Saudi Arabia’s Sports Boulevard signs agreement to increase inclusion of people with special needs

Saudi Arabia’s Sports Boulevard signs agreement to increase inclusion of people with special needs
Agreement was signed by Jayne McGivern, CEO of Sports Boulevard Foundation, and Hisham Alhaidary, CEO of the Authority for the Care of People with Disabilities. (SPA)
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Updated 29 August 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s Sports Boulevard signs agreement to increase inclusion of people with special needs

Saudi Arabia’s Sports Boulevard signs agreement to increase inclusion of people with special needs
  • People with special needs will have access to SBF’s sports and wellbeing facilities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Sports Boulevard Foundation (SBF) reached an agreement with the Authority for the Care of People with Disabilities to increase access to sports for people with disabilities in Riyadh, state news agency SPA reported.

Under the agreement, people with special needs will have access to SBF’s sports and wellbeing facilities. SBF will work closely with the authority to explore opportunities for cooperation and share knowledge to achieve best practices for people with disabilities.

Jayne McGivern, CEO of SBF, said the partnership would help create an inclusive society where everyone has equal access to sports facilities.

“The Sports Boulevard will provide sports facilities for the whole of Riyadh to enjoy. We look forward to collaborating on future initiatives that promote accessibility and inclusion.”

Last week, Saudi Arabia approved a law to boost the rights of people with disabilities. Hisham Al-Haidary, CEO of the Authority for the Care of People with Disabilities, said the law aims to improve the quality of services and provide people with disabilities with equal opportunities across all sectors.


Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route

Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route
Updated 5 sec ago
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Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route

Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route

RIYADH: A traditional cultural tent has been set up at Al-Ashar Pond, one of the largest and most significant historic sites along the Zubaida Trail pilgrimage route.

Situated in the heart of the Nafud desert, approximately 60 km south of Laynah heritage village in Rafha governorate, the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve Development Authority initiative is part of the ongoing Zubaida Trail Winter Festival being held in Laynah.

Cultural sessions will feature discussions and talks led by specialists in historical and natural heritage, with the participation of several Saudi universities, the Heritage Commission, and the Saudi Geological Survey, along with workshops and practical demonstrations.

Al-Ashar Pond is one of the stops along Zubaida Trail (the Kufic Hajj route), completed during the reign of the Abbasid caliph, Harun Al-Rashid.

The site comprises the remains of 30 separate architectural units of various sizes and functions, arranged in a single row extending for approximately 3 km and around 600 meters wide.

The prominent feature of the station is its 65 m x 52 m rectangular pond with a depth of around 5 m. Inside, it contains stairs along its northern and southern walls.


‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign

‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign
Updated 2 min 2 sec ago
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‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign

‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign
  • Strategy to include events at 6 major cities highlighting ancient location’s modern appeal 

RIYADH: AlUla is only just beginning its journey to becoming a global tourism destination, the region’s tourism chief said on Thursday after the launch of its new global brand campaign.

The “Forever Revitalising” campaign will unfold through events aimed at travel trade and media partners across six major cities: Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, and Mumbai, Saudi Press Agency reported.

“In just a few years, AlUla has established itself as a destination on the global traveler’s wish list,” Phillip Jones, chief tourism officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla, said.

He added: “Through this campaign, we can open up the dialogue even further on a global stage, and communicate the full depth of AlUla’s appeal, attributes and ambition. The best is yet to come,” he added.

The campaign includes a two-and-a-half-minute film by French cinematographer Bruno Aveillan.

This film, which can be adapted in length and is available in several languages, showcases the essence of AlUla through its core destination pillars: history and heritage, arts and culture, nature and adventure, and wellness, SPA added.

“Crafting this film was an enriching experience, not only because it allowed me to witness some of the world’s most breathtaking landmarks and locations but also because it offered me a vast canvas to explore the depths of my own creativity — a profound and enduring gift that AlUla bestows upon everyone who walks upon her historic sands and experiences the sheltered embrace of her oasis,” Aveillan said.

Additionally, the campaign features a series of “Brand Pillar” six-second videos that highlight iconic destinations within AlUla, such as Hegra, Jabal Ikmah, AlUla Oasis, AlUla Old Town, Sharaan Nature Reserve, and Elephant Rock.

Other highlights include balloon adventures, luxury accommodation, local arts and crafts, and the lively food and drink scene on offer in AlUla.

Melanie de Souza, executive director of destination marketing at RCU, said: “Forever Revitalising is not only about driving global awareness of a destination that until recently was relatively unknown to most travelers, but also about communicating the breadth and depth of the programs and initiatives designed to create a better future for all those who live, work and visit our ancient oasis.

“We hope that the film and creative assets do justice to a truly unique destination.”


Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch

Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch
Updated 15 min 51 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch

Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch
  • Over 4.8m million males and females have benefited from the initiative

RIYADH: The Ehsan National Platform for Charitable Work has announced that it has received over SR5 billion ($1.3 billion) in donations since its launch in March 2021.

The achievement highlights the contribution of individuals in promoting a culture of donation and social solidarity, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

It added that the result can be attributed to the support provided by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Their encouragement has motivated charitable and generous people to donate to the platform.

“The donations received by the Ehsan platform have been utilized to support community projects and address humanitarian cases, empowering society to make donations through reliable official channels,” SPA reported.

As a result of these efforts, more than 4.8 million males and females have benefited from over 105 million transactions. The achievement was made possible through the collaboration with 1,673 partner organizations since the platform’s inception.

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority had launched the Ehsan platform, which is supervised by a committee consisting of 13 government entities.

“These national endeavors aim to digitally empower the charitable sector, further enhancing the Kingdom’s leading position in philanthropy and giving,” SPA reported.


Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh

Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh
Updated 29 February 2024
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Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh

Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh
  • Canadian performer advises people to follow their dreams despite setbacks
  • Stand-up veteran recalls earning $50 for gigs, being booed off stage and learning on the job

RIYADH: Award-winning Canadian comedian Russell Peters has revealed the secret behind his successful career.

“Identify your dream and actively chase it,” Peters said during a recent interview on Arab News’ podcast, The Mayman Show. “It’s far more rewarding to have pursued your dream, even if you fail, than to passively wonder about it.”

Peters found his own path in 1989 when he began performing stand-up comedy at amateur shows. Despite not being allotted more than five minutes with the mic, he was determined to pursue his passion.

“If I got one laugh, I think that’s all I needed: Let’s figure this out, let’s try to figure out how to get more of those people,” he said on learning from his first performances.

Discussing his early career, he talked about being booed off stage in Toronto in 1993 while opening for The Pharcyde, a hip-hop group from the US. With hindsight, he laughs at his own arrogance then, viewing the experience as a well-deserved lesson.

Peters recounted how he would drive hours to perform, earning $50 plus complimentary chicken wings, a tank of gas, and a soda. During those days, he thought: “If I stayed, I’d be in the exact same financial position I would have been had I gone. So I wasn’t losing anything and I’d stay there and I’d be talking to people for free,” he said. “I just remember all the hard gigs, those were the fun ones.”

Fast-forward to 2024, and Peters has been hailed as one of the greatest comedians of all time by Rolling Stone, and has held the record for being the longest-standing comedian since 2007. He was also the first comedian to sell out Toronto’s Air Canada Center in 2007, and has performed in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, London’s O2 Arena, and more. As part of his “Act Your Age” tour, which he has been doing since 2021, Peters recently took to the stage in Riyadh, performing at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University on Feb. 24.

This is his third visit to the Kingdom, and Peters admires the generosity of the Saudi people: “I remember at the hotel, they said, how did you sleep? And I said, it was honestly like the best, the most comfortable bed I’d ever felt in my life, and when I came back to my hotel room, they had packed up all the stuff that I complimented and shipped it to me in America.”

Peters also cherishes the memory of his performance at the Maraya building in AlUla in 2016, renowned as the world’s largest mirrored concert venue. “The acoustics are great in there because it’s built for that. And they put the sound dampeners in there. The same can’t be said for when I just performed in Egypt,” he said.

During his one-night performance in the country, American comedian Adam Hunter opened his show. Hunter is known for his popular Instagram channel, MMA Roasted, in which he humorously critiques fighters, and has been traveling with Peters for some time.

His latest show in the current tour is scheduled for March 3 in Bangalore, India, a place he regards as his true home. Beyond the stage, Peters also feels at home in the DJ booth. He said that his DJ career was purely for enjoyment, focusing mostly on old-school music. Peters said that his go-to song is “Black Trump” by Smif-N-Wessun and Raekwon.

Peters is currently practicing jujitsu, a form of martial art. His enduring passion for combat disciplines began at the age of 16 with boxing, because of bullying at school. Boxing became more than just a sport; it was a coping mechanism, especially after he was kicked out of school.

Later on, as his career developed in comedy, it also became a way of dealing with challenges.

“I would do it all the time growing up,” Peters said, “to try and get out of situations, dealt with a lot of racism growing up. So you just kind of figure out a way of getting out of situations by being funny.”


Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 February 2024
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Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh: Turkish ambassador to Saudi Arabia Fatih Ulusoy is bidding farewell to the Kingdom at the end of his tenure in Riyadh, and reflecting on the growth of Saudi-Turkiye relations over the past two and half years.

“I have had a fantastic time here — you usually get more or less emotional when you bid farewell, but if you are a diplomat you are quite used to it changing from one place to another,” Ulusoy told Arab News.

“I feel privileged to serve as the ambassador of Turkiye in Riyadh, as I had the opportunity to personally witness the historic transformation in the Kingdom as well as the concrete progress and positive momentum in the bilateral relations between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia,” the envoy said.

“Having served as the Turkish ambassador for two and a half years, I saw three visits by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia and the visit by Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman to Ankara in this period.

“On his way back from his visit to Jeddah in April 2022, President Erdogan announced Turkiye’s solid support for Riyadh’s candidature for Expo 2030. We are happy to see Riyadh will host the World Expo 2030 as that year means a lot for Saudi Arabia. Turkish companies will be ready to work with their Saudi counterparts to make Expo 2030 a huge success,” Ulusoy said.

“In the margins of the visit by Erdogan to Jeddah in July 2023, four governmental MoUs and one G2B agreement were signed in the fields of defense, investment, energy, media and defense industry, bringing Turkiye and Saudi Arabia, two brotherly countries, even closer. These areas stand as key areas for our future collaboration, however, our cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not limited to these fields. We have frequent ministerial and high-level visits between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia.

“For example, during FII7 in late October, our Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek signed a deal on cooperation in financial areas with his Saudi counterpart Mohammed Al-Jadaan.

“October 29, 2023 was a special day for us, which is our centennial anniversary, and we celebrated our national day at our embassy with a big crowd of guests.

“I was very happy and emotional to see Turkish flags on the huge screens of Riyadh Boulevard on that day,” the envoy said.

“In mid-February this year, a Turkish-Saudi investment forum was held in Istanbul with the participation of four esteemed ministers from two brotherly countries. I was delighted to see the big interest and hundreds of companies from both sides to this key forum.

“Within the past year we witnessed fruitful contacts between two brotherly countries in the field of military and defense industry. Turkiye participated in the World Defense Show in February 2024 with 63 companies, covering 15 percent of the entire exhibition area.

“I was so happy to see our air acrobatic teams, Turkish Stars and Saudi Hawks perform together up in the sky, side by side during the World Defense Show early this month,” Ulusoy said.

“I want to highlight the field of tourism, which represents a huge potential for cooperation between our brotherly countries. Turkiye is ready to share its experience with Saudi Arabia as we are among the top tourist destinations in the world. We announced visa-free entry to Turkiye for Saudi citizens in December 2023 and we look forward to hosting more and more Saudi brothers and sisters every year.

“Saudi tourists traveling to Turkiye can avail of visa-free entry after Erdogan issued a decision last December granting Saudi citizens a visa exemption. It allows Saudis to visit Turkiye for tourism without obtaining a visa in advance. They are allowed a stay up to 90 days within six months.

“We are expecting the visit of our Trade Minister Omer Bolat in the first week of March to Saudi Arabia, and a Turkish trade fair and business forum will also be held in Riyadh within the same week.

“We also expect more agreements to be signed between two brotherly countries in the near future. The main philosophy of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia is to share our strengths and achieve win-win results. As Saudi Arabia is going through a massive transformation, this era represents enormous opportunities to further prosper our relations and cooperation. We have contributed to the development of Saudi Arabia in the past and we will be walking together with Saudi Arabia through its important journey under the Saudi Vision 2030,” Ulusoy said.

The dean of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Kingdom organized a farewell ceremony at the Cultural Palace in the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh at the end of Ulusoy’s mission as Turkish ambassador, which was attended by many ambassadors and their wives.