Dakar Rally showcases Saudi hospitality

Dakar Rally showcases Saudi hospitality
Naif Al-Harbi tweeted a series of pictures of Dakar drivers sipping tea around a campfire with some local residents, and being offered dates, Arabic coffee, inside a traditional Sadu tent. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 January 2021

Dakar Rally showcases Saudi hospitality

Dakar Rally showcases Saudi hospitality
  • Cheerful citizens share their encounters with drivers and bikers on social media as they offer them directions, water and coffee

RIYADH: For the second year in a row, Dakar Rally drivers, bikers and other assorted daredevils are hitting the dunes, and as the race continues across the diverse terrain of the Arabian Peninsula, problems can occur with the rough tracks.

Leave it to Saudis to come to the rescue. Videos on social media have appeared since the start of the race on Jan. 3, with locals excitedly taking to Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram to share footage of their encounters with the Dakar racers as they offer them directions, cold water, hot coffee and assistance with their vehicles.
Naif Al-Harbi, founder of the interfaith NGO Saudis for Peace, tweeted a series of pictures of Dakar drivers sipping tea around a campfire with some locals and being offered dates, Arabic coffee and even bukhoor (traditional Saudi incense) inside a traditional Sadu tent.
Al-Harbi told Arab News he was excited that the Kingdom had the opportunity to show the world the true beauty of its landscape, as well as the kind nature of its people.  "Big international events like the Dakar Rally are great opportunities for Saudis to learn about the world, but also for the world to learn about Saudis. The tourism visas were just the beginning; they opened the door for the world to visit us, and with events like the Dakar Rally, the Formula E races, and now the Formula 1 race, people have more incentive than ever to visit the Kingdom,” he said.
“The size of the Dakar Rally’s track is great because it allows the drivers to see many parts of Saudi Arabia, instead of just one,” he said.
“They get to experience all of the micro-cultures and geographic diversity that exist within the Kingdom. It will help eliminate the preconceptions that most people have of Saudi Arabia being just one culture, and one type of landscape.”
This year’s participants had plenty of opportunities to see just how far Saudis are willing to go to welcome guests.
A Snapchat video that made its way to Twitter showed a local man on day two of the race acting as an unofficial “Dakar Guide” for those who had lost their way.


The course, which takes participants through rough and sometimes uncharted territory, often gets the best of the racers, who end up withdrawing early. However, in the Twitter video, the as-yet unidentified local does his best to help competitors out, despite his minimal knowledge of English.
“You want street? One kilometer there, then right,” he repeats at least four times, to four different bikers who had lost their way in the desert. As they drive off, he and another person accompanying him in the car yell advice in Arabic to the bikers, who wave gratefully, understanding the sentiment if not the words.
Another video, posted by a user named Munir Jabbar and circulated widely on Twitter last Sunday, showed a group of Saudi men rushing to the aid of France’s Willy Jobard, this year’s unlucky first-out.

Big international events like the Dakar Rally are great opportunities for Saudis to learn about the world, but also for the world to learn about Saudis.

Naif Al-Harbi, Founder of NGO Saudis for Peace

Jobard crashed early on, forcing him to drop out of the race somewhere around Wadi Ad-Dawasir due to rib pain that prevented him from riding comfortably on his motorcycle.
Jabbar and a group of his friends quickly came to Jobard’s aid, undeterred by his lack of Arabic and without knowing who he was. Cheerfully christening him “Abu Saad,” they handed him a bottle of cold water.
They hauled his battered bike into the back of a pickup truck and invited him to ride with them until he could be dropped off at a suitable location.
“You are in Saudi Arabia, you are safe,” Jabbar told him in Arabic as he handed him the water, and Jobard responded with a grateful “Shukran, shukran.”
The video received more than 20,000 views on Twitter, with users applauding the men who helped out.
“Bravo. This is the nature of the people of Wadi Ad-Dawasir. It’s impossible for them to see someone having car trouble without stopping to help them,” one user tweeted.


Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque
Updated 28 September 2021

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

MAKKAH: President General for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais inaugurated the Field and Digital Saudi Expansions at the Grand Mosque Exhibition.

Al-Sudais said that the exhibition showcases the most prominent Saudi projects and expansions at the Grand Mosque. The exhibition also aims to enrich visitors’ experience and highlight the efforts of the Saudi leadership in this regard.


Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth
  • The average time spent training and following up with students reached 7,000 hours for some students

JEDDAH: Three thousand scholarships were granted to students by King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) during the foundation’s three-day Saudi National Day celebrations.
The educational and training scholarships covering various scientific fields are part of Mawhiba’s three-day photography exhibition, “A home for every talent ... a story for every passion,” held under the auspices of Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mutahmi, secretary-general of the foundation, at Granada Mall in Riyadh.
Mawhiba students in the Kingdom who have undergone training programs have achieved significant international achievements: 453 international awards in scientific competitions and 83 awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair, the most important scientific competition in the world.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, students were granted scholarships after completing their training. The average time spent training and following up with students, from discovering their talent to their participation at an international level, has reached 7,000 hours for some students.
“The exhibition, which has witnessed a high turnout of visitors from different segments of society, chose to replace regular gifts and prizes by gifting participants opportunities to improve their future, raise the quality of their lives and work with them to discover, develop and guide their children’s talents properly,” Mawhiba said in an official statement.
The 91-picture exhibition followed the journey of some of the Kingdom’s talents, starting with scouting them to winning awards and the empowerment of talented students in institutions across
Saudi Arabia.
The Mawhiba exhibition was divided into three parts. The first is a photo exhibition for students who have won local and international competitions.
The second is an interactive theater with general competitions, various questions, and free scientific scholarships. The third included the “I am a talent” event for children, featuring activities on creative thinking skills, a drawing competition about the Kingdom, and documentaries by Mawhiba and its programs.


Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh
Updated 28 September 2021

Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil was recently appointed as secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh following Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah’s decision.

Al-Zamil is the former supervisor of the Deanship of Library Affairs at King Saudi University in Riyadh, where he worked for the past 20 years.

He joined King Saudi University in 2008 as an associate professor at the Department of Library and Information Sciences. He was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and then to professor in 2018.

Prior to that, Al-Zamil worked at the King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh, where he served as an associate professor between 2002 and 2008 and lecturer between 1991 and 1999.

Al-Zamil received his bachelor’s degree with a second-class honors in library and information studies from the Department of Literature at King Saud University. After that, he moved to the US to complete his higher education in library and information studies. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and his Ph.D. from the Public University of Florida. He participated in various regional and international conferences. His research interests include e-government, digital libraries, e-learning and distance learning, and research methodologies in the libraries and information field.

He is a member of several scientific and academic societies, including the Saudi Library and Information Association, the Saudi Computer Society, and the Beta Phi Mu International Honor Society for library and information studies.

The King Fahd National Library in Riyadh is one of the most prestigious libraries in Saudi Arabia. It was established as a monument on the occasion of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz ascending to the throne in 1982.

The library is one of the most important cultural buildings in Saudi Arabia and an architectural masterpiece. It was designed by Professor Eckhard Gerber and his Gerber Architekten team in cooperation with the Riyadh Municipality, which provided the land and technical, architectural, and administrative supervision.


Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey
Updated 28 September 2021

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey
  • They show how people of the city shaped a wealth of human knowledge through various epochs

MAKKAH: Ten museums in Makkah have opened their doors to showcase Makkah’s unique identity throughout history.

The museums house some of the rarest artifacts, illustrations, and collections that reveal the human experiences of the city.

They show how the people of Makkah managed to shape a wealth of human knowledge through various epochs and the progress made after the prophecy and its noble teachings came into existence.

The museums also contribute to raising cultural and humanitarian awareness with all their cognitive messages and elaboration of the life of fathers and grandfathers.

The Culture Ministry’s Museums Commission told Arab News that it is giving Al-Zaher Palace Museum special attention, hoping to reopen the museum to visitors as soon as possible after it was closed due to the pandemic.

The director of the Makkah History Center, Dr. Fawwaz Al-Dahhas, told Arab News that the museums have put in extraordinary efforts to further the Islamic, civilizational and cultural heritage of the city. 

The museums include Byzantine and Roman coins of all kinds and the Islamic dinar, silver, and gold used during the Umayyad era.

He added: “It’s best that the efforts are united under the auspices of one national museum called ‘Makkah throughout history,’ where visitors can expand what they needed to know about Makkah.” 

Al-Dahhas said that developing the Al-Saqaf Palace in the Maabad neighborhood would combine heritage and culture through its restoration. Once completed, it will become an Islamic museum.

In his book “The Presidential Palace in Maabad,” Al-Dahhas described the surface area of the palace and its rooms still have their original furnishings and design.

Saad Al-Sharif, a researcher in Makkah’s history, said museums are essential to educate societies and advance science and evolution. “A student can leave a museum knowing that they would like to become a scientist, a leader, a musician or a writer,” he said.

FASTFACT

The Two Holy Mosques Architecture Exhibition is one of the most prominent museums in Saudi Arabia and is home to treasures and artifacts dating back more than 1,400 years. Opened in 2000 during the reign of the late King Fahd, it contains seven main halls highlighting Islamic civilization.

“Our society’s knowledge must be consolidated and presented through the museums to form a harmonious cultural structure. Some museums teach what the classrooms students do not teach,” Al-Sharif added.

The researcher said tourists always look for museums in new countries as “we believe them to be the true wealth of any people; ancient collections in those museums constitute an important source for society, as well as economic, social and cultural support, as they provide a rich and different experience for visitors, and express a person’s identity, existence and depth and authenticity of their culture.”

Al-Sharif said that Saudi museums inspire delight and that they illustrate a history they could only learn about through museums and their evidence, tools, places, and names.

Majdouh Al-Ghamdi, owner of the Museum of Human Heritage, said that Makkah’s museums complement each other and exhibit their rare heritage artifacts for all visitors.

Its exhibits include household appliances used in Makkah before electricity was introduced, a section on Saudi tribes, and displays on the role of the city’s residents in serving pilgrims and the history of the ancient Madrasah Al-Sawlatiyah, one of the oldest schools in the Arabian Peninsula.

It also includes Byzantine and Roman coins of all kinds and the Islamic dinar, silver, and gold used during the Umayyad era. Visitors will also discover weapons such as cannons, knives, daggers, swords and guns.

Al-Ghamdi said that museums offer full knowledge and satisfy people looking to feel passion about heritage. They feel content in the historical depth and wealth of Makkah in particular, he added. He said that all those museums seek to occasionally develop their exhibits by buying rare stamps, newspapers, maps, coins, rifles, swords, old household items, spears, and traditional clothes.


Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum

Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum

Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has received an invitation from his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to attend the 12th edition of the annual world decision-makers’ Sir Bani Yas Forum.

The invite was received on behalf of the prince by Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji when he met with the Emirati ambassador to the Kingdom, Sheikh Nahyan bin Saif Al-Nahyan, at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh.

The Sir Bani Yas Forum brings together senior decision-makers from across the Middle East and around the world to discuss some of the most crucial issues facing the region.