Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

A total of 150 deals, valued at SR19 billion ($5 billion), were signed during the first half of 2022. File 
A total of 150 deals, valued at SR19 billion ($5 billion), were signed during the first half of 2022. File 
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Updated 11 August 2022

Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has implemented over 600 structural and legislative reforms that contributed to accelerating and improving the country’s business environment, deputy minister at the Ministry of Investment told CNBC Arabia. 

Saad Al-Shahrani said (the reforms) included facilitating the procedures for issuing investment licenses, whether from inside or outside the Kingdom.

He noted that a total of 150 deals, valued at SR19 billion ($5 billion), were signed during the first half of 2022, reflecting the attractiveness of Saudi Arabia for investors. 

This comes as part of the ministry’s efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s competitiveness as a regional business hub through a series of incentives and initiatives, Al-Shahrani added. 


Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting

Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting
Updated 12 min 56 sec ago

Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting

Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting

MAKKAH: The Saudi National Center for Wildlife revealed types of wildlife officially and permanently protected from hunting.

The NCW presented an infographic pointing out Article 4 of the Executive Regulations for Wildlife Hunting, which prohibits hunting predators such as the Arabian leopard, hyenas, wolves, jackals, lynxes, sand cats, common genets, and honey badgers.

Hunting endemic birds in the Kingdom is also prohibited, in addition to ungulates, including the Arabian oryx, the sandy-colored goitered antelope, the mountain gazelle (whether found in mountains or on the Farasan Islands), and the Nubian ibex.

“NCW has developed a hunting system which has been globally praised by environmental authorities,” stated Dr. Mohammed bin Yaslam Shobrak, a bird and wildlife expert, who stressed “it is a special and organized system designed to protect and maintain the balance of the environment.

“This system takes into account the sustainability of the endangered species. The development of the system is based on four main pillars to contribute to the development of the hunting control standards,” he told Arab News.

He stated that the first pillar is the Shariah law, as the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah prohibit the hunting of hoopoes and typical shrikes, as well as hunting in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. 

“The Prophet Muhammad has also prohibited taking baby birds from their nest when he witnessed a lark flying over his head and asked: ‘Who grieved this for its young ones? Return its young ones to it.’ He believes that taking baby birds and eggs away is harmful to the mother,” Shobrak said. 

“In addition, Islam forbids burning animals, even if they were predators which have caused harm to citizens. Regardless, this does not legalize hunting, burning, and wiping out such species, including those distributed in limited geographical areas where hunting might lead to their extinction,” he added.

Shobrak added that scientific research and specialized academic studies constitute the second pillar of the system. He said that the list is based on research presenting the endangered species of animals and birds, which are also listed under the global Red List specifying the close-to-extinction species. 

“Therefore, it is essential to exert all the required efforts to (prevent) their extinction. I wonder why people are still hunting some species when it has, later on, backfired at them. Not only this, but it has also disrupted the ecosystem balance,” he said. 

“Hunting predators, such as tigers, hyenas, and wolves, has allowed other animals to expand their area, such as monkeys, which are currently causing environmental issues requiring utmost emergency, as they constitute a direct threat to farms and properties. In addition, they have become a diseases spreading tool,” he added. 

According to Shobrak, the third pillar is what comes under the international treaties and memoranda of understanding signed by the Kingdom.

Shobrak added that the fourth pillar relies on protecting human beings and their properties through the publications made by the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water in relation with the species prohibited from being hunted, which may negatively affect the country and its citizens. 

“The ministry and NCW have exerted great efforts to preserve the environment — the Kingdom is witnessing comprehensive and complete development shifts at all levels through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

“We aim to render the Kingdom a role model for all the countries in this concern. The applicable laws should be an example and a proof of the greatness of the Kingdom in all fields.”

He said that some people still violate the regulations by hunting with nets, where some animals suffocate to be later sold and consumed. Some sell animals alive and transport them to other regions. 

“Major environmental problems arise (as a result of these activities) which will require large sums of money to be solved. The most accurate example is that of monkeys in the southeast of Riyadh, namely in the Dirab area, home of house crows. These monkeys are native to India and expanded to reach other regions worldwide. Even here, in the Kingdom, monkeys are spreading across the majority of the coastal cities, and wiping them out will cost us large sums of money,” he concluded.


AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within

AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within
Updated 25 min 18 sec ago

AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within

AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within
  • The festival offers a variety of sessions for people to try different things, focusing on offering mental and physical well-being

ALULA: The mystical land of AlUla has become a major attraction for wellness-seekers, with AlUla Wellness Festival 2022 in full swing.

The festival offers a variety of sessions for people to try different things, focusing on offering mental and physical well-being.

Khalid Nahfawi, a yoga and meditation instructor and sound healer at the festival, told Arab News he discovered yoga in India. “Yoga was my first introduction to meditation — yoga being the pillar of meditation, it helps you go into a meditative state,” he said. 

“When I went to India, I just practiced it, and I noticed that it is really helping to calm me down, and one thing led to another, and now I am a certified instructor.”

Nahfawi added that people who have never meditated will never understand what it feels like until they try it. “It is like trying to explain the taste of sugar to an alien,” he said.

The festival was established so that visitors would feel peace, with the sound of running water and calm music enveloping them. Greenery, pleasing to the eye, sprouted from the velvety AlUla sands, and the architecture was soft and homely; there were no harsh buildings, with wood being the dominant element.

The Five Senses Sanctuary returned for its second edition, and Nahfawi said it featured a rich program of talented instructors and practitioners. “I highly encourage everyone to come and visit and experience for themselves,” he added.

For a more peculiar kind of meditation, sound-healer Valentina Adveeva sat on the roof of a building with a circular musical instrument, a handpan, played with just one finger.

The echoing music it produced helped attendees connect to one another and create music in harmony. Adveeva said that the handpan is a very young instrument, and when played it creates the same frequency as water and the heart.

“When you play with this instrument you will release your feelings and your emotions and feel very open — it doesn’t need to be just for meditation, you can just play it because of the music,” she said.

“You are focused on yourself, you enjoy the harmony, you are just enjoying your life, and in general you are okay. That is what we aim for in meditation.”

Valentina Adveeva taught the visitors how to play the handpan instrument. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)

Another workshop that stood out was a spoken word session that brought together three types of art forms: Music, dancing, and poetry.

Raghad Fatahadeen wrote the poems and then read them to an audience while her friend Bilal Allaf performed an elaborate interpretive dance.

The poems talked about the meaning of life, finding your place in the world, and much more as Allaf encapsulated the emotions being conveyed rather than the words that were being spoken.

Fatahadeen said: “I wouldn’t say it is a coincidence — because nothing is a coincidence — but that is what it felt like to me. The pieces that I wrote didn’t go through the process of writing. I did not sit down and write. It just came to me; I felt like I received it.”

She then shared the poetry with her friend Allaf, and he volunteered to perform and dance for each one. When others heard them, they went silent, pushing the pair to work together and share with more people.

Raghad Fatahadeen wrote poems and then read them to an audience while her friend Bilal Allaf performed an elaborate interpretive dance. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)

“We connect to things differently; sometimes words might be too heavy for people, maybe it is something you haven’t heard before,” Fatahadeen said. “Maybe if the words are too complicated, you can still listen to the music and feel something or look at the moves.

“Bringing that together makes for a holistic experience. We are trying to create a space for people that will invite people to reach into a specific state and connect on a higher level.”

Five Senses Sanctuary will keep its gates open for visitors until Oct. 8, with the festival continuing until Oct. 16.


What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System

What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System
Updated 53 min 2 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System

What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System

Author: Cuauhtaemoc Villamar

In this book, the writer examines the role of Portuguese merchants in the formation of the Manila Galleon as a system of trade founded at the end of the sixteenth century.

The rise of Manila as a crucial transhipment port was not a spontaneous incident. Instead, it came about through a complex combination of circumstances and interconnections that nurtured the establishment of the Manila Galleon system, a trading mechanism that lasted two and half centuries from 1565 until 1815.

The writer analyses the establishment of the regulatory framework of the trade across the Pacific Ocean as a whole setting that provided legality to the transactions, predictability to the transportation and security to the stakeholders, according to a review on goodreads.com

The writer looks both at the Spanish crown strategy in Asia, and the emergence of a network of Portuguese merchants located in Manila and active in the long-distance trade.

 


Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky

Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky
Updated 9 min 3 sec ago

Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky

Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky

Alkhobar has a cool new restaurant in town — a whole place dedicated to crispy chicken born and breaded locally.

With the slogan “Crunch it out,” Flaky opened up earlier this year on the trendy Alkhobar City Walk. The main wall upon entering the eatery is decorated with a giant hand-painted chicken with sunglasses.

With a small seating area to the side and a sink so that you can wash your hands before and after a deep fried feast with sauces galore, Flaky is a good spot to stop for a quick bite or to indulge in for a longer time.

Flaky promises that every single chicken it sells is locally raised. Then the restaurant’s free-range chickens are chilled to ensure optimal freshness and are fried to order.

The original burger consists of crunchy chicken slathered with melted cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce and some pickles to add a tangy punch between a perfectly toasted bun. It comes with a spicy option as well — the same concept with a different homemade sauce.

They also offer a maple sriracha burger, a buffalo burger and a Nashville burger — which promises to be a bit hot.

For those who want brunch in a bite, Flaky offers a chicken n’ waffle option in original and in Nashville-style. They also offer chicken strips and, of course, french fries: Original and loaded Flaky fries.

There are eight kind of sauces for SR3 ($0.8) a pop. Most of Flaky’s burgers are around SR30 and the fries are separate.

This summer, Flaky started to offer little ice cream bites in what they refer to as the “guilt-free zone.” The bites are layered with vanilla ice cream and coated in chocolate.

They now also offer mojitos in addition to bottled water and sodas.

Working hours are daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. on most days and from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays. Check Flaky’s Instagram page @flaky.sa for more info.

Delivery apps like Hunger Station, Jahez and The Chefz can have your Flaky order sent right to your front door.


Burkina putsch leader urges end to violence on French targets

Burkina putsch leader urges  end to violence on French targets
Updated 56 min ago

Burkina putsch leader urges end to violence on French targets

Burkina putsch leader urges  end to violence on French targets

OUAGADOUGOU: Burkina Faso’s new self-proclaimed putsch leader on Sunday called for an end to violence against French targets, after a series of attacks against buildings linked to the former colonial power.

“Things are progressively returning to order, so we urge you to freely go about your business and to refrain from any act of violence and vandalism ... notably those that could be perpetrated against the French Embassy and the French military base,” an officer said, reading on television from a statement from Captain Ibrahim Traore, who stood by
his side.

Dozens of supporters of Traore gathered at the French Embassy in the capital. Security forces fired tear gas from inside the compound to disperse the protesters after they set fire to barriers outside and lobbed rocks at the structure, with some trying to scale the fence.

The latest unrest began on Friday, when junior military officers announced they had toppled the country’s junta leader, sparking deep concern among world powers over the latest putsch to hit the Sahel region battling a growing insurgency.

Late on Saturday, the junta leader, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, said he had no intention of giving up power and urged the officers to “come to their senses.”

His comments came shortly after the army general staff dismissed the coup as an “internal crisis” within the military and said dialogue was “ongoing” to remedy the situation.

The capital remained tense overnight, with demonstrators gathering on the main roads of Ouagadougou as a helicopter hovered above.

In a statement read out on television on Sunday, the officers who claimed the coup said they had lifted a curfew they had imposed and called for a meeting of ministry heads for later in the day.

The officers had accused Damiba of having hidden at a military base of former colonial power France to plot a “counteroffensive,” charges that he and France denied.

The French Foreign Ministry condemned “the violence against our embassy in the strongest terms” by “hostile demonstrators manipulated by a disinformation campaign against us.”

It marked the latest incident against a France-linked building in two days, after a fire at the embassy on Saturday and a blaze in front of the French Institute in the western city of Bobo-Dioulasso. A French institute in the capital also sustained major damage, the ministry said.