DGDA chief strives always to be the perfect neighbor

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif district. (Saleh Alanzi)
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Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif district. (Saleh Alanzi)
Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif district. (Saleh Alanzi)
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Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif district. (Saleh Alanzi)
Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif district. (Saleh Alanzi)
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Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif district. (Saleh Alanzi)
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Updated 06 December 2020

DGDA chief strives always to be the perfect neighbor

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif district. (Saleh Alanzi)
  • Diriyah Gate Development Authority CEO Jerry Inzerillo tells Arab News that his first priority is always to serve the local community

RIYADH: “To be a good neighbor, you have to be there in the community. You have to serve the community.”

This is the philosophy that drives Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), in his work. In an interview with Arab News he revealed how the authority aims to be an integral part of the Diriyah community. A good example of how this translates into action is the fact that 15 percent of the organization’s employees come from the area.

“The community does not serve DGDA,” he said. “Thanks to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Ahmad bin Abdullah, who has done an amazing job as governor (of Diriyah), we’re putting a lot of money into hiring within our community.”

Speaking against the spectacular backdrop of Salwa Palace, a popular local attraction and one of his favorite places, Inzerillo said DGDA is investing in its community by organizing job fairs and establishing scholarships to ensure the citizens of Diriyah are the first to benefit from job and business opportunities.

“We can prepare them for their future role in the Kingdom … any small commercial businesses, food trucks, musicians, artists, anything … we hire them before we hire anyone from Riyadh because the benefit has got to go to the community,” he added.

A lot of times you see people announce big plans but you don’t see them (start) for five to 10 years. That’s not the case with the crown prince — you see them starting the next year.

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority

The G20 Saudi Secretariat recently hosted a cultural dinner for media delegates, envoys and other guests at historic Al-Turaif district, which is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. It included a virtual “family portrait” of the heads of state of the G20 nations, which was displayed on the walls of Salwa Palace.

Spearheaded by the crown prince two years ago when it was announced that Saudi Arabia would hold the presidency of the G20 in 2020 and its annual summit would take place in Riyadh, the original plan was for the leaders of member countries to attend the dinner in person and pose in front of the palace for a group photo, Inzerillo said.




Salwa Palace, located in the northeastern part of Al-Turaif district, forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, cultural and religious units.

The COVID-19 pandemic scuppered that plan, and so instead of an in-person gathering, an image of the world leaders was instead displayed on the palace walls.

“The picture went viral around the world and already has hundreds of millions of views — that one picture showing the birthplace of the Saudi Kingdom,” Inzerillo said. “So, now it is a picture that will live in history 20 years … 40 years, 100 years from now: that first picture from a G20 summit held in an Arab country.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Diriyah is considered one of the jewels in the Kingdom’s crown. A number of major projects are under way or planned that aim to transform it into the country’s foremost cultural and lifestyle destination.

• The G20 Saudi Secretariat recently hosted a cultural dinner for media delegates, envoys and other guests at the historic Al-Turaif district, which is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. It included a virtual ‘family portrait’ of the heads of state of the G20 nations, which was displayed on the walls of Salwa Palace.

• Spearheaded by the crown prince two years ago when it was announced that Saudi Arabia would hold the presidency of the G20 in 2020 and its annual summit would take place in Riyadh, the original plan was for the leaders of member countries to attend the dinner in person and pose in front of the palace for a group photo.

• Next year a number of new attractions will open as part of the development of Wadi Hanifa, which is becoming a popular destination for the younger generation in particular, thanks to its cooler climate.

“No one deserves it more than (King Salman) — it’s because of him that Al-Turaif has been restored with the dignity it deserves, given its rich history.”

Inzerillo revealed that Al-Turaif means a great deal to him not because of the role it played in the history of Saudi Arabia, but also in his own life.

“I’m an American but I came to study Al-Turaif 24 years ago and I love it,” he said. “That’s why when the Crown Prince offered me the chance to become DGDA CEO, I said it would be the biggest honor of my 50-year career. Al-Turaif is a very special place and will soon become one of the great gathering places in the world.”

Diriyah is considered one of the jewels in the Kingdom’s crown. A number of major projects are under way or planned that aim to transform it into the country’s foremost cultural and lifestyle destination.

Inzerillo said that next year a number of new attractions will open as part of the development of Wadi Hanifa, which is becoming a popular destination for the younger generation in particular, thanks to its cooler climate.

“We’re putting in tens of thousands of new palm trees and creating large parks, we’re going to have walking and jogging trails, cafes and restaurants, horses, petting zoos and activities,” he said. “It’s going to be so much fun to be in the wadi because there will be plenty to do.”

Other notable projects include the construction of three metro stations in Diriyah linked to a line connecting with the airport, along with parking for 25,000 vehicles. And in Al-Bujairi, 22 new restaurants and a new esplanade are expected to be completed by the end of next year, Inzerillo said.

“A lot of times you see people announce big plans but you don’t see them (start) for five to 10 years,” he added. “That’s not with case with the crown prince — you see them starting the next year.

“It’s a personal pleasure (to be working with the crown prince) because I think he’s probably the best boss I’ve had in 50 years. He’s extremely smart, he has an unbelievable visual acuity and aesthetic. He approves all the renderings, all the drawings … but he’s very kind and he’s not bossy.

“The crown prince is as strict as his father about the preservation of cultural integrity and cultural heritage. He will not allow us to remove a single palm tree or touch the mud without approval from the cultural committee. This is thoughtful. It is because he knows that it’s special.”

Inzerillo said that if the ongoing developments are to succeed in helping to fulfill the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 — in particular to encourage healthy lifestyles and build a vibrant, dynamic society — a form-based code (FBC) is required. This is a way of regulating development that prioritizes control of the form or character of buildings ahead of their use. FBC is commonly used around the work in areas rich in culture and heritage, such as the Greek islands, Georgetown in Washington, D.C., and Knightsbridge in London.

“This is one of the principal tasks of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City,” he said. “Diriyah is very special because it conforms more to the classical Najdi architecture right now.”

The adoption of FBC in the development of Diriyah celebrates “the look and the authenticity of the Najdi architecture, which is fundamental to the cultural preservation of the Saudi state,” he added.

“Our form-based code aims to give our community in Diriyah a look consistent with the architectural principles of Najd,” said Inzerillo. “So it will take a little bit of work, especially the first year, … but it will have an effect on what people see.

“It will upgrade all the neighborhoods, all the roads, the aesthetics, the quality of life, sidewalks, streets, lights, the places where people can walk and ride bicycles, and even horse trails and bridle paths.”

He added that the end result of all the hard work will be the transformation of the area into one of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Inzerillo said that in a career spanning 53 years, his work at the DGDA is his favorite and most joyful assignment, adding that it has been “by far the biggest and the most challenging” project he has been involved in.

“That’s why I always say there’s only one Diriyah,” he said.


Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
Updated 21 April 2021

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
  • Room is fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the machines to move about and take food to customers

MAKKAH: We’ve all been there … you order a meal in a restaurant, and the waiter arrives with a pasta salad instead of a chicken biryani.
There are no such issues at Restaurant Robot in Jazan. As the name suggests, the waiters are not fallible human beings, but robots powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence.
Six robot assistants are operating in the city center restaurant to deliver trays of Asian dishes to patrons. The system was originally set up as a precaution to reduce human contact during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has proved a hit with visitors.
In a system designed by young Saudi engineer Reham Omar, the restaurant interior has been fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the robots to move about and take food to customers.
“Thanks to the sensors, the robots can sense anything standing near them, allowing them to stop walking or change their routes accordingly,” she told Arab News
“Each robot has had a map of the restaurant interior and the location of each table programmed into their memory. When the robot gets to the targeted table, customers can pick up their food and order the robot to leave.”
Omar said the idea had been developed by drawing on the experiences of other countries, and with support from the Saudi government for the food industry.
“We are proud of our project, as small as it is,” she said. “Customers are loving the robots and are impressed with the idea.
“Cultures are changing, and people are now eager to discover new technologies that can improve their quality of life.”


Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
Updated 47 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
  • OPCW oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention
  • The Kingdom has been a member of the council since 1997

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has been re-elected as a member of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in the Asia section, until 2023.
It happened at The Hague, in the Netherlands, on Tuesday during the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties, which oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Ziyad Al-Attiyah, the Saudi ambassador to the Netherlands and the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the OPCW, thanked the nations that supported the re-election of his country, and said that it is a reflection of Saudi Arabia’s status under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 
The Kingdom looks forward to working with the rest of the council’s members to enhance the implementation of the CWC, he added.
Al-Attiyah affirmed his country’s desire to strengthen cooperation as part of the efforts to prohibit weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation, and to ensure the Middle East becomes a region free of such weapons to enhance international peace and security.
He added that the Kingdom’s chemical industries sector is one of the largest in the region and growing steadily, which makes it one of the leading countries in this field among the membership of Executive Council.
Saudi Arabia has been a member of the council — the main body of the OPCW — since its inception in 1997. It’s membership is made up of 41 countries, representing five geographic areas, that are elected for terms of two years at a time.


Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation
Updated 30 min 31 sec ago

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia renewed its call for Iran to engage in ongoing negotiations in Vienna, avoid escalation and not expose the region to more tension.
This came following a council of ministers meeting, chaired by King Salman on Tuesday.
The cabinet also urged the international community to reach an agreement with stronger and longer determinants that are implemented through monitoring and control measures to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons and developing the necessary capabilities.

 


Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects. (SPA)
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
  • The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries

JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) on Tuesday confirmed 34 cases of blood clots or thrombosis and low platelet count among people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The authority suggests the existence of seven possible cases of thrombosis that are related to the vaccine, due to the absence of other reasons for the appearance of clots in them,” the SFDA said in a statement.
However, the authority also said that thrombocytopenia and blood-clotting immune response associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to be confirmed in these cases.
It said based on the local reports received, the rate of occurrence of these symptoms in conjunction with the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the Kingdom is “very rare.”
The SFDA said that all approved vaccines for the coronavirus (COVID-19) being used in the Kingdom are safe. It stressed that the desired benefits of the vaccine in question outweigh the potential risks.
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects along with the local and international scientific evidence and data available.

FASTFACTS

• The Kingdom reports a 55 percent increase in the number of cases among women.

• 1,070 new infections were reported on Tuesday.

The SFDA advised recipients of the vaccine to consult a doctor or go to the nearest health center if any of the following symptoms appear or continue for more than three days after receiving a vaccine: Dizziness, severe and persistent headache, nausea or vomiting, issues with vision, shortness of breath, severe pain in the chest or abdomen or coldness in the extremities, swelling of the legs, small blood spots under the skin other than the injection site.
Dr. Abdullah Asiri, an infectious diseases consultant at the Saudi Ministry of Health, allayed public fears following the reports.
“How can a wrong conclusion deduced from a generalization become the most circulated news?” he wrote on Twitter. “In short, not every blood clotting after vaccinations is due to vaccinations. Thanks to vaccines, lives are saved every day. We have not yet had confirmed cases of platelet deficiency and blood clotting immune responses associated ‘hypothetically’ with COVID-19 vaccines.”
Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, a Ministry of Health spokesman, said: “We are still monitoring an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, which is the highest since the beginning of this year. There has also been an increase in cases among females by 55 percent.”
The Ministry of Health reported 1,070 new confirmed cases in the Kingdom over the past 24 hours, meaning 407,010 people have now contracted the virus. Of the 9,626 active cases, 1,105 were in critical condition. There were 12 fatalities, which brought the national death toll to 6,846.
The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries.


Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness
The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched a campaign encouraging people to walk or run 20 kilometers for 20 days during Ramadan. (SPA)
Updated 20 April 2021

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness
  • The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched ‘Step Together’ campaign to help people stay active during the holy month

JEDDAH: While consuming excessive food during the month of Ramadan goes against the purpose of the holy month, for many Saudis and people of the region, it is a time to indulge in special foods, which often leads to overeating.

For years, Saudis have been facing problems with obesity, with unhealthy diets leading to a variety of poor health conditions. While numerous campaigns have been launched to combat this issue, including by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA), their advice seems to fall on deaf ears during Ramadan.
Arab News spoke to experts — nutritionists and fitness trainers — who discussed their tips to help curb hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
Saudi fitness trainer Nouf Hamadallah, 37, explained that there is no best time to exercise during Ramadan; rather, the time and intensity of the workout can vary from person to person.
“Exercising during Ramadan depends on the flexibility of one’s schedule. There’s no specific time to work out. Most people who believe this are misinformed by what they read,” she told Arab News.

FASTFACTS

• A nationwide cross-sectional survey conducted over phone interviews across 13 regions of the Kingdom in June 2020 showed that the national weighted prevalence of obesity was 24.7 percent.

• It highlighted that obesity was significantly associated with Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, among other diseases.

“One common bit of advice in popular articles says that if people work out before iftar, they will burn calories and lose weight. But this depends on their goals and calorie
intake. Some people cannot work out while fasting because they feel sick and nauseous, and their blood sugar drops. Then they become discouraged from exercising, not knowing that all they have to do is change the timing and nature of their workout. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.”
She added that it is easy to lose muscle mass if people do not choose the right foods for iftar and sahoor, also stressing that it is essential to hydrate during breakfast. Should one choose to work out right before iftar, a protein shake and a nutrient-dense meal with few carbs are advised in breaking fast.

If anyone wants to adopt healthy habits or break bad ones, Ramadan is an excellent chance to do so.

Arwa Bajkhaif, Dietician

“What you eat for sahoor will determine your energy levels for the next day, too. It should be a meal with a good amount of protein and vegetables,” said Hamadallah. “When your body is depleted of energy, the first thing you look for is sugar, and that’s what we want to avoid.”
Digestive problems such as acid reflux also occur due to poor eating habits in Ramadan, she added, and people with such digestive issues need to take note of the specific foods that irritate their stomachs.
She recommended that they avoid these foods if they are planning to exercise and instead have a few dates, soup and maybe a cup of coffee before beginning their workout, saving a full meal for afterward.
Iftar and sahoor also need to be divided into portions to avoid digestive problems, she added.
Saudi clinical and sports dietitian Arwa Bajkhaif, 29, said Ramadan is a “golden opportunity” to fast and practice self-control. If anyone wants to adopt healthy habits or break bad ones, Ramadan is an excellent chance to do so.

What you eat for sahoor will determine your energy levels for the next day.

Nouf Hamadallah, Fitness trainer

“People should know their dietary requirements and follow a suitable diet for their particular health situation during the holy month of Ramadan,” Bajkaif told Arab News
“For individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend seeing an endocrinologist for insulin and medication adjustments and a clinical dietitian for follow-ups to adjust the amount and type of carbohydrates accordingly.”
As for changing one’s eating habits, she suggested that people should not adopt more than three easy and healthy habits. “Being realistic and specific is key to achieving health goals.”
Saudi dietitian Alaa Gotah advised people to drink plenty of water between iftar and sahoor, avoid sugary drinks especially during iftar to maintain insulin levels, and eat plenty of hydrating food such as salads while limiting the intake of carbohydrates and sweets.
She stressed that fasting cleanses the body of toxins and forces cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present.
“Sahoor should include a healthy amount of fiber, which stays for a long time in the intestines. To reduce the feeling of thirst and hunger, it’s recommended to eat fruits that contain dietary fiber and magnesium, such as bananas, dates and watermelon,” Gotah told Arab News.  
A nationwide cross-sectional survey conducted over phone interviews across 13 regions in June 2020 titled “Obesity in Saudi Arabia in 2020: Prevalence, Distribution, and its Current Association with Various Health Conditions” showed that the national weighted prevalence of obesity was 24.7 percent.
The study highlighted that obesity was significantly associated with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, among other diseases.
The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched a campaign to help people stay active during the holy month, presenting the Ramadan edition of “Step Together,” where people are encouraged to walk or run 20 kilometers for 20 days during Ramadan.