Where to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day for an authentic experience

Where to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day for an authentic experience
Al-Balad also known as Historic Jeddah is one of the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is an ideal spot for families and tourists looking to shop at the Al-Balad Bazaar, held in a special location in the heart of Historic Jeddah. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 February 2024
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Where to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day for an authentic experience

Where to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day for an authentic experience
  • From the historic avenues of Diriyah to the fare of Riyadh’s Najd Villages, visitors can celebrate local heritage
  • Discover Saudi Arabia’s hidden gems, showcasing the history and traditions of the Kingdom’s cities and regions

RIYADH: Every year on Feb. 22, Saudi Arabia celebrates the historical and cultural roots of the Kingdom through Founding Day, commemorating the establishment of the First Saudi State. What better way to celebrate Founding Day than by exploring the hidden gems that showcase the history and traditions of each city.

Bujairi Terrace and At-Turaif in Diriyah

Known as “The Jewel of the Kingdom,” Diriyah, the capital of the First Saudi State, dates back to the mid-ninth century.

Situated in Diriyah, Bujairi Terrace provides exceptional views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif.

Inspired by Najdi architecture to evoke images of the past, Bujairi Terrace in Diriyah is the ideal spot for celebrations, offering visitors a curated Michelin-star gastronomic experience and a variety of interactive activities and events.

Surrounded by mud-brick Najdi architecture, guests are treated to over 20 fine-dining restaurants featuring Saudi and international cuisine.




The prominent citadel of Salwa Palace, made from handmade mud bricks three centuries in the historic At-Turaif district, the first capital of the Saudi dynasty, was illuminated on Dec. 4 with a spectacular light display in celebration of its opening to the public. (Supplied)

Layali Diriyah

Returning for its second year and running until March 10, Layali Diriyah is an open-air heritage farm bridging local and contemporary dining experiences, making it an ideal location for celebrating Founding Day.

Surrounded by palm trees and twinkling lights, Layali Diriyah takes a modern twist on a traditional Najdi farm, transforming it into an entertainment hub featuring live musical performances and poetry shows.

Guests can also enjoy the beauty of the palm trees surrounding the farm while dining and experiencing a range of contemporary art by local and global artists.




Azeema, one of the restaurants at Layali Diriyah, offers traditional Saudi cuisine. (Supplied)

Najd Village, Riyadh

For those craving the authentic Saudi flavor in honor of Founding Day, Najd Village specializes in regional cuisine, with each dish highlighting the heritage of a specific region.

There are two Najd Villages operating in Riyadh: one is situated on Takhassoussi Road, and the other is on Abu Bakr Road. The restaurant serves a family-style menu of traditional dishes like jareesh or kasbah, accompanied by fish, chicken, lamb, and camel meat.

For those with a sweet tooth, the restaurant offers a range of traditional desserts and snacks, including hininy, mrahif, and kleija.




Najd Village specializes in regional cuisine, with each dish highlighting the heritage of a specific region. (Supplied)

 

Ithra, Dhahran

A celebration of history through musical performances, educational exhibitions, and hands-on labs, Ithra, known as the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, offers a range of festivities to celebrate Founding Day.

The Ithra Museum is home to five galleries, featuring artworks and installations by local and international artists covering Middle Eastern Art, Saudi culture, Islamic art, the natural history of the Arabian Peninsula, and the Archive gallery.

Ithra also offers interactive classes and workshops in the Children’s Museum.

The state-of-the-art building includes a library, theater, cinema, ideas lab, and a variety of restaurants for dining.




The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Also known as Ithra) is a symbol of change and diversity in modern Saudi Arabia.  (Supplied) 

Al-Balad, Jeddah

Al-Balad, also known as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jeddah, is an ideal spot for families and tourists looking to explore the customs of the historical city.

Located in the heart of Historic Jeddah, Al-Balad Bazaar celebrates the traditions and culture of Jeddah by showcasing homemade products, traditional clothing, and handicrafts in over 30 commercial outlets.

The Bazaar is part of significant efforts made by the Historic Jeddah Program to revive Saudi cultural heritage and promote the city’s status as a premier tourist destination.

The year-long Al-Balad Bazaar supports the community by providing them with retail pop-up outlets to showcase their products to visitors.

Another not-to-be-missed event taking place in Jeddah is the “Balad Al-Fann” initiative, launched by the Historic Jeddah Program.

Running until March 9, the initiative includes four art exhibitions, music programs, theatrical performances, and many interactive events for children.




Al-Balad also known as Historic Jeddah is one of the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is an ideal spot for families and tourists looking to shop at the Al-Balad Bazaar, held in a special location in the heart of Historic Jeddah. (Supplied)

Tayebat Museum, Jeddah

Al-Tayebat International City of Science and Knowledge, located in Jeddah’s Al-Faisaliyah district, offers visitors a curated representation of Jeddah’s 2,500-year-old history through detailed walking tours showcasing the city’s architecture, Islamic heritage, and culture.

Highlighting an extraordinary range of exhibits, including museums and houses, Al-Tayebat is billed as a must-see location in Jeddah.

Bringing pre-Islamic and Islamic history to life across 300 rooms in 12 buildings, the museum includes the House of Saudi Arabian Heritage, the House of Islamic Heritage, the House of International Heritage, and the public heritage exhibition.


Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
Updated 20 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
  • This year’s event celebrates decision by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to designate 2024 as International Year of Camelids
  • Saudi representatives will highlight role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol associated with Saudi society since ancient times

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is taking part in a special Camel Parade in France on Saturday, in celebration of the UN’s designation of 2024 as International Year of Camelids.

The event in Paris has been organized by the French Federation for the Development of Camelids in France and Europe, under the umbrella of the International Camel Organization, and is sponsored by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the Kingdom’s Camel Club.

This is the third year in which the event has taken place.  The event was first held in January 2019 and repeated in 2022.  

The participants in the parade of camels, llamas, alpacas and other members of the camelid family of creatures are expected to include more than 50 representatives of camel-related organizations from more than 30 countries, along with camel breeders, government officials, others with an interest in the animals, and entertainers from various branches of the performing arts.

The camelids family. (Shutterstock image)

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the countries that will be represented include the US, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Canada, India, Morocco, Tanzania, Peru, Algeria, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, Tunisia, Austria, Spain, Burundi, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, France, Sudan, Chad, Angola, the UK and Uganda.

Saudi representatives will highlight the role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol that has been associated with Saudi society since ancient times and “still enjoys great prestige,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

On Friday, the eve of the parade, public discussions took place at the Chateau de Janvry’s historical center about cultural heritage associated with camels around the world and the specific contributions by participating countries to the annual event in Paris.

The parade will be followed by a reception for invited guests, including representatives of the participating countries, international organizations, academia, research centers and the private sector, the SPA reported.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization named 2024 as International Year of Camelids to honor and promote the sector and highlight the important role it plays in efforts to achieve food security and economic growth in many countries.

 

 


Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad
Updated 20 April 2024
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Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister of defense, Talal Al-Otaibi, on Friday held talks with top officials from the Pakistan Army during an official visit to Islamabad.

He reviewed relations between the two countries during meetings with the commander of the army, Gen. Syed Asim Munir, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, and the chief of the general staff, Gen. Muhammad Avais Dastgir.

The Saudi-Pakistani Committee also met during Al-Otaibi’s visit. Its members discussed cooperation between the nations in the field of defense, including research and development, and the transfer and localization of technology, in line with the goals of Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification plan.


How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
Updated 20 April 2024
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How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
  • Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund wants to produce half a million electric vehicles by 2030
  • The Kingdom has installed charging outlets in public areas in Diriyah to encourage EV ownership

RIYADH: Around the world, electric vehicles are already revolutionizing leisure, public transportation and logistics, shrinking the carbon footprint of travel, improving air quality and reducing pollution in the air, on land and in the sea.

As Saudi Arabia embarks on a range of environmental initiatives designed to address the challenges posed by climate change and foster sustainable economic development, EVs have become an important focus area.

The shift from traditional combustion engine vehicles to new electric models has accelerated worldwide as companies and consumers opt for greener modes of transport. Saudi Arabia is no exception.

Saudia, the Kingdom's national flag carrier, has signed an arrangement to acquire 100 electric-powered jets from Lilium, developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) jet. (Supplied)

The transition from regular cars to electric vehicles in the Kingdom is flourishing. The EV trend has gone beyond personal vehicle ownership, with the proliferation of everything from e-scooters to electric buses.

There are even discussions around whether EV technology will soon be applied to aircraft and perhaps space travel.

Stephen Crolius, former climate adviser at the Clinton Foundation and current president of Carbon-Neutral Consulting, supports the idea of EV ownership due to its environmental benefits.

Although it might still be a challenge to educate the public in some societies about the benefits of transitioning to EVs, Crolius says the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

“For mass transition to occur on any front, there has to be a set of circumstances that cause it to happen,” he told Arab News.

“Through government encouragement, we can continue to build volume (and) cause industries to mature, like, for example, the battery industry, which has done a lot of maturing over the last 15 years … the cost of batteries and the prices of batteries have come down to an extraordinary degree.

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“We are developing renewable generation for electricity. Are we developing fast enough to head off the climate crisis? I don’t know. But compared to new generations of technology getting rolled out, we are deploying a lot of renewable electricity generation, in historical terms, really fast.”

Companies such as CEER and Lucid, which are heavily funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, are at the forefront of driving growth in Saudi Arabia’s electric vehicle industry.

US electric car manufacturer Lucid signed a contract with the PIF two years ago to build a factory in the King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea. Today, PIF shares a little over half of the ownership of the group in the Kingdom, and aims to produce almost half a million EVs by 2030.

Since last year, the use of electric vehicles in the Kingdom has expanded to include electric buses as a sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Electric buses have zero emissions and therefore significantly reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases in urban areas, especially during the Hajj season, when pilgrims flock to the Kingdom and make use of its mass transit network.

An electric bus service connecting the airport to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah was launched by the region’s governor Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz during the last Hajj season.

DID YOUKNOW

• The Kingdom has invested at least $10 billion in US electric car manufacturer Lucid Motors.

• With 61% of shares, Saudi Arabia is the majority owner of Lucid Group through its Public Investment Fund.

• PIF aims to produce 500,000 EVs annually by 2030.

• In Riyadh, the EV share is targeted to increase by 30% in 2030.

The route connecting the two locations enabled high operational efficiency, with a bus able to travel 250 km on just a single charge.

Electric buses offer a variety of benefits, including reduced noise, improved energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs. In addition, they have a smaller carbon footprint, which is a crucial step toward sustainability.

Saudis committed to protecting the environment have also included EVs in their daily commute, with e-scooters now found in Riyadh and other cities. E-scooters provide an eco-friendly solution to local transport by cutting toxic emissions and lowering noise pollution.

Offering e-scooter services in various locations in Riyadh is a clear sign of the Kingdom’s eagerness to not only set regulations and promote electric vehicles, but also lead society in adopting a positive attitude toward sustainable living.

Gazal's e-scooter services have become a popular option for those traveling specially in crowded places in Riyadh. (Photo courtesy of Gazal)

Furthermore, with advancements in battery technology and the development of charging infrastructure, electric vehicles are becoming a viable option for companies aiming to decarbonize their operations.

For example, in public areas in Diriyah such as Albujairi and At-Turaif, standard wall outlets are available for EV owners to charge their vehicles while enjoying a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

As the aviation industry is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, the concept of electric aircraft may offer a promising solution to global decarbonization.

Three years ago, British automobile maker Rolls-Royce broke records when its “Spirit of Innovation” aircraft reached 628 km per hour, making it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

At the time, Warren East, the company’s then-CEO, said that electric aircraft could make “jet zero” a reality and help decarbonize all forms of transport.

Compared to existing commercial aircraft, which rely on petroleum and synthetic fuel blends, electric planes produce less noise, have lower operating costs and emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases.

However, there are still several obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric aircraft — in particular the sheer expense of adapting the existing infrastructure needed to support their use.

Though governments and private companies worldwide could collaborate and build a comprehensive network of charging stations to meet growing demand, this may burden the economies of some countries.

Nevertheless, the growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future.

The growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future. (Shutterstock photo)

Utilizing alternative sources of energy in these areas can change the carbon emissions game for the better, fight air pollution, and pave the way for sustainable transport systems in the Kingdom and around the world.

To realize the full potential of electric vehicles, however, governments and businesses will first have to address challenges such as the provision of sufficient charging infrastructure as well as range limitations in battery technology.

Through continued innovation and investment, electric vehicles will play a key role in creating a greener and more sustainable future.
 

 


Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
Updated 19 April 2024
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Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
  • Jawad Al-Omair has established himself as a painter, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him

RIYADH: While his classmates took part in sports activities, Saudi teenage artist Jawad Al-Omair daydreamed about the next time he would pick up a paintbrush or pencil to draw again.

At only 16 years of age, Al-Omair has established himself as an artist, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

He told Arab News that his breakthrough moment came when he discovered his artistic abilities in the third grade.

“All the kids used to go to play. I always found myself opening my notebook and just drawing. I remember one day, I drew something at school, and when I got home, I showed it to everyone. I told myself, ‘I should do this more often.’”

HIGHLIGHT

Jawad Al-Omair views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks.

He uses acrylic paint to portray his vivid ideas on canvas.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

“With every painting I do, I usually have a vision of what the color palette is going to be and the composition, and most importantly what message and feeling I am trying to deliver through the painting.”

The young artist views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks. “If I wanted to paint something that conveys the feeling of being lost, I would usually use cool toned colors like greys and blues.”

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

Al-Omair said that he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks.

“Dana Almasoud is one of my best friends who has helped me so much. Three years ago, I used to be a completely different artist. I used to be unable to draw small portraits, but she taught me how to. I can’t picture how my life would be if I had not met them,” he said.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

In a recent artwork, Al-Omair painted a large-scale self-portrait inspired by the style of John Singer Sargent, an American artist renowned for his portrait paintings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He described Sargent as one of his favorite artists. “If you see his self-portrait, It is similar to mine. I was looking at his artwork while I was painting so I could capture that same vibe.”

It took Al-Omair about 12 hours to complete the self-portrait, which emphasizes his prominent features.

“I get commented on my nose a lot, so I painted it in the center. I wanted to immortalize my 16-year-old self, because who knows what I will look like five years from now?”

The young artist aims to turn all sorts of experiences — even those of friends or family members — into art.

“How would life be if we did not have music or anything beautiful to look at? When you think of an artist, people usually imagine someone with a brush, but it is much bigger than that.

“Art is translating feelings with a certain skill. Movies taught humanity so much because you get to learn about people. Writing, songs and music are emotional things that we share. Art is one of the most important parts of life. Everyone has an artistic side to them that they may have not found yet,” he said.

 


Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Updated 19 April 2024
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Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Funding will help rebuild and repair facilities damaged by natural disasters in the Caribbean island nation

RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development signed a $50 million loan agreement with St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday to assist communities affected by natural disasters, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The deal was signed by SFD CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad and Camillo Gonsalves, finance minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, during the 2024 spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

According to the World Bank, the southern Caribbean nation faces a host of natural threats, including floods, hurricanes, droughts, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

The agreement will fund a project to rebuild and repair buildings and facilities damaged by natural disasters in the island nation.

This initiative includes the restoration and construction of essential infrastructure, such as housing, healthcare, educational, and sports facilities, aimed at boosting their durability and resilience against future disasters and climate change impacts.

The project will also include establishing four healthcare centers, building primary and secondary schools, renovating government buildings, and restoring homes damaged by volcanic activity.

The loan is in line with the SFD’s commitment to supporting vulnerable communities around the globe.

Since its inception in 1975, the Saudi fund has financed over 800 development projects and programs worldwide, with total funding exceeding $20 billion.