Authorities shut illegal military uniform shop in Riyadh

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Updated 27 August 2021

Authorities shut illegal military uniform shop in Riyadh

Authorities shut illegal military uniform shop in Riyadh

RIYADH: Security authorities shut down a clothing store in Riyadh for illegally selling military apparel as more than 300 badges and emblems were seized along with 100 military uniforms.

Two unidentified individuals were arrested while offenders were also handed over to security patrols.  

The Saudi Ministry of National Guard, Commerce Ministry, State Security Presidency, Riyadh municipality, and Riyadh labor bureau made up the special task force that participated in the investigation, along with the local police and passport authority.

Acting Riyadh Gov. Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdul Aziz called for the inspections. He stressed future prevention of such acts and promised legal action against all violators.



Saudi deputy defense minister and US envoy to Yemen discuss peace initiative

Saudi deputy defense minister and US envoy to Yemen discuss peace initiative
Updated 6 min 24 sec ago

Saudi deputy defense minister and US envoy to Yemen discuss peace initiative

Saudi deputy defense minister and US envoy to Yemen discuss peace initiative
  • They also reviewed the latest developments in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the Kingdom’s peace initiative for Yemen with US envoy Tim Lenderking on Wednesday.
During his visit to Riyadh, Lenderking also met with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir and Yemeni Parliament Speaker Sultan Al-Barakani on Tuesday.
Prince Khalid said: “Met with US envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking to review the latest developments in Yemen, and discuss mutual efforts to support the Saudi peace initiative and UN efforts to reach a political resolution that achieves security and stability for the Yemeni people and the region.”


Saudi Arabia backs international initiatives on COVID-19 vaccines access rights

Saudi Arabia backs international initiatives on COVID-19 vaccines access rights
Updated 42 min 12 sec ago

Saudi Arabia backs international initiatives on COVID-19 vaccines access rights

Saudi Arabia backs international initiatives on COVID-19 vaccines access rights
  • Saudi Arabia has allocated $500 million toward the global development and distribution of vaccines and treatments

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has thrown its weight behind efforts led by the World Trade Organization to give global access to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in compliance with intellectual property rights and relevant international treaties.

The Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property will continue to provide joint international support as part of the Kingdom’s drive to help combat the pandemic.

The SAIP affirmed the country’s commitment to international treaties related to intellectual property, particularly the Agreement on Trade Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights administered by the WTO, a body that Saudi Arabia joined in 2005.

It also pledged to publish and implement rules for the compulsory licensing of patents while backing the World Health Organization-launched COVID-19 Technology Access Pool program to encourage countries to share know-how on the development of virus-related medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics.

At a property rights meeting held in Geneva in April, the authority called on the international community to make COVID-19 vaccines available at reasonable prices while ensuring that the issue of intellectual property rights did not become an obstacle to equal access and the prompt production of vaccines for non-commercial purposes.

The Kingdom urged a quick negotiation of a waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and for vaccine manufacturing countries to enable smooth technology transfer to nations wishing to make their own.

Saudi Arabia has allocated $500 million toward the global development and distribution of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tools related to COVID-19. It has contributed $150 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, $150 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and $200 million to organizations and other international and regional health programs.

The rich history of At-Turaif

The rich history of At-Turaif
Updated 18 sec ago

The rich history of At-Turaif

The rich history of At-Turaif
  • The palace is a prime example of Najdi architecture, displaying delicately carved crenellations in the roofing of its buildings

RIYADH: The gated district of At-Turaif, northwest of Riyadh, is one of the Kingdom’s most-significant historical treasures.

Within the walls of At-Turaif’s Salwa Palace, discussions were held that led to the establishment of the First Saudi State in 1744 CE. The palace was built for Mohammed ibn Saud, the first ruler of the First Saudi State, although the final phase of this 10,000-square-meter complex was not completed until 1766, the year after his death. 

The palace is a prime example of Najdi architecture, displaying delicately carved crenellations in the roofing of its buildings, which enabled guards to carry out surveillance of the area.


Close to Salwa Palace are two structures that, although not as famous, are worth visiting: the Museum of Commerce and Finance and the Sibalat Modhi.

The museum contains coins, jewelry, scales and other finance-related artifacts from the time of the First Saudi State, and is a reminder of the prosperity that was achieved during the early years of the Kingdom.

The Sibalat Modhi is a community building named after Modhi Bint Sultan Ibn Abi Wahtan, mother of Imam Abdulaziz ibn Mohammed ibn Saud (the second ruler of the First Saudi State). Located on what used to be the main road, the two-story structure contained a guesthouse for merchants, students, and the needy.

Saad ibn Saud Palace is one of the prominent features of At-Turaif district. Located in the northern region of the district, it was home to Prince Saad son of Imam Saud. (Abdullah AlJabr) 

To the north of Salwa Palace is the Imam Mohammed ibn Saud Mosque — also known as the Grand Mosque of At-Turaif. The mosque would draw a huge crowd for Friday prayer, spilling over into the palace’s own mosque. So Imam Saud ibn Abdulaziz built a bridge connecting the two. The mosque, which overlooks Wadi Hanifah, also housed a religious school.

The next stop on the At-Turaif tour is the Diriyah Museum, which traces the Kingdom’s timeline from as far back as 400 CE — the time of the Banu Hanifah tribe’s migration — through the ensuing expansion of territory and trade, and ending with the Al-Saud royal family tree.

Besides a digital gallery of historical images of the First and Second Saudi States, the museum also contains replica documents, coins and clothing from those times, including the elaborate outfit worn by Imam Abdullah ibn Saud, the last ruler of the First Saudi State, and a replica of Al Ajrab Sword, a weapon owned by the founder of the Second Saudi State, Imam Turki ibn Abdullah. The sword is named after the rust on the edges of the blade.

Pictured is one of the many pathways designed to highlight the traditional Najdi architecture in At-Turaif district. (Abdullah AlJabr)

Right next to the Diriyah Museum is the Arabian Horse Museum, which also houses many artifacts that date back to the First and Second Saudi States and highlights the central role that horses played in unifying the Kingdom, as they were used for trade, warfare, and diplomacy.

Exiting the museum into the center of At-Turaif, visitors will see the Imam Abdullah ibn Saud Palace, home to the final ruler of the First Saudi State. It was built during the reign of his father — Saud ibn Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who was known as “Saud the Great.”

Much of the palace was destroyed during the sacking of Diriyah by Ibrahim Pasha in 1818 CE, but from the thickness of the walls that remain, historians have estimated that the palace was once a grand multistory structure that dominated the town.

An Image taken of one of the narrow pathways of the 10,000 square meter Salwa Palace that contains 7 individual units. (Faisal AlDakheel) 

The nearby Military Museum is home to artifacts from the battles that led to the unification of the country and the First Saudi State, and close by is the Prince Thunayan ibn Saud Palace.

Prince Thunayan was the brother of Mohammed ibn Saud, and this grandiose palace on the southwestern side of Diriyah provides the perfect view of the valley below from its elevated walls — which were constructed from stone rather than mud bricks. It is another fine example of Najdi architecture.

Close by stands the Museum of Traditional Architecture, dedicated to the construction styles of the area's many palaces and other buildings, and home to many tools and materials used in the original construction of At-Turaif.

An image taken at the entrance of Prince Saad ibn Saud Palace, showcasing the structure's unique design. (Abdullah AlJabr)

Beyond that museum is the Prince Omar ibn Saud Palace, also known as Maqsurat Omar (the Grand Palace) because of the intricacy and complexity of its design. The palace served as a defensive gate for At-Turaif and was the residence of Prince Omar, the son of Imam Saud Al-Kabir.

Between the Prince Omar and Prince Saad Palace is the newest addition to At-Turaif, the Lifestyle Museum, which includes replicas of the traditional Najdi-style homes in which non-royal residents of At-Turaif would have lived at the time of the First and Second Saudi States.

The palaces, pathways, and weathered walls of At-Turaif are all rich reminders of the story of the origin of Saudi Arabia.

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

Diriyah through her eyes

Diriyah through her eyes
Updated 43 sec ago

Diriyah through her eyes

Diriyah through her eyes
  • A Saudi great-grandmother talks about her happy memories of driving out of Riyadh for a day in the green countryside

RIYADH: Diriyah and the UNESCO World Heritage site at its heart, At-Turaif, is on the brink of becoming a cultural destination for visitors from around the world.

However, for generations of Saudis, such as 81-year-old great-grandmother Madiha Joharji, who has lived in Riyadh for more than 60 years, Diriyah and the sea of farms that surround it will always have a special place in their hearts.

“When I think of Diriyah, I think of beauty, hospitality and good times,” she said.

“It is a beautiful place. Lush with vivid greenery and surrounded by palm trees as far as the eye can see.”

Joharji recalls the excitement of families from Riyadh packing up their cars with pots and pans and heading off for a day out in what was then the countryside, seemingly far from the city.

“It was a place of joy,” she said, “a place we would take our children at the weekends but considered very far away, a 40-minute car drive, that would turn into a road trip.

“We would pack our essential food items, as there wasn’t anything there other than a small food store, and be on our way.”

Families enjoying their picnics in one of the liveliest places in Diriyah "Wadi Hanifah",  a valley that runs for a length of 120 km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh. (Supplied)

Drawn by the cooler weather of Diriyah and its lush farms, as people from the city still are today, “we would visit friends in that area, cooking on site, while the children were playing and the men drinking tea and playing card games while we set up a feast for dinner,” she said.

“The locals would see us arrive and would give us fruit from their farms.”

Joharji is amazed by how quickly Riyadh and its surrounding areas have changed.

 “We used to live in the southern part of Riyadh, Malaz, which was considered the downtown of the capital back in my days,” she said.

“The capital has now expanded to the point where Diriyah, which we considered a separate village, is now only six minutes away from where my son lives. Imagine that!”

Riyadh has expanded dramatically over the years, its growth driven by one man’s passion for the city he served for five decades. Before acceding to the throne in 2015, between 1963 and 2011 King Salman was governor of Riyadh province, and in those 48 years the city blossomed beyond all recognition.

It was King Salman who presided over Riyadh’s remarkable transformation from a small city of about 200,000 inhabitants in 1963 to more than seven million by the time he became king.

The King’s passion for Riyadh – a passion that has found further expression in the ambitious plans for Diriyah Gate – was expressed in a speech he gave in the Seventies as the city began to grow rapidly.

“I am always close to Riyadh, even when I am not physically present there,” he said. “For me, Riyadh is the homeland; it is the past and the present and the future.

“When I am away from Riyadh, I continue to think about the city; its operations and affairs, its roads and gardens, the children’s playgrounds, the schools, hospitals, and all of its affairs; every corner of the city lives with me and is in my thoughts and my heart.

“I feel as if I am present on every Riyadh street … I monitor, step by step, every project in the city, and I am filled with love for the city and its people.”

Today, the King’s ambition for Riyadh is being carried into the future by his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Diriyah Gate Development Authority. 

Wadi Hanifah in Diriyah, a valley that runs for a length of 120km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

“We are aiming to make Riyadh one of the 10 largest city economies in the world,” he said in January during the fourth international Future Investment Initiative, hosted in the city.

“Today it stands at number 40, the 40th largest city economy worldwide. We also aim to increase its residents from 7.5 million today to around 15-20 million in 2030.”

At the center of the Diriyah Gate development, regenerated Diriyah and historic At-Turaif will play a key part in the social and economic transformation not only of Riyadh, but also of Saudi Arabia as a whole, as envisaged in Vision 2030.

As for Joharji, while she recognises that Diriyah is changing rapidly, she is pleased that at the heart of the transformation will be found the qualities of hospitality and generosity she recalls with such affection.

“I haven’t been there in a few years, but my grandchildren tell me stories of how it has evolved, developed,” she said.

“For me, Diriyah is a gathering place to enjoy time with loved ones, and I see that is still happening, but on a wider scale.”

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

Meet the Saudi tour guides bringing Diriyah’s past to life

Meet the Saudi tour guides bringing Diriyah’s past to life
Updated 1 min 33 sec ago

Meet the Saudi tour guides bringing Diriyah’s past to life

Meet the Saudi tour guides bringing Diriyah’s past to life
  • ‘Diriyah means history, the beginning of the Kingdom. But it is also about the future, learning and Vision 2030,’ says Manal Al-Qahtani

RIYADH: Lined up in front of the historic Salwa palace, 28 young Saudi tour guides stand ready to tell the story of their ancestors’ courageous fight against the Ottoman invaders, a valiant struggle that laid the groundwork for today’s Kingdom.

“I would like to showcase the determination and persistence of the people of Diriyah,” Mohammed Ahmed Al-Salem said, pointing to the ancient walls of the palace with pride.

The Diriyah guides say they are not only offering tours of the historic site, but are also keeping the stories of their ancestors alive.

“I don’t feel that I am only a tour guide or senior tourist guide, I am actually representing my country and its history,” senior tour guide Manal Al-Qahtani told Arab News.

“I am an ambassador here in Diriyah, serving my country.”

Surprisingly, Al-Qahtani never saw herself working as a tour guide, but during training she quickly fell in love with the role and the sector. After spending more than two years completing courses in hospitality, history and tourism, she is now one of Diriyah’s most experienced tour guides and is proud to represent her country.

The tour guides of Turaif explain the Kingdom’s history, ranging from the early Al-Saud settlement in 1446 to the dramatic siege and destruction of Diriyah in 1818.

The past speaks through these young and passionate guides, who not only provide tours of the historic site, but also tell the stories of their ancestors. These include tales of bravery and integrity such as the six-month resistance led by Imam Abdullah, the last ruler of the first Saudi state from 1814 to 1818.

Mohammed Ahmed Al-Salem, a senior tour guide originally from Diriyah, said that he is proud to be working in the place of his ancestors.

“I feel like I have a huge role here. Working in our hometown is something that makes you feel proud.”

The tour guides embody the Kingdom’s history and heritage, preserving the stories of Saudi Arabia and ensuring the country’s history will never die.

“It’s amazing to be able to explain your own history to your people and also to tourists. I think there is a lot to tell about Saudi Arabia,” Al-Salem said.

The guides complete an intensive training program on the Kingdom’s history, archaeology and hospitality to prepare for their role.


Diriyah tours are conducted in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Korean, Urdu and sign language

Training can last months or even years, but every tour guide is eager to learn even after they finish courses supplied by the Diriyah Gate ‍Development Authority.

Tour guides fill notebooks with information from training sessions as they are taught about the Kingdom's origins. Facts and figures are also memorized to be recited as they highlight key events in the nation's past.

The guides aim to make access to the Kingdom's history as inclusive as possible, with many learning languages to ensure they can convey the history to multiple nationalities.

Tours are conducted in English, Arabic, Korean, Spanish, Urdu and Italian.

“We have even started a course in sign language so we can help the different kinds of people here,” tour guide Najla Aldrees said.

Women make up 21 of the 28 tour guides, a visible example of Vision 2030 initiatives. Visitors and tourists can see the large number of women not only leading tours but also serving at the highest level of hospitality in the Kingdom.

“I’m deeply proud to be one of the women who work here in Diriyah,” said Al-Qahtani, commenting on the vast changes that have taken place in Saudi Arabia under the Vision 2030 reform program.

“It’s a representation of the Kingdom's support.” 

Tour guides play a crucial role in teaching Saudis and international visitors the history and culture that paved the way for today's Saudi Arabia. 

Visitors to Diriyah can see the passion behind the work that goes into these tours. It is not a  “clock in and out” job for these guides but an ambassadorship filled with responsibility that empowers them to share the history of the Kingdom with Saudis and visiting tourists.

“We are showing our history, especially Najd history. We are presenting our country, our authentic origins and our culture,” Al-Qahtani said.

The UNESCO World Heritage site in Diriyah is known for its eye-catching mud-brick palaces that are home to more than 300 years of the Kingdom’s rich history.

But the past comes to life as the tour guides create a sense of adventure at each location, with anecdotes that transform the birthplace of the Kingdom into an unrivalled experience. 

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