Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge

Special Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge
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The UNWTO calls for entrepreneurs in the tourism sector to enter the Awake Tourism Challenge before the deadline on Oct. 15. (Supplied)
Special Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge
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The UNWTO calls for entrepreneurs in the tourism sector to enter the Awake Tourism Challenge before the deadline on Oct. 15. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge
  • The UNWTO’s Natalia Bayona said that Saudi Arabia is a “priority because of how the country is committed to creating tourism as a public policy and as an economic sector” 
  • Bayona added that goals in the country’s Vision 2030 for “youth empowerment, women’s empowerment, sustainability, and tourism” are central to the UNWTO’s mission

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s blossoming tourism industry is being offered the chance to grow even faster through a UN challenge that helps nurture the best businesses.

Natalia Bayona of the UN World Tourism Organization has said she wants Saudi entrepreneurs to enter her agency’s Awake Tourism Challenge, whose previous winners have gained international experience and expert advice, and raised $350 million of investment over the four years it has run.

Bayona, the agency’s director of innovation, education and investments, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is a “priority because of how the country is committed to creating tourism as a public policy and as an economic sector.” 

She added that goals in the country’s Vision 2030 for “youth empowerment, women’s empowerment, sustainability, and tourism” are central to the UNWTO’s mission.

“We’d like to give visibility and promote Saudi Arabia as a country making a strong effort in the tourism sector,” she said.

The challenge is a perfect opportunity to identify Saudi-based entrepreneurs trying to solve challenges they face in the sector, Bayona added.

Entrants are judged in one or more categories, including local community involvement, environmental work, good use of technology, employee development and the empowerment of women in business.

Bayona said the UNWTO is pushing for enterprises to employ locally to help develop rural economies.

“Eighty percent of people living in extreme poverty live in rural areas. Tourism can be part of the way rural areas can be developed,” she said.

Bayona added that women’s empowerment is important “because they have the lowest salaries, the lowest-status jobs. Nonetheless, tourism is the sector that hires the most women worldwide.”

She said the basing of her agency’s regional office in Saudi Arabia shows how seriously it takes the country’s efforts to expand tourism.

The UNWTO’s partners include tourism bodies from more than 160 countries, 100 universities, more than 400 investors and around 500 corporations.

The Awake Tourism Challenge has helped winners raise more than $350 million and helped create more than 100 pilot projects. The deadline to enter this year’s initiative is Oct. 15.


Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day
Updated 40 min 46 sec ago

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day
  • Naif told Arab News that the walk had been “another accomplishment” after he previously completed more than 4 billion steps, covering 4,000 km on foot, through nine treks taking in NEOM, Makkah, Abha, Madinah, and AlUla

JEDDAH: Two Saudi adventurers have arrived in Abu Dhabi after walking for 30 days to celebrate the 51st UAE National Day.

Thirty-two-year-old Naif Shukri and his nephew Abdul Ellah Shukri, 19, started their trek from Riyadh passing through Al-Ahsa and Al-Hofuf before arriving at the UAE border, a journey of 1,200 kilometers.

Naif told Arab News that the walk had been “another accomplishment” after he previously completed more than 4 billion steps, covering 4,000 km on foot, through nine treks taking in NEOM, Makkah, Abha, Madinah, and AlUla.

He said: “Our journey titled, the Saudi is Emirati and the Emirati is Saudi, has several goals, but the most notable was the participation with Emirati brothers in their UAE National Day. It was a way to express our love and affection to the Emirati people.”

He broadcasted his trip on social media and was amazed by the interaction from Emiratis many of whom were waiting to greet the duo on the UAE border.

On Dec. 1, followers, supporters, and friends gathered at Bani Yas as Naif sent pictures of himself and his nephew holding the Saudi and UAE flag and another showing them arriving in the UAE.

“The Emirati people have been so hospitable and encouraging. The best part of the journey was the warm welcome we received upon our arrival,” he added.

 

 


Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex
Updated 41 min 32 sec ago

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex
  • Film AlUla has hosted 694 production days since opening in 2020

JEDDAH: Film AlUla, the film agency of the Royal Commission for AlUla, has started construction on the first phase of its studio complex.

The finished complex will cover around 30,000 square meters and is set to be up and running by the end of next year.

The first phase will include two world-class soundstages, production support buildings, workshops, a pyro/sfx building, a sound recording studio, catering and administration buildings and a 6,500 square meter backlot.

HIGHLIGHT

The first phase will include two world-class soundstages, production support buildings, workshops, a pyro/sfx building, a sound recording studio, catering and administration buildings and a 6,500 square meter backlot. It is located near 12 sq. km of outdoor shooting locations showcasing the beauty and ancient heritage of AlUla, making it the best suitable for on-location filming and set construction.

It is located near 12 sq. km of outdoor shooting locations showcasing the beauty and ancient heritage of AlUla, making it the best suitable for on-location filming and set construction.

“AlUla is a thriving center for arts, culture and heritage. With the film and screen sector of central focus the first phase of this studio complex is carefully planned and part of a much larger program of infrastructure development,” said Charlene Deleon-Jones, executive director of Film AlUla.

“This complex will satisfy the growing demand from regional and international producers to shoot at AlUla, while also supplying an epicenter for our production ecosystem. The studio complex will diversify AlUla’s economy, in line with the objectives of RCU, as we build a home to nurture Saudi talent in the screen sector for generations to come,” he added.

Film AlUla worked with the US-based company Tait to ensure that work in AlUla would be uncluttered and comfortable, including during summer.

The studio complex will be 14 minutes from the Film AlUla Residence, which has 300 rooms, restaurants, recreational facilities and office space for industry professionals, and 20 minutes from AlUla International Airport, which recently opened a hangar for private jets. It lies outside the airport’s flightpath.

Phase two will be announced in the second quarter of 2023.

The project aims to attract local and international productions is bolstered by Saudi Arabia’s offer of a cashback rebate of up to 40 percent for international and local feature films, television series and documentaries.

The studio complex is also meeting rigorous environmental standards. Film AlUla contracted environmental agencies to conduct a 10-month impact assessment on the new location and will build it under continuous environmental monitoring.

Film AlUla has hosted 694 production days since opening in 2020. Movies include Kandahar, directed by Ric Roman Waugh and starring Gerard Butler, which was the first major Hollywood feature to shoot almost entirely in AlUla, and the Iraq war story Cherry, starring Tom Holland and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

Additionally, Norah was the first Saudi feature film to shoot at AlUla entirely and featured an all-Saudi cast and more than 40 percent Saudi crew.

A number of TV productions have been filmed in AlUla including the British series Expedition with Steve Backshall and Nat Geo documentaries, along with commercials, promotions, photo-shoots and short films.

 

 


Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum launches joint broadcasting initiative

A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2022

Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum launches joint broadcasting initiative

A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
  • Majid Al-Qasabi: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum, which is being held today in Riyadh...between the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group”

RIYADH: Ahead of the Chinese President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group announced the launch of a joint partnership initiative to promote relations between Arab countries and China through media in a ceremony in Riyadh on Monday.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum, which is being held today in Riyadh...between the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group,” Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi said.

Al-Qasabi addressed the audience in a speech via video extending his support for the cooperation.

“We look forward to the cooperation today to launch new media initiatives that contribute to deepening the ties between the Arab and Chinese cultures and between their peoples,” he said.

The initiative, he explained, will promote the presence of Chinese media on Arab channels, translating Chinese television shows into Arabic.

Through the initiative, Saudi and Chinese television will also work together to create programs highlighting the stories of individuals from both Saudi Arabia and China who achieved success in each other’s countries.

The initiative will also create opportunities for travel between the two countries, opening a space for greater understanding and strengthening the relationship between China and Saudi Arabia through media and cultural exchange.

In line with the aim of improving communication, the ceremony was held in both Arabic and Chinese in the presence of Ambassador of China to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing, Director-General of the Arab States Broadcasting Union Abdulraheem Sulaiman, and Chinese politician Li Shulei, head of publicity at the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, president of the Arab States Broadcasting Union and CEO of the Saudi Broadcasting Authority, presented the initiative in a speech during the ceremony.

“Saudi-Chinese relations are old and well-established and strong, and they are witnessing prosperity and expansion,” he said, citing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to China, the over 20,000 Arab students studying in China and the several schools in Saudi Arabia that teach the Chinese language and culture.

“We hope that this relationship will witness greater growth with the connection of interests and relations between the two peoples,” he added.

Toward the end of the ceremony, top media representatives from Palestine, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Iraq extended their support for the initiative.

Al-Harthi stressed the importance of media in any country’s diplomatic relations.

“To achieve a solid relationship between the two societies, the media must play this role,” Al-Harthi said.

Through the initiative, translated Chinese works will be broadcast in Palestine, Algeria, Jordan, Sudan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

 


On International Volunteer Day Saudi authorities highlight efforts of those who donate their time

On International Volunteer Day Saudi authorities highlight efforts of those who donate their time
Updated 05 December 2022

On International Volunteer Day Saudi authorities highlight efforts of those who donate their time

On International Volunteer Day Saudi authorities highlight efforts of those who donate their time
  • At the International Volunteer Exhibition, government and private agencies highlighted the opportunities for voluntary work they offer to all involved in education in Riyadh
  • Prince Fahad bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the governor of Tabuk, announced the establishment of a volunteering unit in the region

RIYADH: In honor of the UN’s International Volunteer Day 2022 on Monday, Riyadh’s General Administration of Education staged a special event at its headquarters in the city.

At the Saudi and International Volunteer Exhibition, the slogan for which is “Giving of a Nation,” government and private agencies provided details of the opportunities for voluntary work they offer to all involved in education in Riyadh, students and staff, including 24 initiatives offered through the National Volunteer Platform.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that the exhibition is part of official efforts to encourage and enhance a culture of voluntary work in the educational community with the primary goal of reaching a total of 1 million volunteers. Authorities aim to achieve this by providing an appropriate environment that encourages the development of the voluntary sector, motivates people involved in education to volunteer, and increases the opportunities to do so.

The exhibition included information about the types of projects and the work they do, along with a “Team” pavilion highlighting the connection between the aspirations of the Saudi people and community-volunteer activities offered by schools and women’s charities.

In addition to displays by government agencies, the exhibition included information from nonprofit organizations such as Al-Waleed Philanthropies and the World Organization of the Scout Movement about their work as part of the wider effort to build capacity and increase the scale of the Saudi volunteer sector by 47 percent within a decade.

According to the organizations, nearly half a million people in the Kingdom last year donated their time and effort to voluntary community service, and their work helped to provide social safety nets for vulnerable groups and address global challenges such climate change, access to education and the promotion of gender equality.

Volunteers in the country are provided with training and other programs in line with national values to ensure the quality of voluntary work and efficiently harness the energies of communities, officials said.

According to Al-Waleed and WOSM, their volunteer programs have forged links and partnerships with universities across the Kingdom. Among their activities is a collaboration with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, and King Khalid University to empower the next generation of volunteer leaders through scouting. It aims to encourage 500 Rover Scouts to volunteer for efforts to help 100,000 young people, and more universities are expected to join the initiative the near future.

The Athar Health Volunteering Society marked International Volunteer Day, the theme of which this year is “Solidarity Through Volunteering,” by highlighting its recent achievements. It said it aims to promote a culture of volunteering through its provision of health-awareness, educational and support services through community partnerships.

Sultan Al-Zahrani, the society’s secretary-general, said that it implemented numerous initiatives this year with the help of more than 20,000 volunteers. In addition to thus a further 3,000 volunteers donated 50,000 hours of work to other activities, the economic value of which was estimated to be more than SR6 million ($1.6 million).

Athar said it is working with partner organizations with the goals of achieving 1 million volunteers and increasing the non-profit sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by more than five percent, according to SPA.

The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture celebrated International Volunteer Day the presence of Deputy Minister Mansour Al-Mashaiti.

The deputy of the ministry’s Department for Beneficiary Service and Branch Affairs, Ghanim Al-Jathan, said that this year it offered 2,500 voluntary opportunities in which more than 22,700 people took part. The general manager of the ministry’s General Department of Non-Profit Sector Organizations, Khaled Al-Mejlad, said it offered 6,000 volunteer opportunities in which 49,000 people took part. This amounted to 2.5 million volunteer hours and an economic return exceeding SR8 million.

Meanwhile, during a ceremony honoring the voluntary efforts of government organizations, charities and individuals, Prince Fahad bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the governor of Tabuk, announced the establishment of a volunteer unit in the region.

“In recent years, there has been a remarkable and blessed activity for volunteer work in all regions, especially Tabuk, which makes us optimistic that the future will be better,” he said.

“On this occasion, we are pleased in the Emirate of Tabuk to announce the establishment of a special unit for volunteering, and it will provide support for everyone who wants to contribute to volunteer work and help direct and guide them.”

The UN introduced the International Volunteer Day in 1985 as an annual event that offers all countries to celebrate and enhance volunteer work, highlight and honor the efforts of those who take part in it, and encourage more people to get involved.

 


Who’s Who: Saud Alsulaimani, country head at JLL, a largest real estate consultancies in Saudi Arabia

Saud Alsulaimani
Saud Alsulaimani
Updated 7 sec ago

Who’s Who: Saud Alsulaimani, country head at JLL, a largest real estate consultancies in Saudi Arabia

Saud Alsulaimani

Saud Alsulaimani is the new country head at JLL, one of the largest real estate consultancies in the Kingdom.

He is leading a team of more than 300 employees across JLL’s offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar.

JLL, formerly Jones Lang LaSalle, is headquartered in the US and is one of the first real estate consultancies to establish itself in the Kingdom, recording remarkable growth since it launched in the country more than a decade ago.

Tackling the role since September this year, Alsulaimani is tasked with strengthening JLL’s presence in the Kingdom in order to better serve clients through expansive services and offerings.

JLL has successfully advised some of the Kingdom’s biggest real estate developments and giga projects, including the King Abdullah Financial District, Prince Mohammed bin Salman Nonprofit City and landmark projects by the Diriyah Gate ‍Development Authority.

Alsulaimani is a board member of Al Rajhi REIT Fund, delivering effective strategic counseling, including the management of a diversified portfolio of real estate properties spread across multiple sectors and cities in his native Saudi Arabia.

Before joining JLL, Alsulaimani was executive director and head of real estate development at the Tourism Development Fund.

Alsulaimani holds two degrees from the Kogod School of Business, American University in Washington, D.C. — a master’s degree in finance and a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

He also joined the MIT Sloan School of Management for the strategic management executive program and the London School of Economics and Political Science for the real estate economics and finance program.

In addition, Alsulaimani has professional certifications in business process design for strategic management, real estate economics and finance, and a graduate certificate in real estate.

He also holds a license from the Saudi Authority for Accredited Valuers and an application specialist certificate from Bloomberg.