JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday welcomed the arrival of the first overseas pilgrims, marking the beginning of the Umrah season for the new Islamic year, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The new Umrah season began on Saturday, with authorities in the Kingdom receiving visa requests from July 14.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said: “In conjunction with the arrival of pilgrims from abroad to the Grand Mosque, the presidency continues to implement field services according to standards that take into account the latest developments in service excellence to create a safe worshipping environment and provide the finest services to the pilgrims of the Grand Mosque from all over the world.”
The authority said it began preparations to provide the services early on, in line with crowd management plans, and prepared the Grand Mosque in Makkah and its courtyards to facilitate the Umrah rituals for pilgrims with ease and tranquillity.
It also said it had prepared the services in line with plans following the return of the Umrah season after the completion of this year’s Hajj, adding that specific areas and entrances had been allocated to pilgrims to ensure the smooth movement of crowds.
Popstar Jason Derulo lauds AlUla’s unique ‘blend of worlds’
Singer says Saudi Arabia becoming world’s most attractive destination
Updated 27 September 2022
ALULA: In the historical epicenter for cross-cultural exchange, between the majestic mountains of AlUla, popstar Jason Derulo took the stage to deliver a performance unlike any other at the second edition of the Azimuth music festival on Saudi National Day last weekend.
The American artist entranced the crowd with some of his most recent hits, including “Swalla” and “Jelebi Baby,” as well as some of his older fan favorites such as “Solo” and “In My Head.”
The concert took place in the same valley that hosted the contemporary art exhibition Desert X earlier this year, ensuring a special music experience for nationals and visitors alike in celebration of the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day.
“Any time you can come to a place and have an experience … it makes the show so much better because it’s something that’s completely different that you can’t get anywhere else,” Derulo told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
Historically known as a strategic crossroads for trade and pilgrimage routes, the settlement conceals hidden gems such as the narrow valley oasis and the unique Elephant Rock. As part of the Madinah province, AlUla is a symbol of the cultural richness found throughout the eastern region of Saudi Arabia and beyond.
Any time that I can spread the word about how incredible this place is, I jump at the opportunity, and this is another one of those opportunities.
“Coming through the rock and all the sand, it’s almost like it’s a hideaway from everything, and to bring all of this luxury to the middle of the desert is unlike any other experience,” he said.
“Here you get to really see all the stars, you get to see all the rock, the mountains, you get a piece of that world. Then you bring the highest level of luxury to it and it’s just a blend of worlds that you can’t get anywhere else,” Derulo added.
Derulo has performed throughout the region, headlining in Saudi for the first time in 2018 at the Saudia Diriyah E-Prix alongside Enrique Iglesias, The Black Eyed Peas, and Egypt’s Amr Diab.
“I’ve been performing for a very long time and I can say that this experience was unique, unlike any experience I’ve ever had. I’ve performed all over the world and even coming here today, I pulled out my phone — I was like, ‘this is amazing,’” he said.
The three-day Azimuth festival is one of several initiatives, forming part of Vision 2030, to position the Kingdom as a tourism hub.
• The American artist entranced the crowd with some of his most recent hits, including ‘Swalla’ and ‘Jelebi Baby,’ as well as some of his older fan favorites such as ‘Solo’ and ‘In My Head.’
• The concert took place in the same valley that hosted the contemporary art exhibition Desert X earlier this year, ensuring a special music experience for nationals and visitors alike in celebration of the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day.
• Jason Derulo commended the efforts made to globalize local talent and create new avenues for entertainment, recalling his performance during the professional LIV Golf tour, financed by the Public Investment Fund.
“I was actually one of the first performers, if not the first performer, that performed with an integrated crowd between men and women here, and I feel honored and blessed to be a small piece of history.”
“Any time that I can spread the word about how incredible this place is, I jump at the opportunity, and this is another one of those opportunities,” Derulo said.
“I love that people from across the world have come here and made this home because it really is a special place. They have a sense of pride, a small piece of ownership even, you would think that they were from here and they know so much about the history,” he added.
The artist believes that Saudi Arabia is on the verge of becoming one of the “biggest” attractions in the world.
“This is something that’s just starting, though people are just now starting to see it, I’m sure this has been in the works for such a long time. There’s still so much room for growth, but it’s already incredible,” he said.
Bringing in a diverse lineup of both local and international artists was a key goal for the event, collaborated by entertainment festival MDLBEAST and the Royal Commission for AlUla.
Ahmed Alammary, the Saudi DJ and chief creative at MDLBEAST, told Arab News that this celebration was a chance to create cultural exchange opportunities with international artists while also catering to a local audience.
Derulo commended the efforts made to globalize local talent and create new avenues for entertainment, recalling his performance during the professional LIV Golf tour, financed by the Public Investment Fund.
“This is becoming a melting pot, and it’s beautiful to see … I think Saudi is really pushing the envelope in terms of tourism and technology. When you think of arts when you think of entertainment, Saudi has become really high up on the list because they really took a stand and really took a giant leap in that world,” Derulo said.
Who’s Who: Mishaal Ashemimry, vice president of the International Astronautical Federation
Updated 26 September 2022
Saudi engineer Mishaal Ashemimry is the newly elected vice president of the International Astronautical Federation, becoming the first Saudi woman to hold the position after receiving 14 majority votes from international representatives.
Her role as one of the federation’s 12 vice presidents enables her to further the development of the space sector globally and consolidate the direction of the IAF.
As a Saudi woman and the first aerospace engineer in the Gulf Cooperation Council, her position strategically places the Kingdom at the forefront of the industry and highlights the country as a global leader in the field.
Since September 2021, Ashemimry has served as special advisor to the CEO of the Saudi Space Commission Mohammed Al-Tamimi, a position in which she consults on developing a national space strategy, creates and leads space programs, and advises leadership on direction and execution.
Ashemimry was previously a space nuclear technology consultant at the aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman. She also conducted research funded by the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center during her time as a research assistant at the Florida Institute of Technology
At 26 years old, the engineer was also president and CEO of her own aerospace company, MISHAAL Aerospace, established in 2010. The company developed space rockets, designed and launched its own line of cost-effective rockets titled the “M-rocket” series, completed static tests for hybrid rocket propulsion systems and provided global consultation.
In 2015, Ashemimry won the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award at the Arab Women Awards and in 2018 was awarded for her scientific achievements by King Salman.
She received her bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and aerospace engineering in 2006 and her master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 2007, both from the Florida Institute of technology.
She is a certified Nitrox, rescue and open water diver, a commercial pilot and is trained in real space flight conditions of zero-gravity.
Ashemimry is an expert in aerodynamics, missile and rocket stage separation analysis, vehicle design, wind tunnel testing, simulations and analysis, and computational tool development.
Volunteers clear litter from hiking routes near Jeddah
Over 4,000 plastic bottles, 1,000 cans, glass shards collected
Earth Trails focuses on environmentally friendly life, says GM
Updated 26 September 2022
JEDDAH: Volunteers from a local tourism group recently cleared heaps of garbage from hiking trails in Asfan as part of their social responsibility commitments, and to ensure a pristine environment for outdoor enthusiasts.
Asfan is a small city surrounded by hiking trails running through its unique terrain and striking rock formations, making it a favorite destination for people living in Jeddah.
The cleanup was undertaken by Earth Trails, a company licensed by the Saudi Tourism Ministry, that specializes in hiking tours and trips around the Kingdom.
Dr. Shadi Badawood, the general manager of Earth Trails, said: “Natural trails in Saudi Arabia need more attention by all nature enthusiasts and the public.” This initiative would hopefully inspire people to keep the country’s natural spaces clean, he said.
Dr. Shadi Badawood, the general manager of Earth Trails, said plastic takes 450 years to decompose, aluminum 80 years, and glass one million years.
Earth Trails’ members collected more than 4,000 plastic bottles, over 1,000 aluminum cans, and a significant number of glass shards. Badawood said plastic takes 450 years to decompose, aluminum 80 years, and glass one million years.
“It is part of our responsibility to take the initiative to clean up these trails, and encourage other individuals to follow in our steps,” Badawood said. Many people do not realize how much they are harming the environment by littering, he said.
Around 25 volunteers participated in the initiative. Badawood said he was pleased with the turnout and hopes the next event will attract more participants.
“We do have a number of volunteering members who really love nature and we admire their actions (to) take care of the environment, and we encourage them to learn new ways to sustain the ecosystem around us,” said Sarah Fida, volunteer coordinator at Earth Trails.
Muath Al-Ahmadi, a volunteer, said: “I’m a nature enthusiast and I believe that one of the most significant points about the cleanup initiatives is awareness. The participation in such programs with hiking groups is a big step towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly life.” Seeing the amount of waste on the trails should make people “rethink” their consumption, Al-Ahmadi added.
Another volunteer, Yousef Albouq, said: “When I joined … I felt excited and happy. I think events like this will contribute to reducing waste, and I hope such initiatives of Earth Trails will … raise people’s awareness of putting trash in the right place.”
He said those who willingly contributed their time showed how committed they are to protecting the environment.
The ministry aims to raise awareness of the importance of tourism in Saudi Arabia as an axis and a fundamental pillar of development within the objectives of Vision 2030
Updated 26 September 2022
RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Tourism is taking part in celebrations for World Tourism Day 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, on Sept. 27, to promote tourism as a key pillar of development.
The ministry aims to raise awareness of the importance of tourism in Saudi Arabia as an axis and a fundamental pillar of development within the objectives of Vision 2030.
Recognizing the importance of human capital development, the ministry launched the largest national strategy for capacity development and tourism competencies in the Kingdom, which aims to prepare qualified national cadres with the highest international standards.
The strategy also aims to empower entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium tourism establishments through a package of distinctive programs to bring about a qualitative leap that reflects the ambition of the tourism sector to enrich the experiences of tourists.
Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of the UN World Tourism Organization, said: “This year, especially, we also recognize that we cannot go back to the old ways of working. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development remains our end goal.
“We must rethink tourism. As the world opens up again, we must learn the lessons of the past; through crisis, we have seen where we can build more resilience and deliver more fairness,” he added.
Furthermore, the Saudi ministry is paying attention to the tourism industry in the Kingdom in terms of its organization, development and promotion in a way that enhances the role of the sector and overcomes obstacles to its growth.
It is allowing registrations for the Tourism Pioneers Program, which provides training opportunities in 10 prestigious global universities and educational institutions specialized in the sector.
Saudi counter-extremism center works with Telegram to remove five million extremist posts in past two months
Since the collaboration began in February, more than 7 million examples of extremist content have been removed from the instant messaging service
Updated 26 September 2022
RIYADH: More than five million examples of extremist content were removed from instant messaging service Telegram in the space of just two months.
The Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, also known as Etidal, on Monday said that between July 17 and Sept. 13, its work with a task force from Telegram to prevent and combat terrorism and violent extremism resulted in the deletion of 5,269,078 items from the platform. They included 3,012,489 messages relating to Tahrir Al-Sham, a militant group involved in the Syrian civil war, 1,168,447 about Al-Qaeda, and 1,088,142 about Daesh.
Since the collaboration began on Feb. 21, Etidal said 7,146,016 examples of extremist content has been removed from Telegram to protect users from threats and damaging ideological influences. They include messages in Arabic that contained various types of media files, including PDFs, videos and audio recordings.
Mubarak Al-Aati, a Saudi writer and political analyst, said that Etidal is showing that it is efficient and serious in its efforts to confront the rhetoric of extremism and the ideas of terrorism. He told Arab News that the organization’s work to combat the threats on the local, regional and global levels is well known, and its work with high-profile partners such as Telegram will help to reduce the extremist influence on social media and in other public online spaces.
Since the collaboration began in February, more than 7 million examples of extremist content have been removed from the instant messaging service.
“It will restrict the danger of such materials to society and make pertinent bodies address their responsibilities to preserve and maintain the security of society,” said Al-Aati.
Etidal is a global organization tasked with combating and rooting out examples of extremism, addressing them, and promoting a culture of tolerance and coexistence among peoples. It was established on May 21, 2017, during the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh with the aim of promoting, monitoring and analyzing a culture of intellectual moderation in collaboration with regional and international networks. Its headquarters are located in the Saudi capital.
Al-Aati said the center has enjoyed a number of successes so far in its work to tackle the menace of extremism and terrorism. He stressed the importance of the continuation of its painstaking efforts, along with the role of the wider international community in adopting a firm stance in opposition to states that support and sponsor terrorism and extremism and try to use extremist ideologies as a way to spread havoc and chaos.