First phase Saudi Arabia’s ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project launched

The project introduces tourists and visitors to the culture of the province. (SPA)
The project introduces tourists and visitors to the culture of the province. (SPA)
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Updated 22 January 2021

First phase Saudi Arabia’s ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project launched

First phase Saudi Arabia’s ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project launched
  • The project will help define the region’s culture and enhance its position as a tourist destination

RIYADH: The first phase of the “Pulse of Alkhobar” project has been launched as part of plans to develop an integrated cultural center in the heart of the city and transform the Eastern Province’s arts scene.
The project follows calls by architecture experts, social media activists and artists for a collaboration across multiple sectors to strengthen the province’s cultural impact.
According to Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the project, centered on the site of the city’s old market, is the fruit of a partnership between the ministry and its municipal and rural affairs counterpart.
Acting Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Majid Al-Hogail said that the project will build an artistic and heritage destination that will improve the lives of residents of Alkhobar governorate as well as visitors to the Eastern Province.
The project will help define the region’s culture and enhance its position as a tourist destination, he added.
Abdulhadi Al-Shammari, the province’s municipal chairman, told Arab News that the new project will also improve services at municipal facilities, while preserving Saudi heritage and culture.
The project introduces tourists and visitors to the culture of the province, and highlights Al-Olaya district as the center of the city’s culture and arts activities.
Al-Shammari said that the project will boost the city’s finances, driving sustainable development and growth as well an improvement in quality of life.
“It will create new investment opportunities for the private sector, and encourage small and medium-scale enterprises, which have an excellent and effective social impact,” he said.
Al-Shammari added: “The Saudi government supports all sectors to help them deliver lucrative investment opportunities and build a conducive environment for local and foreign investment, where new job opportunities are created for young men and women.”
Faisal Al-Fadl, secretary-general of the Saudi Green Building Forum, told Arab News that creating a cultural and arts destination that is open to a range of activities will add to the city’s tourist appeal.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project follows calls by architecture experts, social media activists and artists for a collaboration across multiple sectors to strengthen the province’s cultural impact.

• According to Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abudllah bin Farhan, the project, centered on the site of the city’s old market, is the fruit of a partnership between the ministry and its municipal and rural affairs counterpart.

“Cooperation between the public sector and international organizations, as well as professional organizations, archaeologists and the public, is instrumental in preserving the cultural and architectural heritage of neighborhoods and cities,” he said.
Al-Fadl added that the collaboration between the two ministries reflects “the importance of architectural and cultural heritage, and the tangible and unique archaeological importance of the buildings as a key element in the history of peoples and relationships inside and outside the Arabian Peninsula.”
He thanked both ministries for their efforts.
Arafat Al-Majed, a Qatif Muncipal Council member, said the partnership is a step forward that falls in line with agreements concluded as part of Vision 2030.
“The agreement will increase interest in cultural heritage and the buildings and towns whose profound and ancient history should be brought out to the world to see and enjoy,” she told Arab News. “The agreement will also improve the urban landscape.”
She said that the joint committee should have branches in municipalities around the Kingdom in order to shed light on heritage sites that can be included in UNESCO. “The Kingdom is rich in such heritage sites.”
Al-Majed said that the project will introduce today’s generation to the ancient heritage of the province in a way that encourages investment opportunities.
“Nobody can deny the fact that some municipalities are still hesitant about what to do with heritage buildings and towns since some of these are abandoned or about to collapse. These municipalities want to tear them down. But these are historical treasures that should be preserved and invested in to become an important economic driver, and a source of arts and culture,” she added.
Maysoon Abu Baker, a Saudi poet and columnist, said the Saudi government attaches great importance to culture and heritage.
“Vision 2030 emphasized the significance of the culture existent in old cities,” she told Arab News.
“Arts, culture and heritage are at the top of the agenda for developing cities and preserving their culture. The cultural impact is important for the future of the Kingdom and is related to its history.”
Yousef Al-Harbi, director of Culture and Arts Society in Dammam, said that the partnership will lead to “new visual perceptions highlighting the Saudi, Arabian and Islamic identity.”
He highlighted the importance of nurturing Saudi art and architectural talent, and facilitating cooperation in order to “bring out the beauty of Saudi heritage and cities.”


Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company

Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company
Husameddin Al-Madani
Updated 57 sec ago

Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company

Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company

Usameddin Al-Madani is CEO of Soudah Development Company (SDC), a closed joint stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.
With extensive experience in the public and private sectors, Al-Madani has significantly contributed to the development and advancement of the socioeconomic plans laid out in the Saudi Vision 2030.
Al-Madani is also a board member of several real estate projects being carried out under the PIF.
Prior to joining SDC, Al-Madani was a member of the G20 Saudi Secretariat executive leadership team, where he led the strategy development and execution of the international conferences designed to support the G20 Saudi presidency.
In 2015, he was appointed founding director-general of the National Center for Performance Measurement in Saudi Arabia.
He played a crucial role in the establishment and implementation of a performance measurement framework in the Kingdom.
From 2004 to 2011, Al-Madani held various technical and managerial positions at Saudi Aramco. During his tenure with the world’s top oil company, he participated in the development
of its performance measurement and management platform and contributed to the restructuring
of the company’s research and development strategy as a member of the corporate committee.
Al-Madani obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in petroleum engineering/ unconventional gas resources at Texas A&M University.
He is a recipient of the 2010 Texas A&M Montgomery Prize and the International SPE Young Member Outstanding Service Award. Al-Madani also completed a general management program in strategy, business and leadership with Harvard Business School in 2016.


Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response

Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response
Updated 32 min 43 sec ago

Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response

Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response
  • Kingdom has provided support and assistance to millions of people in need
  • Saudi Arabia ranks among the top donor countries in providing humanitarian aid

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia on Monday pledged $430 million toward the UN’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), made the announcement during a virtual pledging conference co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland.
“Because of its keenness to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, I am pleased to announce that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pledged $430 million to support the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2021, to be implemented through UN agencies, international organizations, and local and regional NGOs,” Al-Rabeeah told the conference.
He said the Kingdom has provided support and assistance to millions of people in need and shares the goal of reducing the effects of the humanitarian crisis.
He added that Saudi Arabia ranks among the top donor countries in providing humanitarian aid regionally and internationally, particularly in Yemen.
“We are meeting today amidst the ongoing humanitarian crisis Yemen has already been facing, along with all the additional economic, health and political challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created there,” he said.
Al-Rabeeah said the Iran-backed Houthi militia had caused a major escalation of the crisis with a recent offensive in Marib governorate, which was a safe haven for internally displaced persons.
“The Houthi militia has also scaled up their terrorist actions to threaten neighboring countries,” Al-Rabeeah said.
He was referring to the increase in cross border attacks targeting civilian areas in Saudi Arabia.
“This requires a firm and resolute stand from the international community to protect the Yemeni people and to reach sustainable solutions that achieve security, stability and development for Yemen, and ultimately for the region and the world,” Al-Rabeeah said.
A total of $1.7 billion was pledged during the conference, out of $3.85 that the UN had appealed for.


US mission to Saudi Arabia to reopen routine visa services

US mission to Saudi Arabia to reopen routine visa services
Updated 01 March 2021

US mission to Saudi Arabia to reopen routine visa services

US mission to Saudi Arabia to reopen routine visa services

DUBAI: The US mission to Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the reopening of routine nonimmigrant visa services in limited numbers at its embassy in Riyadh and consulates general in Jeddah and Dhahran.

“We continue to implement safeguards to keep staff and customers safe. Due to these measures, visa appointments are extremely limited and subject to change,” a statement from the embassy said.

The consular sections advised applicants to schedule appointments “only when they have made tentative travel plans but prior to final purchase of travel.”

Mission consular sections said they will continue to prioritize US citizen services, immigrant visas, students, and emergency non-immigrant visas.


Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience

Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience
Photographers now use drones to reach places that once were too dangerous or remote, and the resulting images shed new light on the power of photography and the beauty of landscapes. (Photos: Instgram/ @mysloppyadventures)
Updated 01 March 2021

Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience

Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience
  • Online platforms have become a melting pot of images taken by photographers who travel the country

JEDDAH: A new generation of Saudi photographers is relying on the power of social media to showcase the Kingdom’s vast beauty.

Online platforms have become a melting pot of images taken by photographers who travel the country — from the sandy beaches of the east and west, to the mountains of the north and south, and the green oases of the deserts — discovering the beauty of each region one picture at a time.

Fahad Al-Mutairi, 22, started @thesaudigate on Twitter to promote Saudi Arabia’s “hidden wonders” to a growing tourist market.

“I wanted to be part of the future somehow — that’s why I started Saudi Gate and this is what has motivated me to go on,” he told Arab News.

Many other photographers who travel the country share the same outlook.

Faisal Fahad Binzarah, 41, said: “I had to work on a few projects and went to places I had never been before. I remember thinking, where has this been all my life? I never thought I would find such gems in Saudi Arabia.”

Binzarah said that he looks for dramatic landscapes and tries to “capture the overall feeling of the place.”

He said: “The pictures I take are not unique, the uniqueness comes from the places. I am just the conveyer of the beauty and nothing else.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Fahad Al-Mutairi, 22, started @thesaudigate on Twitter to promote Saudi Arabia’s ‘hidden wonders’ to a growing tourist market.

• Al-Mutairi said that about a third of @thesaudigate’s followers are international, and they are usually surprised by what they see.

“As a photographer, I try to capture the right objects at the right time, but often I feel like the beauty is not represented,” he said.

Al-Mutairi said that about a third of @thesaudigate’s followers are international, and they are usually surprised by what they see.

“Often they are amazed but also very happy because after going through the pictures they know that there is a part of the world that they must explore.”

Hadi Farah, 28, a Lebanese photographer who now lives in the Kingdom, said that he had traveled widely in Saudi Arabia and “always felt a sense of welcome and ease.”

“I think tourism is directly influenced by photographers. Whenever I upload something, I receive questions with people asking if this is really in Saudi Arabia or have I accidentally put the wrong name.

“Unfortunately, people think that it is just a desert and nothing else. So by posting pictures of these places we are educating them about possibilities and attractions they thought never existed,” he said.

Binzarah agreed, saying: “Undiscovered places are of interest for professional photographers, because they are always looking for challenges, and I think this ignites their interests to go to these places and explore.”

he added that “while the desert might be nothing new to a Saudi resident, it will be of interest to people who live in greener countries.”

Saudi Arabia, as a land of ancient civilizations, is extremely appealing for archaeologists and tourists interested in history, Binzara said.

Farah described the beauty of nature in different places, saying: “We associate beauty with life, and in our minds where there is green there is life, but we forget that there is also life in rocks and sand, and they are rich in history. So, we need to keep in mind that the beauty of AlUla is different from other areas.”

Technology is also having a major influence. Photographers now use drones to reach places that once were too dangerous or remote, and the resulting images shed new light on the power of photography and the beauty of landscapes.

“Being on social media gives us the drive to do better,” Binzarah said. “If there is no community or people to engage with, it gets dull.”

He added: “It is a personal journey and one for everyone to discover Saudi Arabia one picture at a time.”

 


Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts

Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah. (SPA)
Updated 01 March 2021

Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts

Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts
  • Simonnet praised KSrelief’s professional mechanisms, its preparation and coordination of humanitarian and relief programs, and its support for the needy around the world

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian efforts have been hailed as “professional” in a meeting between the head of KSrelief and the EU’s ambassador to the Kingdom.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), met Patrick Simonnet, head of the EU delegation to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman.
During the talks in Riyadh, the two discussed issues of mutual interest related to relief and humanitarian affairs.
Simonnet praised KSrelief’s professional mechanisms, its preparation and coordination of humanitarian and relief programs, and its support for the needy around the world.
KSrelief has implemented 1,536 projects worth almost $5 billion across 59 countries.
According to a recent report, the countries and territories that have benefited the most from the projects include Yemen ($3.47 billion), Palestine ($363 million), Syria ($304 million) and Somalia ($202 million).