Volunteers clear litter from hiking routes near Jeddah

Volunteers collected over 4,000 plastic bottles, 1,000 cans, and glass shards collected from hiking trails in Asfan. (Supplied)
Volunteers collected over 4,000 plastic bottles, 1,000 cans, and glass shards collected from hiking trails in Asfan. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 September 2022

Volunteers clear litter from hiking routes near Jeddah

Volunteers collected over 4,000 plastic bottles, 1,000 cans, and glass shards collected from hiking trails in Asfan. (Supplied)
  • Over 4,000 plastic bottles, 1,000 cans, glass shards collected
  • Earth Trails focuses on environmentally friendly life, says GM

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.

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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.

 


Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit

Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit
Updated 17 sec ago

Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit

Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Wednesday participated in the work of the 154th session of the preparatory ministerial council for the 43rd session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which was held at the headquarters of the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh.
The meeting was chaired by Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, who is also president of the council’s current session, with the participation of Gulf foreign ministers, and GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf.
During the meeting, the ministers discussed ways of enhancing the process of joint cooperation and coordination between the GCC countries, and the developments of the situation in the region.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments, and the schedule of the work of the Chinese-Gulf Summit for Cooperation and Development that will be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and GCC leaders.


Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks

Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks
Updated 11 min 37 sec ago

Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks

Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks

RIYADH: Sweden’s envoy to Saudi Arabia recently met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for talks on ways to further strengthen cooperation links.

During their meeting in Jeddah, ambassador Petra Menander and OIC chief Hissein Brahim Taha also discussed other issues of mutual concern.

In a tweet, Menander said: “Excellent discussion with Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of @OIC_OCI on topics of common interest — need to increase global levels of humanitarian support, women, and youth empowerment, and more. Looking forward to continued dialogue.”

While visiting the Red Sea port city, the Swedish envoy also met with Saudi doctors trained in Sweden and now working in the Kingdom.

In a separate tweet, she said: “In Jeddah, catching up with Saudi doctors with specialist training from top university hospitals (in Skane/SUS, Sahlgrenska), now all leaders in healthcare.

“Great discussion on primary healthcare, workplace conditions, and other topics of common interest. Great to see you all — greetings to absent friends,” she added.

The new Swedish ambassador submitted her credentials to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September.

On behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, deputy minister for protocol affairs, Khalid Al-Sehli, received a copy of Menander’s credentials.

In October, Menander held a meeting with Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim to discuss topics of common interest and areas to develop cooperation.

The Saudi-Swedish Business Council was launched in October 2021 and inaugurated in Sweden’s capital Stockholm by Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi and Swedish Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg.

Al-Qasabi said the council acted as a mainstay in stimulating and encouraging the private sectors of both countries while helping in the development of bilateral relations, exchange of expertise and knowledge, and the coordination of investment planning and related partnerships.

He added that Saudi Arabia was, “keen to enhance trade cooperation, facilitate exports to Sweden and Scandinavian countries, and exchange expertise and knowledge.”

Saudi Arabia is Sweden’s most significant economic partner in the Middle East and the No. 1 trade partner among Scandinavian countries, with the volume of trade exchange in the past five years reaching more than $6 billion.


Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’

Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’
Updated 37 min 53 sec ago

Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’

Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’

 

RIYADH: Since its first event in December last year, Freaks of Nature has created a community of EDM/dance-music lovers as part of the Kingdom’s growing music scene. 

The multi-stage concept is unlike any other community-based offering in the Kingdom. 

Freaks of Nature, organized by Saudi creative agency Disrupt, is a series of boutique festivals hosted two or three times a year with 1,000 to 5,000 “freak” attendees per day, trumping most local events, which average about 1,000. 

The boutique event series promotes new talent as well as creative culture in the region. As competition increases, event organizers strive to find new ways to offer innovative experiences. 

The “sub-genre” concept was born out of the unusual culture associated with variations of EDM and house music.

Instead of accepting the resistance of some Saudi communities to the music, Yazeed Alhashim, founder of Disrupt Group and DJ Sound of Yaz, embraced the genre, dubbing their attendees “freaks.”

On the anniversary of its first full-capacity warehouse performance one year ago at XP Music Festival, the precursor to the largest regional music festival MDL Beast, the group celebrated with a timely return to showcase its vision. 

“Events and music festivals (are) always the output of a music industry. And what we’re doing in Disruptors is we’re trying to build that infrastructure, which is supporting artists, developing talent and doing all the services that make the music industry happen,” Alhashim told Arab News. 

The “episodes” usually host multiple stages, including the main stage and underground venue, each presenting a different sub genre of EDM and dance music. (Supplied)

Last month, the group held its third edition of the “Freaks of Nature” series titled “Freaks of ARAVEIA,” bringing several emerging DJs from Europe, including Mesto, Seth Hills, Kaaze and Toby Romeo, to headline two nights of music, art and entertainment. 

The “episodes” usually host multiple stages, each presenting a different sub-genre of EDM and dance music, in order to appeal to a wider audience compared with niche concept events. 

“We find things in between to entertain more people and have a much more friendly community that will understand each other,” DJ Rash, who performed at the first edition of the festival, told Arab News. 

“As the underground party scene in Saudi grew, more people were refining their taste in music, preferring sub-genres, such as minimal house over dark techno, or vice versa. Regardless of taste, there’s a place for you at Freaks of Nature,” he said. 

“If you put it in a box, and then you bring our community, the traditional Saudi community, they would call us freaks. So we’re already freaks, but we don’t care.”  

Alhashim said: “We’re at the phase where all the DJs are understanding music, they’re widening their minds to music tastes. They experiment with different sub-genres. 

“House music has its own rhythm, style, and beat using more euphoric tones and certain rhythms, and we don’t have to change that, we just have to kind of enjoy it, as well as add our own fingerprints to it.”

According to DJ Rash: “We started thinking about adapting and bringing in international artists for each event. If you bring in an artist, the artist will bring crowds. And yet again, he will introduce himself and teach us something. That’s the idea of bringing international artists because they reached a really high level of competition (globally). When you bring them here, we’re like, you know what, we are competing.”

In a year since music festival Freaks of Nature had their first event in December 2021, the group has managed to create a community for ‘Freaks’ and EDM/dance music lovers in a growing music scene. (Supplied)

Dutch DJ WeDamnz performed at this year’s Freaks of Nature XP showcase and also headlined their first episode alongside “mashup-king” English DJ James Hype, who was one of the top streaming dance artists of the year. 

When WeDamz first received the invitation to perform on a Saudi stage, he was nervous, having performed only in Europe and parts of Canada.

“I didn’t know what to expect and what people listened to over here,” he told Arab News. “I didn’t even know EDM or dance music was a thing. During 15 minutes, I was like, ‘Wow, people really like it.’ I was surprised how many songs got recognized.”. 

The artist said that music in the Arab region may well be next on the global charts.

“I think Saudi Arabia is doing such a good job in just managing (to bridge cultures), so I want to say they’re really doing everything to get everybody together. 

“At the gig I’ve had (at XP), you can see the appreciation of people that really enjoy the difference (in genres). And it’s really cool to bring that as a Dutchy to Saudi.”


Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands

Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands
Updated 47 min 3 sec ago

Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands

Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands

RIYADH: The Saudi Jewelry Show opened its doors on Tuesday in Riyadh featuring more than 100 luxury brands from around the world.

Under the title “Be’Jeweled,” the event, that runs until Dec. 10, has attracted collectors, designers, enthusiasts, and industry professionals, and includes workshops, panel discussions, a gem laboratory, and experiential events.

The exhibition was opened by Fahd Al-Rasheed, the chief executive officer of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and chairman of the show’s organizing body the Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions General Authority.

Luxury brands from countries including the UAE, Bahrain, India, Switzerland, France, Turkey, Italy, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and the US, are exhibiting at the show alongside unique collections from Switzerland’s Jahan Jewellery, and the UK’s Yoko London.

(Photo by Saleh Al-Ghannam)

North-Carolina-based BFT Gems was displaying its dazzling $53 million Paraiba Tourmaline suite created by the company’s owner Peter Delisi in partnership with the designer from Port Royal Jewelry Inc. based in Naples, Florida.

Delisi told Arab News: “The stones are basically invaluable. There are seven match pairs on the necklace made of paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique, Africa; they were only found in two places in the world.

“The set was built in platinum with 5,000 melee, or really small, diamonds at a total carat weight of around 100 carats, all set in platinum.

“It has three different looks. It has a drop pendant with a chain as a ring. And the earrings are convertible. So, you can wear the tops and the studs or just the pendants. So, you have three pendants, two earrings, a choker collar, and the ring,” he said.

He noted that what made a paraiba tourmaline gemstone different was the presence of copper and manganese, which gave it a glowing look. “It will sparkle without any natural light. And it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon,” Delisi added.

 (Photo by Saleh Al-Ghannam)

SCEGA’s acting CEO, Amjad Shacker, said the show was an important platform that brought together luxury jewelry companies, traders, and brands under one roof to share knowledge and expertise.

The show aims to support Saudi designers, entrepreneurs, and startup brands, with 15 local jewelers featured, including Rutile Jewellery, Joory Diamonds, Al-Nukhba, and Renad Al-Amoudi’s one-piece-made watch inspired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Jewels of Arabia booth houses a collection crafted by nine local designers and is a collaboration between Nuun Jewels, founded by Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, and Yasmeen Marzouq Jewelry.

Each designer has presented a piece of jewelry representing the reviving of the archeological treasures of the Arabian Peninsula and inspired by the Dadan civilization.


Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
Updated 07 December 2022

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
  • Xi Jinping’s Saudi visit is expected to result in new strategic partnerships worth $29 billion
  • Plans are underway to harmonize Saudi Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China have both embraced technological innovation and digital transformation as a means of broadening their economies, creating new ways of doing business, and competing globally in what has been termed the fourth industrial revolution.

As an emerging tech giant, China has made immense strides in robotics, artificial intelligence, and space science, as well as internet and 5G connectivity, construction and engineering, and green renewable technologies, particularly solar.

Although several developed and emerging economies have made similar bounds in science, engineering, computing, and technology, few have matched the pace and the extent of change seen in China over the past decade alone.

China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade, and a robust digital economy, which has increased in value from 11 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) to 45.5 trillion yuan.

China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade. (AFP)

China’s success is a reflection of its clearly set societal goals, which include attaining and sustaining economic growth, implementing a mass campaign of domestic poverty alleviation, and promoting technological innovation.

Utilizing technology and embracing digital transformation are widely viewed as effective means with which to accelerate economic and social development in an inclusive, dynamic, and cybersecure fashion.

Saudi Arabia has adopted this model, shifting several government and private-sector functions online with a view to providing seamless service delivery, improve end-user experiences, and to foster innovation.

Similarly, after four decades of technological and digital advancement, Chinese consumers have become a hyper-adaptive and hyper-adoptive community, making China one of the world’s most competitive markets on the digital frontier.

In Saudi Arabia, the government has developed a series of five-year plans to replace traditional processes with secure, efficient, and accountable digital platforms to provide high-quality public services, from licensing and permits to welfare and charitable donations.

Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025, the highest in the world, accounting for 21.7 percent of national spending, according to the Digital Government Authority.

This year, China spent 2.44 percent of its gross domestic product, approximately $441 billion, on research and development, and is aiming for 10 percent of its GDP to come from the digital economy by 2025 — up from 7.8 percent in 2020.

Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025. (AFP)

In its own race to become a regional tech hub and global leader in innovation, Saudi Arabia was also set to add nearly $16 billion to its GDP by 2040 through its research and development program.

In September, speaking at the G20 Digital Economy Ministers’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Abdullah Al-Swaha, the Saudi minister of communications and information technology, said investment in these areas was crucial to sustainable economic development.

One of the Kingdom’s goals, outlined in its social reform and economic diversification agenda, Vision 2030, was to become one of the world’s top 10 countries in the Global Competitive Index by the end of the decade, rising from its current position of 24th.

Although China was already Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, this week’s visit by President Xi Jinping was expected to see a flurry of new deals and strategic partnerships worth $29 billion and a plan to harmonize Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Digital Silk Road is the technological arm of the Belt and Road Initiative, which has been forecast to add $255 billion to regional GDP and create 600,000 technology-related jobs across the Gulf Cooperation Council area.

Earlier this year, China issued its 14th five-year plan for the development of the digital economy, setting out proposals to actively engage with the EU, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, African countries, and Belt and Road countries on digital economy policy.

Analysts consider the Middle East and North Africa region a critical commercial link to European and African markets, making Saudi Arabia and its GCC neighbors vital strategic partners for China’s digital expansion.