All eyes on Riyadh bid for World Expo 2030 as Saudi Pavilion in Dubai holds closing ceremony

Special All eyes on Riyadh bid for World Expo 2030 as Saudi Pavilion in Dubai holds closing ceremony
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Updated 05 April 2022

All eyes on Riyadh bid for World Expo 2030 as Saudi Pavilion in Dubai holds closing ceremony

All eyes on Riyadh bid for World Expo 2030 as Saudi Pavilion in Dubai holds closing ceremony
  • Saudi Arabia emerges as a strong contender to host the global event, having won multiple endorsements
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030 in October last year

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s award-winning pavilion held its closing ceremony at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Opportunity District on Monday night, after organizing workshops, shows and exhibitions for six consecutive months during which the Kingdom’s culture, development and investment potential were in the international limelight.

As the Arab region’s first ever World Expo draws to a close this week, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a strong contender to host Expo 2030, having already won multiple international endorsements for its formal bid launched late last year.

The consensus view is that the combination of a record-breaking pavilion and attention-grabbing program of events at Expo 2020 Dubai has greatly strengthened Saudi Arabia’s case for hosting the prestigious global event in its capital, Riyadh, in 2030.

“For Saudi Arabia, Expo 2020 Dubai provided a major and highly visible platform to highlight the exciting opportunities and experiences available in the Kingdom, especially as it opens up to the world at an unprecedented scale,” Hussain Hanbazazah, the Saudi pavilion’s commissioner general, told Arab News.




Visitors tour the Saudi Arabia Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 on January 13, 2022, with a projection of an image of the Kingdom's largest palm farm. (AFP/File Photo)

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Saudi bid to host Expo 2030 in October last year and the Kingdom submitted its formal application in December to the Bureau International des Expositions, the organization behind the expo.

In its presentation to the BIE in December, Saudi Arabia outlined bold plans to transform Riyadh and the rest of the country into a world-class venue for global connectivity, culture and climate action.

Saudi Arabia’s bid is based on the theme “The Era of Change: Leading the Planet to a Foresighted Tomorrow.” If the Kingdom is successful, the expo would take place in Riyadh from Oct. 1, 2030, to April 1, 2031.

“The BIE is pleased to receive this letter of candidature from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the fifth country to seek the organization of World Expo 2030,” Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, secretary general of the BIE, said upon receiving the formal application from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He added: “The strong interest in hosting World Expo 2030 attests to the global desire to reconnect with each other and to build a future that is more sustainable, by fostering innovation and cooperation.”

As part of the Saudi bid, Fahd Al-Rasheed, CEO of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, announced in December last year that the Kingdom plans to build one of the world’s biggest public transport networks, establish a green space in the heart of the city that is four times the size of New York City’s Central Park, plant 15 million trees, and turn the Saudi capital’s streets into works of art.

“The transformation is not occurring only in Riyadh, it is sweeping the country,” Al-Rasheed said. “Riyadh will be more than ready to host the World Expo. It will be a perfect manifestation of what the World Expo aims to achieve to bring together the world’s best minds, ideas and solutions.”

Central to Riyadh’s urban redevelopment plan is sustainability, according to Al-Rasheed, with environmental preservation and the goal of cutting carbon emissions by half in less than a decade at the forefront of the project.

“As a first time competitor, Saudi Arabia’s candidature represents an important and symbolic challenge for our nation and one that we will embrace with full commitment,” he said.

Five countries, including Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, Russia and Ukraine, are in the running to host the event. Many believe that owing to the conflict in Ukraine and the package of stringent sanctions placed by Western countries on Russia, it is unlikely that the latter two will succeed in their bids.

Saudi Arabia has already won significant backing for its expo bid. In November, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation pledged its support for the Kingdom’s application.




Saudi Arabia first participated in a World Expo in 1958 when the event was hosted in the Belgian capital, Brussels. It has actively participated in World and Specialized Expos ever since. (Supplied)

Since then, several African nations have also registered their support for the Saudi bid, including Djibouti, Morocco, Mauritania and Zambia.

Saudi Arabia first participated in a World Expo in 1958 when the event was hosted in the Belgian capital, Brussels. It has actively participated in World and Specialized Expos ever since.

The Kingdom’s enthusiasm and engagement in these events has not gone unnoticed. At a Specialized Expo 2008 in the Spanish city of Zaragoza, Saudi Arabia was handed a silver award for its pavilion design. This was topped two years later with a gold award at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai in China.

The tradition of World Expos began in London in 1851 with the Great Exhibition — a monumental celebration of scientific and technological advancement, but also a fascinating display of curiosities from around the world, reflecting an age of accelerating transport and communications, and seemingly boundless potential.

Since then, World Expos have been occasions to share and celebrate the innovations and discoveries of the day, while also reflecting on the shared challenges facing humanity in the hope of identifying shared solutions. The next World Expo is due to be held in Osaka, Japan, in 2025.

These global events, which are held roughly every five years and take place over a period of six months, take visitors on immersive journeys built around a common theme. Welcoming tens of millions of visitors, World Expos allow participating countries to build extraordinary pavilions, transforming host cities for years to come.

By all accounts, Expo 2020 Dubai has been a resounding success, drawing some 10 million visitors to the UAE’s biggest city since the event opened on Oct. 1 last year. By March 25, the Saudi Pavilion alone had welcomed some 4.6 million visitors, including 7,566 school visits.

The pavilion hosted more than 230 unique programs, including 35 that were tailored specifically towards children to teach them about Saudi history and culture in a playful and engaging setting.

The pavilion also hosted 11 business programs with the objective of driving growth and investment, while also promoting tourism and entertainment opportunities in the Kingdom. Several of these events were co-curated with other pavilions with the aim of building cross-cultural bridges and identifying common commercial interests.

Central to the Saudi pavilion’s events and exhibits, and key to its bid to host Expo 2030, are the objectives of the Kingdom’s economic and social reform agenda, Vision 2030.

“Expo 2020 Dubai is the first expo that Saudi Arabia has participated in since the launch of Vision 2030, our national transformation strategic framework, which is ushering in big changes in our country,” said Hanbazazah.




As the Arab region’s first ever World Expo draws to a close this week, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a strong contender to host Expo 2030. (AN Photo/Hashem Rzk)

The agenda, launched by the crown prince in 2016, aims to transform Saudi Arabia into a global investment powerhouse, to diversify its economy away from oil and to embrace sustainable high-tech industries with the ultimate aim of becoming the world’s 15th largest economy by the end of the decade.

The jewels in Vision 2030’s crown are undoubtedly the Kingdom’s new giga-projects, from the Red Sea Project, a luxury sustainable tourism development taking shape on the Kingdom’s west coast, to NEOM, the clean energy-driven smart city of the future under construction in the Kingdom’s northwest.

To promote these investment opportunities, the Saudi pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai included a “Business Park,” an innovative platform connecting investors from around the world to forge partnerships and discuss opportunities, and a “Discovery Center,” where visitors were invited to learn more about the Saudi economy, its competitiveness and the unprecedented reforms that have taken place in the Kingdom.

“We are very proud that our national pavilion was very popular, with one in every four Expo visitors visiting our pavilion,” said Hanbazazah.

“We invite everyone who hasn’t visited it yet to come and live the experience for themselves before the expo closes its doors on March 31.”


Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman on Thursday congratulated Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council and the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen for signing a contract to operate Aden General Hospital for three years.

SDRPY on Wednesday signed the contract to operate and manage the hospital in the de facto capital and serve 438,000 patients a year, at a cost of more than SR330 million ($87.9 million)

“In continuation of the Kingdom’s efforts to provide support to the Yemeni people in the humanitarian, relief and economic aspects, we congratulate the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen and SDRPY for signing a contract to operate Aden General Hospital for a period of three years, with a value exceeding SR330 million, to provide health care to the brotherly Yemeni people,” Prince Khalid said in a tweet.

Operations at the hospital will begin within 90 days of completing of staff preparations, taking delivery of medicines and medical equipment, and testing health care devices.

The hospital will operate at 50 percent capacity during its first year of responding to the urgent needs of the people of Aden and neighboring governorates, increasing to full capacity by year two.


Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
Updated 18 August 2022

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
  • Officials discussed issues of interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world

RIYADH: The president of Uzbekistan met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation during an official trip to the Kingdom on Thursday.

During the meeting, Shavkat Mirziyoyev praised Hissein Brahim Taha for leading the OIC’s efforts to promote joint Islamic action and consolidate the spirit of Islamic solidarity.

The president stressed that the organization receives special attention from his country’s government which is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with the OIC.

Taha expressed his appreciation for Uzbekistan’s role in the OIC and its efforts to support the activities of the organization and promote joint Islamic action through various initiatives.

He stressed the OIC’s keenness to enhance cooperation with Uzbekistan in all areas of common interest.

The two officials also discussed issues of common interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world and taking care of the interests of the organization and its member states.


Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
  • Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself
  • Managing partner Mama’s Alchemy Dina Horanieh: We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause

RIYADH: Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, has always had an interest in natural skincare products, which she sourced from the US.

But after throwing a recreational “spa party” for friends a few years ago, she realized there was no need to look abroad to be ethically conscious.

Ashgar put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself. She went from giving the products away as gifts at her at-home spa to selling at local markets and events, eventually establishing her own company.

Now her cruelty-free and sustainable products can be found at major pharmacy chains, premium retailers, and spas across Saudi Arabia.

“We are impressed that most of our customers actually care about MZN being a sustainable brand. There is a remarkable awareness within our community of the benefits of buying sustainable local brands,” Ashgar told Arab News.

But this awareness was not always apparent, and is nonexistent in some communities.

A report by business consultancy Mordor Intelligence found that the major players in the Saudi beauty industry are non-cruelty-free firms, including Beiersdorf AG (parent company to brands such as Nivea and Labello) and Estee Lauder.

When a brand is not cruelty free, the company either conducts individual testing on animals itself, through their supplier, or through a third party.

Ranked top in the huge global market is Procter & Gamble, which holds brands such as Herbal Essences, Pantene, Olay and SK-II. The consumer giant recently announced its commitment to #BeCrueltyFree throughout its 19 companies, highlighting moves by the industry to become more sustainable.

Coming in third is Avon, a brand that is completely cruelty free. While Estee Lauder is not, some of the brands in its portfolio, including Smashbox and Too Faced, both popular with Saudi consumers, have cruelty-free certification by the US-based animal rights group PETA.

The issue becomes complicated because some brands cannot fully develop a cruelty-free approach because they sell products in countries that require animal testing by law, such as China. Pulling their supply from such countries would result in a huge revenue loss.

However, Saudi Arabia does not insist on animal testing for skincare and beauty products. This creates an easy market for local sustainable and vegan cosmetics to step up and answer the demand for those items.

Saudi environmentalist Zahra Alqatari told Arab News that there is only limited awareness of sustainability as an issue in the Kingdom.

“That makes demand for cruelty-free and sustainable beauty products low. As a result, the beauty industry continues to produce products that harm us, animals and the environment.” 

However, this is changing as local brands, such as MZN Bodycare, champion natural, vegan and cruelty-free products for the everyday consumer.

The brand, established in 2015, believes in using local plants to create environmentally friendly products.

“Our region is full of plantations that have amazing benefits like the moringa, olive oils, rose and lavender essential oils, and date seed powder and oils. We found through published research that those oils are very high in antioxidants and vitamins which are beneficial to the skin,” Ashgar told Arab News.

The company has seen a growing interest among Saudis in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly living habits.

“We actually had some customers ask for a ‘return packaging’ program from us, where we take back the used packaging and refill it for them. Some call us to verify the source of our raw materials and that we are actually a cruelty-free brand,” said Ashgar.

Another cruelty-free brand, Mama’s Alchemy, is based on veganism as a core value and motivator.

“We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause. We believe veganism plays a vital role in keeping our planet clean and reducing waste,” Dina Horanieh, the firm’s managing partner, told Arab News.

The brand founders went on the hunt for vegan body products for their personal use, but were unable to find any — so they made their own. Mama’s Alchemy caters not only to vegan consumers, but also anyone looking for clean and sustainable body products.

 “The response (from the Saudi public) has been heartwarming. We hope to see more local suppliers offering sustainable options. We are continuously working to offer more vegan and sustainable products,” said Horanieh.


Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
Updated 18 August 2022

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
  • Family alerted police and volunteers to the plight of the missing Sudanese man, who was located just in time
  • The man was located by the Wassem Volunteer Team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area

RIYADH: A Sudanese man lost in the mountains near the town of Al-Khasra, 320 kilometers southwest of Riyadh, has been rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area, launched a large search for the missing Sudanese, managing to find and rescue him before he succumbed to heat exhaustion or dehydration.

“We were contacted about the missing man by his family, who provided us with an official letter from the police, and we headed to the site. Thank God, within an hour, we found the man, who was in (a) bad condition, and he was rescued and taken to safety,” Abu Abbas, a member of the team, told Arab News.

“We can consider this a good day, because (in) some cases (people) are found dead, like (a case we had) yesterday.”

The Sudanese man was rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The story and videos of the search and rescue were shared by people on social media and through mainstream news outlets, prompting praise for the volunteers.

Abbas advised people who want to go to the mountains or desert to download navigation apps on smart devices that operate outside mobile networks via satellites before travelling.

The Wassem Volunteer Team uses gliders.

“Prior to any outing, especially one that takes place outside of the (mobile) network, the person needs to let his family know where he is going and how long he will be in the desert. Then he checks his vehicle and everything he needs. By extending the number of days as a precaution, he must also bring food and water for a longer period of time than he will be staying.”

The team of volunteers was established two years ago, and so far more than 120 missing or stranded people have been rescued with their help and the help of other volunteers in the area.


Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
Updated 18 August 2022

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
  • Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents in Riyadh
  • The twins were successfully separated 15 years ago

RIYADH: The supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center received on Wednesday a set of Omani former conjoined twins whom he operated on in 2007.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents at the KSrelief headquarters in Riyadh.

The twins underwent successful surgery to separate adhesions in their skulls, brain membranes, and intervening veins at King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh fifteen years ago.

Al-Rabeeah said Saudi Arabia’s program to separate conjoined twins enjoys a high international status that would not be possible without the support of the Kingdom’s leadership.

The supervisor general of Ksrelief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah talks to Omani former conjoined twins Safa and Marwa and their father in Riyadh. (SPA)

He added that the Kingdom has become specialized in performing complex surgical operations due to its advanced human and technical capabilities that make it a desired destination for anyone who requires treatment, whether from inside or outside Saudi Arabia.

He noted that the program embodies the humanity of the Kingdom, which transcends continents, borders and races to heal wounds and relieve human suffering.

The latest beneficiaries of the program are Yemeni twin girls Mawaddah and Rahma who were born conjoined at the lower chest and abdomen.

The baby girls from Aden were successfully separated in July.

The parents of the Omani twins expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom for facilitating the necessary efforts to separate and treat their daughters, adding that the kind gesture had had a great impact on their lives.