Saudi bid for Expo 2030 ‘an investment in the future of our citizens, residents and visitors,’ RCRC chief tells Davos

Special Saudi bid for Expo 2030 ‘an investment in the future of our citizens, residents and visitors,’ RCRC chief tells Davos
Head of RCRC speaking with award-winning broadcaster Emma Crosby at a special fireside chat at the CNBC pavilion on the Davos promenade on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. (Twitter)
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Updated 20 January 2023

Saudi bid for Expo 2030 ‘an investment in the future of our citizens, residents and visitors,’ RCRC chief tells Davos

Saudi bid for Expo 2030 ‘an investment in the future of our citizens, residents and visitors,’ RCRC chief tells Davos
  • The Kingdom has already earned significant support for its bid from more than 60 countries and organizations 
  • More than 30 million people expected in Riyadh and 1 billion eyed for virtual interaction on metaverse

DAVOS: Saudi Arabia’s bid for Expo 2030 was not a one-off investment but rather one “in the future of our citizens, residents, and visitors,” the head of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, Fahd Al-Rasheed, said.

“We’re thinking about the legacy of the site itself and how it can be used. It cannot be just built and then everybody packs their bags and leaves. It has to be used beyond us.

“So, we’re thinking about the design of the buildings, and we have that in this site masterplan in a way that we can use them for the future of work, the future of education, and reskilling,” he added.

Speaking with award-winning broadcaster Emma Crosby at a special fireside chat at the CNBC pavilion on the Davos promenade on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, Al-Rasheed noted that the Expo 2030 infrastructure would come naturally given the work already being done regarding Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.

His vision, however, for the Expo was not solely in the look and feel of the site, but in its legacy.

He said: “Our legacy from Expo 2030 is not going to be a building. It has to be mass engagement, and at a scale never seen before.

“It is literally the largest event in the world, and so what we committed to is the following; not only are we going to get 30, 40 million people to the site, which is fantastic, it’s a record. We’re going to get 1 billion people to interact with it on the metaverse and we are now translating that vision into reality.”




The Saudi Arabia Pavilion stands tall at Dubai Expo 2022, which drew 26 million visitors over six months. (Dubai Expo 2020)

The virtual Expo would cater for those unable to fly to Riyadh, but the RCRC’s chief executive officer pointed out that it would be more than just a virtual tour.

“You’d give 1 billion people the opportunity to actually come and see it, and that would be the first win. The second win is they would actually come in and do something experiential about water use and energy use, learn something and apply it in their home. That will get you mass impact.

“And third, maybe even transact, do a job virtually, or meet somebody or a company, get an investment, et cetera. So again, it has to be useful to everybody for it to be used,” Al-Rasheed added.

He said: “You have to have a great site, great mobility, which we are doing already now. And the metro will connect to the site. The site is just south of the airport. So, it’s basically the gateway into the city of Riyadh. And we are going to have 140,000 rooms and hotel rooms by then anyway. And so, the Expo will come in naturally.”

Saudi Arabia is no stranger to hosting millions of visitors, given that it is home to the Two Holy Mosques which bring in millions of pilgrims every year for Hajj in Makkah.

 

 

However, that is not to say that creating such a complex site will come cheap. A whopping $8 billion of investment from the Kingdom will be going into making the plans become a reality.

“It’s a very large investment. We believe that this investment is totally justified. We have a return-on-investment target as well for it. We have a socio-economic target on jobs created both during the Expo and before and after.

“So, the government of Saudi Arabia doesn’t just put money into buildings and infrastructure and white elephants. We actually want a return on investment out of everything that we do,” Al-Rasheed added.

On the Expo’s theme, The Foresight of Tomorrow, he said: “It means that we have to take responsibility for our future, whether we are countries, companies, or individuals.

“We have to project the next two, three decades and look at the opportunities that it’s going to avail, and the challenges, and tackle them. We need to stare them right in the face.”

Within this theme lies three subthemes: A Different Tomorrow, Climate Action, and Prosperity for All.

To paint a picture of the first sub theme, Al-Rasheed gave the example of how robotics could reformat a 200-employee factory into one that only needed three employees.

“The plant is more productive, but what happens to 197 employees that you just basically moved out of a job? You have to think about reskilling. So, by confronting the problem, I immediately thought about what I need to do in order to manage from a socio-economic perspective.

“You have the same thing on the second subtheme, which is climate action. What do we need to do? Not just as countries meeting and suits, et cetera, talking about what the future would look like, but what do I as an individual contribute? How do I use water differently, energy differently? What is my role?”

And on the third subtheme, he added: “How can we provide opportunity for everyone? They may not take it, but we have to provide it.”

The capital has already begun working on climate action and sustainability, with more than $70 billion invested in such projects.

Al-Rasheed said: “We said we cannot announce a strategy of hypergrowth without having a sustainability commitment. So, last year we actually announced the real sustainability strategy.

“We love our environment, we love our city, and we have a commitment to the world. So, we will change all our systems, we will change all our plans. We will make 30 percent of our cars, electric vehicles by 2030 and 50 percent renewable energy sources by 2030.”

The fireside chat was attended by numerous WEF delegates, business executives, journalists, and investors.

Saudi Arabia submitted its bid for the World Expo 2030 in October last year, in a letter sent by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Bureau International des Expositions, the international organizing body for the global event since 1931. 

The Kingdom has already earned significant support for its bid from more than 60 countries and organizations around the world, including China, France, Turkiye, Greece, Armenia, Cuba, dozens of other African nations, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. 

The Kingdom 's capital is competing against Busan in South Korea, Rome in Italy, and Odesa in Ukraine for Expo 2030, with a ballot to be held by the BIE in November 2023, on the principle of one country, one vote.


Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year

Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year
Updated 57 min 2 sec ago

Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year

Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year
  • More than 170 exhibitors from 15 countries including Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Turkiye, Egypt, London, India and Jordan are taking part

JEDDAH: One of the biggest festivals in the Islamic world dedicated to women is holding its 22nd event in Jeddah as part of the Kingdom’s Ramadan Season.

The National Charity Foundation for Home Health Care, also known as We Care, is holding its ‘Bisat Al-Reeh’ event for six days starting on Monday at the Jeddah Superdome under the slogan “Everlasting Goodness.” 

The annual exhibition this year has two days for families and four dedicated exclusively for women to promote their creativity in fashion, jewelry and furniture and nurture young talent.

Bisat Al-Reeh is held under the patronage of Princess Adelah bint Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and in the presence of Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan.

More than 170 exhibitors from 15 countries including Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Turkiye, Egypt, London, India and Jordan are taking part. Uzbekistan will also be represented for the first time. 

We Care said Bisat Al-Reeh encourages entrepreneurs to exchange knowledge and experience with elite society members and promotes the display of various related industrial sectors.

Proceeds have supported We Care charitable programs and activities in home healthcare and hospitals.

Princess Adelah, the chairwoman of the foundation’s board of trustees, told Arab News at last year’s event: “The foundation works for noble goals, as today it serves ten different regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Its goals fall within providing home health care in addition to providing patients’ psychological and social needs and supporting them with medical equipment and supplies, as well as enhancing the functional capabilities of the patients and supporting them until they regain their independence.”

Ramadan Season also offers a series of cultural experiences and events in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah organized by the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

The season aims to celebrate areas of the Kingdom’s historical and cultural heritage that relate to the holy month.


Saudi Arabia participates in Global Children’s Designathon to create sustainable environmental solutions

Saudi Arabia participates in Global Children’s Designathon to create sustainable environmental solutions
Updated 26 March 2023

Saudi Arabia participates in Global Children’s Designathon to create sustainable environmental solutions

Saudi Arabia participates in Global Children’s Designathon to create sustainable environmental solutions
  • The children focused on innovative stories and solutions for protecting the existing ecosystems and tackling some of the environmental issues facing the planet

RIYADH: The Global Children’s Designathon, a competitive program championing design thinking and sustainable environmental solutions, took place on March 25 at King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.

The Saudi Rukun Creative Exchange partnered with Designathon Works, a developmental and knowledge institution based in Amsterdam concerned with issues of sustainable development, to bring the event to the region.

Princess Noura Turki Al-Saud, co-founder of Rukun Creative Exchange, told Arab News: “As a certified design thinker myself, I see the power in this tool and this method, and I believe in empowering children from as early as possible.

“If we include them in the conversation from early on, they become the change-makers of the future.

“The designathon works in enabling and empowering the ability of all children, no matter their background or their abilities or their race, to be part of this conversation.”

Designathon Works launched the international competitive design program in 2014, and since its inception it has been characterized by its wide geographical scope and diversity of participants.

The task at hand on Saturday was to find ways to restore and enhance biodiversity within the Kingdom.

The children focused on innovative stories and solutions for protecting the existing ecosystems and tackling some of the environmental issues facing the planet today.

The designathon awarded categories based on values rather than a ranking system: problem-solving, the clever mind, the young innovator, and team spirit.

The children, aged 8 to 12, were put into nine groups, launching first into a research and ideation phase, and then determining the main idea and creating a tangible prototype demonstrating its functionality in the real world, before presenting their work to a panel of judges.

Princess Noura said: “I was so impressed by the ideas that [the children] showed, and their enthusiasm more than anything.

“I knew they were very happy and open, and they were very receptive to working together.”

Hussam Al-Saud won the young innovator award after creating a robot that helped with planting seeds across farmlands. Generated by solar panels, his solution utilized the Saudi sun.

He said: “I chose this so I can fulfill the Saudi Vision 2030 for a greener future.”

The problem-solving champions were team one, who prioritized the preservation of wildlife in the desert.

Ibrahim, one of the team’s members, said: “There’s no food for animals in the desert, like snakes and camels. Over 50 animals die of heat exhaustion. We came up with this [idea] where there are seeds on the drone.”

Their theory was that seeds are planted and watered using drones, and the children predicted that in just a few months, the seedlings would sprout, providing a sustainable food supply for the desert animals.

Group six triumphed in the team spirit award, with members inventing a tube that connected rivers in the desert to cities, acting as a main water source.

The children equipped their project with solar panels which chimed in the event of a power outage.

Judges commended the students on their excellent presentation skills and strength in team collaboration.

Team five took the clever mind award after members designed an area, powered by a windmill, where polluted water is treated.

Their study showed what the choices are: neglecting or nurturing the environment.

One of the team’s members said: “Our project shows what happens if you care or do not care about the environment, and informs people to take care of the environment, maybe even make a podcast and show how you can stop this from happening.”

The GCD contributes to developing children’s skills and gives them the space to participate in thinking toward building a better future.

Its values are in line with both the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and initiatives.

Rukun Creative Exchange has revealed plans to make the GCD an ongoing event.

Princess Noura said: “[We’re] looking at doing more throughout the year so it’s not just a one-time thing, but actually keeping it going throughout the year and collaborating with schools and other entities.

“Seeing this today just reinforces how much this needs to become systemized throughout schools and in part of the programs, and even teaching teachers this kind of method.”


KSrelief continues to clear land mines, rehabilitate Yemeni people

KSrelief continues to clear land mines, rehabilitate Yemeni people
Updated 26 March 2023

KSrelief continues to clear land mines, rehabilitate Yemeni people

KSrelief continues to clear land mines, rehabilitate Yemeni people
  • 400k removed from 2018 to mid-March 2023 in the country
  • 45,588 people helped with prosthetic and rehab services

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has continued to provide humanitarian aid to nations across the globe, including education, health, shelter, water, and demining operations, which has recently focused on Yemen.

The Masam project and the prosthetic limb program in Yemen have been able to provide much-needed support for those injured by explosive devices in the country.

Despite the danger, the Masam project teams have cleared 400,000 mines in Yemen from its launch in 2018 to mid-March 2023.

The prosthetic centers have provided over 142,000 services including physical and psychological counseling for those affected. It has benefited 45,588 people in Taiz, Aden, Marib and Seiyun from Jan. 1, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2023.

On the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4, KSrelief, along with the international community, UN and global organizations, will raise awareness of the dangers of these devices. They will seek collaboration with countries worldwide to help people.

Yemen is among the top beneficiaries of KSrelief assistance. The center has implemented 797 projects in Yemen worth over $4.2 billion.

Its programs include food, health, emergency relief, water, sanitation, shelter, education and telecommunications.


Career guidance on the agenda at Saudi human resources fund, Diriyah workshop

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund’s workshop, held in cooperation with the DGDA, saw participation of 15 education offices.
Saudi Human Resources Development Fund’s workshop, held in cooperation with the DGDA, saw participation of 15 education offices.
Updated 26 March 2023

Career guidance on the agenda at Saudi human resources fund, Diriyah workshop

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund’s workshop, held in cooperation with the DGDA, saw participation of 15 education offices.
  • The workshop aimed at reviewing vocational guidance initiatives and analyzed needs in the education sector
  • It focused on developing plans to be presented to school students and mentors

RIYADH: The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund’s workshop, which was held in cooperation with the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, saw the participation of 15 education offices.

The workshop aimed at reviewing vocational guidance initiatives and analyzed needs in the education sector. It focused on developing plans to be presented to school students and mentors.

Those in charge of the education offices were briefed on the ideas at the event, which took place at the headquarters of the DGDA.

Discussions were also held regarding the skills and needs of the labor sector to help equip students with the necessary capabilities.

Career guidance initiatives aim to empower students through integrated counseling and training, in order to help develop their skills and increase their readiness to enter the labor market.

The workshop was an extension of efforts to consolidate the concept of vocational guidance and its methods to serve the country and society in line with Saudi Vision 2030, which stipulates in its programs and objectives the promotion and development of human capabilities.


European Moroccans to compete in Qur’an recitation contest

European Moroccans to compete in Qur’an recitation contest
Updated 26 March 2023

European Moroccans to compete in Qur’an recitation contest

European Moroccans to compete in Qur’an recitation contest
  • The show, supervised by the GEA and broadcast on MBC1 and the Shahid digital platform, has a total prize pool of SR12 million ($3.2 million)

RIYADH: The third episode of the “Otr Elkalam” TV show’s international Qur’an recitation and adhan competition witnessed a rivalry between European Moroccan contestants in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday.

In the recitation section, Ahmed Al-Hasnawi, based in France, competed with Mohammed Al-Habti, who lives in Spain, where he leads the prayers at a mosque and teaches children the Holy Qur’an.

Al-Habti, with his voice consistent with the words of the Qur’an and its verses, qualified for the next stage at the expense of Al-Hasnawi, who has participated in several Qur’an recitation competitions in countries including Morocco and the UAE.

In the adhan section, Rayan Hawsawi, a Nigerian who resides in Makkah, emerged victorious over Tariq Deeb, an electrical engineer from Syria. Deeb has regularly raised the adhan in mosques in his country from a young age, but was overcome on Saturday by Hawsawi, whose voice imitates the muazzins of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

The “Otr Elkalam” competition is designed to highlight the rich diversity of cultures in the Islamic world, and the vocal methods of reciting the Qur’an and raising the call to prayer.

The show, supervised by the General Entertainment Authority and broadcast on MBC1 and the Shahid digital platform, has a total prize pool of SR12 million ($3.2 million).

More than 50,000 entrants from 165 countries were whittled down to just 50 for the finals, held in Riyadh.

The latest stage, overseen by the main jury, has left just 32 remaining contestants — 16 for each competition.