Ubayyah horse festival to showcase Saudi equestrian heritage

The International Equestrian Resort in Riyadh, the location of the Ubayyah in Diriyah festival. (AN Photo/Zaid Khashogji)
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The International Equestrian Resort in Riyadh, the location of the Ubayyah in Diriyah festival. (AN Photo/Zaid Khashogji)
Prince Salman bin Faisal bin Salman, chairman of the festival’s higher committee, announces the launch of the 2nd Ubayyah in Diriyah, in partnership with Diriyah Gate Development Authority. (Supplied)
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Prince Salman bin Faisal bin Salman, chairman of the festival’s higher committee, announces the launch of the 2nd Ubayyah in Diriyah, in partnership with Diriyah Gate Development Authority. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 January 2022

Ubayyah horse festival to showcase Saudi equestrian heritage

Ubayyah horse festival to showcase Saudi equestrian heritage
  • The most prominent event will be the International Championship for Purebred Arabian Horses

RIYADH: A horse festival launched in Riyadh on Monday will bring together more than 350 horses to make it the largest international gathering of horses in the region.

Ubayyah in Diriyah takes place on Jan. 10 and runs for eight days at the International Equestrian Resort, under the patronage of Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

The festival, in partnership with the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, aims to showcase the beauty of purebred Arabian horses to the world, as part of the Kingdom’s cultural initiatives for Vision 2030.

“This festival is about highlighting the harmony between man and horse, and through different activities and shows, demonstrate how the horse has played a strategic role in aiding our founders to expand and conquer these lands,” said Prince Salman bin Faisal bin Salman Al-Saud, chairman of the festival’s higher committee. “We want our youth and our guests to know and cherish the deep value they have in the Kingdom.”

He said the festival aimed to take place at least once a year, every year, as the horse played a significant role in preserving the Kingdom’s identity. He hoped that the festival, using modern ways, would evoke the emotions that tied locals back to their forefathers.

Horse-riding shows will be staged to illustrate the harmony between humans and horses, along with cavalry shows. The festival will also include art competitions, live music, shops and restaurants, and many other events including the Ubayyah Experience, similar to the dining, wellness and hospitality concept of Sadu Escape in AlUla.

The most prominent event will be the International Championship for Purebred Arabian Horses, expected to take place on the third day of the festival, with the participation of 350 horses from different Arab countries and prizes worth more than SR2 million ($532,730).

The name of the festival comes from a famous stallion that belonged to the founder of the Kingdom, King Abdulaziz.

Visitors attending the opening will experience a horse auction called the Pride of Diriyah containing rare, purebred Arabian horses, with some of the proceeds going to charity.

They will also have the chance to see direct descendants of famous horses that were owned by Imam Faisal and King Abdulaziz, as well as taking advantage of a horse-riding area for all ages.


Sandstorm blankets Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh in grey haze

Sandstorm blankets Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh in grey haze
Updated 22 sec ago

Sandstorm blankets Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh in grey haze

Sandstorm blankets Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh in grey haze
RIYADH: A sandstorm engulfed Saudi Arabia’s capital and other regions of the desert kingdom Tuesday, hampering visibility and slowing road traffic.
A thick grey haze made iconic Riyadh buildings such as Kingdom Center nearly impossible to see from more than a few hundred meters (yards) away, though there were no announced flight delays or cancelations.
The kingdom’s meteorology center forecast “surface dusty winds” in the country’s east and in Riyadh, “reducing horizontal sight,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
Dusty conditions were also expected farther west in the holy cities of Makkah and Medina, according to the forecast.
Electronic signs along Riyadh’s highways warned drivers to reduce their speed because of the lower visibility.
In central Riyadh, sand layered cars and buildings, and residents struggled to keep it out of their homes.
“Working outside is very difficult because of the dirt,” a Pakistani construction worker who gave his name as Kalimullah told AFP as he installed tiles.
“I try to wash my face from time to time,” the 30-year-old added, wrapping a piece of cloth around his face to block the sand.
Saudi office worker Abdullah Al-Otaibi said he was grateful he works indoors.
“Dust storms are part of our culture and we are used to it, but some of them are severe,” said Al-Otaibi, 39, rubbing his eyes as he hurried into his office building.
Parts of Saudi Arabia typically see sandstorms between March and May, with varying intensity. The frequency of the storms has increased in recent months in the region.
Neighbouring Iraq has experienced eight sandstorms since mid-April, a phenomenon fueled by soil degradation, intense droughts and low rainfall linked to climate change.
In Iran on Tuesday, government offices and schools and universities were closed in many provinces due to “unhealthy weather” and sandstorms, state media reported.

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation
Updated 44 min 2 sec ago

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation
  • Glass ceilings being broken as women become an integral part of the changes underway
  • Gender stereotypes and gender bias are fast disappearing as more women enter the labor force

DUBAI: As Saudi Arabia continues to undergo significant economic and social reforms, its women and youth find themselves at the heart of this profound change.

With several initiatives transforming the Saudi economy, workplace and society among other things, the role of Saudi women has become an integral part of this.

The above observations were made by Sarah Al-Tamimi, vice chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, and Noor Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief at Arab News, ahead of their participation in a panel discussion entitled “Saudi Women Pioneers: Change from Within” at the Arab Women’s Forum in Dubai on May 17.

In Nugali’s opinion, Saudi women have always been strong, resilient and extremely hardworking, regardless of their occupations. The difference today, in her view, is that they have the opportunities that were not available before the launch of Vision 2030.

“We had trailblazers, we had women who fought to make their way in this world and pave that road for their successors,” she said.

Arab News’ assistant editor-in-chief Noor Nugali, left, moderates the Storytellers From The War Front session at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai.

“Now we see more Saudi women reaching high positions, more Saudi women shining in different fields. It was not because of a lack of talent in the past but a lack of opportunity, which now has come to light. So now we can see many more women joining the workforce in senior positions.”

The foundation for future female leaders in Saudi Arabia rests on a number of pillars. In addition to ambition and hope, having a very strong support system – from family, friends and role models they can learn from — is crucial. “Saudi society is very tight-knit,” Nugali said.

“It’s a large community and both women and men need that support system — we’re also talking about equality, which means giving the opportunity to the best person, regardless of gender.

“The Saudi leadership’s brilliant Vision 2030 has created a strategy to level the playing field for the work force and have the most qualified candidates chosen.”

Nugali underscored the importance of equality and opportunity for all, saying: “Don’t hire women to fill a quota. Hire the most qualified, whether male or female, and give them all equal chances. That is what our vision is about.”

She believes gender stereotypes and gender bias, both conscious and unconscious, are fast disappearing, a process that was many years in the making. “I’m seeing this happen. It is momentous and marvelous that this is where we are because we had a very sheltered life,” Nugali said.

“Now we’ve shattered the glass ceiling, and this was something we’ve been waiting for a very long time. The only challenge is believing in yourself and working hard in order to attain what you aspire to be. You have to be focused, you have to have a huge support system, you have to believe in yourself and know that it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s part of growing, learning and excelling.”

Sarah Al-Tamimi, vice chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. (Supplied)

Al-Tamimi, who is also the deputy president of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission, said women in the Kingdom are currently experiencing a golden age, with opportunities expanding at a more dramatic pace than at any other point in the country’s history. She added that the Saudi government is playing an active role in ensuring that women realize these opportunities.

“Several reforms have been implemented to incentivize women to enter the labor market and also to protect their rights, from freedom of mobility and travel to anti-harassment laws and regulations,” she told Arab News.

“A lot has happened from a regulatory and legislative perspective.”

Many traditionally male-led sectors previously closed to women, such as construction, car repair shops and the police force, have also opened up to them in the past few years, providing them with massive opportunities.

“The work continues to ensure women’s participation across the board,” Al-Tamimi said. “And (the) creation of new opportunities for women in the workplace is definitely a significant component of Vision 2030.”

Saudi women jog in the streets of Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district on March 8, 2018. (AFP)

Labor equality and education will prove crucial to the advancement of women going forward, and with the Saudi government investing tremendous resources in young girls’ and women’s education, they now outnumber their male counterparts in university degrees.

In the workforce, women’s share of entrepreneurship is also rapidly growing, placing them at the heart of the Kingdom’s transformation, with the latest data from the General Authority for Statistics revealing that Saudi women make up 35 percent of the Saudi workforce.

“Women are reaching more and more leadership positions each day and this serves to spearhead further development,” Al-Tamimi said. “We need women in the labor market, they should be contributing, thriving and leading — we need to tap into the full potential of Saudi women and we’re seeing this every day in Saudi Arabia, women have so much to offer the country in terms of their capabilities and their talents.”


One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies

One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies
Yousef and Yassin had undergone a “complicated” 15-hour long surgery to separate several of their organs. (SPA)
Updated 17 May 2022

One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies

One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies
  • One of the conjoined Yemeni twins died after a severe drop in blood circulation and heart failure
  • The other twin is currently stable but is under observation

DUBAI: One of the conjoined Yemeni twins who underwent a separation surgery has died after a severe drop in blood circulation and heart failure, state news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday. 

The other twin is currently stable but is under observation in the Intensive Care Department of King Abdullah Specialist Paediatric Hospital in Riyadh, according to the Saudi team of specialized surgeons who performed the operation.

“The surgical team had faced great difficulties and challenges during the separation process, which made the deceased’s condition critical after the operation,” SPA reported.

Yousef and Yassin had undergone a “complicated” 15-hour long surgery to separate several of their organs under the directives of King Salman, the state media added. 

A team of 24 doctors, led by Dr. Mutasem Al-Zughaibi, took part in the operation as part of an initiative by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief). 

“This was a complex operation due to the twin sharing in the sinuses, cerebral venous and parts of the brain,” Dr Nazar Al-Zughaibi, head of pediatric anesthesia at the King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital at the National Guard Health Affairs in Riyadh, had told Arab News earlier.

The team specializes in pediatric neurosurgery, plastic surgery, anesthesia, and nursing were involved in the procedure that had to be carried out in several stages: anesthesia, navigation planning, preparing for surgery, skincare, and preparation for brain tissues, bone and reconstruction.


Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards celebrated upon return to Riyadh

Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 16 May 2022

Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards celebrated upon return to Riyadh

Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
  • ‘Our talented students are the true wealth of Saudi Arabia and the solid building blocks of our society’

RIYADH: Over 35 Saudi students who picked up 22 awards at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia, landed in Riyadh on Sunday and were greeted with a celebratory reception at King Khalid International Airport.

The ISEF 2022, held from May 7-13, saw the participation of pre-college students from over 80 countries in the biggest competition showcasing innovation in scientific research and advancement.

Student Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen, earning him the award for “Best Research Scientist,” in which he competed against over 1,700 submissions from students across 65 countries.

Girls received prizes in chemistry, material sciences, and embedded systems.

“The happiness I’m feeling for my son Abdullah can’t be described,” said Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi, the student’s father. “To see the vision of my Kingdom come true before my eyes and for my son to be a driving force behind realizing this vision is a feeling that truly can’t be described.”

Al-Ghamdi’s father told Arab News that his son would spend his time at a research center after school, where he became fascinated with the idea of how to store hydrogen efficiently. “The fruits of his hard work are seen today,” he said.

When the crown prince said that the Saudis’ strength was like that of the Tuwaiq Mountain, unbreakable, Mawhiba saw in his words a road map for its initiatives.

Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami, Mawhiba Secretary-General

Five other first-place prizes were awarded to Dana Al-Eithan and Maria Al-Ghamdi, who won in chemistry; Tahani Adel, who won in material sciences; and Yousef Khoja, who won in embedded systems.

Al-Eithan’s uncle, Abdulmunim Al-Eithan, told Arab News that the family was sitting on the couch when they heard the news and sprung into the air in excitement, cheering. “This is a result of her dedication to this field,” he said, adding that the 14-year-old had also previously won an award with SABIC for chemistry.

Six students — three Saudis and three Americans — were also granted scholarships to participate in an international enrichment program organized by King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, known as Mawhiba.

Thirteen students from the US, India and China were also awarded scholarships to study bachelor’s programs at King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals in chemistry, embedded systems, energy, physics and astronomy, robotics and material sciences.

The Kingdom was represented by the Ministry of Education and by Mawhiba.

Saudi Minister of Education Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh tweeted on Saturday: “I proudly congratulate my sons and daughters who won the International Science and Engineering Fair 2022. The Kingdom has won an unprecedented 22 awards with the support of our wise leadership — may God support it — and the unremitting efforts of their teachers and families. I am pleased to announce the provision of scholarships to the winning students in appreciation of this national achievement.”

Mawhiba Secretary-General Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami said that he is encouraging innovative students worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the world’s problems and preserve these resources for future generations.

He stressed that the Kingdom takes pride in its students, saying the country had harnessed its great potential to qualify them to compete effectively in international forums.

“When the crown prince said that the Saudis’ strength was like that of the Tuwaiq Mountain, unbreakable, Mawhiba saw in his words a road map for its initiatives,” he said.

“Our talented students are the true wealth of Saudi Arabia and the solid building blocks of our society. They are the real future that we are looking forward to, and their familiarity in all disciplines and specializations will push forward Saudi Vision 2030,” Al-Mathami added.

“The talented students excelled in all disciplines related to energy, climate change, medicine, biosciences, space, medical and environmental engineering, organic materials, technology, innovation, information engineering and artificial intelligence.

“They underwent extensive training for long hours and rigorous testing under the supervision of competent committees to honor Saudi Arabia in international forums.”


British experts to qualify Saudis in railway sector

The agreement was signed in presence of Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi, Saleh Al-Jasser, Wendy Morton, and other officials. (SPA)
The agreement was signed in presence of Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi, Saleh Al-Jasser, Wendy Morton, and other officials. (SPA)
Updated 17 May 2022

British experts to qualify Saudis in railway sector

The agreement was signed in presence of Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi, Saleh Al-Jasser, Wendy Morton, and other officials. (SPA)
  • More than 400 graduates will be able to work in various disciplines in the rail transport business

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aspires to strengthen its position as a global logistics hub connecting three continents, improve services and increase integration between logistics systems and modern modes of transportation.

Eng. Abdulaziz Al-Sugair, the director general of the Saudi Railway Polytechnic Institute, and Munir Jolamyehiya, the director general of the British X-Rail Group, signed a training agreement to train Saudis in the railway industry in the Kingdom.

The agreement was signed in presence of the chairman of the Saudi-British Joint Economic Committee, Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi, the Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh Al-Jasser, the UK Minister of Railways Wendy Morton, Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih, the chairman of the Public Transport Authority and the Saudi Railway Polytechnic Institute, and Saudi Deputy Minister of Transport and Logistics Services Eng. Badr Abdullah Al-Dalami.

FASTFACT

The agreement was signed in presence of the chairman of the Saudi-British Joint Economic Committee, Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi, Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh Al-Jasser, UK Minister of Railways Wendy Morton, Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih, the chairman of the Public Transport Authority and the Saudi Railway Polytechnic Institute, and Saudi Deputy Minister of Transport and Logistics Services Eng. Badr Abdullah Al-Dalami.

Al-Sugair said the collaboration with X-Rail Group is a new step towards the development of national skills in transportation, particularly rail transport services. He stated that the agreement intends to train and qualify high school graduates and equip them to work in a variety of industries. These include signaling, communication, and railway control systems, in order to assist the transportation labor market and meet the growing demand for specialist cadres in this industry.

Chairman of the Saudi-British Joint Economic Committee, Dr. Majed Abdullah Al-Qasabi pose for a group photo with Saudi and UK officials in Riyadh. (SPA)

The training term lasts 18 months, with 12 months spent at the institute and 6 months spent on the job at the company’s facilities, or on projects that it executes, operates, and maintains.

More than 400 graduates were able to work in various disciplines in the rail transport business since 2021, according to the institute.

Among the goals of the National Strategy for Transport and Logistics Services is to increase the total lengths of future railways to 8,080 km, including the “land bridge” project with a length of more than 1,300 km, which will have a capacity of more than 3 million passengers and more than 50 million tons of freight annually.

Other goals include connecting the Kingdom’s ports on the Arabian Gulf coast with the ports on the Red Sea coast. New and exciting opportunities for this line will be created by it passing through modern logistic centers, economic activity centers, industrial cities and mining operations, enhancing the Kingdom’s logistic performance index to be among the top ten in the world.

“Training plays a big role in employing job-seekers,” believes Awwad Al-Dhafeeri, CEO of Shabakat ABAD training Institute.

Awwad Al-Dhafeeri, CEO of Shabakat ABAD training Institute.

Al-Dhafeeri told Arab News that jobs that demand specific abilities necessitate greater training to master the work, pointing to the profound changes that have occurred in professions as a result of expanding technology.

In previous decades, job acceptance was based on simple skills, and employees would acquire further necessary skills with experience, but at the moment, most jobs are concentrated in the private sector, which prefers employees to already have the required skill, with the rate of job acceptance much higher for those who have training in modern-age areas than those who do not.

Al-Dhafeeri, who has spent about 15 years in the management of training centers, advises young people not to rely entirely on educational attainment during their years of study in order to get jobs, but rather to get the appropriate training during their studies, including universities so that they can compete after graduation.

Since “we live in an era of digital transformation and the use of technology in various areas of life where the machine has replaced the human,” and many employment opportunities have been lost, he said, young people must hone their skills through training related to technological skills, according to their competence.