Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan. (File/SPA/AFP)
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Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince
  • Prince Khalid: “We have a very young population. They want a different world”
  • “I grew up with religious police telling us what to do, but now it’s about letting people make their own choices”

LONDON: The Saudi ambassador to Britain has praised the wide-ranging modernization efforts carried out by the Kingdom’s leadership.

“In the last five years the pace has been huge — 1,000 laws have been altered or removed,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan told The Times.

“There is a misconception about Saudi that we never change, but going back 100 years it’s been dramatic. My grandfather went to work on horseback, my father flew fast fighter jets, and my cousin went into space.”

Prince Khalid said the way the Kingdom legislates for women is also changing. “Just before I was posted here (in the UK), I went back for two days and I called one of my sisters and said, ‘Let’s go for a coffee. Shall I come and pick you up?’ and she said, ‘No, I’ve got my car.’ It brought a real smile to my face,” he said.

“Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable for her to have a job, let alone drive. We are still a very conservative society but we have a very young population. They want a different world.”

The ambassador, who attended the prestigious Eton College before Oxford University and Sandhurst, said: “I feel very Saudi, but I was brought up in the West.” 

His links to Britain are strong, not only through being educated in the UK but also through his English wife Lucy Cuthbert, a niece of the duke of Northumberland.

Prince Khalid has seen some of the modernization he witnessed in Britain appearing in his homeland, including mobile phones, which he said have made a huge difference to Saudi society.

“We have one of the highest percentages of phones per capita in the world, nearly three phones per person,” he added.

“The young are all over Instagram. In my generation, there wasn’t much entertainment at home so we had to go abroad. Now the young want to go to shops and cinemas, and there has been an explosion of events,” he said.

“There are women-only sections but no enforced separation. I grew up with religious police telling us what to do, but now it’s about letting people make their own choices.”

He told The Times that his sister said she “discovered there wasn’t a glass ceiling — it was more of a soft tent and she could push it out.”

The ambassador said 34 percent of the Saudi workforce is made up of women, dramatically leaping from 18 percent in 2016.

“We have had our first graduation for women in the army, there are women in government, in the police, we are training female judges, we have an equal opportunities and equal pay law,” he added.

Prince Khalid also detailed the rapid expansion of the Saudi tourism industry, including the giga-projects being planned. 

“In 2019 we launched our tourist visa online. We issued 440,000 visas before the pandemic started, 60,000 to the UK,” he said.

“We are developing resorts with a Red Sea project and NEOM, a new futuristic city. Saudi Arabia is the size of Western Europe. We also have 330 heritage sites.” These giga-projects are part of $7 trillion of investment under the Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Kingdom is expected to participate in the UN Climate Change conference, also known as Cop26, in Glasgow later this month. 

“We decided to move away from fossil fuels in 2016. We don’t want to be an oil provider but an energy provider,” said Prince Khalid. “We have committed to producing 50 percent of our energy by renewable sources by 2030.”


Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish

Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish
Updated 20 sec ago

Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish

Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish
  • Seven months ago, Plant Cafe opened its doors to residents of the area

The sleepy southwestern city of Abu Arish in Jizan province is known for producing and exporting salt and, more recently, for a cafe that combines the perfect blend of salty and sweet.

Seven months ago, Plant Cafe opened its doors to residents of the area, and Jazan city should take notice.

One recent evening, Plant Cafe was full of coffee enthusiasts, sipping cold drinks on the velvety green chairs and scrolling their phones at the terrazzo-patterned tables.

With strategically-placed full-length mirrors spread along the pathway to the seating areas, the photogenic cafe offers a variety of spots for the perfect mirror selfie.

In the back, colorful portraits of famous figures are hung on a wall. The wooden spiral stairs— with green plants draped along them — lead to the second floor seating area.

Limited seating is also available outdoors for those who dare to sit and sip in the searing heat.

With the sound of the steaming espresso machine and soft music piped into the space, the cute coffee cups illustrated with farmers gathering flowers and plants are always being filled.

The must-try items include the cold lemon strawberry trifle in a jar. With bits of rich cheesecake, a drizzling of tart strawberry sauce, smooth cream and a bit of fresh lemon on top, it is layered decadence to be enjoyed with a spoon, and conveniently offered in a sealed portable jar — the perfect portion for a late-night sweet tooth craving or afternoon pick-me-up.

The cafe opens bright and early until late night six days of the week, from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. On Fridays, it is open from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.


Expat arrested in Saudi Arabia for assaulting child with disabilities

Expat arrested in Saudi Arabia for assaulting child with disabilities
Updated 50 min 24 sec ago

Expat arrested in Saudi Arabia for assaulting child with disabilities

Expat arrested in Saudi Arabia for assaulting child with disabilities
  • An investigation into the assault has been launched and the Public Prosecution will be taking the necessary legal measures against him, an official source confirms

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested an expat for assaulting a child with disabilities after video footage of the incident was circulated online, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday. 

Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Mujeb issued an arrest warrant for the Egyptian resident who was seen beating a child on CCTV footage in a neighborhood in the town Wadi ad-Dawasir in Najd. 

An investigation into the assault has been launched and the Public Prosecution will be taking the necessary legal measures against him, an official source confirmed to SPA. 

The Kingdom’s penal code protects children from abuse, the source said, adding that the victim would be receiving counseling in line with the child protection law.


Man arrested for carrying 54 kg of khat in Saudi Arabia

Man arrested for carrying 54 kg of khat in Saudi Arabia
Updated 58 min 59 sec ago

Man arrested for carrying 54 kg of khat in Saudi Arabia

Man arrested for carrying 54 kg of khat in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Security forces in Saudi Arabia have arrested a man carrying 54 kg of the stimulant khat, state news agency (SPA) reported.

The narcotics were found in the accused’s vehicle as he drove in Jazan region.

He has been referred to relevant authorities for further action, the SPA statement said.

The arrest comes as the country cracks down on the smuggling and use of illegal and controlled substances.

Earlier this week, Saudi authorities arrested 70 people for trying to smuggle about 70 tons of khat and 618 kg of hashish into the Kingdom.


Beit Hail in Saudi Arabia’s north showcases local heritage

Beit Hail in Saudi Arabia’s north showcases local heritage
Updated 12 August 2022

Beit Hail in Saudi Arabia’s north showcases local heritage

Beit Hail in Saudi Arabia’s north showcases local heritage
  • Ancient Thamudic and Sadu embroidery on display

HAIL: The Beit Hail 15-day festival was launched on Wednesday showcasing local heritage including incense burners, daggers, wicker baskets, and clothes with ancient Thamudic and Sadu embroidery.

Dep. Gov. of Hail Prince Faisal bin Fahd inaugurated the event at Aja Park with the undersecretary of the region, Adel bin Saleh Al-Sheikh, and other officials.

Prince Faisal toured the site and visited the exhibition of the late artist Youssef Al-Shagdali.

The festival also features classic cars and popular, colorful handicrafts created by the region’s artisans.

There were also stalls that showed how cloth is woven and transformed into clothing.

Visitors were entertained by a folklore troupe performing the Saudi Arda.

The event aims to support local talent and boost small businesses.

 

 


The Line city impresses Makkah governor, plans to book first 

The Line city impresses Makkah governor, plans to book first 
Updated 12 August 2022

The Line city impresses Makkah governor, plans to book first 

The Line city impresses Makkah governor, plans to book first 
  • Prince Khaled Al-Faisal visited the design expo at Jeddah Superdome
  • He was briefed on innovations to alleviate environmental challenges

JEDDAH: The architecture of the futuristic city, The Line, has impressed Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who says he will be the first to book an accommodation once it is complete.

Prince Khalid made the remarks in a tweet following his visit to the NEOM exhibition to see the designs on Wednesday at the Jeddah Superdome.

The governor toured the exhibition that showcases the architectural innovations of the city.

He was also briefed on how the city would help alleviate the critical environmental challenges facing humanity.

Last month, The Line’s designs were revealed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They showed the most important features of The Line, which is 200 meters wide, 170 kilometers long, and 500 meters high. It will eventually house 9 million people and have a 34 square kilometer footprint.

It will take up less land than other cities of comparable capacity and help to conserve 95 percent of NEOM’s land.

The Line imagines a future without streets, cars or emissions. It will be powered entirely by renewable energy and prioritize health and well-being over transportation and infrastructure.

The exhibition showcases all these aspects of the city. It opened on Aug. 1 and will be taken to other locations from Aug. 14, including Riyadh and the Eastern Province.

It offers 50 guided tours a day in Arabic and English.