Vision 2030 positions Riyadh as one of most attractive cities in world: French envoy

In his opening speech, Ludovic Pouille, the French ambassador to the Kingdom, said: “The doors of opportunities in Saudi Arabia are wide open.” (Supplied)
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In his opening speech, Ludovic Pouille, the French ambassador to the Kingdom, said: “The doors of opportunities in Saudi Arabia are wide open.” (Supplied)
A delegation of architects representing 30 French firms on Monday gathered in Riyadh for a symposium to explore the potential for strategic partnerships in the sector in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)
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A delegation of architects representing 30 French firms on Monday gathered in Riyadh for a symposium to explore the potential for strategic partnerships in the sector in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)
A delegation of architects representing 30 French firms on Monday gathered in Riyadh for a symposium to explore the potential for strategic partnerships in the sector in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)
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A delegation of architects representing 30 French firms on Monday gathered in Riyadh for a symposium to explore the potential for strategic partnerships in the sector in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)
A delegation of architects representing 30 French firms on Monday gathered in Riyadh for a symposium to explore the potential for strategic partnerships in the sector in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)
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A delegation of architects representing 30 French firms on Monday gathered in Riyadh for a symposium to explore the potential for strategic partnerships in the sector in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 October 2023
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Vision 2030 positions Riyadh as one of most attractive cities in world: French envoy

Vision 2030 positions Riyadh as one of most attractive cities in world: French envoy
  • 30 French design, architecture firms, AFEX members met Saudi megaproject execs during Riyadh symposium
  • ‘Vision 2030 positions Riyadh as one of the most attractive cities on the world map and today we proudly support KSA’s bid to host Expo 2030’: Ludovic Pouille

RIYADH: A delegation of architects representing 30 French firms on Monday gathered in Riyadh for a symposium to explore the potential for strategic partnerships in the sector in line with Vision 2030.

The event, organized by AFEX and Business France, was part of the third French-Saudi Strategic Partnership under the theme, “Shaping Cities for Tomorrow.”

Saudi Arabia’s investment in megaprojects, infrastructure, urban planning, and landscape design aims to fuel its growth potential and increase its attractiveness in terms of foreign direct investment, tourism, hospitality, and recreational and sports activities.

In his opening speech, Ludovic Pouille, the French ambassador to the Kingdom, said: “The doors of opportunities in Saudi Arabia are wide open. The world is here (in Saudi Arabia), and the competition is high, but you have great assets in your hands, to contribute to the Kingdom’s development. The opportunities for French and Saudi collaborations are limitless.

“Vision 2030 positions Riyadh as one of the most attractive cities on the world map. Today we proudly support KSA’s bid to host Expo 2030 — for megaprojects, no one does it better than Saudi companies,” he added.

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing (MOMRA) has become an active player in creating vibrant communities that reconcile tradition and modernity, growth and sustainability.

Ihab Hashani, MOMRA deputy minister, said: “Our objective is to create space that encourages community living and smart mobility under MOMRA 2.0.”

He noted that it would follow a set of guidelines that represented the history of the country’s cities and preserve their identity, while working closely with municipalities to ensure implementation.

Reda Amalou, AFEX’s president, said: “The implementation and the concretization of Vision 2030 is striking — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened the economy to the world while preserving the country’s tradition.”

Amalou highlighted AlUla as a successful model for French-Saudi cooperation, and the necessity for AFEX to maintain the momentum of sharing expertise and contributing to the architecture scene in Saudi Arabia.

In March, a memorandum of understanding was signed between AFEX and the Architecture and Design Commission, actively participating in youth development under Vision 2030 and providing vocational training opportunities for young Saudi professionals at French firms in France.

French architecture resonates with, but is not limited to, heritage preservation and luxury. Education, health, and ecotourism are some of the fields showcasing French expertise leaving room for potential future collaborations.

Mohammed Darwish, strategic partnership and international relations manager at the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, pointed out that Diriyah was an important example of how to build the “city of the future” while preserving heritage.

He said: “Inaugurated in 2019, the Diriyah project is in harmony with the area. Diriyah is directly linked to Riyadh city, KAFD (King Abdullah Financial District), and the new Murabba project, connecting tradition to modernity and the development of the city.”

Saudi Arabia is raising the sustainability bar, placing it at the center of decision making. Jayne McGivern, CEO of the Sports Boulevard Foundation, said in joining Wadi Hanifa to Wadi Al-Sulai, the Sports Boulevard was the first megaproject to be sustainable and environmentally conscious at a 360-degree level.

“A linear park with real estate across it, we’re transforming a former utility corridor, reinstating the red sands desert that Riyadh is famous for and aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040,” she added.

Creating green neighborhoods with the key enablers being water and trees was considered the future of the city.

Donald Sharp, design director of the Green Riyadh Program, said: “It’s about the city, it’s about creating connections, encouraging people to use public transport, and increasing the percentage of green space to improve air quality.”

Green Riyadh aims to increase green coverage from 1.5 percent to 9.1 percent, enhancing quality of life by creating open areas to improve public health, reduce energy consumption and ultimately, making Riyadh one of the 100 best livable cities in the world.

Tarek Qaddumi, NEOM’s executive director, said there was an urgency to redesign cities with “minimal footprint, hyper-connectivity and proximity, and invisible infrastructure, enabling access to more people and offering services to more people.

“NEOM is an economy with various sectors welcoming nine to 10 million people. A proud Saudi project, NEOM focuses on bringing the best talent from around the world,” he added.

During the symposium, members of AFEX, representing French architecture firms, met executives at the cutting edge of Saudi megaprojects including those representing the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, the Royal Commission for AlUla, Red Sea Global, NEOM, and Soudah Development.

The event will be followed by a series of thematic workshops diving into the cities of the future, Riyadh as the new hub of architecture, and how the private sector can meet the expectations of Vision 2030 and its iconic megaprojects.

The bid to host Expo 2030 in Saudi Arabia is another example of the architectural grandeur with Riyadh competing with Rome and Busan, with a decision expected on Nov. 28.

* This article originally appeared on Arab News en francais, click here to read it.


AlUla’s shannah dates nurture, preserve heritage

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)
Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2024
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AlUla’s shannah dates nurture, preserve heritage

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)
  • In alignment with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Royal Commission for AlUla is supporting tourism development in the governorate

JEDDAH: In AlUla and the wider Arabian Peninsula, an ancient method of storing and preserving dates, known as shannah, stands as testament to people’s commitment to the preservation of their cultural and culinary heritage.

Shannah not only showcases the ingenuity of the past but also plays a significant role in the region’s economic and agricultural landscape.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

Harvested dates are cleaned, dried, and stuffed into the animal skin, which is then sewn together with palm fronds. The shannah is then left outside to soak up the sun for a period ranging from a few months to five years. The meticulous shannah process ensures the dates’ high quality is maintained throughout.

The demonstration of the shannah process is a highlight of the annual AlUla Dates Festival, providing visitors with firsthand experience of preserving dates in this unique manner.

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$400

Their unique taste and cultural significance make these dates highly sought after, and a single shannah of dates can fetch up to SR1,500 ($400).

In alignment with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Royal Commission for AlUla is supporting tourism development in the governorate. This includes the revival of ancient industries such as the shannah, involving the local community in achieving the commission’s goals.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

Abdulhadi Suqeer, a Saudi expert in the cultivation and preservation of dates and date palms, told Arab News: “Shannah has a rich history dating back approximately 400 years. This ancient method served as a means for the residents of AlUla to ensure food security throughout the year.

“In recent times, recognizing its cultural significance, the Royal Commission for AlUla has taken steps to revive this heritage, introducing the new generation to the ancient ways of preserving dates,” he added.

FASTFACTS

• Harvested dates are cleaned, dried, and stuffed into the animal skin, which is then sewn together with palm fronds.

• Shannah is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra.

Shannah is intricately linked to the geography and culture of AlUla.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

“Crafted from goat or sheep skins, the shannah undergoes a meticulous process of cleaning, tanning, and preparation, using materials like lime to maintain flexibility,” Saqeer explained.

In the past, the people of AlUla stored their harvest in a variety of containers, including Al-Jassah — made from lime or gypsum — and Al-Majlad, which is made from green palm fronds.

However, Saqeer said, “The ‘shannah’ method imparts a unique taste and flavor to the dates, avoiding any unnatural substances. Some even add flavors like mint, orange leaves, or basil to enhance the aromatic experience.”

The 'Shannah' is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra, which translates to sweet red dates. (Supplied)

The shannah is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra, (sweet red dates), which have a low molasses and sugar content, giving the dates their distinct red color. The natural storage process ensures that shannah dates maintain their original taste, flavor, and fragrant smell, particularly when consumed with natural sheep butter or ghee.

Their unique taste and cultural significance make these dates highly sought after, and a single shannah of dates can fetch up to SR1,500 ($400).

“There are individual efforts by some farmers in AlUla to promote the shannah throughout the year, but we need to have a marketing platform adopted by the commission or any of the entities interested in this type of food,” Suqeer concluded.

 

 

Decoder

What is Shannah?

Shannah is an ancient method of storing and preserving dates in AlUla and elsewhere inthe Arabian Peninsula. Using sheep or goat skin, the meticulous shannah process ensures the quality of dates is maintained throughout, an ingenuity of the past that will be highlighted in the next annual AlUla Dates Festival.


Saudi artist reimagines Kingdom’s capital in vibrant pixels

Saudi artist reimagines Kingdom’s capital in vibrant pixels
Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi artist reimagines Kingdom’s capital in vibrant pixels

Saudi artist reimagines Kingdom’s capital in vibrant pixels
  • Khaled Makshoush’s creativity is sparked by Saudi Arabia’s era of transformation

RIYADH: Saudi artist Khaled Makshoush has mastered pixel designs to reimagine Saudi Arabian scenes in a form of art that is personal, soothing and contemporary.

Indie and retro-style video games use pixel designs to create a colorful and visual design, but with his tablet and stylus the Riyadh-based artist captures a variety of sights, from construction sites with cranes to the iconic streets of the capital and the serene terracotta-coloured desert.

Makshoush told Arab News that he is energized by the transformation of the Kingdom and its complexity: “I’m inspired by the urban landscapes of Riyadh and the industrial scape and the desert scenery of Saudi Arabia in general.”

Saudi artist Khaled Makshoush captures a variety of sights from the Kingdom’s capital, from construction sites with cranes to the iconic streets of the capital and the serene terracotta-coloured desert. (Pixel Art by Khaled Makshoush)

There is a transportive power in his art that emerges from his creative process. He explained: “In my art I explore the atmosphere of place. For example, if a place makes me feel something, I ask myself what is it about that place that makes me feel these emotions and ways. And I create an imaginary place that expresses these feelings.”

Colors are a big subject in Makshoush’s art; he mixes a vibrant palette, resulting in a bold and eye-catching drawing.   

“Usually, I start with just a few colors that indicate the feel or the atmosphere of the painting, and after that I try to find relationships with other colors that add on or complement that feeling.”

Khaled Makshoush, Saudi artist

Makshoush’s art is inspired by the rapid development of Riyadh, showcasing the bustling city life of the Kingdom’s capital. “I try to let my life and my culture come out organically through chasing my personal sense of the world,” he said.

His forays into the city’s urban landscape spark his creative imagination and the scenes and moments he comes across become the subjects of his work: “Walking and driving in Riyadh always gives me inspiration and an idea for my artwork. It’s interesting to see how the city is changing very fast and also still has its own unique feel that I always like to express.

When everything is moving and changing so fast, it’s important to see and understand what people felt like during a specific time.

Khaled Makshoush, Saudi artist

“My first art Riyadh artwork, ‘Early Evening,’ is about seeing the last phase of sunset in the city and my last Riyadh artwork, ‘Cranes,’ is inspired by the huge and tall cranes I see in Riyadh and how they almost glow during nighttime. Very different subject matters but one city and that’s what I like about it.”

Saudi artist Khaled Makshoush captures a variety of sights from the Kingdom’s capital, from construction sites with cranes to the iconic streets of the capital and the serene terracotta-coloured desert. (Pixel Art by Khaled Makshoush)

Makshoush creates new worlds of his own, inspired by existing ones. His artwork does not simply replicate what he sees in Riyadh — he adds layers of his own interpretation to it while capturing its Saudi essence: “Most of these paintings are imaginary. All these Saudi Arabian scenes don’t really exist but it makes me happy that people still find familiarity with them.”

He says that he has received encouraging feedback from the local community: “I’d say it’s always amusing when I draw a scene of Riyadh and get some people telling me they almost recognize the location, but they don’t (know) where exactly.”

According to Makshoush, art is important for society because it teaches us about ourselves: “Especially now when everything is moving and changing so fast, it’s important to see and understand what people felt like during a specific time. What things looked like, what people felt like, what was the mood, how people saw things … art is the best way to answer these questions.”

 


Tabuk visual arts forum highlights Arab creativity

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)
The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)
Updated 02 March 2024
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Tabuk visual arts forum highlights Arab creativity

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)
  • The forum’s primary objective was to highlight the talents of Arab artists, and foster a “dynamic exchange of ideas and skills between international participants and local artists in Tabuk”

RIYADH: The inaugural Tabuk International Forum for Visual Arts, hosted by the Colors of Art club, a division of the national hobby portal, Hawi, presented a diverse array of creative endeavors from 30 artists from across the Arab world.

The two-day event, which ended March 2, showcased more than 100 artworks in genres ranging from realism to abstraction and contemporary expressionism, and attracted participants from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq, Oman, and the UAE.

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)

The forum’s primary objective, according to the organizers, was to highlight the talents of Arab artists, and foster a “dynamic exchange of ideas and skills between international participants and local artists in Tabuk.”

Additionally, the forum, which includes workshops and discussions, was intended to “bolster the status of the arts within the GCC and wider Arab region.”

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)

Club president Thanawa Al-Qurani underscored the forum’s emphasis on fostering cross-cultural exchange and praised the engagement among attendees and participants, positioning the event as a pivotal moment in shaping public appreciation for visual arts in Tabuk.

“The exhibition stands as a testament to the evolving artistic landscape, reflecting the burgeoning cultural dynamism in the realm of visual arts,” Al-Qurani said, according to a report from the Saudi Press Agency.

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)

“Featuring a diverse array of works spanning realism, impressionism, and abstraction, it bears witness to the artistic renaissance underway … underscoring the region’s vibrant and cohesive artistic vision,” she added.

Meanwhile, Omani artist Jamal Al-Jassasi, the SPA said, expressed his enthusiasm for the forum’s overarching goal of “promoting and elevating visual arts while nurturing cultural ties” in the Arab world.

 


Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Al-Osaimi, board member of National Customer Experience Academy

Abdulaziz Al-Osaimi
Abdulaziz Al-Osaimi
Updated 02 March 2024
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Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Al-Osaimi, board member of National Customer Experience Academy

Abdulaziz Al-Osaimi

Abdulaziz Al-Osaimi has been a board member of the National Customer Experience Academy since January 2024.

He has been deputy chairman of the board at the Customer Experience Association since May 2021.

Al-Osaimi also founded Right Decision for Customer Experience Consulting in December 2019 and has been a consultant since then.

He has more than 20 years of professional experience in management and business development in the Saudi ‎market.

His core strengths include strategic thinking, planning, identifying and maximizing potential opportunities, and motivating and leading a cross-cultural workforce to consistent levels of growth.  

Previously, Al-Osaimi served in many important positions, including as member of the International Contact Centers Association.

Between May and December of 2021, Al-Osaimi worked at the Ministry of Interior as a customer experience consultant to design customer journeys for services in traffic, civil defense, passports and borders to improve service and to grow non-oil revenues.

He was director of program to enhance communication between citizens and the government at the Ministry of Education from December 2017 to November 2019.

Al-Osaimi has published two books and multiple articles on customer experience, spoken at several conferences, and served as a judge at international customer experience awards‎.

He has over eight years of experience in customer experience consulting, strategy planning, performance measurement, and project management, working with various government entities and private organizations in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Osaimi hold a master’s degree in business information systems from the University of Bedfordshire and several professional certifications, including CXAC, PMP, KPI, and CGPM.

 


Thousands hit streets of historic Jeddah for half-marathon

Thousands hit streets of historic Jeddah for half-marathon
Updated 02 March 2024
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Thousands hit streets of historic Jeddah for half-marathon

Thousands hit streets of historic Jeddah for half-marathon
  • Runners embrace race challenge and enjoy beauty of Al-Balad’s landmarks

JEDDAH: The historic district of Al-Balad was the scene of a remarkable spectacle on Saturday as thousands of runners, both male and female, from Saudi Arabia and other countries took part in the Jeddah half-marathon 2024.

This event, a major highlight in Saudi Arabia’s running calendar, was the first of its kind held through the scenic streets and landmarks of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It showcased the grit, determination and enthusiasm of Jeddah’s runners.

More than 3,000 participants from national and international backgrounds joined the event, competing in the 21 km, 10 km, and 1 km categories across different age groups.

The 21.1 km route began at 6 a.m. in front of Al-Balad’s historical gate, Bab Jadid, taking participants past iconic landmarks such as Nassif House, Al-Matbouli Museum and Al-Juffali Mosque.

Other races included a 10 km run for participants aged 12 and above, attracting enthusiastic runners of all ages, including children and the elderly. Additionally, a 1 km walk was open to participants of all ages, including those with special needs or disabilities, receiving maximum cheers from the crowd.

Runners gathered early in the historical area. Marathon arrangements included facilities such as medical points, hydration stations, food trucks and entertainment programs within the race village.

Enthusiasm was palpable as top runners from more than 15 countries enjoyed the scenic beauty of the city’s sights while competing.

Organized by the Saudi Sports for All Federation and Historic Jeddah Program, the half-marathon aimed to provide a fun and accessible way for amateur athletes and families to experience Al-Balad’s rich culture and history through sports.

Anwar Algoz, from Morocco, clinched the first prize worth SR18,000 ($4,800) in this year’s half-marathon, covering the 21 km category and crossing the finish line in 1 hour and 6 minutes.

Afterwards, Algoz, who recently secured third place in the Riyadh Marathon, told Arab News: “It’s not my first half-marathon in Saudi Arabia. Despite the intense heat today, I pushed myself. Halfway through, I felt I could make a move, and in the end, I increased the pace, securing the win. I’m thrilled to have won this race today following my third-place finish in Riyadh.”

Getting to the starting line was a new challenge for Prince Sultan bin Khalid Al-Faisal. Speaking to Arab News after finishing the 10 km race, he said: “Actually, it is a great experience in old Jeddah, and what makes it more exciting is seeing all those people involved in this marathon. For me, it is the first experience, and I found it very thrilling and exciting.”

Prince Saud bin Turki Al-Faisal said: “I’ve done it before, and just watching all these enthusiastic amateurs and professional athletes running together is so wonderful. I believe all of them are winners.”

He added: “It was a very interesting experience, and the location itself added an exciting atmosphere to go through these historical monuments located in the historical area.”

Ola Altaib, a medical student, expressed her happiness at participating in this marathon. “Running through the streets of old Jeddah is an incredibly invigorating experience that is unmatched,” she said.

At the end of the race, runners were greeted by cheering crowds, and the most thrilling moment for them was crossing the finish line.

“Tired but super happy,” said one of the oldest runners, Hamid Al-Ahmri, who came all the way from the southern side of the Kingdom after completing the 10 km category. “I am so glad I made it, and it feels great to cross the finish line.”

Hatoon Kadi, a YouTuber, said: “Experiencing the marathon was wonderful. Old, young, male and female runners were there; it was so nice to see them joining the marathon for their own health. I will repeat it again, and it is going to be a yearly habit.”

The event concluded with the distribution of prizes and medals to the winners and participants.