AlUla tourism chiefs arrive in London on world tour to show what ancient Saudi city has to offer

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla held an event in London as part of its global campaign to target new markets. (AN Photo)
Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla held an event in London as part of its global campaign to target new markets. (AN Photo)
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Updated 14 March 2024
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AlUla tourism chiefs arrive in London on world tour to show what ancient Saudi city has to offer

AlUla tourism chiefs arrive in London on world tour to show what ancient Saudi city has to offer
  • The Royal Commission for AlUla showcases its ‘Forever Revitalizing’ campaign during lavish event at the British Museum
  • The visit to the British capital is the third leg of a global tour that began in Dubai, moved on to Paris and will continue in New York, Mumbai and Shanghai

LONDON: The ancient city of AlUla in Saudi Arabia is embarking on what authorities describe as its “next evolution,” as they launch the destination’s global brand image in key international markets to show the world what it has to offer.

“We’ve been very focused on the regional audience, but we’ve never had a media campaign telling our story globally and so this is the launch of that in our six key markets,” said Phillip Jones, the chief tourism officer with the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“It will be an opportunity to introduce a completely new audience to what we have to offer in AlUla.”

The commission showcased its “Forever Revitalizing” campaign during a lavish event at the British Museum in London on Wednesday. Its visit to the British capital is the third leg of a global tour that began in Dubai, moved on to Paris and will continue in New York, Mumbai and Shanghai.

“London is an interesting place to see this particular exhibition of our history and the world’s history, actually,” the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar, told Arab News.

“London is a connector of all kinds of cultures from around the world (and) is a center of art, culture, development and finance — and that’s exactly what AlUla was.

“AlUla was the center of so much that brought people around from all over the region, and was a trade destination and a trade hub for the world, like London is today. So for us, it’s really exciting to take an old trade hub and launch it in a new trade hub.”

He said very few destinations offer as many opportunities as AlUla to discover and experience something new. It is a real honor to introduce this “exciting project” to the rest of the world, he added.

“We’ve known about it for a long time, and we’re now sharing it with everyone,” said Prince Khalid. “It’s a true international historical site and it’s nice to see it take its place among the greatest tourist destinations in the world.”

In reference to the evolution of Saudi Arabia in recent years, he described as “truly remarkable” what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had “managed to achieve by galvanizing our population behind all this development and change … and it’s apparent in all of these young Saudis who are here” representing the ambitions of the nation.

Jones said that when he visited AlUla for the first time he was “completely blown away by the sheer beauty of the place, the majesty of it, and the fact that it’s this treasure that we can preserve and protect and then share that story with the world.

“I’ve worked in the travel industry for 35 years and I thought I knew every destination that was important globally.”

He compared the tourism value of AlUla with that of Petra in Jordan; Petra was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom in the 3rd century B.C., located on its northern border, he explained, and Hegra was on its southern border. But he noted that as modern-day tourist destinations, they are very different in many ways, not least in the number of visitors they aim to attract — and that is by design.

“When you go to Petra, you may be visiting with 1,000 other people looking at the Treasury but when you come to AlUla and look at the Hegra tomb, you are there with three or five people,” Jones said.

“It’s a very different and much more of an individual experience, where you can absorb the history and the heritage of the area in a very bespoke setting.”

One focus of the commission’s work is to preserve the natural beauty and splendor of AlUla, including its clear, star-filled skies, and as such it has adopted “a dark skies policy” as part of its sustainability efforts.

“We want to make sure that when people come and want to go stargazing, which is one of our most popular activities, they have an opportunity to see and experience something of that magnitude, and so we’re very focused on preserving and protecting the uniqueness and the authenticity of AlUla,” Jones said. “It’s never going to be a mass tourism destination.”

Nevertheless, as part of the efforts to promote AlUla to the world, several projects are underway to build museums and other heritage attractions, along with hotels and restaurants to cater for visitors. These developments are due to open between 2030 and 2035, and they are being planned and implemented “very carefully in a way that preserves the authenticity of the destination,” Jones said.

“By 2030, we may have a million visitors, by 2035, maybe 2 million visitors. But never more than that because we don’t want to spoil it. We want to keep it as pristine and beautiful as it really is.”


Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

RIYADH: The Saudi-Kosovo Parliamentary Friendship Committee, led by Khalid Al-Bawardi, the committee’s chairman and Saudi Shoura Council member, met with Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kreshnik Ahmeti and other officials in Pristina.

Discussions aimed to boost bilateral relations and parliamentary cooperation between the Shoura Council and Kosovo Parliament, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Faisal Hifzi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Albania and non-resident ambassador to Kosovo, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, attended the meeting.

Additionally, the committee met with Podujeva’s Mayor Shpejtim Bulliqi and discussed cooperation in municipal affairs. The mayor praised Saudi Arabia’s environmental conservation efforts.

The Shoura Council delegation also engaged with local companies, reviewing Kosovo’s future projects and discussing opportunities for economic cooperation.


Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 17,030 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 10,662 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 4,147 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,221 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 1,119 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 71 percent were Ethiopian, 27 percent Yemeni, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 65 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 17 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen
Updated 25 May 2024
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KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief  continued its humanitarian projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen.
In Sudan, the agency distributed 950 personal hygiene kits to displaced and needy families in Kosti, benefiting 5,463 individuals. In Wad Sharifi, 330 food parcels were provided to displaced families, benefiting 1,710 individuals. 
Meanwhile in Lebanon, KSrelief continued its implementation of the Al-Amal Charitable Bakery Project in Akkar and Miniyeh. The project distributed 150,000 loaves of bread daily to Syrian and Palestinian refugee families, or about 62,500 individuals.
In Yemen, 897 food parcels were delivered in Al-Abr, benefiting 6,237 individuals, as part of the Kingdom’s humanitarian initiative.
in Somalia, KSrelief continued providing medical services in collaboration with the Kidney Dialysis Center at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu. The center catered to a total of 384 patients and assisted dialysis, medical examination and emergency sessions.


12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia

12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 May 2024
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12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia

12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia
  • A separate smuggling attempt of 70kg of qat was thwarted in Jazan Region

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 12 Yemeni nationals for attempting to smuggle 266kg of qat through the borders of Asir region, state news agency SPA reported.
The items were seized and handed over to the relevant authority, SPA said on Friday.
A separate smuggling attempt of 70kg of qat was thwarted in Jazan region. Border authorities said the suspects were arrested and the seized items were transferred to relevant authorities for further action.

Mostly chewed by users, Qat is a mild stimulant and illegal across most of the Arab world.

The government has urged citizens and residents to report any information they have regarding drug smuggling or sales to the General Directorate of Narcotics Control. Reports can be made by calling 911 for Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and 999 for other regions. Alternatively, information can be emailed to [email protected]. All reports are treated confidentially.

 


Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza

Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza

Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza

PARIS: Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah met on Friday with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stephane Sejourne in Paris.

The two ministers discussed Saudi-French relations and ways to enhance them as well as improve coordination on various issues of mutual concern.

The two officials also discussed the current situation in Gaza and its surroundings and the need to deliver humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the enclave.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to France Fahd bin Mayouf Al-Ruwaili, Foreign Minister’s Office Director General Abdulrahman Al-Dawood and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Advisor Dr. Manal Radwan.