Dakar rally stops at Al-Wajh, a city rich with history

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Residents of Al-Wajh hope the Dakar Rally 2020 will attract investors and boost tourism. (Arab News)
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Residents of Al-Wajh hope the Dakar Rally 2020 will attract investors and boost tourism. (Arab News)
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Residents of Al-Wajh hope the Dakar Rally 2020 will attract investors and boost tourism. (Arab News)
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Updated 07 January 2020

Dakar rally stops at Al-Wajh, a city rich with history

  • The old city’s pristine environment has placed it high on the list of cities to visit for locals and tourists
  • Historians differ on the origins of its name, which translates as “the face” 

AL-WAJH: Al-Wajh, on the Red Sea coast, is one of the most attractive Saudi cities. With a long history of welcoming sailors and visitors, it is a fitting setting for the first stage of Dakar Rally 2020.
The old city’s pristine environment, barely touched by development projects, has placed it high on the list of cities to visit for locals and tourists alike in modern times but its location was primeval. 
According to local newspaper columnist and media figure Ahmed Al-Balawi, historians differ on the origins of the name, which translates as “the face.” 
“The most acceptable one is that the city is located on a relatively high plateau above the Red Sea, and is considered to be the starting point of the land of the Hijaz region for people sailing from the African continent. It is the first area of the Arabian Peninsula that they ‘face’ when approaching land.”
Al-Balawi said that historians believe that the port of Al-Wajh has been known since ancient times, even before Islam, and was used by the Nabateans. The city is known for the remains of a Roman port at Al-Qusayer, 45 km to the south.
“The port became vitally important during the Islamic era, especially during the Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman dynasties.”
Al-Balawi said that Dakar Rally 2020 had received great media coverage, and “this means media will focus on the city, which has all the necessary tourist attractions beginning from the moderate weather throughout the year, the presence of virgin beaches, picturesque islands, diversity of fish, coral reefs, diving, archaeological castles and houses and mosques; the thing that will definitely have a great impact on the development of the city.”
“I am thrilled to see the Dakar in our city for the first time. This means the city will be globally known through the international media coverage that is expected to accompany the events,” he said.“This major historical sporting event will allow young people of Al-Wajh to learn more about the race. This could pave the way for the local talents to practice this type of sport and hopefully become champions.”
Al-Balawi said that the governorate of Al-Wajh is part of the Red Sea Project and the mega project of Amaala. 
“Al-Wajh is the nearest sea port to AlUla and is to the south of the $500 billion megacity of NEOM. All these factors are expected to significantly contribute to the development of this city, raise economic growth rates and create new job opportunities for the citizens,” he said.
Al-Balawi said that the only thing the residents, estimated at 45,000, are currently in need of is that investors speed up implementing the investment opportunities that the city has provided. “These include establishing commercial malls and recreational zones,” he said.

   


Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

King Salman chairs the virtual meeting. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

  • King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday congratulated the Presidency of State Security for its work in identifying and apprehending the suspected members of a terror cell in the Kingdom.

Some of those who were arrested allegedly trained at sites in Iran run by the country’s Revolutionary Guards. A cache of weapons and explosives was also seized.

Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the presidency’s employees in tracking down those who threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom and the safety of those who live there.

Majid Al-Qasabi, the acting minister of media, said that while reviewing the latest regional and international developments, cabinet members reiterated the Kingdom’s call during the recent International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference for the international community to adopt a firm stance on Iran, and take steps to address its violations of international agreements relating to its nuclear-research program. They also reaffirmed Saudi support for efforts, in partnership with the international community, to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman, who began by passing on his condolences and sympathy to the people of Kuwait and the family of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday. He also congratulated the emir’s successor, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day. He also briefed ministers on his recent telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to further develop them.

The cabinet commended the king for his speech during the UN’s 75th General Assembly in New York, during which he emphasized the his country’s continued commitment to assisting the international community in efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its humanitarian and economic implications.

Ministers also noted that his speech reflected the Kingdom’s dedication to security, stability and prosperity as a strategic choice, its call for peaceful coexistence, moderation and solidarity among all countries and peoples to address humanitarian challenges, its support for political solutions to conflicts, and its efforts to combat extremism in all its forms.

Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet welcomed the announcement by the Kingdom that the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place as planned as scheduled on Nov. 21 and 22, albeit virtually as a result of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia hold the presidency of the G20 this year.

Ministers also expressed their appreciation for international efforts, led by G20 countries, that have resulted in the provision of more than $21 billion to support the production of diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the pandemic, and the development and distribution of vaccines. In addition, more than $11 trillion has been allocated to protect the global economy, and more than $14 billion to mitigate the debt burdens of less-developed countries and help fund their health services and social programs. The Cabinet also reviewed the latest local and international developments in the pandemic, along with preparations for the safe resumption of Umrah.

Ministers reiterated the Saudi call, during an emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, for urgent action to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as a result of the deteriorating condition of the oil tanker Safer, which has been anchored off the coast of Yemen, near Ras Issa port, since 2015.

The Cabinet also expressed its concern over developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged both sides to agree a ceasefire and resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.