Saudi Arabia’s megaprojects in spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair

The fair continues until March 23 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. (SPA)
Updated 19 March 2019

Saudi Arabia’s megaprojects in spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair

  • UN-recognized Saudi cultural heritage showcased
  • The Red Sea gate shows a virtual image of the Kingdom’s coast in the future

RIYADH: Visitors arriving at the Riyadh International Book Fair 2019, one of the region’s largest cultural events, enter through four main gates bearing the names of the Saudi Vision 2030’s megaprojects: Neom, Qiddiyah, Red Sea and Amaala. The aim is to introduce visitors to the Kingdom’s hopes, ambitions and future plans.

The first gate leads visitors to virtual photos of the Qiddiya project. This is a cultural, sports and recreational project in Al-Qidiyya city, southwest of Riyadh. The city was named after the Aba Al-Qid road (Camel Trail) that used to connect Al-Yamama to Hijaz.
The second gate, Neom, contained a large electronic chip, alternative energy-based lighting and photos of Neom future projects. Neom is based in three countries, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, with a half-a-trillion-dollar investment and the support of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
Located in the northwest of the Kingdom, the project will stretch across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. Neom aims to transform the Kingdom into an international pioneering example, through the introduction of value chains of industry and technology.
The origin of the name is a combination of the word “neo” — Latin for “new,” and the first letter “m” of the Arabic word “mustaqbal” which translates as “future.”
The Red Sea gate shows a virtual image of the Kingdom’s coast in the future. This is a touristic project that includes more than 50 islands located between the cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh. It covers a number of the Red Sea’s untouched islands, as well as the archaeological site of Madain Saleh and a nature reserve containing regional flora and fauna.
The Amaala project displayed at the fourth gate of the fair will offer an ultra-luxurious touristic experience focused upon wellness, healthy living and meditation, thanks to the site’s moderate climate. The project will be within the Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve in the northwest of the Kingdom, to the south of the Neom project.

Cultural heritage
Saudi cultural heritage, that has been officially recognized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is being celebrated with an exhibition at the fair. The display includes official UNESCO certificates awarded in recognition of the importance of Arab and Saudi culture and traditions such as the mizmar flute; Arabic coffee; the majlis; Al-Qatt Al-Asiri interior wall decorations; the Ardeh, the Saudi folkloric dance; and falconry.
Falconry has been on UNESCOS’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2012. The Ardeh, which was added in 2016, combines poetry, swordplay and drums, and is one of the most prominent performing arts in the Kingdom.
Arabic coffee, added in 2015, has been an important part of life in the region for hundreds of years and has its own deeply rooted customs and traditions. Majlis, a gathering place for social events, discussions of social issues and honoring guests, was also added in 2015.
The mizmar flute, registered by UNESCO in 2016, is one of the best-known musical arts in the Hijaz region. Al-Qatt Al-Asiri was the most recent Saudi addition to the list, in 2017. It is a traditional form of art that women use to decorate the interior walls of Asiri homes.


Organization of Islamic Cooperation to adopt Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam

Updated 28 February 2020

Organization of Islamic Cooperation to adopt Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam

  • OIC secretary-general notes that the organization continues to condemn the ideological rhetoric adopted by terrorist groups

JEDDAH: Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen announced on Wednesday that the OIC will adopt the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI) after it is revised in accordance with international human-rights standards. The foreign ministers of the OIC member states are expected to approve the CDHRI at their meeting in Niamey, Niger in April.

 Al-Othaimeen was speaking at the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), held in Geneva on Wednesday, where he highlighted some of the efforts the OIC has made to fight racism and xenophobia — including Islamophobia — claiming that they are the result of “intellectual and political resistance to cultural pluralism.”

He said the OIC, in cooperation with its partners, has prepared “a comprehensive and consensual approach to address incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion.”

Al-Othaimeen’s speech, which was delivered on his behalf by OIC Geneva Permanent Representative Nassima Baghli, stressed that terrorism, including religious extremism, is a major source of concern for the international community. He pointed out that the OIC continues to condemn the ideological rhetoric adopted by terrorist groups and has established the Sawt Al-Hikma (Voice of Wisdom) Center, which focuses on addressing the ideological rhetoric of extremists.

His speech also reviewed the most common human-rights violations suffered by Muslims, referring to the detailed documentation from the UN’s own human rights bodies and the OIC of discrimination and violence against the Rohingya Muslims.

Al-Othaimeen explained that America’s actions in Palestine in recent months required the OIC to stress that any peace initiative between Israel and Palestine must be consistent with legitimate rights, foremost among which is the right to self-determination.

He also stressed the OIC’s support for Kashmiris in their pursuit of their legitimate right to self-determination in accordance with international resolutions and highlighted the OIC’s condemnation of Armenia’s continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven regions bordering Azerbaijan.