Ahmed Al-Balawi, Director general of Mashroat — National Project Management Organization

Ahmed Al-Balawi
Updated 19 November 2019

Ahmed Al-Balawi, Director general of Mashroat — National Project Management Organization

  • Director general of National Project Management Organization since May 2016

Ahmed Al-Balawi has been the director general of Mashroat — National Project Management Organization since May 2016.
Al-Balawi did his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in 1989. Subsequently, he joined the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu as a mechanical engineer in 1997. During his tenure at the commission, he served in key positions and continued to climb the ladder to become the general manager of technical affairs in 2010.
Mashroat is the government arm enabling infrastructure projects. It provides consultancy and technical support to government agencies in project management, operation, and maintenance to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of the national infrastructure, as well as ensuring the projects are in line with global best practices and meet the aspirations of Vision 2030.
Mashroat and King Fahd Causeway Authority (KFCA) signed a memorandum of understanding to raise the efficiency of KFCA’s facility and asset management as well as its overall operation and maintenance practices as it embarks on ambitious plans to build a second causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Commenting on the deal, Al-Balawi said: “Our role will be to help them (KFCA) benefit from global standards and enhance the facility and asset management operation.
“Our partnerships represent positive progress towards achieving facility management at an international level and raising the overall efficiency and sustainability of major infrastructure projects.”

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.