Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a vision for Al-Ula that includes a resort designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and a nature reserve, both called Sharaan. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a vision for Al-Ula that includes a resort designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and a nature reserve, both called Sharaan. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a vision for Al-Ula that includes a resort designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and a nature reserve, both called Sharaan. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a vision for Al-Ula that includes a resort designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and a nature reserve, both called Sharaan. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a vision for Al-Ula that includes a resort designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and a nature reserve, both called Sharaan. (SPA)
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Updated 19 December 2019

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launches mega tourism projects in ancient area of Al-Ula
  • Jean Nouvel, the French architect who designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, will build a resort in the mountains of Al-Ula
  • The Sharaan Resort will include residential estates, a summit center, a spa, restaurants and 925-square-kilometer nature reserve

AL-ULA, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched on Sunday mega tourism projects in Al-Ula, including a resort designed by a renowned French architect and a nature reserve, both called Sharaan.

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Jean Nouvel, the French architect who designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, will build a resort in the mountains of Al-Ula as part of a plan launched on Sunday night to transform the home of ancient civilizations into a destination for visitors from around the world.

 

The plan for sustainable development of the region, which includes the Sharaan Resort inside a designated nature reserve, was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Maraya theater. The mirrored concert hall was built for the Winter at Tantora festival, which has brought visitors to the untouched area every weekend since December, giving them a taste of what’s to come.

“The decision to build in this place is brave and will allow Sharaan to be revealed on a world-wide scale,” Nouvel said during a presentation at the launch.

Several hundred guests were welcomed in the concert hall, including Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Princess Reema bint Bandar and Yanni, who performed at the Winter at Tantora festival last weekend. 

“This is just so beautiful, the desert and the sky at night, the stars… the natural beauty here is stunning,” Yanni told Arab News. “I have never experienced this type of beauty before in my life.”

 

The charter for Al-Ula was presented on a stage made of sand, with a multimedia sound and light show involving local men and women, the “guardians” of Al-Ula. The rocks of Al-Ula, visible through glass at the back of the stage, served as a backdrop.

Al-Ula is home to spectacular sandstone rock formations and the archaeological site of Madain Saleh, the largest Nabatean settlement south of Petra that contains the ancient civilization’s rock tombs with their carved facades. In 2008, it was designated as Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage site.

There are only so many architects in the world who have the power to draw visitors on the strength of the building alone, and Nouvel is one. Just ask anyone who has stood under Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 7,500-ton geometric canopy, inspired by a grove of palm trees and designed to cast dappled light onto the water and walkways below, in what he called the Rain of Light.

Nouvel’s architecture is rooted in the local context, and so with the Al-Ula resort, he will take inspiration from the surrounding rocks. “In the thickness of the rock, everything is possible, everything is stable and protected, as if weightless,” Nouvel explained. “Rock is an absolutely fantastic material because of its inertia. To put yourself in rock is to protect yourself. To protect yourself from extreme temperatures, to protect yourself security-wise. We’ve chosen to live in these rocks once more. To be able to frame the Sharaan landscape at different heights is amazing, discovering the distant horizons, discovering the different qualities of light, and all this in total thermal comfort.”

There is already a link between Nouvel and Al-Ula: A number of  ancient treasures from the area are now on display as part of the Roads of Arabia exhibit in Louvre Abu Dhabi. But the Sharaan Resort is a link that is even closer to home.

The resort will include residential estates, a summit center, a spa and restaurants. The full design will be completed by the end of this year; construction is expected to begin in early 2020, with a completion date of 2023.

The resort will be located in a valley deep inside the 925-square-kilometer Sharaan Nature Reserve. Both take their names from the surrounding canyon with its ancient rock formations. The reserve will conserve and restore the region’s natural desert habitats, including the Arabian leopard, with the help of local rangers trained by international experts.

 

 

 

While the details of the plan are new, it is very much in keeping with the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030, which aims to develop the Kingdom’s tourism sector and provide the younger generation with the skills that they need for the future as it diversifies the economy away from its dependence on oil. The vision also pledges to  celebrate the country’s national identity by preserving its cultural sites, making them accessible and building world-class museums to “create a living witness to our ancient heritage.”

The Royal Commission for Al-Ula was created for this purpose in 2017, and the French Agency for Al-Ula Development was established last July, after Paris and Saudi Arabia signed a bilateral agreement during the Crown Prince’s visit in April last year.

The commission aims, by 2035, to attract 2 million visitors to the area, creating 38,000 jobs and generating SR120 billion ($32 billion). 

 


The commission has already launched a scholarship program to train Saudi students in the US, the UK and France in the fields of tourism and archaeology; this year, it will add architecture and environmental planning to the mix. The Hammayah program will also provide up to 2,500 opportunities for local men and women to get involved in a community effort to preserve the wonders of Al-Ula.
There are only so many architects in the world who have the power to draw visitors on the strength of the building alone, and Nouvel is one. Just ask anyone who has stood under Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 7,500-ton geometric canopy, inspired by a grove of palm trees and designed to cast dappled light onto the water and walkways below, in what he called the Rain of Light.

The project is all about “locals, locals, locals,” Rami Al-Sakran, capabilities development manager for the commission, who is leading the Al-Ula scholarship program, told Arab News. “Without the locals, we can’t succeed.”

 

 

 

 

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 23 April 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 393,653
  • A total of 6,878 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced nine deaths from COVID-19 and 1098 new infections on Friday.
Of the new cases, 454 were recorded in Riyadh, 244 in Makkah, 171 in the the Eastern Province, 44 in Asir, 42 in Madinah, 28 in Tabuk, 23 in Jazan, 20 in Hail, 13 in the Northern Borders region, 11 in Al-Jouf, and 10 in Najran.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 393,653 after 1205 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,878 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 7.8 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia to date.


To prevent drug trafficking, Saudi Arabia bans import of Lebanese fruit and vegetables

To prevent drug trafficking, Saudi Arabia bans import of Lebanese fruit and vegetables
Updated 23 April 2021

To prevent drug trafficking, Saudi Arabia bans import of Lebanese fruit and vegetables

To prevent drug trafficking, Saudi Arabia bans import of Lebanese fruit and vegetables
  • The Kingdom has noticed an increase in drug smugglers in Lebanon targeting Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi customs foiled an attempt to smuggle Captagon pills hidden in pomegranates that came from Lebanon

RIYADH: Lebanese fruit and vegetable imports will be banned from entering Saudi Arabia or transiting via the Kingdom as of 9 a.m. on Sunday in a bid to prevent drug trafficking.
The Kingdom has noticed an increase in drug smugglers in Lebanon targeting Saudi Arabia, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.
Lebanese products are being used to smuggle drugs into the Kingdom’s territory, either through consignments intended for Saudi markets or those that transit through the Kingdom on their way to neighboring countries. The most common products used to smuggle the drugs were fruit and vegetables, SPA said.
The ban will last until Lebanese authorities provide guarantees that they will take the necessary measures to stop systematic drug smuggling operations.
The Ministry of Interior will continue to follow up and monitor consignments of other products coming from Lebanon to see whether similar measures needed to be taken against them.

Meanwhile, Saudi customs at Jeddah Islamic Port foiled an attempt to smuggle more than 5.3 million Captagon pills hidden “artistically” in a consignment of pomegranates that came from Lebanon.

The intended recipient of the pomegranate consignment was arrested and the drugs were seized, SPA reported on Friday. 

Another attempt to smuggle nearly 2.5 million amphetamine pills into the Kingdom was foiled at King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam.

Some 2,466,563 pills were hidden inside a shipment of pomegranates coming from Lebanon.

Five people were arrested in relation to the smuggling attempt in Hafr Al-Batin. 

Lebanon is ready to cooperate with all states to fight drug smuggling after Saudi Arabia banned the import and transit of Lebanese fruit and vegetables due to the illicit trade, the Lebanese caretaker interior minister said on Friday.
Lebanese security "has been exerting tremendous efforts combating drug smuggling," Mohamed Fahmy told Reuters, adding that smugglers might sometimes succeed despite those "meticulous" efforts.
He also called for "more cooperation" between the security services in the two countries.

(With Reuters)


Arab coalition destroys several Houthi drones targeting southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys several Houthi drones targeting southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 23 April 2021

Arab coalition destroys several Houthi drones targeting southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys several Houthi drones targeting southern Saudi Arabia
  • Arab coalition: We will take all measures to protect civilians in accordance with international law

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said it had intercepted a Houthi drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia, Al Ekhbariya TV reported early Friday.
A second drone targeting the city of Khamis Mushait and a third toward Jazan were also intercepted, according to the local broadcaster.  
The coalition, which is fighting to restore the legitimacy of the internationally recognized government in Yemen, had said it will take all measures to protect civilians in accordance with international law.


King Salman calls for global approach to tackling climate change

King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
Updated 23 April 2021

King Salman calls for global approach to tackling climate change

King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
  • Saudi ruler tells summit of world leaders the challenges created by global warming do not respect national borders
  • Biden says US will reduce emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030; China, Russia also pledge to make cuts

NEW YORK: Boosting international cooperation is the “optimal solution” to tackling climate change, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told a summit of world leaders on Thursday.

He said global warming threatens lives on our planet and that the challenges “recognize no national borders.”

“The objective is sustainable development, and in order to achieve this there must be a comprehensive methodology that takes into account the different developments and circumstances that exist around the world,” King Salman said during the Leaders Summit on Climate, which was hosted by the US.

He said the Kingdom has launched packages of strategies and introduced regulations with the aim of using clean, renewable sources to produce 50 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2030.

“Enhancing the level of international cooperation is the optimal solution to meeting the challenges of climate change,” the king said.

“During our G20 presidency last year we advocated the need to adopt a notion of a circular carbon economy, launching two international initiatives to curb land degradation and to protect coral reefs.”

He added that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently announced two new environmental plans: the Green Saudi Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative. They aim to reduce carbon emissions in the region by more than 10 percent of current global contributions.

“These initiatives also aim at planting 50 billion trees in the region,” he said.

The Kingdom, he added, will work with its partners to achieve these goals and host forums for both initiatives later this year.

“Finally we would like to affirm our keenness and commitment to cooperation to combat climate change, in order to create a better environment for future generations, wishing success for our efforts to protect our planet,” he said.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden — who convened the summit with a view to building global momentum for climate action ahead of COP26, the UN’s

Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November — pledged to cut US fossil fuel emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030.

“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden said. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us.” He called it “a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity.”

In his presidential campaign last year, Biden made tackling climate change one of his top priorities. While Republicans oppose his plans on the grounds they will cost jobs in the coal, oil and gas industries, Biden believes that a transition to cleaner energy sources will create millions of well-paid jobs, a stance echoed by many of the world leaders who attended the summit.

“This is not bunny-hugging, this is about growth and jobs,” said the UK’s Conservative prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Forty leaders are taking part in the two-day summit. The UN has described 2021 as a “climate emergency” year, with scientists warning that climate change caused by the use of coal and other fossil fuels is exacerbating natural disasters such as droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires. There are fears that the world now faces a race against time to avoid the disastrous extremes of global warming.

The world’s most powerful nations have announced various measures to address the crisis. They include targets for reductions in harmful emissions, plans to stop the public financing of coal, and a commitment to integrating climate action into economic-stimulus plans in an effort to “build back better” after the pandemic-related economic collapse, with the goal of “leaving no one behind.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin also made commitments to reduce emissions. Neither of them made any mention of their respective non-climate disputes with Biden.

Xi — whose country is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed closely by the US — said that “to protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that.”

Putin, who Biden recently referred to as a “killer” because of the Russian leader’s crackdown on opponents, said his country is “genuinely interested in galvanizing international cooperation so as to look further for effective solutions to climate change as well as to all other vital challenges.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined a number of other leaders who spoke at the summit in welcoming the US back to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, from which President Donald Trump withdrew.

She told Biden: “There can be no doubt about the world needing your contribution if we really want to fulfill our ambitious goals.”

Small states and island nations, which contribute the least to greenhouse- gas emissions but face the most severe dangers and damage resulting from climate change as they are increasingly affected by hurricanes and rising sea levels, asked the major world powers for help.

Gaston Alfonso Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said his people are “teetering on the edge of despair.” He asked the international community for debt relief and assistance to help his country recover from the effects of storms and the pandemic, to “prevent a flow of climate refugees.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the commitments made during the summit to achieving carbon neutrality as “a much-needed boost to our collective efforts to address the climate crisis ahead of COP26 in November in Glasgow.”

He added: “It is now urgent that all countries, especially other major emitters, present their 2030 climate plans well before COP 26.”

Guterres also urged leaders to deliver on $100 billion of climate commitments made to developing countries a decade ago.

“The world will be watching carefully, particularly those already experiencing severe climate impacts and an ongoing economic crisis,” he said.

“Today’s summit shows the tide is turning for climate action, but there is still a long way to go. To avert a permanent climate catastrophe, we must now urgently build on the momentum delivered today, in this make-or-break year for people and the planet.”


‘Let’s Make it Green’ campaign plants 10 million trees across Saudi Arabia

The campaign focused on planting native tree species which have adapted to Saudi Arabia’s environment and require limited irrigation. (Supplied)
The campaign focused on planting native tree species which have adapted to Saudi Arabia’s environment and require limited irrigation. (Supplied)
Updated 23 April 2021

‘Let’s Make it Green’ campaign plants 10 million trees across Saudi Arabia

The campaign focused on planting native tree species which have adapted to Saudi Arabia’s environment and require limited irrigation. (Supplied)
  • Efforts will continue to plant more trees, in line with the ‘Green Saudi’ and ‘Green Middle East’ initiatives

RIYADH: A campaign to plant 10 million trees in 165 sites across the Kingdom to develop vegetation cover and limit desertification has been successfully completed.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the National Center for Vegetation Cover announced the success of the “Let’s Make it Green” campaign that was launched in October 2020. 

The campaign covered all of the Kingdom’s 13 provinces. The Eastern Province topped the list with more than 2.6 million trees planted, followed by more than 2.1 million in Madinah, over 1.3 million in Makkah, around 1 million in both Jazan and Riyadh, 462,000 in Qassim, and 270,000 in Asir.

Baha reached nearly 300,000, and more than 142,000 trees were planted in the Northern Border, followed by Jouf with more than 113,000, then Hail with about 85,000, Tabuk with over 75,000, and finally Najran with nearly 52,000 trees.

The campaign focused on planting native tree species which have adapted to Saudi Arabia’s environment and require limited irrigation. (Supplied)

The CEO of the center, Dr. Khaled Al-Abd Al-Qader, said that the campaign planted endangered trees and shrubs in areas that were environmentally degraded due to overgrazing, logging, uprooting, and urban sprawl.

“The campaign focused on planting native tree species which have adapted to Saudi Arabia’s environment and require limited irrigation,” he added.

The ministry ensured that the campaign was aligned with sustainability and water conservation requirements and by using treated wastewater or seawater for irrigation, in line with the best international practices.

The center and ministry worked in cooperation with various governmental authorities, private sector organizations, environmental associations, and community groups.

Minister of Water, Environment and Agriculture Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli said: “What we have accomplished is the result of the support and directions of the Saudi leadership to make the Kingdom a pioneer in protecting the Earth, achieve the international objectives in protecting the environment, increase the vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation, and preserve marine life.”

Efforts will continue to plant more trees, in line with the “Green Saudi” and “Green Middle East” initiatives, he added.

Al-Qader said that the “Let’s Make it Green” campaign has recovered biodiversity, rehabilitated degraded vegetation cover sites, promoted positive behaviors to preserve the nation’s environment and improve the quality of life in Saudi Arabia.