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.”


New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
Updated 19 sec ago

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
  • Campaign to use drones for seed distribution over an area of 2 million square meters launched

RIYADH: Birds have always been a significant factor in the lifecycle of plants through their ability to transport seeds to new locations by unintentionally carrying them on their wings or claws.  

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment.

“The afforestation campaign will use drones to spread seasonal seeds over an area of 2 million square meters, creating a qualitative leap in the path of afforestation used in the Kingdom,” the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve told Arab News in a statement on Friday. 

According to the reserve, the drones will distribute the seeds in substantial amounts over areas where rainwater accumulates to ensure that the seeds are watered naturally, seasonally, and annually.  

The reserve is working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes while working to adopt factors that serve the environment and guarantee sustainability in plant cultivation and afforestation techniques.  

According to the reserve’s statement: “The use of drones, characterized by the presence of high-resolution cameras, contributes to monitoring the health of the plants and providing quick treatments to preserve them in case they are exposed to health risks. 

“It will also follow up on the health of the soil and the conditions of agricultural areas. The utilization of artificial intelligence techniques will, additionally, serve to study and analyze seasonal patterns of plants through the use of unique algorithms and software.”

HIGHLIGHT

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Representatives from the local community, along with government agencies and volunteers also attended the launch, Eng. Mohammed Al Shaalan, the CEO of the Royal Natural Reserve, said.

“Today, the Kingdom is leading a global movement towards protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, and launching continuous initiatives towards afforestation and the establishment of a green environment,” Al Shaalan said.

“We will strive to keep up with this goal publicized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and are working hard to defy the obstacle of time by applying the best standards and techniques in developing the reserve and assisting the environment.”

Manzer H. Siddiqui, an associate professor at the botany department at King Saud University, also praised the campaign. 

“This is a much-appreciated campaign towards afforestation and green initiative for environment protection,” he told Arab News.

Siddiqui said the citizens’ participation in preserving the environment is one of the most successful ways to reach green sustainability. 

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve, previously known as the Al Taysiyah Natural Reserve, was founded in 2018 by a royal order to provide an organized and systemic approach to preserving and maintaining the area.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the “Saudi Green” and the “Middle East Green” initiatives in April to help protect nature and overcome environmental challenges.

These Initiatives aim to chart a path for Saudi Arabia and the region in protecting the planet by clearly defining an ambitious road map that rallies the region and significantly contributes to achieving global targets in confronting climate change.

The Kingdom will work through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, preserve marine life, while also combating pollution and land degradation. The ambitious initiative includes the planting of 10 billion trees within the Kingdom in the upcoming decades.

The Saudi Green Initiative also aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4 percent of global contributions through a renewable energy program that will generate 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030.


AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city

AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city
Updated 18 min 51 sec ago

AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city

AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city
  • The festival kicked off with the first date auction of the season early Friday morning

ALULA: The second edition of the AlUla Dates Festival is underway at the Kingdom’s famous ancient city. 

The three-week date festival takes place in the Al-Fusan area directly opposing the famous Elephant Rock, and is split into two segments: The dates auction and the dates souq, both only open during the weekends of Oct.15-Nov. 1. 

Many know AlUla to be a maze of history and breathtaking desert terrain, but not many people know that hidden between the curves of the desert terrains are over 2.3 million palm trees that produce 90,000 tons of dates annually. 

The AlUla dates market has recently seen an increase in demand, and the festival facilitates growth for local harvests into the international market by connecting local farmers to international visitors and investors.

Felix Riess, a strategy consultant visiting AlUla from Germany, said: “It’s a beautiful and historic place, it’s great to see the ambitions for AlUla. It’s currently at the crossroads of something very historical, towards something that keeps the history in mind while building for the future, it’s a great mix.” 

The festival kicked off with the first date auction of the season early Friday morning. As the sun rose, farmers unloaded their harvests off their trucks and onto the auction site. 

Crowds gathered around to take part in the dates auction, that happens three times during the festival. The bids differ from harvest to harvest depending on quality and size of crop. 

Not too long after the first announcement, the bids began rolling in. Chants of numbers and outbuildings were shouted through the air as boxes of dates were shifted around. 

The early dates auction is definitely a great place for buyers and sellers to connect, but it is also an exciting experience for families and tourists to witness. 

“What we saw today was a really authentic experience of how local wholesalers get the dates from this well known place in AlUla. It was very cool and I have never seen anything like this before and we enjoyed it,” Riess told Arab News.

Christian Keller, another German strategy consultant, added: “It’s always nice to see the combination of the old world and the new world and keeping up with it. Culture is about the people coming to AlUla and viewing it and the residents still valuing and carrying on what they have done years before, and now that you bring in new people like the tourist and visitors, they can experience it. Its culture was brought to life.” 

Following the dates auction, in the early hours of the morning, is the souq, which consists of separate booths of local farmers and bakers selling their wares. There are also sections dedicated to investment and international collaboration for information. 

The souq offers many family activities for locals to enjoy including the traditional Saudi Ardah dance to ring in the celebrations, as well as a children’s theater performances. 

These two events only take place once in the evening of the souq, but throughout the shopping experience guests will be able to listen to a live oud player in the center of the souq. 

The festival also serves another purpose alongside sharing culture. His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate, aims to promote the important role agriculture plays in economic development of the region in line with the Vision 2030 goals. 

The event not only highlights the work of the AlUla’s farmers but also promotes and inspires commercial opportunities for farmers and buyers alike. 

Behind the festivities are dozens of hardworking AlUla natives who have spent generations harvesting dates. 

The festival creates a hub for exchanging expertise, and growing collaborations that will in part diversify the economy and create more job opportunities for young people in tourism, hospitality and the cultural sectors. 

AlUla is undiscovered history in its purest form. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the beauty and tradition of the area, from the festival to the desert to the nearby Old Town. 

The Old Town is a treasure trove filled with all things AlUla from historical and handmade crafts to souvenirs to take back to loved ones. 

One of the more infamous stores located in the Old Town is Desert Designs.  

“We have had a very positive response from the international public, we have had a lot of good responses from Japanese, American, Chinese, Europeans. All sorts of people seem to like our store and the items we provide,” Radi Bukhari, Desert Designs general manager, said.

“We take old silver Bedouin pieces, give them a new life and then we frame them for appreciation. We take Saudi culture and try to give it new life and appreciation not just for foreigners but for Saudis as well,” Bukhari said.


Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office

Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office
Updated 23 October 2021

Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office

Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office

Abdullah bin Mansour bin Kadasa was appointed executive director of communications and public relations at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office  in September 2021.

Bin Kadasa is an international communications and media professional and advisor, who has been responsible for a number of ground-breaking strategies and leadership of strategic communications plans and media campaigns.

He was previously an advisor and general manager at the General Administration of Corporate Communication at the Ministry of Finance between April 2020 until May 2021. He worked closely with the executive leadership there to develop the ministry’s corporate mission statement.

Bin Kadasa served as general director of the Media and Strategic Communications General Directorate at the Saudi Development & Reconstruction Program for Yemen between June 2018 until March 2020, managing a large team across SDRPY’s provincial offices and ensuring that its activities were aligned with the Kingdom’s communication strategy and foreign policy priorities regarding Yemen.

He is the co-founder of Deem Communications Technology Co., where he was CEO from August 2016 to June 2018. He worked as a faculty member at the Media and Communication College of Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University between August 2014 and June 2018, and before that served as the director of the Marketing & Communications Directorate at the Arabian Printing and Publishing House from May 2013 to July 2014.

Bin Kadasa worked as a journalist at Dar Al-Hayat newspaper from April 2009 to June 2013 and as an interactive communication and television production coordinator at Al Baraheen International Company from 2005 to 2009.

He received his Masters in International Media from the School of Communication/International Service at the American University at Washington DC. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from the Department of Mass Communication at King Saud University, and international diplomas from prestigious universities including the University of London, the University of California at Irvine, and Duke University.


Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted

Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted
Updated 22 October 2021

Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted

Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted
  • More than 5.2 million pills were found hidden in a consignment at Al-Haditha crossing on Friday
  • Port authorities said the pills were found “crushed” and hidden in a consignment of “carbonate powder” bags

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority has prevented an attempt to smuggle Captagon amphetamine pills.

More than 5.2 million pills were found hidden in a consignment at Al-Haditha crossing on Friday.

Port authorities said that after an inspection of a suspicious truck and its cargo, the pills were found “crushed” and hidden in a consignment of “carbonate powder” bags.

One person was arrested by the General Directorate of Narcotics Control. The Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority confirmed that it is continuing to tighten control over the Kingdom’s imports and combat smuggling attempts.


Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low

Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low
Updated 22 October 2021

Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low

Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 537,208
  • A total of 8,774 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced one death from COVID-19 and 51 new infections on Friday.

Of the new cases, 13 were recorded in Riyadh, 11 in Jeddah, three in Makkah, two in Qatif, two in Dhahran, two in AlUla, and two in Hafar Al-Batin. Several other cities recorded one new case each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 537,208 after 59 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,774 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 45 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.