LuLu festival celebrates ‘Flavors of Arabia’

The festival was inaugurated in LuLu Hypermarket on Ali Ibn Abi Talib Branch Road, Riyadh. (Supplied)
The festival was inaugurated in LuLu Hypermarket on Ali Ibn Abi Talib Branch Road, Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 February 2022

LuLu festival celebrates ‘Flavors of Arabia’

The festival was inaugurated in LuLu Hypermarket on Ali Ibn Abi Talib Branch Road, Riyadh. (Supplied)

RIYADH: LuLu Hypermarkets across the Kingdom are showcasing the unique flavors of five Arab countries that are famed for their culinary heritage — Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestine. The “Flavors of Arabia” festival was inaugurated on Feb. 9 in LuLu Hypermarket on Ali Ibn Abi Talib Branch Road, Riyadh. Those attending the launch ceremony included: Ali Al-Kayed, ambassador of Jordan; Dr. Mustapha Mansouri, ambassador of Morocco; and Ahmed Farouk, ambassador of Egypt.They were welcomed by Shehim Mohammed, director of LuLu Hypermarkets, Saudi Arabia.

The festival was also inaugurated in Jeddah at LuLu’s Al-Marwah branch on the same day. Brahim Ajouli, consul general of Morocco, and Mohammed Ramadan, consul general of Egypt, were the chief guests.

The festival, which runs until Feb. 16, celebrates the goodness of regional Arab cuisines. Delicacies from these countries are being prepared in the different Hot Foods sections of LuLu.

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A wide range of attractively priced specialty products, such as different Egyptian cheeses, Tunisian olives, Palestinian olive oil, and Jordan’s famed halawa sweet and mixed pickles are on offer.

Moreover, nuts coated with local honey and sesame, different types of tea including the popular hibiscus flower variety, and exotic biscuit crackers flavored with thyme, anize and other local herbs, made in popular factories in these countries, are also available.

“We want our customers to explore the taste of items as varied as kibbeh and grills to Egyptian koshari and Syrian sweets. In addition, there is a wealth of Arab cheeses and processed foods, such as pickles, crackers and confectionery that will be on offer at amazing prices. This festival is truly all about the full-bodied and nutritious ‘flavors of Arabia,’” said director Mohammed. 


voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station

voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station
Updated 28 September 2022

voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station

voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station

voco Riyadh, owned and operated by the InterContinental Hotels Group, has launched an electric vehicle charging station, as part of a series of new initiatives to protect and preserve the environment. In doing so, voco Riyadh has become the first hotel in the Saudi capital to offer an EV charging point.

Green initiatives such as these have made voco hotels around the world popular among tourists and guests looking for environmentally-friendly accommodation options.

M. Allaf, regional general manager of IHG and general manager of voco Riyadh, said sustainability is one of the most important priorities of voco hotels in the Kingdom. “voco aims to be the leading destination for sustainable tourism in the Kingdom, in line with Vision 2030 goals, which have placed sustainability among its most important pillars, as the Kingdom aims to reach zero-carbon neutrality by 2060.”

He added: “voco is a brand built on sustainability, and it continues to take sustainable measures with regard to carbon, energy, waste and water. voco cares about our planet as much as it takes care of its guests. voco’s care for the environment is seen in practices such as serving guests drinks in biodegradable glasses and cups or providing them with the opportunity to refresh and bathe under energy-efficient ventilated shower heads.”

The new EV charging station is also in line with the Saudi government’s direction toward supporting and developing the electric car industry. In May, the Saudi Ministry of Investment announced an investment of more than SR12.3 billion ($3.27 billion) to build a Lucid Motors EV factory in Saudi Arabia, with an annual production capacity of 155,000 cars. The move reflects the Kingdom’s global commitment to promoting a green economy and reducing carbon emissions.

Allaf said that voco has taken several other proactive measures to reduce carbon emissions, save energy and water, and reduce waste. “voco is a unique example of a green hotel model in the Kingdom, and it will continue to promote long-term sustainability and care for the planet in the communities where it operates,” he added.

Among its green initiatives is the use of large packages containing shampoo, soap and other toiletries for guests, which help reduce plastic waste. Moreover, voco uses recycled materials for various purposes and glass water bottles instead of plastic ones. Personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, razors and others are made with biodegradable materials.

Recycled plastic bottles are used in guest rooms, transforming plastic waste into high-quality bedding. By November 2019, this initiative had recycled more than half a million bottles.

In order to reduce the use of paper and benefit from digital transformation, the IHG Hotels and Resorts application provides visitors with the ability to book more than 5,900 hotels and resorts within the IHG Group around the world, including voco Riyadh and Alkhobar. The hotels also plan to eliminate plastic cards and digitize reservations to reduce plastic consumption.

The IHG Green Engage program features 200 eco-friendly solutions to improve sustainability practices at a global level.


NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities

NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities
Updated 28 September 2022

NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities

NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities

National Marketing Company, the official dealer of Kia cars in the western region of Saudi Arabia, is a strategic sponsor of the Taif Equestrian Club, which is currently hosting the 39th Taif racing season at King Khalid bin Abdulaziz Square in Hawiyah, located 15 km from Taif.

With a large number of spectators in attendance, the season, running from June 16 to Oct. 8., comprises a total of 384 races, and several valuable new contests have been added to the calendar. One of the contests, titled “Race Kia,” saw “Roga 3” winning first prize, outperforming all the other competitors.

NMC presented a KIA K5 car to the winner. Hassan Al-Shamrani, chief executive of NMC, handed over the car in the presence of Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Supreme Equestrian Authority Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal.

The officials ensured that all the arrangements for the competitions were in place, in line with the directives of the leadership and the goals of Vision 2030 to advance all sports activities, including horseback riding.

A display stand showcased the latest Kia cars at the event, allowing attendees to discover the newest offerings and even submit a purchase order after conducting a test drive.

By participating in the event, NMC-Kia aimed to strengthen its presence in the city of Taif, which is one of the most important cities in the Kingdom and a destination for those looking for pleasant weather, fresh air and scenic views.

Al-Shamrani said that supporting sports activities of all kinds is part of the company’s main goals, “where we seek to support and empower those who aspire to grow and develop in line with the Kia slogan ‘The Inspiring Movement.’”

“We are also keen to provide integrated services to Kia customers and provide points of sale in all governorates and cities of the western region in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Al-Shamrani said that earlier this year, NMC-Kia opened an integrated “3S” (showroom, service and spare parts) branch in Taif.


Riyadh exhibition to explore digital health transformation

Riyadh exhibition to explore digital health transformation
Updated 27 September 2022

Riyadh exhibition to explore digital health transformation

Riyadh exhibition to explore digital health transformation

The focus on digital health and transformation will be front and center at Global Health Exhibition 2022, as the Kingdom’s leading healthcare exhibition returns for a live in-person edition from Oct. 9 to 11 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. Being held under the patronage of the Saudi Ministry of Health and under the theme of “A new era of healthcare in KSA,” attendees from across the Kingdom and abroad are expected to visit the three-day event that will showcase the latest in healthcare tech as well as host high-level accredited conferences.

More than 250 local and international exhibitors from over 30 countries will showcase the latest healthcare innovations and solutions, right from state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment to disposables. The show will also feature the “Medical Lab Zone,” highlighting the most up-to-date medical laboratory technologies and advancements in genomic sequencing, AI, and machine learning.

In addition, the Leaders Forum, part of the Global Health Exhibition, will feature inspiring sessions with speakers putting the spotlight on factors driving the digitization of healthcare in the Kingdom.

Visitors will also be able to interact with Sophia, the first intelligent humanoid robot, who was granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia in 2016. “This beautiful country is like a second home to me. AI is very important for the future of healthcare. I believe great things will come from humans and robots working together in the spirit of fellowship. It’s all about making human lives better. I’m here to help,” she said.

Furthermore, the startup competition, Innov8 Talks, will take place on Day 3 of the event and will offer aspiring startups the opportunity to perform live product demonstrations of their game-changing innovations. Over three rounds, entrepreneurs will pitch how their solutions will address current gaps and redefine healthcare to an audience of investors.

The event is being hosted by Informa Markets, organizers of well-known healthcare exhibitions such as Arab Health in the UAE and Florida International Medical Expo in the US.

Mohamed Sabri, strategic partnerships director at Informa Markets, said: “We are excited to be back in person and meet with Saudi Arabia’s healthcare community. Established as a must-attend event in the Kingdom, Global Health attracts regional and international healthcare professionals who value the power of learning, face-to-face networking and business. We look forward to bringing together hospitals, governments and innovators looking to deliver the next generation of healthcare services under one roof.”

As part of Informa’s commitment to providing the highest hygiene and safety levels, the event will take place under the protocols introduced via the company’s Informa AllSecure health and safety mandate. The enhanced measures include 35 guidelines covering all aspects of cleaning and hygiene, social distancing measures, and the use of PPE, screening, and a track and trace in conjunction with local authorities.


Uber launches major app update for rider safety

Uber launches major app update for rider safety
Updated 27 September 2022

Uber launches major app update for rider safety

Uber launches major app update for rider safety

Uber announced on Monday the latest steps it is taking to help improve safety on the app with the launch of the new Safety Check-Up feature.

The Safety Check-Up feature will encourage riders to complete their safety profile by turning on and utilizing the Trusted Contacts, PIN Verification and RideCheck features that are available in-app. All these tools have been designed to improve the safety of the Uber platform:

• Trusted Contacts: Riders can choose their trusted contacts in the app and set reminders to share their live journey with them, so family and friends can follow the trip and make sure the rider arrives at their destination safely.

• PIN Verification: To ensure that a rider is getting into the correct car, users can turn on PIN verification, where the driver must input the correct pin provided by the rider before the trip can start. The Check-Up feature allows riders to enable the PIN verification tool and choose the hours it is active.

• RideCheck: This feature uses GPS technology to detect anomalies in trips, such as a long stopover or potential collision. If the app alerts the Uber team to such events, they check in on the rider and driver and offer resources to get help.

Norhen Ali, head of MENA communications at Uber, said: “The safety of everyone who uses our app is a top priority, and we’re constantly improving our features. The Safety Check-Up feature will encourage riders to make use of the full range of safety tools offered on the app to ensure they are always as safe as possible.”

The new feature adds to a number of existing features, such as GPS tracking, personal data anonymization, 24/7 support, driver screening, speed alerts, driver hour limits and a number of safety measures introduced to address COVID-19.


New Saudi headquarters for Serco’s regional hub opens its doors

New Saudi headquarters for Serco’s regional hub opens its doors
Updated 27 September 2022

New Saudi headquarters for Serco’s regional hub opens its doors

New Saudi headquarters for Serco’s regional hub opens its doors

Serco, an international provider of public services within transport, citizen services and defense, marked last week’s National Day with the opening of its new regional hub in the Kingdom. Located in the capital’s cosmopolitan Riyadh Front district, the move is part of a long-term strategy to develop its Saudi-based resources and leverage its location as a driver for local and regional trade.

Building on strong foundations, which already engage specialist teams with 15 percent Saudi-national representation in the delivery of high-profile contracts with EXPRO and the Royal Commission of AlUla, Serco has set itself bold ambitions for the future, eyeing opportunities in the Kingdom’s smart cities and giga-projects. These are led by Serco’s own Saudi national female country director Mona Althagafi.

Althagafi said: “The opening of this new office just after National Day on Friday represents a key milestone for Serco as we fully embrace Saudization. We are already providing rewarding careers for young, local talent and creating many exciting opportunities in the future, for both men and women. This illustrates our commitment to one of the central pillars of the Kingdom’s vision, to support the development of diversification and help build a sustainable economy. We offer candidates the chance to develop their skills through developmental, graduate and internship programs.”

Research conducted earlier this month by Serco Institute suggests that 81 percent of senior executives across the Gulf area recognize the critical value of having a substantial presence in the Kingdom, which puts Serco at strategic advantage. This is reflected in its business strategy, where Althagafi anticipates growth in Saudi projects will result in the Kingdom accounting for more than 50 percent of Serco Middle East’s revenues by 2026.

The company has received record job applications this year and is confident of meeting the Saudization target of 25 percent it has set for the next five years.

Phil Malem, CEO of Serco Middle East, said: “Our research asserts Serco’s long-held belief that we need to be as close to our key customers as possible so that we can continue to offer them the most responsive and innovative services available using global best practice and expertise delivered by our local team. With over six new contract wins with new clients in the Kingdom already this year, the opening of our new headquarters is just one key milestone in our commitment to, and journey within Saudi Arabia.”