First foreign Umrah pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia after COVID-19 ban lifted

First foreign Umrah pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia after COVID-19 ban lifted
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Pilgrims were greeted with gifts of dates, roses and Zam Zam water on arrival at the Kingdom's airports. (SPA)
First foreign Umrah pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia after COVID-19 ban lifted
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Pilgrims were greeted with gifts of dates, roses and Zam Zam water on arrival at the Kingdom's airports. (SPA)
First foreign Umrah pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia after COVID-19 ban lifted
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Pilgrims were greeted with gifts of dates, roses and Zam Zam water on arrival at the Kingdom's airports. (SPA)
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Updated 15 August 2021

First foreign Umrah pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia after COVID-19 ban lifted

First foreign Umrah pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia after COVID-19 ban lifted
  • Umrah pilgrims from abroad are required to present a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate on arrival
  • The Kingdom has approved vaccines made by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca

RIYADH: The first group of foreign Umrah pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday after a temporary ban to curb the spread of COVID-19 was lifted.

Pilgrims were greeted with gifts of dates, roses and Zam Zam water on arrival at the Kingdom's airports. 

Umrah pilgrims from abroad are required to present a certificate on arrival that has been validated in their home country and states details of them receiving a COVID-19 jab that is approved by the Kingdom.

They must also adhere to quarantine measures if they are coming from countries where there is a ban on direct entry to the Kingdom.

The deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, said that all Saudi Umrah companies have been preparing to serve foreign pilgrims and are dedicated to providing the best services to the pilgrims from the point of arrival till departure.

The Kingdom has approved vaccines made by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.


AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city

AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city
Updated 14 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 48 min 2 sec ago

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.


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group
Updated 22 October 2021

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Abdulrahman Al-Nimari has been the chief information security officer at Rock Solid Group since August.

A cybersecurity expert and regular conference speaker, he has more than 25 years of experience in the information technology and cybersecurity sectors.

At RSG, he is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic, long-term information security strategy and roadmap to ensure that data assets are adequately protected.

He has been an independent cybersecurity architect and consultant since 2019.

From September 2017 to June 2019, he was lead cybersecurity systems architect for ManTech International Corp. where he was in charge of developing security strategies and utilizing new technologies to enhance security capabilities and implement improvements.

Between March and August 2017, he held the position of chief enterprise security architect at Security Matterz.

Al-Nimari was technical manager and senior security consultant at Riyadh Business Machines from August 2013 to February 2017, and an IT manager at the Ministry of Education between January 2008 and July 2013.

During his time with the ministry, he also worked as cybersecurity team leader on a major education system project and was a network and system administrator and supervisor.

He gained a bachelor’s degree in English from Umm Al-Qura University.

Al-Nimari has headed numerous cybersecurity initiatives and projects for government and private-sector bodies.

He pointed out that all members of society had a duty to be aware about cybersecurity. “It is our role to participate in protecting the cyberspace of our beloved Saudi Arabia,” he said.