Rare watch exhibition in Riyadh start of ‘long-term relationship’ with Saudi collectors

Rare watch exhibition in Riyadh start of ‘long-term relationship’ with Saudi collectors
Paul Boutros, Head of Watches, Americas for Phillips, talking with Arab News about a special George Daniels pocketwatch from 1971. (AN Photo/Saad Aldossari)
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Updated 16 November 2021

Rare watch exhibition in Riyadh start of ‘long-term relationship’ with Saudi collectors

Rare watch exhibition in Riyadh start of ‘long-term relationship’ with Saudi collectors
  • Timepieces will be auctioned in New York next month
  • Brands at the Riyadh exhibition included Rolex, F.P. Journe, Richard Mille, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet

RIYADH: An exhibition of rare watches in Riyadh that brought together 165 timepieces from prestigious brands is the start of a “long-term relationship” with the Kingdom’s watch collector community, according to the UK auction house, Phillips.

Collectors and enthusiasts visited the gallery, organized by Saudi Arabia's Fashion Commission, at Tuwaiq Palace.




Tuwaiq Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia hosts government functions, state receptions, and cultural festivals that introduce Saudi arts and customs to the international community, built in 1985 by OHO Joint Venture. (AN Photo/Saad Aldossari)

The event, which started last Thursday and ran for three days, is one leg in an international tour for Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, the watches department of the British auction house.

Paul Boutros, Head of Watches, Americas for Phillips, said: “The Fashion Commission invited Phillips to collaborate on this event for the first time and we were absolutely thrilled. We hope this is the start of a long-term relationship where we can show the Saudi Arabia watch collector community the watches we have.”




Lot 110: Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 3700/1 from 1978, estimate: $100,000 - 200,000. (AN Photo/Zaid Khashogji)

The watches will be auctioned in New York next month. Brands at the Riyadh exhibition included Rolex, F.P. Journe, Richard Mille, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet.

One of the highlights showcased at Tuwaiq Palace was a George Daniels pocket watch.

Daniels, an English horologist famed for creating a watch mechanism called the coaxial escapement, is known in the watch collector community as the father of independent brands, Boutros explained. 

This modern escapement mechanism, hand-manufactured by Daniels, has been used by Swiss watchmaker Omega in most of its collections since 1999 and is considered the first innovation in escapements in 250 years.

Daniels only ever made 28 watches in his lifetime, which speaks to the rarity of the timepiece on offer.




Lot 102: George Daniels pocketwatch, handmade by Edward Hornby in 1971 with an estimate of $600,000 - 1,200,000. (AN Photo/Saad Aldossari)

The one on display was the fourth he made. “A one-minute tourbillon fitted with a chronometer escapement that makes it a really great precision timekeeper,” Boutros said. 

It is being offered for auction with an estimate of $600,000 to $1.2 million.

Boutros shared his passion for watch collecting with Arab News, as well as sharing insights into what made the watches on display in Riyadh so special.

He discovered his love for watches aged 10, when he and his father were walking back from a coin show and happened upon a watch boutique on Fifth Avenue in New York.




Paul Boutros, Head of Watches, Americas for Phillips. (AN Photo/Saad Aldossari)

“A sales lady invited us to come inside, she brought a pocket watch and opened up the caseback to show me the movement inside. Under the halogen lights in this warm, inviting atmosphere it was love at first sight,” he said. “As I saw the balance wheel ticking, the jewels of the movement, the gold bridges shining under the light, I had to learn as much as I can from that moment. 

“Our mission is to open as many people's eyes to the greatness of collectors’ watches. We have received so much joy and happiness in our lives from timepieces and we love to share that joy with others.”

This month Phillips held the Geneva Watch Auction XIV sale, showing 250 lots. Even with the pandemic, a world record for the highest auction result in history was shattered when 250 watches sold for a total of nearly $75 million, almost doubling the previous record set at a previous auction.

“We are all crazy about watches. We're passionate for them. Most of us were of different professions and chased our passion, quitting our careers to join this world of watches because we love them so much.”




Paul Boutros, Head of Watches, Americas for Phillips, talking with local clientele about some of the watches on display for the upcoming auction in New York. (AN Photo/Saad Aldossari)

Boutros said Phillips’ ethos in selecting watches was centered around their team of passionate watch collectors, who only chose watches for auction that they themselves would buy.

“It's not about the transaction, it's about making people happy with timepieces, we have a very, very high selection criteria in what we choose. So we reject 80 to 90 percent of the watches proposed to us because they don't meet our quality thresholds.”

He called this a “collector mentality” that ensured people were happy with the timepieces offered.  

“We do things very differently, we follow our own path, we don't look at what our competitors are doing. We do what we feel is right for the collector community, for our clients. And, as I mentioned, we are very passionate for watches.”




Paul Newman's Rolex Daytona gifted to him by his wife around 1968 and sold for $17.8 million in a Phillips auction in 2017. (File/Getty Images)

Their inaugural watch auction, “Winning Icons” in 2017, saw the world-record sale at the time of $17.8 million for a vintage Rolex Daytona worn by actor and race car driver Paul Newman. It was gifted to him by his wife Joanne Woodward, around 1968, as he was falling in love with motorsports. 

“That really started it all,” Boutros said. “As we know Riyadh has a large percentage of collectors who are passionate for watches, but perhaps they haven't been exposed to the types of watches we offer at auction. The enthusiasm, the passion, the number of serious collectors we encountered, makes us really eager to do more here.

"With the help of the Fashion Commission and with the help of the collector community here, we definitely look forward to continuing the collaborations and doing more events here for the foreseeable future.”


King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees
Updated 59 min 32 sec ago

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees
  • Afforestation project at Rawdat Tinhat oasis is part of a goal to plant 5 million seedlings by 2025
  • Reserve was established in 2018 to preserve vulnerable and endangered plant and animal species

RIYADH: A major afforestation project is underway in Rawdat Tinhat, with 100,000 trees planted in the first phase alone.

The scheme is being handled by the Cooperative Society of Moringa and Desert Plants after being approved by the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification and the King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve.

The reserve’s CEO Maher Al-Gothmi told Arab News that the aim was to plant 5 million trees by 2025.

Rawdat Tinhat is one of the largest green oases in the Arabian Peninsula into which several valleys flow. Located about 180 km north of Riyadh, within the royal reserve, it is home to many tree and plant species, including acacias and daisies.

The afforestation project is one of several agreed by the center with environmental associations to plant trees and shrubs in parks, valleys and other areas in the Riyadh, Qassim and Hail regions.

The projects reflect the center’s efforts to support nonprofit organizations and community partnerships, and align with its aim to increase green areas and reduce desertification, leading to sustainable development and improving quality of life as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.

The reserve is working with the Special Forces for Environmental Security and other groups to plant 500,000 seedlings in seven stages that will be irrigated using the water harvesting method. The 100,000 seedlings planted in the first phase included ghaf, talh, al-rimth and al-arfaj.

The royal reserve was established in 2018 to preserve vulnerable and endangered plant and animal species, and provide access to the environment and natural resources. It encompasses Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs and Noura parks, as well as parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, and covers about 28,000 sq. km.

Al-Gothmi said the reserve was working to increase vegetation cover and reduce desertification through various initiatives, including the use of drones to disperse 300,000 seeds of the wild sidr plant as part of the “Let’s make it green” campaign.

Ibrahim Arif, an environmental expert and former professor of forest sciences at King Saud University, said that one of the most important factors in the afforestation process was maintenance.

As well as having a specialist team to undertake the planting work it was vital to implement a maintenance program to ensure the success of the afforestation process, he said.

A successful afforestation project was an investment that could provide not only a food source for wild animals, but also opportunities for beekeeping and other activities of economic value, he added.

Arif emphasized the importance of planting seedlings, rather than more developed trees, as they had more time to adapt to their new environment and could cope better with temperature changes.


Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh

Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh
Updated 27 January 2022

Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh

Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh
  • Firefighters are working to extinguish the flames

RIYADH: A fire has broken out in warehouses at an industrial zone in Riyadh, Saudi Civil Defense said on Thursday.

Firefighters are working to extinguish the flames, it added in a tweet.


Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22

Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22
Updated 27 January 2022

Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22

Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22
  • According to the royal decree, this will enable the public to celebrate Muhammad bin Saud’s successors.

RIYADH: King Salman on Thursday issued a royal order announcing that Feb. 22 will henceforth be known as Founding Day.

The new annual national holiday, which will be celebrated for the first time next month, has been created to recognize the foundation of the First Saudi State in 1727 by Imam Mohammed ibn Saud.

Ancestors of the Saudi royal family first settled alongside Wadi Hanifah in the 15th century, founding the city of Diriyah in 1446.

But it was the determination of Imam Mohammed in 1727 to transform the city state into a nation state, bringing peace and unity to the wider Arabian Peninsula, that two centuries later culminated in the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz in 1932.

The significance of the year 1727 in the story of Saudi Arabia has become ever more apparent in the light of extensive research carried out by historians and archaeologists.

In 2010, such work led to the At-Turaif district of Diriyah, birthplace of the nation, being inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a site of “outstanding universal value.”

Since then, research has continued under the auspices of King Abdulaziz Foundation for Reserach and Archives and the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), which in 2017 began transforming Diriyah into a global heritage and cultural destination, with the historic site of At-Turaif at its heart.

“Many historians have neglected the initial period of Imam Mohammed ibn Saud’s rule and the preceding era, even though this was the foundational period of the state,” said Dr. Badran Al-Honaihen, associate director of historical research and studies at DGDA.

In 1446, Manaa' Al-Muraide, leader of the Marada clan of the Al-Duru tribe of the Banu Hanifah, led his people inland from their home near Qatif on the Gulf coast at the invitation of his cousin, Ibn Dir, the ruler of Hajr — modern-day Riyadh.

Wadi Hanifah, where they settled and where the city of Diriyah would later rise, was named after the Banu Hanifah.

Dr. Badran said Al-Muraide’s arrival “laid the building blocks for the establishment of the greatest state in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, after the Prophetic State and the Rashidun Caliphate.”

But another 300 years would pass before, in 1720, Saud ibn Mohammed assumed the leadership of Diriyah. In the process, he founded the House of Saud, but historians date the origin of the First Saudi State to 1727, when Saud’s son, Mohammed, became ruler of the city state.

His achievement, according to Dr. Badran, was even more remarkable because “he assumed power in exceptional circumstances.” Diriyah had been riven by internal divisions and plague had claimed many lives in the Najd. Nevertheless, “Imam Mohammed was able to unite Diriyah under his rule and to contribute to the spread of stability in the region,” he said.

Founding Day, Dr. Badran added, was not an alternative to National Day, which is celebrated every Sept. 23, but complementary to it.

“Founding Day is not intended to replace Saudi National Day, which celebrates the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, but rather to recognize the beginning of the Saudi state’s history with a new event that celebrates the deep historical roots of the Kingdom.”


Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
Updated 27 January 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 622,087
  • A total of 8,929 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 4,738 new infections on Thursday.

Of the new cases, 1,559 were recorded in Riyadh, 573 in Jeddah, 189 in Dammam, 172 in Hofuf, 156 in Makkah, and 114 in Jazan. Several other cities recorded less than one hundred new cases each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 622,087 after 4,973 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,929 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 56.2 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia

Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia
Updated 27 January 2022

Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia

Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia
  • Dale Shannon, his wife Jenny and son Noah have been exploring remote parts of the Kingdom for two years and now have 25,000 fans on YouTube who follow their exploits

JEDDAH: Intrepid expats Dale Shannon, his wife Jenny and their son Noah are on a mission to explore Saudi Arabia and reveal to the world the country’s natural beauty, incredible landscape and authentic culture.

They have been going on epic adventures that take them off the beaten track across the Kingdom for almost two years, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of friends they describe as “a united team.”

They film their trips and experiences, and Jenny edits the footage to create entertaining travelogues that are uploaded to the couple’s YouTube channel, called Epic Everyday Adventures. Launched in August 2020, it now has more than 25,000 subscribers and has become particularly popular with Saudi viewers.

“We are so humbled to know how viewers have been inspired by our travels through some of the most remote parts of Saudi Arabia,” Dale told Arab News. “With more than 45 videos of adventures, we have seen families and individuals alike find inspiration and education through sharing our story and experiences.”

Dale, a US national who works in the aerospace industry as an aircraft mechanic and advisor, said he came to the Kingdom in 2015 to experience life in another country and grow as a person. Jenny, a nurse from the Philippines, came to work in Saudi Arabia in 2009. The couple married in 2016 and Noah, was born in Tabuk in 2017. They said they fell in love not only with each other but also their adopted country.

Dale said he comes from a small town in the US and grew up camping and hiking. Jenny, on the other hand, who grew up in a city and wanted to experience the great outdoors.

“Being outdoors and exploring nature really creates some positive character traits and memories, and we wanted to share and create our own experiences with Noah and give him an opportunity to grow up with those amazing outdoor adventures,” said Dale.

Along the way, he added, they have made some great friends.

“One of the things that makes Saudi Arabia really pull on our hearts is how easy it is to meet new people and become real friends,” said Dale. “People here really seem to genuinely care about each other and are some of the most welcoming people we have been fortunate enough to experience.

“One of the things we enjoy the most about our YouTube channel is how many awesome people we have been able to meet here in Saudi Arabia and establish personal relationships with.

“People here really seem to genuinely care about each other and are some of the most welcoming people we have been fortunate enough to experience.”

The idea for exploring the length and breadth of Saudi Arabia came to the couple about two years ago, after s trip to AlUla.

“We had gone on a tour to AlUla in early 2020, around February,” said Dale. “We enjoyed the scenery and the places and the desert so much that after that trip we knew that we wanted to continue and explore more. So, definitely our AlUla experience was the turning point that motivated and inspired us to explore more.”

Shannon had some vacation time saved up and Jenny, who was by then a stay-at-home mom, learned how to become a videographer and editor to produce their YouTube videos. They also invested in proper equipment and a new vehicle suitable for off-road exploring and began their adventure of a lifetime.

“After our AlUla trip, we bought some gear and changed our vehicle to a proper off-road exploring vehicle, a Nissan Patrol Super Safari, and we slowly started exploring the Kingdom.

“We fell in love with the landscapes, the open-air museum of history you find here and the hospitality and friendliness of the people of all areas … and then we started exploring. We just became naturally curious to see and know more.”

Venturing into the desert wilderness is not easy and requires a financial investment. As their videos grew in popularity the Shannons last year joined Patreon, a platform that provides content creators with the tools to build a subscription service for fans of their work. For the Shannons, it means that people who enjoy their videos can contribute toward the costs of creating future content. They said that about 70 percent of their supporters on Patreon are Saudi.

“We are so thankful for their support and hope to grow our small Patreon family so we can continue these adventures,” said Dale.

“It is expensive to take trips as much as we do. We don’t have any sponsors or anything like that, so up until recently we financed our own adventures so that we could continue sharing our experiences here in Saudi Arabia. We are thankful for the support of our small Patreon family.”

There have been some challenging moments during the family’s adventures, including a worrying incident during a journey through Al-Nafud Al-Kabir (The Great Desert) this month, when they were accompanied by other members of their team.

“We had prepared for this trip six months in advance,” said Dale. “This was the final leg of our overlanding trip. The terrain is difficult and full of sand dunes. We entered the desert just north of Hail and drove about 230km into the desert through the sand dunes. There was no cell service.

“We camped for three nights and drove for three days. The trip through the desert consumed most of our fuel and for some, all of their fuel.

“The stress you face and the quick decisions that have to be made are really challenging but, at the end of the day, it is so rewarding. I am happy our overlanding team trusted me enough to let me lead the expedition through Al-Nafud.”

His family has done so much traveling in the Kingdom during the past two years that Shannon said it is hard to keep count of their destinations.

“I am not exactly sure on the number of places we visited, but we drive everywhere we go and we have driven from Haql in the northwest all the way down to Fayfa in the south, and everywhere in between,” he said. “We have been from Hail down to Riyadh and in between. We hope to get enough time in the future to make it to the north and the east of the Kingdom.”

Wherever they have traveled in Saudi Arabia, Shannon said he has never felt concerned for the safety of his family.

“I mention this on many occasions in our videos because in comparison to most places I have been around the world, it’s extremely safe here and this is part of the reason we feel so comfortable exploring here,” he said.

In fact the most difficult aspect of the experience in Saudi Arabia so far has been language barrier.

“It would be really great to be able to learn Arabic,” he added.

Both Shannon and his wife said they adapted easily to life in Saudi Arabia after leaving their home countries behind.

“We found it to be quite easy transitioning to living in a foreign country,” he said. “I think part of the reason is because we had set our minds that this is what we wanted to do, but also because we both really fell in love with the people and the culture here in Saudi Arabia — those two things made the transition extremely easy.”

Asked if he had any advice for newcomers to the Kingdom or people considering moving there, Shannon said: “My advice to others moving to Saudi Arabia is always to come with an open mind, embrace the culture and the people, and once you arrive and settle in, go out there and meet people and get to know the people of Saudi Arabia. It will be one of the best things you have ever done.”