Saudi Arabia’s holiday season full of ‘Summer Vibes’

Saudi Arabia’s holiday season full of ‘Summer Vibes’
Tourists who are longing for outings but have to forgo foreign trips due to the pandemic are encouraged to explore the diversity of Saudi destinations — from the clear water beaches to rugged mountain tops to bustling cities. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 June 2021

Saudi Arabia’s holiday season full of ‘Summer Vibes’

Saudi Arabia’s holiday season full of ‘Summer Vibes’
  • Saudi Tourism Authority’s program, bringing 500 rich and fun experiences across 11 destinations, runs until September end

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s “Summer Vibes” is bringing 500 tourist experiences across 11 destinations to Saudi residents this summer in what promises to be a rich and fun experience for all.

The Saudi Tourism Authority has launched its Saudi Summer Program 2021, running from June 24 until the end of September, offering tourist experiences through the Visit Saudi platform alongside 250 private-sector partners. 

The “Summer Vibes” program targets local and international tourists with some of the best destinations available — from the shores of Jeddah and Yanbu to Umluj and King Abdullah Economic City, to the cooler mountainous regions of Taif, Baha and Asir. Experiences can also be enjoyed across the historical and heritage areas of Tabuk, AlUla and Al-Ahsa, and the Kingdom’s beating heart, Riyadh.

Dania Al-Ali, a 33-year-old mother of two, decided to forgo any international trips with her family this summer due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The news of the program excited her as the long summer will need to be filled with some sort of activities for her young children.

“We’ve made it a habit to travel every summer but things changed since last summer and we don’t really want to risk it this year,” she told Arab News. “It’s better to be closer to home and to experience something new, and there’s so much to see here. I think this is going to be a good one just like every other summer vacation.”

“The launch of the Saudi summer program this year highlights the determination of the tourism sector in the Kingdom, despite the ongoing challenges facing the global tourism sector, to edge closer to achieving our ambitious goals,” said Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Tourism Authority. 

“In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which seeks to cement Saudi’s position as one of the most important tourist destinations in the region, the launch of the Saudi summer program is a key contributor to strengthening the efforts of the tourism sector, to develop our destinations, provide investment opportunities, create permanent and seasonal jobs for local communities, and contribute to advancing economic and social development in the Kingdom,” he said.

CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority Fahd Hamidaddin said: “Once again, we encourage tourists to explore the diversity of Saudi’s summer destinations, from the clear water beaches to rugged mountain tops to bustling cities. The efforts of the Saudi Tourism Authority are supported by our partners in the public and private sectors and are key to the creation, implementation and success of all programs,” he said.

Information is available on the Visit Saudi website and phone app (search “Visit Saudi” in the app store), with details available in several languages. Tourists can also contact the Tourist Care Center (930) and speak to the dedicated team working around the clock to answer all inquiries.


Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers
  • The exercise also included air forces from other friendly countries

ABU DHABI: The Saudi Royal Air Force took part in the Missile Air War Center 2021 maneuvers on Sunday in Al-Dhafra Airbase in the UAE.

The exercise also included air forces from other friendly countries.

The exercise commander, Col. Pilot Ayedh Bin Saeed Al-Qahtani, said that the exercises kicked off with the highest levels of professionalism and safety measures.

The Saudi armed forces took advantage of previous experiences in similar exercises, he said, adding that the exercise included several stages and was preceded by the formation of working groups and preparatory meetings.

Al-Qahtani added that the drill aimed to raise the combat readiness level of the Saudi Royal Air Force, as well as enhance the operational ties between the SRAF and the participating counterparts.

He added that the drill included activities ranging from targeting enemy air defenses to tactical air operations, striking hostile targets, detecting and destroying enemy radar sites, intercepting enemy aircraft, and conducting strategic attack operations and air support operations for ground forces.

He noted that the participation of air forces from multiple countries in the drill helped develop scenarios that mimic what can happen on the ground, as it enables the participants to communicate and enhance their practical experiences.


Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day
  • Dr. Khaled bin Hussein Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, visited the Saudi and UAE pavilions

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai has received 23,000 visitors in one day, bringing the total number of visits to over 200,000, state news agency SPA reported.

The Commissioner-General of the Saudi Pavilion, Eng. Hussein Hanbaza, said the pavilion has attracted the attention of visitors through its sections and activities that reflect the humanitarian wealth and civil and development components of the Kingdom.

The pavilion has provided visitors with diversified content based on four main pillars: nature, heritage, bio-community, and the economic opportunities that the country offers to the world.

Popular folklore shows also took place at the second biggest pavilion on the expo site.

Meanwhile, Dr. Khaled bin Hussein Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, visited the Saudi and UAE pavilions. 

He was received by the Saudi Ambassador to the UAE Turki bin Abdullah Al-Dakhil and the Saudi pavilion chief Eng. Hanbaza.


Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award

Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award

Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award
  • The 2021 award recognized the SFDA’s commitment to realizing its vision of becoming “a leading international science-based regulator to protect and promote public health”

JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority has won a UN award for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.

It was honored for its efforts to prevent and control these diseases through nutrition-related legislation.

In line with the Vision 2030 Quality of Life Program, the authority set out in 2018 to improve public health and enable consumers to find a variety of healthier food options.

The UN Inter-Agency Task Force Award on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases aims to encourage cooperation between UN bodies and global governments to support efforts in combating noncommunicable diseases associated with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2021 award recognized the SFDA’s commitment to realizing its vision of becoming “a leading international science-based regulator to protect and promote public health.” 

The authority seeks to protect and ensure community safety through regulations and adequate controls of food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and pesticides.

Since its launch, the SFDA has worked on several pieces of legislation related to food products and food establishments.

The legislation was introduced to improve the nutritional value of food products in local markets by limiting the consumption of sugar, salt, and fat, and obligating food establishments with menu labeling for calories and allergens.

It also launched several initiatives and awareness campaigns on proper nutrition and the healthy choices available in food and beverages.

The initiatives include the Food Labeling Nutrition Calculator and the revival of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables in food establishments and the workplace.


War of words as print defies e-book rivals

War of words as print defies e-book rivals
Updated 18 October 2021

War of words as print defies e-book rivals

War of words as print defies e-book rivals
  • Tradition is trumping tech in Saudi Arabia, with readers and publishers on the same page

MAKKAH: The march of technology might be gathering pace in all areas of Arab life, but when it comes to reading and enjoying books, old habits die hard, it seems.

Despite warnings in recent years of print’s imminent demise, traditional books are still holding their own against their electronic rivals, as Saudis continue to enjoy the sensation of turning over a new page.

Many publishing houses in the Middle East have acknowledged the power of the printed word, with books maintaining their superiority, especially at book fairs. Buyers still prefer the elegance and feel of a printed masterpiece.

However, publishers acted early to counter the threat posed by electronic books, adopting careful strategies to protect their publications and also fight the growing problem of content piracy. 

Rania Al-Moallem, a commissioning editor at Dar Al-Saqi, told Arab News that there is still a relatively low demand for e-books, mainly due to the limited availability of digital devices, which are still considered a luxury item by many people.

“Buying e-books online is not available to everyone, and there is also an emotional bond between readers and print books. Even readers who are able to buy e-books still prefer print, which is understandable,” she said.

An e-book is a protected electronic copy of a book, making piracy and illegal publication difficult. The copy protects the material rights of the writer, primarily, but also the publisher compared with fake electronic copies found online in PDF, Word or other forms.

“Dar Al-Saqi’s publications have been characterized by their format and high-quality content over the years. It is mainly concerned with acting in the reader’s interest and satisfying their tastes as we give great attention to the subject, style and language,” Al-Moallem said.

“We also focus on the final form of the book in terms of presentation, page layout, font and letter size, paper type, cover design and size. All such considerations are subject to the changes and developments experienced with the advancement of the publishing world,” she added.

As well as high-quality print books, the publisher also caters to e-readers through several platforms and has launched an Al-Saqi Digital Library.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Publishers faced problems with piracy and uploading of books in PDF format online for free, and have filed complaints with Google in a bid to curb the practice, he said.

• Majid Shebr said that despite their widespread availability, e-books are frequently said to cause eye fatigue. Meanwhile, paper books maintain their dominance in Europe and the Arab world through book fairs.

“We are aware that the e-book market is yet to be properly established and the print book is still the much preferred format. However, we are also aware of the importance of engaging with e-book readers, as we believe that the relationship between them is complementary, rather than competitive,” Al-Moallem said.

Despite the tech wave, it is evident that devoted readers in the Kingdom are engaged in a constant hunt for the perfect copy, as evidenced by scenes at the Riyadh International Book Fair, where people, young and old, walked out with handfuls of books.

Majid Shebr, manager of Al-Warrak Publishing in London, said that e-books in the Gulf region are still at an embryonic stage.

Publishers faced problems with piracy and uploading of books in PDF format online for free, and have filed complaints with Google in a bid to curb the practice, he said. 

Arab states lack platforms that can target free pirated books, which directly affect publishers and pose a significant challenge.

Shebr said that despite their widespread availability, e-books are frequently said to cause eye fatigue. Meanwhile, paper books maintain their dominance in Europe and the Arab world through book fairs.

“I was in a Waterstones book store in London to look at the latest releases and saw that large numbers of people still choose paper books,” he said.

Shebr said the competition between the print and electronic formats is driven by the reader’s style and language convenience.

Egyptian writer and novelist Rasha Samir said that as an avid reader, she doubted that e-books could ever match the pleasure of reading print.

“I cannot get rid of the habit of reading paper books and I cannot read electronically at all. The feel of a book, the smell, and the written dedication of literary figures are the secret of my attachment to this type of reading,” she said.

“Paper books will always be my treasure that I keep on the shelves of my large library,” she said.

Some publishers believe that publishing electronically allows them to sell their publications faster, and that online advertisements are easier and do not cost as much compared with paper publications.

Others believe that electronic publishing will eliminate paper books, but these are the origins of the industry, and this should be combated.

Samir added: “There is no fault in finding a literary work electronically, as it gives easy access to several groups such as expatriates and Arabs who live far from Arab libraries. It has now become a means that supports publications and advertises the work of a writer; it has become a good way to shorten the distances that paper books cannot minimize sometimes.”

She said that the response to print or electronic books often depends on the reader’s age and older generations are reluctant to abandon paper, while younger people might see it as nonpractical at a time dominated by modern technology.

With the new generation, whose lives are dominated by technology and the internet, publications need to keep pace, Samir said.

“This is a generation that learns through social media and no longer uses paper books as a source of information. Google is their most trusted source, which is a problem, so we need to meet them halfway, encourage them to read and learn in their own way while we help guide them. We should also push them to understand the value of books, evaluate their content and distinguish valuable books from cheap ones.”

Even if reading on paper transitioned to reading on Kindle or any other device, as educated people, we should continue to advocate for paper books and the preservation of their place.

Adel Houshan, a Saudi poet and novelist, said that even after the demise of some print empires in the Arab world and around the globe, digital projects, including e-books and audiobooks, still suffer due to two reasons.

“The first is related to advertising, as they rely on institutions and small projects that cannot find a way to break the power of paper books and their rich history. The second reason is Arab book festivals, which are growing in popularity with the help of social media,” he said.

“Years ago, we said that paper will not last long, but old habits die hard.”


Saudi minister Al-Jubeir, Spanish envoy discuss ways to enhance Saudi-Spanish ties

Saudi minister Al-Jubeir, Spanish envoy discuss ways to enhance Saudi-Spanish ties
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi minister Al-Jubeir, Spanish envoy discuss ways to enhance Saudi-Spanish ties

Saudi minister Al-Jubeir, Spanish envoy discuss ways to enhance Saudi-Spanish ties

RIYADH: The minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, on Sunday received the Spanish ambassador to the Kingdom, Alvaro Iranzo, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During their meeting in Riyadh, they reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to support and develop them.

They also discussed regional and international developments of common interest.

The meeting was attended by the Foreign Ministry’s undersecretary for multilateral international affairs, Abdulrahman bin Ibrahim Al-Rassi.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call last month from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

They reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them in various fields.

On Oct. 12, King Salman and the crown prince sent greetings to King Felipe VI of Spain on the country’s national day.

They wished the king good health and happiness and the government and people of Spain progress and prosperity.