Saudi Arabia to host F1 powerboat world championship opener

The Dammam Grand Prix has attracted 18 powerboat racers from 11 countries. (Supplied)
Updated 26 March 2019

Saudi Arabia to host F1 powerboat world championship opener

  • The race, which features 18 drivers from 11 countries, will mark the end of the Eastern Province Season, the first of the recently launched “Saudi Seasons” tourism campaign

DAMMAM: The Kingdom will host the opening round of the UIM Formula 1 World Powerboat Championship (F1H2O) at the Dammam Corniche.
Considered one of the world’s most competitive, dangerous and thrilling sports championships, the event will begin next Thursday and run for three days, culminating with 20 of the world’s most famous powerboat racers competing for the grand prix on Saturday.
Hosted by countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the 2019 F1H2O circuits were officially unveiled at a press conference by the Union Internationale Motonautique (International Federation of Marine Sports) in Monaco on March 23, during which it was announced that Saudi Arabia will host the opening round, in the presence Prince Albert II of Monaco, world champion racers and senior F1H2O representatives.
The event will be held under the guidance of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, and in cooperation with the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation (SWSDF).
Dammam hosting the event is a result of the efforts by the General Sports Authority to bring sports activities to the Kingdom by hosting prominent international events to enhance the local sports sector. These efforts also aim to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s position as a leading sports destination in the Middle East, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The race, which features 18 drivers from 11 countries, will mark the end of the Eastern Province Season, the first of the recently launched “Saudi Seasons” tourism campaign, which includes 11 tourist seasons spanning most of the Kingdom’s regions.
“The General Sports Authority is looking to significantly augment the local sports sector with various sports, leisure and tourism activities to boost its development and sustainability and key related sectors such as leisure and tourism, as well as strengthen the Kingdom’s position as a leading destination in the Middle East for the world’s largest events,” Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said.
“We value the partnership we have forged with the International Federation of Marine Sports, through which we seek to support the Kingdom’s drive to transform the sports sector from the traditional model to a competitive model that boasts attractive investment, entertainment and tourism opportunities by adopting the very highest international standards.”
Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation, said: “We are proud to host the F1 Powerboat World Championship and the 11 countries who are participating in the Dammam race. It will be the perfect culmination of the Eastern Province tourism season, the first of the recently launched Saudi Seasons initiative. Through these water sports, we aim to establish a new sports program of events and activities that will encourage more people to play sports and introduce these types of water sports to Saudi youth.”
Prince Sultan said that the event is expected to draw more 20,000 spectators from Saudi Arabia and abroad: “I take this opportunity to invite everyone to come and enjoy the event. I would also like to thank the event sponsors, and look forward to the results of the tremendous joint efforts between the various government bodies to provide a modern and unique experience for excitement and adventure seekers from Saudi Arabia and abroad.”
“Sports events hosted by Saudi Arabia in collaboration with global partners send a clear message that the Kingdom is opening its doors to the world and introducing it to its natural wonders and varied terrains, especially in the Eastern Province,” Prince Sultan said.
Former F1H20 President Nicolo di San Germano said: “We are delighted to start the 36th season of the UIM F1H2O World Championship in Dammam. I would like to thank the General Sports Authority, the SWSDF for their hard work and cooperation that has enabled us to extend our racing footprint in the Middle East and return to Saudi Arabia.”
“The championship and the sport of powerboat racing have a historic, highly successful and valued association with GCC countries which began in 1993, and we look forward to a renewed and long-lasting association of racing in Saudi Arabia,” di San Germano said.


Life getting back to normal as restaurants, coffee shops reopen across KSA

It is also mandatory for restaurants and coffee shops to check the temperature of customers, and ensure a space of at least 1.5 meters between them. (AN photo by Fahad Al-Zahrani)
Updated 01 June 2020

Life getting back to normal as restaurants, coffee shops reopen across KSA

  • The government has laid out rules and regulations for employees returning to work in the state and private sectors

RIYADH: Restaurants and coffee shops in Saudi Arabia have reopened their dine-in sections to customers after more than two months of closure as a part of the lockdown imposed by the government to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The reopening comes as a part of the second phase of a government plan, announced on May 26, to resume economic activity and gradually return to normal.
The second phase reduces the curfew and increases time allowed for people to venture out to 14 hours a day, and permitted the resumption of domestic flights.
Arab News toured different neighborhoods in Riyadh, and noticed a large number of people meeting their families and friends in restaurants and coffee shops. Most of them adhered to the government’s regulations of social distancing and were wearing face masks.
Siham Hassanain, CEO and founder of Siham International Trading Co. that owns and operates a chain of restaurants and coffee shops, said that she had not expected such a huge number of people to show up.
 “People want to go out, yet the coronavirus still exists. It still poses a danger and is still spreading.”
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural affairs posted a series of tweets regarding the protocol that restaurants and coffee shops should follow.
As per the protocol, they are obliged to limit the maximum number of clients who can sit at a table to 5 people unless members of one family. It is also mandatory for restaurants and coffee shops to check the temperature of customers, and ensure a space of at least 1.5 meters between them.
The regulations also advise food providers to use disposable items to serve food such as paper or plastic cups and dishes as well as electronic food menus. It also restricts some practices that may contribute to the spread of the virus such as serving Shisha or opening children’s playing areas in shops.
Hassanain said that most people were complying with government instructions, and most of the violations had come from teenagers and young adults.
Riham Ahmed, a 23-year-old student from Riyadh, said she chose to have her lunch with her friends in a restaurant despite fears expressed by her family.
“I’m taking all the preventive measures, putting (on) my face mask and staying away from crowded places, but I have to meet people and go outside, I can’t afford more time of isolation at home,” she said.
The government has also laid out rules and regulations for employees returning to work in the state and private sectors. For the time being, offices are not to be filled to capacity, with only 30 percent of employees allowed to occupy them at any given time, and those in offices must have their temperatures checked prior to entering the building.
The rules also state that handshakes are banned, face masks must be worn at all times, and employees must use sanitizer to wash their hands regularly throughout the day. Furthermore, employees with preexisting health conditions such as immune deficiencies, asthma or respiratory problems, or the morbidly obese, are all exempt from returning to work.

FASTFACT

The reopening comes as a part of the second phase of a government plan, announced on May 26, to resume economic activity and gradually return to normal.

The ministry also recommends that digital means be relied on as much as possible in order to minimize contact and try to prevent people from returning to their offices unless necessary. The full list of regulations is available on the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s website.
Sarah S, a government employee, told Arab News that she had gone back to work but that she was not sure how much she liked the environment. “The office was mostly empty, and it felt wrong. Like when you stay late on a Thursday or come in on a weekend. It’s very eerie and a little unsettling to see so many empty desks,” she said.
She added that while the office was taking every precaution, people were still cautious about the reopening and a constant sense of apprehension still filled the office.
“Everyone is on edge. It will take a lot of time for us to readjust to the idea of being in an office. Things that seemed so normal and mundane before, like handshakes, or sharing files, are all causes for concern now,” she said. However, some employees, who are still working from home, feel the opposite way and wish that they could be in the office instead.
Nawaf M, a human resources employee at a private company in Riyadh, said that everyone from his department was still working from home, but he would prefer to be in the office.
“I don’t like working from home. I feel like the office atmosphere is so important to maintaining a sense of professionalism and producing results,” he said.
While he realized that the threat of the coronavirus is still strong, he said that practicing good “pandemic etiquette” would ensure his safety and allow life to regain some normality again.