Visitors see AlUla in new light during nighttime tours

Queen Shaklith Historical Re-enactment play taking place to familiarize the audience with Nabatean history (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Queen Shaklith Historical Re-enactment play taking place to familiarize the audience with Nabatean history (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Visitors see AlUla in new light during nighttime tours
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The Al-Farid tomb stands against a blanket of stars, as the visitors gather for stargazing. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 10 November 2021

Visitors see AlUla in new light during nighttime tours

Queen Shaklith Historical Re-enactment play taking place to familiarize the audience with Nabatean history (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
  • Ancient monuments illuminated as part of 4-week Hegra After Dark program

AlUla: Visitors to the ancient sites of AlUla are being offered the chance to see the Saudi destination in a whole new light — through a series of illuminated nighttime tours.

Tourism chiefs at the UNESCO World Heritage Site have launched a four-week program titled Hegra After Dark, allowing visits to some of the area’s most significant monuments.
The Royal Commission for AlUla came up with the idea for the star-lit trips while conducting tourist research during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown period.
Andrew Hall, the commission’s executive director for site and asset management, told Arab News: “COVID-19 has affected us in the past year. We have learned a lot about the sites over that time, and also learned that people like to visit places at night.




Hegra site illuminated with 2000-3000 electric candles (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“I think this is the first time we have activated it on a major scale, especially at Hegra. People get a different feeling of the place, and it is part of a strategy to attract people back for second visits.”
As part of the Awaken the Senses attraction, up to 3,000 battery operated candle lights have been set up around the tomb at Hegra to give onlookers a fresh perspective on the historic site.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Tourism chiefs at the UNESCO World Heritage Site have launched a four-week program titled Hegra After Dark, allowing visits to some of the area’s most significant monuments.

• Tourists arriving after sunset are greeted by people dressed in traditional clothing before going on to explore the grounds and then being served with warm Nabataean drinks made from locally grown ingredients.

Hall said: “Awaken the Senses is a way to visit, relax, and enjoy the ambiance in a beautifully lit-up place. The lights create a wonderful atmosphere; we don’t do heavy explanations or anything like that, we just want it to be a place of contemplation.”
By illuminating the heritage sites, officials hope to heighten the natural senses of visitors, helping them to experience what it must have like living there for the ancient Nabataeans.
Tourists arriving after sunset are greeted by people dressed in traditional clothing before going on to explore the grounds and then being served with warm Nabataean drinks made from locally grown ingredients.




Queen Shaklith Historical Re-enactment play taking place to familiarize the audience with Nabatean history (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Khulood Ahmad, a journalist visiting the site, said she had noticed a big difference from her previous trip to AlUla in 2018.
“It is very different from how you would see it during the daytime. The best way I can describe these sites at night is by saying that they are poetic. The weather made the experience so much better,” she added.
To add to the atmosphere, actors also perform a play about Nabataean history and the reign of Queen Shaqilat, a warrior empress, telling how the land and its people became prosperous as migrants were drawn to the oasis from other countries.




Queen Shaklith Historical Re-enactment play taking place to familiarize the audience with Nabatean history (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Battle scenes are also re-enacted, and visitors are led to Al-Farid Palace where they learn about the importance of the stars and night sky to the Nabataeans.
“It has come a long way and I can really see the effort put into every single detail of AlUla, from the hotels and food to the sites. I can also see the amazing opportunities on the horizon for the people of AlUla.
“It brings me joy to see the openness in AlUla that will give the locals a chance to show their land,” Ahmad said.


Police thwart attempt to smuggle 1 million amphetamine pills into Saudi Arabia

Major Muhammad Al-Nujaidi of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control said the drugs were found in the possession of two citizens. (SPA)
Major Muhammad Al-Nujaidi of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control said the drugs were found in the possession of two citizens. (SPA)
Updated 5 sec ago

Police thwart attempt to smuggle 1 million amphetamine pills into Saudi Arabia

Major Muhammad Al-Nujaidi of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control said the drugs were found in the possession of two citizens. (SPA)
  • Two citizens were arrested in Taif, initial legal measures have been taken against them

RIYADH: Police in Saudi Arabia thwarted an attempt to smuggle more than a million amphetamine tablets into the Kingdom, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Major Muhammad Al-Nujaidi of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control said the drugs were found in the possession of two citizens.

Al-Nujaidi said they were arrested in Taif, initial legal measures have been taken against them and they have been referred to the Public Prosecution.


Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses cooperation with Chinese defense minister

Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses cooperation with Chinese defense minister
Updated 18 min 37 sec ago

Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses cooperation with Chinese defense minister

Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses cooperation with Chinese defense minister
  • Prince Khalid and Wei Fenghe reviewed the historic ties between Saudi Arabia and China

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman and China’s Minister of National Defense discussed defense cooperation on Wednesday.

During a virtual meeting, Prince Khalid and Wei Fenghe reviewed the historic ties between Saudi Arabia and China.

The officials also explored ways to strengthen their military coordination. 


Saudi Arabia reports 4,526 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,526 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
Updated 26 January 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 4,526 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,526 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 617,114
  • A total of 8,927 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced three deaths from COVID-19 and 4,526 new infections on Wednesday.

Of the new cases, 1,489 were recorded in Riyadh, 472 in Jeddah, 198 in Hofuf, 194 in Makkah, 139 in Madinah, 137 in Dammam, and 119 in Jazan. Several other cities recorded less than one hundred new cases each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 617,114 after 5,772 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,927 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Nearly 56 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi justice minister discusses cooperation with British counterpart

Saudi justice minister discusses cooperation with British counterpart
Updated 26 January 2022

Saudi justice minister discusses cooperation with British counterpart

Saudi justice minister discusses cooperation with British counterpart
  • Al-Samaani said that the Kingdom has achieved great qualitative leaps during the past years through its transformational projects and developing and improving all sectors

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Justice Dr. Walid Al-Samaani has met his British counterpart Dominic Raab in London to discuss ways to enhance cooperation in the judicial and justice fields between the two ministries.

Al-Samaani said that the Kingdom has achieved great qualitative leaps during the past years through its transformational projects and developing and improving all sectors.

He told Raab that “the interest and support of the Kingdom’s leadership contributed to a qualitative developmental shift in the judicial and justice sector in the Kingdom at its substantive and procedural levels,” Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Samaani said this included applying the concept of institutional justice, activating the specialized judiciary, supporting human rights, and digitizing judicial services in courts and notaries.

He also touched on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent announcement to develop the specialized legislation system through four basic systems, including the system of evidence that was issued and will be implemented soon.

“This qualitative legislative development will achieve more justice, enhance judicial guarantees, will be consistent with international conventions, and responds to the digital and economic changes the world is witnessing by developing legal and preventive tools,” he said.

A number of British judicial leaders also attended the meeting and the visit is aimed at boosting mutual cooperation between the two countries in light of a memorandum of understanding signed between the two sides.
 


All the registrations and certificates you need to visit Saudi Arabia

Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 January 2022

All the registrations and certificates you need to visit Saudi Arabia

Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • Visitors face queues and quarantine for failing to match Saudi requirements

RIYADH: There are certain travel requirements that Saudis, expats and tourists need for entering Saudi Arabia.

The main requirement is a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) negative test certificate, issued from a verified laboratory no more than 72 hours before departure to the Kingdom.

Travelers will also need vaccination certificates from Tawakkalna, and registration on the Muqeem and Quddum platforms.

Upon arrival, all travelers will have their temperature checked and they should be registered as immune from COVID-19.

FASTFACT

Quddum allows visitors to register and update their COVID-19-related health data at least 72 hours before arrival.

Immunity for non-Saudi citizens and non-residents as a fully vaccinated person over 12 with a booster dose from vaccines certified by the Kingdom and the World Health Organization, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, or one dose of Johnson and Johnson’s inoculation.

An airport official checking temperature of a passenger at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

All guests have to submit proof of their vaccination via the Quddum platform, which has been launched to facilitate entry procedures.

Quddum allows visitors to register and update their COVID-19-related health data at least 72 hours before arrival.

Immunity for Saudi citizens is defined by their status on the Tawakkalna App, whereas for expats it requires full vaccination, provided that any doses received outside the Kingdom are registered via the Ministry of Health Platform through https://eservices.moh.gov.sa/CoronaVaccineRegistration

Speaking to Arab News about his travel experience, Jennesse John, who works at the King Saud University, said: “I have returned from Kerala, India to Saudi Arabia along with my family recently. It went very smoothly since we had two doses of the vaccine in Saudi Arabia before we traveled on vacation.”

He added: “All we did was follow Saudi Arabia’s travel regulations closely.”

Hanouf Albalawi, in Riyadh, told Arab News: “My colleague made a mistake, and it was that she did not register in Muqeem before visiting the Kingdom. She said she didn’t know she had to.

“When she arrived in Saudi Arabia, she had to create a new Tawakkalna, and she only had one week to stay, so the issue she faced was that her status in the Tawakkalna app did not change for her entire stay, which was five days.

“She couldn’t visit any of the places she had in mind. We contacted Tawakkalna customer service to ask if there is anything we can do to make this process faster, but unfortunately, there was no other way.”

Faiz Al-Najdi, an engineer in Riyadh, told Arab News: “I recently returned from vacation with my wife from my home city Karachi, Pakistan. At Riyadh, airport departure processes went smoothly. I had to show them copies of PCR, vaccination details, copies of Tawakkalna and Sehaty. However, upon arrival in Karachi it was a mess.

“They demanded to see the vaccination details online on Tawakkalna, but it was not working; we failed to open it. Many people like us suffered because of this issue. I had a long argument with them as to why they were demanding to see it online when I was showing them the photocopies of the vaccination details from Tawakkalna. I told them we had traveled from Riyadh, where authorities had checked and allowed us to travel, then they were satisfied. This left them with no answer but let us proceed,” he said.

“Upon arrival at Riyadh airport, things were ok. The official at the immigration desk was polite. She checked the PCR and Tawakkalna papers. I had those ready with me, and she stamped our passports and let us go,” he added.

Ayman Hassan, an Egyptian expat working in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Many of my friends and colleagues recently returned from Egypt. The procedures at the airport, they said, went very smoothly. They didn’t take too much time since they had already taken the two vaccine doses in Saudi Arabia before traveling on their vacations. All they had to do was to carefully follow travel guidelines: Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report, vaccination certificates from Tawakkalna, and Muqeem registration.”