Saudi engineer transforms private farm in Al-Baha into ‘hanging garden’

A company specialized in tourism projects built the park in Al-Qura village in Baljurashi governorate. (Supplied)
A company specialized in tourism projects built the park in Al-Qura village in Baljurashi governorate. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 June 2021

Saudi engineer transforms private farm in Al-Baha into ‘hanging garden’

A company specialized in tourism projects built the park in Al-Qura village in the province of Baljurashi. (Supplied)
  • Visitors can take pictures of the garden from the top of the bridge
  • Among the fruit trees in the garden are pomegranates, spiny figs, apricots and peaches

MAKKAH: A Saudi engineer has transformed his family’s private farm into a splendid garden, which he has called the “botanical bridge garden.” 

He has used his new attraction to introduce visitors to the various delicious fruits found in Al-Baha province. A 100-meter suspension bridge hosts the botanical garden, designed to allow the visitors to safely take photos and enjoy the 10,000-square-meter botanical cover.

The project manager, Ahmed Ali Al-Qurai, said that the idea began during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. He wanted to create a garden and develop it from a private family farm that boasted various trees and fruits to be used for hospitality.

Al-Qurai told Arab News that the idea soon turned into a tourist investment project with a bridge suspended through expert engineering. “This idea is the fruit of many years of experience that culminated with implementing a zip line ride and the free-sliding-down ride in Raghadan Park in Al-Baha two years ago.”

He noted that the project is proceeding at an accelerated pace, witnessing more events and various recreational activities throughout the summer. He added that the team has constructed various seating areas in the park.

“The bridge is suspended using wires, it is safe and can hold very large loads according to tight engineering foundations,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

 

The garden covers more than 10,000 square meters of green terraces and flats with several fruit tree species including pomegranates, grapes, spiny figs, apricots and peaches.

The idea sparked great interest among vacationers from Al-Baha and beyond. “Visitors’ opinions and perceptions helped us  to further develop the project and enrich the events. We aim through this project to promote various channels of tourist attractions in the region,” said Al-Qurai.

He pointed out that rural tourism is a major economic driver, and that there are many similar attractions globally that have met a growing demand.

Al-Baha is one of the most beautiful areas in Saudi Arabia, he said, noting that it is characterized by its cold weather in the summer and its continuous rainfall, turning it into a safe haven from the high temperatures that hit most Saudi cities. “Visitors can, thanks to these projects, enjoy the weather and services provided.”

Al-Qurai explained that the Botanical Bridge Park adopts the best safety requirements and is considered an architectural masterpiece built in harmony with nature.

A company specialized in tourism projects built the park in Al-Qura village in the province of Baljurashi, where visitors can enjoy the rural atmosphere and the beauty of the garden, taking pictures from the top of the bridge and relishing the spirit of adventure.

He added that the garden has a watercourse that runs through all corners, seating areas and sites. The seating areas along with the bridge are designed to form tourist attractions, emulating the ancient heritage of Al-Baha.

Moreover, the farm has more than 250 trees that give shade and take the visitor to different worlds of rural culture and relaxation.

Al-Qurai said that agricultural tourism gives people a chance to escape the world of concrete facilities and that it revives the rural culture that allows us to enjoy nature, interact with pastoral life, expand vegetation cover areas to reduce pollution, and create agricultural environments.

He added that Saudi Arabia has areas that enjoy all of the components for the formation of a strong agricultural power, “if we conduct the required studies and support the specialized ideas in this context.”

The implementation of such projects will guide the compass to the Saudi interior, he said, and even find permanent tourist complexes to visit the various regions and cities of the Kingdom.


KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan
Updated 12 sec ago

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan
  • KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries

TAIZ: The mobile nutrition clinics of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in Al-Khawkhah district, Yemen, have continued to provide treatment services.

In one week, the clinics received 6,978 patients with various health conditions in different clinics and departments and provided them with necessary medical services. The clinics also provided 2,614 individuals with various medications.

The center distributed more than 42 tons of food baskets in Al-Shamaitain district of Taiz governorate, benefiting 1,723 people.

Yemen is among the top beneficiaries of KSrelief assistance. In total, the center has implemented 644 projects in Yemen at a cost of $3.9 billion.

Meanwhile, KSrelief has continued distributing food and shelter aid to those affected by the floods and the neediest families in Sudan. The center distributed more than 28 tons of food baskets in Sennar state, benefiting 5,700 people.

Worldwide, KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries, carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.


Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised
Updated 6 min 17 sec ago

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised
  • The ministry said that elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom would begin returning to school from Sunday

RIYADH: UNICEF has praised Saudi Arabia’s decision to reopen its schools for kindergarten and elementary students.

Jumana Haj Ahmad, the agency’s deputy representative for the Gulf area, said it was an important step, adding that during the COVID-19 pandemic schools should be the last to close and first to reopen.

Ahmad’s remarks came during a visit to the Kingdom’s Satellite Broadcasting School, where Education Ministry’s Undersecretary for Public Education Mohammed bin Saud Al-Migbel gave a briefing on how lessons delivered by the facility were recorded and supervised. He also gave a presentation on the Madrasati and Rawdati platforms.

Ahmad said that Saudi Arabia’s provision of online education through the two platforms and the EIN channels was worldleading. She also noted the Ministry of Education’s efforts to ensure children’s psychological and social growth, and programs to protect them from abuse.

The ministry said that elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom would begin returning to school from Sunday.

Schools in remote areas would be the first to open as there were fewer coronavirus cases there, it said.


Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem
Updated 7 min 56 sec ago

Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem
  • Authorities plan to plant 10 billion mangrove trees across the Kingdom as part of the Saudi Green Initiative

JEDDAH: As part of the Saudi Green Initiative, which was launched last year with the aim of tackling climate change, reducing carbon emissions and improving the environment, 10 billion mangrove trees will be planted across the Kingdom.

Mangroves, ancient coastal plants that grow partly submerged in salt water and thrive in warmer climates around the world, are considered a cornerstone of coastal environmental development and so have a key role to play in achieving the objectives of the initiative.

Ahmed Almansi, a coastal and marine environment consultant at the National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, told Arab News that mangroves grow along the coasts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

“This provides an impetus for the center to cultivate more mangroves in these environments,” he added.

According to the center, two types of mangroves commonly grow on the Red Sea coast: Avicennia marina, commonly known as gray or white mangrove, and Rhizophora mucronata, also known as loop-root, red or Asiatic mangrove. They are highly sensitive to cold. 

“Mangroves grow in the form of scattered patches in the intertidal areas of the Red Sea coast and are lower in height in the northern regions,” the center said. “The reason for these differences in height may be the low temperatures that the bushes are exposed to in the northern part of the Red Sea in winter.”

The avicennia marina type of mangroves that grow in the Asir and Jazan regions are the largest found on the Saudi coast, the center said, and “the coastal areas and patches of the Red Sea that contain mangroves in the Kingdom cover an estimated area of about 35,500 hectares.”

There are a number of reasons why mangroves are considered so important to environmental and conservation efforts. They have the ability to absorb pollutants such as heavy metals and other toxic substances from water, which helps to protect seagrass and coral reefs.

FASTFACT

• The trees can protect coastal communities, provide shelter for wildlife, absorb pollution and help to combat climate change.

They also act as natural filters for sewage, preventing pollutants originating on land from reaching deep waters. And the trees help to mitigate the effects of climate change as they can absorb larger amounts of carbon from the atmosphere compared with other tropical trees.

Mangroves also form “green barriers” that serve as a first line of defense for coastal communities, protecting them from damage caused by storms and waves, preventing erosion and helping to stabilize beaches.

“These green barriers absorb at least 70 to 90 percent of wave energy generated by the winds,” said Almansi. “They are also able to reduce the intensity of tsunami waves by mitigating the catastrophic amount of wave energy associated with them, which helps reduce the loss of life and property damage.”

In addition, mangroves act as shelters and incubators for many species of fish, crustaceans and birds, providing them with a good source of nutrition. They provide nesting and resting locations for many types of resident and migratory birds, strong communities of which are considered a biological indicator of ecosystem quality. The National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification has identified 125 species that use mangrove habitats at some point in their life cycles.

Land-based animals also benefit from mangrove swamps. They provide pastures for camels on islands in the Red Sea, and provide high-quality nutrition for camels in coastal locations during the winter.

Despite their clear environmental benefits, mangroves are under threat globally from urbanization, encroachment, overgrazing, pollution, the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and the improper disposal of waste. The development of the tourism industry is another significant threat. But efforts are being made in Saudi Arabia to preserve and enhance this precious natural resource.

“The center is planting mangroves to rehabilitate these environments, using 60 cm long seedlings,” Almansi said, adding that nylon nets are used temporarily to protect the young plants, prevent seaweed and waves from damaging them, and encourage strong root growth and stability.


Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones
Updated 11 min 41 sec ago

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones
  • The zones — Combat Field, AlSalam Tree, Riyadh Safari and the Old Village — offered a wide range of memorable experiences

JEDDAH: Four zones that have entertained thousands of people from all around the world during Riyadh Season recently concluded their programs of events and activities.

The zones — Combat Field, AlSalam Tree, Riyadh Safari and the Old Village — offered a wide range of memorable experiences.

Events at Combat Field concluded on Jan. 16. It hosted 22 activities, including a thrilling zombie hotel war game, a drone zone and simulated battles. It also featured a museum showcasing a variety of weapons from throughout history.

Riyadh Safari offered something to suit all age groups and proved a particular favorite with the crowds, especially families.

It gave visitors the chance to experience nature up close and personal, including 250 different types of rare birds, wildcats and gazelles in natural habitats.

“I went to the Riyadh Safari about five times with my husband and two daughters,” said Asma Khalid, who added that it is the attraction she will miss it the most.

“My daughters love animals but it depressed me to take them to a zoo as the animals are caged. This safari allowed my children to see animals the way they should be and that is very important to me.”

Events and activities at Al-Salam Tree included stage shows, live music, a farmer’s market, an artificial flower garden, an aviary containing rare and colorful parrots, live cookery shows and shopping booths.

For the more active visitors there was a thrilling zipline activity and bungee trampolines, while those looking for a more relaxing time could enjoy the area’s lush greenery and lake.

“Al-Salam Tree had become a place where I would go to read,” said Hafsa Ayub, a university student. “I would find a quiet a tree and just sit there, especially since the weather has been cold.”

The Old Village, or Qariat Zaman, mixed history with entertainment.

It showcased Arab culture, art and heritage from different eras, including regional classics from the 1960s to 1990s.

The Intel Al-Tayyib theater presented 176 performances by folkloric bands and performers. A variety of live shows were staged each day, including traditional musical performances and Arabic game shows for children.

The zone was like a doorway to the past, giving older generations of Saudis a chance to recall and relive memories of their youth.

While the four zones have now concluded their programs of events for the season, the fun continues until March in other zones.

“I am not too sad to see these places go because a lot of other places are still open, so I am not really out of places to go,” said Omar Uthman, who lives in the capital.


Saudi deputy defense minister meets UN envoy to Yemen

Saudi deputy defense minister meets UN envoy to Yemen
Updated 20 January 2022

Saudi deputy defense minister meets UN envoy to Yemen

Saudi deputy defense minister meets UN envoy to Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman met with UN envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg on Thursday to discuss the latest developments in Yemen.
He stressed the commitment of the Coalition led by Saudi Arabia to supporting the Yemeni government and people, and to drive efforts to reach a political resolution that achieves stability for the region.
“During my meeting with (Grundberg), we discussed the latest developments in Yemen and UN efforts to reach a political resolution,” Prince Khalid said, adding: “I stressed the determination of the coalition led by the Kingdom to achieve security and stability in Yemen.”

Grundberg said they discussed ways to end the war and ensure stability on the Arabian Peninsula.
“We agreed to work closely together and I look forward to continue cooperation,” he added.