UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism

UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism
The Kingdom is currently developing a number of attractive tourism projects across various destinations. (AFP)
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Updated 29 November 2022

UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism

UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism
  • Passing of resolution is first major step by Kingdom in its new position as Executive Council chair
  • Saudi-Spain-UNWTO working group to oversee significant changes to tourism industry in wake of pandemic

MARRAKECH: The 117th Executive Council of the UN World Tourism Organization has passed a Saudi-Spanish resolution that aims to “redesign tourism” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After being elected chair of the council on Nov. 24 for the 2023 term, the Kingdom successfully lobbied for the creation of a Saudi-Spain-UNWTO working group to contribute and recommend significant changes to the global tourism industry.

The proposal had been promoted by the Kingdom and Spain since December 2021, with a Saudi host delegation reiterating its support for the creation of the working group during the Kingdom’s hosting of the 116th Executive Council in Jeddah earlier this year.

This week’s three-day event in Marrakech, attended by Arab News, saw the passing of a decision to push forward with the creation of the working group, which has been supported from the outset by Spain.

Members of the Executive Council decided that the working group will be a subsidiary body of the council, comprising eight members of the organization representing all regions of the world.

It is slated to launch in spring next year, but will still require the formal endorsement of the Executive Council in May next year, as well as the approval of the UNWTO General Assembly in the third quarter.

The eight members will work alongside the three working group co-chairs — Saudi Arabia, Spain and the UNWTO — to move forward with the vision to transform global tourism.

Of the council’s 34 member countries present at the event, 31 approved the decision. The working group aims to represent every region of the world, and will include two member states for Africa, America and Europe, as well as single states to promote the tourism aspirations of the Middle East, East Asia and the Pacific, and South Asia.

The decision requests that the secretary-general, in consultation with the chairman, should “circulate a final document, including all the documents, setting out the mandate, composition and modus operandi” of the working group, together with a report from the organization’s Office of the Legal Counsel by the end of February 2023.

Once established, the working group will aim to meet at least biannually and is expected to run on a budget allocated voluntarily by member states.

The move is expected to lead to a significant shake-up within the world’s premier tourism body, with the Kingdom calling to “revitalize” the UNWTO and “improve its operating methods” to account for rapid trend shifts in the industry around the world.

It comes on the back of enhanced Saudi-Spanish ties in investment and tourism, and is the result of months of work by the two countries to gather support for the proposal among council members.

The working group aims to make the UNWTO “more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable than ever,” said Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb.

The passing of the resolution was the first major step by the Kingdom since its election as council chair for the 2023 term.

Al-Khateeb oversaw the handover from previous chair Cote D’Ivoire in Marrakech on Friday.

Trade between Saudi Arabia and Spain totals $3.5 billion annually. The two countries have made significant steps toward boosting economic ties throughout the year, with the Saudi-Spanish Investment Forum in June ahead of the Jeddah UNWTO event leading to a number of high-profile agreements.

The meeting in Marrakech also saw the admittance of several Saudi and Spanish affiliate members, including the Jeddah Central Development Co. and Spain’s Innovaris SL and Eturia CLM.


Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors

Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors
Updated 27 January 2023

Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors

Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors

RIYADH: The “Uqair Inscriptions” event held along the banks of the ancient seaport city in Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province concluded on Wednesday with more than 60,000 visitors attending, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
The event, organized by the Kingdom’s Heritage Commission in cooperation with the Culture and Arts Association in Al-Ahsa, included heritage and folklore performances and traditional handicrafts unique to Al-Ahsa through dramatized scenes of life from the past in the historic port.
The scenes also depicted its position as an important commercial gateway on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, from the arrival of sailboats to the port to loading the camel convoys with goods headed toward Al-Ahsa and Najd.
The event also included a photographic exhibition displaying pictures of the founding king in Uqair in 1915.
Uqair is the first seaport in the east of the Kingdom on the Arabian Gulf coast, the economic gateway since the beginning of the establishment of the state, and the main port to reach the east and center of the Kingdom.
During that time, the state worked to develop the port by establishing customs, passports, a principality building, and fortress, and goods and foodstuffs were brought to the heart of the Arabian Peninsula and the capital, Riyadh, through this port.


Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy

Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy
Updated 27 January 2023

Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy

Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy

ROME: Saudi Arabia’s Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Fayyadh Al-Ruwaili on Thursday began an official multi-day visit to Italy, where he is scheduled to hold talks with a number of high-ranking Italian officials.
Upon arrival at Ciampino Military Airport in Rome, he was received by the Italian Chief of the Defense Staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone.
Al-Ruwaili met with Italian Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto and discussed bilateral cooperation and opportunities to bolster joint military coordination.
Al-Ruwaili visited the headquarters of the Defense Staff, where he met with Dragone and discussed a number of topics and means to enhance that cooperation.
The Saudi commander then met with Secretary General of Defense and National Armaments Director Lt. Gen. Luciano Portolano.
During a meeting with Gen. Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, commander of Italian Joint Operations Headquarters, Al-Ruwaili also discussed bilateral relations as well as means to enhance defense cooperation with him.
He also toured several companies linked to the Italian defense industry, including Fincantieri shipbuilding company, electronic-warfare specialist Elettronica, Leonardo Defense, and European multinational developer and manufacturer of missiles MBDA, where he was briefed about their military and defense products.


Entertainment authority announces Riyadh Calendar activities

Entertainment authority announces Riyadh Calendar activities
Updated 26 January 2023

Entertainment authority announces Riyadh Calendar activities

Entertainment authority announces Riyadh Calendar activities
  • Activities and entertainment zones will continue until mid-March

RIYADH: Riyadh Season 2022 and its wide range of entertainment options in the capital may have come to an end, but there are reasons to be happy following the General Entertainment Authority’s launch of the Riyadh Calendar.

In a statement to Arab News, the GEA said that Riyadh Calendar activities and entertainment zones will continue until mid-March.

The Groves, Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City and other zones will feature a variety of activities, with different dates and opening times.

Expected events include “Earth Voice Night” on Feb. 1, in honor of the late artist Talal Maddah, at Mohammed Abdo Theater in Boulevard Riyadh City.

Visitors can book for events through the Enjoy platform on the link: https://enjoy.sa/en/

Riyadh Season 2022 kicked off on Oct. 21 with more than 8,500 activities, under the slogan “Beyond Imagination.”

The Groves, Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City and other zones will feature a variety of activities, with different dates and opening times. (GEA)

The third season offered visitors a wide range of entertainment options across 15 zones, each characterized by a variety of activities and events, including stores, cafes, restaurants, games, theaters, and a number of new global experiences.

The zones include Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland, Al-Murabaa, Sky Riyadh, Via Riyadh, Riyadh Zoo, Little Riyadh, The Groves, Imagination Park, Al-Suwaidi Park, Souq Al-Zel, Qariat Zaman, Fan Festival and Riyadh Front.

The Groves zone inside the Diplomatic Quarter offers visitors the experience of living in the North Pole through the ice lounge, the first of its kind in the Kingdom, with temperatures as low as minus 18 C.

Food, fashion and family fun are also available in the zone. Visitors can book tickets via the app.

A 35-meter-tall Light Ball, another highlight of Riyadh Season 2022, has become a new landmark in the capital and is the largest illuminated LED ball in the world, according to Guinness World Records.


Former Saudi national guardsman adds string to bow with archery medals

Former Saudi national guardsman adds string to bow with archery medals
Updated 26 January 2023

Former Saudi national guardsman adds string to bow with archery medals

Former Saudi national guardsman adds string to bow with archery medals
  • Mohammed Al-Shami picked up the sport of archery after losing his right hand in a terrorist attack in 2007 that forced his retirement

RIYADH: A former soldier in the Saudi Arabian National Guard has become a professional archer, winning a number of competitions and awards despite competing with a disability sustained in a terror attack.

Mohammed Al-Shami picked up the sport of archery after losing his right hand in a terrorist attack in 2007 that forced his retirement.

He was treated at King Saud Medical City and was sent to the Rehabilitation Hospital at King Fahd Medical City in Riyadh.

But Al-Shami’s physical disability failed to dent his positive outlook on life.

Ambition cannot stop in the face of “minor problems,” he told Arab News. Instead, Al-Shami believes that problems can give purpose and make people stronger.

Every day, Al-Shami, who usesa prosthetic hand, wakes up with a smile and spreads positivity.

His journey in archery commenced when he registered for the Kingdom Marathon at King Saud University.

“Captain Mishaal Al-Otaibi was explaining to visitors how to shoot … so I went to him and told him I wanted to try it. He looked at me and said ‘come later,’” Al-Shami said.

After waiting for three hours, Al-Shami again went to the captain, who told him to return once more after two hours.

When Al-Shami went back for the second time, he asked the captain: “Can handicapped people throw arrows or not?”

Al-Otaibi then gave a bow and arrow to the former guardsman and told him: “Go ahead, shoot.”

Al-Shami said: “I put the bowstring between my teeth, pulled it and threw it hard, and it settled in the middle of the target, in the bullseye. The captain was impressed. He then taught me how to develop my abilities.”

During the course of his rigorous training, Al-Shami shot 1,000 –1,200 arrows per day to improve his accuracy and technique.

He took part in the 2017 World Championships in Athletics for People with Disabilities at the Dubai Club for People of Determination, winning a gold medal.

Al-Shami also won gold and silver medals at the Sheikh Fazza Championship in the UAE in 2019.

His determination earned him third place in archery in the Kingdom’s My Disability Distinguishes evemt in 2022.

Al-Shami said that archery is the only sport that gives him determination and strengthens his focus.

In the future, he aspires to establish a charitable sports center for archery and taekwondo, where people of all ages can learn the basics of the sports and build bright futures for themselves.

“My biggest professional project is to help put Vision 2030 into action by building the biggest and most ambitious investment and charitable sports center. This will be a one-of-a-kind project with the goal of spreading and graduating professional teams in archery and taekwondo.”

Al-Shami hailed a 2019 decision by the Saudi Paralympic Committee to promote archery for people with disabilities around the Kingdom.


Saudi ministries launch national cultural skills contest

Saudi ministries launch national cultural skills contest
Updated 26 January 2023

Saudi ministries launch national cultural skills contest

Saudi ministries launch national cultural skills contest
  • The scheme will start by identifying talent in public schools, honing their skills and knowledge, providing online training, and then running a series of competitions

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is to stage its first national cultural skills competition — with a prize-money pot of SR5 million ($1.33 million).

The initiative was launched on Wednesday by officials from the Saudi ministries of culture and education.

Noha Kattan, the Ministry of Culture’s deputy minister of national partnerships and development, and Dr. Mohammed Al-Meqbel, Ministry of Education undersecretary for educational programs, announced details of the contest at a press conference.

Kattan said the competition would cover multiple tracks in various cultural sectors including short films, Arabic calligraphy, visual arts, music, theater, manga and short stories, and folk dance.

Divided into seven stages, the scheme will start by identifying talent in public schools, honing their skills and knowledge, providing online training, and then running a series of competitions.

Finalists will showcase their art or skill at a closing ceremony, which will be subject to voting.

The winners of each sector will receive SR100,000, with runners-up getting SR75,000, and SR50,000 going to those coming third.

Al-Meqbel said the competition aimed to discover and develop the skills of male and female students in the cultural and artistic fields to help preserve the Kingdom’s cultural heritage.

Investing in talented students would empower them through the different stages of the competition, he added.

The contest is part of an ongoing working relationship between the two ministries under a cultural capacity development strategy.

It has been designed to increase the cultural and artistic development of public-school students in the Kingdom, pinpoint their skills, and work to enhance them and encourage new creative energies that contribute to the effectiveness and enrichment of the Saudi cultural sector.