Saudi Arabia's AlUla to be developed into world’s largest living museum

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to develop AlUla into the world’s largest living museum and a major heritage, cultural, arts and adventure tourism destination. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 February 2020

Saudi Arabia's AlUla to be developed into world’s largest living museum

  • Kingdom wants 2m visitors to county by 2035
  • The development plans were announced during the 10th UN World Urban Forum in Abu Dhab

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to develop AlUla into the world’s largest living museum and a major heritage, cultural, arts and adventure tourism destination.
AlUla is known for its natural beauty and archaeological diversity. It has hosted major cultural events, including a site-responsive outdoor art installation featuring the work of Saudi and international artists.
The development plans were announced during the 10th UN World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.
“The balanced development strategy places people first as part of a broader commitment to become an open living museum for the world and a global center for culture, heritage, arts and eco-tourism projects,” the CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), Amr Al-Madani, said. “We chose the World Urban Forum as a credible global platform to engage with the world’s leading developers and sustainability experts and share our plans for the long-term, responsible development of AlUla as the world’s largest living museum. By combining heritage with nature, we are transforming the cultural landscape of AlUla and establishing the county as a global tourism destination with a thriving economy and local community.”
Saudi Arabia aims to host two million visitors a year in AlUla by 2035. The RCU, the authority responsible for protecting and promoting the area, estimates the project will create more than 67,000 new jobs, almost half of them in the tourism sector.
“We invite experts from around the world to join us on our journey which means we learn and innovate together. We see a clear road ahead as we attract investment and continue to protect, preserve, share and celebrate our heritage and nature with the world. Not only have we opened our doors to travelers benefiting from Saudi Arabia’s new tourist visas, we’ve also delivered the infrastructure that is central to growth,” Al-Madani added.
He said that a new airport had been launched and that it had the potential to become a transport and logistics hub for northwest Saudi Arabia. There was also a distinctive concert hall with a 500-seat capacity, he added.
The RCU’s Francesca Arici, who is responsible for coordinating development of the masterplans, briefed organizations and agencies at the forum about the commission’s future strategy.
“This is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime development program that requires drawing together international best practice in numerous and diverse fields and sectors,” she said. “We must balance light-touch tourism with sensitive development designed to benefit the local community while still protecting rare ecosystems and archaeology. We are moving at pace but ensuring we embrace the needs and demands of the local community as we work together for a common goal.  A number of major infrastructure plans have already been realized and it is anticipated that we will introduce new building permits and design guidelines to AlUla in March, boosting local economic growth and prosperity.”
Around 80 percent of AlUla county will be protected, including cultural and natural heritage sites.


Saudi female lawyers praise Justice Ministry’s efforts to empower women

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Updated 52 min 50 sec ago

Saudi female lawyers praise Justice Ministry’s efforts to empower women

  • Compared to the previous status of women at the Justice Ministry, Al-Daknan said this latest step was a significant achievement

JEDDAH: Several Saudi female lawyers have praised the Justice Ministry’s decision to appoint 100 female notaries as a step forward for women’s legal empowerment.
“We appreciate Justice Minister Walid Al-Samani’s … rapid steps toward empowering women to work in all available jobs, considering them viable components of society, particularly in the justice sector,” lawyer Njnood Qasim told Arab News.
She added: “We hope that it will be the beginning of an important and most anticipated step, which is the appointment of a Saudi woman as a judge.”
Qasim noted that many qualified women have been recruited by the Justice Ministry for the first time in history to work in the fields of law, Shariah, sociology, administration and technology.
Lawyer Rana Al-Daknan, meanwhile, said she thought women could fill any role in society. “An ambassador, an undersecretary, a minister, but I think no woman should be a minister before women become judges,” she told Arab News.
Compared to the previous status of women at the Justice Ministry, Al-Daknan said this latest step was a significant achievement, but added: “Of course we are looking for more, though that does not mean we should not appreciate this step.”

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The newly appointed female notaries will officially start their work next Sunday with a specialized training program lasting three months.

Al-Daknan explained that women first began obtaining notary licenses in 2018, and the services they offer include documentation, transferring property, authorizing powers of attorney submissions and other services.
“The next step for women is working with conciliation committees, which is known in other countries as being a magistrate. Thankfully it is possible now for both men and women to obtain conciliation licenses, where they will assume the role of the judge,” Al-Daknan said. “I personally have applied and (am) in the process to obtain this license.”
Another lawyer, Abrar Shaket, told Arab News that this move was the natural result of the Kingdom’s steps to empower its female citizens under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.