addition to the success of the coffee industry, was a factor in combating qat abuse, as young people were able to access more opportunities and improve their prospects.
The Khawlani coffee bean is being offered to UNESCO for inclusion on a heritage list.
“The preparation of the file related to the skills and knowledge pertaining to the cultivation of Khawlani coffee in the Jazan region has been completed before presenting it to UNESCO,” the Kingdom’s Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah said. If listed, he added, it would be the Kingdom’s fourth intangible cultural heritage and eighth among the total heritage items included in the UNESCO heritage list.
Saudi columnist Hamood Abu Talib said the Jazan region was the only place the beans were grown. “This festival (Coffee Beans Festival), which is being held in collaboration with the governorate (of Jazan), the farmers themselves and Aramco, is an important national economic investment,” he told Arab News.
“Many countries’ economies, such as Brazil and Ethiopia depend mainly on this product — coffee. It needs professional marketing through the media to attract visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom. This is an essential strategic transformation.
“We know that the Faifa Mountains Development and Reconstruction Authority’s strategic goal was to uproot the harmful trees of qat and replace them with profitable crops that are beneficial to the farmers as well as the whole region. These were also intruding, invasive trees. We replanted more than 10,000 genuine Khawlani coffee seedlings and gave them to the farmers.”