Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla

Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla
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The thousands of mysterious stone constructions built atop of an otherwise barren desert may well hold the missing link to AlUla’s part in a major turning point in the history of mankind. (Photos/Supplied)
Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla
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The thousands of mysterious stone constructions built atop of an otherwise barren desert may well hold the missing link to AlUla’s part in a major turning point in the history of mankind. (Photos/Supplied)
Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla
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Dr. Solaiman Altheeb in Hegra. (Supplied)
Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla
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The thousands of mysterious stone constructions built atop of an otherwise barren desert may well hold the missing link to AlUla’s part in a major turning point in the history of mankind. (Photos/Supplied)
Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla
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Geologist Don Boyer. (Supplied)
Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla
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The thousands of mysterious stone constructions built atop of an otherwise barren desert may well hold the missing link to AlUla’s part in a major turning point in the history of mankind. (Photos/Supplied)
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The thousands of mysterious stone constructions built atop of an otherwise barren desert may well hold the missing link to AlUla’s part in a major turning point in the history of mankind. (Photos/Supplied)
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Jamie Quartermaine, UK Archaeologist in AlUla. (Supplied)
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Rebecca Foote, Director of Archaeology, Culture, Heritage Research. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 March 2021

Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla

Documentary unveils unknown aspects of Saudi Arabia's AlUla
  • AlUla is a largely unknown oasis valley, once a prosperous and important crossroad on the incense route and home to 3,000 years of powerful successive civilizations

ALULA: AlUla is undoubtedly the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia’s tourism strategy. The valley continues to hold ancient mysterious.
The remains of the stone structures are a testimony to human strength and audacity. Despite the passage of centuries, the grandeur of these heritage sites can rival any modern structure in the world.
The Saudi government is taking special measures for the preservation of the ancient sites strewn all across the Kingdom and AlUla is one of them.
In an attempt to highlight the importance of AlUla, the Discovery Channel has produced new one-off documentary “The Architects of Ancient Arabia.”
Narrated by award-winning actor Jeremy Irons, the documentary journeys into the Arabian Peninsula’s deeper past, following teams of leading international and Saudi archaeologists and a local historian as they reveal new wonders in the previously unexplored land.
Using multiple modern technologies to record tens of thousands of sites, experts choose some to explore in greater detail, to begin piecing together a new chapter in the story of human civilization.
AlUla is a largely unknown oasis valley, once a prosperous and important crossroad on the incense route and home to 3,000 years of powerful successive civilizations.
Some of the most important survey and excavation work in modern history have been taking place in the region.
Teams of experts are seeking to decipher the activities associated with ancient stone structures they are excavating across the area surrounding the AlUla.
In the documentary, the archaeologists unearth evidence for an ancient ritual, completely unexpected and extraordinary.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The documentary was made by the Discovery Channel in association with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU). It was produced by Powderhouse Productions.

• It reveals startling new discoveries, which reset the timeline for the emergence of complex societies.

The documentary was made by the Discovery Channel in association with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU). It was produced by Powderhouse Productions.
Robert Kirwan, executive producer and editor of the documentary, said: “The weeks we spent in AlUla filming alongside the archaeological team were a life-altering experience for me and the rest of the crew. The startlingly spectacular landscape is like nothing I have ever seen. And the stone structures, literally thousands of them dotting the area, have sat untouched for thousands of years. We were walking among the ghosts of unknown ancients, and we could feel their presence, their yearning, to have their story told.”
The documentary reveals startling new discoveries, which reset the timeline for the emergence of complex societies. The thousands of mysterious stone constructions built atop of an otherwise barren desert may well hold the missing link to AlUla’s part in a major turning point in the history of mankind.
These discoveries have been the source of great interest from the archaeology community globally and will be unpacked in much more detail over the coming months in the form of published peer-reviewed articles and papers that will change the current understanding of the significance of the Arabian Peninsula.
Rebecca Foote, director of archaeology and cultural heritage research at RCU, said: “We already know much about the major sites such as Hegra, but I hope that the team’s work and this documentary begin to fill in gaps in our knowledge in the late prehistoric period, when societies are becoming more complex.”
She added: “Archaeologists are just beginning to reveal the secrets and stories held within the desert of this stunning landscape, there is much more to discover and we’re excited to be able to share our work and this place with the world through this documentary.”
“The Architects of Ancient Arabia” airs on March 31 at 10:40 p.m. on OSN (channel 500).


Houthi militia behind Yemen humanitarian situation, KSrelief chief tells US-Arab meeting

Houthi militia behind Yemen humanitarian situation, KSrelief chief tells US-Arab meeting
Updated 14 min 55 sec ago

Houthi militia behind Yemen humanitarian situation, KSrelief chief tells US-Arab meeting

Houthi militia behind Yemen humanitarian situation, KSrelief chief tells US-Arab meeting
  • KSrelief has implemented 590 projects in Yemen totaling over $3.533 billion
  • Houthi militia have committed humanitarian violations and stolen aid, depriving Yemenis of basic needs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is the largest supporter of humanitarian work in Yemen, with aid exceeding $17.3 billion, the head of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) said Thursday.
About $3.5 billion of that aid has been provided through KSrelief, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah told a meeting organized by the National Council on US-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) on the humanitarian challenges in Yemen.
Al-Rabeeah said the Kingdom is also one of the biggest aid donors around the world. The center has implemented 1,556 humanitarian projects in 59 countries with a value exceeding $5 billion, of which 590 projects were done in Yemen.
Aside from the political, economic, and health repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the Yemeni people are also facing a difficult humanitarian situation caused by the Iran-backed Houthi militia.
“It sought to plunder and rob the humanitarian aid it receives from donor countries and divert it for the benefit of its military activities, depriving (Yemenis) of their most basic rights to lead a decent human life,” Al-Rabeeah added.
He outlined the Houthi’s humanitarian violations in Yemen, including using anti-aircraft weapons and planting mines in densely populated areas, forced recruitment of children, seizing aid ships and humanitarian convoys, and intimidating humanitarian workers, as well as bombing hospitals, schools, refugee camps and other civilian facilities resulting in civilian deaths, injuries and heavy losses.
Al-Rabeeah said the Kingdom is working to overcome these challenges and the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (MASAM) has extracted more than 230,000 mines, in addition to the rehabilitation program for children who were recruited by the Houthi militia and forced to fight in the conflict. 
Al-Rabeeah called on UN organizations to stand up to these violations, and said the Kingdom is keen to end the crisis and supports all peace initiatives put forward by the UN envoy to Yemen.
Dr. John Anthony, CEO of NCUSAR, said the aid provided by Saudi Arabia to Yemen is the largest compared to the aid of other countries combined, and included roads, hospitals, schools, mosques, and education and training centers.


Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model

Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model
Updated 22 April 2021

Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model

Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model
  • First AlUla “Crossroads” panel concludes that Saudi Arabia’s accelerated aims to diversify the economy must marry the nation’s heritage with sustainable business models
  • The Crossroads panel sought to address how the Kingdom could achieve its divergent goals of decarbonizing and diversifying the economy

Saudi Arabia’s economy has long been defined by fossil fuels. However, the Gulf nation, which has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, has made the decisive step towards a sustainable future. In a bid to diversify its economy, Saudi Arabia is placing increased emphasis on integrated sustainability — which incorporates social, economic, and environmental dimensions and is grounded in principles of a circular economy — is at the forefront of all major developments in the Kingdom.

This includes AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region that covers a landmass of over 22,500 square meters and is being transformed into an “open-air museum” to showcase its 200,000 years of human history to the world under the Journey Through Time Masterplan, the vision for AlUla unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the board of directors of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

At the core of the masterplan, which was unveiled on April 7, is integrated sustainability, the subject of the first panel staged by the Royal Commission of AlUla’s as part of its “Crossroads: Intellectual Panel Program.”

READ MORE

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), unveiled The Journey Through Time this month, the latest development rooted in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 blueprint for the nation’s future. Click here for more.

Aptly titled “At the Crossroads: People and Planet: Can AlUla Unlock a Sustainable Future?” Moderated by Dr. Maliha Hashmi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s planned cross-border city in the Tabuk region, panelists included businessman and entrepreneur Alejandro Agag; former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; architect and leader in sustainable design William McDonough; James Hardcastle, director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List; Carlos Duarte, a biological oceanographer; and Gérard Mestrallet, executive chairman of Afalula, the French agency for Alula Development.

The panel sought to address how the Kingdom could achieve its divergent goals of decarbonizing and diversifying the economy, creating a wider scope of employment opportunities, and bolstering Saudi Arabia’s social and economic contribution to the global community in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. For example, the Kingdom has recently taken initial steps to reduce Saudi Arabia’s emissions by planting 10 billion trees and generating half its energy from renewables by 2030.

“They all have relationships that interact, and the important thing is to see this whole set of issues as a kind of ecosystems and organisms,” said McDonough, adding: “Everything kind of affects everything else and the benefits are tremendous. The recognition of multiplier effects is a key part of it, we find the economics work really beautifully and soon as you start to realize there are benefits coming from lots of directions.”

Sustainability is a vital part of any business, declared Agag, the CEO of Formula E, the single-seater motorsport championship that only uses electric cars. His business and entertainment model continues to prioritize sustainability.

“I think now the difficulty is not to make sustainability and business compatible, the difficulty is to do a business without having a sustainability angle in your business,” he said. “When we started Formula E 10 years ago and launched the first race in Beijing in 2014, everybody thought that Formula E would crash and burn.”

He added: “All the motorsport world had this consensus. My old-time partner and at the time CEO of Formula 1 Bernie Ecclestone told me that an electrical championship would never make it to the first race. But we did.”

Agag explained how the championship now has support from world’s major manufacturers. It has strong revenues, big sponsors, and continuous growth — all because it promotes electric cars. “And we did it at a time in 2014 when electric cars were not as available as now,” added Agag.

How does a nation push social and economic sustainability, particularly in respect to resurrecting ancient sites such as AlUla? Renzi, who contributed greatly to the revitalization of the sites of Pompei and Matera in Italy, transforming them into vibrant cultural and touristic destinations, agreed with Agag, stating that it is “impossible to do business without sustainability.”

He said: “The same is true for culture and tourism,” adding: “Pompei and Matera are very exciting examples. Pompei was one of the most amazing places around the world but in the last 20 to 50 years, Italy lost the momentum to invest in a new narrative for Pompei. Our government decided to involve the EU and Pompei pre-pandemic achieved its maximum number of visitors.”

The same is true for Matera, a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy, which now houses museums such as the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, he continued.

“Matera became the capital of culture in Europe after a long period in which people thought of Matera as a place of ruin and disaster,” explained Renzi.

“What is the strategy? What is the secret?” posed Renzi. “In my view it is exactly what has been decided by the Royal Commission for AlUla: Use a great place, one of the capitals of the past, and transform it into a place for the future.”

READ MORE

AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region, home to 200,000 years of still largely unexplored human history, continues to play a central role in the Kingdom’s tourism strategy. In a bid to pave the way for the area’s future growth, the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices. More here.

What can we draw from 200,000 years of human history at AlUla to reimagine sustainability, challenge conventional wisdom, and draw inspiration from ancient ingenuity? Moreover, Hashmi posed, how does Saudi Arabia bring communities on board and balance the interests of protecting natural landscapes against urbanization and the needs of growing communities?

Hardcastle agreed that business cannot be done today without a sustainable approach.

“You cannot do nature conservation and protection without communities from that place,” he said. “With IUCN we’ve set up alongside our global members 160 countries and 20,000 scientists who have come together and discussed what makes nature conservation effective, especially in areas like Sharaan, AlUla, and other places in Saudi Arabia.

“The overwhelming response is that the places that are effective are where you have had full engagement from the outset with the communities who live and breathe the air who do not see these places as wild but see them as part of their heritage.”

As Saudi Arabia moves into its next chapter of growth, what this panel underlined was the crucial balance that must be struck between maintaining the country’s heritage and ancient past, using its local communities and employing sustainable practices in all areas of business and development.


Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,086 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 468

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 11 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,869.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,055 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 409,093 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,776 remain active and 1,182 in critical condition.

According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 468, followed by Makkah with 206, the Eastern Province with 166, Madinah recorded 41, and Asir confirmed 35 cases.
The ministry also announced that 1,086 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 392,448.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 144 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.07 million.


King Salman calls for global approach to tackling climate change

King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
Updated 22 April 2021

King Salman calls for global approach to tackling climate change

King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
  • Saudi ruler tells summit of world leaders the challenges created by global warming do not respect national borders
  • Biden says US will reduce emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030; China, Russia also pledge to make cuts

NEW YORK: Boosting international cooperation is the “optimal solution” to tackling climate change, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told a summit of world leaders on Thursday.

He said global warming threatens lives on our planet and that the challenges “recognize no national borders.”

“The objective is sustainable development, and in order to achieve this there must be a comprehensive methodology that takes into account the different developments and circumstances that exist around the world,” King Salman said during the Leaders Summit on Climate, which was hosted by the US.

He said the Kingdom has launched packages of strategies and introduced regulations with the aim of using clean, renewable sources to produce 50 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2030.

“Enhancing the level of international cooperation is the optimal solution to meeting the challenges of climate change,” the king said.

“During our G20 presidency last year we advocated the need to adopt a notion of a circular carbon economy, launching two international initiatives to curb land degradation and to protect coral reefs.”

He added that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently announced two new environmental plans: the Green Saudi Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative. They aim to reduce carbon emissions in the region by more than 10 percent of current global contributions.

“These initiatives also aim at planting 50 billion trees in the region,” he said.

The Kingdom, he added, will work with its partners to achieve these goals and host forums for both initiatives later this year.

“Finally we would like to affirm our keenness and commitment to cooperation to combat climate change, in order to create a better environment for future generations, wishing success for our efforts to protect our planet,” he said.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden — who convened the summit with a view to building global momentum for climate action ahead of COP26, the UN’s

Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November — pledged to cut US fossil fuel emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030.

“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden said. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us.” He called it “a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity.”

In his presidential campaign last year, Biden made tackling climate change one of his top priorities. While Republicans oppose his plans on the grounds they will cost jobs in the coal, oil and gas industries, Biden believes that a transition to cleaner energy sources will create millions of well-paid jobs, a stance echoed by many of the world leaders who attended the summit.

“This is not bunny-hugging, this is about growth and jobs,” said the UK’s Conservative prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Forty leaders are taking part in the two-day summit. The UN has described 2021 as a “climate emergency” year, with scientists warning that climate change caused by the use of coal and other fossil fuels is exacerbating natural disasters such as droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires. There are fears that the world now faces a race against time to avoid the disastrous extremes of global warming.

The world’s most powerful nations have announced various measures to address the crisis. They include targets for reductions in harmful emissions, plans to stop the public financing of coal, and a commitment to integrating climate action into economic-stimulus plans in an effort to “build back better” after the pandemic-related economic collapse, with the goal of “leaving no one behind.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin also made commitments to reduce emissions. Neither of them made any mention of their respective non-climate disputes with Biden.

Xi — whose country is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed closely by the US — said that “to protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that.”

Putin, who Biden recently referred to as a “killer” because of the Russian leader’s crackdown on opponents, said his country is “genuinely interested in galvanizing international cooperation so as to look further for effective solutions to climate change as well as to all other vital challenges.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined a number of other leaders who spoke at the summit in welcoming the US back to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, from which President Donald Trump withdrew.

She told Biden: “There can be no doubt about the world needing your contribution if we really want to fulfill our ambitious goals.”

Small states and island nations, which contribute the least to greenhouse- gas emissions but face the most severe dangers and damage resulting from climate change as they are increasingly affected by hurricanes and rising sea levels, asked the major world powers for help.

Gaston Alfonso Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said his people are “teetering on the edge of despair.” He asked the international community for debt relief and assistance to help his country recover from the effects of storms and the pandemic, to “prevent a flow of climate refugees.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the commitments made during the summit to achieving carbon neutrality as “a much-needed boost to our collective efforts to address the climate crisis ahead of COP26 in November in Glasgow.”

He added: “It is now urgent that all countries, especially other major emitters, present their 2030 climate plans well before COP 26.”

Guterres also urged leaders to deliver on $100 billion of climate commitments made to developing countries a decade ago.

“The world will be watching carefully, particularly those already experiencing severe climate impacts and an ongoing economic crisis,” he said.

“Today’s summit shows the tide is turning for climate action, but there is still a long way to go. To avert a permanent climate catastrophe, we must now urgently build on the momentum delivered today, in this make-or-break year for people and the planet.”


New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador
Updated 22 April 2021

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

RIYADH: Einas Al-Shahwan, the Kingdom’s ambassador-designate to Sweden, has become Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador.
During a virtual meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Al-Shahwan was among a number of newly appointed ambassadors taking their oath.

The oaths were taken in front of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

The ceremony was also attended by Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister.

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the first female ambassador when she was named the Saudi envoy to the US in 2019. 
In Oct. 2020, Amal Al-Mouallami was appointed as Saudi ambassador to Norway.

Below is a complete list of the new appointments:

The ambassador-designate to the Republic of Portugal, Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdulaziz;
the ambassador-designate to Sweden Einas bint Ahmed Al-Shahwan;
the ambassador-designate to the Sultanate of Oman, Abdullah bin Saud Al-Anzi;
the ambassador-designate to the Czech Republic, Abdullah bin Mutaab Al-Rasheed;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Korea, Sami bin Muhammad Al-Sadhan;
the ambassador-designate to Turkmenistan, Saeed bin Othman Suwaied;
the ambassador-designate to the United Republic of the Comoros, Atallah bin Zayed bin Zayed;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Tajikistan Walid bin Abdulrahman al-Rashidan;
the ambassador-designate to the Kyrgyz Republic Ibrahim bin Radi Al-Radi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Albania, Faisal bin Ghazi Hafzi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Kenya Khalid bin Abdullah Al Salman;
the ambassador-designate to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Faisal bin Talq Al-Baqami;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Cuba Faisal bin Falah Al-Harbi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Chad Amer Bin Ali Al-Shahri;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Burkina Faso Fahd bin Abdulrahman Al-Dossary.

The oaths were taken in front of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)