AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says

Special AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says
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Dr. Stephen Browne, Vice President of Wildlife & Natural Heritage at the RCU, shares Al Ula’s vision for protected area development at HIMA forum in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Alnajim)
Special AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says
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A session on Protected Areas and Economic Development at HIMA forum in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Alnajim)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says

AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says
  • Dr. Stephen Browne: We have set for ourselves three overarching targets for 2035: 2 million visitors annually, 40,500 new jobs to be created and SR150bn cumulative contribution to GDP
  • Dr. Stephen Browne: Our mission is to enable AlUla develop for its communities and visitors through regenerating and protecting its cultural landscape, and providing quality of life

RIYADH: The Royal Commission for AlUla aims to host 2 million visitors annually and create 40,500 jobs by 2035, a top RCU official has said.

Speaking on the second day of the inaugural Hima protected areas forum in Riyadh in a session titled “Protected Areas and Economic Development,” keynote speaker Dr. Stephen Browne, vice president of wildlife and natural heritage at the RCU, shared AlUla’s vision for protected area development and its economic impact.

He said: “Our efforts are rooted in an inspirational vision and a clear mission. We have set for ourselves three overarching targets for 2035: 2 million visitors annually, 40,500 new jobs to be created and SR150 billion ($40 billion) cumulative contribution to gross domestic product.

“Our mission is to enable AlUla develop for its communities and visitors through regenerating and protecting its cultural landscape, and providing quality of life,” he added.

“We are fostering a vibrant and prosperous community to support the development of a sustainable future for AlUla through capacity building: Providing world-class education and training, creating job opportunities for AlUla residents in tourism and other economic sectors, promoting local business entrepreneurs by establishing startup incubators, and improving quality of life by providing high-quality healthcare services and creating exciting community engagement opportunities,” Browne said.

“Nature and wildlife are core pillars of AlUla’s strategy — equally as important as economic and social development, tourism, heritage, art and culture. AlUla aspires to be a global destination — nature reserves and wildlife are a big part of that,” he added.

“Our strategy is built upon seven strategic pillars: Tourism, heritage, art and culture, nature and wildlife, economic and social development, spatial development, enabling services and institutional excellence.”

Dr. Talal Al-Harigi, CEO of the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve, said during the session: “Many conservation and protected areas often operate as cost centers. The challenge lies in transitioning from this model to one that generates profit or finding a harmonious balance between the two. Leveraging ecotourism and exploring additional economic activities presents viable pathways toward achieving this goal.”

Nada Al-Tamimi, assistant deputy of national affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Tourism, discussed the positive impacts of sustainable tourism on protected areas and local communities.

“Sustainable ecotourism meticulously curated and thoughtfully managed not only meets the desires of travelers, but also serves as a vital engine for revenue generation, job creation and economic prosperity,” she said.

Dr. Stuart Williams, chief adviser to the Protected Areas Directorate of the National Center for Wildlife, said: “We must adopt a long-term perspective: When our population’s well-being is ensured and their happiness secured, we will have more than demonstrated to economists that every riyal invested will yield significant returns.”


Saudi Royal Court: King Salman conducts medical examinations

Saudi Royal Court: King Salman conducts medical examinations
Updated 12 sec ago
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Saudi Royal Court: King Salman conducts medical examinations

Saudi Royal Court: King Salman conducts medical examinations

Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan

Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan
Updated 29 min 43 sec ago
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Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan

Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received the US official in Dhahran
  • SPA said their discussions included Saudi-US strategic relations, the Gaza War and Palestinian statehood

DHAHRAN:  Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in eastern city of Dhahran, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

During the meeting, the strategic relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them in various fields were reviewed, SPA said.

It said efforts to find a credible solution to the Palestinian issue, including a lasting ceasefire and unhindered entry of humanitarian aid in Gaza, with a view to a “two-state solution that meets the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people”, were also discussed.


Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens

Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens
Updated 18 May 2024
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Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens

Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens

RIYADH: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis received the secretary-general of the Muslim World League on Tuesday in Athens, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
During the meeting, Mitsotakis and Mohammed Al-Issa discussed a number of topics of common interest.
Al-Issa, who is also chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars spoke about Islamic values that call for global peace and understanding between its peoples, and said he appreciated the warm reception he received during his visit and the good sentiments expressed toward the Islamic civilizational contribution.
Al-Issa then met with Islamic officials in Greece, including muftis and imams, and visited the Athens Mosque, during which he expressed his pleasure with the additional dialogue that took place during the meeting.
He also met with Ieronymos II, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, during which the two sides stressed the importance of the role of religious leaders in addressing all forms of religious, ethnic, and civilizational clashes around the world.


Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum

Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum
Updated 18 May 2024
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Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum

Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, is heading the Kingdom’s delegation participating in the 10th World Water Forum in Bali and will attend the high-level session, on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The forum, inaugurated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, kicked off Saturday and runs until May 25, with heads of state and government, ministers and officials from 180 countries, and 250 international organizations attending.
The Kingdom is participating with a high-level delegation representing the water sector, and will participate in an exhibition that highlights its efforts in developing the water industry through its regional and international contributions.
It will also organize a dialogue session on the sidelines of the forum in preparation for the Kingdom’s hosting of the 11th session of the World Water Forum in 2027 in Riyadh, under the slogan “Action for a Better Tomorrow.”
The Kingdom’s hosting of the event also comes as “confirmation of Saudi Arabia’s role in addressing water challenges around the world and its commitment to issues of environmental sustainability, based on what it has provided over decades of pioneering global experience in producing, transporting and distributing water and innovating technical solutions to its challenges,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Kingdom has helped push water issues to the top of the international agenda, a move it adopted during its hosting of the G20 in 2020, and to put strategic plans to ensure water security, strengthen partnerships with global and scientific institutions, and build capacities at all levels, SPA added.
This year’s forum is being held under the slogan “Water for Shared Prosperity,” and will discuss several sub-themes, including water security and prosperity; disaster risk reduction and management; and hydro-diplomacy.


Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years

Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years
Updated 18 May 2024
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Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years

Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years
  • Relatives in Saudi Arabia say they ‘never lost hope’ they would one day find Eid Alsumani
  • Eid and his older brother grew up in Alabama estranged from their father and other family members

JEDDAH: A four-decade long search has finally led to the heartwarming reunion of an US citizen with his Saudi family, putting an end to a painful era full of longing and searches that had long promised to end in disappointment.

Two-year-old Eid Alsumani, now 42, and his older brother’s American mother cut ties with the family for reasons that have not been revealed to the public.

She had met Saud Alsumani when he was a student in the US, after which they married and had two sons.

Eid Alsumani and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time. (Supplied)

Following her return to Alabama with the boys, Eid’s mother cut all communication between them and their father, who returned to Saudi Arabia.

“Throughout that period of time, which lasted 40 years, members of the family were searching for their sons through the American Embassy ... (they) tried to search for the family several times, but no leads helped,” said Bander Alsumani, Eid’s cousin.

HIGHLIGHTS

• A video of Eid Alsumani’s reunion with his family at King Abdulaziz International Airport after 40 years of separation went viral on social media.

• For decades, the family had tried everything including seeking the help of the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

An English teacher at Abdullah Al-Thagafi High School in Jeddah, Bander told Arab News that his family did not lose hope in finding the lost brothers. “We just hoped they were alive.”

After decades of searches that yielded no results, their father died, never having reconnected with his sons. Their uncle, Khalid Alsumani, went to the US, determined to find his estranged nephews.

Eid Alsumani and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time. (Supplied)

According to Bander, while the uncle sought the help of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, the perseverence of another member of the family paid off as they found Eid on Instagram.

“It was the happiest day for the family ... we all were in joy and happiness when we heard Eid is alive and coming back home with his uncle,” said Bander. The joy also came with the sad news that Eid’s older brother had already died.

Eid and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time.

I believe I will visit again in maybe six months. Inshallah, I will continue to learn more about my religion, Arabic, and my family.

Eid Alsumani, Found after 40 years

“It was the most wonderful feeling in the world … just couldn’t believe that the family had been reunited with (their) son after so many years,” said Bander.

A heartwarming video of Eid’s reunion with his family at King Abdulaziz International Airport after 40 years of separation went viral on social media.

When Eid appeared from passport control with his uncle, his cousins and relatives hugged him one after another tightly, shedding tears of joy.

The family hosted a gathering with various members of the family who came from all corners to meet the long lost son and celebrate the joyous occasion.

During the emotional reunion, Eid, dressed in traditional Saudi attire, expressed his immense happiness and relief at being reunited with his extended family.

A US citizen, Eid was raised in Alabama and currently resides in Florida having graduated with bachelor’s of science degree in history and nuclear engineering technology.

Speaking to Arab News after performing Umrah in Makkah, Eid described the scene at the airport as “unbelievable.”

He said: “It was surreal. It was the first time I had been in my fatherland.

“I was extremely excited about the blessings of seeing four family members who greeted me with the legendary hospitality of Saudi fame. It felt like a scene from a movie.”

Eid, who was raised by his mother with Christian values, has reconnected with Islam with the help of his Saudi relatives.

He described praying in the Grand Mosque in Makkah as an unforgettable moment in his life. “When I was in Makkah, I was amazed to see so many people from all over the world who were walking and praying together as one for the sake of Allah,” he said.

Speaking about his future in the Kingdom, he added: “Alhamdulillah, my stay has been extended for a few days … I believe I will visit again in maybe six months. Inshallah, I will continue to learn more about my religion, Arabic, and my family.”