JEDDAH: Under the slogan #Imagine_more, Riyadh Season 2021 begins in less than a month and offers events and activities for all.
Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the board of directors of the General Entertainment Authority, on Saturday announced the launch of the 2021 Riyadh Season on Oct. 20. It will cover an area of 5.4 million square meters across 14 districts in the capital city.
Al-Sheikh said that after the success of Riyadh Season 2019, this year’s events would be organized by Saudi teams.
The season will host 7,500 events, including 70 Arab concerts, six international concerts, 10 international exhibitions, 350 theater performances, 18 Arab plays and six international plays, in addition to one free-wrestling championship, two international matches, 100 interactive experiences, 200 restaurants and 70 cafes, all catering to a range of tastes and age groups.
Nour Fahed, who visited Riyadh’s last season in 2019, told Arab News how excited she was to be attending this year’s events. “I went to the Riyadh Season twice and I was overwhelmed with the things that I saw,” she said. “I could not believe my eyes and I was proud that my country is making international events like this.”
Hams Nabeel, who went to Riyadh for a business trip during the season, said: “I tried some of the exotic pop-up restaurants in the season, but my favorite activity was going to the Winter Wonderland theme park. I liked how I saw and met so many foreigners and I am aiming for another adventure this year.”
Another guest, Majid Al Assiri, said that he made the most of the activities on offer during the last Riyadh Season, visiting Winter Wonderland, the boulevard, Diriyah festivals, MDLBEAST. “It will be a fantastic season, especially now that people already have an idea of what to expect from last season,” he said.
“Not to mention the second season of MDLBEAST: 2019 was a blast, it was cold because but the experience itself is unique and the first of its kind,” Assiri said.
The Riyadh Season is expected to provide a mixture of exclusivity and modernity, turning the Saudi capital into a preferred destination for visitors. It will also contribute to achieving national goals such as raising the level of the entertainment-sector industry, creating job opportunities, growing economic returns and attracting foreign investment.
More details will be announced at a press conference on Oct. 4.
Riyadh Season is the biggest part of Saudi Seasons, a series of themed entertainment, artistic, sporting and cultural events held throughout the Kingdom to boost tourism and business opportunities, and providing jobs for Saudi nationals. Riyadh Season 2021 alone will host 7,500 events, according to the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA).
Fraternal Saudi-Omani ties in focus as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to build on talks Sultan Haitham held with King Salman in July
Visit described as a reflection of “time-honored” ties between two Gulf countries bound by bonds of history
Updated 4 sec ago
RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Oman, the first stop in a tour of Gulf states, is expected to build on the talks that Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq held with King Salman during his visit to the Kingdom in July.
On the agenda are issues of mutual concern and ways to promote the interests of the Kingdom and Oman as well as “fulfill the aspirations and hopes” of their peoples.
The Omani news agency ONA described the visit as a reflection of the “time-honored and historical” ties between the two Gulf countries.
For over half a century, Saudi-Omani relations have been characterized by cooperation, mutual respect and understanding on various regional and international issues.
Likewise, connections at the individual level run deep thanks to bonds of history, shared Arab customs and traditions, and a common Gulf Arab heritage.
The two countries coordinate their actions under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council in accordance with the bloc’s common visions and strategic goals, with a view to achieving integration between member states in different fields.
A similar cooperative spirit informs their roles at the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN and various other international bodies.
Sultan Haitham’s visit to Saudi Arabia produced promises of cooperation in different fields, notably real estate development, tourism, petrochemicals, manufacturing industries, logistics, information technology and banking systems. Also on the agenda was a project to establish an industrial zone in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm.
A memorandum establishing a coordination council was signed by the two countries, with the aim of ensuring continued consultation and coordination in matters of common interest in all fields. A separate agreement was signed to boost government and private sector trade and investment as well as cooperation in the fields of environmental and food security.
According to a joint statement, the two sides also agreed to expedite the opening of their border crossings to ease the movement of people and goods to “integrate supply chains in order to achieve the desired economic integration.”
They further welcomed the “effective communication” between ministers of the two countries and directed them to work toward concluding a number of cooperation agreements.
“Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Arab world and its leading economic engine, home to a quarter of the world’s petroleum reserves and the largest free market in the Middle East and North Africa region. It’s a key, valued trading partner of Oman,” Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al-Said, Oman’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News on the eve of Sultan Haitham’s visit.
• SR 24bn ($6.4bn) total Saudi investments in Oman
• SR4bn total Omani investments in KSA
• SR2bn Saudi-Omani trade volume in first quarter of 2021
Ties between Oman and Saudi Arabia have remained strong in part thanks to regular bilateral meetings and shuttle diplomacy, a tradition established after the signing of the March 1990 agreement that finally delineated their 658 km border.
The border agreement signed at Hafr Al-Batin in Saudi Arabia solidified the relationship, sweeping away territorial disputes of the past and giving both states equal access to the area’s bountiful water resources.
Over the decades that followed, relations have grown from strength to strength, yielding ambitious economic partnerships and joint action on the GCC, which has seen a merging of strategic aims and a shared vision for economic diversification.
In 2006, Saudi Arabia and Oman agreed to open a new border crossing to help facilitate the expansion of trade.
Their engineers teamed up to build a Saudi-funded highway through Rub Al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), connecting Al-Ahsa in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province to Ibri in Oman, shaving some 16 hours off the journey time between the two countries.
Officials expect the road to be opened to civil and commercial traffic by the end of this year, which will potentially inaugurate a new era of business activities.
Once open, the new highway will cut the cost of import-export logistics, especially for merchants operating out of Oman’s ports of Sohar and Duqm, not to mention the potential boost to tourism — a sector both countries are keen to expand.
In particular, the Omani side hopes the new road — and perhaps even a future rail link — will encourage more joint investments at the Sohar Industrial Estate and the Special Economic Zone in Duqm.
Other partnerships include the development of Khazaen Economic City, the Salalah 2 gas-fired power station and the Salalah desalination plant. Saudi Arabia is also a big importer of Omani fish, making the development of the sultanate’s fisheries a matter of tremendous common interest.
Another core area of cooperation is the environment, with the two states pulling together to cut carbon emissions by 60 percent, plant billions of trees, and make the Saudi and Middle East Green initiatives a reality.
Sultan Haitham has welcomed the initiatives in previous talks with the Saudi crown prince. The two countries have also begun sharing expertise in industrial development, city planning and mineral extraction, with ministerial delegations recently meeting via video link to discuss new collaborations.
High-level officials and delegations have made reciprocal visits in recent months with the aim of integrating Oman’s Vision 2040 and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 — two development and economic diversification agendas designed to create vibrant, modern economies that offer young citizens exciting new career paths and improve the overall quality of life.
Among a long list of Saudi businesses looking for investment opportunities in Oman are Al Sayadiyah United Co., which has been operating for about 40 years, trading in fish and seafood items originating in different GCC countries.
In comments to Arab News in September, Marwan Raffa, CEO of Al Sayadiyah, said he expected a very good experience in trade operations with Oman and was in touch with his Omani counterparts to expand business operations there.
Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s drive to deepen ties with Oman, he said: “Good relationships open up more opportunities.”
Saudi Arabia’s AlUla commission signs cultural, infrastructure deals with French companies
Updated 05 December 2021
LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla signed four agreements with four French institutions on Sunday to support the authority’s strategy to become a leading global destination for cultural and natural heritage.
Two of the agreements were in the cultural field and the other two in infrastructure, and aim to enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors, coinciding with the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to the Kingdom.
The agreements come as an extension of strong Saudi-French relations and cooperation in several areas in AlUla governorate, where an intergovernmental agreement was signed on April 10, 2018 that focused on urban, cultural, tourism and sustainable development, the commission said.
The agreements, with active French participation, will contribute to the commission’s strategy for distinguished global partnerships, especially in archaeology, infrastructure, hospitality, and smart city infrastructure development.
Our 10-year partnership with @FERRANDIParis will establish the AlUla International College of Tourism & Hospitality, cementing #AlUla's role as the exclusive regional hub for training and specialisation within the tourism and hospitality sector. pic.twitter.com/FXy6AHmnSV
“These partnerships will also contribute to providing training and knowledge transfer opportunities to provide Saudis with new capabilities and skills,” RCU said.
120 students were sent to the two previous stages of the RCU’s International Scholarship Program, in addition to 24 students graduating as chefs from the Michelin-starred Ferrandi International Institute.
Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the RCU, said that the “Villa Hegra” agreement aimed to build a Saudi-French cultural institution according to the “French Villa” model, reinforcing AlUla’s position as a cultural hub and the Villa Hegra as a global model.
Villa Hegra, built on the "French villa" model, will mark its first arrival in the Middle East and further #AlUla's standing as a crossroads of cultural exchange: a place for collaboration, learning, culture, art and global community. pic.twitter.com/cmLbM0nLS4
This marks the model’s arrival in the Middle East, with 11 international locations, including seven in France and others in Mexico and Rome; each has been designed to suit the natural and cultural environment of the region.
He added that the agreement with the French 3D software company Dassault Systemes was based on developing a digital model that contributed to an accurate analysis of AlUla’s operations, to contribute to transforming document-based operations into a 3D visual display environment.
“This will allow for institutional excellence through a detailed visualization of the governorate, in a way that enhances the objectives of supporting development and investment and contributes to developing AlUla as a smart city, taking into account its cultural nature,” Al-Madani said.
With $2bln already invested in AlUla's primary infrastructure, our development is progressing rapidly. Our digital twin partnership with @Dassault3DS will merge technology and institutional excellence, streamline county services, and support spatial development and investment. pic.twitter.com/hPhDDWKtSe
He also said the partnership with the RATPDev Saudi Arabia Limited aims to develop a world-class public transport system in AlUla, where the company will contribute to designing public transport operations and provide assessments and recommendations to meet the needs of Al-Ula.
It also provided recommendations and solutions for the full development lifecycle of mobility operations in AlUla, from design to implementation and maintenance, he said, adding that the company was one of the best in this field globally.
These agreements are part of efforts to achieve AlUla’s vision, by promoting it as a cultural and nature destination, and in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify its economic tributaries, by developing the cultural, arts and antiquities sectors, and enhancing AlUla’s position as a destination for developing human competencies in hospitality, services and culinary arts.
Mobility is an essential indicator of the quality of life. Our partnership with @RATPgroup will bring mobility innovation and best practices in operations and solutions as we develop scalable solutions to meet the needs of the citizens of #AlUla and tourists alike. pic.twitter.com/YWHBKKD3FQ
Saudi defenses destroy several drones launched by Yemen’s Houthis toward the Kingdom: Arab coalition
Bahrain strongly condemned the attack
Updated 25 min 41 sec ago
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s air defenses destroyed a Houthi drone targeting civilians in the Kingdom, the Arab coalition said on Sunday.
The Iran-backed Houthi militia frequently launch cross border attacks using explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles targeting populated areas in the Kingdom’s southern region.
Earlier on Sunday, the coalition said Saudi defenses intercepted and destroyed four drones that tried to target the southern region.
The UAE strongly condemned the attempts to target the Kingdom and said the continuation of these terrorist attacks by the Houthi militia reflects its blatant defiance of the international community.
It urged the international community to take an immediate and decisive stance to stop these aggressive acts that undermine security and stability in the region.
Bahrain also strongly condemned the attacks, saying it “reflects the militias’ continued sinister and systematic attacks to target civilians and innocent lives.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed Bahrain’s support for all measures Saudi Arabia takes to ensure the security and safety of its territory, citizens and residents.
Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 35 new infections
Ministry of Interior records 1,134 violations against precautionary measures in past week
Municipalities close several businesses and issue fines to a number of others for breaching coronavirus protocols
Updated 05 December 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed two new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,844.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 35 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 549,912 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 39 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 14, followed by Jeddah with nine, while 12 other regions recorded one case each.
The health ministry also announced that 45 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 539,056.
Over 47.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 22.6 million people have been fully vaccinated.
The Ministry of Interior reported 1,134 violations in the past week, with the highest number of breaches recorded in Makkah with 346, followed by Madinah with 298, Riyadh with 275, and Hail with 82. The Northern Borders Province recorded the lowest number of violations with one.
The ministry called on citizens and residents to abide by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities.
Saudi municipalities have also ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of Eastern Province carried out 8,463 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the last week. Authorities recorded 499 violations and closed eight businesses for not adhering to the precautionary measures.
Al-Baha Municipality carried out 3,994 tours in the past week and field teams issued fines to 83 commercial outlets and closed 16 others for breaching protocols.
Authorities from the Northern Borders Province, represented by Rafha Municipality, recorded 17 violations and closed two businesses last week.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 265 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 5.26 million.
The written messages were delivered by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan
Updated 05 December 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent a written message to Bahrain’s King Hamad regarding bilateral relations and ways to support and enhance them, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.
The message was delivered by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during a meeting with his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani in the capital, Manama.
During the meeting, Prince Faisal conveyed King Salman's greetings to King Hamad and his wishes for continued progress and prosperity for the kingdom and the Bahraini people.
King Salman also sent similar written messages to Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The messages were also delivered by Prince Faisal during meetings with Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in Kuwait City and the Qatari emir in Doha.
Sheikh Meshaal conveyed his greetings to King Salman and wished him good health and the Saudi people continued development and growth.
Sheikh Tamim also conveyed similar sentiments to the king and the Saudi people.
Later on Sunday, Prince Faisal delivered a letter from King Salman to Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, during a meeting with his Omani counterpart Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi, in the capital, Muscat.