5m visitors enjoy Riyadh Season in 5 weeks

5m visitors enjoy Riyadh Season in 5 weeks
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There have been 5 million visitors so far to Riyadh Season 2022 following its launch on Oct. 21. (Supplied)
5m visitors enjoy Riyadh Season in 5 weeks
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There have been 5 million visitors so far to Riyadh Season 2022 following its launch on Oct. 21. (Supplied)
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Updated 29 November 2022

5m visitors enjoy Riyadh Season in 5 weeks

5m visitors enjoy Riyadh Season in 5 weeks
  • Events, experiences, exhibitions, and concerts have attracted visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom

RIYADH: There have been 5 million visitors so far to Riyadh Season 2022 following its launch on Oct. 21.

The entertainment zones, events, experiences, exhibitions, shows, plays, concerts and cafes have attracted visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom.

The season has combined originality with modernity and history, through activities that have provided visitors with options that include the travel experience of Boulevard World, and Qariat Zaman, a window into Saudi’s past.

In addition, the season has featured many specialist attractions, including the Rush Festival, the largest gaming event in the region, and Anime Town, the biggest of its kind in the world.

Riyadh Season 2022 features 15 diverse entertainment zones, and many sporting events such as World Wrestling Entertainment, and the Riyadh Season Cup that brings together the giants of Paris Saint-Germain with the stars of Al-Hilal and Al-Nasr football clubs. The season also boasts 65 days of fireworks.


Saudi Arabia’s Hadiyah charity to distribute at least 1.2 million meals in Ramadan

Saudi Arabia’s Hadiyah charity to distribute at least 1.2 million meals in Ramadan
Updated 25 March 2023

Saudi Arabia’s Hadiyah charity to distribute at least 1.2 million meals in Ramadan

Saudi Arabia’s Hadiyah charity to distribute at least 1.2 million meals in Ramadan

RIYADH: Hadiyah, the Hajji and Mu’tamer’s Gift Charitable Association in Makkah, has started implementing its annual distribution of iftar and suhoor meals to pilgrims during Ramadan.

And this year the association aims to hand out at least 1.2 million meals.

The massive distribution will target worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Holy Mosque, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The association said 750 volunteers will help serve pilgrims throughout the holy month.


Business accelerator launched to support SMEs, entrepreneurs in NEOM, Tabuk

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM launches
Saudi Arabia’s NEOM launches "Seven Senses" accelerator. (SPA)
Updated 25 March 2023

Business accelerator launched to support SMEs, entrepreneurs in NEOM, Tabuk

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM launches "Seven Senses" accelerator. (SPA)
  • Participants who pass the program will have the ability to meet the requirements for applying to NEOM projects, and take advantage of available investment opportunities

RIYADH: The city of NEOM has launched the “Seven Senses” accelerator, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

It aims to build an integrated system for entrepreneurship in the regions of NEOM and Tabuk, and to support small and medium-sized enterprises, craftsmen, professionals, innovators, and innovative businesses capable of bringing about change.

From March 26 until May 14, the accelerator will receive applications from innovators and entrepreneurs who wish to join the intensive training camp that qualifies them to compete for a place in the accelerator.

The camp begins on May 28 and lasts for two days, during which 150 entrepreneurs will receive training in various skills, including the basics of successful business, understanding customers and attracting investors.

Participants will have the opportunity to present their offers to a committee of experts to obtain advice.

Following the training camp, the best competitors will be selected to participate in the accelerator program, which extends virtually over 10 weeks, from May to August, and ends with a trial day in Tabuk to present their projects and products.

During the program period, participants will be provided with the latest applications and practices through sessions, and various mentorships with experts.

Participants who pass the program will have the ability to meet the requirements for applying to NEOM projects, and take advantage of available investment opportunities.

Meshari Al-Mutairi, executive director of government affairs at NEOM, said: “The idea of ​​​​the NEOM accelerator program ‘Seven Senses,’ which was designed after extensive studies of the market reality, came to support entrepreneurs and owners of emerging companies in the regions of NEOM and Tabuk, through scientific and practical paths that contribute to developing their capabilities.”

He added that this will enable them to provide services according to the standards and requirements of projects in NEOM, in addition to expanding and sustaining their business in line with the goals of Vision 2030.

The accelerator will be followed by the launch of an educational training platform in Arabic, under the supervision of local and international experts in the field of entrepreneurship.

Later, joint work experiences will be organized to support emerging entrepreneurs and establish innovative production laboratories.

 

 


Filipino engineers help fellow expats climb career ladder in Saudi Arabia

Filipino engineers help fellow expats climb career ladder in Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 March 2023

Filipino engineers help fellow expats climb career ladder in Saudi Arabia

Filipino engineers help fellow expats climb career ladder in Saudi Arabia
  • Philippine Council of Engineers and Architects has helped 40k Pinoy professionals

MANILA: Mario Balboa had initially planned to return to the Philippines after a year, but his stay in Saudi Arabia has now spanned almost two decades, motivated by his successes and a desire to help other Filipino expats on their career paths.

An electronics and communications engineer, Balboa left his hometown in San Fernando, La Union province and moved to Riyadh in 2004 to work as a business consultant and analyst at Saudi Telecom Co.

Now a senior manager for product development, he enjoyed steady career progression over the years but at some point, saw that many Filipino engineers living and working in the Kingdom lagged behind.

Although they had all the necessary skills, many lacked the proper licenses, certifications, and credentials.

“In any development project here, you will always find a Filipino ... The only problem is that some lack the necessary papers to show that they are certified,” Balboa told Arab News. “If there’s a position where you are capable but not qualified because you don’t have the certification, it’s a lost opportunity.”

The situation prompted him to establish the Philippine Council of Engineers and Architects in the Kingdom in October 2013.

In January 2014, the PCEA signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Council of Engineers to exchange expertise and help qualify Philippine professionals in engineering and architectural practice.

A few months later, Balboa also took on board the Philippine government agencies — the Professional Regulation Commission and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority — which inked deals with the SCE for the professional development of Filipino engineers, architects, and technicians.

“The PCEA’s main goal is inclusive progression of Filipino professionals, especially engineers, architects, and technicians, upgrading their respective credentials and qualifications,” Balboa said.

HIGHLIGHT

Council’s role becoming increasingly valuable as Kingdom undertakes Vision 2030 megaprojects.

“It helped in making Filipinos, especially the engineers and architects, recognized in terms of professionalism and qualification level.”

Over the past decade, nearly 40,000 Filipino professionals working in Saudi Arabia have, thanks to the PCEA, received training, improved their skills, and obtained official certificates to validate their qualifications.

The efforts have been recognized both in Saudi Arabia and in the Philippines, where last year Balboa received the Presidential Banaag Award, which recognizes individuals advancing the cause of Filipinos overseas.

The PCEA helps connect Filipinos directly with Saudi authorities to evaluate their qualifications.

Leandro Conti, chairman of the PRC’s board of mechanical engineering, told Arab News: “Then they will give you a certificate on the equivalency based on their (Saudi) standards ... which is good for Filipinos so they can be at par with the locals based on their qualifications.”

The certification is becoming increasingly valuable as Saudi Arabia continues to undertake megaprojects as part of its Vision 2030 reform plan.

“Once the projects will be in full swing ... definitely they’ll need Filipinos,” Conti said. “Some of my friends from Dubai and Abu Dhabi came back to Saudi Arabia because of the opportunities.”

Leo Argoso, an engineer who for the past five years has been working for a Saudi company specializing in medical equipment and instruments, was one of those who obtained a good job thanks to the PCEA.

“It was them (the PCEA) who bridged my qualification in order for me to become an SCE member so that I will be able to work my craft here in Saudi Arabia, to be able to take on a position that is equivalent to my level of qualification,” Argoso said.

He knows many other Filipino professionals whose chances on the career ladder got similarly boosted.

“With the help of the PCEA, they were able to fill up what is lacking in their credentials and after some time get recognized by the SCE,” he added.

“Once you are recognized by the SCE, you will be given an ID, proof that you are a legitimate professional and qualified to take on perhaps a higher position than you are currently holding.”


World Food Program praises Saudi Arabia for its invaluable support

Corinne Fleischer. (Supplied)
Corinne Fleischer. (Supplied)
Updated 24 March 2023

World Food Program praises Saudi Arabia for its invaluable support

Corinne Fleischer. (Supplied)
  • Regional director of UN body visits Riyadh to give update on humanitarian efforts
  • Saudi Arabia was WFP’s fifth-biggest donor in 2018, 2019

RIYADH: A senior official with the UN World Food Program has praised Saudi Arabia for its invaluable support in fighting poverty and food insecurity across the region and beyond.

Corinne Fleischer, regional director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, told Arab News that the relationship between the Kingdom and the WFP dated back more than 45 years and that contributions made through the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid had helped to save lives in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.

In 2008, the Kingdom announced a $500 million grant to the WFP which had enabled it “to complete its relief projects and provide food to millions of people affected by high prices,” she said.

Fleischer said Saudi Arabia was the fifth-largest donor to the WFP in 2018 and 2019. (Supplied)

“In 2014, Saudi Arabia contributed more than $200 million to provide food for displaced families in Iraq, Syrian refugees in various countries, as well as refugees from South Sudan and Somalia. WFP’s food assistance and continued support from donors kept famine at bay for years. Very recently, they helped eradicate famine-like conditions for an estimated 161,000 people in Yemen.”

Fleischer said that the Kingdom was the WFP’s fifth-largest donor in both 2018 and 2019.

HIGHLIGHT

With global food prices at an all-time high, the UN agency is concerned about the impact of the Ukraine crisis on food security around the world, official said.

“We are working closely with KSrelief to continuously improve our collaboration and strengthen partnership. We rely on the Kingdom’s support to help WFP achieve its mission not only in the region but beyond. Our partnership is built on jointly addressing some of the most pressing humanitarian challenges with a methodical approach that supports WFP’s agenda while also reflecting the Kingdom’s priorities in this space,” she added.

With global food prices at an all-time high, the UN agency was concerned about the impact of the Ukraine crisis on food security around the world, Fleischer said.

Fleischer said Saudi Arabia was the fifth-largest donor to the WFP in 2018 and 2019. (Supplied)

“The consequences of the conflict in Ukraine are radiating outward, triggering a wave of collateral hunger that is spreading across the globe.”

Ukraine and Russia are responsible for a combined 29 percent of the global wheat trade.

Fleischer said that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen was one of the worst in the world and that more than half its population was now facing food insecurity. Skyrocketing prices had pushed the number of people there in need of food assistance to 17.4 million and the situation was set to get worse, she added.

Yemen depends almost entirely on food imports, with 31 percent of its wheat shipments coming from Ukraine over the past three months.

Fleischer said Saudi Arabia was the fifth-largest donor to the WFP in 2018 and 2019. (Supplied)

Egypt, which is the world’s largest buyer of wheat, also relied heavily on subsidized imports to ensure affordable access to bread and vegetable oil for more than 70 million of its people, the official said.

The situation was similar in Lebanon, which sourced 80 percent of its wheat imports from Ukraine and had seen food prices soar due to conflict, Fleischer said.

“Food and fuel price increases have an impact on our operations in the sense that it costs more to bring in the same amount of food into a country,” she said.

“The global food price increases resulted in WFP Yemen incurring an additional cost of approximately $10 million each month in 2022. On another level, the Ukraine crisis is making a bad funding situation worse. WFP’s meager resources for operations in Yemen and Syria especially will be under even more pressure than before.

“WFP is actively working to raise these funds. We are doing everything possible to mobilize world attention and support — through governments, the private sector and individuals — to stave off drastic measures”.

Fleischer is leading a delegation to Riyadh to provide an update on the humanitarian situation in the region. While in the city she met Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, supervisor general of KSrelief, to discuss ways for young Saudis to engage with the WFP through the Misk Foundation.

The delegates also met the leaders of the Evacuation and Humanitarian Operations Cell to express their thanks for its continued support for the WFP’s work in Yemen.

 

 


Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs launches Ramadan gift programs in Jakarta

A copy of the Holy Qur'an, boxes of dates, and the Iftar Program are distributed by the Saudi Islamic affairs ministry. (SPA)
A copy of the Holy Qur'an, boxes of dates, and the Iftar Program are distributed by the Saudi Islamic affairs ministry. (SPA)
Updated 25 March 2023

Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs launches Ramadan gift programs in Jakarta

A copy of the Holy Qur'an, boxes of dates, and the Iftar Program are distributed by the Saudi Islamic affairs ministry. (SPA)
  • Al-Hazmi explained that, thanks to the King Salman Iftar Program, thousands of meals had been distributed to people across Indonesia

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, represented by the religious attache at the Kingdom’s Embassy in Indonesia, inaugurated today the King Salman Gift Program to distribute copies of the Holy Qur’an and boxes of dates, and the Iftar Program for those fasting.

The event took place at the headquarters of the attache in Jakarta, in the presence of the Saudi ambassador to Indonesia, Faisal bin Abdullah Al-Amoudi, the Kingdom’s religious attache, Dr. Ahmed bin Ali Al-Hazmi, and several senior Islamic figures in Indonesia.

Ambassador Al-Amoudi stressed that these efforts are an extension of the Kingdom’s role in serving Islam and Muslims all over the world, especially Indonesia, the largest Islamic country by population.

He noted that these gifts from King Salman come in the context of promoting the humanitarian and Islamic work of the Kingdom. Al-Amoudi added that the Indonesian government and people appreciate and respect Saudi Arabia, its leadership and the Saudi people.

Al-Hazmi explained that, thanks to the King Salman Iftar Program, thousands of meals had been distributed to people across Indonesia.

He noted that the number of beneficiaries from the dates program had reached 55,000 people, encompassing 80 tons of dates. Those benefiting from the Iftar Program amount to 150,000, and 88,500 copies of the Holy Qur’an will be distributed.

Al-Hazmi stressed that Muslims all over the world anticipate these programs annually with passion, love, and appreciation.

These programs are an implementation of King Salman’s directives to distribute one million copies of the Holy Qur’an and numerous tons of dates to people during Ramadan in 2023, as a culmination of the efforts made by the Kingdom in caring for Muslims around the world.