US announces extension of visit visas for Saudis from 5 to 10 years

US announces extension of visit visas for Saudis from 5 to 10 years
The US Mission said extending the validity of visit visas aims to facilitate tourism and business between both countries. (AFP)
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Updated 16 July 2022

US announces extension of visit visas for Saudis from 5 to 10 years

US announces extension of visit visas for Saudis from 5 to 10 years
  • The step comes a day after US President Joe Biden arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of his first Mideast tour as president

RIYADH: The US announced extending visit visas for Saudi nationals from five to 10 years starting Aug. 1, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.

The step comes a day after US President Joe Biden arrived in Saudi Arabia for a two-day official visit as part of his first Mideast tour as president where he met Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and senior Saudi officials.

In a statement quoted in SPA, the US Mission said extending the validity of visit visas aims to facilitate tourism and business between both countries.

“Facilitating travel contributes to the prosperity of the economies of the Kingdom and the United States, boosts commercial partnerships and enhances mutual understanding between American and Saudi citizens,” the statement read.

The visa extension, the US Mission noted, also compliments the Interview Waiver Program announced earlier this year to exempt Saudi nationals aged 50 years or above from attending personal interviews to renew US tourist visas.


Saudis amplify bustling music scene with Jeddah’s Makan Music Center

Saudis amplify bustling music scene with Jeddah’s Makan Music Center
Updated 05 October 2022

Saudis amplify bustling music scene with Jeddah’s Makan Music Center

Saudis amplify bustling music scene with Jeddah’s Makan Music Center
  • Jeddah will be ‘one of the biggest cities for music,’ says DJ

JEDDAH: With a vibrant arts and culture scene, music has been an essential element in the social renaissance of the Kingdom. Following social reforms, many musicians surfaced to showcase their talent in the music industry.

Taking the opportunity, Makan Music Center in Jeddah opened its doors in 2018 as a small music center to teach aspiring musicians.

Abdulaziz Obaid, the CEO’s assistant, told Arab News that 2018 was “a powerful beginning for music learners and hobbyists.”

“In the beginning, we only had one room with all the instruments from deejaying to electric guitars and drums. Once we saw that there is a huge demand for music education in Jeddah, we moved to a bigger place to have separate rooms for each instrument class,” he said.

He added: “We can find musicians everywhere now from restaurants to shopping malls. There is also huge competition in this field,” he said.

Abdulaziz Obaid, Makan Music Center CEO’s assistant. (Supplied)

Obaid said Jeddawis have a thirst for music events and appreciate everything from Asian to Western content.

“Jeddawis are the ‘people of music’ and are very active in the music scene,” he said. “We also have a large number of musicians visiting from Riyadh and they ask about Makan and want us to open a branch there,” he added.

Hasnain Sheikh, a drumming instructor at the center, grew up in a family of musicians that inspired him to go in to the music field.

“Growing up, my father was a musician. He played the piano and he was also into production. We had room in our home … like wherever we moved from apartment to apartment, we (always) had a studio room, and his friends used to come over to jam and play music. I grew up looking at that and wanting to also take part in the art,” Sheikh told Arab News.

“Music has always been a part of my life, like other people play video games or play sports. I was at home playing music,” he added.

Sheikh takes the responsibility of being a drummer seriously. He believes it is important to spend time and know your instrument “rather than just knowing the basics as every little details goes into account.”

DJ instructor Mohammed Darweesh, also known as Code Dee, aspired to be a music teacher during his youth.

DJ instructor Mohammed Darweesh, also known as Code Dee, teaching his student on the mixer. (Supplied)

“I like teaching people, it’s been one of the things I wanted to do since I was a kid. I wanted to be a teacher. I like sharing information, especially if it’s about my passion,” said Darweesh, who joined the center five months ago. 

He became a DJ in 2015 with a particular interest in the underground scene, between minimal breaks, house and deep techno.

Speaking about his experiences from the underground music scene, Darweesh said people in Jeddah are always hungry for music events. 

“There are so many people in all the events. There are very talented people who were hidden and now are coming up because of the revolution of Saudi music,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful thing and Jeddah is going to be one of the best cities for music in Saudi Arabia.”
 


International literary experts discuss heritage preservation at Saudi book fair

International literary experts discuss heritage preservation at Saudi book fair
Updated 04 October 2022

International literary experts discuss heritage preservation at Saudi book fair

International literary experts discuss heritage preservation at Saudi book fair
  • The event played a prominent role in the ‘renaissance of literature, culture, science, and the arts’ in the Kingdom

RIYADH: Literary experts from around the world have been gathering in Saudi Arabia to help further cement the Kingdom’s position on the global heritage map.

Writers, publishers, and translators are among the delegates taking part in events and discussion sessions being held under the umbrella of the Riyadh International Book Fair, running at Riyadh Front until Oct. 8.

The fair’s program includes dialogue platforms, interactive lectures, and workshops covering art, reading, writing, publishing, bookmaking, and translation.

Chief executive officer of the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, Dr. Mohammed Alwan, said the event had made significant contributions to the Saudi literary scene and played a prominent role in the renaissance of literature, culture, science, and the arts in the Kingdom.

He described the fair as providing a cultural bridge to understanding others and being a major contributor to the national cultural movement.

Day five of the gathering witnessed six panel discussions, one titled “Saudi Arabia on the world heritage map.”

Saudi archaeological discoveries have recently drawn international attention and experts took to the stage to talk about the Kingdom’s future capabilities, its components, and its growing status as a global leader in heritage preservation.

Day five of the gathering witnessed six panel discussions, one titled ‘Saudi Arabia on the world heritage map.’ Speakers discussed how heritage could enhance Saudi Arabia’s cultural, economic standing. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Ibrahim Aglan, a college research professor at the faculty of letters and human sciences in the Moroccan capital Rabat, said culture was multi-faceted. “It’s a way of life, a way to enhance the Kingdom’s international standing, and economic prosperity.”

Acting general manager of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society, Rehaf Gassas, said: “The society is considered an arm of government bodies and agencies in preserving heritage and implementing specialized projects in this field.

“Whatever we do on our part as researchers, the community remains the sole owner of the heritage, knowing how it flowed and changed from generation to another, and how it is practiced.”

General manager of the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s intangible heritage, Ebtisam Al-Wehaibi, told delegates that the ultimate goal was communication between peoples.

She said: “It is amazing that we can get to know other people’s cultures and heritage and create a dialogue; that instead of looking for differences, you look for similarities.”

Al-Wehaibi noted that Saudi Arabia had been among 20 countries that got together after World War II to establish the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

“In 2020, the Kingdom joined the executive board of UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee,” she added.

A workshop was held on the role of the law in protecting cultural heritage by Dr. Muhammad Al-Sudais, a law professor at Al-Yamamah University, who spoke about the laws and penalties imposed on anyone who tries to harm heritage. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Meanwhile, a workshop run by Al-Yamamah University law professor, Dr. Muhammad Al-Sudais, looked at the role of the law in protecting cultural heritage.

He said: “With regard to the legal aspect, the Kingdom presented a wonderful model in the matter of preserving heritage.” And he pointed out that over recent years the Ministry of Culture had introduced a range of rules and regulations related to antiquities, museums, and urban heritage.

Al-Sudais noted that the Saudi Heritage Commission had added the 70-year-old oil Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline), built during the reign of King Abdulaziz, to the national register of industrial heritage, adding that the Kingdom’s urban heritage register provided an important source of information for research centers.

“The Kingdom is very interested in excavating antiquities and preventing licensing except for the authorities designated by the system.

“It also specified that it is not permissible for any person, whether a citizen or not, to sell antiquities and engage in any activity related to the import and export of antiquities without obtaining a license from the commission,” Al-Sudais said.
 


Saudi Arabia reports 155 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 155 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
Updated 04 October 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 155 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 155 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reported 155 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 816,975.

The authorities also confirmed three new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,360.

Of the new infections, 59 were recorded in Riyadh, 28 in Jeddah and 12 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 10 new cases each.

The ministry also announced that 124 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 804,033.

It said that 3,582 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 7,368 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to more than 44 million.

The ministry said that of the current cases, 39 were in critical condition.

More than 68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with over 25 million people fully vaccinated.
 


Saudi Arabia to celebrate World Teachers' Day

Saudi Arabia to celebrate World Teachers' Day
Updated 04 October 2022

Saudi Arabia to celebrate World Teachers' Day

Saudi Arabia to celebrate World Teachers' Day

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry will celebrate World Teachers’ Day, which falls on Oct. 5 each year, under the theme “The transformation of education begins with the teachers,” with three days of events, programs and activities in schools and education departments.

A special celebration at the ministry's headquarters in Riyadh will feature a performance of “The Vision’s Teacher” operetta, and an activity titled “For Teachers and Students.”

Activities in schools will allow students and teachers to express gratitude for the role of the teacher in the growth and development of learners.

Education departments, offices and schools in all regions and governorates will honor teachers by devoting the school radio program to presentations highlighting the role of teachers.

The ministry has praised the role of teachers in building generations by establishing and strengthening positive initiatives.
 


Fun seekers invited to roll up for retro skating disco in ancient AlUla

Fun seekers invited to roll up for retro skating disco in ancient AlUla
Updated 04 October 2022

Fun seekers invited to roll up for retro skating disco in ancient AlUla

Fun seekers invited to roll up for retro skating disco in ancient AlUla

ALULA: Fun seekers are being invited to get their skates on and head to the ancient city of AlUla for a new outdoor roller disco with music served up by international DJs.

AlUla on Wheels, being held in Al-Jadidah, will run from Thursday until Oct. 22, with organizers AlUla Moments promising an “old-school blast from the past” for roller-skate beginners and experts alike.

Skaters can “glide under the stars,” experience a different way of enjoying music, and join an international revival of the roller discos of the 1980s, all with skates and headphones provided.

The entertainment is curated by Good Intentions, an initiative started by Saudi Noor Taher and American record producer Swizz Beatz, the husband of US singer Alicia Keys.

Seating will be provided for those who want to soak up the entertainment without the potential bruises, and food trucks will also be open.

The venue is free to enter but those wishing to skate on the rink must buy a ticket.

Thursday and Friday nights have been reserved for the biggest parties. Tickets costing SR250 ($66.50) will allow entry for more than three hours of music from an international DJ playing what organizers promise will be “the world’s freshest music.” 

For all other nights, tickets for 45 minutes of skating, starting at SR40, are available on the AlUla website. The rink is open from 7 p.m. until midnight. 

AlUla on Wheels is being held as part of AlUla Wellness Festival, which aims to promote mental and physical health.

Follow @alulamoments and @experiencealula on Twitter for more information, or book via the website.