ThePlace: Tayeb Al-Ism, one of Saudi Arabia’s most stunning natural attractions

ThePlace: Tayeb Al-Ism, one of Saudi Arabia’s most stunning natural attractions
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Updated 15 May 2021

ThePlace: Tayeb Al-Ism, one of Saudi Arabia’s most stunning natural attractions

ThePlace: Tayeb Al-Ism, one of Saudi Arabia’s most stunning natural attractions
  • Small streams run through the stones and groves of palm trees dot the inside of the valley

Tayeb Al-Ism is one of Saudi Arabia’s most stunning natural attractions. Visitors to the valley enjoy one surprise after another. The valley is located on the Gulf of Aqaba, 15 kilometers north of the coastal town of Maqna.

Palm groves and granite massifs surround the valley’s entrance, which is located between two massifs that appear to be split in half.

After leaving their cars, visitors follow a pedestrian bridge that gives hikers the impression that they are about to embark on a magical journey. Small streams run through the stones and groves of palm trees dot the inside of the valley.

Shade and the large number of streams help to regulate the temperature, ensuring conditions in the heart of Tayeb Al-Ism are always pleasant.

Moses is believed to have spent his voluntary exile in Madyan, the ancient name of the Gulf of Aqaba, and reached Tayeb Al-Ism, hence the name “Valley of Moses.”


ThePlace: Dawqara, in KSA’s Northern Borders region, yield signs of early civilization

ThePlace: Dawqara, in KSA’s Northern Borders region, yield signs of early civilization
Updated 10 min 51 sec ago

ThePlace: Dawqara, in KSA’s Northern Borders region, yield signs of early civilization

ThePlace: Dawqara, in KSA’s Northern Borders region, yield signs of early civilization

ThePlace: Dawqara,  in KSA's Northern Borders region, shows signs of civilization during late late Roman period 

Dawqara is located 40 kilometers west of At-Turaif, near a mountain known as Aqrun or Dawqara. The site is registered in a comprehensive archeological survey program.

Rainwater accumulates on the northern side of the site and forms a large lake. The southern side is made up of volcanic rocks with many stone circles. Some stone tools have also been found.

One of the site’s most important artifacts is a square palace that was built from large volcanic stones. Its construction takes into consideration the straightness and solidity of pillars, linked by clay.

The palace’s door is located in the middle of the eastern wall and is 2.85 meters long. The palace comprises two parts. The first is a yard that constitutes the largest part of the building. The second has seven rooms on the western wall, each 4.5 meters wide.

The history of the palace is not clear, as an archeological excavation is required to extract, study and compare artifacts. 

But, according to preliminary studies, the palace was built in the pre-Islamic era and there is other evidence indicating that it was used until the Umayyad era. 


The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 

The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 
Updated 57 min 48 sec ago

The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 

The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 
  • For almost 500 days, the club was left empty because of government regulations to fight COVID-19

JEDDAH: After a prolonged interruption due to the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic, The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business, and fans are flocking to it for some comic relief.
For almost 500 days, the club was left empty because of the pandemic and government regulations to fight COVID-19, preventing all live shows and mass gatherings that could put people at risk. But with restrictions easing, more people are aware of the rules and regulations and the decline in daily cases, and the club is back in full swing.
“The General Entertainment Authority reached out to us to return comedy shows, and we are one of the activities of the summer season festival in Jeddah,” Majed Al-Amoudi, comedian and content manager at The Comedy Club, told Arab News. “We perform live shows four days a week now: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.”
Al-Amoudi explained that because the shows are primarily theatrical, the pandemic significantly affected the ability to operate, and everything was put on indefinite hold. However, as with everything going digital nowadays, he said the club managed to provide entertaining content on its YouTube channel.

“The Comedy Club channel (has) a lot of programs like ‘Althalothiyat’ where we host famous people or influencers, but now, we are back to theater and going live.”
He said the club is planning for future events after the summer season is finished on Sept. 25. “We will return to our regular programing and we have major projects in the works with different parties, both in the government and private sectors, but can’t reveal at the moment.”
Mohammed Saleh, a 40-year-old private sector worker, said: “It feels good to be back in the theater. The comedians are brilliant and every month I would look forward to attending a show. 
“Watching shows on YouTube can only provide some relief; the live atmosphere is something else. The night is filled with laughter to almost tears, and that’s what you want in a comedy show, belly laughs and tears,” he added.

With plans for bigger and better shows in the works, Al-Amoudi highlighted that the club was sponsored by the GEA and received special attention from its governor, Turki Al-Sheikh, for three years, with the GEA the primary sponsor of the club during the Jeddah and Sharqiya seasons in 2019.
Founded in 2012, it was initially called the Jeddah Comedy Club. Located in Al-Shallal Theme Park, it hosts theatrical shows, stand-up comedy, improvisation, and musical nights. “We also perform theatricals and sketches, we write, edit, act it, and perform it all,” Al-Amoudi said.
He revealed that he is also on the hunt for female comics as part of the club’s future expansion. “We are always looking for female comedians, or even girls who want to be professional stand-up comedians, so that we can give them courses and prepare them for the entertainment world. We are talent hunting throughout the Kingdom for sure.
“Vision 2030 supports all arts in various fields and supports the development of the youth of the country. Of course, all our goals are in line with Vision 2030, and it is great supporter for us,” he added.


Pakistani spends four decades in service of Makkah’s Grand Mosque

Pakistani spends four decades in service of Makkah’s Grand Mosque
Updated 19 min 15 sec ago

Pakistani spends four decades in service of Makkah’s Grand Mosque

Pakistani spends four decades in service of Makkah’s Grand Mosque
  • The Pakistani worker witnessed the restoration of the Kaaba during the reign of the late King Fahd and said it was one of the most important and beautiful stages of his life
  • 61-year-old Qandal is a supervisor for sanitation work at the Grand Mosque

MAKKAH: Ahmed Khan Qandal, who came from Mandi Bahauddin in Pakistan in late 1983 at the age of 23, never thought that he would spend the next 40 years of his life in Saudi Arabia, specifically as a sanitation worker at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Qandal initially promised his parents he would return home as soon as possible. But Makkah and the service of the Grand Mosque kept him preoccupied as his parents have since passed on.
The years flew by and today the 61-year-old Qandal is a supervisor for sanitation work at the Grand Mosque.
His memory is made up of different Saudi events, the most important of which were the Grand Mosque’s second and third Saudi expansions projects, and the Kaaba restoration project.
“Since I came to Saudi Arabia almost 40 years ago, I felt that I was among family and I never felt alienated,” Qandal told Arab News. 
“Whenever I meet someone new, they tell me how lucky I am
to be able to serve the Grand Mosque and pray there. I was always near the Holy Kaaba and this is a great honor that only a person with a special relationship with God can have. I was blessed to be able to do this work for four decades.”
He noted that he came to Saudi Arabia during the reign of the late King Fahd bin Abdulaziz. 

“I worked in cleaning the outer courtyards, and approximately four years later, the second Saudi expansion of the Grand Mosque happened,” Qandal said. “I was a witness to how Muslims began to perform their rituals more comfortably.”
The Pakistani worker witnessed the restoration of the Kaaba during the reign of the late King Fahd and said it was one of the most important and beautiful stages of his life.
Qandal believes God chose him to witness many significant events, including the third Saudi expansion during the reign of the late King Abdullah.
Aside from his time at the Grand Mosque, Qandal also worked with a cleaning company for 11 years until he moved to the Saudi Binladin Group. Over the years, he became known for his efficiency and hard work.
Working with warm, welcoming people from all over the world is what has stuck out the most for Qandal during his time at the Grand Mosque.
“We were all loving brothers,” he said. “All the workers in the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosques and the Prophet’s Mosque operate as a united team to show the Two Holy Mosques in the best way possible.”
Qandal has two sons and a daughter. One of his sons works in the electrical department at the Grand Mosque and the other is with his sister in Pakistan.
He stressed that his wish is to be buried in Makkah, the city he lives in, pointing out that whoever lives in the service of the Two Holy Mosques cannot in any way feel bored or lonely.
“Happiness, love, harmony, tolerance, mercy, and peace can be found in all corners of the Grand Mosque,” Qandal said. “Where Muslims coming from all over the world come to praise God.”


Who’s Who: Majed bin Ayed Al-Nefaie, CEO of Seera Group Holding 

Who’s Who: Majed bin Ayed Al-Nefaie, CEO of Seera Group Holding 
Updated 16 sec ago

Who’s Who: Majed bin Ayed Al-Nefaie, CEO of Seera Group Holding 

Who’s Who: Majed bin Ayed Al-Nefaie, CEO of Seera Group Holding 

Majed bin Ayed Al-Nefaie has recently been appointed CEO of Seera Group Holding, one of the Middle East and North Africa’s largest travel and tourism groups.

In April, he was designated as the acting CEO of the group. He succeeded Abdullah Al-Dawood, who moved to additional supervisory and leadership responsibilities with his appointment as a managing director of the group.

The board of directors wished Al-Nefaie success after appointing him to the role of CEO. 

Prior to joining Seera Group Holding, Al-Nefaie served at several key positions in different industries in both the public and private sectors.

He had been the vice president of the revenue department at Makkah Construction and Development Co. and director of Makkah Hilton Towers for many years.

He also works with several companies operating in the field of tourism and hotel services, and is the chairman of the board of Mawasim Investment Group.

Al-Nefaie served as the president of Al-Ahli Saudi Football Club in 2018, and he holds a golden membership at the club’s general assembly.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, and also completed an advanced diploma in hotel management in the US.


UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic

UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic
Updated 25 September 2021

UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic

UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic
  • Saudi government’s intervention to support its domestic industry cemented its prominent position among global bodies

MADRID: Saudi Arabia’s successful efforts to keep its tourism sector afloat at the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has helped project the country’s influential voice on the international stage, a UN regional travel chief has claimed.

Basmah Al-Mayman, the UN World Tourism Organization’s director for the Middle East, said the Saudi government’s intervention to support its domestic industry had further cemented its prominent position among global bodies.

The Kingdom has for a number of years been an active member of the UNWTO’s executive council for tourism and is vice president of its current session.

“The organization has recently opened its first regional office in the Middle East and the Kingdom hosted, for the first time, a regular session, which was the meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, in May,” Al-Mayman added.

She pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s participation and contributions to the WTO had helped transform it into a specialized agency of the UN while encouraging the adoption of Arabic as an official language in the organization, and the Kingdom now held key positions on the executive boards of a number of high-profile international organizations.

While the COVID-19 pandemic had crippled the tourism sector in many parts of the world, Al-Mayman said: “The Kingdom intensified its efforts, along with the UNWTO, and several member states, to form the International Committee for Tourism Crises, the Kingdom’s membership of which is represented by its Ministry of Tourism which has also hosted the committee’s work during the current year.” She noted that Saudi Arabia’s success in opening up domestic tourism during the summer of 2020 while maintaining virus health and safety precautions had been used as an example for other countries to follow.