How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia

Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for The Line development at NEOM on July 25. (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The Line will stretch 170 km across northwestern Saudi Arabia. Once completed, the world’s largest structure will accommodate 9 million residents using a cutting-edge vertical design. (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The idea of layering city functions vertically is a concept referred to as “Zero Gravity Urbanism.” (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The Line designs embody how urban communities might look in the future in an environment free of roads, cars and emissions. (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The idea of layering city functions vertically is a concept referred to as “Zero Gravity Urbanism.” (Supplied)
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Updated 26 July 2022

How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia

How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says the development will shine a light on alternative ways to live
  • Narrow design intended to reduce man-made footprint on landscape, promote greater efficiency

RIYADH: With some 56 percent of the world’s population now living in cities, urban sustainability and public well-being have become a growing concern for governments worldwide.

To address these challenges, Saudi Arabia is boldly experimenting with how urban spaces are designed with its revolutionary NEOM smart city and its flagship development — The Line.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for The Line — one of several mega-projects now underway as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform and economic diversification plan.

He said that the design would clarify the internal structure of the multi-layered city and address the problems of traditional flat horizontal cities, achieving harmony between urban development and the preservation of nature, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the initial idea and vision of the city that redefines the concept of urban development, and what cities of the future should look like, in January 2021.

During Monday’s announcement, the crown prince said that The Line would achieve “ideal living” and address the urgent challenges facing humanity.




The Line designs embody how urban communities might look in the future in an environment free of roads, cars and emissions. (Supplied) 

“NEOM is one of the most important projects of the Saudi Vision 2030 and The Line is an affirmation of our firm commitment to presenting a project to the whole world. NEOM is a place for those who dream of a better tomorrow,” he said.

The designs of The Line embody how urban communities will live in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions, he added.

The crown prince said that the project, which offers a new approach to urban design, would run on 100 percent renewable energy and prioritize people’s health.




Different from tall buildings, the concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work. (Supplied)

“The idea of layering city functions vertically and giving people the possibility of moving seamlessly in three dimensions to access them is a concept referred to as Zero Gravity Urbanism,” he said.

According to the design plan revealed on Monday, The Line will have an outer mirror facade that will provide the structure its unique character and allow even its small footprint to blend with nature, while its interior will be built to create “extraordinary experiences and magical moments,” the crown prince added.

The Line will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of 34 square kilometers, which is unheard of when compared to other cities of similar capacity, according to Monday’s statement.




The designs of The Line embody how urban communities will live in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions. (Supplied)

Different from tall buildings, the concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work.

The narrow design is intended to reduce the man-made footprint on the landscape and promote greater efficiency. The city will feature a high-speed rail link with an end-to-end transit time of just 20 minutes.

The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. Residents will also have access to all facilities in The Line within a five-minute walk.

“The Line will be created by a team of world-renowned architects and engineers, led by NEOM, to develop this revolutionary concept for the city of the future,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

Furthermore, the city’s design will be completely digitized, and the construction industrialized to a large degree by significantly advancing construction technologies and manufacturing processes.




The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. (Supplied)

The design has already enjoyed good reception for its boldness and ambition. According to Mohamed Ramady, a London-based economist, the vision for The Line is nothing short of revolutionary, despite some skepticism from traditional urban developers.

“The concept of Zero Gravity Urbanism will be something that future generations will come to accept as a viable mode of urban, renewable energy-based community living comparable to epoch-making urban developments in history that were also not easily accepted,” Ramady told Arab News.

“The crown prince’s bold proposals aptly underscores what NEOM is all about, that all of humanity, not only Saudi Arabia, will benefit from.”

For Mohammed Al-Suwayed, CEO of Razeen Capital, the appeal of NEOM is in its youthfulness and willingness to break with old ways of building as well as living.

“I’m still not sure the world is getting the crown prince’s message from NEOM,” Al-Suwayed told Arab News.

“It is an idea that is meant to challenge the norms. I believe NEOM is not for the ones with traditional skills and experience. It is for young people with limited traditional experience but who are ambitious and visionary, and pragmatic at the same time.”

Situated in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea, spanning an area of around 26,500 square kilometers, and made up of 41 coastal islands, NEOM — which means “new future” — is billed as a living laboratory for entrepreneurship, new technologies, new models for livability, and environmental conservation.

With backing from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, as well as local and international investors, planners say the $500 billion NEOM project will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centers, sports and entertainment venues and tourist destinations.

Its location means it is ideally situated to attract global investment by taking advantage of existing commercial routes. Around 13 percent of the world’s trade passes through the Red Sea, and some 40 percent of the world is less than six hours away by air.

The unique geographical location of NEOM ensures a temperate climate, roughly 10 degrees Celsius cooler on average than the rest of the GCC, cradled in a mountainous region that is home to some of the Kingdom’s most diverse terrain.

With sustainability at the core of the project, some 95 percent of NEOM’s land is conserved for environmental protection. All energy in NEOM will be 100 percent renewable — from solar, wind and hydrogen-based power generation — ensuring clean and pollution-free urban environments.

Communities will be built around people, not cars, with raised walkways connecting the site. Roads and streets will be replaced by piazzas and walkable boulevards filled with parks and green spaces. Communities empowered by artificial intelligence will learn and predict ways to make life easier to save time for residents and businesses.

The Line itself will connect four distinctive ecologies: coast, desert, mountains, and upper valley. Nature will be integrated into the heart of the communities, enhancing livability and well-being. It will also be supported by agricultural areas, supporting locally grown and sustainable food production.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the initial idea and vision with a view to redefine the concept of urban development and what cities of the future should look like.




The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. (Supplied)

“At The Line’s launch last year, we committed to a civilizational revolution that puts humans first based on a radical change in urban planning,” he said on Monday.

“The designs revealed today for the city’s vertically layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation, and enhanced human livability.

“The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.”




The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. (Supplied)

The crown prince added: “We cannot ignore the livability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues. NEOM is leading a team of the brightest minds in architecture, engineering and construction to make the idea of building upward a reality.”

The announcement of The Line’s designs is a continuation of NEOM’s progress in the development of its flagship projects, such as Oxagon, its reimagined manufacturing and innovation city, and Trojena, its mountain tourism destination that will offer the Arabian Gulf’s first outdoor skiing resort.

Covering an area of roughly 48 square kilometers, Oxagon will feature the world’s largest floating platform and will be powered using 100 percent clean energy. 

 

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TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany

TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany
Updated 06 October 2022

TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany

TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany
  • German Embassy: Starting from October 2022, applications for Schengen visa to Germany can only be lodged with the new service provider TLScontact
  • TLScontact works with governments worldwide to provide visa and consular services on their behalf to travelers and citizens

RIYADH: Starting from this month, applications for Schengen visas to Germany can only be lodged with the new service provider TLScontact, according to the German Embassy in Riyadh.

Founded in 2007, TLScontact works with governments worldwide to provide visa and consular services on their behalf to travelers and citizens.

Until the end of September 2022, applications for Schengen visas were lodged with VFS Global visa service.

“Starting from October 2022, applications for Schengen visa to Germany can only be lodged with the new service provider TLScontact. TLS Application centers in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar will be at your service,” the German Embassy tweeted.

The TLScontact application centers commenced operations this week, with the Riyadh center operating from Oct. 4, the Jeddah center from Oct. 5, and Alkhobar center from Oct. 6.

Appointments will initially be available in limited numbers.

“We kindly ask for your understanding. If you are planning a trip to Germany in October or November, please book your visa appointment well in advance,” said the embassy.

All applicants who have lodged their applications with VFS Global until the end of September will receive their passports back through VFS Global, as from October onwards, visa applications for Germany can only be lodged through TLScontact.

The mandatory steps to apply for a Schengen visa include completing the Videx form; registering on the TLS website; preparing supporting documents and making an appointment; submitting an application and providing biometric data at the application center, and returning to the center to collect the passport. The applicant can also use express courier service.

For more information concerning locations, opening hours, and booking of appointments, applicants can see the webpage of TLScontact https://visas-de.tlscontact.com/visa/sa


Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen

Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen
Updated 06 October 2022

Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen

Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen
  • Organizers have announced restored versions of ‘Watch Out for Zouzou’ and ‘Love in Karnak’ will screen during the 10-day celebration of regional and international cinema

JEDDAH: Movie lovers can look forward to screenings of restored versions two classics of Egyptian musical cinema during the second Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah in December.

In collaboration with the Arab Radio and Television Network, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture’s investment holding company for cinema, and Media Production City in Egypt, the festival will showcase on the big screen for an international audience 1972’s “Khali Balak min Zouzou” (“Watch Out for Zouzou”) and 1967’s “Gharam fil Karnak” (“Love in Karnak”).

Mohammed Al-Turki, the CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, told Arab News: “Today, our accomplishment is two gems richer with ‘Watch Out for Zouzou’ and ‘Love in Karnak,’ films that do not only represent major milestones in the history of Egyptian cinema but stand as shining testaments to the brilliance of great artists such as the ‘Cinderella of Egyptian Cinema,’ the late (actress) Soad Hosny, and the multi-talented performer, Mahmoud Reda.”

Reda, who died in 2020, was an iconic Egyptian choreographer and the creative mind behind fantastical dance routines in a number of films, including “Agazet Nus El-Sana” (“Mid-term Vacation”) and “Harami El-Waraqa” (“The Lottery Ticket Thief”).

Antoine Khalife, RSIFF’s director of Arab Programs and Film Classics, told Arab News: “We wanted to pay homage to the great choreographer Mahmoud Reda, who died during the (pandemic) period, and the restoration of ‘Gharam fil Karnak’ is a love letter from the Red Sea for this exceptional artist who made contemporary Egyptian dance shine throughout the world.”

In “Love in Karnak,” Reda’s dance sequences are key to the plot as a group of young dancers try to hit the big time in the entertainment industry while struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile, lead dancer Amina and the troupe’s director, Salah, start to develop romantic feelings for each other, which results in a series of misunderstandings that complicates matters for everyone.

The film is widely acclaimed for the position it holds in the history of Arab filmmaking and so its restoration and screening at the festival is intended to serve as a tribute to its creators and performers, an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers, and a demonstration of the vibrancy and prominence of the Arab film industry through the years.

“The preservation of film heritage has been at the heart of the Red Sea Film Festival since its first year,” Kalife said. “We started by restoring the films of (Saudi photographer and cinematographer) Safouh Naamani and then we worked to highlight the work of important filmmakers such as Khairy Beshara, Youssef Chahine and Raafat El-Mehy.”

“Watch out for Zouzou,” which will have a 50th anniversary screening at the festival, is a love story laced with underlying social commentary that stars Hosny, who was one of the most beloved actresses in the Arab world.

She stars as Zouzou, who seems to have it all: The grades, the social popularity and the intelligence. However, her true passion is performing and so she practices her craft in the evenings as she sings and dances for her mother’s friends at private parties.

Considering the scandalous nature of her job in 1970s Egypt, she tries to keep her life as a performer a secret from her peers. This seems to be working out until she falls for a new, and engaged, university lecturer who teaches the theatrical arts. The situation becomes ever-more complicated when his fiance learns of the blossoming romance.

The film became one of the highest-grossing Arab films in history and made stars of its lead pairing, Hosny and Hussein Fahmy, while the music, by Salah Jaheen and Kamal El-Tawil, is sure to spark feelings of nostalgia in audiences who see the restored version of the film, reflecting the timeless love for Arab and Egyptian cinema.

“For this year, we could not miss ‘Khali Balak men Zouzou,’ a film produced just 50 years ago that has left an exceptional impact on generations, and not only because of the magnificent songs and the sublime Soad Hosny but, above all, because of the modernity in which the story was created,” Khalife said.

Al-Turki, who is a film producer in his own right, highlighted the importance of film restoration projects in preserving Arab culture and creativity.

“This initiative was taken by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation to confirm our commitment and sense of responsibility toward preserving this precious cinematic heritage, and in recognition of its importance in shaping the memory and awareness of cinephiles,” he said.

“By resurrecting them and passing them on to new generations of artists and filmmakers, we can all learn from these restored masterpieces, enjoy them anew in light of modern restoration techniques and even rejuvenate our inspiration, evolving our plans for the art of cinema.

“This gesture didn’t solely come with cinematic goals in mind but cultural as well. The arts, cinema included, are mirrors of societies and in their restoration lies the preservation of heritage and the revival of civilizations and the building blocks of their identities.”

The restored Egyptian classics are part of a yet-to-be-announced program of regional and international films that will screen during the festival in Jeddah between Dec. 1 and Dec. 10. Organizers said it will include a retrospective program celebrating leaders in the industry, introduce audiences to local and international emerging voices, and aims to further cultural discourse and exchanges through film competitions, masterclasses and workshops.


Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed

Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed
Updated 06 October 2022

Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed

Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed
  • The resort was established as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve care services provided to the elderly in the country

MAKKAH: The Saudi-based Charitable Society for Honoring the Elderly (Ikram) recently announced the completion of the Ikram National Resort project in Al-Baha (southwest of Saudi Arabia), which is the first of its kind in the Kingdom.

The resort was established as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve care services provided to the elderly in the country. The completion of the resort was announced during the International Day of Older Persons.

“The idea of the project was that of Dr. Saeed bin Saad Al-Martan, the chairman of the board (Ikram) and the godfather of our association and its greatest supporter,” Abdul Rahman Abu Riah, CEO of Ikram, told Arab News.

“It emerged from building an aesthetic resort for those with no first-degree relatives, which was the basis for founding Ikram,” he added.

Abu Riah said that the project will provide permanent services for elderly people with no family members. Temporary services will also be provided for the elderly whose children suffer from poor economic conditions or those who cannot offer their parents proper services due to drug addictions and mental illness, among other issues.

Moreover, temporary services will be provided to the elderly whose children have left the country to study abroad or those who need a temporary home due to the absence of family members.

According to Abu Riah, there is a third category of services concerned with day care, where the elderly receive all types of care and services from morning until evening.

“This resort is keen to achieve life quality, which is a goal listed under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he added.

To benefit from the services provided, the elderly must be older than 60, free from high-class mental illnesses or infectious diseases, not have a first-class family member, and be able to afford the financial fees.

“The association will be in charge of settling the fees on behalf of the poor and people in need through an elderly sponsorship program with the aid of the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development as well as large supporting companies.

“The association has received great support from Prince Hussam bin Saud, governor of Al-Baha, who has followed up and supported the project in person. The project will be launched next week as it began on the International Day of Older Persons in 2019.”

He added that the project is part of the initial phase of the first Ikram Resort, which will welcome 210 elderly people, including 120 women and 90 men, distributed among 120 rooms and suites comprising two to four beds. The resort has a large pool, a jacuzzi, a steam bath and a theater.

The latter will represent a turning point for the elderly, as it will host talk shows and cultural programs supervised by specialists, in addition to visitors from universities and schools, where the elderly can share their experiences and expertise, as well as social contributions. Multi-purpose halls will also be available, including sports equipment, an outdoor walkway, a library and clinics.

“One of our goals is to transform the Al-Baha region into a healing destination, where Ikram will be a first-class tourist healing hub specialized in physical therapy. We must first start with attracting qualified national cadres of both sexes who are specialized in physical therapy, as the government and private entities, in addition to businessmen and volunteers, have concerted and prioritized their efforts to give this decent aspect to the resort,” he said.

According to Abu Riah, the project started with land granted by the state, with a total surface area of 30,000 square meters, located in an ideal spot.

“We are now heading to the second stage of our project, which is concerned with married couples with no children. We are also working on the Montana tourist resorts, which include hotel villas for those wishing to enjoy the beauty of our nature while granting their families the opportunity to benefit from the available services.”


Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day

Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day
Updated 06 October 2022

Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day

Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education is marking World Teachers’ Day, which falls on Oct. 5 each year, with three days of celebrations under the theme “The transformation of education begins with the Teachers.”

The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization tweeted a message about the event, saying: “ICESCO calls for placing teachers at the forefront of efforts aimed at transforming education. It also calls for strongly reconsidering the teaching profession to create creative and innovative minds and build balanced and capable personalities.”

In line with the human capacity development program and achieving the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Saudi teachers have taken part in training and development projects that have raised the level of professional qualification and the quality of education and learning.

Minister of Education Yousef Al-Benyan tweeted on his official Twitter account, praising the efforts of all teachers across the Kingdom.

He wrote: “I congratulate my fellow teachers on the occasion of #WorldTeachersDay. Appreciating their efforts, praising their contributions and their educational role in building humans and forming a competitive society that achieves sustainable development goals for the country.”

Al-Benyan added that teachers are partners in the journey of work, effort and development to achieve the aspirations of wise leadership.

He said that teaching stands at the top of the humanitarian professions pyramid, and urged students to respect teachers.

Ghadeer Shaheen, an early childhood teacher from Alkhobar, told Arab News how she and her colleagues were treated on their special day.

She said: “The place was full of joy. We exchanged gifts. Giveaways were also distributed to us by our students as a gratitude gesture from the school principal.”

Mariam Al-Shomrani, a chemistry teacher at the Gifted Secondary School in Jeddah, said: “Congratulations from the bottom of my heart to every teacher. You are the educators of generations and engineers of minds.

“I would like to also thank every teacher who taught me and made an effort to help me reach what I am now.”

The Ministry of Education has contributed to the development of innovation in teaching methods, in particular in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Suliman Mukhtar, an English lecturer from Yanbu, said that being a teacher meant always learning more about the vocation and obtaining more professional development through exposure to different teaching methods.

He added: “We learn from our students and we get to have different perspectives when we face challenges.

“As we interact with different age groups and different backgrounds of students, this helps us to try new strategies and techniques, and it is all fun that we get to experience this and learn more from it.”

The Ministry of Education continues to implement projects and programs for the educational professional, in addition to building a system for professional development in the public education sector.


KSRelief donates aid, medical services to Lebanon, Sudan, Bangladesh, Yemen

KSRelief donates aid, medical services to Lebanon, Sudan, Bangladesh, Yemen
Updated 06 October 2022

KSRelief donates aid, medical services to Lebanon, Sudan, Bangladesh, Yemen

KSRelief donates aid, medical services to Lebanon, Sudan, Bangladesh, Yemen
  • KSRelief continued its relief efforts in Lebanon, Sudan, Bangladesh and Yemen this week

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) continued its relief efforts in Lebanon, Sudan, Bangladesh and Yemen this week.
KSRelief teams distributed 1,187 cartons of dates in the Beqaa Governorate in Lebanon to 6,000 Syrian and Palestinian refugees, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The move comes within KSRelief’s project of ensuring food security for refugees and the host community in Lebanon, according to SPA.
In Sudan, the center distributed 8 tons of food baskets 1,052 people earlier this week who were affected by the most recent floods.
The efforts were part of the Saudi aid airlift, directed by King Salman.
About 2,625 food baskets were also distributed to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
A total of 13,125 refugees benefitted from the donation in the Cox’s Bazar district.
The move comes as part of the Kingdom’s mission to distribute food baskets to displaced people from Myanmar and their host communities in Bangladesh throughout 2022, SPA said.
In Yemen’s Hajjah governorate, KSRelief treated 604 patients from Sept. 21 to 27 at mobile medical clinics that the center set up.
The clinics also provided 302 individuals with medications, SPA reported.