COVID-19 booster dose will be required to maintain fully vaccinated status in Saudi Arabia

COVID-19 booster dose will be required to maintain fully vaccinated status in Saudi Arabia
As of February 1,2022, adults aged 18 and above will need to have their booster dose in order to keep their fully vaccinated status on the Tawakkalna application. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 December 2021

COVID-19 booster dose will be required to maintain fully vaccinated status in Saudi Arabia

COVID-19 booster dose will be required to maintain fully vaccinated status in Saudi Arabia
  • As of February 1, adults in Kingdom will be required to have a booster dose to keep their fully vaccinated status

RIYADH: People in Saudi Arabia will be required to receive a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine eight months after getting double-jabbed to maintain their vaccinated status.

As of February 1, 2022, adults aged 18 and above will need to have a booster dose in order to keep their fully vaccinated status on the Tawakkalna application, an interior ministry source said.

Having a fully vaccinated status on the app allows people to do the following:

1. Take part in any economic, commercial, cultural, sports or tourist activity.

2. Attend any cultural, scientific, social or recreational event.

3. Enter any governmental or private establishment.

4. Travel on planes and public transport.

Those exempt from taking the vaccine against coronavirus as listed on the app do not need to take the booster dose.

The source stressed the need for everyone to adhere to all precautionary and preventive measures and approved health protocols.


Saudi Arabia reports 5,505 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 5,505 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi Arabia reports 5,505 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 5,505 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 569,296
  • A total of 8,908 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 5,505 new infections on Monday.

Of the new cases, 1,546 were recorded in Riyadh, 835 in Jeddah, 440 in Makkah, 326 in Madinah, 149 in Dammam, 117 in Al-Khobar, 115 in Taif, 102 in Hofuf, and 100 in Al-Lith. Several other cities recorded less than one hundred new cases each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 569,296 after 4,349 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,908 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 54 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Coalition destroys 3 drones near Saudi Arabia’s southern border: state TV

Coalition destroys 3 drones near Saudi Arabia’s southern border: state TV
Updated 48 min 29 sec ago

Coalition destroys 3 drones near Saudi Arabia’s southern border: state TV

Coalition destroys 3 drones near Saudi Arabia’s southern border: state TV

DUBAI: The Coalition fighting to restore legitimacy in Yemen said Monday that it destroyed three drones launched in the direction of southern Saudi Arabia, according to Al-Ekhbariya TV.

“We have observed and are following a hostile escalation by the Houthis using drones,” the coalition said. 

The bloc said some of the bomb-laden drones were launched from Sanaa International Airport.

The US embassy in Yemen denounced the Houthi militia’s military escalation, labeling it as a destabilizing act.  
In an earlier incident claimed by the Houthis, three people were killed in an explosion and subsequent fire involving three petroleum tankers at an ADNOC storage plant in Abu Dhabi.


International ice skaters laud Riyadh Season as Cirque de Glace show draws to close

International ice skaters laud Riyadh Season as Cirque de Glace show draws to close
Updated 17 January 2022

International ice skaters laud Riyadh Season as Cirque de Glace show draws to close

International ice skaters laud Riyadh Season as Cirque de Glace show draws to close

RIYADH: One of Riyadh Season’s newest shows, Cirque de Glace, has proved a hit with audiences at the International Arena in Boulevard Riyadh City, one of the festival’s 14 zones.

Extravagant costumes, choreographed numbers, and special effects all tie together the show’s theme of the journey of human development.

Cirque de Glace performer, Alfonso Campa, told Arab News: “Cirque de Glace is an astonishing show with an amazing cast. All of the skaters are international and are all professionals performing an amazing show now in the Riyadh Season here in Saudi Arabia.”

The show’s organizers noted that Cirque de Glace was a separate French entity inspired by the Canadian circus, Cirque de Soleil. The ice show has been touring for more than 12 years around the world in 14 different countries including Saudi Arabia, India, the UK, Argentina, America, and Australia, and takes visitors on a journey through time of the planet’s evolution.

Campa from Mexico and Mery Acevedo from Argentina are two of the performers behind Flying on Ice, a figure skating duo who are the aerial performers in Cirque de Glass. The two have been performing together for more than 10 years and have brought their expertise to the ice in Riyadh.

Acevedo said: “I am a figure skater, but my main role is the aerial act with my partner, it’s a very tricky number, and people love to see skaters flying through the air.

“The audience is great, it seems like they’re really enjoying it, and just the smiles on their faces is what makes us happier and all of the work that goes into it is worth it,” she added.

The cast of 29 skaters that make up the show have been traveling around the world performing and made their debut in Riyadh Season on Dec. 27.

Campa is a fourth-generation circus performer and has been skating, juggling, and performing circus skills such as trampoline and acrobatics globally since the age of three.

On the Riyadh crowds, he said: “They get so excited when they see us flying and skating at the same time. We think the audience here is just amazing.”

Tour manager, Rob McClelland, said the show had been staged for years but due to the coronavirus pandemic many of the original cast had changed.

“We’ve been developing Cirque de Glace shows for about 12 years now, and we’ve traveled the world with our international team,” he added.

McClelland said: “Communication and equipment are the most challenging, whether that be the ice or lighting, but this has been a really good show for us here, and it’s been really easy to get on with it.

“We have taken the show to more than 14 countries, and it’s been a real pleasure to come to Saudi Arabia and Riyadh Season with the General Entertainment Authority.”

The show is in its final week as a part of Riyadh Season and Campa thanked festival organizers for their support and hospitality.

“We just want to say thank you to Riyadh Season for bringing this amazing show to audiences in Saudi Arabia, and we hope to come back soon,” he added.


King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies
Updated 17 January 2022

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies
  • The project aims to train more than 1,000 employees in 20 ministries and government agencies, through 40 training courses

RIYADH: The King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language has implemented a draft language policy guide for Saudi government institutions.
The move aims to activate decisions related to the language within government bodies, and to develop awareness among workers of the importance of linguistics and its connection to decisions and regulations at various levels.
It also aims to provide procedural steps and an executive working guide that preserves the Arabic language’s position in government institutions, the academy said in a statement.
The project aligns with the academy’s strategic goals, preserving the integrity of Arabic and supporting it verbally and in writing, and developing policies, strategies, plans and programs.
It includes a review of the Saudi language policy, based on various regulations and legislation, and also includes an executive guide for language editing in government institutions.
The project is one of the initiatives of the Human Capacity Development Program, one of the programs of Vision 2030, and aims to train more than a thousand employees in 20 ministries and government agencies, through 40 training courses, focused on two main topics: Writing skills for administrators and the basic rules of Arabic writing.
The two topics were chosen based on a study of specific needs in functional language situations.
The first training courses for the project have already begun, and several were held in coordination with the ministries of culture, education, and Islamic affairs. Courses last for two days, with an average of eight training hours.


Investor interest in Saudi hotel sector is growing, so why are there so few rooms outside cities?

 According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
Updated 16 January 2022

Investor interest in Saudi hotel sector is growing, so why are there so few rooms outside cities?

 According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
  • Hotel industry experts shed light on planning strategies, expansion portfolios and other challenges in the sector

RIYADH: In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of businesses whose owners are interested in investing in the hotel sector in Saudi Arabia. Yet at the same time, many observers continue to wonder why there are still so few hotels outside of the Kingdom’s major cities.

Amir Lababedi, Hilton’s managing director of development in the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Saudi Arabia represents our largest development pipeline in the Middle East, with plans to expand our presence to more than 75 hotels in the coming years.
“We plan to expand in locations across major primary and secondary cities across Saudi Arabia. We see potential for our mid-market Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn brands, as well as for DoubleTree by Hilton and our lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton.”
Meanwhile, Radisson Hotel Group announced this week that it plans to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and increase its investment portfolio in the Middle East to approximately half of its total investments by 2026.

There is a big demand for hotels classified as three or four stars. The local population, as well as visitors — pilgrims, tourists, and businessmen — prefers three- or four-star hotels as these are available all around and are very affordable for the general public. Commercially, their operating cost is lower and thus they generate more revenue than a five-star hotel.

Saleh Al-Habib, Executive director, Jiwar Real Estate Development

According to Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb: “Radisson Hotel Group’s commitment to developing new hotels in the Kingdom and opening a regional office in Riyadh is an effective contribution to strengthening the Kingdom’s steps to achieve its goal of receiving 100 million visitors by 2030.”
Mahmoud Al-Saeed, the general manager of Pereira Resorts in the Eastern Province, which is managed by Boudl Hotels and Resorts, said the company aims to cater to all sections of society.
“Given that a large segment of society prefers three-star hotels for their quality and reasonable prices, the company has created a chain of Aber hotels,” he said. “It launched the brand in 2018 to meet the needs of many with a group of modern hotels, in terms of design and concept, at affordable prices while ensuring high quality and professionalism in providing services.”

Dr. Saleh Al-Habib, executive director of Jiwar Real Estate Development

The three-star Aber hotels are “situated between hotel apartments and four-star hotels,” according to Al-Saeed. “The economic concept that Boudl is keen to present with this group of hotels has become an important matter for many travelers and those looking for a change in the usual lifestyle,” he added.
Boudl also owns the four-star Pereira hotels and the five-star Narcissus. Al-Saeed said the company has plans for expansion in major cities, and to increase the number of three-star hotels in a number of Saudi cities. These hotels are experiencing an influx of tourists from inside and outside the country, he added.
Al-Saeed, who has worked in the industry for nearly two decades, said that hotels currently face a number of challenges, particularly “in light of the precautions against COVID-19. These include the postponement of many events which usually take place in hotels and the cancellation of reservations for halls used for celebrations or official meetings, due to the coronavirus and its accompanying problems.”
He added that the authorities in Saudi Arabia are aware of the issues and are working to develop the hotel sector.

 Fadil Munakeal, manager of Jabal Omar Jumeirah in Makkah

Thamer Alrajeeb, a former member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Tourism Accommodation Committee, said investment in the tourism sector in major cities is encouraging, particularly in Riyadh in support of the Saudi Entertainment Authority initiatives. It is not profitable in other cities, however, where operations are seasonal during a period of a few months each year, usually coinciding with school holidays or good weather.
“For the rest of the year, operation is a loss for the investor,” he said.

FASTFACT

Radisson Hotel Group announced this week that it plans to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and increase its investment portfolio in the Middle East to approximately half of its total investments by 2026.

Alrajeeb described investing in hotels other than five-star establishments as “feasible.” He said the lower operational costs and prices are affordable to a wider range of guests but added that “many of the Ministry of Tourism’s requirements burden investors.”
He said it is possible to meet the needs of visitors with average levels of financial solvency, particularly outside the three cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. This can be done by investing in hotel suites in particular, which are characterized by low startup costs, “allowing for their rental prices to be more commensurate with the solvency of a wide range of travelers.”
The cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector while fulfilling the Ministry of Tourism’s requirements, Alrajeeb said, adding that the focus should be on efforts that contribute to raising quality in the sector and meeting the needs of customers.
Fadil Munakeal, manager of the Jabal Omar Jumeirah hotel in Makkah, stressed the importance of providing products and services that correspond to a hotel’s star rating, which he said reflects positively on investment in the sector. He urged the Ministry of Tourism to continue its supervision and follow up efforts to achieve reliability in the sector and improve the image and perception of all types of hotels.
Munakeal, who is also a member of the Hotels Committee of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged the owners of less expensive establishments, particularly in the three-star and lower categories, to invest in modern marketing techniques and direct them at particular target groups. They must also develop products and services that meet the needs of these target audiences, he added.
He said many domestic tourists, particularly families, prefer to stay in hotel apartments because they have a negative perception of some hotels with fewer than four stars.
Saleh Al-Habib, executive director of Jiwar Real Estate Development, said: “There is a big demand for hotels classified as three or four stars. The local population, as well as visitors — pilgrims, tourists, and businessmen — prefers three- or four-star hotels as these are available all around and are very affordable for the general public.
“Commercially, their operating cost is lower and thus they generate more revenue than a five-star hotel.
“This is a popular choice for almost all classes of society, especially the middle and lower-middle classes. The availability of such hotels and semi-luxurious apartments is numerous. With affordable tariffs, they meet the needs of families, business travelers, as well as those seeking leisure.”
Al-Habib, who is also a member of the Saudi Association for Tourist Accommodation Facilities, said that both locals and expatriates are interested in establishing hotels and furnished apartments in areas such as Abha, Al-Baha, Tabuk, Hafar Al-Batin, Al-Majma’ah and Al-Kharj.
“These interested entrepreneurs are working closely with the National Tourism Fund,” he added.