Saudi residents are set for a new December-to-March adventure, offering 300 touristic experiences in 17 destinations

Saudi residents are set for a new December-to-March adventure, offering 300 touristic experiences in 17 destinations
After a tough year, many are excited about the new season. (ticketingboxoffice.com)
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Updated 12 December 2020

Saudi residents are set for a new December-to-March adventure, offering 300 touristic experiences in 17 destinations

Saudi residents are set for a new December-to-March adventure, offering 300 touristic experiences in 17 destinations
  • The season will include several Umrah packages, which can be viewed on ticketingboxoffice

JEDDAH: The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) announced the start of its latest season of adventures on Dec. 10, which will continue until March 2021, offering 300 touristic experiences in 17 destinations in the Kingdom with the involvement of 200 private sector establishments.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that the winter season is an extension of the efforts of the Saudi tourism system with its partners in the state and private sectors.
He promised that the lineup of activities will provide a wonderful tourism experience, through which visitors get to enjoy the great winter climate and the geographical diversity of the Kingdom.
The minister also reassured visitors that the STA is extremely keen on coordinating with health authorities to implement precautionary measures against COVID-19 in order to ensure a safe tourism experience.
Meanwhile, STA CEO Fahd Hamidaddin said: “The authority’s efforts and initiatives are continuous with the launch of the Saudi winter season under the slogan ‘Winter is Around You’.”
He noted the important role the media would play in reflecting the positive image of the tourism potentials for the Kingdom: “We count a lot on the creativity and efforts of the media to present the bright image of what the Kingdom has to offer; its charming nature and rich cultural heritage, the generosity and hospitality of its people, and its many landmarks, sites, and destinations that contribute into make the Kingdom a unique experience for all.”
After a tough year, many are excited about the new adventure.
“With the tough year behind us, it was interesting to see what Saudi Arabia had to offer,” said 34-year-old Sawsan Khalid M. told Arab News. “My husband was keen on going on a trip this year no matter what. We were afraid at first, with the pandemic and all, but the relevant authorities wouldn’t have announced any tourist opportunities without ensuring our safety. We’ve gone this far and it feels like a gift.”

HIGHLIGHT

The destinations are split into 5 categories — 3 historical destinations, AlUla, Diriyah, Al-Ahsa; 4 marine destinations, Yanbu, Umluj, Jazan, KAEC; 4 city destinations, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Alkhobar, 3 cold destinations, Tabuk, Al-Jouf, Hail; and 3 mountainside destinations, Taif, Al-Baha, Asir.

“My family, as with everyone in the country, has faced some of the most difficult months,” added Sawsan’s husband Mohammed Al-Ghamdi. “The Kingdom has so much to offer and it was nice seeing Al-Baha included as it’s still unexplored territory for many.”
Al-Ghamdi who grew up in the region but lives in Jeddah, considers it a hidden gem. He said that there is so much to see and do and it’s a great opportunity to go, especially given that the guides will all be Saudi. “This is for all Saudis and residents alike, we have so much to show.”
Mariam Al-Harbi, a 28-year-old private sector worker, said, “I think the winter season will be delightful. I still haven’t looked through the entire program but the activities are so diverse — camping, hiking and snorkeling. It’s got an agenda for families or a group of friends, so that’s an added bonus. I’m thinking of taking my younger brother hiking. He’s a very active fellow and we have always wanted to try it, so why not start locally?”
The Arabian Winter destinations are split into five categories: Three historical destinations, AlUla, Diriyah and Al-Ahsa; four marine destinations, Yanbu, Umluj, Jazan and King Abdullah Economic City; four city destinations, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Alkhobar, three cold destinations, Tabuk, Al-Jouf and Hail; and three mountainside destinations, Taif, Al-Baha and Asir.
The tourist experience will cover campsite adventures, local cuisine, hiking, relaxation, beach activities and rural and adventure activities.
The season will also include several Umrah packages, which can be viewed on ticketingboxoffice.com, allowing pilgrims to choose from the SR500 ($133) Umrah experience, a five-day Umrah package for SR3,649 or three-day package for SR2,699. In the packages, visitors get a variety of stops to check out alongside their pilgrimage stop in Makkah.
Jeddah packages include a three-day “nature breeze” with a price tag of SR3,946 that covers a tour through the city’s heritage sites, a winter at Jeddah package for SR3,950, a two-day trip between Jeddah and Taif for SR1,799 and lastly, a six-day tour to discover the Sarawat Mountains for SR3,799, where visitors can experience the wilderness, local cuisine and hike through the lush green mountains of the western region.
Riyadh packages similarly include a three-day city tour for SR2,185-2,699, one-day adventures such as hiking winter camp visits, the desert experience and many more activities. The three-month event will also include a multi-city tours between Al-Ahsa, Riyadh, Hail and Qassim costing SR4,099-4,699.


Saudi FM: Hezbollah’s power is the main cause of Lebanon's crisis

Saudi FM: Hezbollah’s power is the main cause of Lebanon's crisis
Updated 04 August 2021

Saudi FM: Hezbollah’s power is the main cause of Lebanon's crisis

Saudi FM: Hezbollah’s power is the main cause of Lebanon's crisis
  • Prince Faisal reiterated the Kingdom’s continuous solidarity with the Lebanese people in times of crises
  • The minister said any aid provided to Lebanon by the Kingdom depends on serious reforms being carried out

RIYADH: Hezbollah’s insistence on imposing its hegemony on the Lebanese state is the main cause of Lebanon’s problems, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Speaking at an international conference on Lebanon marking the first anniversary of the Beirut Port explosion, Prince Faisal bin Farhan urged Lebanese politicians to confront the organization’s behavior in order to achieve the will of the Lebanese people to combat corruption and implement necessary reforms in the crisis-stricken country.
Prince Faisal added that any aid provided to Lebanon by the Kingdom depends on serious reforms being carried out while ensuring the money reaches its beneficiaries and not siphoned off by corrupt officials.
“We are concerned that the investigations into the Beirut port explosion have not yet yielded any tangible results,” the foreign minister said. 
He praised the efforts of France and the international community to support Lebanon and its people, stressing the need for these efforts to be accompanied by real reforms to overcome the economic and political crises sweeping Lebanon. 
Prince Faisal reiterated the Kingdom’s continuous solidarity with the Lebanese people in times of crises and challenges, and stressed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to its contributions to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon.
“The Kingdom was one of the first countries to respond to providing humanitarian aid to Lebanon after the horrific explosion that occurred exactly a year ago in the port of Beirut through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief). KSRelief continues to implement its programs in Beirut to this day,” Prince Faisal said.
The donor conference to raise emergency aid for Lebanon's crippled economy on Wednesday raised $370 million, French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.


Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 04 August 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 511,318
  • A total of 8,284 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 14 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,043 new infections on Wednesday.
Of the new cases, 214 were recorded in Makkah, 192 in Riyadh, 169 in the Eastern Province, 126 in Asir, 92 in Jazan, 65 in Madinah, 43 in Hail, 39 in Najran, 19 in Tabuk, 18 in the Northern Borders region, 16 in Al-Baha, and 11 in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 511,318 after 1,211 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,284 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 28.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Why this retired engineer is a ‘model’ Saudi citizen

The models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth. (Photos/Huda Bashatah)
The models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth. (Photos/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 04 August 2021

Why this retired engineer is a ‘model’ Saudi citizen

The models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth. (Photos/Huda Bashatah)
  • Abdul Aziz Taher Al-Hebshi aims to preserve the history of social and cultural life in Saudi Arabia
  • Makkah in those days was a beacon for writers, poets and scientists

MAKKAH: A Saudi agricultural engineer is spending his retirement years helping to preserve the Kingdom’s architectural and cultural history — in the form of extremely accurate models of important buildings and sites in Jeddah and Makkah.

Now Abdul Aziz Taher Al-Hebshi has turned his house in Jeddah’s Al-Rawdah neighborhood into an exhibition space to showcase his models, which represent a fascinating record of daily social and cultural life in the cities in the early-to-mid 20th century.
A good example of this is his model of a “writer’s cafe” in the Misfalah neighborhood of Makkah that was once popular with writers, intellectuals and poets. Through it, he said, he aims to immortalize the role these figures played in the development of literature in Saudi Arabia and the country’s cultural history.
“Knowledgeable people told me that the cafe where Makkah’s writers, poets and intellectuals used to go to was Saleh Abdulhay Cafe, located next to Bajrad Cafe,” 72-year-old Al-Hebshi told Arab News. “Similar cafes were found throughout Makkah’s Misfalah neighborhood in the past.”
He said culture and literature thrived in Makkah in those days, along with the study of science and the quest for knowledge. The city was therefore a beacon for writers, poets and scientists, and the Saleh Abdulhay Cafe was one of the places where they could gather for intellectual and cultural discussions.
“Among the cultural and intellectual figures that used to go to the writer’s cafe … was the Saudi Minister of Culture Mohammed Abdu Yamani,” he said, adding that such venues were the country’s first literary and cultural forums, where people could gather to discuss literary and intellectual issues.
With his models and exhibition, Al-Hebshi said he wants to depict and preserve this history of day-to-day life and culture in Makkah and Jeddah in days gone by. In addition to the cafe, his models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth.
In particular, he said he wants to immortalize the lives of the intellectuals and writers of the era by documenting their daily lives, the ways in which people interacted with them and how neighborhoods such as Misfalah developed as important cultural centers.
So far he has spent three years building his models of cafes, shops, houses and public squares. He has completed four and is working on a fifth. The task requires hard work and patience, he said. For example, it requires great effort to accurately recreate in miniature the rawasheen, the elaborately patterned wooden window frames found in old buildings in Makkah and Jeddah that maximize natural light and air flow. Great accuracy is required throughout the model making process when it comes to the sizes, dimensions and scale.
“One meter in real life is 10 centimeters in the models,” Al-Hebshi said, which represents a scale of one-to-10. “This measure seeks to maintain, as much as possible, the space’s real dimensions.”
The contents of rooms must also be in scale with the building and each other, he explained: “A bottle of Coca-Cola cannot be bigger than a watermelon and so on.” These are all important details in his models, he added, which ensure they are accurate and consistent.
Given the incredible detail and quality of the models, you would be forgiven for thinking Al-Hebshi is a trained carpenter; in fact he is an enthusiastic amateur with a true passion for the craft. Such is his dedication that even hand injuries — and the need for surgery after damaging a finger with a drill — have not kept him from his work for long.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdul Aziz Taher Al-Hebshi says he was inspired by Jeddah’s Old Town and its magnificent Hijazi buildings with rawasheen, beautifully crafted doors, ornate engravings and delicate details, along with the beauty of its landscape and old streets.

He said his model making began after he found some tools that had been abandoned in a carpentry shop, and for materials he used wood and discarded kaftans he found in stores he shopped at. Wood cutting requires great skill, he added, and while he makes most parts of his models, he said he imports some items from abroad to ensure the highest levels of accuracy. For example he buys miniature signs advertising popular international brands such as Pepsi, Miranda and 7-Up, which are difficult to recreate through woodworking.
Al-Hebshi was director of the Agricultural Bank in Jeddah when he was forced to retire in 2006 as a result of a back injury, and he found himself wondering what he could do with his time. A few years earlier he had developed an interest in woodworking but the demands of his job left him with little time to pursue it. A friend who was aware of this suggested he do something with the wood from a large felled neem tree that had been dumped in Jeddah.
“That tree turned out to be the start of me professionally building models,” he said. He added that he was inspired by Jeddah’s Old Town and its magnificent Hijazi buildings with rawasheen, beautifully crafted doors, ornate engravings and delicate details, along with the beauty of its landscape and old streets. The Saudi leadership has put a special focus on the area to showcase its history and splendor and Al-Hebshi said that this has helped him research his detailed designs.
He added that he welcomes all those who wish to visit his house, in Al-Rawdah neighborhood 3, to see his models. He plans to build more to add to his incredible picture of past life in the Kingdom, and the people who helped the country become the nation it is.


Saudi anti-extremism initiative leads the world, says UN expert

Saudi anti-extremism initiative leads the world, says UN expert
Updated 04 August 2021

Saudi anti-extremism initiative leads the world, says UN expert

Saudi anti-extremism initiative leads the world, says UN expert
  • Head of UN Center for Counter-Terrorism ‘impressed by the pioneering research work’ carried out by Kingdom’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology
  • Center’s Gether2 initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the risks of extremism among people with hearing disabilities, singled out for particular praise

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) is a “world leader” in pioneering work to prevent and counter violent extremism, according to Jehangir Khan, director of the UN Center for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT).

“Etidal is a world leader in this field and we are proud of it,” he said during a visit by a UNCCT delegation to Etidal’s headquarters in Riyadh on Tuesday. “We are very pleased … to be able to work closely with the center.

“We are impressed by the pioneering research work you are doing in this field. We have to follow your example on matters in which we need to cooperate.”

Khan in particular highlighted Eitdal’s Gether2 initiative, which aims to raise awareness among people with hearing disabilities of the risks of extremism, saying he had never seen any other initiatives designed to reach people with disabilities in this way.

“I congratulate you on this project and we would like to know more about it,” he said. “As you know, we in the United Nations have specific agencies that deal with matters of concern to people with disabilities from a humanitarian side only, unlike your side, where I think we should see the whole picture.”

The UN delegation was welcomed to the center by Etidal’s secretary-general, Mansour Al-Shammari. During the visit the two sides discussed ways to enhance cooperation in their efforts to prevent and combat terrorism and violent extremism.

The delegation also learned about the center’s monitoring and analysis mechanisms, the techniques it use and the models it is creating and developing, as well as the most prominent advanced technologies in the field.


Saudi Arabia to take part in G20 digital economy event

Photo/Shutterstock
Photo/Shutterstock
Updated 04 August 2021

Saudi Arabia to take part in G20 digital economy event

Photo/Shutterstock
  • Saudi Arabia has realized qualitative achievements in this regard, mainly the unanimous approval of countries on a roadmap to measure and define the digital economy

TRIESTE: Saudi Arabia is taking part in a G20 digital economy event on Aug. 5.
The G20 Digital Economy Ministers Meeting will discuss key issues related to digital transformation ahead of a final communique that will be endorsed by heads of states and governments at the Rome Summit.
It is an extension of the role played by Saudi Arabia during its G20 presidency last year. The Kingdom aims to focus on empowering people, protecting the planet and forming new horizons.
Saudi Arabia has realized qualitative achievements in this regard, mainly the unanimous approval of countries on a roadmap to measure and define the digital economy, in addition to adopting artificial intelligence principles.
Communication and Information Minister Abdullah Al-Swaha is scheduled to take part in the event.
The G20 aims to take the lead in ensuring a swift international response to the COVID-19 pandemic – able to provide equitable, worldwide access to diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines – while building up resilience to future health-related shocks.
Each G20 presidency includes the organization of ministerial meetings on each of the main focus areas of the forum. These meetings are important opportunities to discuss and further develop issues of international relevance.