Who’s Who: Anthony Aikenhead, chief development officer at the Sports Boulevard Foundation

Anthony Aikenhead
Anthony Aikenhead
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Updated 20 February 2024
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Who’s Who: Anthony Aikenhead, chief development officer at the Sports Boulevard Foundation

Anthony Aikenhead

Anthony Aikenhead is the chief development officer at the Sports Boulevard Foundation where he oversees construction of the Sports Boulevard, the world’s largest urban linear park in Riyadh.

In this role, he is responsible for project and program delivery, particularly as it relates to schedule and budget. He is also developing the design and construction division of the Sports Boulevard, encouraging knowledge-sharing within the delivery team.

Aikenhead has implemented a strategic approach to effective risk management at the Sports Boulevard, creating a formal structure that has led to several proactive measures, including thorough risk assessment and continued monitoring and evaluation.

He curated and led the development of Sports Boulevard’s program execution plan, which delineated the project’s planning phase, procurement strategy and management processes.

Aikenhead has more than 40 years of practical experience in real estate and development.

Prior to joining the foundation, he held various roles at Sir Robert McAlpine, a leading UK construction and civil engineering company. From 2011 to 2016, he was director of operations and CEO, during which time he devised and implemented substantial business improvements in leadership and process.

He was the project director of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium from 2007 to 2011 and oversaw delivery of the project three months early.

Aikenhead has also held leadership roles on several other major projects in the UK, including the Millenium Dome in London and Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk.

Most recently, Aikenhead was chief real estate and delivery officer at Dubai Expo LLC, where he formulated the strategic delivery plan for the design and construction for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

 


How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 

How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 
Updated 13 April 2024
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How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 

How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 
  • New farming technologies that use less water and produce less CO2 are gaining traction in Saudi Arabia
  • The government has inked deals with several private agri-tech firms to develop meat and dairy substitutes

RIYADH: Just a few short years ago, visitors to Saudi Arabia could never have imagined feasting on a plate of vegan tuna nigiri or a meatless shawarma. Thanks to new investments in agritech, these plant-based alternatives are now firmly on the menu.

With the movement towards meatless eating gaining momentum in response to mounting environmental and health concerns, the Kingdom’s public and private sectors are working together with a view to produce food more sustainably. 

“Taking actions towards plant-based products is essential for promoting environmental sustainability,” Faisal Al-Sughayer, co-founder and general manager of Saudi plant-based brand Ayla’s Choice, told Arab News.

Faisal Alsughayer, co-founder and general manager of Ayla’s Choice, Faisal Alsughayer, says the company’s goal is to provide consumers with healthy alternatives to animal products. (Supplied)

“Conserving resources, enhancing human health, ensuring food security, and even economic opportunities as well — and also building climate resilience. This is what we’re trying to do with farming. 

“By making conscious choices to incorporate more plant-based options into our diets and lifestyles, we can contribute to a positive change and create a healthier, more sustainable society.”

Since the launch of the Saudi Green Initiative in March 2021, the Kingdom has witnessed significant changes owing to its commitment to enhance food security, the promotion of sustainable agriculture, and adaptation to evolving food trends.

Mindful of vulnerabilities in the global supply chain, the Kingdom’s investment in food industry innovation and diversification is also designed to achieve a degree of self-sufficiency in meeting the dietary needs of the population.

Last year, one of Saudi’s most anticipated giga-projects, NEOM, announced its collaboration with a Dutch greenhouse company to form a horticulture oasis just outside the urban city.  (Supplied)

This is being driven in part by government initiatives, new technological advances, and shifts in consumer preferences.

About a year ago, the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture signed deals with the Cooperative Societies Council, Saudi Greenhouses Management and Agricultural Marketing Co., and Ayla’s Choice to develop plant-based foods. 

With these agreements, the ministry aims to promote a culture of healthy eating, provide locally made, high-quality vegan and vegetarian alternatives, and to utilize advanced technologies for producing meat and dairy substitutes.

These deals will also help modernize farming and marketing systems, promote food security, enhance environmental sustainability, and contribute to the overall development of the Kingdom’s agricultural sector.

Ayla’s Choice is passionate about creating sustainable local plant-based products. (Supplied)

According to Al-Sughayer, Ayla’s Choice was the first company in Saudi Arabia to obtain a license from MEWA to produce plant-based products, paving the way for more licenses and investment opportunities.

The company’s goal is not to promote a completely meatless and dairy-free diet, but rather to provide consumers with healthy alternatives to animal products. 

At one of its recent workshops in collaboration with MEWA, the company showcased innovative products, including truffle and olive caviar, carrot-based smoked salmon tartlet, tomato tuna nigiri, and eggplant unagi nigiri.

At one of their recent workshops in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Ayla’s Choice showcased innovative bites including truffle and olive caviar, carrot-based smoked salmon tartlet, tomato tuna nigiri, and eggplant unagi nigiri. (Supplied)

“We’re eager to explore opportunities for collaboration for sustainability planning initiatives, including setting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by conserving water resources, preserving biodiversity, and participating in government led working groups or task forces focused on sustainable food systems,” said Al-Sughayer.

In doing so, the firm aims “to provide expertise and input from our sites from the plant-based sector, and from the agricultural sector to enhance food security in Saudi,” he added.

As of now, collaborations are in the works with MEWA, the Ministry of Economy and Planning, and individual companies to embark on joint ventures that will ensure the availability of the highest-quality meat- and dairy-free foods. 

DID YOUKNOW?

• At the tail end of 2023, Vertical Farms Co. broke ground on Saudi Arabia’s largest indoor vertical farming project to date. It is set to begin operations in the second half of 2024.

• Companies like iFarm are pushing towards simplifying the process of mass sustainable commercial vegetable growing applications locally.

• With 3.2 million square meters, a large-scale farm in Asir’s Wadi bin Hashba holds the world record for the world’s largest sustainable farm.

Saudi Greenhouses Management and Agri Marketing Co. — also known as Al-Rasheed Greenhouses — is one of the largest farming and horticulture companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council area, with more than 40 years’ experience in the sector.

The firm operates in nine locations, managing more than 90 hectares of greenhouses and an additional 27 hectares of new expansions in high-tech greenhouses throughout the Kingdom. It is the biggest supplier of fresh produce to Saudi Arabia’s main retailers

“The company has full control on the whole supply chain of the fresh produce, starting from designing the right greenhouse specification for the right region to grow in the Kingdom, to delivering the fresh produce on the shelves for consumers,” Abdullah Al-Rasheed, the firm’s senior project manager, told Arab News

The sustainable farm in the Asir region, recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest in the world, uses treated water to irrigate crops planted across a 3.2 million square meter area. (Supplied)

“So logistic crop consultations, production management, is all handled under our company.”

Al-Rasheed Greenhouses recently signed a deal to cultivate and supply plant-based ingredients to Ayla’s Choice for use in its products, such as lion’s mane mushrooms, which are a meat-free alternative to steaks.

Al-Sughayer hopes the partnership will encourage local farmers in Saudi Arabia to consider tailoring their choice of crops to meet the growing demand of the plant-based foods industry, generating a better return on their produce and reducing waste in the process.

“This can have significant benefits for both the farmers and food security in Saudi,” he said. “Our aim is to diversify food sources by working with local farmers to develop plant-based products from the overabundance of local produce.”

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Saudi Arabia’s food sector has made great strides in sustainability. Last year, one of the Kingdom’s most highly-anticipated gigaprojects, the NEOM smart city, announced a new collaboration with a Dutch greenhouse company to build a self-sustaining horticultural oasis.

Using revolutionary technologies, the partnership with Van Der Hoeven will allow the region’s desert landscape, scorched by high temperatures and parched by low rainfall, to flourish with locally grown produce.

SweGreen, a Stockholm-based agritech company and vertical farming venture, is another potential partner. 

Using soilless farming technology and monitoring systems managed by artificial intelligence, the company has enabled local supermarkets to grow crops in the middle of the store with absolute control over the quality and growing process.

SweGreen has made headlines internationally with its world-leading in-store farm solutions and its AI-based steering and digital monitoring system. (Supplied)

“SweGreen has set four global industry records for efficiency and sustainability in agriculture,” Scott A. Ellis, the firm’s consultant liaison, told Arab News.

“The first one is a world record for lowest CO2 emissions. This is measured per kilogram of lettuce produced,” measured against the environmental impact of transporting food across the planet and its concurrent waste.

“Of course, this reduces the carbon footprint and also contributes to a more sustainable planet,” Ellis added.

The technology has also achieved the lowest rate of energy consumption and the highest production efficiency. More importantly for Saudi Arabia, however, is that the technology scored highest for water conservation, requiring just 1.3 liters per kilogram of greens.


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• KAUST leading Saudi Arabia’s progress in aquaculture


“Production occurs 24 hours a day, all year round, regardless of the weather outside,” said Ellis. 

“So, in summary, the greens with the highest nutritional content and maximum integrity and taste, have the lowest need for resources, including the big ones like water, energy and space, and leave the softest climate footprint.”

The revolutionary farm-to-fork system has been installed at 32 sites worldwide with plans for many more.

The plant-based company’s goal is not to promote a meatless and dairy-free diet, but rather provide healthier alternatives to the general population. (Supplied)

Ellis believes the technology will benefit local farmers by promoting local collaborations and will encourage consumers to purchase healthier foods, resulting in a healthier population overall.

“SweGreen is very supportive of working in a flexible way with Saudi Arabia to meet the needs and goals of Vision 2030,” he said.

For Al-Sughayer and others in the Saudi business community, partnerships with firms like SweGreen are a productive and mutually beneficial way to promote good health and environmental sustainability. 

“By leveraging international expertise, we can easily address the challenge of produce when addressing sustainability goals and promoting food security in Saudi,” he said.
 

 


Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia

Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia
Updated 13 April 2024
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Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia

Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia
  • Baha Riders are committed to presenting the beauty of Baha while in the saddle

RIYADH: The Baha Riders motorcycle club offers tourists a unique perspective of Baha city by turning their passion into a profitable business.  

A group of professional motorcyclists from the city, the Baha Riders are committed to presenting the beauty of Baha whilst in the saddle.

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation. (Supplied)

Baha is a raw and organic region, according to Shaiq bin Ali, a spokeswoman for the Baha Riders, “where most of the area has remained unchanged for decades, making it an excellent destination for travelers to witness the beauty of unspoiled nature.”

Situated in the Sarawat Mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, Baha is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Kingdom, with a nice climate and bountiful woodlands all around it.

SPEEDREAD

• Baha is a raw and organic region, according to Shaiq bin Ali, a spokeswoman for the Baha Riders, ‘where most of the area has remained unchanged for decades, making it an excellent destination for travelers to witness the beauty of unspoiled nature.’

• Situated in the Sarawat Mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, Baha is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Kingdom, with a nice climate and bountiful woodlands all around it. 

• Baha Riders made the decision to transition from being merely motorcycle enthusiasts to turning their pastime into a business by working with the Hyyak platform to market the opportunity for individuals to visit Baha while riding a motorbike.

Baha Riders made the decision to transition from being merely motorcycle enthusiasts to turning their pastime into a business by working with the Hyyak platform to market the opportunity for individuals to visit Baha while riding a motorbike.

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation. (Supplied)

“Many tourists purchase the experience of riding a motorcycle because it is a liberating and freeing experience,” Bin Ali told Arab News.

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

“Many tourists purchase the experience of riding a motorcycle because it is a liberating and freeing experience”

Shaiq bin Ali, spokeswoman for the Baha Riders

The group has accomplished a great deal since its founding and taken part in a range of activities. For example, the team competes in official local events, national and local contests, religious festivals, regional and national competitions, and other official local events.  

Members include medical professionals, engineers, students, retirees, and a wide range of enthusiasts.  

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation. (Supplied)

They have also competed internationally; the most recent was in 2023, when the team went to India’s Himalayan region and reached the world’s highest mountain, Everest.

The last foreign trip was an 8,000 km rotation through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf countries.   

“In the last four years, the team has officially and annually organized an event in which it brings together riders from the Arab world in the Baha region. This gathering aims to highlight the Baha region in terms of its historical, archaeological and tourist attractions. This is a belief on the part of the team in its societal role in highlighting Baha and attracting tourists,” Bin Ali said.  

“(Motorcycling) has a great, unique feel because there is no roof over your head, no windows that obstruct the view, and you can enjoy a 180-degree surrounding.”

Bin Ali said that life is only meant to be experienced once and encouraged everyone to do so by taking precautions, donning protective gear, and riding the appropriate bike with the appropriate person. He also noted that although motorcycle culture is relatively new to the community and may still be perceived negatively, it is a unique, enjoyable, and lightweight mode of transportation.

He also stated that the goal of Vision 2030 included focusing on individual sports, observing what benefits young Saudis, and what channels their enthusiasm towards beneficial endeavors.

 

 


Families enjoy Eid activities across Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, Eid is a truly magical time, when families come together to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country.
In Saudi Arabia, Eid is a truly magical time, when families come together to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country.
Updated 12 April 2024
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Families enjoy Eid activities across Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, Eid is a truly magical time, when families come together to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country.
  • Cities serve up range of entertainment treats for visitors, locals
  • ‘Eid in Saudi Arabia is a truly magical time,’ Jeddah resident says

JEDDAH: Local people and visitors have been embracing the festive spirit of Eid at joyous celebrations across the Kingdom.

In Jeddah, the illuminated corniche is playing host to a plethora of activities for all ages, from leisurely strolls to indulging in street food and traditional games.

The historic district of Al-Balad offers a glimpse into the city’s rich past with charming souqs and landmarks waiting to be explored. Adventurers can find thrills at Mega Paintball at Serafi Mega Mall, while there are dozens of activities on offer at Boost Entertainment Center.

In Saudi Arabia, Eid is a truly magical time, when families come together to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country. (SPA)

There is more fun to be had at Jeddah Promenade throughout the Eid festival, with concerts and shows, activities and lots of places to eat and drink.

“Eid in Saudi Arabia is a truly magical time, where families come together to celebrate amidst the vibrant culture and rich heritage,” local man Mohammed Abdulraheem said.

“The diverse array of entertainment options during Eid showcases the spirit of unity and joy that defines this special occasion.

In Saudi Arabia, Eid is a truly magical time, when families come together to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country. (SPA)

“One of the standout aspects of Eid in Saudi Arabia is the lavish feasts and especially the gatherings that bring us all together. Whether we’re visiting resorts or enjoying the beach, we make sure to create lasting memories with our loved ones,” he said.

“It’s a time to strengthen familial bonds and partake in the vibrant entertainment activities that make this holiday so memorable.”

In Riyadh, the Riyadh Season festival has elevated the Eid festivities and turned the city into an entertainment hub. One of the hot spots is Diriyah, where a host of concerts, live performances and dining options are on offer.

In Saudi Arabia, Eid is a truly magical time, when families come together to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country. (SPA)

Riyadh Zoo in Al-Malaz, with its 1,500 animals from around the world, is another popular attraction, as too are the House of Hype — where virtual reality meets real life — and Snow City, where the entertainment is always cool.

At the Big Fun Museum visitors can see mind-bending illusions and enchanting landscapes during an unforgettable experience.

Visitor Hammad Farooq said: “I enjoy coming to Riyadh from Qassim to spend time with my family and experience various forms of entertainment.

In Saudi Arabia, Eid is a truly magical time, when families come together to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country. (SPA)

“Whether it’s exploring the traditional markets or visiting the modern amusement parks, Eid celebrations in Riyadh offer a perfect mix of joy and fun.

“Even spending time in the parks with my kids is always a memorable experience.”

Elsewhere in the country there is a five-day Eid celebration now underway at Al-Muftaha Heritage Village in Abha, where visitors can enjoy a host of engaging activities and musical shows, while in Dammam, families can savor the simple pleasure of getting together on the city’s waterfront and taking in the activities on offer on the corniche.

At the Dhahran Expo Center visitors can enjoy a range of shows featuring popular singers and performers.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Umluj Beach makes list of top 100 beaches worldwide

Saudi Arabia’s Umluj Beach makes list of top 100 beaches worldwide
Updated 13 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Umluj Beach makes list of top 100 beaches worldwide

Saudi Arabia’s Umluj Beach makes list of top 100 beaches worldwide
  • Spot is an archipelago on the Red Sea coast in Tabuk Province
  • Beaches in the UAE, Egypt and Qatar also made the top 100 list

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Umluj Beach has been ranked among the top 100 beaches in the world in the Golden Beach Awards 2024, alongside the likes of Bora Bora and Copacabana.

BeachAtlas, a London-based startup, used an algorithm to shortlist 100 beaches according to six criteria. The locations were then put to a vote by a panel of travel experts and influencers who provided their personal insights to refine and help rank the list.

Located on the Red Sea coast in the northwest region of Tabuk Province, Umluj consists of 104 islands, forming an archipelago, and is one of the programs of the Red Sea Project — a megaproject that forms part of Saudi Vision 2030.

Placed at No. 41, BeachAtlas said Umluj Beach “is often compared to the Maldives for its serene, beautiful beaches lined with white sand and soothing palm trees.

Located on the Red Sea coast in the northwest region of Tabuk Province, Umluj consists of 104 islands. (BeachAtlas)

It added: “This spot offers a perfect retreat for those looking to unwind beside the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea.”

The criteria for the list included classic beauty; diversity, equity and inclusion; party and lifestyle; sense of community; natural diversity; and cultural significance.

BeachAtlas said: “Ideal for both relaxation seekers and nature enthusiasts, Umluj Beach draws visitors with its postcard-like scenery, making it a favorite among both locals and tourists.

“The vibrant marine life is easily visible in the transparent waters, adding to the allure of this picturesque destination.”

Famous for its serene landscape, white sandy beaches and pristine turquoise waters, Umluj has been described as the Saudi Arabian Maldives. (SPA)

The UAE’s JBR Beach in Dubai, which “blends city vibes with beach relaxation,” made the top 10, coming in at No. 8.

“With golden sands and clear waters, it offers water sports, camel rides and more,” said BeachAtlas.

It added: “The Walk, its lively promenade, features shops, eateries, and street entertainment. It’s a perfect spot for those who love the beach but want the thrill of city life too. A must-visit in Dubai for fun and sun.”

Sharm El-Sheikh, located at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, ranked No. 69 for being a “diver’s paradise and a sun seeker’s sanctuary.”

BeachAtlas added: “Renowned for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and a diverse underwater ecosystem, this resort town is a gateway to exploring the Red Sea’s marine wonders.”

Qatar’s Inland Sea Beach ranked 89 on the list, its location between desert dunes and ocean waves creating “a remarkable ecosystem.”

BeachAtlas said the location provides “a peek into the past, rich with fossils along its shores.”

It added: “It also holds tales of 19th-century Abu Dhabi pirates, adding a layer of historical intrigue,” while blending “natural beauty and storied history.”


Saudi ambassador hosts banquet in Ottawa

A number of ambassadors from Islamic and Arab countries accredited to Canada attended the banquet. (Supplied)
A number of ambassadors from Islamic and Arab countries accredited to Canada attended the banquet. (Supplied)
Updated 12 April 2024
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Saudi ambassador hosts banquet in Ottawa

A number of ambassadors from Islamic and Arab countries accredited to Canada attended the banquet. (Supplied)

OTTAWA: Saudi Ambassador to Canada Amal bint Yahya Almoalimi has hosted a banquet at the Saudi Embassy in Ottawa.
The banquet was attended by ambassadors from Islamic and Arab countries accredited to Canada.
Saudi Arabia and Canada are focusing on boosting their relations at all levels.
In February, Saudi Minister of Education Yousef Al-Benyan visited several educational institutions and universities in Canada and met with officials and investors, during his visit to the country.
He held talks related to investment opportunities in education, attracting investment to the Kingdom, strengthening existing scientific and research cooperation, and developing partnerships between the ministry and Canadian universities and colleges.