Balloon ‘glow show’ puts AlUla’s name up in lights — and sets new world record

The Winter at Tantora festival reaches new heights after it entered the Guinness World Record for longest hot air balloon glow show at AlUla’s spectacular desert landscape. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 04 February 2020

Balloon ‘glow show’ puts AlUla’s name up in lights — and sets new world record

  • 100 balloons soared aloft across a 3 km stretch of AlUla’s spectacular desert landscape

ALULA: Balloonists from 19 countries staged a record-breaking hot air balloon “glow show” above the AlUla desert in an extraordinary night-time display.

The Guinness World Record for longest hot air balloon glow show was confirmed by an official adjudicator after 100 balloons soared aloft across a 3 km stretch of AlUla’s spectacular desert landscape.

The record-breaking flight, a highlight of the Winter at Tantora festival, was described as “a magical occasion” by Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla and president of the Saudi Arabian Balloon Federation.

Glow shows — in which balloonists create choreographed dancing lights set to music by using their burners to illuminate their hot air balloons — are a regular attraction at AlUla’s Winter at Tantora arts, music and culture festival, but this was the most ambitious ever staged.

“This was a tremendously complex task in planning and coordination,” Al-Madani said. “It was a night to remember and demonstrates once again the extraordinary opportunities that AlUla has to offer as a destination.”

It was a night to remember and demonstrates once again the extraordinary opportunities that AlUla has to offer as a destination.

Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla and president of the Saudi Arabian Balloon Federation.

The international balloonists were participating in Winter at Tantora’s Balloon Festival, and offered festival visitors a chance to glide over AlUla’s spectacular landscape and some of its 7,000 years of archaeological remains, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hegra, a 2,000-year-old Nabataean site with well-preserved tombs carved into sandstone cliffs.

Safety was paramount for the record-breaking attempt, with organizers and support teams monitoring wind conditions and the distance between balloons. The winter festival’s regular hot air balloon glow shows usually feature only 25 balloons.

Winter at Tantora runs until March 7, and features top-class entertainment, cultural, arts and sporting events, including concerts at the mirrored Maraya concert hall and the Fursan horse endurance race on Feb. 1. For details and booking information visit www.book.experiencealula.com.

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Saudi Arabia’s Mawid smartphone app offers coronavirus self-assessment

Updated 03 April 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Mawid smartphone app offers coronavirus self-assessment

  • Mawid helps users book appointments at 2,400 health care centers in Saudi Arabia
  • The service provided by Mawid is free of charge

The Saudi Health Ministry has introduced a self-assessment feature on its Mawid smartphone app amid the global outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), offering a consultation window for the public.

The feature includes a list of questions, guidelines and instructions based on the users’ recent travel history and their symptoms.

“Importantly, if you suspect you have COVID-19 symptoms, please download the Mawid app and use the self-assessment tool to get guidance,” said Saudi Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.

Consultation services have been provided for half-a-million people by the Health Ministry and around 250,000 self-assessment tests have been made through its Mawid app.

Mawid helps users book appointments at 2,400 health care centers in the Kingdom. The application follows the “Central Appointment System” that allows them to manage their referral appointments.

Launched in 2019, the app was launched as part of the ministry’s plan to implement digital transformation through technology.

The service provided by Mawid is free of charge. Once the user has downloaded the app, they will be required to sign in with their Absher username and password.

The user will be taken to another window and will be required to fill out the required information, where they will be able to see a self-assessment banner that takes them to a survey.

When the user has finished the assessment, they will receive guidance according to their symptoms.

Pakistani expat Talha Mohammad has been using the app to book appointments for his son’s vaccinations. “It is a really good app, and easy to use,” he said, adding: “The best part is that they send you reminders repeatedly which is perfect since I have trouble remembering appointments.”

Saudi citizen Fatimah Ahmed used the app for COVID-19 self-assessment with the help of her eldest daughter. “We went through the self-assessment process, answered the given questions and were given tips to follow.”

She was told to rest assured and visit the ministry’s COVID-19 guide for more information. “It is a good tool for other features, such as booking appointments and whatnot. However, I am very paranoid about the virus and when it comes to health, I am old-fashioned and prefer physical checkups to smart apps.”

The Mawid app is available for both Android and iOS.