AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final

The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)
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The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)
AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final
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The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)
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Updated 09 December 2023
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AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final

AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final
  • The Kingdom’s historic city will be first in GCC to host a major DCL event

JEDDAH: The Drone Champions League — billed as the “world championship for professional drone racing” — will hold its first Super Final in the heart of AlUla’s Old Town on Dec. 20.

AlUla will be the first location in the GCC to host a major DCL event, and although no physical drones will be flying there, the league said in a statement: “It will be a chance for drone sports enthusiasts to enjoy the stunning and diverse landscapes of AlUla, varying between golden canyons, lush green oasis or spectacular geological marvels.”

The league’s organizers describe it as a “global pioneer in professional virtual and real-life drone racing. With a mission to combine cutting-edge technology and stunning locations, it has created a one-of-a-kind racing series that has captivated millions around the world.”




The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)

The DCL has rapidly gained popularity since its launch in 2016. Originally rooted in physical drone racing, DCL has evolved into a predominantly virtual format, blending hi-tec drones with the immersive world of gaming.

The annual DCL Drone Prix season features 10 teams. The competition reaches its climax with the top six teams engaging in split finals employing an elimination-style format, culminating in the DCL Super Final.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The annual DCL Drone Prix season features 10 teams.

• The league is exploring a return to real-life drone racing alongside virtual events.

The DCL has staged races in iconic locations worldwide, from the historic streets of Paris to the frozen landscapes of Norway, providing visual spectacles for the audience and challenging courses for the pilots.

“The convergence of technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure will make this Super Final a truly exceptional and unforgettable experience,” the statement said.




Margarete Schramboeck, Aramco Digital board member

The idea to stage the Super Final in AlUla came from Margarete Schramboeck, Austria’s former minister of economy and digital affairs and a board member of Aramco Digital. Recognizing the popularity of esports in contemporary youth culture, Schramboeck felt that Saudi Arabia, more than any other nation, exemplifies this trend.

“When the DCL team approached me, presenting their world-class drone racing league and its capabilities, I immediately saw the potential for Saudi Arabia … I envisioned it as something truly exceptional,” she told Arab News.

Drones and gaming play such an important role for our next generation — they are part of digital transformation and contribute to Saudi Vision 2030.

Margarete Schramboeck, Aramco Digital board member

Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih provided immediate support for the idea when it was presented to him at the French-Saudi Business Forum earlier this year, she added, and put her in touch with Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“I was so happy my idea was supported by both. I want to thank them for making it possible,” Schramboeck added.




Markus Stampfer, DCL owner

With over 50 million viewers around the world in 2023, the DCL’s appearance in AlUla will attract attention from across the globe for the UNESCO World Heritage site, giving the tech-savvy younger generation the opportunity to delve into AlUla’s cultural heritage through their passion for gaming.

“Drones and gaming play such an important role for our next generation — they are part of digital transformation and contribute to Saudi Vision 2030. I only want to do projects which provide a clear value-add to the Kingdom on multiple levels,” Schramboeck said.

By choosing AlUla, we aim to bring the essence of this extraordinary location to a global audience, shining a spotlight on its cultural and historical importance.

Markus Stampfer, DCL owner

DCL owner Markus Stampfer told Arab News in an exclusive interview: “Our roots lie in physical drone racing and engineering, but, over time, we’ve evolved into a globally accessible esports title. This transformation aligns with the trend of Tourism 3.0, where cities and regions are visualized and digitized.

“This shift has allowed a young audience to be digitally close to World Heritage sites such as the remarkable example in AlUla,” he added. “We’ve achieved our development milestones during the past years to drive this transformation and are proud to be making DCL a global sensation.”

Stampfer also revealed that the league is exploring a return to real-life drone racing alongside virtual events. Several cities have already signed on for this initiative, and there are plans to introduce physical drone racing in Saudi Arabia in 2024.

“This marks a significant step toward achieving the ultimate goal of a hybrid global racing series, seamlessly integrating both digital and real-life experiences,” he said.

Why AlUla?
AlUla has been at the forefront of sustainable development in the Kingdom through its prestigious sports and adventure offerings, hosting numerous events including the AlUla Camel Cup, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, the Saudi Tour, and, more recently, AlUla Desert Blaze.

AlUla Old Town was recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization as one of the world’s Best Tourism Villages in 2022.

Stampfer emphasized that AlUla’s unique backdrop aligns perfectly with DCL’s vision: “It is a special honor to be in a place that is a World Heritage site, offering a unique backdrop that showcases the historical significance of the region. The league places great importance on cultural resonance and AlUla fits perfectly with our vision for creating a memorable and impactful event.

“By choosing AlUla, we aim to bring the essence of this extraordinary location to a global audience, shining a spotlight on its cultural and historical importance,” he added.

 

 


Saudi source denies reports that commerce minister met Israeli counterpart

Saudi source denies reports that commerce minister met Israeli counterpart
Updated 27 February 2024
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Saudi source denies reports that commerce minister met Israeli counterpart

Saudi source denies reports that commerce minister met Israeli counterpart

RIYADH: An official Saudi source denied on Monday allegations circulating on social media platforms regarding a meeting between Majid Al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce, and an Israeli occupation official, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The same source said in a statement carried by SPA that the video circulated was while Al-Qasabi was standing with his Nigerian counterpart, prior to the opening of the thirteenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Abu Dhabi.

“The individual shook (the Saudi minister’s) hand and then was introduced, without (Al-Qasabi’s) prior knowledge,” the source told SPA.

This was followed by Israeli media reports claiming that the two discussed peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel, with one Israeli outlet running a picture of the two under the heading: “Israeli minister and Saudi counterpart shake hands and discuss ‘making history together.’”

The source also affirmed to SPA Saudi Arabia’s firm position on the Palestinian issue and its steadfast support for the Palestinian people against Israeli aggression.


King Salman given award for services to Arab security

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud receives the award on behalf of King Salman in Tunis. (SPA)
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud receives the award on behalf of King Salman in Tunis. (SPA)
Updated 26 February 2024
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King Salman given award for services to Arab security

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud receives the award on behalf of King Salman in Tunis. (SPA)
  • The award was received by the Kingdom’s Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud
  • Interior minister said the council is keen to achieve stability and development in the Arab world

RIYADH: King Salman was given the Prince Naif Award for Arab Security on Monday for his services to the security of the Arab community, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Arab Interior Ministers Council conferred the award and it was received by the Kingdom’s Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud in Tunis during a council meeting.  

The minister said the meeting was being held at a time when the Palestinian people are experiencing an unstable security situation which has caused the suffering of thousands of children, women, and the elderly. 

He said that the council, since its inception, is keen to achieve security for Arabs and bring about stability and development.

Prince Abdulaziz said the world is witnessing developments in cyber crime, the misuse of artificial intelligence, and advanced drug trafficking methods. 

These developments have “created fertile ground for the spread of multiple types of organized crime,” armed organizations, and terrorist groups which requires developing plans to invest in infrastructure and support development, education, and capacity building to confront these threats. 

He added that Arab coordination to deal with these threats is important in order to mitigate the possible negative repercussions from such threats. 


Saudi crown prince receives chairman of Russia’s State Duma

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives the Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives the Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin in Riyadh.
Updated 26 February 2024
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Saudi crown prince receives chairman of Russia’s State Duma

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives the Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin in Riyadh.
  • During the reception, the crown prince and Vyacheslav Volodin discussed the friendly relations between their countries

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received the chairman of Russia’s State Duma in Riyadh on Monday.

During the reception, the crown prince and Vyacheslav Volodin discussed the friendly relations between the Kingdom and Russia.

They also reviewed prospects for parliamentary cooperation and discussed issues of common interest.


Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival

Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival
Updated 26 February 2024
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Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival

Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival
  • French-Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany pays tribute to Fayrouz, Dalida and Farid Al-Atrash
  • Month-long event will have events organized by French-speaking nations

JEDDAH: French-Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany opened the Francophonie Festival on Sunday here with soulful tributes to Arab legends including Fayrouz, Dalida and Farid Al-Atrash.

Dressed in white and gold attire, reminiscent of the clothing of the ancient Egyptians, El-Dibany, accompanied by Mina Barsoum on piano, Ahmed Boustaji on oud, and Aymen Attitallah on percussion, took the audience on a musical journey transcending borders and cultures.

El-Dibany’s repertoire included iconic French tunes such as “Je suis malade” and Arabic classics.

Diplomats, French expats, and cultural enthusiasts from Saudi Arabia and France attended the launch event. (Supplied)

El-Dibany said: “I am so thankful for being here in Jeddah for the first time,” encapsulating the spirit of cultural exchange and collaboration that defines the Francophonie Festival.

Prior to the performance, the French consul-general in Jeddah, Mohammed Nehad, spoke about the festival’s significance.

FASTFACTS

● The Francophonie Festival’s aim is to promote French and foster education, cultural and business ties with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

● For the opening performance, Farrah El-Dibany was accompanied by Mina Barsoum on piano, Ahmed Boustaji on oud, and Aymen Attitallah on percussion.

● The launch event was attended by diplomats, French expatriates, and cultural enthusiasts, as well as Saudi Arabian officials and citizens.

He said the aim was to promote French and foster education, cultural and business ties with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

“Through this festival, we aim to bring people together … francophone itself is a great example for cultural exchange,” he told Arab News.

The launch event was attended by diplomats, French expatriates, and cultural enthusiasts, as well as Saudi Arabia officials and citizens.

Cultural exchange and education are the main purposes of the festival in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Among those in attendance was Larry Lamartiniere, the director of Alliance Francaise in Jeddah, who lauded El-Dibany’s performance as a fitting inauguration of the month-long Mois de la Francophonie 2024 in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “During March, the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise Saudi Arabia alongside other French-speaking countries and partners will organize events celebrating the rich diversity of francophone cultures.”

Established in 1970, the month is aimed at promoting cultural ties and human development across French-speaking nations worldwide. In Saudi Arabia, the festival acts as a platform for cultural exchange and education.

Cultural exchange and education are the main purposes of the festival in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Several upcoming events include Benjamin Piat performing at NougCafe on Feb. 28, and the French University Graduates’ Night on March 27.

The Alliance Francaise will host a children’s workshop on Feb. 29, featuring culinary and visual arts programs. This will take place alongside a screening of the 2022 French film “Divertimento” that is the story of twin teenage sisters who dream of forming their own orchestra and making classical music available to everyone.

Senegal’s consulate will have discussions and cultural exchanges, the Francophonie Village will have a celebration of food, clothing and folk dance; and there will also be films shown at various schools, consulates and French clubs.

 


Saudi jewelry designer dazzles at Saudi Cup

Saudi jewelry designer dazzles at Saudi Cup
Updated 27 February 2024
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Saudi jewelry designer dazzles at Saudi Cup

Saudi jewelry designer dazzles at Saudi Cup
  • Raghad Al-Hogail’s jewelry creations are inspired by Saudi heritage, Arab identity

RIYADH: Los Angeles-based Saudi jewelry designer Raghad Al-Hogail brought showstopping looks to the Saudi Cup, accentuating her style statement with select pieces of jewelry she designed.

The founder of Ragail Jewelry spoke to Arab News about the thought that went into the pieces she was wearing: “I chose the most relatable piece — the Sun Orchid flower — because this flower when planted anywhere, it helps the other plants around them to grow and this is how I feel about Saudi people, they help each other grow.”

The brand’s origin began when Al Hogail was asked to participate in an exhibition in 2007. (Supplied)

Ragail Jewelry, a Saudi brand founded in 2014, features collections that emphasize the Saudi and Arab identities. Al-Hogail is proud of her identity and heritage, which is why she incorporates motifs such as Arabic lettering, camels, and Saudi coffee dallah in her designs.

The brand’s origin began when Al Hogail was asked to participate in an exhibition in 2007. It was her first time designing and presenting a collection, and she was surprised when every piece sold.

“In high school, my pieces were just brass, ribbon, and plastic and when my entire inventory was sold, I realized I had something special when it came to jewelry.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Ragail Jewelry was founded by Saudi designer Raghad Al-Hogail in 2014.

● The designs incorporate motifs such as Arabic lettering, camels, and Saudi coffee dallah.

● The designer hopes to create an art gallery in Saudi Arabia where people can engage and create art pieces.

“I participated in galleries and exhibits inside and outside the Kingdom and went to 40 shows around the world, including Paris Fashion Week, the Doha Jewelry Show, and more. I also started using materials like diamond, silver, and gold,” she said.

She exhibited her collections in Personage concept store from 2018 to 2020 and recalls it as a “a good experience.”

A piece inspired by the silver frame around the Black Stone located in the corner of the Kaaba in Makkah. (Supplied)

Al-Hogail relocated to California in 2014, attended a jewelry design school, and launched her own business in the downtown district of Los Angeles.

Speaking about her process and what inspires her collections, she added: “We don’t create collections for the summer or winter, but I do artwork whenever I get inspired. Stories served as inspiration for the pieces we created. It can occur at any moment, just like when writing a poem.”  

The brand’s origin began when Al Hogail was asked to participate in an exhibition in 2007. (Supplied)

According to Al-Hogail, each piece has a story, and the main reason for this is that she wants people to be able to relate to the story— when they wear the jewelry, they experience and become a part of it.

The pieces are made in Los Angeles and start at $400. She has also designed a piece that sold for $400,000, her most expensive creation.

I believe that when creative people come together … they flourish, and I want Saudi Arabia to have such an environ-ment.

Raghad Al-Hogail, Saudi jewelry designer

Al-Hogail said that her most sentimental collection is the Organic line, which she designed during a period of homelessness. The collection was inspired by the silver frame around the Black Stone located in the corner of the Kaaba in Makkah.

Despite being based in Los Angeles, the designer hopes to create an art gallery in Saudi Arabia where people can engage and create art pieces. She also hopes to take part in additional exhibitions within the Kingdom.

Speaking about why this dream is important to her, she said: “I enjoy being in creative environments because I believe that everyone is creative in some capacity. I believe that when creative people come together, whether they be authors, musicians, designers, or something else entirely, they flourish, and I want Saudi Arabia to have such an environment. A gathering place for all artists.”