Saudi Arabia seeks better world via engagement on shared values: Kingdom’s first US embassy spokeswoman

Saudi Arabia seeks better world via engagement on shared values: Kingdom’s first US embassy spokeswoman
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Updated 16 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia seeks better world via engagement on shared values: Kingdom’s first US embassy spokeswoman

Saudi Arabia seeks better world via engagement on shared values: Kingdom’s first US embassy spokeswoman
  • Empowering women only a part of Saudi Arabia’s rapid transformation, says Fatimah Baeshen
  • Determined to address biased reporting on Kingdom and Middle East North Africa region

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is transforming at a rapid pace on all fronts, not only in terms of ensuring the empowerment of women, and there is a focus on engaging globally around shared values for a better world.

This is the view of Fatimah Baeshen, the first spokeswoman for the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington D.C., who was speaking during a recent interview on Arab News’ podcast, The Mayman Show.

Reflecting on her role as press secretary, she emphasized that it was not solely about being the first female appointment, but rather the manner in which public-sector institutions were being transformed in the Kingdom. This includes women being placed in prominent positions.

Baeshen told Arab News that she believes the country has reached a point where it was not about how others perceived it.

“It’s a matter of cooperation around common interests or common challenges and shared interests. And that’s really it. And that, for me, is a beautiful trajectory,” she said.

Baeshen’s involvement in the media announcements around Vision 2030 and fiscal reforms ignited her interest in pursuing a career in the industry.

She noted the reception of the Kingdom’s messaging on fiscal policy reform in the international media space. She believes many global issues stem from the disconnect between subject-matter experts and communication experts, which leads to a plethora of problems.

When Baeshen became press secretary, she was determined to address what she viewed as persistent biased reporting on the Middle East and North Africa region, including Saudi Arabia. She said that since 2020, there have been rapid changes taking place in the Kingdom.

On the personal front, Baeshen embarked on a new journey during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a background in management consulting, public affairs, and economic development, she wrote the book “140 Life Lessons I Wish I Knew at 20.” This 15-minute read, or audiobook available online, comprises aphorisms, as a collection of pearls of wisdom and guiding principles.

Baeshen found writing it to be cathartic during a time when many were encouraged to self-reflect and unwind.

“At the time when I wrote this, I was 42 and I thought to myself, I wish I knew these in my twenties. And so I don’t have kids. And I thought to myself, this is what I’m going to leave behind,” she said.

For her, some of the most valuable life lessons in the book involve embracing every aspect of oneself. She compares it to the concept of yin and yang, explaining that what may seem wholly negative often contains elements of positivity, and vice versa.

Another lesson she holds dear is the importance of persevering through life’s challenges, to take rest when needed but to keep pushing forward.

One of the most important elements of her book is Lesson 13, which delves into the nuanced differences between self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-assuredness.

She emphasized that it was important that change comes from within. Baeshen said that lacking this internal grounding can lead individuals to seek external validation constantly, trapping them in a cycle devoid of genuine affirmation.

She said that people should encourage and support all contributions to the Kingdom’s long-term goals.

It was important for people to pursue their passions and live holistically, said Baeshen.

 

 


Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings

Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings
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Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings

Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings
  • Egypt, Georgia, Turkiye and more attract Saudi tourists
  • The fair serves as a platform for tourism products, services and investments, attracting leading global companies in the field

RIYADH: Top tourism companies showcased their destinations to the Saudi market at the Riyadh Travel Fair, which ended on Wednesday.
Held from May 27-29 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, the event drew top travel and tourism firms from Saudi Arabia, the GCC and wider world.
The fair serves as a platform for tourism products, services and investments, attracting leading global companies in the field.
This year, Riyadh welcomed 250 exhibitors from 23 countries, including 13 tourism boards. New exhibitors included Georgia, South Korea, Egypt, Russia, and the cities of Almaty, Sarajevo and St. Petersburg.
Rusudan Kokoladze, a senior specialist from Georgia’s tourism promotion office, told Arab News: “This is the first time we are participating in the fair, and what we are looking for is to expand our relations with Saudi Arabia and increase the number of Saudi tourists to Georgia, one of the target countries for Saudis who want to see the picturesque beauty and coastline of the Black Sea.
“There is a direct flight to Batumi, so it’s really easy, accessible and safe to travel. It has UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks and attractive greenery, which makes it a popular tourist destination,” she added.
Elene Gogelia, chief coordinator of the brand development department at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, told Arab News: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had 10,000 visitors per year from Saudi Arabia. Of course, the response from year to year has been very positive with an increase in the number of tourists.
“After the pandemic, this is the first year (2024) when in the first quarter alone we have hosted 6,000 Saudi travelers. This is an increase of 28 percent compared to the same time last year.”
She added that Saudi travelers are interested in the Black Sea coast resorts as well as winter ski resorts.
Mohamed El-Sherbeiny, general manager of the International Tourism Office at the Egyptian Tourism Authority, told Arab News: “We are excited to be here; Saudi Arabia is the third biggest market for Egypt. Last year, we received almost 1 million tourists from the Kingdom. We aim to continue the growth rate this year as well, reaching 20 percent more than last year.
“We believe we could achieve it because there is great interest from Saudi travelers to explore more of the northern coast in Egypt during the summer, as it is a wonderful place to relax.”
He said that Riyadh is now a hub for tourists, and “to showcase Egypt at the RTF is interesting.”
Faruk Caluk, senior adviser for tourism development at Visit Sarajevo, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia is a very important market for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a lot of Saudi visitors come to our country. Earlier, we had visa issues, but now it’s solved and open for Saudi citizens, so we expect more visitors this year, and the RTF is a good opportunity.”
The Turkiye tourism and travel groups hosted a large delegation of hospitality partners at the fair. Additionally, the lead actors from popular Turkish series “Kurulus Osman” made an appearance — Orhan (Emre Bey), Cerkutay (Cagri Sensoy), and Holofira (Ecem Sena Bayir), as well as Gunkut Alp (Hakan Serim) from “Dirilis: Ertugrul.” The stars interacted with fans, sharing details about their work.
The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation also took part in the fair. With 17 participants representing nine companies, Visit Maldives showcased the country as a premier travel destination to the Saudi market.


Saudi royal reserve abuzz over beekeeping program

Training program by Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications.
Training program by Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications.
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi royal reserve abuzz over beekeeping program

Training program by Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications.
  • Program provides theoretical and practical training on the best methods for beekeeping and honey production
  • As well as boosting economic development and promoting local products, it empowers young people by developing their skills

RIYADH: A “Bee Basics” training program by the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications and opportunities that will ultimately strengthen the local economy.

The program provides both theoretical and practical training on the best methods for beekeeping and honey production, reported Saudi Press Agency.

As well as boosting economic development and promoting local products, it empowers young people by developing their skills, introducing them to the latest beekeeping technologies and providing qualifications.

The training program is helping the authority achieve its strategic goals for community development, as well as building industrial leadership.

Once completed, trainees can obtain licenses from the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Water, allowing them to practice beekeeping and honey production on the royal reserve in accordance with environmental standards.

They are provided with items such as local beehives, beekeeping jackets and wax scrapers. The authority also provides technical support and consultations for a full year, as well as marketing services.

The royal reserve is well known for the quality of its honey varieties, such as sidr, talh, sayyal and shafallah honey. The authority provides places for beekeepers to set up hives in accordance with regulations that guarantee the preservation and sustainability of natural resources.

Since 2020, around 10,584 beneficiaries have shared honey industry funding of SR140 million ($37.3 million) from the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program, also known as Saudi Reef.

Honey production in the Kingdom reached 3,120 tonnes in 2023, a 41 percent increase on 2021. The aim is to increase this to 7,500 tonnes by 2026.


Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh

Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh
Updated 29 May 2024
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Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh

Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh

RIYADH: Mark Getty, the chairman and co-founder of Getty Images, was the guest speaker at the first of a series of “Library Talks” hosted by the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh.

The initiative aims to provide a monthly platform for thought leaders, experts and influencers from around the world to share their knowledge, ideas and experiences, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

In his presentation, titled “A Journey Through the Horizons of Technology,” Getty shared his insights on setting up and developing one of the world’s best-known visual media companies.

He spoke of the obstacles and challenges he has faced and emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of producers, authors and content creators.

Prince Faisal bin Salman, chairman of the library’s board, welcomed Getty to the Kingdom.


Beauty of Soudah to feature in 3 Discovery documentaries

Beauty of Soudah to feature in 3 Discovery documentaries
Updated 29 May 2024
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Beauty of Soudah to feature in 3 Discovery documentaries

Beauty of Soudah to feature in 3 Discovery documentaries
  • Media giant teams up with state-owned real estate firm Soudah Development
  • Films will tell ‘captivating stories of Soudah’s natural wonders,’ Discovery says

JEDDAH: Soudah Development, a real estate company owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, has teamed up with Warner Bros. Discovery International to produce three short films to promote the beauty, culture and heritage of the Soudah region in the Kingdom’s southwest.

The partnership will focus on Soudah Peaks, a luxury mountain tourism destination in Abha region, set 3,000 meters above sea level.

The documentaries will air around the world this summer on WBD’s Discovery Channel, Food Network, Travel Channel, Eurosport 1 and 2, as well as on international social media platforms.

Eng. Saleh Al-Oraini, CEO of Soudah Development, said: “We are delighted to join forces with Warner Bros. Discovery to unveil the exceptional beauty and cultural significance of the Soudah region, along with Saudi Arabia, on a global scale.

“This collaboration marks a pivotal step in our endeavor to position Soudah as a unique luxury mountain tourism destination and we are confident that it will captivate travelers from around the world.”

The Soudah region’s diverse fauna and flora, landscapes and agricultural traditions, like beekeeping, will all feature in the films.

Mike Rich, head of sports and lifestyle international brand partnerships at Warner Bros. Discovery, said: “Partnering with Soudah Development presents an exciting opportunity for us to showcase the unique appeal of Soudah Peaks through our influential media platforms.

“We are thrilled to bring captivating stories of Soudah’s natural wonders and cultural heritage to our viewers. We eagerly anticipate a successful collaboration.”

The partnership comes after Saudi property developer Red Sea Global in April teamed up with Warner Bros. Discovery to produce a 45-minute documentary titled “Beneath the Surface: The Fight for Corals.”

Released on Earth Day, the film chronicles the work of Saudi free diver and environmentalist Salma Shaker and illuminates the remarkable resilience of Red Sea corals and their pivotal role in bolstering global coral health.

“Soudah is not merely a tourist spot, it’s a sanctuary of tranquility and natural marvels,” Saudi environmentalist Hussain Asiri told Arab News.

“With this newfound exposure, I’m sure we will see a concerted effort toward responsible tourism, one that cherishes and conserves our environment while showcasing its magnificence to the world.”

Mohammed Al-Malky, a local tour guide, said: “Soudah’s beauty isn’t just for us to enjoy, it’s a treasure that deserves global recognition. Hopefully, these documentaries will inspire more people to visit and experience the magic of our mountains and valleys.”


Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry

Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry
Updated 29 May 2024
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Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry

Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry
  • Between May 23 and June 21, only pilgrims with Hajj permits can enter Makkah
  • Interior ministry says penalties to be imposed on anyone violating the rules

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior has announced visit visa holders will not be allowed to enter or remain in Makkah during the Hajj season.
Between May 23 and June 21, only pilgrims with Hajj permits may do so, with penalties imposed on anyone violating the rules.
The ministry emphasized that visit visas did not give the holder permission to perform Hajj. It also urged visitors currently in Saudi Arabia to avoid travel to Makkah during the specified period.
“Violators will be subject to penalties according to the Kingdom’s regulations,” said a statement from the ministry.
Earlier, the Ministry of Interior said it would start imposing fines amounting to $2,666 on anyone, including Saudi citizens, caught entering Makkah without a Hajj permit between June 2-20.