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 sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen
Updated 28 November 2022

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen
  • AMF program to improve transparency in banking, financial and private sectors
  • Saudi Arabia has been lead donor to Yemen since 2001

RIYADH: Under the sponsorship of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Monetary Fund has signed a $1 billion agreement with the Yemeni government to revitalize its flagging economy.

The deal, signed in Riyadh, seeks to establish a comprehensive economic, financial and monetary reform program to improve governance and transparency, expand and diversify production and lower unemployment and poverty.

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the program will develop Yemen’s financial and banking sector, strengthen the role of the private sector and promote long-term economic development. 

The reform priorities for the government include developing public resources, controlling and rationalizing government spending, improving efficiency, and rehabilitating critical infrastructure in electricity, water and transport services. 

Priorities for the financial and banking sectors include developing a supervision system to improve transparency and accountability and bolstering services for small and medium businesses and youths and women in rural areas. It will also seek to boost digitalization and payment method flexibility.

The program says the private sector is a primary driver of sustainable economic growth, and key in paving the way for greater integration into the global economy, the flow of foreign investment, and the strengthening of international partnerships. 

The Yemeni government expressed interest in exploring opportunities for regional and international institutions to collaborate to support Yemeni economic reform. 

The agreement’s sponsorship by Saudi Arabia is an extension of the country's economic support for Yemen. The Kingdom gave the Central Bank of Yemen $1 billion in 2012 and $2 billion in 2018 to cover the import of basic food commodities. 

From 2001 to 2022, Saudi Arabia has led the list of donor countries to Yemen, providing 30 percent of total support.

 


Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh
Updated 27 November 2022

Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh
  • Cooperation agreement signed to combat crime

RIYADH: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Mahmoud Tawfiq in Riyadh on Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

They discussed ways to improve security cooperation between their ministries. The talks also saw the signing of a cooperation agreement to combat crime.

Saudi attendees included Deputy Interior Minister Dr. Nasser bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood, Interior Ministry Undersecretary Dr. Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al-Faleh, Interior Ministry Undersecretary for Security Affairs Mohammed bin Muhanna Al-Muhanna, and Public Security Director Mohammed Al-Bassami.

Egyptian attendees included Adel Al-Sayed Abdulaziz Jaafar, head of the National Security Agency, and officials from the Interior Ministry.

 


Sustainable development of Saudi island will boost economy

Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in Eastern Province. (SPA)
Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in Eastern Province. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2022

Sustainable development of Saudi island will boost economy

Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in Eastern Province. (SPA)
  • Dr. Saad Dahlawi: 'The Kingdom is witnessing unprecedented economic and developmental growth and following the standards of sustainable development'

RIYADH: Economists and environmentalists say sustainable investment is important for an island north of Dammam allocated billions of riyals for development.

Experts told Arab News that the SR2.64 billion ($703 million) granted to Darin and Tarout island by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week has much potential to boost the Eastern Province’s economy.

Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in the region, with evidence of 5,000 years of continuous human habitation and around a dozen heritage sites, including a fortress dating back hundreds of years.

Dr. Saad Dahlawi, Assistant Professor, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (L) and
Fahad Almutlaq, CEO of Sharqia Development Authority.

Officials aim to improve the quality of life for its 120,000 people while preserving its cultural and historical heritage, revitalizing its natural beauty sites and enhancing its tourism economy.

As much as 48 percent of its 32 sq. km area will be dedicated to public parks, waterfronts, roads, and facilities. The island hopes to boost the number of tourists to 1.36 million by 2030 and generate thousands of jobs.

HIGHLIGHT

Officials aim to improve the quality of life for its 120,000 people while preserving its cultural and historical heritage, revitalizing its natural beauty sites and enhancing its tourism economy.

“This project represents the first strategic works and initiatives done by the Eastern Region Development Authority,” said Eastern Province Development Authority CEO Fahad Al-Mutlaq.

He said that work would start next year on a program to gradually improve social and economic conditions after comprehensive studies were completed.

Fadhel Al-Buainain, a member of the Shura Council, said that the island had historical importance.

Fadhel Al-Buainain, member of the Saudi Economists Association and member of the Shoura Council (L) and Abdullah Al-Khuzam, member of the National Program for the Development of Handicrafts.

“Developing Darin Castle and Darin Airport as heritage tourist destinations will enhance the cultural side,” he said. “The establishment of the largest forest on the banks of the Gulf will contribute to enhancing the environmental goals of the Kingdom.

“If eco-hotels are developed in natural areas, this will be an important base for eco-tourism, which will support the economy of the island.”

Al-Buainain, who is also a member of the Saudi Economists Association, said that the development plan would make an important economic contribution to the region.

“Providing small and medium investment and employment opportunities will have an important socio-economic impact,” he said, adding that the development would contribute to achieving the goals of Vision 2030.

Dr. Saad Dahlawi, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Imam Abd al-Rahman bin Faisal University, said he believed that the development announcement came at the perfect time.

“The Kingdom is witnessing unprecedented economic and developmental growth and following the standards of sustainable development,” he said.

Dahlawi added however that project leaders needed to assess impacts on the environment and especially on marine life to ensure that endangered species are not put at further risk.

“Such a study would provide decision-makers with a clear picture of how to implement the project sustainably,” he said.

Dahlawi said it was important to follow international environmental standards, as well as the standards and requirements of the National Center for Environmental Compliance, to avoid any damage to the environment.

Abdullah Al-Khuzam, a member of The National Handicraft Development Program, said the intention to turn Darin Airport into a heritage museum “means that a new prosperity period is being written on one of the oldest inhabited islands in the Arabian Gulf.”

He said that the museum and planned art festivals would help present “our ancient culture and civilization to the world.”

 

 


University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness

University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness
Updated 28 November 2022

University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness

University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness
  • The SFA is the main body responsible for promoting a healthy lifestyle in the Kingdom by providing sports activities

JEDDAH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation has signed a deal with the Arab Open University in Riyadh to cooperate on creating sports programs that will help build a healthy and active society.

Both organizations will also work together to promote sports culture and community sports to build a healthy lifestyle among the AOU’s students.

The federation will use the university’s sports facilities to launch initiatives and sports groups, organize community events and motivate students to take part.

SFA President Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal said the agreement was part of a strategy to work with partners and improve the health of the nation.

“We will also cooperate with the university in research, studies, data and statistics to attract a large number of university students to participate in sports and physical activities. This will help achieve our strategic objectives,” he said.

AOU Rector Ali Al-Shahrani said he was pleased to have signed the agreement.

“We seek to provide an integrated educational environment for our students by launching initiatives, sports events, and community programs within the university’s facilities. This agreement will help promote a sports culture among our students.

“We aim to provide multiple opportunities for people to participate in sports and physical activity in order to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent diseases.”

The SFA is the main body responsible for promoting a healthy lifestyle in the Kingdom by providing sports activities. Its priorities are education, community, volunteering, fitness and health, campaigns, and promotions for people of all ages.

The AOU operates in nine Arab countries. It was founded in 1996 by Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz as a nonprofit institution and a nontraditional education academic entity. It focuses on scientific, social and cultural subjects.

In 2002, it worked with the Open University in the UK to transform into an integrated institution.

 


Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh
Updated 27 November 2022

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh
  • RUSH event allows video-game aficionados to experience latest tech

RIYADH: The RUSH festival, the largest event for virtual sports and games, opened at the Riyadh Front on Saturday as part of the Riyadh Season of activities.

Over five days, it will provide gamers with the best-known games and real-life experiences.

They will get the chance to play real games such as “Fortnite,” “FIFA,” and “Valorant.” The event will also bring together the best international teams so that the biggest tournaments and direct qualifiers can be held on the e-sports stage.

Representatives of the 25 E-Sport organization greeted fans at the event’s meet-and-greet booth.

Aoun, the organization’s director of operations, told Arab News: “We have content makers and professional players in all games, and we came to meet the audience here.”

HIGHLIGHT

Over five days, the RUSH festival will provide gamers with the best-known games and real-life experiences. They will get the chance to play real games such as ‘Fortnite,’ ‘FIFA,’ and ‘Valorant.’

The festival aims to provide fun video games, competitions, and challenges through direct tournaments with prizes, and includes live entertainment shows, DJ performances, an augmented reality experience, and a cosplay competition.

The Valar Club booth was promoting e-sports for women.

Malak Al-Qahtani, founder of Valar Club, told Arab News: “Valar Club is the first licensed women’s club from the federation’s electronic sports, and our goal is to help female Saudi players, as they aspire to the world, and help with their training.”

Saudi YouTuber Pika Loli travelled from Jeddah to attend the event.

“This event brings together most of the YouTubers and gamers, and it is a good opportunity to get to know each other, and it will increase our followers and grow the channel on YouTube.”

Some of the cosplayers were dressed as video game characters.

Abdulelah Al-Qahtani said: “Today we are dressed as characters from the ‘Genshin Impact’ game, and I think this is so good that Saudi Arabia brought up a hidden community, like cosplayers and gamers.”

With a focus on the whole of the gaming industry, from console and PC gaming to mobile and e-sports, the RUSH festival aims to give gaming aficionados the opportunity to access and experience the latest tech and the chance to interact with each other in real life, and online.

Tickets for the event are available via https://riyadhseason.sa/event-details-en.html?id=599/en_RUSH.