Volunteer work aims to boost Saudi tourism

Volunteer work aims to boost Saudi tourism
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has worked on several volunteering initiatives in the tourism field. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 July 2021

Volunteer work aims to boost Saudi tourism

Volunteer work aims to boost Saudi tourism

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD) is seeking to promote volunteering in tourism through the National Volunteer Portal, in cooperation with various non-profit agencies.

The official spokesman for the HRSD, Saad Al-Hammad, told Arab News that volunteering in 2020 resulted in promising numbers in the tourism field, which are expected to double for the current year.

“The HRSD aims to achieve one of Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals by reaching one million volunteers soon, and this will be achieved through joint integrated efforts and continuous cooperation between the ministry and the relevant authorities in addition to the valued efforts of volunteers,” he said.

“This will reflect positively on the growth of the Kingdom’s tourism economy, as it constitutes a noble human value and promotes a culture of community coexistence and national bonds. Accordingly, it will enhance the contributions of volunteer work among different institutions.”

The HRSD has worked on several volunteering initiatives in the tourism field, including a campaign called “To Keep it Clean” held in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and various agencies from the government and non-profit sectors, with the participation of around 350 volunteers, which resulted in 1,400 volunteering hours.

The ministry also held a workshop that aims to spread the culture of volunteer work in the tourism sector in Asir, with more than 45 volunteers attending.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development aims to reach 1,000,000 volunteers soon.

• The National Volunteering Portal launched its phone application in July.

• The portal aims to ease access to volunteering work for individuals in the Kingdom.

• The portal offers prizes for the best volunteers.

“The demand is very high on volunteering opportunities offered through the National Volunteer Portal. Whether in the field of tourism or other fields, the registration becomes fully booked for all available vacancies once it is open for any volunteer work, and that is quite impressive,” Al-Hammad said.

The National Volunteer Portal offers diverse opportunities for volunteer work in fields including the environment, education and healthcare. “These opportunities fit with the skills, and specializations of volunteers in all regions of the Kingdom,” Al-Hammad added.

The portal also works as a link between volunteers and various opportunities, and hosts documentation noting their efforts.

On July 7, the National Volunteer Portal launched its phone application to facilitate searching for volunteering opportunities, find online courses and workshops, and through which volunteers can apply for the national volunteer work prize.

Al-Hammad said the number of volunteers in 2020 reached 409,000, with 33 million volunteer hours offered to 21 million beneficiaries, and 156,000 volunteering opportunities.

He added that the number of registered volunteers on the portal has exceeded 640,000 of both genders, in addition to the presence of 3,000 volunteer opportunities provided by the platform.

Hattan Hammodah is a 45-year-old Saudi engineer and the team leader of a volunteering group called L’oyon Jeddah that launched in 2016.

Hattan’s initiative focuses on cleaning Jeddah’s shores and helping the city’s orphans. “Volunteering is a way to tell our beloved country and environment that we care. It also helps us to put a smile on orphans faces and cheer them up,” she said.

Saeed Azhar, too, established opportunities for volunteering in the US in 2013. His group now runs 17 volunteering campaigns in different fields, and as well as working across 10 cities in Saudi Arabia, also has programs in Zanzibar and Tanzania.

“Saudi Arabia has sponsored my educational journey from A to Z, and this initiative has been made to express how grateful I am to this country and its society,” Azhar told Arab News.




The official spokesman for Human Resources Ministry, Saad Al-Hammad. (Supplied)

The volunteering opportunities opened many career doors to some members of the team who became entrepreneurs. “My volunteering experience has changed my life, and it has turned me from an introvert to an extrovert,” he said.

Saudi volunteer Noor Fallatah, 26, has volunteered in over 300 initiatives around Saudi Arabia.

“Volunteering helps me to spread happiness, positivity among community members, and gain more rewards from Allah,” she told Arab News. “Overall, participating in humanitarian initiatives is my area of attention.”


Saudi Arabia to give COVID-19 booster shots to people aged 60 and over

Saudi Arabia to give COVID-19 booster shots to people aged 60 and over
Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi Arabia to give COVID-19 booster shots to people aged 60 and over

Saudi Arabia to give COVID-19 booster shots to people aged 60 and over
  • The Kingdom registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 44 new cases and 58 recoveries in past 24 hours
  • Ministry of Interior records 19,870 violations against precautionary measures in past week

JEDDAH: People aged 60 and over will get a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to boost their immunity against the virus, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry announced Sunday.
“We are currently preparing to include older adults in the booster dose plan, which will be provided after they complete eight months since they received their second dose of the vaccine,” ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly told a press briefing.
The ministry previously said it had started giving booster shots to high-risk individuals, including those with chronic kidney failure and people with organ transplants.
Over 41 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. Nearly 18.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.
People aged 60 and over will get a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to boost their immunity against the virus, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry announced Sunday.
“We are currently preparing to include older adults in the booster dose plan, which will be provided after they complete eight months since they received their second dose of the vaccine,” ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly told a press briefing.
The ministry previously said it had started giving booster shots to high-risk individuals, including those with chronic kidney failure and people with organ transplants.
Over 41 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. Nearly 18.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.
“We urge everyone to complete both doses at the earliest,” said the spokesman. “Vaccination is the most important factor that will help us through the coming phase in confronting the pandemic which is, hopefully, the final stage with the virus.”
Saudi Arabia confirmed five new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,699.


The Ministry of Health confirmed 44 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 546,926 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 244 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 11, followed by Jeddah with seven, Madinah recorded three, and Makkah and Najran confirmed two cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 58 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 535,950.
Saudi authorities continued their monitoring campaigns to ensure compliance with the precautionary measures imposed to stem the spread of the disease.
They recorded 19,870 violations of the regulations in one week, according to recent statistics from the Ministry of Interior.
The statistics indicated that the region of Riyadh recorded the highest number with 8,682 violations, followed by the Eastern Province (2,007), Makkah (1,931), Madinah (1,852), Qassim (1,540), Jouf (1,130), Hail (1,021), Jazan (391), the Northern Borders (361), Baha (355), Tabuk (292), Asir (224), and Najran (84).
The ministry called on citizens and residents to abide by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities in this regard.
Saudi municipalities have also ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of the Eastern Province carried out 9,253 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities in one week, identifying 493 violations. 
Field teams closed 14 commercial outlets for breaching protocols.
The municipality of Hail also carried out 1,191 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities in one day. The authorities closed 56 commercial outlets for breaching protocols.
Municipalities urged all commercial facilities to abide by regulations to ensure public safety and prevent the spread of the disease.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Human Resources and Social Development Ministry said that 87,500 monitoring tours had been carried out across the public and private sectors during the past month to ensure compliance with COVID-19 measures.
There were 3,509 violations recorded, 1,948 against private sector institutions and 1,561 against people working in the private sector.
Ministry spokesperson Saad Al-Hammad said 3,784 reports of potential violations were received during the past month, adding that the ministry accepted reports through its app, hotline number 19911, and social media accounts.
Currently, 88 percent of public sector and 85 percent of private sector employees have received both vaccine doses.
“These numbers indicate an increased awareness among the public of the need for health safety in the community to confront the pandemic,” Al-Hammad said.


Digital infrastructure enabled Saudi Arabia to confront pandemic

Digital infrastructure enabled Saudi Arabia to confront pandemic
Updated 26 September 2021

Digital infrastructure enabled Saudi Arabia to confront pandemic

Digital infrastructure enabled Saudi Arabia to confront pandemic
  • Kingdom’s technological progress contributed to raising level of transparency, efficiency, says Saudi envoy to UN

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s strong digital infrastructure has enabled the public and private sectors to meet the devastating challenges of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Kingdom’s envoy to the UN has said.

“Guided by the national transformation program, the Kingdom’s technological progress has contributed to raising the level of transparency and digital efficiency,” said Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN.

Al-Mouallimi made these remarks during a high-level side event organized by the Digital Cooperation Organization under the theme “Shaping a Comprehensive Digital Age,” a recently established global organization working toward achieving “digital prosperity for all.”

The DCO works with governments, the private sector, international and nongovernmental organizations and civil society to push for an inclusive digital transformation and the growth of digital industries.

The DCO’s seven-member body includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, and Pakistan. It accounts for a population of 480 million, 80 percent of which are under the age of 35. It said it is open to any new member that shares the same goals of “empowering youth, women, and entrepreneurs and leapfrogging the digital transformation.”  

In his remarks, Al-Mouallimi highlighted the Kingdom’s digital achievements and the efforts of the DCO during the pandemic. 

“They helped to make it possible to work remotely and adapt to the new conditions imposed by the pandemic,” said the ambassador, adding that the world is undergoing a shift towards digital transformation at a faster pace than ever before. 

“Digitization creates opportunities and challenges that go beyond borders, making digital collaboration an essential element in facilitating digital transformation at the international level, so that our digital future must be more inclusive and global efforts ensure that technology is available to all.”

Al-Mouallimi underlined that multilateral cooperation is necessary to meet digital challenges and opportunities. Countries must harness their full potential to integrate into the digital age, mainly dependent on global collaboration.

Al-Mouallimi said it is clear that the DCO emphasizes promoting digital cooperation to meet the current challenges.

“The core objectives of the DCO are about accelerating the growth of the digital economy, as well as promoting social prosperity to include all,” the envoy said, adding: “The organization also seeks to develop an ambitious model for promoting global digital efforts, making us, as members of the organization’s coordination office, forced to exert all efforts to reach our goals and objectives.”

He said that the Kingdom accelerated the growth of the digital economy in the region and around the world as a member of the DCO, stressing that the Kingdom will continue its commitment to maximizing digital capabilities at the national and international levels.

He added: “The Kingdom has put digitization at the forefront of the technological progress it seeks, and as a result, several outstanding achievements have enabled Saudi Arabia to make significant progress in global indicators, ranking first among the G20 countries in digital competitiveness according to the European Centre for Digital Competitiveness.”


Taste of history as Saudi turns old police station into heritage eatery

Taste of history as Saudi turns old police station into heritage eatery
Updated 26 September 2021

Taste of history as Saudi turns old police station into heritage eatery

Taste of history as Saudi turns old police station into heritage eatery
  • Abha restaurant draws visitors from around the Gulf with traditional southern flavors

ABHA: A young Saudi “jack of all trades” has used his creative talent and love of cooking to transform a former police station in Abha into a traditional restaurant.

Now Ibrahim bin Mansour Bashashah Al-Asiri’s Al-Hosn Al-Turathi — or Abha castle heritage restaurant — has become a landmark attraction, serving up traditional southern flavors to tourists visiting the historic southwest Saudi city.

Diners from around the Kingdom and Gulf states regularly visit the eatery for a taste of southern hospitality.

Al-Asiri, a plastic artist, and gift and flower designer, told Arab News that the restaurant was previously a coffeeshop owned by his brother.

“The building was originally the Asir police station. I did not favor strong additions and alterations that would erase the designs that characterize the building,” he said.

“My main objective was for the visitor to be able to sense the history of a place that is 40 or 50 years old.”

Being a jack of all trades, Al-Asiri decided to invest his talents and help preserve the city’s heritage by turning the coffeeshop into a restaurant.

He used his talent with lighting and art to transform the site into a heritage icon that takes diners back in time.

Initially, the restaurant served only breakfast, but the menu quickly expanded until meals became available throughout the day. 

Ibrahim bin Mansour Bashashah Al-Asiri, owner of Al-Hosn Al-Turathi. (Supplied)

One form of art found in the restaurant is Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a traditionally female interior wall decoration and ancient art form considered a key element in Asir’s history.

Al-Hosn Al-Turathi restaurant relies on the work of two people — Al-Asiri, who cooks and oversees artistic tasks, and his brother, who handles management.

“There aren’t many restaurants that offer popular southern meals, especially in Abha, while there are many popular restaurants in Khamis Mushayt,” he said.

Menu favorites offered at Al-Hosn Al-Turathi include al-arika, a traditional dessert in the southern region made with brown flour mixed with warm water, oil and ghee to form a dough, and flavored with a drizzle of honey and cardamom.

The restaurant is the first to serve “miva” or southern “tannour” bread, Al-Asiri said, adding that he is the first Saudi in the Kingdom to cook while wearing a traditional Saudi outfit.

Al-Asiri also launched the Asiri bouquet, a collection of local plants with aromatic scents, gifting them to a number of princes and other high-profile personalities.

Al-Hosn Al-Turathi heritage restaurant supports local productive families. A coffee and hot beverages corner is managed by one of the sisters, Umm Joud, who holds a master’s in business management, and supervises the preparation of hot drinks using traditional ingredients.

Al-Asiri urged Saudi youth to work hard, saying Saudi Arabia offers many opportunities to realize the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. “We need to be patient and active, and try to reach the top with the capabilities that we have. So we need to be persistent and work hard,” he said.


Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Greece complete military exercises

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Greece complete military exercises
Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Greece complete military exercises

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Greece complete military exercises
  • The drills are part of a program to enhance military cooperation between friendly countries

RIYADH: Special security forces of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Greece and Egypt completed joint drills in the Greek capital, Athens.

Taking part what was hailed as further cooperation between allied states were the Royal Saudi Land Forces paratroopers, Emirati Special Forces, the Egyptian Army’s El-Saa’ka (Thunderbolt) Forces and Paratroopers and the Greek Joint Special Operations Forces.

The drills are part of a program to enhance military cooperation between friendly countries, to exchange training and experience and to increase the level of combat readiness to confront challenges in the region.

The training plan was conducted by the Royal Saudi Land Forces to maintain a high level of performance, training and combat efficiency as part of the annual training programs that are implemented with friendly countries.

The drills were observed by the Greek Deputy Minister of Defense, the Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, the commanders of the Greek Ministry of Defense’s forces, the Saudi ambassador in the Republic of Greece, Saad bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ammar, and the Assistant Commander of Paratrooper Units and Special Security Forces Major General Sultan Islam.


Saudi FM meets Colombian, Qatari counterparts 

Saudi FM meets Colombian, Qatari counterparts 
Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi FM meets Colombian, Qatari counterparts 

Saudi FM meets Colombian, Qatari counterparts 

NEW YORK: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday met Colombia’s Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The meeting discussed relations between the two countries and the means to strengthen them to serve common interests. They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest.

The meeting was attended by the Saudi ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar; the undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for multilateral international affairs, Abdulrahman Al-Rassi; and the director general of the Saudi foreign minister’s office, Abdulrahman Al-Daoud.

In a separate meeting, Prince Faisal met Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani. They reviewed relations between the two countries and considered how to best promote them.