Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla to contribute to SGI, COP28

The commission aims to increase green areas in AlUla, employ the best international practices to manage natural reserves. (SPA)
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The commission aims to increase green areas in AlUla, employ the best international practices to manage natural reserves. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla to contribute to SGI, COP28
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The commission aims to increase green areas in AlUla, employ the best international practices to manage natural reserves. (SPA)
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Updated 29 November 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla to contribute to SGI, COP28

The commission aims to increase green areas in AlUla, employ the best international practices to manage natural reserves. (SPA)
  • RCU is strengthening its presence and partnerships, in return for its commitment in making efforts to protect the natural environment in AlUla

ALULA: The Royal Commission for AlUla is participating in the third Saudi Green Initiative, and in the UN Climate Change Conference which takes place in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

The RCU’s efforts, initiatives and programs within the AlUla Vision and the AlUla Charter for Sustainability and Ecosystem Rehabilitation will form part of a special exhibition, while several experts and specialists from the commission will engage in panel discussions on relevant topics.

COP28 will highlight efforts to find sustainable environmental solutions and will boast broad international participation.

RCU is strengthening its presence and partnerships, in return for its commitment in making efforts to protect the natural environment in AlUla, by preserving environmental systems, and supporting the implementation of wildlife management and restoration.

The commission aims to increase green areas in AlUla, employ the best international practices to manage natural reserves, increase the community’s participation in maintaining environmental balance, and develop global strategic partnerships to support its field efforts.

AlUla’s Vision emphasizes protecting the natural components and restoring the environmental balance in the governorate.

The work contributes to strengthening AlUla’s position as one of the world’s iconic archaeological and natural cultural destinations. Its ambitions are consistent with restoring the environmental balance with the SGI by allocating 50 percent of AlUla’s area to natural reserves, rehabilitating 65,000 hectares of degraded land, and restoring vegetation by planting more than 200 local tree species, in addition to planting 10 million trees by 2035.

 


Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day
Updated 9 sec ago
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Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

RIYADH: Brazilian football star Neymar caught everyone’s attention when he appeared wearing traditional Saudi clothes during preparations for the Kingdom’s Founding Day celebrations.

His club, Al-Hilal, shared photographs of the player wearing the thobe, shemagh and headband famously associated with the late King Abdulaziz, showcasing the general atmosphere ahead of the day.

Neymar was accompanied by Esteve Calzada, the CEO of Al-Hilal, and Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, along with other teammates, and trended on social media platform X dancing the Ardah, Saudi’s national dance.

The widely adopted white thobe in the Kingdom, favored for its comfort in the hot climate and desert setting, is complemented by other traditional attire for special occasions. This includes Oughal Almorudan, worn over the thobe, distinguished by its long arms and commonly donned during Ardah performances.

The 32-year-old recently returned to Riyadh to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery for a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee. He sustained the injury during Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers last October.

Founding Day is celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year to commemorate its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE.

The Saudi Ministry of Sports recently announced the 21st round of the Roshan Professional League tournament would be named the Founding Round to symbolize the day’s significance.

Neymar is not the only player to celebrate Founding Day with his Saudi fans. Last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was shown wearing traditional attire along with his Al-Nassr teammates.


Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony

Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony
Updated 8 min 21 sec ago
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Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony

Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony
  • MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met with Edi Rama and Bajram Begaj
  • MWL chief also engaged in a round-table discussion and dinner with Albania’s religious leaders

JEDDAH: Muslim World League Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met on Wednesday Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in the capital Tirana.

The prime minister invited the MWL to organize an international conference in Tirana to foster understanding and cooperation among societies with the aim of enhancing global awareness of religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity, drawing on Albania’s experience.

During the meeting, the two parties discussed several topics of mutual interest, and Rama commended the MWL’s global efforts in promoting harmony among diverse societies.

President Bajram Begaj of Albania also met the MWL chief and granted him the highest honor of Albania, the State Order for World-Renowned Spiritual Figures.

During the meeting, they discussed topics of common interest, and the president praised the influential global role of the MWL.

The MWL chief also engaged in a round-table discussion and dinner with Albania’s religious leaders, marking an unprecedented occasion that brought together such influential figures for the first time in Albania’s history.

This landmark event was attended by high-ranking Albanian ministers and members of the diplomatic corps.


‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day

‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day
Updated 21 February 2024
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‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day

‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day
  • Jerry Inzerillo says Diriyah “is the birthplace of the Kingdom. This is the source of our identity”
  • In four months’ time, Inzerillo marks six-year anniversary of his appointment as DGDA

RIYADH: Diriyah Gate Development Authority Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo is highlighting the Kingdom’s rich historical roots this Founding Day.

“Founding Day for all of us in Diriyah is special. It’s who we are,” Inzerillo told Arab News.

“Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture, there’s a lot of pride in it. There are 238 countries in the world. But this (Diriyah) is the birthplace of the Kingdom. This is the source of our identity. This is the source of our national pride. Let’s rejoice who we are as a people.”

In what he described as a celebration of pride and culture, Inzerillo welcomed people from around the world to come to Diriyah to experience the rich history of the Kingdom’s birthplace.

“Let them come and receive a warm welcome. Let them be festive and joyful, safe and secure and sound with a great quality of life, which is what Diriyah represents and what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and certainly what Vision 2030 represents,” he told Arab News.

FASTFACTS

  • On Feb. 1, 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers made an announcement declaring Feb. 22 of each year as Founding Day.
  • The day commemorates the foundation of the First Saudi State in 1727 by Imam Mohammed bin Saud.

This is a celebration of national pride linking the historical roots of the First Saudi State nearly 300 years ago to the modern Kingdom today, celebrating history culture and identity through Founding Day, he said.

On Feb. 1, 2022, the Council of Ministers made an announcement declaring Feb. 22 of each year as Founding Day to commemorate the foundation of the First Saudi State in 1727 by Imam Mohammed bin Saud.

A celebration of the Kingdom’s deep historical and cultural roots, Founding Day marks a key moment in Saudi Arabia’s timeline — the day Imam Muhammad bin Saud assumed power in Diriyah, the capital of the First Saudi State.

DGDA’s group CEO Jerry Inzerillo welcomed people from around the world to come to Diriyah to experience the rich history of the Kingdom’s birthplace. (DGDA)

“Founding Day is very special, you know we all love National Day, September 23rd is a great day, everybody is out in the street jubilant and festive as we get ready for 94 years of national pride. But Founding Day is very special because that has to do with the 300-year history of the Kingdom and especially its birthplace, Diriyah,” Inzerillo said.

During his interview with Arab News, Inzerillo reflected on the nearly six years he has been group CEO of DGDA, working closely with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in bringing the vision of Diriyah to fruition.

“When you have the privilege to serve at this time with two great visionaries — the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques — I always praise King Salman, he deserves our love and praise because because if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have At-Turaif, we wouldn’t have the birthplace of the Kingdom celebrated as it is,” Inzerillo said.

“When we think about the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, his love has always been Diriyah. The Kingdom and its people, of course, but in his heart he has always had a special love for Diriyah,” he said.

Inzerillo expressed his pride in seeing the dream of King Salman realized. “To see his (King Salman’s) dream coming out of the ground — to see his royal highness, the crown prince, his vision, a vision of 2030 where people are enjoying themselves … people festive, happy, laughing with their families, joyful in beautiful park settings and around the mud of the UNESCO site.”

Diriyah represents and what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and certainly what Vision 2030 represents. (DGDA)

Inzerillo said that this past Saturday, the At-Turaif World UNESCO Heritage Site had 13,000 visitors and both the Al-Bujairi Terrace sold out, as well as the Diriyah Nights Layali Diriyah.

“This is what quality of life is all about. During the daytime you see people jogging, having picnics with their families, horseback, on bicycles. This is what quality of life is like. So, to see that Diriyah as a community can bring enjoyment to its community first and to the community of Riyadh and to the Kingdom is a source of pride,” he said.

Inzerillo lauded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for what the CEO describes as “a fabulous master plan.” He said: “We have to give him immense credit.”

Inzerillo highlighted what it has been like to work closely with the crown prince, praising his dedication to the Kingdom’s projects and the attentiveness and care he gives people.

“The more I work, with a daily, weekly basis with his royal highness, the more admiration I have for him and I didn’t think that could be more than 10 out of 10, but considering his global leadership, especially during the time of crisis that we have in the Middle East right now, to see his global leadership role into making the region safe and prosperous with a good quality of life from everybody is amazing,” Inzerillo said.

He highlighted the extensive role the crown prince has — detailing that the crown prince is presiding as prime minister over a G20 country while presiding over different master plans in the Kingdom with the aim of “making life better for not only the people in Saudi Arabia but also people in the region and in the world.”

DGDA’s group CEO Jerry Inzerillo says, “Diriyah lives in the heart of every Saudi, it is the source of our national pride, it is the source of our identity as a people.” (DGDA)

He said: “To see how devoted he (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is and how much time he gives all of us — not just his ministers, which I would suggest to you are probably the finest cabinet ministers in the world now as a collection of ministers — but even all of his CEOs that he is chairman of, he affords them the time, he’s in the details, he cares and he always asks, ‘How about the staff? ‘How is everyone doing, how is the team?’ ‘Send them my best.”

Inzerillo said: “His empathy, his dedication and his time that he gives us is really remarkable for all of his responsibilities.”

Inzerillo became CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority in June 2018, and in four months marks the six-year anniversary of his appointment.

He said that it has been a privilege to serve the Kingdom as DGDA CEO, highlighting his pride to work with what he describes as “super people” — young Saudis and expats from all around the world who he said were helping to achieve the mission of 2030.

“I think back and I think what a privilege it has been,” he said.

“Diriyah has always been special, it lives in the heart of every Saudi, it is the source of our national pride, it is the source of our identity as a people, it’s where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia originated.

“(Diriyah) is not only the birthplace of the Kingdom and of the Arabian Peninsula, but it is the home of Al-Saud, one great family that with vision and perseverance in unity has kept the Kingdom together for over 300 years.”

The CEO outlined what the future holds for the Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

“This year — hotel openings, museums openings, more parks opening, you know, many different types of assets opening. So every year, every December, like we did December 2021, December 2022 to December 2023, and December 2024, we will have assets open, groundbreaking new assets and announcing new assets until it culminates in the fabulous Expo Riyadh 2030.”


How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State

How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State
Updated 21 February 2024
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How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State

How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State
  • Saudi Arabia took the first steps on the road to nationhood in 1727 when Imam Mohammed became ruler of Diriyah
  • By the time of his death in 1765, he had laid the foundations for the greatest political entity central Arabia had ever seen

LONDON: The House of Saud took the first steps on the long road to nationhood in 1727, when Imam Mohammed bin Saud succeeded his cousin, Zaid bin Markhan, as ruler of the city state of Diriyah.

It is this pivotal moment, recognized as the date when the First Saudi State came into being, that is celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year as Founding Day.

Imam Mohammed had learned the art of politics at his father’s side. He played a significant role in supporting him throughout his reign and proved his mettle as a leader when Diriyah was attacked in 1721 by the Banu Khalid tribe of Al-Ahsa.

Imam Mohammed led his father’s forces to victory, strengthening Diriyah’s regional standing in the process.

After the death of his father in 1725, Imam Mohammed pledged his support to Markhan of the Watban clan of the tribe Zaid, and after he emerged victorious served him loyally until the prince’s short reign was ended by an assassin the following year.

From the outset, unity was Imam Mohammed’s dream, as the official history published by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority attests.

Contemporary Arab chroniclers recorded that “the people of Diriyah were fully confident in his abilities and (that) his leadership qualities (would) free the region of division and conflict.”

Imam Mohammed was already known for “his many personal characteristics, such as his devotion, goodness, bravery, and ability to influence others,” and the passing of power to him was “a transformative moment, not only in the history of Diriyah, but in the history of Najd and the Arabian Peninsula.”

Already renowned as a man of action, Imam Mohammed would also prove himself to be a wise leader.

Imam Mohammed set about the daunting task of achieving political unity among the tribes, with the ultimate aim of establishing a greater Arabian state. (Sotheby’s)

Imam Mohammed set about the daunting task of achieving political unity among the tribes, beginning with the neighboring towns of Najd, with the ultimate aim of establishing a greater Arabian state.

As the official history published by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority attests, “it wasn’t an easy task,” but by the time of his death in 1765, Imam Mohammed bin Saud had laid the foundations for the greatest political entity central Arabia had ever seen.

From the day of his ascension, “he began planning to change the prevailing status quo of that day and time, laying down a new path in the region’s history toward unity, education, the spread of culture, enhanced communication between members of society, and perpetual security.”

Over the next nine decades, the power and influence of Diriyah grew, as the great task of unity was handed on to Mohammed’s three successors — his son Abdulaziz, who would found the royal district of At-Turaif, Abdulaziz’s son Saud the Great, under whose direction the authority of the First Saudi State reached its peak, extending over most of the Arabian Peninsula and, upon his death in 1814, his son Abdullah, who was known to be great warrior.

But challenging the vast and aggressive Ottoman empire for control of Makkah and Madinah would prove to be Diriyah’s undoing. Imam Abdullah inherited the wrath of Istanbul, which dispatched a vast force to end the threat Diriyah posed to Ottoman authority in Arabia.

It took far longer than the Sultan could have imagined. Fighting a series of fierce battles over several years against impossible odds, the Arabs were slowly driven back from the Red Sea coast to their last stand before the walls of Diriyah.

After a six-month siege, Diriyah fell. Imam Abdullah was taken as a prisoner to Istanbul, where he was executed.

Undeterred, the Second Saudi State sprang up from the rubble of the first, this time in Riyadh — the ancient capital of the Hajer Al-Yamamah region, where it thrived from 1824 to 1891.

This, too, would fall.

But among the members of the family ousted from Riyadh in 1891 by the rival House of Rashid was the 16-year-old son of the last Imam of the Second Saudi State, a young man destined to take the last great step on the path upon which his predecessor Imam Mohammed had embarked generations before.

Above, warriors of Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud on camel back in Nejd, on their way to recapture Riyadh, c. 1910. (Alamy)

The story of how Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud and a small band of warriors recaptured Riyadh in 1902, restoring the House of Saud to its rightful home in the Nejd, is well known to every schoolchild in Saudi Arabia.

But Abdulaziz’s most remarkable achievement — the bringing together of the many tribes of Arabia to make possible the foundation in 1932 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — would require decades of unwavering dedication to his ancestor’s vision of unity.

Today, familial attachment to one or other of the tribes rooted deep in the history of the Arabian Peninsula remains a source of great pride for many Saudis and their families, and part of the fabric of the country’s diverse but unifying heritage.

This was, however, not always the case, as John Duke Anthony, founding president and chief executive of the Washington-based National Council on US-Arab Relations, noted in 1982.

“For much of Arabian history, most of these tribes existed as independent political entities in microcosm,” he wrote in an essay “Saudi Arabia: From tribal state to nation-state.”

“As such, they were capable of uniting for common action. At the same time, however, they more often than not acted as divisive forces in any larger societal context.

“It was this latter characteristic as much as any other attribute that prompted the late King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, to seek a number of means by which he could integrate the various tribes into the new national political structure of the Kingdom.”

It was, added Anthony, “the religious content of Abdulaziz’s message as he set about knitting Arabia into a single state (that) proved to be his greatest source of strength.

Above, Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud in Kuwait, circa 1910. (Alamy)

“He was able to direct and control a strict adherence to Islamic doctrines and, in this manner, affect a significant modification of the tribal distinctions which formerly had divided the realm.”

In 2022, Hasan Massloom, a member of the Shoura Council of Saudi Arabia, wrote that in the modern Saudi Arabia tribalism complemented rather than contradicted the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 ambitions, which were unveiled to Saudi citizens and the world by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016.

“No discussion of social change is conceivable without acknowledging the tribal background of the society of Saudi Arabia,” Massloom wrote in an op-ed piece for Arab News.

“Tribalism in Arabia has existed for thousands of years, predating Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It was an independent, cohesive system for survival in the desert that provided social status, economic advantage and physical protection for its members.

“People of one tribe shared a common ancestry, a collective dignity and a coalesced reputation. Harsh life in the arid desert decreed a firm and binding moral bond among tribes to defend their progeny and possessions. Tribal history prided itself on social hierarchy, an obligation for vengeance and a deep commitment to territory, pasture and water wells.”

King Abdulaziz, he continued, had “tactfully pivoted the Arabian tribal scene toward his dream of a national kingdom when he persuaded hostile and fighting tribes to cast their conflicts aside and unite under his leadership to build a modern state.”

Indeed, Abdulaziz, the man known to the wider world simply as Ibn Saud, had completed the journey begun by the founding of the First Saudi State by Imam Mohammad in 1727.

On Jan. 27, 2022, Founding Day was established by a Royal Order of King Salman in recognition of this pivotal moment in the nation’s history, and to honor the wisdom of a leader who “provided unity and security in the Arabian Peninsula following centuries of fragmentation, dissension and instability.”


How Saudi artists and calligraphers interpret the significance of Founding Day

How Saudi artists and calligraphers interpret the significance of Founding Day
Updated 46 min 12 sec ago
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How Saudi artists and calligraphers interpret the significance of Founding Day

How Saudi artists and calligraphers interpret the significance of Founding Day
  • Vision, hard work and dedication of leaders praised at exhibition to commemorate the founding of the First Saudi State
  • Saudi artists welcome opportunity to reflect on the values and principles that guide the nation and unite its people

RIYADH: In 1727, the foundation stones of the First Saudi State were placed by Imam Mohammed ibn Saud. Centuries later, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom is currently undergoing the most significant cultural renaissance in the modern Arab world.

Founding Day was first officially observed in 2022 and has become a great source of pride for Saudi Arabia’s citizens. With the holiday just around the corner, Saudi Arabia’s creatives took time to acknowledge the importance of commemorating such a momentous day.

For Ghofran Alsaeed, an interior designer and CEO of architect and design studio GWDESIGN, the annual celebration is a time to reflect on Saudi Arabia’s establishment and its significance in history.

“It allows us to honor the sacrifices and contributions of the nation’s founders, celebrate progress and achievements of Saudi Arabia, and reaffirm our commitment to the country’s development and prosperity. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the values and principles that guide the nation and unite its people,” she told Arab News.

Last year, Alsaeed celebrated by participating in community events, and spending time with her family making green rice and dressing in the national color. She plans to continue the tradition this year by attending official ceremonies and cultural events.

INNUMBER

* 1727 Foundation stones of First Saudi State laid by Imam Mohammed ibn Saud.

“As a Saudi, I feel immense pride and gratitude witnessing the growth and prosperity of the Kingdom since its establishment centuries ago. It’s a testament to the vision, hard work, and dedication of our leaders and people,” said Alsaeed.

“However, it also reminds us of our responsibility to continue contributing to the progress of our beloved country,” she added.

The Kingdom has been celebrating its traditions and heritage with events including Handicraft Week and annual date festivals throughout the country. Other events held are the equestrian Saudi Cup and national holidays including Flag Day on March 11 and Saudi National Day on Sept. 23.

Noha A. Raheem, a calligraphy artist and interior designer, believes these annual celebrations play a vital role in reminding citizens of their shared history.

“This fosters a sense of national pride, unity, and belonging, ultimately strengthening social cohesion and solidarity across the country,” she told Arab News.

As a creative, she feels immense pride in seeing the remarkable growth and prosperity achieved over the years on the economic and cultural fronts. This includes the Kingdom’s advancements in design, education, healthcare, infrastructure and technology, to becoming a global player in various industries.

“Commemorating founding day is important as it allows us to acknowledge and appreciate the struggles, sacrifices, and achievements,” she said.

Under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom is currently undergoing the largest cultural renaissance in the modern Arab world. (AN photo)

The founding day has a special place in designer Amar Alamdar’s heart because of his familial contributions in the third Saudi state. He shared that his grandfather, Khalid Mustafa Alamdar, served in King Abdulaziz’s first Saudi Army due to his knowledge on artillery.

“Founding Day is to bring the people together to create a foundation — unite them. Any Arab or Muslim living there at the time became Saudi Arabian,” he said.

His grandfather made sure that all his children, Alamdar’s uncles, also served in the army, carrying on the legacy of their family.

Alamdar said he wants to encourage his peers to create artwork that incorporates Saudi Arabia’s historical roots. “What if they were celebrating this day at the time? What would our elders have done?”

Alamdar plans to put on an art exhibition in honor of the day that started it all, featuring 22 Saudi artists.

Entrepreneur and designer Princess Nourah AlFaisal highlights the efforts of her research-based design consulting firm Adhlal. (AN photo)

“We have an obligation to platform the country’s rich history that dates back to the 18th century. We have a unique opportunity to show our heritage and our unique history that was sometimes even doubted.”

“God bless the times that we are living in now under King Salman and the crown prince in our movement towards technology and adaptation to the future (which) is a phenomenon,” Alamdar said.

“We used to run, then speed up, and now we have to learn to fly. We need this technology to empower ourselves as much as we can,” he added.

In addition, Alamdar advised young people to open up their arms and embrace people of every nation.