Saudi Arabia prepares for inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum

Saudi Arabia prepares for inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum
Muslim worshippers attend prayers on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Makkah, on April 10, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia prepares for inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum

Saudi Arabia prepares for inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum
  • Forum to showcase services aimed at enriching experiences of Umrah pilgrims, visitors to Kingdom
  • Event will include dialogue sessions, discussion groups, interactive workshops and an exhibition

RIYADH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is in the final stages of preparation for the launch of the inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum, scheduled to convene in Madinah on Monday, April 22, for three days.
Under the patronage of Prince Salman bin Sultan, the governor of Madinah region, the forum will be held at the King Salman International Convention Center.
Developing Hajj and Umrah services in the Kingdom is a key priority of the Saudi government and an extension of the country’s historic role in serving Muslims and Islam worldwide.
The forum will showcase initiatives and services aimed at enriching the experience of Umrah performers and visitors from within and outside the Kingdom. It is part of achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to enable a larger number of Umrah performers to visit Makkah and Madinah and have the best experience they can.
The forum is held in partnership with the Pilgrim Experience Program, one of the programs of Vision 2030.
The event will include dialogue sessions, discussion groups, interactive workshops and an exhibition displaying the latest advancements in the sector.
It will feature participation from government officials and private sector stakeholders, including travel agencies, pilgrimage and tourism companies, and innovators spanning the insurance, health care, transportation, and technology industries.
The forum will address opportunities in the Umrah and tourism sectors, and will focus on the quality of projects, services, and products.
Participants in the general sessions and accompanying workshops of the Umrah and Ziyarah Forum will showcase their experiences, services and products. During the forum, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah will announce new opportunities and innovative work domains.
Moreover, several partnerships and agreements will be signed to enhance services in Makkah, Madinah, and various Islamic, historical, archaeological, and other cultural sites.


First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports

First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports
Updated 13 June 2024
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First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports

First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports
  • Ziyad Al-Maayouf tells the Mayman Show by Arab News he hopes he can inspire more young Saudis to take up the sport and follow in his footsteps
  • In the absence of any local boxing heroes from the Kingdom when starting out, he says he looked to Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao for inspiration

Riyadh: Saudi professional boxer Ziyad Al-Maayouf is proud that the Kingdom is establishing itself as a major force on the global sports stage.

During an interview with the Mayman Show by Arab News, the 23-year-old also spoke of his hopes that he is only the first of many professional boxers from Saudi Arabia, and told how his journey as a professional boxer began in 2010.

“It really started for me when one day I Googled ‘professional Saudi boxer.’ I found no one,” he said, adding that he then searched for just “Saudi boxer” and still found no results.

This is important, he added, because young people who aspire to careers in sports naturally look to their idols for inspiration.

“It’s even a lot better when your idols are people you can relate to, where your superheroes are people you could relate to,” he said.

But when Al-Maayouf went looking for someone with whom he could closely identify to inspire him in his boxing career he could not find anyone from his country.

“That’s where I said, OK, I think this is where I want to start competing,” he said. “I want to be the guy who, when you Google ‘professional boxer from Saudi Arabia,’ he comes up; and, you know, little did I know, the stars were aligning in the way they did.”

Al-Maayouf said he is very pleased to see sports initiatives form such an important part of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s national development and diversification plan.

“The sport they choose to invest in the most, and powerfully, powerfully, like that, is boxing,” he said. “And then behind the scenes, there is a Saudi boxer that’s been training for over a decade, preparing and waiting for a moment like that. So I always say that my career aligns exactly with Vision 2030, you know?”

In the absence of any local heroes, Al-Maayouf said he has been greatly inspired by Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, in part because of what the fighter means to the people of his native country.

“The way that he is to the Philippines, they look at him as if he’s come from the sky,” he said. “It's like he is something else for them there. It is like he’s a prophet there (for) what he was for the Philippines, how he carried that weight on his back and how much he achieved while doing so.”

Al-Maayouf said he can relate to Pacquiao’s journey as a boxer who moved alone to another country to train, leaving his family and friends behind. He also respects the legendary fighter’s achievements outside of the ring, in particular his efforts to help promote his country and community.

“How he helped his people, how he introduced the world to the Philippines, you know?” he said. “And he was always announced as ‘the fighting pride of the Philippines.’ So I always wanted to be announced as ‘the fighting pride of Saudi Arabia,’ you know? ‘The fighting pride of the Arab world.’”

Inspired by Pacquiao, Al-Maayouf trained at the Filipino fighter’s gym when he moved to the US in 2019 to pursue his studies, majoring in psychology.

“I only applied to universities in Los Angeles because that’s where Pacquiao was,” he said. “That’s where Pacquiao’s gym was. That’s where his coach was. I wanted to go where Pacquiao did, so I did exactly that.

“On Aug. 4, 2019, I arrived in LA; on Aug. 5, I was in Pacquiao’s gym, training. And ever since, I could maybe count the weeks on my hand that I took off from training since 2019. Because when I moved, I realized that the decade I had been training before went out the window because, you know, we didn’t have the IQ, the knowledge.”

The Kingdom was still learning about boxing during that time, he said, and the sport was rarely even broadcast on TV.

“So the levels were completely different,” Al-Maayouf added. “I stayed there for a lot of years, just getting a beating every single day.”


Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister

Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister
Updated 59 min 44 sec ago
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Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister

Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday received a phone call from the Iranian acting foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani.
During the call, they reviewed aspects of cooperation between the two countries and topics of common interest, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.


Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy

Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy
Updated 13 June 2024
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Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy

Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy
  • Current temperatures in Makkah sit at 43 degrees Celsius

MAKKAH: There is a chance of rain and thunderstorms over Makkah in the next few hours, according to the National Center of Meteorology.
Meanwhile, Madinah and Jeddah are also expected to be partly cloudy, reported Saudi Press Agency on Thursday.
Current temperatures in Makkah sit at 43 degrees Celsius, with south-westerly to westerly winds ranging from 12 to 34 km/h. These could increase to more than 50 km/h with thunderstorms.
Madinah is experiencing significantly warmer temperatures at 46 degrees Celsius, with westerly to south-westerly winds at 12 to 34 km/h.
Jeddah offers a reprieve from the heat with temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius and north-westerly to westerly winds at 10 to 30 km/h.


Saudi Ministry of Health approves design for Turtle Bay Hospital

Saudi Ministry of Health approves design for Turtle Bay Hospital
Updated 13 June 2024
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Saudi Ministry of Health approves design for Turtle Bay Hospital

Saudi Ministry of Health approves design for Turtle Bay Hospital
  • Hospital, located in The Red Sea’s Turtle Bay area, will provide world-class health care to people living in, working at, and visiting the 1.5 million sq m waterfront site
  • Turtle Bay will eventually be home to some 14,000 employees and their families, all of whom will benefit from easy access to quality health care and medical services

RIYADH: Red Sea Global, the developer behind regenerative tourism destinations The Red Sea and AMAALA, has announced substantial progress on its Turtle Bay Hospital project. 

The hospital, located in The Red Sea’s Turtle Bay area, will provide world-class health care to people living in, working at, and visiting the 1.5 million sq m waterfront site.

The Red Sea destination is set to welcome about 300,000 guests annually once the first phase of resorts is completed next year. 

Turtle Bay will eventually be home to some 14,000 employees and their families, all of whom will benefit from easy access to quality health care and medical services.

Today the developer announced it had received approval from the Ministry of Health for the design of the Turtle Bay Hospital.

It is the first project funded by the Public Investment Fund to receive Ministry of Health architectural approval and marks a substantial milestone for the project, a statement by RSG said.

“Securing this approval is a momentous occasion for our team who are working tirelessly to ensure that first-class health care is available at The Red Sea,” said Nicholas King, group chief development officer at RSG. “Our vision for Turtle Bay Hospital to be a state-of-the-art facility is part of our broader ambitions to deliver a robust health care ecosystem for our growing project portfolio.

“The health and wellbeing of our guests and employees are our priority, and as we continue to champion Saudi capability, we are pleased to be working with a number of Saudi partners for the build, operations and supply of medical equipment. We eagerly anticipate the completion of Turtle Bay Hospital, which is set to open at the end of next year.”

The Red Sea will be a premier dive destination, and a hyperbaric chamber will be an integrated part of the facility’s emergency department, enabling world-class primary treatment for diving incidents and barotrauma related injuries.

The Red Sea International Airport Clinic architecture plans have also received Ministry of Health approval. Construction of the urgent care clinic is on track to be fully operational by December this year.

Meanwhile at AMAALA, construction began in March this year on a hospital located within the staff village, and is expected to be completed in late 2025.

After full completion in 2030, The Red Sea will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, F&B, and leisure facilities.


‘Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative’ invites local participants to join fifth edition

Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)
Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2024
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‘Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative’ invites local participants to join fifth edition

Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)
  • “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative” will be held from Nov. 1-23 in the Eastern Province

DHAHRAN: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Ithra, has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative,” which is centered on leveraging the rich heritage of culture and arts in the Eastern Province.

“Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative” will be held from Nov. 1-23 in several spaces within the Eastern Province, including activations at Ithra headquarters.

As in the last four iterations, local creatives in the Eastern Province will be invited to offer curated programming. This year, as in the past, they are soliciting entries from the corporate sector, education sector, culinary sectors, social sector, sports sector, arts sector, trade sector, and logistics sector.
The previous editions of the initiative surpassed 700 entities and establishments, with over 2,300 creative contributions, 55 strategic partners and five main partners.
According to the statement, the initiative seeks to strengthen the concept of social responsibility among entities and individuals to achieve integration and uplift the community and all its institutions. The initiative aims to create a qualitative shift in the creative culture and to create a welcoming environment that discovers and develops talents, helping to make the Eastern Province a destination for creativity and creative tourism in the Kingdom.
This open call seeks entries from local creatives and asks them to share their talent in a leadership role. Among the requests is to pitch an in-person workshop idea, propose a talk or any other relevant programming idea. Those who earn a spot within this initiative will become leaders during the 23-day initiative, in which the general public will be invited to attend.
Interested local leaders in the creative space are invited to apply via the online portal. Registration will remain open for the next month through the initiative’s page on the Ithra website.