Soudah and Rijal Almaa: Where Saudi Arabia’s natural beauty opens up to the world

Soudah and Rijal Almaa boast a combination of geographic, historical and cultural diversity that gives visitors an authentic sense of social connection and cultural immersion. (Supplied)
Soudah and Rijal Almaa boast a combination of geographic, historical and cultural diversity that gives visitors an authentic sense of social connection and cultural immersion. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 August 2021

Soudah and Rijal Almaa: Where Saudi Arabia’s natural beauty opens up to the world

Soudah and Rijal Almaa boast a combination of geographic, historical and cultural diversity that gives visitors an authentic sense of social connection and cultural immersion. (Supplied)
  • Soudah and Rijal Almaa boast a combination of geographic, historical and cultural diversity that gives visitors an authentic sense of social connection and cultural immersion

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is radically expanding its leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors as it opens to international travelers. One attraction in particular could give the tourism industry an ace up its sleeve: The Soudah and “Tahlal” mountains in Rijal Almaa.
Soudah is home to the highest peak in Saudi Arabia, about 3,000 meters above sea level, and has long been popular with locals for its mild year-round temperatures.
Together with its rich history and breathtaking views, this mountainous region has all the makings of a top tourist destination.
The Soudah Development Co. was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Public Investment Fund PIF, to help Soudah and parts of Rijal Almaa in the Asir region grow into a world-class tourist destination.
Soudah and Rijal Almaa boast a combination of geographic, historical and cultural diversity that gives visitors an authentic sense of social connection and cultural immersion, and provide them with a variety of residential and recreational options.
The site of the project was chosen with great care, as it combines all elements of natural beauty historical depth and human values based on Arab and Islamic heritage.
The place drew the attention of Western researchers and scholars for decades, such as the American engineer Karl Twitchell, who was commissioned by Saudi founder King Abdul Aziz to search for water.
The writer Abdullah bin Ali bin Hamid quoted Twitchell describing the beauty of the Soudah mountains and its water sources.
In one of his articles, compiled by his son, the former president of Abha Literary Club, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Hamid, into a book titled “Knowledge from Asir,” he pointed out that Jabal Tahlal, which Soudah is part of, was known by several names, including “Jabal Asir,” the “Green Mountain” or “Tawr Al-Ghamam,” all indications of the beauty and heritage of the place in popular memory.
Soudah attracts about 1 million visitors a year, and the SDC hopes to develop a destination that will attract as many as 2 million annually by 2030.
The area is also filled with natural economic resources such as iron. Professor of history at King Khalid University Dr. Ahmed Al-Fayeh pointed out that the inhabitants of the area used to extract minerals used in traditional industries, especially iron and lead, in addition to sulphur compounds used in the manufacture of knives, daggers, janbia and swords.
These areas were also known for pottery and leather industries.
The impressive natural wealth on which modern tourism projects were based includes juniper forests and wild olive trees, as well as hundreds of other trees and shrubs that form one large green space, due to mild summer weather where temperatures do not exceed 20 C with an average annual rainfall of 300 to 500 mm.
The high mountains come together with the dense forests to provide a rare investment and tourism environment, relying on nature’s components while preserving the flora and fauna, namely swallows, turtle doves, and wild pigeons, whose chirping forms a natural melody mixed with burbling water flowing through mountain forests.
The SDC infused SR11 billion ($3 billion) into local infrastructure. Planned developments include 2,700 hotel rooms, 1,300 residential units, and 30 commercial and entertainment attractions.
The project aims to boost the quality of services provided in the project area, by investing in infrastructure development though more than 20 projects worth more than SR3 billion.


Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh
Updated 26 May 2022

Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

RIYADH: Awwad Al-Awwad, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, met Jonathan Kerr, the director-general of the Middle East and Africa Department at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss a number of issues relating to human rights and the development of bilateral cooperation.

Also present at the meeting was Barney Riley, New Zealand’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.


Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans

Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans
Updated 26 May 2022

Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans

Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia foiled an attempt to smuggle thousands of amphetamine pills and arrested two suspects, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Maj. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi said security officials who monitor drug smuggling and distribution networks that target the Kingdom intercepted 403,000 amphetamine tablets. They were found in the possession of a Syrian national and a Saudi citizen in Jeddah, hidden in a shipment of fake plastic bean pods, he added. The two men were referred to the Public Prosecution.

Al-Nujaidi said that the Ministry of Interior’s security forces, in coordination with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, will continue to work to uncover plots to smuggle narcotics into the Kingdom and arrest those responsible.


US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader

US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader
Updated 26 May 2022

US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader

US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader

RIYADH: A delegation from the US Congress has praised the work of the Muslim World League in promoting common human values and promoting the urgent need for peace in the world. It came during a meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Iss, the MWL’s secretary-general, in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The American delegates included Chris Stewart, a representative from Utah, Lisa McClain, a representative from Michigan, and Guy Reschenthaler, a representative from Pennsylvania, all three of them Republicans. They were accompanied by a number of officials.

(Supplied)

During the meeting, they discussed a number of issues of common interest, and Al-Issa affirmed that the Saudi Arabia represents the unifying spirit of the Islamic world.

The US delegation also hailed the MWL for its leading role in building effective alliances at the national level and between international organizations to consolidate the values of friendship and cooperation among nations and peoples.


DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia

DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years  of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 May 2022

DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia

DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years  of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia
  • The US Legation opened in Jeddah in 1942. Full diplomatic relations began in 1940 and the US Mission, located in a traditional house in the old city center, was upgraded to the status of an embassy in 1949

RIYADH: The US Embassy in Riyadh has marked the 80th anniversary of the establishment of its first diplomatic presence in Saudi Arabia, highlighting what it described as “eight decades of shared history, strong partnership and united vision” with the Kingdom.

The US Legation opened in Jeddah in 1942. Full diplomatic relations began in 1940 and the US Mission, located in a traditional house in the old city center, was upgraded to the status of an embassy in 1949.

In 1952, the embassy moved to the current consulate general location, which at the time was an isolated, beachfront property to the north of the city.

Along with all other foreign missions, the US Embassy was transferred to Riyadh in 1984. The former embassy compound in Jeddah is now a consulate general in the heart of one of the Middle East’s most dynamic cities.

The theme of this year’s celebration was “Shared History, Strong Partnership and United Vision,” highlighting the enduring foundation of the strategic ties and friendship between the US and Saudi Arabia.

“From the very early days of modern Saudi Arabia, the US, its leaders, its companies and its people supported their Saudi friends on their remarkable journey toward success and prosperity,” the US Embassy in Riyadh said in a statement to Arab News.

“The US-Saudi relationship has naturally evolved over the years. It has grown to encompass trade, culture, education, security, and especially the close ties between the Saudi and American people. What has not changed during the past 80 years is the shared vision that has always guided the cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia in these and many other areas,” it added.

“As Saudi Arabia pursues the ambitious goals of Vision 2030, the US is supporting the Kingdom’s efforts in the same spirit of partnership that has been one of the key pillars of US–Saudi ties. Today, in every field, in every sector, Americans and Saudis are working together, learning together, conducting research together and, more recently, performing together in concerts, films and athletic competitions.”

This engagement translates into $54 billion annually in US-Saudi trade and investment.

American companies have been an integral part of the Vision 2030 economic transformation of Saudi Arabia, while the US and Saudi Arabia also enjoy robust cultural and educational ties.


Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
Updated 25 May 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  • Of the new infections, 146 were recorded in Jeddah, 122 in Riyadh, 50 in Makkah, 38 in Dammam and 32 in Madinah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia reported 540 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom grew to 764,789.

The authorities also confirmed one new COVID-19-related death, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,135.

Of the new infections, 146 were recorded in Jeddah, 122 in Riyadh, 50 in Makkah, 38 in Dammam and 32 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 20 new cases each.

The ministry also announced that 570 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 749,141. It said that 6,513 COVID-19 cases were still active.