Investors discuss Saudi fashion sector challenges

A fashion designer poses in one of her creations at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
A fashion designer poses in one of her creations at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
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Updated 22 January 2022

Investors discuss Saudi fashion sector challenges

A fashion designer poses in one of her creations at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Delegates discussed ways to tackle sector challenges including issues related to factories and their location, and rising production costs

RIYADH: Saudi Fashion Commission leaders recently held an open meeting with investors and others looking to invest in the country’s fashion and textile industry.

The virtual session, attended by the commission’s chief executive officer, Burak Cakmak, was one of a number of similar gatherings run by the organization with the Kingdom’s fashion community to enhance communication with stakeholders.

During the meeting, officials reviewed the commission’s main aims of promoting national heritage and identity, and meeting regional and international economic needs, through 12 sector initiatives.

They highlighted the important role played by the fashion sector in helping generate non-oil revenues for Saudi Arabia as part of the Vision 2030 reform plan and noted that in 2019 the clothing and textile industry in the Kingdom had been worth approximately SR75 billion ($20 billion).

Delegates discussed ways to tackle sector challenges including issues related to factories and their location, and rising production costs which were having a knock-on effect on product prices and market competition with cheap imported goods.

 

 


Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity

Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity
Updated 2 min 54 sec ago

Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity

Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity
  • Jeddah Season had events tailored to almost everyone, including Anime Village for fans of the art and Japanese culture, Jeddah Waves for water sports enthusiasts and cultural shows for art, music and theater lovers

JEDDAH: With its wide variety of daily shows, experiences, games, exhibitions and concerts, Jeddah Season was a resounding success, receiving over 5 million visitors from around 68 countries. 

More than 36 performances and events were held in the Kingdom for the first time. 

Jeddah Season had events tailored to almost everyone, including Anime Village for fans of the art and Japanese culture, Jeddah Waves for water sports enthusiasts and cultural shows for art, music and theater lovers. 

Inclusivity was a priority for Jeddah Season’s manager Nawaf Qomosani.

“We know that Jeddah’s people love the water and sea activities, and we also know that they love anime, so that’s why one of the main focuses was to provide international-standard events for these two segments,” he told Arab News.

“Besides that, we also wanted to focus on food and traditional events, and I hope that we covered all kinds of events within this season,” he added.

Qomosani said that organizers faced many challenges on a daily basis to maintain the high quality of events for visitors.

“We wanted to give them the best possible option every day, taking into consideration such factors as the weather and timing. With the great team we have, we overcame these challenges daily,” he said.

Qomosani believes that the City Walk, one of the nine zones, was the highlight of Jeddah Season.

“It had different events that appealed to everyone. You could find events for kids, adults, anime lovers, music lovers. I think that’s the perfect kind of zone that everyone wishes for,” he said.

Some zones such as Luna, Jeddah Superdome, Layalina Theatre, the Yacht Club, and Prince Majid Park will continue to operate after the season ends and until the end of the year. 

It is currently being discussed whether to extend the operation of zones Jeddah Waves and Jeddah June until the end of the year. 

In line with Vision 2030, Jeddah Season provided scores of economic and employment opportunities to more than 74,000 people, of which 80 percent were Saudis, in 14 different professional fields. 


City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 

City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 
Updated 20 min 36 sec ago

City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 

City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 
  • Audiences indulged in VR games, anime, costume contests and concerts

 JEDDAH: City Walk, one of the nine zones of Jeddah Season, concluded its activities today. 

Designed with unparalleled imagination, the nine sub-zones of City Walk — Entry Village, Food Hall, Fashion Village, Splash, Horror Village, Jeddah Live, Adventure, X-reality, and Anime Village — gave every visitor a fully integrated experience. 

Audiences indulged in a wide array of events, some of which had never before been seen in the Kingdom. 

(Supplied)

Alex Morgan-George, project manager of the X-reality games zone, said: “The X-reality was one of the most visited areas in City Walk. It is a place where reality meets the imagination.

“We had brought in a little extra dimension of reality to the gaming sector, where the visitors get to feel the impact of the games with body suits. It was open to everyone — whether children, young people or adults — to experience and enjoy VR. Since many people in Saudi Arabia love gaming, we are aiming in future to have lot more attractions and double in size.” 

The X-reality zone consisted of four fully-immersive options: “Spree” offering family-friendly virtual reality entertainment, “Hologate Blitz,” consisting of futuristic themed games, “Hologate Arena,” a free roam VR area with different games option, and the “Tesla Suit” experience that used a VR headset to provide a startling simulation of the world through the senses of hearing, seeing and touching. 

Ahmed Alattas, the senior rides mechanical engineer of Sela Co., said: “We managed to build a unique ride in Saudi Arabia especially for the City Walk called ‘Big Wave’ which included a huge amount of waves and an experience never felt before. 

“There were many challenges due to Jeddah’s weather conditions, but we overcame all trials and created the most amazing rides both in City Walk and Jeddah Pier. Visitors had an opportunity to enjoy the most hair-raising and thrilling rides.” 

(Supplied)

The last few days of City Walk featured several unique activities and events. Performing for the first time in the Middle East, famous Japanese pop singer and lyricist Aimer enthralled the Saudi audience.

Japanese culture was also appreciated through a 100-person costume contest, and the zone’s Anime Therapy Awards at the Anime Village. 

The last day of City Walk witnessed a graduation themed party, where visitors had the opportunity to dress up as university graduates, featuring a parade. 

Saudi national Mohammed Ali, 32, said: “I especially loved the X-reality. Wearing the ‘Tesla Suit’ was a life-long experience. There was a moment where I could actually feel the punch in my stomach while playing the game, along with the raindrops and other sensory skills.”


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alrebdi, acting chief legal counsel for Diriyah Gate Development Authority

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alrebdi, acting chief legal counsel for Diriyah Gate Development Authority
Updated 21 min 29 sec ago

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alrebdi, acting chief legal counsel for Diriyah Gate Development Authority

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alrebdi, acting chief legal counsel for Diriyah Gate Development Authority

Abdulrahman Alrebdi has been acting chief legal counsel for Diriyah Gate Development Authority since February, 2022, overseeing department functions for the construction and real estate, corporate advisory, litigation, and risk and compliance departments.

Previously, Alrebdi was associate legal director for a month and legal manager from 2020 to 2021 at the DGDA. In his role as a legal manager, he was responsible for leading the corporate advisory division, which managed transactions, corporate contracts, corporate advisory and regulatory support. 

As a legal and regulation adviser, he led the establishment of the contracts and transactions department by drafting seven contract templates, which included the construction contract, design and build contract and professional services agreement.

Before that, he was the project manager at Saudi Grains Organization in 2018. Alrebdi was part of the consultancy team that developed the organizational structure and the organization’s manual. Alrebdi was also a part-time consultant for the Ministry of Justice in 2017.

He was a law faculty member at the Institute of Public Administration from 2011 to 2018 and led a team that drafted the governance regulations for the Public Pension Agency. These regulations include the board’s charter, delegation policy and investment policy.

Alrebdi took part in public policy consultations and studies for government entities, including the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labor and Social Services, and Ministry of Civil Service. 

Alrebdi completed the leadership in the corporate counsel program at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2021.

He received a master’s degree in law with a focus on government contracts in 2014 from Ohio State University,  Columbus, and gained a bachelor’s degree in law from King Abdulaziz University in 2010.


Madinah welcomes almost 313,000 Hajj pilgrims

Madinah welcomes almost 313,000 Hajj pilgrims
Updated 42 min 51 sec ago

Madinah welcomes almost 313,000 Hajj pilgrims

Madinah welcomes almost 313,000 Hajj pilgrims
  • Saudi Arabia is allowing up to 1 million people to join the Hajj this year

RIYADH: Almost 313,000 pilgrims from around the world had arrived Madinah by Wednesday to perform Hajj, according to official figures.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that 252,140 people had landed at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport since the start of the first Hajj flights, while 60,731 pilgrims had arrived in the city by land.

A total of 221,267 pilgrims had already left Madinah and were on their way to the holy sites in Makkah, while 91,689 were still in the city, it said.

Authorities in Madinah are working around the clock to ensure the best experience for visitors, the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia is allowing up to 1 million people to join the Hajj this year, welcoming foreign pilgrims for the first time in two years after COVID-19 restrictions meant the annual pilgrimage was limited to residents of the Kingdom.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques recently launched its operational plan for this year’s Hajj season. It confirmed its readiness to receive pilgrims, saying it had mobilized 10,000 workers to serve them.


Saudi Arabia open to interfaith dialogue to combat religious intolerance, says US Special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism

Saudi Arabia open to interfaith dialogue to combat religious intolerance, says US Special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism
Updated 14 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia open to interfaith dialogue to combat religious intolerance, says US Special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism

Saudi Arabia open to interfaith dialogue to combat religious intolerance, says US Special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism
  • Historian and Holocaust scholar "encouraged" by the Kingdom's openness to interfaith dialogue 
  • Palestine-Israel conflict has led to misunderstanding and animosity between Jews and Muslims 

RIYADH: Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, said in an interview with Arab News that openness and honesty when addressing important topics such as antisemitism or hate of Muslims is how change can happen.

Repeatedly confronted by real-world antisemitism, she is perhaps best known for the libel suit filed against her, in the UK, by the Holocaust denier David Irving. Lipstadt won the case in 2000, with the judge describing Irving as a “neo-Nazi polemicist” who engaged in “racist and antisemitic” discourse.

Lipstadt’s visit comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Kingdom next month and at a time when US-Saudi relations have been in “one of the downs,” as Prince Turki Al-Faisal said in a previous interview on Arab News’ “Frankly Speaking” when describing the fluctuating but strategic relationship.

On May 24, Vice President Kamala Harris swore in the Emory University historian and professor as special envoy. Only a month later, she made her first international trip to the Kingdom, telling media outlets that “Saudi Arabia is a very important country in the Gulf and it has shown a willingness and openness to hosting me.”

Lipstadt on the sidelines of a roundtable discussion held at Arab News headquarters in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)

On the sidelines of a roundtable discussion held at Arab News headquarters in Riyadh, she noted how “depiction of the Jew, that in years past, often decades passed, the Jew was demonized. The Jew was spoken about in very derogatory language and that had its impact outside the Kingdom in the rest of the Muslim world.” She added that she has observed the change in notion and was “exceptionally encouraged” upon meeting people who recognize the need for change.

“That’s the first step: Recognizing your own shortcomings, whether you’re an individual, whether you’re a community, whether you’re a family or whether you’re a nation, and saying ‘we want to change.’ Only an honest person can do that. And I have seen some of that here (in Saudi Arabia) and I find that very encouraging,” said Lipstadt.

For years, interfaith dialogue has been encouraged with various religious groups, scholars and leaders alike. Open dialogue is a means of acknowledging and getting to the root cause, as Lipstadt said in the roundtable, and understanding how “prejudice operates, the way in which Jew hatred or antisemitism operates. And more importantly, the way in which hatred of one group morphs into hatred of another group, that the same operating principles in every prejudice, whether it’s racism, whether it’s antisemitism, whether it’s hatred of Muslims, whatever it might be, that it operates the same way.”

She added: “You can’t take what I call a silo approach — I fight one, but not the other. You have to fight across the board, but you also have to take them seriously. And too often there’s been a failure to certainly take antisemitism seriously in many countries. And what I have found so interesting and encouraging here in Saudi Arabia is the way in which things are changing.”

BIO: Deborah Esther Lipstadt

Occupation: Special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism with the rank of ambassador

Other posts: Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies

Published works:

- The Zionist career of Louis Lipsky, 1900-1921 (1982)

- Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust (1986)

- Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (1993)

- Betrifft: Leugnen des Holocaust (1994)

- History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (2005)

- The Eichmann Trial (2011)

- Holocaust: An American Understanding (2016)

- Antisemitism: Here and Now (2019)

Education:

- B.A. from City College of New York

- M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University

Religious and interfaith scholars believe that such discussions and cross-cultural dialogues build bridges, promote peace and are a means toward ending ancient animosities.

In 2016, the American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America announced a seemingly unlikely alliance of 31 members that included Imam Mohammed Magid and Lipstadt. The announcement came amid growing xenophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric in the US and across Europe.

Europe and the US have taken different approaches in the postwar era on hate speech and antisemitism, with some European countries making Holocaust denial illegal.

"My country is not perfect. And my president, the secretary of state to whom I report and other leaders acknowledge our shortcomings. And we don’t go out preaching to the world ‘we’re perfect and you should change.’ But what we’re saying is these are issues that concern us within the boundaries of the US and concern us outside the boundaries of the US,” said Lipstadt.

“We don’t come to preach. We come to talk and to teach, and to explore together how things can be made better.”

Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt’s visit comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Saudi Arabia next month. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)

One of Lipstadt’s main fields of expertise is in serving the Holocaust cause. For decades and over several administrations, she was a historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both offered her presidential appointments to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and President George W. Bush asked her to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

“As a great believer in interfaith dialogue and interfaith work cooperation, it can’t be just dialogue — if it’s dialogue, it’s just words,” she said.

She noted how striking and emotion-provoking Muslim World League Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa’s visit to the former Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz was for her. Al-Issa joined a group from the American Jewish Committee and prominent Muslim religious leaders in 2020 in what was called an “unprecedented visit.”

“As a scholar of the Holocaust and as someone who has visited there many times, and as a scholar of antisemitism and my knowledge of the change in attitudes and the change in this country and the portrayal of the Jew… I was tremendously moved,” she said.

On her first visit to Kingdom, Lipstadt insisted she wanted to “explore together how things can be made better.” (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)

The dialogue surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has, for some time now, driven a wedge between the religions, with a growing sentiment against all parties involved. Lipstadt believes that people have the issues confused, the political issues in particular, which is something she said “my country takes very seriously.”

“Antisemitism transcends the political issue, the issue of Israelis and Palestinians. It’s not to say it isn’t serious, of course it’s serious, but we can’t wait to address antisemitism until that is resolved. They both should be addressed together,” said Lipstadt.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, recently met with Lipstadt and shared with her Saudi Arabia’s meaningful strides in promoting peace, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue.

Lipstadt described the conversation as "wonderful."