The Journey Through Time: A master plan for preserving and sustainably developing Saudi Arabia’s ancient AlUla

A panoramic view of the Dadan District. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), unveiled The Journey Through Time - the latest plan for the region. (Supplied)
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A panoramic view of the Dadan District. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), unveiled The Journey Through Time - the latest plan for the region. (Supplied)
AlUla Old Town district - the Perspectives Galleries. (Supplied)
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AlUla Old Town district - the Perspectives Galleries. (Supplied)
The Nabataean Theatre in the Nabataean District. (Supplied)
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The Nabataean Theatre in the Nabataean District. (Supplied)
The viewing deck in the Jabal Ikmah District. (Supplied)
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The viewing deck in the Jabal Ikmah District. (Supplied)
The Kingdoms Institute in the Dadan District. (Supplied)
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The Kingdoms Institute in the Dadan District. (Supplied)
The Interpretive Center in the Jabal Ikmah District. (Supplied)
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The Interpretive Center in the Jabal Ikmah District. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 April 2021

The Journey Through Time: A master plan for preserving and sustainably developing Saudi Arabia’s ancient AlUla

A panoramic view of the Dadan District. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), unveiled The Journey Through Time - the latest plan for the region. (Supplied)
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says The Journey Through Time will “advance our understanding of 200,000 years of heritage”
  • The RCU expects AlUla, once completed, to attract two million visitors every year and create 38,000 new local jobs by 2035

LONDON: Until now few have been privileged to visit the ancient city of Hegra, hewn from the rocks of the Hijaz in northwestern Saudi Arabia over two millennia ago and lost for centuries in the mists of time.

Like its famous twin Petra, some 460 km north in modern-day Jordan, Hegra was created by the Nabataeans, a mysterious people whose Arabian empire of trade flared briefly but brightly more than 2,000 years ago.

But now, as Saudi Arabia increasingly opens its doors to the outside world, the Kingdom is poised to share with that world one of the great forgotten treasures of antiquity.




Nabataean tombs in AlUla. (Supplied)

After more than a decade of one of the most intensive archaeological investigations ever undertaken, Hegra is to be the jewel in the crown of a plan to transform the dramatic landscape and heritage of the AlUla region into a natural and cultural oasis that will once again see visitors from around the world drawn to this important ancient crossroads.

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

Today, we embark on a journey to preserve the world’s largest cultural oasis and advance our understanding of 200,000 years of heritage. The Journey Through Time master plan is a leap forward to sustainably and responsibly develop AlUla, and share our cultural legacy with the world.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Over the next 15 years, AlUla valley, home to Hegra and a multitude of other historical sites, will be transformed into a living museum designed to immerse visitors in 200,000 years of natural and human history.

The Journey Through Time master plan was developed under the leadership of the crown prince and the guidance of Prince Badr, the Saudi minister of culture and governor of the RCU. Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the RCU, told Arab News the master plan has been envisioned “as a way to capture the deep-rooted essence of what AlUla already is — an oasis of unique culture, heritage, nature and community — while curating a timeless legacy with stories of the past to inform the future and open new chapters in AlUla’s unfolding history.”




The Journey Through Time master plan was developed under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) and the guidance of Prince Badr (L), the Saudi minister of culture and governor of the RCU. (AN Photo Ziyad Alarfaj/AFP/File Photos)

Five districts, each focused on a particular heritage site and strung out along the spectacular AlUla valley, will together tell the story of the past two millennia.

The districts will be connected by a 20 km Wadi of Hospitality, a “green pedestrian spine” which, together with a 46 km low-carbon tramline that will connect the five sites to AlUla International Airport, will follow part of the route used for centuries by pilgrims and, in the early part of the 20th century, by the historic Hijaz Railway.

A network of trails snaking through the green valley will also allow visitors to explore on foot, or by bicycle or horse.




The Nabataean District - Hegra Museum. (Supplied)

The Journey Through Time begins in the south of the valley at the Old Town district, the site of an abandoned mudbrick settlement 17 km south of Hegra. The Old Town was occupied until the 1980s, when the occupants abandoned it for the comforts of the newly built modern-day AlUla, a few kilometers to the south. Today it is an intriguing and haunting labyrinthine ghost town.

From AlUla Old Town, visitors will journey north toward District 2, site of the ancient city of Dadan, a predecessor to Hegra. Between 600 and 200 B.C. it flourished as the capital of the mysterious Dadanite and Lihyanite kingdoms, whose fortunes rested on their control of the incense trade routes that passed through the valley.

 

District 3, Jabal Ikmah, an “open-air library” of petroglyphs, will give visitors a first glimpse of the thousands of ancient rock-art sites and inscriptions to be found throughout the valley and beyond.

The next stop on the Journey Through Time will be District 4, The Nabataean Horizon, a cluster of cultural assets mirroring Nabataean architecture and the perfect curtain-raiser for the last and most spectacular of the five districts: The ancient city of Hegra, which in 2007 became Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.




The AlUla low carbon experiential trams. (Supplied)

Hegra is situated on a large plain southeast of the Hijaz Mountains, studded with hills of sandstone, isolated or grouped together to form massifs that have been dramatically sculpted by the northwesterly winds that have blown through the region every spring and early summer since the dawn of time.

The winds have also created strange and evocative shapes, such as the three-storey rock 10 km northeast of the modern town of AlUla, sculpted over millions of years to resemble an elephant.

In the center of the site, once served by the 130 wells driven into the rock that made possible the sprawling oasis that supported the ancient city, is the former residential area. Although very little remains above the surface of buildings that were made in antiquity largely from mud bricks, geophysical surveys have revealed tantalizing evidence of underground structures, while parts of the city wall can still be seen with the naked eye.

But without doubt the stars of Hegra are the necropolises that surround the residential area — cities of the dead, featuring more than 90 monumental tombs carved out of the rocks surrounding and overlooking the former city of the living, and dating from about 1 B.C. to A.D. 75.




The stars of Hegra are the necropolises that surround the residential area — cities of the dead, featuring more than 90 monumental tombs. (Supplied)

Of the four main necropolises, Qasr Al-Bint, home to 31 tombs dated from the year nought to A.D. 58, is the most visually dramatic — both from a distance and up close. The exterior facades of many of the tombs here feature carved monsters, eagles, other small sculpted animals and human faces.

As at Petra, which was also created by the Nabataeans, many of the tombs at Hegra feature spectacular carved facades. However, unlike at Petra, many of the facades also carry dated Nabataean inscriptions, in many cases naming the dead and offering unique insights into the lives of the people who once called Hegra home.

The master plan envisages 15 “cultural assets” that will act as landmarks throughout the five districts. These will include galleries, museums, an oasis living garden and, in a salute to AlUla’s role as a crossroads of ancient trade routes, an incense road market.

Education and the acquisition of knowledge will play a key part in the development. In addition to research centers focused on the ancient sites of Dadan and Jabal Ikmah, a flagship component of the plan is The Kingdoms Institute, a global hub for archaeological knowledge and research dedicated to the cultures and civilizations that have inhabited the area for more than 7,000 years.

An ongoing archaeological survey of the entire 22,000 sq km AlUla region has already identified over 23,000 sites of archaeological interest.

Another key part of the development will be the revival of the Cultural Oasis at the heart of the AlUla valley.

“Through research and innovative solutions from water management to irrigation and land use, the replenishment of the cultural oasis will be a key element of the Journey Through Time master plan,” Al-Madani told Arab News.

“The most intense regeneration efforts will focus on the 9 km heart of the ancient oasis — the ‘green lung’ of AlUla connecting Old Town, Dadan, and Jabal Ikmah — and will trigger a major expansion of AlUla’s green and open spaces.”




AlUla - ‘The Cultural Oasis.’ (Supplied)

With the revival of up to 10 million square meters planned, as “a direct response to the challenges of sustainably and responsibly developing a fragile desert environment,” the Journey Through Time master plan will be the world’s largest cultural oasis regeneration project, creating an enchanting haven for visitors and a unique opportunity for sustainable agricultural production.

In addition, 80 percent of AlUla county will be designated as nature reserves, with key flora and fauna to be reintroduced.

Once complete, the RCU expects AlUla to attract two million visitors every year, boosting its goal of contributing SR 120 billion ($32 billion) to the national GDP and creating 38,000 new jobs in the area by 2035.

With a total of 5,000 “hospitality keys” planned as part of an overall target of 9,400 by 2035, many of those jobs will be in tourism and hospitality.

In each of the five districts visitors will be able to choose from a “tailored blend of living and hospitality options,” ranging from hotels and eco-tourism resorts to luxury lodges and “canyon farms” — carved out of the sandstone rocks that once tempted the Nabataeans to settle here.

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Saudi Arabia studies vaccinating 12-18 aged group

Saudi Arabia studies vaccinating 12-18 aged group
There were 1,017 new cases, meaning that 465,797 people in the country have now contracted the disease. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 June 2021

Saudi Arabia studies vaccinating 12-18 aged group

Saudi Arabia studies vaccinating 12-18 aged group
  • Saudi Arabia on Sunday reported 19 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 7,572

JEDDAH: National COVID-19 committees in the Kingdom are studying giving vaccines to people between the ages of 12 and 18, the Ministry of Health’s official spokesman, Dr. Muhammad Al- Abd Al-Aly, said on Sunday.
The news came during a press conference held by the health spokesman with the participation of the official spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, Abdulrahman Al-Hussein.
Al-Aly said that postponing the administration of the second dose lies in achieving the highest level of immunity among society members with the first dose. He confirmed that there had been no changes in the COVID-19 infection curve in the Kingdom, adding that demand for the vaccine and a commitment to precautionary measures contributed to achieving this.
For his part, Al-Hussein said that after 48 days on Aug. 1, those unvaccinated would not be allowed to enter commercial facilities, centers and malls.
The Ministry of Interior announced earlier that shoppers should be fully vaccinated, or have had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or been vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection — with the exception of age or health groups not obligated to take the vaccine.
He said that the commitment among society members was high during the last period, and the discipline was noticeable, contributing to the return of some activities and services that were restricted earlier such as the reopening of fitting rooms and the use of touch screens.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia reported 1,017 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.

• The death toll has risen to 7,572 with 19 more virus-related fatalities.

The spokesman reiterated the four practices that lead to crowding inside and outside of commercial establishments, which are still prohibited: Inviting celebrities and advertisers to these places, opening ceremonies for shops and markets, commercial competitions that require attendance, and inaugural occasions for products or services.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said that obese people were the most vulnerable to infection from the coronavirus disease and its severe complications, stressing that the vaccine should be taken for protection while implementing precautionary measures.
The ministry, through its Twitter account and awareness platform “Live Healthy,” published an infographic to outline the risks of obesity and associated ailments as a result of the disease.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday reported 19 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 7,572.
There were 1,017 new cases, meaning that 465,797 people in the country have now contracted the disease. A total of 10,132 cases remain active, of which 1,575 patients are in critical condition.
Of the newly recorded cases, 344 were in Makkah, 198 in Riyadh, 155 in the Eastern Province and 68 in Madinah.
The ministry said that 1,133 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 448,093.


Frankly Speaking: Saudi Arabia doubling down on Diriyah Gate project, says DGDA CEO 

In a wide-ranging interview on Frankly Speaking, CEO Jerry Inzerillo talks about DGDA's far-reaching plans to rival such global attractions as the pyramids in Egypt and the Colosseum in Rome. 
In a wide-ranging interview on Frankly Speaking, CEO Jerry Inzerillo talks about DGDA's far-reaching plans to rival such global attractions as the pyramids in Egypt and the Colosseum in Rome. 
Updated 14 June 2021

Frankly Speaking: Saudi Arabia doubling down on Diriyah Gate project, says DGDA CEO 

In a wide-ranging interview on Frankly Speaking, CEO Jerry Inzerillo talks about DGDA's far-reaching plans to rival such global attractions as the pyramids in Egypt and the Colosseum in Rome. 
  • Jerry Inzerillo made the remarks on Frankly Speaking, a series of video conversations with leading Middle East decision-makers
  • Project’s budget has been increased from $27 billion to $40 billion, and its scope increased significantly, he said

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is doubling down on its landmark Diriyah Gate project to build a leisure and cultural zone in the historic heart of Riyadh.

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the authority that runs the landmark project, told Arab News that his budget has been increased from $27 billion to $40 billion, and its scope increased significantly.

“What has happened is that the master plans, (following further) research, have evolved into a broader vision to allow it to be a component (of the strategy to turn) Riyadh into one of the 10 great cities of the world,” he said.

Inzerillo, a veteran of the global tourism business who was appointed to the top job at the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) in 2018, revealed the project’s new ambitions in an interview with “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video conversations with leading business and political leaders.

The inaugural celebration of Diriyah Gate. (Supplied)

During the interview, he also spoke of the DGDA’s prime place within the Vision 2030 giga-projects, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kingdom’s tourism industry, and its far-reaching plans to rival such global attractions as the pyramids in Egypt and the Colosseum in Rome.

The move to increase the project’s budget and scope was the brainchild of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, Inzerillo said.

“It’s not just that we were given some more money. It’s a result of a change in vision. He (the crown prince) studies plans meticulously. As the smartest guy in the room, his visual acuity is amazing,” he said.

Old structures in Diriyah, the site of the first Saudi Kingdom in the 18th century, have been preserved. (Supplied)

"So, the same way Paris was master-planned and laid out, the same way Berlin was laid out, the same way Manhattan was laid out — this is how the crown prince looks at all the cities and that’s why we’ve grown.”

Diriyah, the site of the first Saudi Kingdom in the 18th century, is regarded as the centerpiece of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy and provide more leisure and cultural facilities for Saudi citizens, as well as attracting foreign tourists.

“There’s only one Diriyah. We’re the first born, we’re the favorite son. My fellow CEOs can come on the show and say, ‘No, we’re great.’ They’re all great, we love them, but there’s only one Diriyah,” Inzerillo said.

He insisted that Diriyah Gate and the other mega-projects are on time and have not been unduly delayed by the economic effects of the pandemic.

 

 

The budgets of the other big leisure projects — such as the Red Sea Development and AlUla — have not been cut back, he said.

“We executed our exact strategy all of 2020; we didn’t cut back. He (the crown prince) was brave,” Inzerillo added. “So now as a result of it, the major giga-projects in the Kingdom are on time and on budget.”

Some of the big projects will “need another budget cycle” to determine the right mix of equity and new investment required, but he is confident that the overall investment will be met by government funds, investment from the Saudi private sector and foreign investment.

Some tourism experts have questioned the overall strategy, which seeks to attract 100 million visits by the end of the decade to a variety of new leisure and cultural attractions, but Inzerillo said the projects are not in competition. “They’re very intelligently crafted to complement each other,” he added.

The reason for the big number of new tourism projects, he said, is that Saudi Arabia is trying to compete with other recognized global travel centers — such as Singapore and European countries — within a short space of time.

 

 

Inzerillo conceded that there has been an effect on the number of people visiting Saudi Arabia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but he estimated that it has been proportionately less than other big tourist destinations such as France and the US. “We’re coming off a low base,” he said.

In line with the new budget, the DGDA has lifted the estimate for the number of visitors it hopes to attract. It now expects 27 million visits and 100,000 residents by 2030.

Inzerillo said these estimates are achievable, and he took encouragement from the number of people applying for the new tourism visa — 55,000 per week — before the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect.

Diriyah is aimed at both Saudi domestic visitors and foreign tourists, seeking to capitalize on the rich historical legacy of the region.

 

 

Inzerillo is convinced that it can take its place among the other great cultural attractions of the world.

“It is to Saudi Arabia what the Acropolis is to the Greeks, what the Colosseum is to Rome, what Machu Picchu is to Peruvians,” he said.

“So when people come to the Gulf, they’re going to want to see where it all started — the home of the House of Saud.”

Inzerillo, who trained in Las Vegas and went on to international projects in South Africa, the UAE and elsewhere, believes that the absence of alcohol in Saudi Arabia will make little difference to its attractiveness to tourists.

When global focus groups were asked about their priorities for tourism in the Kingdom, the non-availability of alcohol in the food and beverage mix was not in the top five concerns, he said.

 

 

“People were astonished by the beauty of the Kingdom, and by the warmth of the Saudi people,” he added.

Originally from Brooklyn in New York City, Inzerillo is enthusiastic about the quality of life in Saudi Arabia for him and other Western expatriates, who make up about 20 percent of the DGDA workforce.

 

 

“But the No. 1 thing that people like is civility — the fact that you’re treated warmly and kindly, and the great thing about the Kingdom right now as a society — it’s optimistic, it’s positive,” he said.

Inzerillo also gave some insight into the decision-making style of the crown prince, whom he described as a “supercharged CEO.”

Inzerillo said: “He’s very methodical, asking, ‘What’s your process? How did you study this issue? Who did you study it with? Did you study it with the world’s best? What did you learn, and what options are you bringing to me?’

“So when you leave a meeting with an approval, he doesn’t stop. One day, two days, five days later, you’ll get a call from him. ‘If you connect that with that, doesn’t it make Diriyah better?’ ‘Yes sir, we didn’t see that’.”

_________

Twitter: @frankkanedubai


Women can register for Hajj without male guardian

Women can register for Hajj without male guardian
Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat southeast of the Saudi holy city of Makkah, on Arafat Day which is the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP file photo)
Updated 14 June 2021

Women can register for Hajj without male guardian

Women can register for Hajj without male guardian
  • Ministry approves three packages’ prices range between $3,230 and $4,426

JEDDAH: Three packages have been approved for this year’s pilgrimage, with a government ministry saying that people could register online for Hajj including women without a mahram (male guardian).

Registration for this year’s Hajj opened at 1 p.m on Sunday after the government said it would limit this year’s cohort to citizens and residents of the Kingdom.
Registration is available until 10 p.m. on June 23. There is no priority for early applicants.
Costs for the three approved packages are SR16,560.50 ($4,426), SR14,381.95, and SR12,113.95. VAT will be added to the price of each package.
According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s website, people will be bussed to the holy sites and there will be a maximum of 20 pilgrims per vehicle.
They will be supplied with three daily meals in Mina and two meals (breakfast and lunch) in Arafat. They will be given dinner in Muzdalifah. Other food and beverage services will be available, but  pilgrims are not allowed to bring food with them from outside Makkah.
Applications will go through five stages. These include a prospective pilgrim reviewing and acknowledging health information and providing personal details based on their official papers. After that, the system will verify the applicant’s eligibility for Hajj based on the data provided by the National Information Center.
Once an application is accepted, the applicant will be given a registration number for further inquiries. After ensuring an applicant’s COVID-19 status — fully immune, immune by the first dose, or immune after recovery — a text message with the payment details will be sent out.

HIGHLIGHT

Costs for the three approved packages are SR16,560.50 ($4,426), SR14,381.95, and SR12,113.95. VAT will be added to the price of each package.

The ministry said that registering for Hajj did not mean a final Hajj permit had been granted.
“A Hajj permit will only be issued after an application is found to meet all the mandatory health conditions and regulations,” it added. “The ministry has the right to reject a request at any time, in case it was found to be violating the organizing regulations.”
Before a Hajj permit request can be sent, all applicants must acknowledge that they have not performed Hajj in the last five years, they are not suffering from any chronic disease, and are not infected with COVID-19.
People must also acknowledge that they have not been admitted to a hospital due to chronic diseases or for dialysis treatment in the past six months.
On Saturday it was announced that 60,000 pilgrims would be allowed to perform this year’s Hajj, which begins mid-July.
Authorities also said that those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases and be aged between 18 and 65.
The decision was “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said. “The Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”
The “sorting” phase of the Hajj application process starts on June 25, according to an official ministry tweet, which also said that applicants should pay for their package within three hours of selecting it to avoid cancelation. Priority will be for registered applicants who have never performed Hajj, it added.


Trial run: 6,000 students get a taste of careers in medicine, engineering and science across Saudi Arabia

Trial run: 6,000 students get a taste of careers in medicine, engineering and science across Saudi Arabia
The annual summer program aims to enrich student’s knowledge, increase their efficiency, promote their readiness, and develop their practical and scientific expertise. (Supplied)
Updated 14 June 2021

Trial run: 6,000 students get a taste of careers in medicine, engineering and science across Saudi Arabia

Trial run: 6,000 students get a taste of careers in medicine, engineering and science across Saudi Arabia
  • The remote program aims to teach students the scientific curriculum of enrichment units and train them in specific skills

RIYADH: Six thousand students from the Kingdom will have the chance to become engineers, doctors and scientists in 23 different fields for 21 days as part of the Mawhiba academic enrichment program.
One of the world’s largest scientific programs, organized by the King Abdul Aziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), began on June 13 across five Saudi universities, to be followed by a second phase that will be held virtually.
The advanced scientific units were developed in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY).
This comes within the program provided by Mawhiba for talented students discovered through the national program, held yearly by the foundation in partnership with the Education Ministry.
Students in the Kingdom can register for the program directly or via their schools. The annual summer program aims to enrich student’s knowledge, increase their efficiency, promote their readiness, develop their practical and scientific expertise, challenge their capacities and develop their skills.
“The academic enrichment program provided this summer covers the scientific and skills’ aspects, to promote student’s personal and social skills and help them acquire the skills of the 21st century,” a statement from Mawhiba said.
Mawhiba’s academic enrichment programs this year will be held in in-person and remotely. The in-person attendance program will run from June 13 to July 1 and provide students with a total of 90 hours’ experience, six hours a day.
Top academics will teach the scientific curriculum for four hours a day with two hours of skills’ development.
The remote program aims to teach students the scientific curriculum of enrichment units and train them in specific skills. Students will receive a total of 60 hours training in this program, divided into four hours a day; three hours dedicated to the scientific curriculum and one hour to skills’ development.
The second phase of the enrichment program will be held from Aug. 1-19, 2021.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Mawhiba’s academic enrichment programs this year will be held in in-person and remotely.

• The in-person attendance program will run from June 13 to July 1 and provide students with a total of 90 hours’ experience; six hours a day.

Attendance will be mandatory for students in five universities: King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, King Saud University in Riyadh, Princess Noura University in Riyadh, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University in Dammam and the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran.
The annual program reflects all training and qualification aspects for students. Those selected to train the students are among the best academics who receive periodical sessions and programs according to the best technology, sciences and direct and virtual teaching techniques, to deliver the information to students and create a positive environment for innovation, learning and motivation.
“Mawhiba ensured that the training program provided to teachers includes specialized training sessions, to promote the coaches’ role in helping students acquire the skills and basics of rational thinking, empower them to deeply understand self-confidence skills, and provide them the scientific steps and techniques for problem-solving and decision-making skills,” the foundation said.
The number of students enrolled in Mawhiba’s summer enrichment programs has reached 5,887 to date, with the program able to receive up to 6,000 students. A hundred and thirteen seats are still empty, including seven seats for the attendance program and 106 for the virtual program.
The program provided for Mawhiba’s discovered talents is part of a journey in which students undergo different scientific experiences.
Over the past 10 years, talented students discovered by Mawhiba have represented the Kingdom in scientific competitions and events around the world. They have won 500 international prizes; 415 international prizes in scientific contests and 85 international prizes in International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) — the world’s most prestigious scientific competition for students.


Saudi entertainment seasons return in Q4 of 2021

Saudi entertainment seasons return in Q4 of 2021
The launch of the new Saudi Seasons is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to enrich the lives of Saudis and expats. (Supplied)
Updated 14 June 2021

Saudi entertainment seasons return in Q4 of 2021

Saudi entertainment seasons return in Q4 of 2021
  • Program will begin with the return of Riyadh Season and aims to provide events, arts and culture activities

JEDDAH: Saudi tourism and entertainment seasons are set to return in the fourth quarter of 2021 with more excitement and larger-scale events, Visit Saudi by Tourism Authority announced on Sunday.

The national tourism platform Visit Saudi revealed that entertainment seasons will begin with the return of Riyadh Season this year, and aims to serve all different segments of the society through diverse entertainment, arts and culture activities and experiences.

For the first time, members of the public were invited to participate in shaping the entertainment program by sharing their opinions and suggestions on the website www.2years.sa.

Prior to the latest announcement, a promotional campaign started a week ago with the slogan “We will compensate you for the two past years” being distributed across Riyadh city and throughout social media.

“The promotional campaign was a success, it really got everyone curious and looking forward to know what it was about,” Yara Khalil from Riyadh told Arab News. “We are all enthusiastic about returning to our vibrant life before the pandemic.”

Norah Salem from Riyadh told Arab News that the teaser advertisement caught her attention. “I saw it in every corner and street and I thought, would it really mean the return of Riyadh Season? Impossible!”

“I’m really happy to see that things are heading forward to normal life again, I can’t wait for the moment when I’ll be throwing all my masks away,” she said.

The launch of the new Saudi Seasons is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to enrich the lives of Saudis and expats, enhance the quality of life, promote different tourist destinations and highlight cultural, entertainment and sports treasures in the country.

However, some people still have health-related concerns and fear the return of COVID-19 trauma.

Fahad Mohammed from Riyadh told Arab News: “The return of entertainment seasons means that we as a nation were able to overcome this crisis and dealt with it properly. Nonetheless, I personally remain unsure about my willingness to take part. I hope we maintain the current achievement and that the return of social gatherings and activities doesn’t cause another outbreak of the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The national tourism platform Visit Saudi revealed that entertainment seasons aim to serve all different segments of the society through diverse entertainment, arts and culture activities and experiences.

• Members of the public were invited to participate in shaping the entertainment program by sharing their opinions on www.2years.sa.

• Prior to the latest announcement, a promotional campaign started a week ago being distributed across Riyadh city and throughout social media.

For others, the new announcement encouraged them to take the vaccine. Osama Adel told Arab News that he booked his vaccine appointment just for Riyadh Season.

“I am very optimistic and excited about the Riyadh Season this year because I enjoyed the last season,” he said. “The new one is definitely going to be a lot more exciting after what we all have been through in the past tough year.”

Saudi Seasons will also contribute to diversifying the national economy and providing attractive investment opportunities to drive growth in many diverse sectors, enabling the private sector to play its role in the implementation of seasons and events, which in turn will create seasonal and permanent job opportunities.

In 2019, Saudi Seasons contributed to advancing social and economic growth across the country through a diverse calendar of events and activities with more than 390 key events.