Saudi Arabia launches National Transport and Logistics Strategy

Saudi Arabia launches National Transport and Logistics Strategy
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Updated 01 July 2021

Saudi Arabia launches National Transport and Logistics Strategy

Saudi Arabia launches National Transport and Logistics Strategy
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced details of the ambitious program, which aims to position the Kingdom as a global logistics hub
  • ‘It will enhance the connection with the global economy,” he said, and help to diversify ‘our economy by establishing an advanced logistics-services industry’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday launched his country’s National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

The comprehensive program aims to position the Kingdom as a global logistics hub connecting three continents, and improve all transport services in support of Saudi Vision 2030.

A host of game-changing projects are planned to help achieve the strategy’s economic and social goals, along with improved governance to enhance the work of the organizations involved. It also reflects the renaming of the Ministry of Transport as the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services.

“This strategy will strengthen human and technical capabilities in the transport and logistics sector in the Kingdom,” the crown price said.

“It will enhance the connection with the global economy and enable our country to invest its geographical position, in the middle of three continents, in diversifying our economy by establishing an advanced logistics-services industry, building high-quality systems of services, and applying competitive business models to enhance productivity and sustainability in the logistics sector.

“Transport and logistics are a major focus of the programs of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and a vital enabling factor for economic sectors toward sustainable development.”

He added that areas covered by the strategy include the development of infrastructure, the launch of a number of platforms and logistics zones in the Kingdom, the implementation of advanced operating models and systems, and the building and enhancement of effective partnerships between the government and the private sector.

It has four main goals: to transform Saudi Arabia into a logistics hub; boost the quality of life across the country; enhance fiscal sustainability; and improve the performance of public entities. Crown Prince Mohammed said that the strategy also aims to move Saudi Arabia into fifth place globally in terms of number of transit passengers, increase the number of international destinations served by the country to more than 250, and launch a new national air carrier. The successful implementation of these projects will help other sectors, such as Hajj, Umrah and tourism, to achieve their own goals for improvement and growth.

The new strategy also seeks to improve the capabilities of the air cargo sector by doubling its capacity to more than 4.5 million tons.

Regarding the plans for maritime transport, the crown prince said: “The strategy enables us to reach a capacity of more than 40 million containers annually.” He added that it includes associated investments in developing port infrastructure and enhancing integration with the logistics sector, as well as expanding connectivity with international shipping lines and improving integration with rail and road networks, which will contribute “to improving the efficiency of the transport ecosystem and its economics.”

He said that the Kingdom’s railways currently provide passenger and freight services through a network of 5,330 kilometers of track, 450km of which is the Haramain high-speed railway between Mecca and Madinah, the largest high-speed transport project in the region.

The new strategy will increase the total length of the rail network to an estimated 8,080km. It includes a “land bridge” project that will span more than 1,300km and connect the Kingdom’s ports on the coast of the Arabian Gulf with those on the Red Sea coast. It will have the capacity to transport more than 3 million passengers and 50 million tons of freight annually, opening up new opportunities in the areas it passes through.

It is hoped that it will improve the Kingdom’s logistics performance index so that it ranks among the top 10 countries in the world. By providing an open market for operators and investors in railways, it aims to encourage interconnection between Arab Gulf states and position the Kingdom as an influential force in the regional and international transport economies.

The crown prince stressed that the strategy builds on important existing pillars, such as the Kingdom’s road network, which provides a high level of connectivity that compares well with global benchmarks.

The new strategy aims to position the Kingdom among the most advanced countries in terms of road quality and safety. To achieve this, it includes initiatives designed to reduce the number of road-traffic accidents, implement the best global practices, achieve efficient connectivity, and develop public transport in Saudi cities.

In addition there are environmental goals, including enhanced sustainability, a reduction in fuel consumption by 25 percent, and the provision of smart solutions to transport challenges through the adoption of cutting-edge and innovative global technologies.

One of the main objectives of the strategy, the crown prince noted, is to increase the contribution of the transport and logistics sector to national gross domestic product from the current 6 percent to 10 percent. This will help to fuel business growth, expand investments, and increase the sector’s non-oil revenues to about SR 45 billion ($12 billion) a year by 2030, he said.

“We are proud of the achievements made under the leadership of (King Salman),” said the crown prince. “And we plan to move forward to achieve more leaps that benefit our country and advance its leading position in the world by increasing efforts and achieving more successes supported by our highly ambitious people.

“We are all confident in our ability to achieve national goals following the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision.”


Cuba supports Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030

Cuba supports Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030
Updated 33 min 34 sec ago

Cuba supports Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030

Cuba supports Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030
  • Saudi Arabia has emerged as a strong contender to host Expo 2030

DUBAI: Cuba is the latest among countries to express support to Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the Expo 2030 in Riyadh.

In a recent meeting between Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, and Vladimir Gonzalez, the Cuban envoy to the Kingdom, Havana “officially communicated the support of the Republic of Cuba for the Saudi candidacy to host the Universal Expo 2030.”

Vladimir Gonzalez, the Cuban envoy to the Kingdom, left, in a meeting with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir. (Cuba’s Representative Office Abroad)

An official statement from the Cuban government also noted the meeting “addressed issues related to bilateral relations, particularly with the function of the Cuban diplomatic mission in Riyadh and the collaboration in the field of health.”

In December, Saudi Arabia took part in a virtual general assembly meeting of the Bureau International des Expositions held in Paris to start the candidature process, which will take place in five stages and will end with a vote at the end of 2023.

 

 

Saudi Arabia has emerged as a strong contender to host Expo 2030, having already won multiple international endorsements for its formal bid launched late last year. The theme proposed by the Kingdom is ‘The era of change: Leading the planet to a foresighted tomorrow.’

Five countries — Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Italy, Ukraine and Russia — are competing to host the global event.

 

 

Nigeria, Mauritius, Kenya, Zambia, Djibouti, Morocco and Cameroon were among other countries who earlier pledged full support for Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the event. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation pitched its backing of Riyadh’s bid to host Expo 2030.

Dubai hosted the most recent expo – from Oct. 1, 2021 until March 31, 2022 – while the next one will be held in Osaka, Kansai, Japan between April to October 2025.


Saudi deputy defense minister: UN, international pressure needed for Houthis to engage in peace process 

Saudi deputy defense minister: UN, international pressure needed for Houthis to engage in peace process 
Updated 31 min 31 sec ago

Saudi deputy defense minister: UN, international pressure needed for Houthis to engage in peace process 

Saudi deputy defense minister: UN, international pressure needed for Houthis to engage in peace process 
  • The two-month ceasefire took effect on April 2 across Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defense met the US Special Envoy for Yemen in Washington to discuss the conflict in Taiz and the need for UN-backed peace proposals to pose pressure on the Houthi militant group. 

Prince Khalid bin Salman said that he affirmed to Timothy Lenderking the “Saudi-led Coalition’s backing of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council”,  in a statement posted on his official Twitter account on Saturday.  

“Although the momentum of the truce remains high, I reaffirmed the need for the United Nations and the international community to pressure the Houthis into reopening the roads of Taiz, deposit revenues of the Hodeidah port, and engage with peace proposals,” the statement added.

Prince Khalid also said he reiterated Saudi Arabia’s “aspirations for reaching a comprehensive political resolution to the crisis that will lead Yemen into peace and prosperity.”

The two-month ceasefire, which took effect on April 2, aimed to stop hostilities across the country, allow for the reopening of Sanaa International Airport, enable fuel ships into the port at Hodeidah and open roads in Taiz and many other provinces.

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Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife
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Special fun-filled activities lined up for young Jeddah Season visitors

The Blippi- branded activity corner allows kids to learn and explore new concepts followed by a photo session. (Supplied)
The Blippi- branded activity corner allows kids to learn and explore new concepts followed by a photo session. (Supplied)
Updated 21 May 2022

Special fun-filled activities lined up for young Jeddah Season visitors

The Blippi- branded activity corner allows kids to learn and explore new concepts followed by a photo session. (Supplied)
  • Little Village zones feature favorite characters Peppa Pig, Blippi, L.O.L Surprise!

JEDDAH: A fun-filled agenda awaits children at the Jeddah Pier amusement park, one of the entertainment attractions at this year’s Jeddah Season festival of activities.

The specially created Little Village large play area offers games and events for youngsters through to June 28 in three activity zones featuring children’s characters Peppa Pig, Blippi, and L.O.L Surprise!

The Blippi-branded activity corner allows kids to learn and explore new concepts, and the iconic Blippi appeared for a soft opening of the Little Village during which visitors took part in a meet and greet, followed by a photo session.

The L.O.L Surprise! activity corner gives girls the opportunity to wear their favorite dresses, enjoy hair and makeup sessions, and try out cooking, singing, and dancing, and special fashion shows let little fashionistas take a ramp walk.

Meanwhile, the Peppa Pig activity corner has a range of activities including painting classes and the chance to play in the cartoon character’s grocery store.

Fadi Yousuf, site manager of Hwadi Events, Jeddah Pier’s organizing company, said: “Packed with wonderful and imaginative activities, we aim to create memories that will turn the Jeddah Season into a world of unforgettable stories for children.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The specially created Little Village large play area offers games and events for youngsters through to June 28 in three activity zones featuring children’s characters Peppa Pig, Blippi, and L.O.L Surprise!

• Jeddah Pier, open daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., offers 39 entertainment attractions, seven diverse international experiences, and a roller coaster, among a host of other events. And musical parades including acrobats, and people dressed as trees, zombies, and track-suited monkeys are an integral part of the zone’s events.

“With the help of Spacetoon, we were delighted to bring the much-loved character Blippi to Jeddah and receive an amazing response from the fans.

“Apart from enjoying the activities, kids will be able to purchase Blippi, L.O.L Surprise!, and Peppa Pig products onsite.”

Jeddah Pier, open daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., offers 39 entertainment attractions, seven diverse international experiences, and a roller coaster, among a host of other events.

And musical parades including acrobats, and people dressed as trees, zombies, and track-suited monkeys are an integral part of the zone’s events.

Jeddah Season will also be hosting a toy festival running until May 23 at Jeddah Superdome, the world’s largest geodesic dome without pillars, and kids who missed meeting Blippi at Jeddah Pier will get another chance at the festival.

More than 40 international toy brands are attending the event that will include stands and exhibitions, live shows, and performances of the Smurfs, Sonic, Peppa Pig, and other character favorites.

The annual Jeddah Season festival aims to highlight the city’s rich heritage and culture through a total of 2,800 activities in nine zones over the event period.

Being held under the slogan, Our Lovely Days, the second Jeddah Season follows on from the success of Riyadh Season that recorded more than 15 million visits over five months.

The festival season offers 70 interactive experiences, more than 60 recreational activities, seven Arab and two international plays, marine events, a circus, four international exhibitions, and a host of other services for families.

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Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife
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Saudi artists shed light on the resurgence of analog photography

Analog photography is becoming more and more popular amongst Saudi and regional photographers. (Supplied)
Analog photography is becoming more and more popular amongst Saudi and regional photographers. (Supplied)
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi artists shed light on the resurgence of analog photography

Analog photography is becoming more and more popular amongst Saudi and regional photographers. (Supplied)
  • While analog photography is becoming more and more popular amongst Saudi and regional photographers, there is still a shortage of labs and studios accessible to the public

RIYADH: At a time when one might view analog photography as an outdated craft, it is, in fact, becoming increasingly popular across the world, including in Saudi Arabia.

“Photos are the closest humanity has gotten to time travel,” said photographer Abdullah Al-Azzaz, whose has followed in the footsteps of his father, Saleh, who was also a photographer.

The newly established Bayt Al-Malaz — a creative space in the heart of Riyadh’s Malaz District — recently hosted an intriguing conversation about the significance and popularity of analog photography between Al-Azzaz and Princess Reem Al-Faisal, moderated by Sarah Assiri. The event was part of Bayt Al-Malaz’s “Moflmeen” discussion series.

HIGHLIGHT

While analog photography is becoming more and more popular amongst Saudi and regional photographers, there is still a shortage of labs and studios accessible to the public. In Riyadh, the number of studios where film can be developed has fallen from four to just a single space — Haitham Studios. This is largely due to the financial cost of establishing such a studio and the turnaround time for film development.

The two photographers addressed the issue of why — when digital cameras are so ubiquitous and easy to use — analog is making a comeback.

“My photography revolves around permanence, praise, eternality, and the spiritual side of us. The individual is a soul and not a body,” said Al-Faisal. “For us, film represents the soul. We are all born with natural instincts, and film, in its natural form, is untouched. It represents the soul that transforms after birth in dealing with life, accumulations, and memories — bad and good. It’s a way of expressing humanity.”

Al-Azzaz said that, for him, it was more about the technique than the philosophy of it all. “The experience of developing in a darkroom is so enriching. It separates you from the world, totally quiet and dark. It’s just you and the photo. It allows you to reflect on the photo more and gives you more freedom in reimagining it,” he said.

Photo manipulation, he explained, is not exclusive to digital photography. Before the existence of Photoshop, images could be manipulated in the darkroom using retouching techniques and tools, including cropping, brushing, dodging, burning and masking.

To really understand the true art of photography, some would argue, it is important to learn its history. Digital photography is not a replacement for film, but another medium entirely. “In any art, not just photography, we have to have a cultural, historical, and technical awareness… we are all an accumulation,” said Al-Faisal. “We are a product of our society and a product of our time. We cannot claim we aren’t affected [by these things]. Whoever claims otherwise is delusional.”

While analog photography is becoming more and more popular amongst Saudi and regional photographers, there is still a shortage of labs and studios accessible to the public. In Riyadh, the number of studios where film can be developed has fallen from four to just a single space — Haitham Studios. This is largely due to the financial cost of establishing such a studio and the turnaround time for film development.

The founder of the studio, Haitham Al-Sharif, explained the immersive nature of analog photography. “I chose film photography because I hated having no connection with my photos. With film photography, I take a max of 40 photos in a session. I can’t see them; I have to live in the moment, I have to listen and smell the streets, I have to talk to my subject if I’m taking their portraits, I have to listen to the music if I’m at a concert,” he told Arab News. “To me, that is art. That is the beauty of film.”

The lengthy process involved in analog photography can be intimidating and off-putting to amateur photographers. That’s why the development of the first digital camera in 1975 was so groundbreaking. Now, in an economy driven by content creation and visual media, content production is easier — and quicker — than ever before. But to some, the key difference lies in the creative experience itself. Some analog photographers suggest it is a way to truly connect with the moment, even if the results are not always what society deems ‘Insta-worthy.’

“When you can’t see the photo you aren’t forced to change it to make it the same as what the media thinks is good or what a magazine thinks is good. Film forces you to be patient and slow. It forces you to live in the (moment),” said Al-Sharif. “As a film photographer, you live in front of the lens as much as at the back of the lens. You become more connected to what you are photographing.”


Europe keen to advance level of partnership with Saudi Arabia: Envoy

EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Patrick Simonnet with delegates at the Europe Day reception in Riyadh. (Supplied)
EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Patrick Simonnet with delegates at the Europe Day reception in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 20 May 2022

Europe keen to advance level of partnership with Saudi Arabia: Envoy

EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Patrick Simonnet with delegates at the Europe Day reception in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • EU unveils first long-term strategy to shape future Gulf ties

RIYADH: The European Union’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Patrick Simonnet confirmed on Friday that the bloc is keen to boost its partnership with the Kingdom.

The EU unveiled its first long-term strategy to shape future Gulf ties on Wednesday, when the High Representative and the European Commission adopted a joint communication — “Strategic Partnership with the Gulf.”

EU ambassador to Saudi Arabia Patrick Simonnet cutting cake on Europe Day at Cultural Palace, in DQ Riyadh. (Supplied)

“At a time of insecurity and significant challenges to the rules-based international order, aggravated by Russia’s war on Ukraine, the European Union and Gulf countries stand to gain from a stronger and more strategic partnership stretching over a number of key areas. We need to work more closely together on stability in the Gulf and the Middle East, on global security threats, energy security, climate change and the green transition, digitalization, trade and investment. We also need to strengthen contacts between students, researchers, businesses and citizens,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said as he unveiled the plan.

The long-term strategy — the first of its kind between the two groups — will be pivotal to EU- GCC relations. We need each other. The EU and the GCC have a lot to gain in reinforcing the partnership.

Patrick Simonnet, EU ambassador to Saudi Arabia

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Simonnet said: “The long-term strategy — the first of its kind between the two groups — will be pivotal to EU-GCC relations. We need each other. The EU and the GCC have a lot to gain in reinforcing the partnership. That’s what we felt in different visits over the last 12 months. There was a realization that we had a common interest in stepping up our partnership. It’s about the economy, how we can better support our respective strategies, Saudi Vision 2030, and EU Green Deal.

“We have been importing fossil fuel from Saudi Arabia for a long time. We are going to continue, but we would like to switch to a more sustainable consumption of renewable energy. We know that the Gulf has enormous potential to export renewable energies, including green hydrogen. Saudi Arabia has made huge investments and is keen to be a global supplier of hydrogen, and it would be very useful for us to import this green hydrogen to achieve our own climate change targets. It would also be good for the Kingdom, for its own climate change targets. So there’s a very good match that we can have between us,” he continued.

“We can work together on the regional crisis, there is a great deal of alignment between our views on the Middle East peace process, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Lebanon… The strategy proposes that we work even more closely together on regional stability issues. Security cooperation is also very important. We wanted to have a strategy which was more political, more security oriented. We are negotiating the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and if we can have a positive outcome (there), we could build on that to hopefully contribute even more to stability and security in the Gulf,” said the EU envoy.

“We are the biggest provider of foreign direct investment here, and the GCC is the second-biggest trading partner for the EU, so we will look at how to re-engage on the free trade agreement (FTA),” Simonnet added.

The joint communication also aims to improve cooperation in higher education and culture. One of the goals is to attract more Saudi students to Europe and European students or teachers to the Kingdom, he explained.

Another goal, according to Simonnet, is “visa-free travel to Europe” for all countries. “We are very much aware that visa liberalization could help the exchanges between both sides,” he said.

He added: “I met Saudi travel bloggers a few days back. It was interesting to discuss all the hidden gems in Saudi Arabia in terms of tourism, the places where we could bring a lot more tourists, and the same thing in Europe — there are many more destinations in Europe that could be discovered by Saudi tourists, so visa liberalization is important.”

In future, according to the joint communication, there will be more regular meetings at ministerial levels between EU and GCC foreign ministers and ministers of energy.

“Europe is proposing to step up the game of relations,” said the envoy, adding that the EU will increase its diplomatic delegations in the region, expanding on its existing delegations in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait.