Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many development priorities in common, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi tells Arab News

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Updated 04 December 2022

Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many development priorities in common, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi tells Arab News

Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many development priorities in common, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi tells Arab News
  • Both nations have commonalities in tourism and economic diversification, says leader of Tanzanian province
  • Mwinyi says sustainability, heritage, renewable energy and agriculture are areas of potential cooperation

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many priorities in common concerning economic diversification and investment in tourism, renewable energy, and agriculture, according to Hussein Ali Mwinyi, president of the semi-autonomous Tanzanian province, off the coast of East Africa.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News in Makkah on Wednesday, where he performed Umrah during a visit to the Kingdom, Mwinyi said Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar share a number of concerns over sustainable tourism and the promotion of heritage sites.

“In Zanzibar, we have two main types of tourism,” said Mwinyi. “We have beach tourism, because it’s an island with sandy beaches. But we also have old towns, such as Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Those are commonalities where we can learn from each other. 

“But we also have differences. For example, I’m told the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a good number of tourists coming for sports tourism, like Formula One and such. So those are things that we can learn from the experience here.” 

The tropical archipelago in the Indian Ocean is a veritable crossroads of cultural influence, where Africa meets Arabic history and Indian flavors; the fabled “spice islands” synonymous with abundant production of cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon. 




 Rama, a kite surfing teacher, surfs in Paje beach, Zanzibar. During high season, Zanzibar’s beaches attract thousands of people for kite surfing, economically benefitting local businesses. (AFP)

Zanzibar united with Tanganyika in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania, but has a culture, heritage and geography distinct from the mainland. It is also pursuing a strategy of economic diversification that takes into account its geographical advantages and multicultural strengths.

Zanzibar’s economy has traditionally been underwritten by tourism. Visitors from colder countries are drawn to its year-round tropical climate, stunning white-sand beaches, and many cultural and heritage sites. 

The tourism industry directly employs around 60,000 people and contributes almost $900 million to Zanzibar’s gross domestic product each year.

However, like many nations and regions reliant on tourist traffic, Zanzibar’s economy has suffered as a result of lockdowns, closures and travel bans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has underscored the necessity of rebuilding the tourism industry while diversifying the economy across other, more shock-resistant industries.

“The mainstay of the economy of Zanzibar depends very much on tourism,” said Mwinyi, who attended the 22nd World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Riyadh this week. “Tourism is contributing to about 30 percent of our GDP.

“We are looking forward to growing the sector following the pandemic and luckily the numbers are coming back. We are almost back to pre-pandemic numbers and we are hoping to have more visitors than we used to have before the pandemic.” 




A tourist dives at Matemwe’s reef. Zanzibar's clear waters and lively reefs attract scuba diving tourists from all over the world. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector is likewise enjoying a post-pandemic boom. The Kingdom’s investments in leisure and hospitality have created thousands of jobs, setting it on course to emerge as a global destination welcoming 100 million visitors per year by 2030.

Data published by the Saudi Tourism Authority shows that the Kingdom had already received 62 million tourist visitors by late August this year, placing it well on course to meet or even surpass its target by the end of the decade. 

Heritage tourism forms a major part of the Kingdom’s strategy. The Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s At-Turaif and Bujairi Terrace developments were officially unveiled on Monday at a gala event during the WTTC Global Summit.

Zanzibar is also promoting its heritage sites. Stone Town, its administrative capital, features distinctive architecture, much of it dating back to the 19th century, reflecting native Swahili culture and a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European influences. For this reason, the town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.

However, COVID-19 is not the only threat facing the tourism industry. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and damaging valuable land and ocean habitats, especially in low-lying island regions. 

During the UN Climate Change Conference — COP27 — held in Egypt’s coastal resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh last month, delegates from climate-vulnerable nations called on the international community to do more to help them mitigate the effects of global warming. 




Dago Roots (R) performs a set with other artists at the International African music festival “Sauti za Busara” at the Old Fort in Stone town. (AFP)

Several governments, including Zanzibar’s, have recognized the urgent need to make their economies more sustainable, resilient and diverse, and to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. 

“Luckily, we haven’t been affected so much when it comes to climate change, but we are mitigating the effects by specific policies that were put in place,” said Mwinyi. 

“For example, the tourism we are talking about in Zanzibar is high-value, low-volume tourism. So we want quality tourism, few numbers but high quality, as opposed to mass tourism, which is devastating to the environment. 

“And we also have put down policies to mitigate the effects of climate change, including the use of renewable energy, the recycling of solid waste and such measures. So, in effect, we are hoping to make sure that we are not affected as other island nations have been affected by climate change.”

To avoid potential economic setbacks in the long run, Zanzibar is looking beyond tourism as a primary source of revenue, by embracing agriculture and the “blue” economy, which sustainably utilizes maritime and marine resources.

This includes the establishment of new fisheries, the development of seaports for travel and trade, off-shore renewable energy, seabed aquaculture, and other extractive activities, all under the umbrella of the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050.

Through its Blue Economy Policy, Zanzibar’s government has focused on strengthening the aquaculture sector with investments in seaweed farming, which offers local women economic empowerment and farming communities sustainable livelihoods.




Hussein Ali Mwinyi with Arab News’ Rawan Radwan. (AN photo/Maher Mirza)

“Since Zanzibar is made up of islands, we have to utilize ocean resources for economic development, but in a sustainable way,” said Mwinyi.

“So other than tourism, we are looking into fisheries. It’s an important industry for us — not only fishing but also fish farm aquaculture. We are looking at other sectors like seaweed farming. But we are also developing infrastructure like seaports so that we can have more maritime trade and transportation.”

After meeting with business leaders in Riyadh, Mwinyi is more confident than ever that Tanzania and the province of Zanzibar can enjoy reciprocal trade and cooperation in a wide range of industries.

“Tanzania and Saudi Arabia have had longstanding diplomatic relations. We have embassies on both sides. And now we are trying to strengthen that by encouraging investment from the Saudi side into Tanzania by sending some products from Tanzania to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“I had a good conversation with the Federation of Saudi Chambers, where members discussed a lot about food security. And as you know, Tanzania is a huge country, we have almost 1 million sq km of fertile land. 

“So, we are an agricultural nation. We can send in a lot of agricultural produce to Saudi Arabia, and we can also send livestock to Saudi Arabia. And it has started actually. We are hoping to increase that. 




A spice tour guide holds a a Ylang-ylang flower on a spice farm outside Stone Town. (AFP)

“On the other hand, Saudi Arabia can send Tanzania products from the hydrocarbon industry, from plastics and fertilizers, including oil and gas itself. So there’s a lot of room for cooperation and strengthening our economy. 

“But on the investment side, I know there’s a lot of Saudi business people who would like to come and invest in tourism in Zanzibar, but also fisheries and livestock keeping. So, we had a good discussion. And I’m sure the cooperation will be further strengthened.”

Mwinyi believes Saudi expertise and interest in Zanzibar as an investment destination will benefit its environmental agenda and bodes well for future cooperation. 

“There was a lot of interest to come and invest in Zanzibar in areas where they have already invested here and which have shown success. One of them is renewable energy. We are an island so we need to have renewable energy. And it has been done here to great success,” he said. 

“Businessmen here are willing to come and share experiences with us and invest in Zanzibar, but that is only one sector. We spoke about a lot more sectors and I think we have huge potential for cooperation in different sectors.”

 
 


‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy

‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy
Updated 08 February 2023

‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy

‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy

RIYADH: The US Embassy in Riyadh welcomed US Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of the US Transportation Command, as she met female members of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, saying that it supports women’s empowerment as a Vision 2030 goal.

Van Ovost, who is on a tour of the Kingdom, expressed her happiness at exchanging ideas and sharing experiences with Saudi Arabian Armed Forces female members.

“Ending my day energized after speaking with Saudi Armed Forces service members. We talked about one of my favorite things — mentorship. No one overcomes challenges alone. We all need someone to help us stay with it, remain confident, and provide opportunities to let us shine,” Van Ovost tweeted with photos of her meeting, which was retweeted by the US Embassy.

US Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of the US Transportation Command, interacts with female members of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces. (Supplied)

The US Embassy also tweeted: “Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost @USTRANSCOM_CDR Commander, US Logistics Command @US_TRANSCOM focuses on women’s empowerment and STEM education. The US government proudly supports women’s empowerment as a Saudi Vision 2030 goal.”

She also visited Prince Sultan Military Air Base and the Apple Developer Academy in Riyadh, which is supporting female developers and entrepreneurs in the Kingdom.

“#TogetherWeDeliver! @usairforce Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost,@USTRANSCOM_CDR, visited #TeamPSAB, where she learned more about the 378th AEW mission, our strong partnership with Saudi Arabia, and engaged with US service members who keep the mission successful,” tweeted the embassy.

In another tweet the US Embassy said: “Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost @USTRANSCOM_CDR Commander of the US Logistics Transport Command @US_TRANSCOM toured the Apple Developers Academy @ADA_TWQ during her visit to the headquarters of Princess Noura University @_PNU_KSA. The US Government proudly supports women’s empowerment.”

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arab News sister publication, Van Ovost said that her first visit to Riyadh as commander of US Transportation Command focused on consolidating the strong relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Defense, in the national interest of Saudi Arabia and the US, as well as to achieve security goals.

The US Central Command is working with Saudi Arabia to establish an integrated air defense system to counter missiles and unmanned aircraft, among other technological initiatives, she said.

Van Ovost described US military relations with the Kingdom as solid, saying that the two countries fought side by side during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, and that their partnership is a cornerstone of security and stability in the Middle East.


New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students

New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students
Updated 08 February 2023

New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students

New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students

JEDDAH: Integrated solutions provider Johnson Controls Arabia has announced its participation as founding partner in Saudi Arabia’s new Future Industrialists initiative.

Implemented by the Association for Distinguished Initiatives, General Directorate of Education in Jeddah, and the Industrial Council of the Chamber of Commerce in Jeddah, the company announced that it was supporting the scheme as part of its strategic commitment toward empowering young talent in the Kingdom.

The initiative will involve more than 10,000 male and female high school students competing in three categories for awards worth SR100,000 ($26,650).

Thirty student winners will be offered summer internships at the manufacturing plants of companies taking part in the initiative — including the YORK Manufacturing Complex — and training sessions will be run for 1,000 students.

Johnson Controls Arabia provides services including heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment, fire and security systems, and building management systems and controls throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

Mohanad Al-Shaikh, chief executive officer of Johnson Controls Arabia, said: “We are proud to be the founding partners of the Future Industrialists initiative as part of our ongoing commitment and efforts toward fueling innovation and sustainability, especially in the development of talent and future leaders, in partnership with the public sector.

“As a leader in the vital industrial sector on a local and global level, we will be introducing students to the latest innovative and integrated industrial processes and mechanisms used at our YORK Manufacturing Complex, YORK’s largest manufacturing facility in the region.

“Johnson Controls Arabia continues to work toward its long-term objectives of shaping and preparing students with the needed skills and experience to excel in the competitive industrial labor market,” he added.

The Future Industrialists initiative’s creative category award will recognize students who present distinctive ideas to raise a factory’s financial or marketing productivity through the suggestions of quality products.

The discoverer category will reward students with ideas for improvement of daily operations, productivity, and quality assurance, while the ambassador class will celebrate those who develop interesting content on factory output, distinctive products, and the company’s role in servicing the community.

Targeting students at public secondary schools in Jeddah, the initiative aims to broaden young talents’ vision and knowledge through conducting field visits and training at local firms and manufacturing facilities, while educating them on the Kingdom’s industrial potential, mainly in Jeddah.

In alignment with Vision 2030 goals, the Future Industrialists initiative aims to boost the economy through motivating students to join the industrial sector in partnership with the private sector.


TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people

TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people
Updated 08 February 2023

TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people

TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people
  • NEOM subsidiary seeks proposals in energy, food, mobility
  • Aim to foster global entrepreneurship, new ways of living

RIYADH: TONOMUS, the cognitive multinational subsidiary of NEOM, has announced the launch of its second venture startup competition at LEAP23 in Riyadh.

Led by the firm’s TONOMUS Venture Studio, the competition started on Feb. 6, and is titled “The Next Billion.” It is an initiative that invites participants to consider new technologies and innovations that a billion people in the world would require for energy, food and mobility.

“We’re looking to recreate that here just like they did in Silicon Valley,” said Beverly Rider, CEO of TONOMUS Venture Studio.

The aim is to foster global entrepreneurship that will nurture the environment and create new ways of community living.

Rider added: “TONOMUS Venture Studio has a bunch of different objectives. So it’s a programmatic display of how you bring entrepreneurship and startups to our region. So what we found when we got NEOM is that one of the things we were missing was an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the small businesses that really fuel the economy, and they take the large companies and create the value around them.”

Rider said Saudi Arabia’s entrepreneurial vision and diversification of the economy stemming from Vision 2030 makes it an interesting hub prospect in the world.

“Come to the Kingdom? So actually, you would think that that would be the hard part, but that’s been our easy part. Everybody wants to come. The great thing about having a recession in the rest of the world is that people are really interested in looking into new horizons and new geographies. But more importantly than that, the megaprojects have given us an opportunity to basically, you know, start from the bottom and work our way up,” said Rider.

Up to 20 semifinalist teams will receive individualized coaching by experts from TONOMUS Venture Studio, and up to four winning teams will be invited to a 12-week program to incubate their ideas. The competition will welcome submissions until April 12, 2023.

Rider stressed that creating a community is key. “We asked people to come and talk to us about these solutions, their startup, or their ideas. So at about 100 people showed up yesterday. We’re going to do six more of them next year.”

TONOMUS Venture Studio comprises both established and emerging entrepreneurs. It aims to cement NEOM’s reputation as the epicenter of innovation, and the Kingdom as a place where the world’s brightest minds and top tech talent can bring their ideas to life.
 


Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA

Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA
Updated 09 February 2023

Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA

Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA

Abdullah Bahanshal was appointed Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group country manager for Saudi Arabia in January, and is responsible for managing and expanding company revenue in the Kingdom.

Bahanshal has over 20 years of experience in the information and communications technology industry, especially in leadership, strategic sales and development.

Before joining Lenovo ISG, he was country sales leader for the productivity solutions and services sales team at Honeywell International Inc. for two years.

He also focused on end-user relationships through channel parties across the Kingdom, while also developing country growth strategic plans.

Before that, he worked with global ICT brands, including Huawei, Cisco Systems, and Cerner. During his time at previous ICT firms, he won awards for performance, sales and strategy, and also became one of the first Saudis certified by the International Coaching Federation.

Bahanshal holds a bachelor’s degree of science in pharmaceutical science and a master’s of science in health informatics from King Saud University in Riyadh. 

He is also certified in project and program management, and is a certified coach specializing in personal and career coaching. He is currently pursuing his master of science studies in psychology. 

Bahanshal has also volunteered with Monsha’at as a business mentor to help and support entrepreneurs.

Alaa Bawab, Lenovo’s general manager of Middle East and Africa, said: “Abdullah brings with him years of senior experience in the ICT industry and has worked with some of the biggest names. His knowledge, talent and skill make him a vital part of our expansion into the Kingdom. We believe in his leadership experience and are confident that he can take forward our presence in the Kingdom to new heights and establish Lenovo as an industry leader.”


Souq from life of Prophet Muhammad located in Makkah

Souq from life of Prophet Muhammad located in Makkah
Updated 08 February 2023

Souq from life of Prophet Muhammad located in Makkah

Souq from life of Prophet Muhammad located in Makkah
  • Habasha was a major Arab market during pre-Islamic, early Islamic eras

JEDDAH: A Saudi scientific team has located the site of an ancient souq in the Makkah region that served as one of the most important Arab markets during the pre-Islamic and early Islamic eras.

Dubbed Souq Habasha, the site was discovered in cooperation between the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives, the Ministry of Culture and its Heritage Commission.

Souq Habasha was an ancient seasonal Arab market and one of the largest in the Tihamah region west of the Arabian Peninsula. The souq was held every year for eight days starting on the first day of Rajab in the Islamic calendar, and was annually held until the Islamic year 197 (813 A.D.).

Fahd Al-Samari, secretary-general of the foundation and head of the scientific committee of Souq Habasha, delivered a statement in a video that was published on Darah’s official Twitter account.

He said: “Documenting historical information must be within a specific methodology. Therefore, the department has entered a number of experiences in documentation, such as documenting the Okaz market, and some sites from the Prophet Muhammad’s biography in the Kingdom. The Habasha market will be an ancient historical and cultural asset for the Kingdom.”

Abdullah Al-Zahrani, a member of the Souq Habasha scientific committee, said: “This collaboration project was made to locate the souq and it is a good example of joint cooperation between many parties as well as researchers, historians, geographers and prophet’s biography experts who will add a lot to verify this site.”

Studies and research projects have attempted to trace the location of the market for more than 40 years, with field sites proposed by the committee finally being inspected last year.

Abdullah Al-Welaie, another member of the Souq Habasha scientific committee, said: “We worked on drawing complete caravan routes, including the coastal road, the Tihama road, peaks of the Sarawat Mountains, as well as the Elephant road. Four tracks were drawn on accurate maps that really helped determine the location of the market and were then handed over to historians.”

Historians said that the market was mentioned in the biography of the Prophet Muhammad, who had taken part in the souq to trade before his mission.

The team conducted studies, verified sources and carried out an archaeological survey, following up discussions with qualified sources to determine the location of Souq Habasha.

Historical markets in the region were typically located in areas with an abundance of water, rainfall and grazing land. Accordingly, Souq Habasha was located on the southern bank of Wadi Qanuna in Ardiyat, a coastal city in the Makkah region.

It is positioned in the middle of a vast floodplain, bound by the Al-Durbat mountains to the east, Al-‘Irm mountains to the west stretching for five km, and Umm Al-Rimth mountains to the south, in a vast area where water sources and plant cover are prominent.

The market also passes through Al-Janad street, which served as one of the most important landmarks in determining the location of the souq.

Souq Habasha offers experts the chance to examine ancient economic, literary and cultural activity, with its integration into Okaz market — which has been revived — becoming a prominent cultural event in the Kingdom and providing benefits in the scientific, cultural and tourism fields.