Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors

The bus shuttle service in Makkah, which was implemented three decades ago, has facilitated in organized traffic movement. Decades ago, people took arduous trips to Makkah on foot or camels. (Supplied)
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The bus shuttle service in Makkah, which was implemented three decades ago, has facilitated in organized traffic movement. Decades ago, people took arduous trips to Makkah on foot or camels. (Supplied)
Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors
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Transport underwent a huge revolution after the discovery of oil, leading to the use of cars, buses, aircraft and trains. (Supplied)
Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors
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Transport underwent a huge revolution after the discovery of oil, leading to the use of cars, buses, aircraft and trains. (Supplied)
Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors
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Transport underwent a huge revolution after the discovery of oil, leading to the use of cars, buses, aircraft and trains. (Supplied)
Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors
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Transport underwent a huge revolution after the discovery of oil, leading to the use of cars, buses, aircraft and trains. (Supplied)
Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors
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Transport underwent a huge revolution after the discovery of oil, leading to the use of cars, buses, aircraft and trains. (Supplied)
Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors
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Transport underwent a huge revolution after the discovery of oil, leading to the use of cars, buses, aircraft and trains. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 April 2022

Evolution of Makkah’s landscape and transport helps pilgrims, visitors

The bus shuttle service in Makkah, which was implemented three decades ago, has facilitated in organized traffic movement. Decades ago, people took arduous trips to Makkah on foot or camels. (Supplied)
  • Innovative ideas and technology have transformed movement around the city

MAKKAH: During the past few decades the transport sector in Makkah has overcome major challenges by implementing innovative ideas and technology, transforming the landscape of the city.

Dr. Samir Barqa, a researcher specializing in the history of Makkah, said that after God ordered the Prophet Ibrahim to perform pilgrimage, visitors began arriving by foot, horse and camel.

“Transport has evolved over time. People used to walk for months to reach Makkah, with a lot of them dying on the way. Then people started using camels, also known as ships of the desert. Then ‘howdas’ were invented to carry women and the Kiswa to cover the Kaaba. Caravans used to travel by the thousands. Pilgrimage paths and the Zubaidah trail are clear examples of this movement, with camel passageways bearing witness to the importance of these routes,” he said.

FASTFACTS

● Saad Al-Qurashi, an investor in the transport sector in Makkah, said that transport in Makkah had gone through a major revolution.

● Saad Al-Qurashi said that Makkah differs from other cities because of its difficult topography, which in the past had made the task of cutting the mountains to facilitate access to the central area around the Grand Mosque a major challenge.

Transport underwent a huge revolution after the discovery of oil, leading to the use of  cars, buses, aircraft and trains.

“Those who will look at the images of transportation today will see a clear difference and remarkable development, especially in the past 100 years. I had the honor, being a guide serving the pilgrims, to hold an exhibition highlighting the development of Hajj over time. The exhibition included a special pavilion for transport featuring images that showcase the development of this service over time,” Barqa said.

Saad Al-Qurashi, an investor in the transport sector in Makkah, said that transport in Makkah had gone through a major revolution.

Al-Qurashi explained that “whoever examines the transport movement in Makkah cannot but note the importance of the great development that this city has witnessed, a city that receives millions of Muslims from all over the world. The Kingdom was able to overcome this major challenge by launching Makkah buses of the highest standards. We have also the Haramain train, the Holy Sites train and public shuttle-bus transportation, all of which contribute to serving visitors and pilgrims.”

Al-Qurashi said that Makkah differs from other cities because of its difficult topography, which in the past had made the task of cutting the mountains to facilitate access to the central area around the Grand Mosque a major challenge.

He said that the “most important feature of this challenge was the ability of the country to turn the ruggedness of the mountains into tunnels that linked all regions of Makkah.”

These mountains, with their height and structure, constitute a natural barrier and an obstacle to reaching the opposite side of the mountain except by circumventing them; an exhausting, daunting and time-consuming task.

Government agencies searched for innovative ways, methods and solutions to overcome this challenge, resulting in the idea of building tunnels within the mountains.

Al-Qurashi said: “The public bus-shuttle transportation project, implemented three decades ago in the Holy Sites, contributed to ending traffic caused by normal transport systems.”

Makkah is now taking on the challenge to become a smart city with modern technical applications to create an advanced transportation system to further organize traffic movement.


Music and Web3: an intro to the state of the industry in the metaverse 

Updated 3 sec ago

Music and Web3: an intro to the state of the industry in the metaverse 

Music and Web3: an intro to the state of the industry in the metaverse 

RIYADH: Artists and industry professionals have an essential role to play in manifesting and entering the new dimension of the metaverse and Web3, a version of the internet based on blockchain. 

From full-fledged concerts and music scenes to audio-visual art, the metaverse is slowly becoming the newest music market to tap into. 

At the XP Music Futures conference, industry leaders and experts explored the various ways musicians, managers and record labels can use the platform to transform the music industry. With Saudi Arabia’s commitment to developing immersive and artificial intelligence technologies under Vision 2030, it is slowly becoming one of the fastest-growing markets globally. 

“We have all the new and human resources needed to create the city of the future,” Noor Said, A&R and product manager at MDLBEAST, said. 

“I believe what’s driving this big investment in the metaverse and AI is…the current situation of the country…We are already very connected to online content.”

The AI-driven metaverse provides infinite opportunities for creators to elevate music and create unprecedented immersive experiences through emerging technologies, such as non-fungible token concerts, music videos, brands, marketplaces and fan royalties. 

Sensorium’s Art Director and Deputy CEO Sasha Tityanko said: “The road to (virtual reality) adoption, as you might know, has been notoriously bumpy. Headsets have been clunky, heavy and uncomfortable to use, and entering a virtual reality game, for example, was the sort of thing we could not do. 

Fortunately, the hardware and software are evolving every day, and the concept is becoming more sophisticated and engaging…in particular, innovations in smartphone hardware coupled with state-of-the-art VR-compatible headsets. I expect (it) to be a significant market driver in the next decade.”

There are also massive advancements with 5G networks, with benefits in VR to reduced latency, delivering a smoother, richer and more engrossing user experience. 

Artists are given endless possibilities to manage their digital presence and performances; creators can generate a photorealistic avatar that mimics real-life goals and can adapt to different stages of their creative journey. 

Companies like Sensorium work to help artists and creators realize the most ambitious artist distributions with the help of this emerging technology. 

Since gravity and real-life limitations are nonexistent in the metaverse, designers can experiment with thousands of 3D architectural assets and elements, including virtual infrastructures, colors and lighting effects, to create limitless stages and concert venues.

For fans within cyber-physical distance, fans can have exclusive opportunities to engage in meet-and-greets, create stronger connections with the fandom communities, and experience a performance through the artists’ perspectives. 

While the concept sounds intriguing, the reality can play out very differently. One of the key challenges is that many of the biggest players in Web3 are intermediaries. Power is far from equitable, making ownership over blockchain networks unequally distributed and concentrated in the hands of early adopters and venture capitalists.

While legitimate actionable laws, rules and regulations have not been set around NFT and Web3 usage globally, there are few ways outside of the platform by which musicians can secure their rights.

However, creators and brands can use existing commercial rights and copyrights. For example, Gucci recently designed a virtual Roblox purse, which sold for over 25 percent of the retail price. The same can apply to music artists in terms of album covers, streams and track releases. 

In a more innovative approach, Dutch DJ Don Diablo made history by selling the first feature-length concert NFT film for $1.2 million last year. 

“The metaverse is innovative…Intellectual property in the metaverse world is very deep and has a very clear presence. We just need to unlock it,” Dr. Al-Hanoof Al-Debasi, executive director for copyright at the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property, told Arab News. 

“There are no laws in the metaverse…It’s a new technology, and the whole world is still unsure how to deal with it because they need to understand it first, as well as where the boundaries for one country end and where another begins.”

Her advice for aspiring artists looking to venture into the metaverse is to create their innovations in the physical world and file for registration, patents and copyrights, making sure to have physical documentation. 

After establishing concrete rights, they can then take their innovations to an emerging world. 


King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday

King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday
Updated 4 min 5 sec ago

King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday

King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday
  • The festival will feature entertainment, including cultural and heritage shows, and popular markets such as Al-Dahna Market
  • Several different breeds of camels will participate in around 75 competitions

RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Camel Festival will start on Thursday with the participation of thousands of camels that will compete for dozens of prizes worth over SR100 million ($26 million).
The 45-day festival, which is one of the largest camel festivals in the Middle East, has become a cultural, tourist, sports, entertainment and economic destination for citizens and residents of the Kingdom, and Gulf nationals in particular.
Held 130 km north of Riyadh, the festival will feature entertainment, including cultural and heritage shows, and popular markets such as Al-Dahna Market.
Several different breeds of camels will participate in around 75 competitions.
Journalist Ayedh Al-Abdullah told Arab News that the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival is an important part of the national economy as it attracts domestic, regional and foreign tourists, and creates job opportunities for both men and women.
A large number of foreign delegates visit the festival and enjoy its various activities, Al-Abdullah said. Featured at the festival are also a seasonal commercial market and booths and food trucks, where local families can sell their goods.
“The festival is of great importance as it shows Saudi culture and authentic heritage. It’s an invitation to get to know the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia closely,” Al-Abdullah said.
“The camels have cultural and historical value in the economy of the Arabian Peninsula,” he said, describing the festival as “a unique opportunity” to highlight this for younger generations.
Zael Al-Daihani, one of the camel owners who will be present at the festival, told Arab news: “This is an opportunity to keep our heritage alive and highlight the importance of camels in our history.
“Winning is a symbolic matter, just a recognition of your efforts and an indication that your camels are the best. The competition is a regional event full of events and opportunities to meet new people and reunite with old friends,” he added.
Last year’s camel festival featured more than 70 rounds of competition, over a period of 43 days, with prizes amounting to approximately SR250 million.


Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science
  • The three-day conference is themed “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, time and humanity”
  • Abdullah Al-Mutairi, president of the Saudi Philosophy Association, told Arab News: “The equation of philosophy with other sciences is as old as humanity”

RIYADH: The second Riyadh International Philosophy Conference opens on Thursday, bringing together philosophers, scientists, authors and contemporary thinkers from around the world to explore philosophy and its modern applications.
The three-day conference, organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Saudi Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, is themed “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, time and humanity.”
The forum, which will be open to public, will shed light on the state of contemporary science, space diplomacy, climate change, cognitive justice, ethics in exploration, and artificial intelligence quandaries to assess the possibility of these topics in defining humanity’s future.
On the sidelines of the conference, a series of lectures, panel discussions and workshops will also be held, in addition to a children’s philosophical pavilion.
Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission Executive Director Mohammed Alwan said: “The success of the last edition of the conference led to the reinforcement of the Kingdom’s international role in philosophy and reinforced its status as a regional center for philosophical discussion.”
Abdullah Al-Mutairi, president of the Saudi Philosophy Association, told Arab News: “The equation of philosophy with other sciences is as old as humanity. Natural sciences give us important and fundamental reports on reality, while philosophy is concerned with asking about the meaning, value and connotation that result from those reports provided by natural sciences or experimental sciences in general.
“This equation is both possible and necessary, on which we rely as modern technology evolves, as well as the ethical, cognitive, and existential concerns raised by man’s experience with all of these developments.”
He said that the society of philosophy is a community-based institution that seeks to highlight the significance of philosophical thought in human renaissance and societal advancement.
“It depends on active engagement of society, as we have seen in the past two years when the society began its work.”
Al-Mutairi, who is also an associate professor of education at King Saud University, said that community interaction took place at different levels of attendance, participation in events, lectures, seminars, philosophical writing and publishing as well as volunteering and collaborative initiatives.
 


Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition

Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition
Updated 30 November 2022

Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition

Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition
  • Elena Habhab: I was overjoyed to win first place in the Gulf’s first international competition
  • During the summer, Habhab trained for eight hours each day, and when school started, four hours

RIYADH: Young Saudi gymnast Elena Habhab bagged first place at the inaugural GCC Grand Series Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship, staged in the UAE.

The event, held at Al Nasr Sports Hall in Dubai on Nov. 26 and 27, involved its female participants moving gracefully to music while holding props such as ribbons, or a ball.

More than 300 gymnasts from five Gulf Cooperation Council nations — the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia — took part and were judged on agility and the difficulty of movements.

Six-year-old Habhab, who competed in the baby junior category, told Arab News: “I was overjoyed to win first place in the Gulf’s first international competition. I wanted to take part and proudly carry the flag of my nation.”

During the summer, the youngster trained for eight hours each day, and when school started, four hours. She also had private ballet lessons.

She won seven medals in her first year of competition in Moscow, where she receives professional training, and she hopes to participate in similar contests in Saudi Arabia.

Habhab said: “I hope that these competitions will take place in Saudi Arabia and that I will have the opportunity to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics.”

Her mother, Rima Wannous, said: “We are Elena’s family, her biggest supporters and fans, and we are ready to give her everything we have so that she can continue her dream of reaching the Olympics.

“As a mother, I was very nervous before the tournament and could not sleep, but when the result was announced, I felt very happy and proud.

“Of course, my six-year-old daughter was able to prove herself and achieve the result that she has worked so hard for, and now she has eight medals.”

Next week, Habhab will participate in Dubai in an international tournament, before competing in an open club event in Moscow at the end of December, and then an international tournament in India in January.


Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets

Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets

Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets
  • Officials seized 2,035,200 pills found hidden in shipment of kitchen wood planks

RIYADH: Saudi authorities in Riyadh have thwarted an attempt to smuggle millions of amphetamine tablets, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Spokesman for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, Maj. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi, said that during a security follow-up operation on drug smuggling and distribution networks targeting the Kingdom, officials seized 2,035,200 amphetamine pills that had been hidden among a shipment of kitchen wood planks.

Four people found in possession of drugs were arrested in Riyadh and have been referred to the Public Prosecution.

Al-Nujaidi said the Interior Ministry, through its various security agencies and in coordination with the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, would continue to deal firmly with any individuals caught trying to sneak drugs into the country.