After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Riyadh Season restarts with a bang 

Special After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Riyadh Season restarts with a bang 
Riyadh Season chairman Turki Al-Sheikh (Twitter)
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Updated 10 November 2021

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Riyadh Season restarts with a bang 

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Riyadh Season restarts with a bang 
  • Turki Al-Sheikh says Riyadh Season will include with more than 7,500 events
  • Will include 350 theater performances and 76 concerts

RIYADH: Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the board of the General Entertainment Authority and chairman of Riyadh Season, officially launched the countdown to the start of the event in its second year.

Al-Sheikh announced earlier that Riyadh Season would launch on Oct. 20, 2021 and said during a press conference on Monday that the first zone of 14 will open on Oct. 21. 

This year’s event is expected to run until March 2022, with more than 7,500 events that will cover an area of 5.4 million square meters across 14 districts in Riyadh.

 

 

The program includes 70 Arab concerts, six international concerts, ten 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.

“Four areas out of the 14 will be free for everyone during the season, prices will be competitive,” Al-Sheikh said. “Pricing will be cheaper than other countries by 30-40 percent, so rest assured we are making sure it’s suitable for everyone.”

Attracting more than 1,300 companies, staging 1,500 events, hosting 75,000 visitors, issuing 4,400 licenses and permissions, producing 100,000 jobs and 100,000 trainers, are some of the milestones that the GEA has achieved so far.

“Riyadh boulevard when completed is here to stay throughout the year, and we are making sure to support other companies who have participated in the season to keep running projects all year round as well,” he said. 

During the press conference, Al-Sheikh highlighted other prominent achievements, including nine different types of entertainment licenses, six training and development programs, and financing solutions to stimulate investment among others.

Reflecting this year’s theme “#Imagine_more,” Riyadh Season will bring the world to Saudi Arabia’s thriving capital city and cater to a wide range of age groups and interests.

It has been two years since the last season was launched, yet people still remember the moments they experienced then. Riyadh Season 2019 covered 12 main zones of the capital and six branches around the city, including the biggest fight on the planet, “Clash on the Dunes,” the Insomnia Gaming Festival, a spectacular fireworks display, MDL Beast music festival, and the “Leila, the Land of Imagination” show that brought the season to an end.

Riyadh Season is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil, transform the country into one of the most important tourists and destination hubs globally, and put Saudi Arabia on the global tourism and leisure map.

Meanwhile, Minister of Commerce and Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi reviewed the latest developments locally and internationally during the press conference.

“The pandemic gave us an opportunity to discover special, heritage and tourist sites in our homeland,” he said. “The launching of the human development capability program by his royal highness aims to reinforce the competitiveness of the Saudi citizen on a local and national scale.” 

The minister commented on the Kingdom’s pavilion at the Dubai World Expo 2020, which made its way into the Guinness World Records, winning in three categories. The Riyadh International Book Fair 2021 taking place this week also saw the participation of 1,000 local, Arab and international publishing houses from 28 countries and highlighted more than 1,000,000 books, making it the largest book fair in the region.

On the Japanese Nikkei index, Saudi Arabia was ranked second among 121 countries for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Non-oil exports hit a record-breaking SR255 billion in the period between June 2020 to June 2021, and Al-Qasabi said that this was a clear indication of reaching Vision 2030 milestones.


Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women

Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women
Updated 24 September 2022

Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women

Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women
  • The group brings together people from various walks of life and uniting them with the goal of becoming a better version of themselves

RIYADH: As the sounds of Fajr (early morning) prayers are heard in Riyadh, the sun still submissive to the night sky, you will find a group of women around Wadi Hanifa every Wednesday, pounding a path for anywhere between 4 and 8 km.

Adidas Runners is an international community of joggers and runners that brings together people from various walks of life, uniting them with the goal of becoming a better version of themselves.

Their women’s-only group creates a safe space for individuals to empower each other to achieve their aspirations.

The runners see the 4 a.m. wake-up call as a small price to pay for the experience, given the health benefits and friendships it brings them.

Asma Azhari, 31, has never considered herself the consistent athletic type. From mindful yoga to swimming sessions and breezy bike rides, she wanted to try it all and never committed to just one discipline. Only in June 2021 did she discover the Adidas Runners community.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Asma Azhari, 31, has never considered herself the consistent athletic type. From mindful yoga to swimming sessions and breezy bike rides, she wanted to try it all and never committed to just one discipline. Only in June 2021 did she discover the Adidas Runners community. The thought of a women’s-only running club intrigued her, but the first steps toward commitment were discouraging.

• Another member, Hadeel Ashour, told Arab News: ‘I don’t think that if I started off running on my own in public, I would be as motivated and persistent in the sport as I am today.’ Ashour, 23, had been physically active for years, but a year on from discovering Adidas Runners, she has found that her training helps to complement her participation in CrossFit (interval training) and cycling.

• Club member Nourah Alshehri, 38, told Arab News: ‘I’m ecstatic for all the wonderful positive transformations in my country and the justice that women have obtained in various fields. I am very fortunate to have experienced fair regulations and laws that guarantee freedom for everyone without harming anyone or anything.’

The thought of a women’s-only running club intrigued her, but the first steps toward commitment were discouraging.

“I felt like dying,” she said. “It was my first run and I thought, ‘I am not cut out for this sport.’ But after a few months I tried again, and committed even though it was way out of my comfort zone. And here I am now, a runner,” she told Arab News.

While she began her journey barely completing the 4K run, Azhari is now training for her first 21K trail race. She aims to participate in a full international marathon next year.

What kept her coming back every week was the community surrounding the running group. She said: “The people, the spirit, the energy, the commitment that everybody shows every single morning before sunrise, and of course the love and support everyone is getting, all of these aspects helped to get me into running. I’m loving it.”

On a personal level, running has benefited her by laying the groundwork for discipline in many aspects of her life, including work and family. It has also done much for her physical and mental health. “Sports should be accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age and ethnicity,” she said.

Another member, Hadeel Ashour, told Arab News: “I don’t think that if I started off running on my own in public, I would be as motivated and persistent in the sport as I am today.”

Ashour, 23, had been physically active for years, but a year on from discovering Adidas Runners, she has found that her training helps to complement her participation in CrossFit (interval training) and cycling.

She said: “I generally love outdoor sports and activities that give me a sense of community. Running for me was a beautiful combination of both these things.”

While the health benefits of running are plenty, including better sleep and eating habits, Ashour emphasized the mental profits of the exercise.

For her, running has helped cope with anxiety, build patience and create consistency in many aspects of her life.

She added: “I started running in a stage of my life when I was most vulnerable and unconfident. Running has liberated me from these negative feelings and restored my confidence in myself.”

The group is working toward creating the first-ever women’s training program to run a 5K, starting on Oct. 22 and free to all women in Riyadh.

Ashour is now planning to take part in her first Riyadh 10K, but has set her sights even higher.

She said: “My goal now is training to run the 20K distance in the Tuwaiq Hope Trail Race in November. In the far future, I hope to run full marathons and ultra-marathons both locally and internationally, and aid in expanding the community in Riyadh.”

Like Azhari, Ashour found a home within the running community, which changed her perception of women running in public.

She added: “I had the pleasure to meet strong and influential fellow runners who never failed to push me forward and explore my limits.

“Though the number of women runners is not that big, the presence and persistence of the few makes a big difference. We women are unstoppable when we run together.”

Club member Nourah Alshehri, 38, told Arab News: “I’m ecstatic for all the wonderful positive transformations in my country and the justice that women have obtained in various fields.

“I am very fortunate to have experienced fair regulations and laws that guarantee freedom for everyone without harming anyone or anything."

 The first-ever women’s-only race will take place on Dec. 24 in pursuit of creating a safe and healthy running culture for all in Riyadh.

 


Global Islamic Refugee Fund launched with $100m deposit

KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner sign an a cooperation agreement. (SPA)
KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner sign an a cooperation agreement. (SPA)
Updated 24 September 2022

Global Islamic Refugee Fund launched with $100m deposit

KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner sign an a cooperation agreement. (SPA)
  • The fund will help millions of refugees and displaced persons and their host communities around the world

NEW YORK: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, recently represented the Kingdom at the launch ceremony of the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees.

The fund is supported by UNHCR and the Islamic Development Bank’s Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, with an initial amount of $100 million, on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In his speech, Al-Rabeeah expressed his happiness about the fruitful partnership between UNHCR and IDB to help millions of people around the world who are forcibly displaced, by offering constant support for refugees and displaced persons and their host communities.

HIGHLIGHT

The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development has donated $50 million to the endowment account, while the UNHCR has donated $50 million to the nonendowment account, as an initial capital to launch this initiative with $100 million. The fund also aims to raise additional capital of $400 million as a minimum target by allowing donations from people wishing to contribute.

He noted the importance of strengthening collective action and partnership to better respond and develop innovative, sustainable and comprehensive solutions, in line with the 17th sustainable development goal.

Al-Rabeeah said that the Kingdom was optimistic about UNHCR and IDB’s partnership, which embodies the values of humanity, justice and equality in developing innovative solutions for the refugee crisis.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Amid an increasing number of crises around the world, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation region accommodates the largest number of refugees in the world; we are all aware and fulfill our responsibility by providing all the refugees and displaced people’s needs to lead a safe, healthy and decent life.”

He said that the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees “would help us achieve this humanitarian objective, and given the significant economic challenges the world is facing and due to the limited donor base, this is the best time to present innovative ways to increase the funding modalities.”

Al-Rabeeah said that Islam encourages charitable work, that zakat is the duty of all Muslims who are capable of donating, and that this was the best time to establish the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees. He indicated that the success of this fund relies on the participation of authorized partners and project-based funding, with a transparent monitoring process.

Addressing the needs of refugees and displaced people in the OIC region is an example of zakat and charitable funding, he said, wishing the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees success.

The Global Islamic Fund for Refugees is to be a financing tool for refugees, in compliance with the provisions and principles of Islamic Shariah.

This fund consists of an endowment and nonendowment account to receive and invest donations, in accordance with Islamic financing’s principles. The revenue is deposited in a trust account to fund the response programs for refugees, displaced people and their host communities in the IDB member states.

The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development has donated $50 million to the endowment account, while the UNHCR has donated $50 million to the nonendowment account, as an initial capital to launch this initiative with $100 million.

The fund also aims to raise additional capital of $400 million as a minimum target by allowing donations from people wishing to contribute.

 


Twitter replaces ‘Like’ emoji with Saudi flag on 92nd National Day

Photo/Saudi Press Agency
Photo/Saudi Press Agency
Updated 25 September 2022

Twitter replaces ‘Like’ emoji with Saudi flag on 92nd National Day

Photo/Saudi Press Agency
  • To mark the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day, the GEA launched the largest program in the history of the country’s national day celebrations

RIYADH: The chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh, said on Friday that social networking site Twitter had replaced its “Like” emoji with the flag of Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day — the first time it has done so for a country’s National Day.

Al-Sheikh called on those wishing to express their love and pride for Saudi Arabia to use the hashtag #Hey_Lana_Dar92.

HIGHLIGHT

The chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh, called on those wishing to express their love and pride for Saudi Arabia to use the hashtag #Hey_Lana_Dar92.

To mark the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day, the GEA launched the largest program in the history of the country’s national day celebrations.

Saudis and expatriates alike marked the occasion of Saudi Arabia’s National Day with music, singing, dancing, a naval parade in Jeddah and a family carnival in Riyadh.

The GEA’s program for the celebrations includes hundreds of events, shows and recreational activities across the Kingdom, all under the theme “Hey Lana Dar.”

 


Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah

Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah
Updated 24 September 2022

Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah

Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday received the Turkish presidential spokesman, Dr. Ibrahim Kalin, and Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Nureddin Nebati at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.
Kalin conveyed greetings from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to King Salman and the crown prince.
During the meeting, they reviewed aspects of bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of developing them in various fields, in addition to discussing cooperation on a number of issues of common interest.


Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges

Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges
Updated 24 September 2022

Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges

Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges
  • Real optimism in the Kingdom says Saudi FM

NEW YORK CITY: There is a real optimism in Saudi Arabia despite the obvious challenges faced around the globe, foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan told delegates at the FII Priority Forum in New York on Thursday.

He was responding on Thursday to the “Future Investment Initiative Priority” report, which surveyed 130,000 people from 13 countries about the things that mattered most to them.

The FII Priority report asked if people thought their lives were headed in the right direction - most people globally said they were.

But when the question became wider, people in nations such as the UK, USA and France, became more skeptical about the state of their countries and the world generally – while Saudi’s remained positive.

“There is a real optimism in the kingdom despite the challenges that we face,” the minister said.

 

 

The report found that Saudi’s led the way in feeling positive about their country, only being beaten in their optimism for the state of the world – coming third to China and India.

The upbeat attitude of Saudis didn’t stop there. Asked if they believed their country would be better in the future – a confident 61 percent in the Kingdom said they did – second only to 80 percent in China.

“We are in a difficult neighborhood. We are needing to improve many things in our economy in our country, but we are working very hard at it and that hard work is paying off we are seeing results every day being delivered.”

The report also found that Saudis were very ambitious, looking at work as a means to improve themselves, rather than simply pay the bills.

And while more than half of Americans were looking to quit their jobs – dissatisfied with their current situation, the vast majority of Saudis were planning for their future career and looking to help build their nation.

“If we all did the same if we all put our minds to it and worked hard, we can build a better future,” the minister explained.

He said that youth engagement in the Kingdom was at an “all time high.”

“You go to anywhere,” he added. “You know, private sector or public sector. The youth are really who are leading. It’s the same in my ministry.”

“The youth are the ones the younger generation are the ones that are pushing us.”

And in a nod to the approximate 300 percent increase in women the workforce, he said: “So, there is an optimism, even in a challenging environment without the best resources, you can still build.”

“If you set your mind to it. If you have a leadership that is committed to it, then you have a collective will to do it. So you just need the will.”

The FII Institute is a product of the Future Investment Initiative that was set up in Saudi Arabia by the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.