New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history

New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history
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As part of wider efforts to promote AlUla’s natural and cultural heritage, officials have been working for more than a year to develop Daimumah as a free-to-visit tourist destination. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history
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(AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history
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(AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history
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AlUla's summer activities were explored by Arab and Saudi social media influencers during a media tour. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history
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The palm house in Daimumah is fully made from palm tree wood, featuring a wooden staircase that leads up to the cozy attic, and right in the center of it all, there is a majestic palm tree stretching its branches, adorned with green dates just waiting to be plucked in August during the dates season. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history
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Once visitors enter the field of palms through the 150 meters long bridge, they will be surrounded by a serene atmosphere, as the landscape is adorned with tall, slender palm trees swaying gracefully in the gentle breeze. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)
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Updated 15 July 2023
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New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history

New AlUla tourist destination revives ancient oasis’ natural, cultural history
  • Daimumah blends traditional farming practices with modern innovative techniques to produce a variety of crops

JEDDAH: Modern-day tourists are being offered the chance to connect with the past at a sustainable farmland destination nestled within the Saudi desert.

AlUla’s latest attraction, Daimumah, from the Arabic word for sustainability, brings together art, nature, and heritage in a scenic oasis setting.

For centuries farming communities have shaped and nurtured the AlUla valley, leaving a fertile landscape for future generations.

As part of wider efforts to promote AlUla’s natural and cultural heritage, officials have been working for more than a year to develop Daimumah as a free-to-visit tourist destination.




As part of wider efforts to promote AlUla’s natural and cultural heritage, officials have been working for more than a year to develop Daimumah as a free-to-visit tourist destination. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)

With its palm groves, botanical gardens, and fields, trippers can explore at their leisure, discovering art installations, old mudbrick farm dwellings, ancient irrigation channels, and crops still grown sustainably by local farmers.

Adel Al-Balawi, a Saudi tour guide at Daimumah, told Arab News that palm trees had always played a vital role in the civilization and dwellings of AlUla.

He said: “Serving as natural shields against the scorching sun, they provide shade and help regulate temperature by reducing it by 10 degrees compared to open areas.

HIGHLIGHTS

• AlUla’s latest attraction, Daimumah, from the Arabic word for sustainability, brings together art, nature, and heritage in a scenic oasis setting.

• For centuries farming communities have shaped and nurtured the AlUla valley, leaving a fertile landscape for future generations.

“Within the palm fields, farmers strategically plant delicate crops that are susceptible to heat, benefiting from an optimal balance of sunlight.

“The passing breeze through the palms further cools the air, safeguarding the fragile plants from excessive heat, fostering the growth of lush vegetation below,” he added.




As part of wider efforts to promote AlUla’s natural and cultural heritage, officials have been working for more than a year to develop Daimumah as a free-to-visit tourist destination. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)

The installations scattered around the site were specially created by three artists and have been themed around the people of AlUla and the folklore dances of Saudi weddings.

In the Explorers’ Garden visitors can relax in a giant net strung between the palm trees and connect with nature by listening to the gentle rustle of the palm fronds and the soft chirping of birds as cool breezes create a calming ambience.

Al-Balawi said: “The net, expertly crafted from durable yet gentle materials, stretches out, inviting visitors to lay down and immerse themselves in its cradling embrace.

“Its intricate design allows for a comfortable and secure lounging experience, providing the perfect vantage point to admire the breathtaking surroundings.”




Adel Al-Balawi explains to visitors about Daimumah. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)

Daimumah uses solar panels to generate electricity for all its facilities. “It is the sure and best solution to reduce carbon footprints,” Al-Balawi added.

One visitor, Munirah Al-Enizi, 15, from AlUla, said: “I am so glad that the oasis has a tree house. It is inspired by palm trees which represent our Saudi culture too. It’s a great way to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the rural environment.”

The palm house has been made entirely from palm tree wood and has a wooden staircase that leads to an attic. At its center is a majestic palm tree with branches full of green dates waiting to be picked in August.

On Daimumah’s historic farm dwellings and water systems, Al-Balawi pointed out that the people of AlUla used to use a series of canals to link farms in the oasis. Water flows were controlled by a skilled farmer known as the master.

“It’s proof of the deep-rooted traditions and community spirit that make AlUla’s irrigation system not just ancient, but truly remarkable,” he said.

Daimumah blends traditional farming practices with modern innovative practices to produce a variety of crops including eggplant, onions, bell peppers, lemons, oranges, and an assortment of herbs.

A greenhouse area offers visitors the chance to find out how exotic fruits are grown while saving water and space.

“In Daimumah, farmers cultivate an environment that is tailor-made for specific crops. Within these reserves, an impressive count of 10,000 strawberry seedlings flourishes, enabling farmers to successfully grow exotic fruits that would otherwise struggle to thrive,” Al-Balawi added.

Between December to March, visitors can tour the site’s strawberry reserves and handpick the berries.

Moringa trees also flourish in the oasis. Al-Balawi said: “They require very little water to grow and are therefore considered a resource-efficient crop that is incredibly versatile and can be made into many different products.”

An open-air eatery, wood-cabin cafe serving hot and cold refreshments and snacks, and souvenirs shops are also located on the site.

In addition, educational and entertainment workshop programs are organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla.

For more information visit: https://www.experiencealula.com/en

 


KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan
Updated 43 min 51 sec ago
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KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan
  • Agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan
  • Nearly 600 shelter kits distributed in Pakistan's Gwadar to 4,000 people

Saudi Arabian aid agency KSrelief distributed hundreds of food aid packages and shelter kits to thousands most in need in Sudan and Pakistan, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.

The agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan, while nearly 600 shelter kits were distributed in the Gwadar district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, benefitting more than 4,000 people.

The assistance is part of a series of relief and humanitarian projects implemented by KSrelief across the world.


Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo

Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo
Updated 10 min 1 sec ago
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Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo

Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo
  • Focus on mutual investment growth, says Saudi official
  • Manufacturing, entertainment and health are key areas

TOKYO: The Saudi Arabia-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum took place in Tokyo on Tuesday with over 300 industry officials and leaders discussing ways to boost trade, investment and cultural ties.

In her keynote speech, Sara Al-Sayed, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of international partnerships at the Ministry of Investment, outlined plans for further collaboration between the two nations.

“Under the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030, we aim to take this partnership to a new level,” she said. “We want to leverage our mutual strengths, drive sustainable mutual economic growth, enhance technological innovation, and promote cultural exchange. We will be able to unlock the potential to expand the Japan partnership to be a key driver of growth.”

She added: “We have noticed in the last decade the strength of the partnership between Saudi Arabia and Japan. Over the last decade alone, the number of companies that have been established in Saudi Arabia by the Japanese has doubled and we have over 50 headquarters that have been established in Saudi Arabia. This forum will act as a catalyst to accelerate this growth and translate interest into investment.”

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry SAITO Ken attended the forum, each giving a speech commemorating the relationship between the two nations. 

Saito said the Japanese government will extend its maximum support to expand business with Saudi Arabia, while Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom “will bring collaborations to the forefront and will make sure that in all of the forums, we advocate the same aspirations in the national transition process attending to energy requirements.”

Al-Falih said in his closing remarks that the Kingdom’s non-oil income has “doubled and is looking for an accumulated investment of over $3 trillion that offers big chances to Japanese.”

He added that Saudi Arabia has a “bubble of projects as it will host expo 2030 in Riyadh.”

Saudi Arabia will also host the Winter Olympics in NEOM, and the World Cup 2034, that offers investment chances for the Japanese companies to participate, he explained.

Sessions at the forum included “Forging stronger manufacturing collaboration between KSA and Japan,” “Collaboration in the new era of sustainability and circular economy,” “Reinventing entertainment and gaming industries across borders,” and “Expanding the area of cooperation in healthcare.”

Additionally, the forum hosted a “Digital Entertainment Roundtable,” to discuss Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build a local gaming industry, which includes localizing Japanese games for the Saudi market, collaborating with esports tournament organizers, and investing in the digital entertainment sector. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information, Abdallah Alswaha, and Minister of Investment attended the roundtable, with the former giving a short speech during the opening. 

Saudi Arabia’s gaming sector is expected to grow to 1.3 billion dollars in the next two years, with 58 gaming companies operating in the Kingdom. 67% of Saudi Arabia’s population (around 24.8 million people) are active video game players.  

The Kingdom will be hosting this year’s Esports World Cup in July and will be giving away approximately $60 million in prize money to further grow the gaming sector.

Saudi Arabia has previously collaborated with Japanese companies, which have provided the Kingdom with expertise, knowledge, and cutting-edge technologies to improve the overall quality of projects and elevate the reputation of the digital entertainment industry.     


KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan
Updated 21 May 2024
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KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

Saudi Arabian aid agency KSrelief distributed hundreds of food aid packages and shelter kits to thousands most in need in Sudan and Pakistan, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.

The agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan, while nearly 600 shelter kits were distributed in the Gwadar district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, benefitting more than 4,000 people.

The assistance is part of a series of relief and humanitarian projects implemented by KSrelief across the world.


KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital

KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital
Updated 21 May 2024
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KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital

KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s aid organization KSrelief on Monday signed an agreement to install a water desalination plant at the kidney dialysis center of Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu.

The initiative in Somalia’s capital will benefit 270 individuals.

KSrelief’s Assistant Supervisor-General of Operations and Programs Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz signed the agreement at the center’s headquarters in Riyadh.

Elsewhere, KSrelief on Saturday distributed 585 shelter bags in Gwadar district in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, benefiting 4,095 families in the flood-affected areas.

The program is a part of KSrelief’s third phase of support for vulnerable people in Pakistan.

Also, KSrelief on Saturday distributed 956 food baskets to displaced families in the north of Sudan, benefiting 5,497 individuals. This is a part of the second phase of KSrelief’s food-security project in the country.


Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages

Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages
Updated 20 May 2024
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Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages

Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages
  • Event at Ithra will have over 110 digital experts, 70 speakers from 20 countries

DHAHRAN: After a two-year hiatus, the second Sync Digital Wellbeing Summit 2024 returns to the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, this week for discussions and debates by world-leading experts.

Scheduled for May 22 and 23, Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness, and will feature 110 digital experts and 70 speakers from 20 countries.

The second Sync Summit is scheduled for may 22 and 23, and Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness. (Supplied)

“The Sync Summit 2024 is not just another conference. It’s a platform for meaningful discussions, critical reflections, and collective actions for a better digital future,” said Wadha Al-Nafjan, head of digital wellbeing at Sync. “As we navigate the digital paradox, it is vital to recognize our responsibility in shaping the world we want to live in.”

Topics including algorithmic homogenization and identity loss, AI’s impact on the creative industries, and misinformation will be tackled under the theme “Confronting the Digital Paradox.”

The second Sync Summit is scheduled for may 22 and 23, and Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness. (Supplied)

The summit will be held at the Ithra headquarters in Dhahran, with a live stream available.

Day one, organized around the sub-theme “Cuts Both Ways: Wrestling with the Tensions of the Digital Era,” includes seven panels, two fireside chats and two keynote talks.

It’s a platform for meaningful discussions, critical reflections, and collective actions for a better digital future.

Wadha Al-Nafjan, Head of digital wellbeing at Sync

Day two, centering on the sub-theme “A Digital Renaissance: Shaping Our Relationship with Digital for a Better Future,” will have eight panels and three keynotes. In addition, it will have the Sync Spotlight series finale, for which creative influencer Omar Farooq will screen his new documentary, “The Dark Side of Japan.”

Although there was no summit last year at Ithra, the Sync team conducted extensive research globally that led to some compelling findings.

Wadha Al-Nafjan, Head of digital wellbeing at Sync

According to their research, 81 percent of those surveyed are concerned about the unsolicited collection of their personal data, 53 percent struggle to maintain boundaries between their work and personal lives, while 66 percent believe that the internet needs more regulation. About 73 percent of participants think social media was designed to be addictive.

Furthermore, the average time spent online daily has gone down, compared with 2021. About 68 percent claim to understand AI, 87 percent think technology is allowing people to work and study more flexibly, and 91 percent use digital devices to access resources including books and tutorials.

The second Sync Summit is scheduled for may 22 and 23, and Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness. (Supplied)

“Never before has the world been so connected to everything and everyone. We know technology has improved our lives, but it also has the painful potential to distract and harm,” Ithra said in a statement to Arab News. The summit’s activities are geared toward “ensuring that we as humans come together to keep digital technology in check and working towards the greater good, safeguarding its future, and our own.”

The event will bridge the gap between academic research, industry practices, and end-users regarding digital wellbeing through a variety of sessions.

Sync Spotlight

A series of sessions will run in parallel to the two-day Sync Summit stage program, offering greater interaction between speakers and audience members.

Sync Action Forum

The worldwide Gen Alpha Forum, an initiative developed by Sync Research with McCann Worldgroup, will see the community expand to include Saudi Arabia parents of Gen Alpha children, as well as educators, and other Gen Alpha stakeholders.

Majlis

In partnership with Johns Hopkins, which has a local hospital at Aramco, the Majlis will host three sessions exploring digital wellbeing with educators, researchers and students.

The Plaza

The gamified experience will dive into the findings compiled by the Sync Research team through the lens of three projects which were developed with partners Horizon Group, PSB and McCann Worldgroup.

Sync Immersive

In this interactive journey, the organizers promise to provide a three-step experience designed to impact participants’ emotions and understanding, while guiding them into navigating the complexities of digital ethics.

Podcast

The booth experience will serve both as a studio to record live podcast episodes hosted by Mo Gawdat, formerly of Google, and as a multi-functional space for hosting media interviews. Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Islam, host of the English-language podcast, The Mo Show, will also be present.

Other notable speakers this year include US data scientist and AI specialist Rumman Chowdhury; Saudi Arabia athlete, FIFA World Champion and owner of an esports team, Abdulaziz Alshehri; and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.

One May 21, Ithra will host the Global Digital Wellbeing Assembly, a gathering of experts from across the Kingdom and the globe to discuss the guiding objectives and roadmap for a new digital wellbeing society.

Registration is now open and attendance is free.