For tourists in Saudi Arabia, Yanbu’s Night Market offers centuries of history at no extra cost

The market is a cultural aspect and part of Yanbu’s cultural identity. (SPA)
The market is a cultural aspect and part of Yanbu’s cultural identity. (SPA)
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Updated 04 August 2021

For tourists in Saudi Arabia, Yanbu’s Night Market offers centuries of history at no extra cost

The market is a cultural aspect and part of Yanbu’s cultural identity. (SPA)
  • The buildings there are of traditional coastal design and construction, and the area is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike

JEDDAH: Yanbu Night Market, the Saudi city’s oldest marketplace, has been pulling in the crowds, young and old, for generations. After a period of decline it has undergone a restoration and revival in recent years, and is now considered one of the most important historical sites on the Kingdom’s west coast.
Residents believe its origins can be traced back hundreds of years to the days when merchant ships carrying supplies from Africa and East Asia, and passenger ships filled with pilgrims arriving for Hajj and Umrah, would dock there.
It was dubbed the “night market” by sailors and fisherman who would buy provisions there shortly before setting sail in the early hours of the morning. The fishermen would return to sell their fresh catches and so it became known as one of the finest fish markets in the region. Thousands of fishermen have set up stalls there through the years, and the latest generation continues the tradition, selling their wares to residents and restaurants.
Turki Al-Khaldi, who was born in Thuwal, north of Yanbu, fondly remembers accompanying his father on long journeys to and from Yanbu to buy food and supplies for the family home.
“When I was a child, we only had the beaches to play on, or some small parks, and so these trips were special, specifically because I was the eldest child and my father believed that I needed to learn everything from him,” he told Arab News. “They might be two-hour trips now, but they used to take a bit longer, 30 or more years ago, and my father would tell tales of sailors coming from everywhere and the different sizes of ships that would dock.
“I saw everything in the market, though it didn’t look like what my father used to describe from his younger days. But I remember seeing large crates of dates being sold; an assortment of seafood, fresh and dried; textiles; cookware and so much more. The market had everything.

FASTFACT

Said to have been established hundreds of years ago, the market is considered one of the most important historical sites on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.

“Of course, it’s not the same today; it has become a tourist attraction and there’s been so much development in Yanbu that I can hardly recognize it. It’s amazing that I can now bring my own children and show them the different shops — the fish is still excellent too, which is a plus for my family.”
In the past few years a number of successful projects have been launched to revive the market and restore it to something approaching its former glory, after several decades of decline during which the number of traders and visitors gradually fell.
Now, the old shops have reopened and the heritage and unique identity of the market has been reinforced as part of a project to rehabilitate Al-Sour neighborhood, Yanbu’s historical area. The buildings there are of traditional coastal design and construction, and the area is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
This year, market authorities say visitor numbers have been boosted by its participation in the Kingdom’s Our Summer, Your Mood season, which was launched by the Saudi Tourism Authority in June and continues until Sep. 30. It features 500 diverse tourist experiences offered by more than 250 private-sector partners.


Bahrain, UAE radio join in on Saudi National Day celebrations

Bahrain, UAE radio join in on Saudi National Day celebrations
Updated 8 sec ago

Bahrain, UAE radio join in on Saudi National Day celebrations

Bahrain, UAE radio join in on Saudi National Day celebrations

BAHRAIN/SHARJAH: Bahraini radio and television stations have joined Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day celebrations with various programs commemorating the day.

Radio and television hosts gathered several personalities from both nations, discussing the relations between the two brotherly countries, their shared history, achievements, and more.

Also joining in on the celebrations is the UAE’s Sharjah Radio, which has allocated various programs about the Kingdom, including historical, religious, cultural aspects that distinguish Saudi Arabia.

Sharjah Radio Director Abeer Al-Shawi congratulated the Kingdom’s leadership on the occasion of Saudi National Day, adding that the radio station has dedicated many of the day’s broadcasts to cover various topics about the country.


Saudi project clears 1,351 Houthi mines in Yemen

Saudi project clears 1,351 Houthi mines in Yemen
Updated 3 min 18 sec ago

Saudi project clears 1,351 Houthi mines in Yemen

Saudi project clears 1,351 Houthi mines in Yemen
  • A total of 275,305 mines have been cleared since the start of the project

RIYADH: The Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance dismantled 1,351 mines in Yemen during the third week of September.

The figure comprised 13 antipersonnel mines, 432 anti-tank mines, 905 unexploded ordnances, and one explosive device.

The project is one of several initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia on the directive of King Salman to help ease the suffering of people in Yemen.

Saudi and international experts are removing mines planted by the Houthi militia in Marib, Aden, Al-Jawf, Shabwa, Taiz, Hodeidah, Lahij, Sanaa, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale, and Saada.

A total of 275,305 mines have been cleared since the start of the project. More than 1.2 million mines have been planted by the Houthis, claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians.


Growing demands for compulsory pre-marital addiction testing in Saudi Arabia

Growing demands for compulsory pre-marital addiction testing in Saudi Arabia
Updated 10 min 18 sec ago

Growing demands for compulsory pre-marital addiction testing in Saudi Arabia

Growing demands for compulsory pre-marital addiction testing in Saudi Arabia
  • It is necessary in building healthy society and will significantly impact divorce, domestic violence rates, says expert

JEDDAH: Pre-marital addiction tests have become a public demand in Saudi Arabia after two homicides committed by men against their young wives in August.
The Saudi Public Prosecution announced the arrest of the perpetrators, adding that the necessary legal actions were taken against them.
But these incidents have sparked discussions across different social media platforms in the Kingdom, with many people calling for compulsory pre-marital addiction tests and psychological evaluations of the mental health of both potential spouses.
Saudi authorities already require pre-marital screening for couples to detect common genetic blood disorders and infectious diseases.
However, calls to expand pre-marital testing to include psychological evaluations are nothing new, with many people arguing that their inclusion would be a successful way to tackle addiction and protect the family unit.
The most recent action to expand the pre-marital testing program was taken within the Kingdom’s Shoura Council in 2019, where some members proposed the inclusion of addiction tests, as well as tests for disorders and mental illnesses.
The proposal was denied because it did not receive enough supporting votes. The objection was supported by some specialists, who said that such tests have low accuracy and are prohibitively expensive.
Nonetheless, drug tests are already required in the case of non-Saudi men marrying Saudi women. Some specialists are now calling to include that requirement in overall pre-marital tests for both Saudis and non-Saudis, and both men and women.
Suzan Abdulsalam Khalil, a psychologist working with the protection unit against domestic violence in Jeddah, strongly supports pre-marital drug testing to detect addiction.
According to Khalil, this change will lead to the early detection of abusers and addicts. “It will protect young women from unknowingly getting married to an addict or mentally ill man, which would be a traumatizing experience for them and harms both parties, but most importantly the woman. Moreover, the situation worsens when there are children involved,” she told Arab News.
From her experience at the protection unit, Khalil has witnessed the devastating impact of a drug-addicted parent on children within the family.
“The behavior of drug users varies greatly before and after they take their dose, and unfortunately, this unstable situation badly affects the children and the family as a whole,” she said. “The psychological evaluation of children of an addict parent is always bad. We also find physical violence marks sometimes, traces of injuries, and bruises on their bodies, and sometimes we refer them to psychiatric hospitals.”
Khalil believes that expanding pre-marital testing is a necessary step in building a healthy society. It will significantly impact divorce and domestic violence rates and will also force addicts to receive treatment and professional help, she said.
She added that women’s reactions to being married to an addict can differ. Some choose divorce, while others try to be patient. But this can result in living an unstable life that includes physical or emotional abuse, which will eventually have an extremely negative impact on children, she said.

HIGHLIGHT

• Saudi authorities already require pre-marital screening for couples to detect common genetic blood disorders and infectious diseases.

• The program aims to give medical consultations on the potential transmitting of disorders to future children, and looks to provide couples with options that help them plan for a healthy family.

• However, calls to expand pre-marital testing to include psychological evaluations are nothing new, with many people arguing that their inclusion would be a successful way to tackle addiction and protect the family unit.

Various factors contribute to this complicated situation; however, the social stigma and shame attached to addiction and mental illness leads to negative social norms.
As a result, people with substance use disorder, and sometimes their families, tend to hide the reality behind their situation when it comes to marriage.
Furthermore, lack of awareness about the seriousness of mental health issues contributes to the continuation of unhealthy marriages and damaging social behaviors when dealing with mentally ill members of society.
Therefore, experts say that an action plan to spread awareness and change the culture is urgently needed.
Khalil said that parents, before agreeing to marry their daughter to a proposing man, usually try to investigate the man’s background, manners and moral standards within his work environment and friendship circles.
“But on the other hand, no one ever considers asking about the man’s mental health status or whether he has been diagnosed with a mental illness at any hospital,” she said.
The discussion surrounding an expansion of pre-marital screening highlights a more significant issue for marriage counselor and family therapist Abdulhakim Al-Yousef.
He believes that the real issue underlying the public debate is not whether or not to enforce addiction testing of couples before marriage, but the problematic idea of the possibility of entering a marital relationship with someone with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
“It is rather more related to the many details that addicts to alcohol or drugs should be aware of, including those close to them,” Al-Yousef told Arab News. “It is important to understand that arriving at the phase of addiction is entering a state of mental illness that requires medical treatment and professional help, therefore entering a marital relationship at this phase is a very serious problem.”
He noted that addiction treatment requires patient admission to a rehab facility to receive appropriate treatment programs for their situation and recovery. It consists of several stages that need commitment, willingness, patience and family support.
He said: “Addiction treatment is a very sensitive matter that cannot happen without medical intervention, supervision and therapy. Marriage is never a solution to such a problem. When one of the spouses is an addict, the other partner cannot take responsibility for his or her treatment.”
Furthermore, the family therapist emphasized that quitting any form of substance abuse after completing the treatment program is not the end of the story, because recovering from an addiction is a lifelong journey. “Once a recovering addict returns to drug use at any later stage in his life, even with a small amount, he will return to point zero,” he warned.
In addition to medical treatment, patients also need cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy sessions to establish a healthier relationship with themselves, their families and the world around them.

As a result, living with a recovering partner is not easy by itself. Therefore, starting a relationship with someone still actively consuming drugs or alcohol is a disastrous mistake, Al-Yousef warned. He places a strong emphasis on transparency between couples before marriage; they must be honest about details related to their backgrounds, personalities, health history and any other aspect that could impact their relationship in the future.
“Getting into a relationship without revealing these details will lead to other multifaceted problems,” he said, noting adding mental illnesses must not be treated as “hidden, dark secrets” between couples. “Surely, every person has the right to have a family and to enjoy a healthy relationship, but that is not possible for addicts unless they break free from addiction under specialist supervision and support,” he said.
For Al-Yousef, addiction detection tests might not directly impact divorce rates and domestic violence rates since several factors contribute to these phenomena.
Nonetheless, if applied, he counts on these tests to raise public awareness about drug and alcohol abuse, and to create momentum in the national mental health sector in the long run.


Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah

Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah
Updated 22 min 4 sec ago

Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah

Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah
  • Parades, motorcycles, camels, orchestras, marching bands, and a laser show were all part of the opening day of celebrations

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority opened celebrations for the 91st Saudi National Day with parades and family activities in Riyadh on Thursday.

After strict “stay at home” COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, this national day celebration welcomed a large number of visitors to the Jewel of the Kingdom.

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PHOTOS: View a gallery of the stunning celebrations here 

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The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation hosted a parade to kick off the festivities as families gathered to enjoy the swarm of motorbikes that made their way through Diriyah.

The DGDA also hosted separate sessions of float parades across three different parks in Diriyah. The floats began their first show in Al-Reem Park, followed by Al-Khalifa, and lastly King Faisal Park.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior came together to create an interactive parade for the community that highlighted the history, heritage and future of Saudi Arabia.

The first parade float was inspired by the traditional Diriyah homes and introduced the Ardah performers. The next float showcased the future of Diriyah through motion graphics and celebrated the national day with local performers. 

The third float was inspired by “One Nation” presenting five different dances from the main regions of the Kingdom. The final float in the Diriyah parade was by the future generation of the Kingdom. Children joined together in song and dance dressed in traditional Najdi clothing.

Within each destination, event volunteers ensured that visitors followed social-distancing rules while they provided masks and hand sanitizers.

The royal orchestra led a march through the center of Diriyah, playing the national anthem while families and children waved their flags nearby.

The next event was the Camel and Cavalry March, which was led by the Royal Al-Hijana and royal marching band, whose members circled Diriyah and carried Saudi flags.

The camel march featured some of the most valued camels from the King Abdulaziz Festival, dressed in heritage costumes from traditional Diriyah.

One of the closing events of the evening, hosted by the Ministry of Interior, was a laser show that was projected over Salwa Palace in the At-Turaif district of the Martyrs of the Kingdom.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history
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Lebanese president congratulates King Salman on Saudi National Day, calls for Arab solidarity

Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
Updated 23 September 2021

Lebanese president congratulates King Salman on Saudi National Day, calls for Arab solidarity

Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
  • Aoun’s warm comments come as Mikati’s government wins vote of confidence amid calls for greater links with Arab countries
  • State electricity supplier warns of ‘total darkness’ across the country as fuel supplies dwindle

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun congratulated King Salman on the occasion of Saudi National Day, praising his efforts to “strengthen Arab solidarity, which is what we need the most today to address the challenges facing our region and the world.”

Aoun stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, since the era of King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who laid the foundation for unity and convergence, the values that your Kingdom has remained committed to toward our nation and people.”

His warm comments follow recent statements where Aoun expressed his rejection “for Lebanon to be the source of anything that might offend or harm Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries,” after the Saudi government’s decision in April to ban the entry of Lebanese fruits and vegetables into or via its territories over drug smuggling.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government obtained the parliament’s vote of confidence this week, based on the ministerial statement that stressed the need to “promote the Lebanese relations with Arab countries, activate the historic cooperation among Arab countries and urge Arab brothers to support the Lebanese during these difficult times.”

Aoun is expected to deliver via video a speech on Friday at the UN General Assembly in New York from his office, to express “Lebanon’s position regarding local and regional developments as well as the topics on the session’s agenda.”

Mikati headed to Paris on Thursday, his first official visit after the formation of the government, and is expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

France exerted intense pressure on Lebanese politicians to form a government in line with the initiative launched by Macron in the aftermath of the Beirut blast, which rocked the country last August.

On the eve of Mikati’s visit to the French capital, the International Support Group for Lebanon welcomed the formation of the new government and the parliament’s vote of confidence in the administration and its program.

The ISG urged “Lebanon’s leaders to move quickly to alleviate the burden of socio-economic hardship on the people of Lebanon and restore basic services, to prepare for fair and transparent elections to take place on time in 2022, and to initiate the critical reforms needed to restore trust and deliver justice, stability and prosperity for the Lebanese people and to pave the way for enhanced international support.”

Recalling its statement of Aug. 3, the ISG reiterated “the importance of swiftly completing the investigation into the Beirut port explosion.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s state electricity company warned on Thursday that the entire country was facing a total blackout by the end of the month as fuel oil reserves dwindled.

The company can generate less than 500 megawatts from fuel oil it secured through a deal with Iraq, it said.

Worsening fuel shortages have left the Lebanese with little if any state-supplied power for the past few months. Much of the country now relies on private generators.

The EDL said its reserves of both Grade A and Grade B fuel had reached a critical point and had run out already in the Jiyeh plant and the electricity-generating ships of Fatmagül and Orhan Bey, which have now stopped production.

“Reserves are also about to run out in the Zouk thermal plant and in the power-generation facilities in Zouk and Jiyeh, which will also be forced to stop production soon,” it said.

EDL said that “the Iraqi fuel to be imported following an agreement signed between Lebanon and Iraq can only generate 500 megawatts, which is not enough to secure the network’s stability and thus, the network will be at risk of total collapse at any moment.”

It added: “If things persist, there is a high risk of reaching total and complete darkness by the end of September.”

EDL held Lebanon’s central bank responsible for not securing dollars in exchange for “the surplus of local currency accumulated in the company’s account to generate power.”

Elsewhere, Hezbollah has continued to provide fuel for municipalities and hospitals hoping to procure Iranian diesel through the Al-Amana company, which is under US sanctions.

The administration of a hospital in northern Lebanon denied having received fuel through Al-Amana.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history
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