Tributes flow for pioneering Saudi director Tarek Riri

Tributes flow for pioneering Saudi director Tarek Riri
Tarek Ahmed Riri, second right, was part of the Saudi media delegation that accompanied the national team to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 November 2020

Tributes flow for pioneering Saudi director Tarek Riri

Tributes flow for pioneering Saudi director Tarek Riri
  • Tributes to Riri, who was believed to be in his late 70s when he died, poured in on social media from those who worked with him and others who had been inspired by his work over the years
  • He founded several channels, consulted on television affairs, and spent 3 decades working to improve the field

RIYADH: Famed Saudi television director Tarek Ahmed Riri died on Saturday of unknown causes. The news was broken by his daughter, journalist and radio presenter Hala Tarek Riri, who tweeted a traditional Islamic prayer for the deceased, followed by a second poignant message: “May God have mercy on you, the most tender of hearts.”
A former undersecretary of the Ministry of Information, Riri was a pioneer in the field of television directing and made several significant contributions to Saudi television during his time at the ministry.
His efforts paved the way for today’s directors. He founded several Saudi television channels, including Al-Ekhbariya, consulted frequently on television affairs throughout his career, and spent over three decades working tirelessly to improve the field.
Riri was known for his work in the field of sports directing, and was a household name among Saudi football fans. He was also a member of the media delegation that accompanied the Saudi national team to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Influenced by his father, he joined the military after graduating from Al-Falah School for Boys in Makkah before joining the Saudi Broadcasting Authority following its establishment by King Faisal.
Described as charismatic, softly spoken and eager to learn the trade, Riri began his media career as a cameraman. In an interview with Rotana Khalijia in 2014, he said the job “allowed me to find myself.” “I loved it,” he added.
Alongside his colleagues Husain Sabban, Talal Tarabulsi, Ishtiyaq Maroof, Mohammed Sunbol and others, Riri directed the first broadcast of the Hajj pilgrimage in the early 1970s to TV channels across the Kingdom. He recalled how the late King Faisal joined the group in the room where they were arranging equipment in readiness for the historic broadcast.
“It was as if you were sitting with your father. He looked at us with pride and we all felt that he was a father proud of his children.”
Tributes to Riri, who was believed to be in his late ’70s when he died, poured in on social media from those who worked with him and others who had been inspired by his work over the years.
Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, minister of commerce and acting minister of information, tweeted: “I offer my sincere condolences and sympathy to the family of the dear deceased Prof. Tarek Riri, who served the media in the Kingdom for years with dedication and sincerity. A director of Saudi television and an official who contributed greatly to the Ministry of Information.”
Hashim Abdo Hashim, leading Saudi journalist and former editor in chief of Arabic news daily Okaz, tweeted: “Our dear and beloved Tarek Riri, I was greatly saddened by the news of your death this morning. Your life was filled with outstanding achievements in TV and in media. May God have mercy on you, and my sincere condolences to your dear daughters, Suha and Hala, and to all your honorable family.”
Saudi television host Salah Alghaydan tweeted: “When I joined Saudi TV in 2002, he was the undersecretary for the Ministry of Information, and directors viewed him as a role model in the world of television direction. May God have mercy on him, and our condolences to the family of the deceased, and to all colleagues in the Saudi media.”
Riri is survived by his two daughters, Suha, general manager of Saudi Radio, and Hala, a program manager at Saudi Radio.


Saudi mayor honors British expat for 27 years of beach cleaning

Updated 04 December 2020

Saudi mayor honors British expat for 27 years of beach cleaning

Saudi mayor honors British expat for 27 years of beach cleaning
  • Expat Neil Walker has been cleaning the beaches in the area for 27 years
  • He has spotted a lot of debris left behind by other bathers

RIYADH: It was a visit to a Saudi beach that prompted a British expat to spend his day off cleaning the area – he continued his efforts for 27 years – now Neil Walker is being rewarded for his efforts.

The Brit had gone to a beach south of Half Moon Bay in Alkhobar when he discovered a vast amount of debris that was both washed up by the sea, or left behind by other visitors and decided to clean the area.

Now, after more than a quarter of a century, as Walker prepares to return home to Britain, he has been rewarded for his environmental work by the mayor of the Easter province, Fahd Al-Jubair.

Neil Walker — who  is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia — ‘is deeply humbled to be recognized for his cleanup drive’. (Supplied)

“For the last 27 years I have been visiting a stretch of beach in that area on my day off to spend the day on a potentially lovely beach looking out on the glorious Arabian Gulf,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it was marred by litter and manmade rubbish, either brought in by the tides or dumped by previous visitors. So I took it upon myself to clean the beach before settling down and then in the late afternoon to extend my cleaning activities to either side of my camping spot.”

The diverse ecosystem of the Arabian Gulf supports a range of coastal and marine life, including mangroves, sea grass, coral reefs – as well as a variety of creatures including dolphins, turtles and a rich variety of fish.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Eastern Province Mayor Fahd Al-Jubair presented Neil Walker with his certificate.
  • The mayor thanked Walker for his service to the Kingdom’s environment.
  • Walker is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia.
  • Eastern Province municipality has previously recognized the efforts of 200 Filipinos over the years for helping to clean the beaches and to promote awareness among other residents.
  • It has launched a number of initiatives intended to involve the public in keeping public areas free of waste.

The rapid industrialization of the area has introduced many environmental challenges that require human intervention, the fishing industry has also caused problems with discarded nets and traps that wild life get trapped in..

There have been numerous global campaigns encouraging people to pick up litter on beaches to help preserve the environment, ranging from arranged group clean ups to something as simple as encouraging each visitor to beaches to pick up three pieces of rubbish and place them in the bins provided.

Neil Walker has inspired creative environmental initiatives in Alkhobar. (Supplied)

“Although I have seen a slight improvement, a lot still needs to be done and hopefully the publicity I have received will be of value to this end,” Walker said.

“As I see it, the problem is that the majority of the public are unaware and are used to having other people cleaning up for them, they automatically think that it is somebody else’s responsibility. This needs to change,” Walker said, adding that he was deeply humbled and honored to be recognized for his limited contribution in cleaning up the beaches.

“A few years ago, I assume there was a change in management in the municipality, resulting in a new logo and cleaning crew, which has led to a greatly improved street cleaning and public area routine and the introduction of many waste bins, which are now being used by the public,” he continued.

Neil Walker has inspired creative environmental initiatives in Alkhobar. (Supplied)

Eastern Province Mayor Fahd Al-Jubair presented Walker — who is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia — with his certificate and thanked him for his service to the Kingdom’s environment.

“We hope this message gets across to residents of the Eastern Province. We are keen to honor all efforts to protect the environment and to recognize creative initiatives aimed at preserving the environment whether from Saudi nationals or expatriate residents,” Al-Jubair told Arab News, urging all members of the public to work together to protect the environment.

Eastern Province municipality has previously recognized the efforts of 200 Filipinos over the years for helping to clean the beaches and to promote awareness among other residents.

Like several other municipalities nationwide, it has launched a number of initiatives intended to involve the public in keeping public areas free of waste in order to better preserve the environment.