Riyadh ramps up Ramadan tourism efforts

Riyadh ramps up Ramadan tourism efforts
Masmak fort, a remnant of the old Riyadh. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 May 2019

Riyadh ramps up Ramadan tourism efforts

Riyadh ramps up Ramadan tourism efforts
  • Riyadh has seen travel and tourism receipts grow by an average of 7.9 percent a year since 2006, twice as fast as in Makkah

RIYADH: The capital’s tourism authority has heightened efforts to provide the best services to visitors during Ramadan and the summer break, with the schools closed for the long vacation. 
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) Riyadh branch has started its seasonal plans by increasing inspections of tourist facilities.
Abdulaziz Aal Hassan, director-general of the SCTH for the Riyadh region, said the tourism plan involved inspections of accommodation, agencies and services.
Hundreds of inspections have already been carried out, he added, and the SCTH Riyadh branch was working with agencies and accommodation providers to organize events and programs. Museums and heritage villages were also ready to receive visitorsduring Ramadan and the subsequent Eid holidays. 
The region is home to a number of attractions. Ad Diriyah, located on the outskirts of Riyadh, is in the historic At-Turaif district. It was once the home of the Saudi royal family and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Restoring At-Turaif and Ad Diriyah is one of the many projects under way to boost tourism in the Kingdom, in line with the Vision 2030 reform plan. 
The city’s sights include Masmak Fort, a remnant of the old oasis town that was Riyadh, and Murabba Palace, the palace of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz, which is now known as the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center. Ashikar Heritage Village, characterized by its old mud buildings has become a major attraction for tourists and locals. The site is 200 kilometers from the capital and features a  museum and traditional architecture. 

Riyadh has seen travel and tourism receipts grow by an average of 7.9 percent a year since 2006, twice as fast as in Makkah, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). It said the sector generated $3.4 billion for Riyadh in 2016, although this represented just 2.2 percent of the city’s gross domestic product.
The WTTC added that tourist-related employment in the city grew at a faster pace than most other cities in the decade to 2016 and that the capital had a high reliance on the international market, with 83 percent of visitor spend from inbound sources.
This share has doubled in the past 10 years and the number of foreign arrivals has tripled.


Saudi school principal gets into Guinness for largest mural using water bottle caps

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
Updated 11 min 16 sec ago

Saudi school principal gets into Guinness for largest mural using water bottle caps

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
  • With determination and consistency, Khulood Al-Fadli continued her work ‘and never gave up’

JEDDAH: Khulood Al-Fadli, a school principal in Jeddah, has joined the ranks of Guinness World Records holders by creating the planet’s largest mosaic using plastic bottle caps.

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250-square-meter map of the world using 350,000 plastic bottle caps. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94-square- meter crescent mosaic in Miziara, Lebanon.
“I feel beyond the moon. I really felt my work had paid off,” Al-Fadli told Arab News.
“The image doesn’t matter as the size determines if I’m breaking a record and Guinness World Records had so many requirements to break a record or set a new record,” she said.
Meeting the requirements to break the record proved especially difficult due to turbulent weather conditions affecting her outdoor mosaic.
“I went through difficult days of the wind blowing all my water caps away, which delayed the project for a week. But with determination, consistency and with the help of my volunteers and most of all my family and husband, I continued my work and never gave up,” she said.
The project was aimed at shedding light on three events; World Environment Day — collecting plastic and recycling — World Oceans Day — not throwing plastics into oceans or the sea because of its negative effects on the environment — and United Nations Public Service Day — the importance of community volunteering. Al-Fadli said that all three world days met Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and its sustainable goals.

HIGHLIGHT

The project was aimed at shedding light on three events; World Environment Day — collecting plastic and recycling — World Oceans Day — not throwing plastics into oceans or the sea because of its negative effects on the environment — and United Nations Public Service Day — the importance of community volunteering.

She said that her target volunteers were children, “since they are the future generation.” Al-Fadli was first inspired by student responses after she introduced the topic of global warming and recycling to children at the school.
Al-Fadli said that one pupil had asked: “’Does that mean our earth will die?’ She continued: “He questioned angrily, almost saying how dare people do this to our only planet.”
She told him that people could start change with themselves and a simple step to save the earth was to “collect plastics and make a humane project out of it.”
With the help of her students, family and friends, and the growing number of plastic bottle cap donors, “within 40 days of work, the news kept spreading and people from all over Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Taif came to donate.”
She said that the donors were eager to see the outcome, with even the youngest of volunteers excited to see the end result. “They were amazed by how lovely and huge the map is, they promised to save plastics and reuse them or donate it to me for the sake of the Earth.”
Al-Fadli said that creating art out of recyclables was a fulfilling experience — and that she had always had an affinity for maps while growing up.
“Since I was a child, I used to love drawing maps. I don’t know why but it feels like I’m flying. Seeing a huge map was like a dream,” she said.


Who’s Who: Maha Al-Shunaifi, director of marketing and corporate communication at Intigral

Maha Al-Shunaifi. (Supplied)
Maha Al-Shunaifi. (Supplied)
Updated 7 min 20 sec ago

Who’s Who: Maha Al-Shunaifi, director of marketing and corporate communication at Intigral

Maha Al-Shunaifi. (Supplied)

Maha Al-Shunaifi is the director of marketing and corporate communication at Intigral.
She was born in October, 1981 in Riyadh, and has an interest in reading, sports and traveling.
Al-Shunaifi completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Marymount Mount University, the US, in 2002.
She has more than 10 years of expertise overseeing high-impact PR, marketing, and general internal and external communications projects in her role as a goal-driven and passionate communication professional. Al-Shunaifi is also a longtime campaign manager and employee engagement expert. She is keen to continue to develop her career path, emerging as a self-built female leader and a role model for ambitious Saudi women.
Prior to joining Intigral, Al-Shunaifi held several leading positions in local and international organizations, where she served as marketing and corporate communication manager at Najm for Insurance Services for two years, and as senior corporate communications manager at Jawwy from STC (Saudi Telecommunication Company).
She also served as an integrated brand and communication manager at Philips KSA and held several positions at Ericsson between 2009 and 2013, as regional public and media relations manager in Dubai and communications manager in KSA. In 2012, Al-Shunaifi moved to Sweden where she lived and worked for one year, serving as global brand engagement manager and as global brand manager within the corporate communications department at Ericsson in Stockholm.

Inspired by the Kingdom’s leadership and its role in empowering female leaders across various sectors, Al-Shunaifi has successfully contributed to the success of the organizations she has worked with, adding value to their communication operations and supporting the creation of a positive work environment by encouraging staff to share expertise and collaborate to gain new achievements.


Saudi gaming developers level up in growing market

The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
Updated 21 min 50 sec ago

Saudi gaming developers level up in growing market

The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
  • Saudi Arabia home to 21.2 million gamers, has seen its gaming industry jump 4.1 percent this year, making it the world’s 19th-largest market

JEDDAH: Out of the many growing industries in Saudi Arabia, the gaming industry is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, with developers taking standards to the next level in an exciting new territory.
In 2020, the Saudi gaming market was estimated to be worth SR2.6 billion ($690 million), with various platforms being launched to give confidence to developers, entrepreneurs and investors so they can continue building the industry.
The Kingdom, home to 21.2 million gamers, has seen its gaming industry jump 4.1 percent this year, making it the world’s 19th-largest market.
Mohammad Waleed Hashim, a 30-year-old indie game developer, is currently producing a game the revolves around a player who needs to find his way through the deserts of Saudi Arabia, training herds of camels, befriending desert folk, fighting off predators and navigating the mysteries of the desert, just like his grandfather once did.
“The Shepherd” is set to be released soon on the Steam platform for $10 with no additional in-game purchases, a plan he says will allow gamers to enjoy it more.
Indie games are made by a small group of people, or in Hashim’s case, a single developer.
Apart from occasionally hiring freelancers for the art and design, Hashim said: “The game focuses more on the mechanics and the story and less on the graphical aspects.”
The developer said that the game was meant to be a small hobby, but it rolled into a bigger project and became the detailed product it is today. “The Arab touches were very important to me because I wanted something the players could relate to,” he said, adding: “I found a picture of my grandfather wearing traditional clothes and that’s where the inspiration for the character design started.”
Abdullah Bamashmoos, founder of Jeddah-based game development studio Hakawati, said games that allow children to build their own in-game worlds — such as Minecraft and Roblox — can influence young children to jump on the bandwagon.
“That opens the possibility of one day creating their own games in Saudi Arabia, the generation that grew up playing the games that enhanced their creativity are now learning to develop actual games,” said Bamashmoos.
The 31-year-old developer said that there were a small number of gaming studios a few years ago, so he could not pursue his passion for developing games right away. He faced opposition from his community when he started investing his time and money into development.
“What kept me going is that all crazy ideas start somewhere and although things like augmented reality were once believed to be science fiction stories, it became a profitable reality years later. So, I figured that the technology here in Saudi Arabia will advance far enough and I was able to foresee a future in what I was investing in.”
Bamashmoos said that his journey was one of trial and error: “I would create files, scavenge the internet for solutions to some of the software issues, delete files, and start from scratch.”
According to the developers, it is not just the software skills that aspiring developers need to work on, Bamashmoos said that they also need to work on their team-building abilities and finding efficient developers who are willing to work hard throughout the development stage of their games.
“Another thing that Saudi developers need to do is keep practising and learning additional talents so they can gradually progress in the industry.”
When the two developers started on their journeys over 10 years ago, the internet was not as rich with information as it is now, which has been a game-changer for developers.
They can now find a treasure trove of information for free or very low prices, which Bamashmoos said could ease the production pipeline.
“Developers in the country are also helpful since the community is small, the ones who are interested can get help from the professionals easily.”
Despite Hashim’s struggle with the industry, he is hoping to build a small gaming studio.
“I have so many ideas for more games after this one, seven to be precise. I look forward to hiring people who can work with me.”


Saudi Arabia and France discuss digital transformation, space cooperation

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Arabia and France discuss digital transformation, space cooperation

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
  • Al-Swaha met COO of French National Center for Space Studies to discuss potential for partnerships in the research and scientific fields

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier in Paris on Monday.
Acting CEO of the Saudi Space Commission Dr. Mohammed Al-Tamimi and President of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Dr. Munir bin Mahmoud El-Desouki also attended the meeting, along with a number of Saudi and French officials.
The two parties spoke about enhancing bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom and France in technical and digital transformation, space and innovation.
The meeting outlined stimulating the growth of the digital economy and the innovation system. It discussed accelerating the adoption of modern technologies in the Middle East and North Africa by relying on the digital and logistical platform provided by the Kingdom as a hub connecting continents, in addition to the Saudi Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which was recently inaugurated in Riyadh.
Al-Swaha, also the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Space Commission, met Lionel Suchet, the chief operating officer of the French National Center for Space Studies, in Paris.
They discussed cooperation in the space sector and its technologies, including the potential for partnerships in the research and scientific fields.
They also talked about technical cooperation and ways to stimulate innovation and investment in the space sector, which is experiencing significant growth globally, along with the development of human capital and capacity building.
This meeting took place during a tour by Al-Swaha that includes visits to institutions and companies involved in the space sector in the UK and France. It aims to enhance the work of the Saudi Space Authority and its cooperation with international bodies specializing in space and its technologies.


Saudi foreign minister congratulates Algerian counterpart on assuming his post

Saudi foreign minister congratulates Algerian counterpart on assuming his post
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi foreign minister congratulates Algerian counterpart on assuming his post

Saudi foreign minister congratulates Algerian counterpart on assuming his post

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan made a phone call on Monday to the his Algerian counterpart Ramdane Lamamra, during which he congratulated him on assuming his post.
Prince Faisal said he looked forward to working with him in strengthening relations between the two countries, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
During the call, they reviewed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them to achieve the interests of both countries, in addition to discussing regional and international developments of common concern.