Saudi Tourism Authority holds first networking event in Pakistan

Saudi Tourism Authority holds first networking event in Pakistan
Dr. Omar Ayoub, Assistant General Manager at Zamzam.com, a partner of Saudi Tourism Authority, gestures during an interview with Arab News in Karachi on January 18, 2024. (AN Photo)
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Updated 20 January 2024
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Saudi Tourism Authority holds first networking event in Pakistan

Saudi Tourism Authority holds first networking event in Pakistan
  • The Saudi government has taken several measures in recent months to improve tourism numbers
  • Tourism accounts for 2-3 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product

KARACHI: The Saudi Tourism Authority hosted its first networking event in Pakistan this week with the aim to spotlight the Kingdom as a “destination beyond just religious experiences” and invite visitors to see its pristine beauty, cultural diversity and heritage.
Saudi Arabia is a major religious destination with millions visiting Islam’s two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah annually to perform the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. But the Kingdom in recent years has started to promote leisure travel as part of a strategy aimed at diversifying the economy away from oil, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Last year, the Saudi government revised its domestic and international visitor target upwards from 100 million to 150 million by 2030.
“The government has a vision to increase this number by three or 10-fold in the days to come, as per the vision of Vision 2030 by Crown Mohammed bin Salman, and that’s what we are all collectively working on, enhancing this experience,” Dr. Omar Ayoub, assistant general manager at Zamzam.com, a partner of STA, told Arab News after the networking event.
“The main idea of this event was to showcase Saudi Arabia as a destination beyond just the religious experiences, to see the pristine beauty, the culture, the acceptance, inclusion, diversity of products and services that Saudi has to offer … it’s a combination of different experiences that we would like the world to come and see.”
The Saudi government has taken several measures in recent months to improve tourism numbers, such as relaxing visa conditions, including by allowing those with Umrah visas to travel freely around the Kingdom.
Last year, Alhasan Al-Dabbagh, president of Asia-Pacific markets at STA, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia was targeting more than 3.5 million visitors from Pakistan by 2030.
Meanwhile, Riyadh Season attracts large numbers of visitors with activities and experiences in fields such as entertainment, fashion, technology and communication, electronic games, perfumes, fine arts and crafts.
From Oct. 11 last year until now, Riyadh Season events have already attracted more than 12 million visitors. It is one of the major Saudi events to establish new concepts in the world of entertainment and aims to make the capital, Riyadh, the first destination for international entertainment and gastronomy.
Tourism accounts for 2-3 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product. However, with investment in the tourism sector, the Kingdom aims to increase the share to 10 percent of GDP by 2030.
Saudi Arabia hopes to open the doors of several tourism-focused projects over the next few years, including the Red Sea project, a high-end development that will feature island and inland resorts.
The Kingdom also plans to turn AlUla and its majestic rock-hewn tombs of Madain Saleh, the relics of an ancient civilization, into a global tourism destination and eventually attract millions of visitors, local and foreign alike.
AlUla’s development is part of a push to preserve pre-Islamic heritage sites to attract non-Muslim tourists and strengthen national identity.


Review: Curva Pilates in Alkhobar

Review: Curva Pilates in Alkhobar
Updated 6 sec ago
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Review: Curva Pilates in Alkhobar

Review: Curva Pilates in Alkhobar

There’s a new way to stay fit in Alkhobar this summer with the recent opening of Curva Pilates earlier this month.

The women-only studio is situated on the second floor of an indiscreet building, marked with the letter A on the outside. It is an ideal place to spend an hour using the reformer Pilates machine, either in a solo session or with a group class. There is limited parking directly outside of the studio space.

Pilates, which is a form of exercise developed by the German Joseph Pilates in the 20th century, helps combat health issues and increases flexibility. It was originally designed to help soldiers gain strength by attaching springs to hospital beds to create resistance. If you have ever done yoga or ballet or gymnastics, you might enjoy this process — but it is its own thing.

You may opt to message their account on Instagram, where you will be asked to provide your name and phone number, after which you will receive a welcome message on WhatsApp, with the class details and some ground rules. “For your safety and to keep up our hygiene standards, you should always make sure to wear Pilates socks when taking a class,” it says.

Once entering the serene space, decorated with fresh flowers and the refreshing scent of lemon detox water, which is free for all customers, you will be given an electronic key to a locker where you can securely place your handbag. You can keep the key with you and return it at the end of your visit. There are hooks to hang your abayas and a shoe cubby.

If you do not have Pilates socks you may use regular ones. And, in case you forget to push your hair back, there are hair clips available in the mirror area to use, and wet wipes at the ready, should you wish to freshen-up before or after your session.

You may take a session with Coach Lubna, who is fair and balanced. For first-timers, she asks whether they have any body ailments they need to be aware of — do they have any existing body aches or injuries, any surgeries or issues with their back, shoulders, arms or legs.

Lubna explains every step briefly, and makes the experience enjoyable. The reformer machine is not hard to use and is ideal for any fitness level.

She makes sure to ask for feedback and listens to all comments and concerns. Lubna believes that consistency is what matters most — no matter what level you are on — and recommends visitors try the reformer three times per week.

Reformer classes at Curva can be purchased either per session for SR175 ($46) each, or in a package for a slightly better rate. Five sessions go for SR850, 10 sessions for SR1,650 and two other package options are available — for 15 sessions and 20.

There is a 10 percent discount for college students and a 10 percent discount for Aramco staff.

While it has become a global trend, this enduring form of exercise that emphasizes core strength, flexibility and overall body awareness is not yet widely practiced in the Eastern Province. Curva is there to change that.

Find them at CurvaPilates.com or on their Instagram, @CurvaPilates.


KSrelief runs medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

KSrelief runs medical projects in Sudan, Yemen
Updated 18 min 18 sec ago
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KSrelief runs medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

KSrelief runs medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief continues to provide healthcare for vulnerable people in Sudan and Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The project in Port Sudan for urology surgery, from July 13 to 20, involves 11 volunteers with training in various specialities.
The team members have already completed six surgeries.
A similar project is currently being implemented for orthopedic surgery in the Seiyun district of Yemen’s Hadhramaut governorate, with seven operations already completed.
Recently, the agency started a training program for people supervising orphans in Hadramout in coordination with the country’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.


Saudi Red Crescent in Makkah region puts in almost 80,000 volunteer hours during second quarter

Saudi Red Crescent in Makkah region puts in almost 80,000 volunteer hours during second quarter
Updated 26 min 38 sec ago
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Saudi Red Crescent in Makkah region puts in almost 80,000 volunteer hours during second quarter

Saudi Red Crescent in Makkah region puts in almost 80,000 volunteer hours during second quarter

JEDDAH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority in the Makkah region revealed its volunteer statistics for the second quarter of 2024, with the number of volunteer hours reaching 79,128.

It said the volunteer opportunities ranged from providing first-aid services to worshippers in the courtyards of the Holy Mosque in Makkah to national occasions, international days, events, humanitarian aid, and sports events.

Additionally, several first-aid courses were held to train male and female volunteers.

The authority indicated that Makkah has the largest number of volunteer initiatives with 273 opportunities, followed by the Jeddah governorate with 207 and the Taif governorate third with 104 opportunities.

The volunteer medical staff included several specialties, most notably consultants, general practitioners, and emergency medicine doctors. The authority emphasized its commitment to developing its volunteers by organizing specialized courses and training them in line with the authority’s mission and work.


Training program for trainers at Princess Nourah University

Training program for trainers at Princess Nourah University
Updated 31 min 40 sec ago
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Training program for trainers at Princess Nourah University

Training program for trainers at Princess Nourah University

RIYADH: Staff at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University recently had the chance to take part in a series of training programs to help them develop their own training and development skills, and prepare more effective training resources.

A six-day “Training of Trainers” program, provided by the university’s Deanship of Quality and Development, included topics such as theories of learning and their effects on training; the needs of the trainer; development of the communication model and communication skills; and the design of training materials.

It also covered management of the training process and the evaluation of performance, along with development of the skills required for managing workshops and conducting training sessions, and how to research information in support of training.

The deanship also provided a three-day “Preparation of Training Packages” program. This addressed the practical aspects of preparing a training program that effectively familiarize trainees with the required principles and standards of quality. It included topics such as development of a curriculum, setting objectives, training methods, and the types and organization of programs.

Officials said the initiative forms part of the deanship’s efforts to help achieve the university’s Strategic Plan 2025, the aim of which is to achieve excellence in teaching and learning through professional support, career guidance, and improved knowledge and skills.


Bahrain king receives speaker of Saudi Shoura Council

King Hamad receives Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace.
King Hamad receives Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace.
Updated 43 min 42 sec ago
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Bahrain king receives speaker of Saudi Shoura Council

King Hamad receives Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace.
  • King Hamad expressed appreciation for King Salman’s efforts to strengthen the historical ties between their kingdoms

RIYADH: Bahrain’s King Hamad received Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace in Manama on Thursday.

The king praised the deep-rooted relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the high level of close cooperation and mutual coordination achieved on all fronts to fulfil the interests and aspirations of the two countries, Saudi Press Agency reported.

He also expressed appreciation for King Salman’s efforts to strengthen the historical ties between the two kingdoms.

The king commended the instrumental role of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council and Bahrain’s Council of Representatives and Shoura Council in bolstering relations and supporting development in the two countries.

The king also welcomed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Bahraini Council of Representatives and the Saudi Shoura Council, which aims to expand and strengthen cooperation frameworks, exchange expertise and experiences at the legislative and parliamentary levels, and coordinate positions taken at various regional and international parliamentary forums.