Wildlife center releases gazelles, oryxes into King Khalid Royal Reserve

Dr. Talal AlHarigi (Right), and Ahmed Al-Touq (Left), Director General of Studies at the National Center for Wildlife, moments after opening the doors for the oryx to return to its original habitat. (SPA)
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Dr. Talal AlHarigi (Right), and Ahmed Al-Touq (Left), Director General of Studies at the National Center for Wildlife, moments after opening the doors for the oryx to return to its original habitat. (SPA)
Dr. Talal AlHarigi (Right), and Ahmed Al-Touq (Left), Director General of Studies at the National Center for Wildlife, moments after opening the doors for the oryx to return to its original habitat. (Supplied/NCW)
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Dr. Talal AlHarigi (Right), and Ahmed Al-Touq (Left), Director General of Studies at the National Center for Wildlife, moments after opening the doors for the oryx to return to its original habitat. (Supplied/NCW)
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Updated 21 March 2022

Wildlife center releases gazelles, oryxes into King Khalid Royal Reserve

Dr. Talal AlHarigi (Right), and Ahmed Al-Touq (Left), Director General of Studies at the National Center for Wildlife, moments after opening the doors for the oryx to return to its original habitat. (SPA)
  • Reintroduction of 50 antelopes part of wider program to protect endangered species
  • Move will help to restore biodiversity, improve environmental balance, center’s CEO says

RIYADH: The National Center for Wildlife on Monday released 20 Arabian oryxes and 30 rhim gazelles into King Khalid Royal Reserve as part of a program to reintroduce endangered species to their natural environments across the Kingdom.

The move was in collaboration with the Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammad Royal Reserve Development Authority.

Dr. Muhammad Ali Qurban, the center’s CEO, said the reintroduction of local species threatened with extinction would help to restore biodiversity, improve the environmental balance and solidify the concept of environmental sustainability.

The program is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to create a better environment and improve living standards.

Qurban said the wildlife center had researched the best time to reintroduce the gazelles and oryxes. As well as the animals, it aimed to reintroduce more than 1,000 fungal organisms this season across all reserves and national parks, he added.

The center uses the latest technology to monitor animal populations and collect data about the biodiversity in each of the reserves.

The IARDA, which oversees two royal reserves — the Imam Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad Royal Reserve and King Khalid Royal Reserve — also aims to maintain ecological balance and restore biodiversity.

The two reserves, which cover about 12,000 sq. km northeast of Riyadh, are similar in topography and both are crossed by the Urmah mountains. These play a central role in supporting the ecosystems of the two reserves by creating beautiful wadis and balanced habitats for the many species that are found there.

“The two most difficult challenges those (antelope) species have faced in the wild is overhunting and loss of habitat,” Dr. Talal Al-Harigi, IARDA’s CEO, said.

“The effect of both challenges has caused a decrease of species abundance in the area.”

Al-Harigi told Arab News that the development authority was working to eliminate threats through four main initiatives. These are: rewilding wildlife species with an emphasis on endangered ones, increasing vegetation coverage, promoting environmental awareness, and managing and regulating hunting and grazing activities.

 


KSrelief launches charity campaign to help those affected by quake in Turkiye and Syria

The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launches the charity campaign in Riyadh on Wednesday. (KSrelief)
The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launches the charity campaign in Riyadh on Wednesday. (KSrelief)
Updated 08 February 2023

KSrelief launches charity campaign to help those affected by quake in Turkiye and Syria

The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launches the charity campaign in Riyadh on Wednesday. (KSrelief)
  • A total of SR25 million ($6.7 million) had been donated to the campaign at the time of writing
  • The confirmed death toll from the world’s deadliest quake in more than a decade has passed 11,000

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center launched a charity campaign on Wednesday to help those affected by a devastating earthquake which hit southeast Turkiye and northern Syria on Monday.

The confirmed death toll from the world’s deadliest quake in more than a decade has passed 11,000.

The campaign was launched via KSrelief’s Sahem Platform, and the center will work with several Saudi agencies and ministries to support the affected and injured in Syria and Turkiye.

Donations can be made through the Sahem app and website, or via transfers to a bank account designated to the campaign.

The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said the campaign includes the implementation of various programs, including the launch of an air-bridge during the coming hours to deliver shelter, health, food, and logistical aid to those affected.

Rescue, rapid intervention, and emergency medical teams will travel to the afflicted countries and will work with Saudi volunteer teams to alleviate the suffering of those who have been afflicted by the quake, Al-Rabeeah explained.

He added that shelter, food, and health materials will be provided according to the humanitarian need identified by assessment teams.

A total of SR25 million ($6.7 million) had been donated to the campaign at the time of writing, Al-Ekhbariya reported.


New deal to boost Saudi creative sector

New deal to boost Saudi creative sector
Updated 08 February 2023

New deal to boost Saudi creative sector

New deal to boost Saudi creative sector
  • KPMG, Al-Mashtal enter strategic partnership to nurture young talent for sustainable creative economy
  • Al-Mashtal strives to impact not just the community, but the creative economy as a whole in leading incubations and programs on a national level and beyond

RIYADH: KPMG Professional Services and Al-Mashtal Community House and Creative Incubator recently announced a strategic partnership, marking a new era of collaboration between two industry leaders that signals a promising future for Saudi Arabia’s creative sector.

The nature of KPMG’s involvement is to provide professional support for Al-Mashtal in growing their business not only creatively but sustainably. Al-Mashtal will also act as a liaison between entrepreneurs and KPMG specialists and mentors to transform their passion into a viable and actionable business.

Ebrahim Baeshen, office managing partner at KPMG, told Arab News: “Our role here comes to ensure that they (Al-Mashtal) succeed not only by introducing a great idea, or a great product, but by making it sustainable.”

As a creative and community house, Al-Mashtal is dedicated to nurturing the talents of young and emerging Saudi creatives to harness a sustainable creative economy within the region.

Sohaib Zafir, CEO of Al-Mashtal, told Arab News: “Corporations aren’t generally concerned with creative ventures, but KPMG have a great interest in creating social impact within communities.”

The partnership with Al-Mashtal is just one of the initiatives under KPMG’s IMPACT plan, which aims to maximize the influence of environmental, social, and governance on communities to maintain a culture of support and progress.

“Through that program, we have different initiatives … at times we fund, we give money to charity, at times we help by giving lectures, by building materials similar to (Al-Mashtal) and help them by bringing our experts to educate entrepreneurs, to teach them and let them know how to manage a business and do all these things,” Baeshen said.

The incubator has slowly become a hub for local creatives to gather, share ideas, and present various creative initiatives through their hosting of consistent panel discussions, networking sessions, music performances, and more.

It also recently partnered with the Saudi Design Festival to bring the “Brand Your Neighborhood” design challenge. The initiative allowed local creatives to build urban branding and design concepts in Riyadh, Jeddah, and the Eastern Province.

Through Al-Mashtal’s incubation programs that take an educational approach to helping entrepreneurs develop their startups, KPMG will be providing consultations on professional skills, like financing and accounting, and personal soft skills, such as negotiation and pitching.

Al-Mashtal strives to impact not just the community, but the creative economy as a whole in leading incubations and programs on a national level and beyond.

“Our goal isn’t to become legends or be the best, but rather move the sector along. Al-Mashtal will become more than happy if we have competitors, because that creates sustainability within the industry,” Zafir said.

The creative house has been gradually setting the blueprint for drafting the infrastructure of creative incubation within the Kingdom. It acquired the first creative incubation business license in the Kingdom.

KPMG and Al-Mashtal first collaborated in 2021 on a project that proved fruitful for both parties. Baeshan said: “We know great things about Al-Mashtal because we started with them … it’s a great success story even for us to see them succeeding in what they're doing.”


100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah
Updated 08 February 2023

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah
  • Local and international food and beverages and hospitality-related companies from 30 countries attend the three-day event

Jeddah: More than 100 young Saudi chefs and baristas are competing at this year’s hotels, restaurants, and catering event at the Jeddah Dome.

HORECA is the biggest annual hospitality exhibition in the region, having previously taken place in Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Riyadh.

Local and international food and beverages and hospitality-related companies from 30 countries are attending the three-day event that opened on Tuesday.

President of the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association, chef Yasser Jad, told Arab News that this year’s competition, organized by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies and the Saudi association, would not only be focusing on international dishes but also Saudi traditional cuisine.

Jad said: “Through this competition, we seek to identify and promote the popular dishes that are part of the Kingdom’s culinary culture.”

HORECA is hosting the Hospitality Salon Culinaire, in which more than 150 chefs compete in various categories, and the Saudi Barista Competition with around 50 entrants aiming to win the best barista award.

At the opening ceremony, Saud Al-Rajhi, chairman of the Saudi Event Management and Marketing Co., told Arab News: “After the huge success of HORECA for 11 consecutive years in Riyadh, we are proud and honored to introduce HORECA Jeddah for the first time. In addition, we are also bringing to Jeddah the Salon du Chocolat.”

He pointed out that HORECA provided a platform for key buyers to network with investors, retailers, distributors, and stakeholders.

“The three-day event marks an important step forward for Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning hospitality sector and evolving restaurant and cafe scene. We have around 6,000 brands and we are expecting around 30,000 visitors,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Attas, founder and managing partner of Gaiat Hub, a procurement platform for business supplies, credited the Saudi government for helping put the hospitality industry back on its feet.

“The Saudi market is becoming a very encouraging market for all international companies due to the mega projects, the great business environment for foreign investors, the change of Saudi lifestyle, and more,” he said.


Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP
Updated 08 February 2023

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP
  • Digital measures to ease travel for visitors, pilgrims Visas allow touring of Kingdom’s cultural, spiritual sites

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is showcasing its latest services for pilgrims at the LEAP 2023 conference in Riyadh.

This is the second time the ministry is participating in the tech conference, which has been organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in collaboration with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programing, and Drones at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center.

The four-day conference will conclude on Thursday.

According to the Hajj and Umrah Ministry, several initiatives have been introduced to ensure pilgrims can have a safe, secure and spiritually fulfilling journey to Makkah and Madinah.

The ministry’s pavilion at LEAP is displaying a number of digital solutions, which visitors can access via an interactive screen.

The ministry recently announced new measures that would allow visitors, with any type of visa, to perform Umrah, with no age restrictions, or the need for female worshippers to have a male guardian.

About 10 days ago, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry launched an electronic service that would allow passengers stopping over in the Kingdom to obtain entry visas. This would allow people to perform Umrah, visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and tour the country.

The Hajj and Umrah Ministry said the Umrah visa’s validity has been extended from 30 days to 90 days, allowing holders to visit the Kingdom’s spiritual and cultural sites.

Speaking at the Hajj Expo 2023 held in Jeddah, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah had said the number of people participating in this year’s Hajj would return to pre-pandemic levels.
 


Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23
Updated 08 February 2023

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

RIYADH: Meta has announced the launch of the first metaverse academy in the Middle East and North Africa region, in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy and Simplon, a French digital skills provider, at the second edition of LEAP in Riyadh.

Kojo Boakye, vice president of public policy for Meta in Africa, the Middle East, and Turkiye, told Arab News: “We have announced the launch of the first metaverse academy in this region.

“We think [it] will feed exactly into what this region is doing, sparking the development of the metaverse ecosystem, working with creators and developers, the builders of the metaverse, to ensure it comes to fruition.”

The academy will be based in Riyadh and will aim to support the region’s metaverse ecosystem through training programs.

Boakye added: “We have great hopes for the future, and we believe the academy, in partnership with Tuwaiq and Simplon, will help that.”

Faisal Al-Khamisi, chairman of Tuwaiq Academy, said: “We are thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative with Meta to establish the first metaverse academy in the MENA region.

“This partnership with Meta allows us to continue this mission and support the growth of the metaverse ecosystem by training and empowering the next generation of metaverse builders and leaders.”

The academy will launch a series of programs from May 1 that will equip students with the necessary skills to pursue a career in the growing metaverse.

Boakye said: “There’s a broad range of training, everything from a short course where you can just learn a little bit more about the metaverse, to a mid-level course that takes four to six weeks, to something in-depth where you can be training for eight to nine months to get the qualifications you need to add impacts to the work that’s being done.

“It’s the vision that we’re seeing in the region here in Saudi Arabia. The plan is to have one programmer for every 100 citizens.

“We are utterly convinced [by the project] when you look at the innovation and the ideas that are coming out from this region.

“We believe that this region and the builders here will affect the global spread and broad adoption of the metaverse, and that’s what we are aiming for.”

Boakye said that Meta had already encouraged developers, aspiring developers, and others interested in the metaverse to sign up for the program online.

He added: “If adoption of the metaverse were to grow in a similar way to the use of mobile technology, after 10 years it would contribute $360 billion, or 6.2 percent, to the GDP in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkiye.”