Young Saudi photographers turn to social media to showcase kingdom's beauty

Photographers now use drones to reach places that once were too dangerous or remote, and the resulting images shed new light on the power of photography and the beauty of landscapes. (Photos: Instgram/ @mysloppyadventures)
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Updated 01 March 2021

Young Saudi photographers turn to social media to showcase kingdom's beauty

  • Online platforms have become a melting pot of images taken by photographers who travel the country

JEDDAH: A new generation of Saudi photographers is relying on the power of social media to showcase the Kingdom’s vast beauty.

Online platforms have become a melting pot of images taken by photographers who travel the country — from the sandy beaches of the east and west, to the mountains of the north and south, and the green oases of the deserts — discovering the beauty of each region one picture at a time.

Fahad Al-Mutairi, 22, started @thesaudigate on Twitter to promote Saudi Arabia’s “hidden wonders” to a growing tourist market.

“I wanted to be part of the future somehow — that’s why I started Saudi Gate and this is what has motivated me to go on,” he told Arab News.

Many other photographers who travel the country share the same outlook.

Faisal Fahad Binzarah, 41, said: “I had to work on a few projects and went to places I had never been before. I remember thinking, where has this been all my life? I never thought I would find such gems in Saudi Arabia.”

Binzarah said that he looks for dramatic landscapes and tries to “capture the overall feeling of the place.”

He said: “The pictures I take are not unique, the uniqueness comes from the places. I am just the conveyer of the beauty and nothing else.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Fahad Al-Mutairi, 22, started @thesaudigate on Twitter to promote Saudi Arabia’s ‘hidden wonders’ to a growing tourist market.

• Al-Mutairi said that about a third of @thesaudigate’s followers are international, and they are usually surprised by what they see.

“As a photographer, I try to capture the right objects at the right time, but often I feel like the beauty is not represented,” he said.

Al-Mutairi said that about a third of @thesaudigate’s followers are international, and they are usually surprised by what they see.

“Often they are amazed but also very happy because after going through the pictures they know that there is a part of the world that they must explore.”

Hadi Farah, 28, a Lebanese photographer who now lives in the Kingdom, said that he had traveled widely in Saudi Arabia and “always felt a sense of welcome and ease.”

“I think tourism is directly influenced by photographers. Whenever I upload something, I receive questions with people asking if this is really in Saudi Arabia or have I accidentally put the wrong name.

“Unfortunately, people think that it is just a desert and nothing else. So by posting pictures of these places we are educating them about possibilities and attractions they thought never existed,” he said.

Binzarah agreed, saying: “Undiscovered places are of interest for professional photographers, because they are always looking for challenges, and I think this ignites their interests to go to these places and explore.”

he added that “while the desert might be nothing new to a Saudi resident, it will be of interest to people who live in greener countries.”

Saudi Arabia, as a land of ancient civilizations, is extremely appealing for archaeologists and tourists interested in history, Binzara said.

Farah described the beauty of nature in different places, saying: “We associate beauty with life, and in our minds where there is green there is life, but we forget that there is also life in rocks and sand, and they are rich in history. So, we need to keep in mind that the beauty of AlUla is different from other areas.”

Technology is also having a major influence. Photographers now use drones to reach places that once were too dangerous or remote, and the resulting images shed new light on the power of photography and the beauty of landscapes.

“Being on social media gives us the drive to do better,” Binzarah said. “If there is no community or people to engage with, it gets dull.”

He added: “It is a personal journey and one for everyone to discover Saudi Arabia one picture at a time.”


Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

  • International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular

RIYADH: While most families look forward to gatherings around the iftar table during the holy month of Ramadan, many expatriates in the Kingdom face an agonizing wait on relatives stranded in their homelands by flight suspensions.
Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.
However, many expats are anxiously watching airline schedules as countries ease travel curbs, opening the way for family reunions.
International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular.
Anwar Pasha Ansari, an Indian expatriate working in Jeddah, told Arab News that his daughter Heba Anwar is stranded in India.
“No father and mother should go through this agony,” he said.
Ansari said that his daughter left Jeddah to appear for her bachelor’s final exam in New Delhi, hoping to rejoin her family to celebrate Eid last year.
“But perhaps destiny was preparing another fate,” he said.
Ansari said that travel bans “brought the curtain down for all parents like us whose children were held up in India.”
He added: “To add insult to injury, all students were asked to vacate their hostel and make their own living arrangements, which was a nightmare for parents working overseas.”

HIGHLIGHT

Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.

With no end to travel restrictions in sight, Ansari’s daughter planned to travel to Saudi Arabia via the UAE after spending 14 days in Dubai.
Ansari said that when his daughter arrived in Dubai in January, they were elated at the prospect of reuniting with her.
But with only three days left of her quarantine, a temporary traveling restriction from Dubai to Saudi Arabia came into force and all hope was gone.
“Heba spent a substantial time hoping against hope that flights would be resumed and checking any news pertaining to flight resumption to Saudi Arabia,” said Anwar.
“She was only a couple of hours away from us.”
Finally, after all options were exhausted, Heba was forced to return to India, bravely telling her parents: “Papa and mummy, stay well, this phase will pass, too.”
Ansari’s story will be familiar to thousands separated from their children as the coronavirus pandemic challenges everyone’s patience, endurance and capacity to endure the hardships of separation.
Technology and video apps help, but are not enough to bridge the gap as families face even more time apart.
Raafat Aoun, a Lebanese expat working in the Kingdom, told Arab News: “The closure of flights has affected many expat families. My brother-in-law had to travel to Beirut to attend to an emergency. Now he finds himself in a very difficult situation as he is stuck there, and his wife and four young children are all alone in Jeddah.”
Aoun said that his brother-in-law had been stranded for more than three months.
“I am supporting them and extending them all the help I can. But this festive season is becoming very difficult for me, too. I hope and pray flights resume soon so that my brother-in-law can return to his family.”
Pakistani expatriate Syed Faiz Ahmad said that two of his relatives were stranded after traveling to Pakistan.
“One went to help his ailing father, leaving his family behind in Riyadh. But he got stuck. His wife and two children are all alone here and are desperately waiting for him to return, especially during this month of Ramadan.”


Saudi Housing Ministry signs agreements making it easier for families to own first house

Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi Housing Ministry signs agreements making it easier for families to own first house

RIYADH: The Housing Ministry’s Sakani program signed four agreements with a number of agencies during the Sakani Forum for the first quarter of 2021, held in Riyadh.

The agreements aim to make it easier for Saudi families to own their first house, thus achieving the goals of Vision 2030 by increasing the percentage of home ownership to 70 percent by 2030.

Sakani also honored a number of partners, including financiers, developers and contractors, for their efforts during the last period and their contributions to achieving the program’s goals.

The event was attended by the Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail.

The agreements, which will be implemented in partnership with the private sector, included providing model engineering designs for the beneficiaries of the self-construction option through the Sakani platform, in partnership with the National Housing Company.

The first agreement was with the Technical Axis Foundation for Architectural Contracting, while the second was with Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Tuwaijri Architectural Consulting Office, the third with the Asayel Engineering Consulting Office, and the fourth with Ebdaa Group Engineering Consultants.

During the forum, the National Housing Co. and the Saudi Contractors Authority signed an agreement to prepare and license contractors to carry out building and construction works for the beneficiaries of Sakani’s self-construction option.

 

 


Who’s Who: Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdul Aziz, chairman, Olympic Council of Asia’s education committee

Updated 18 April 2021

Who’s Who: Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdul Aziz, chairman, Olympic Council of Asia’s education committee

Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdul Aziz was recently elected as a member of the executive office and chairman of the education committee of the Olympic Council of Asia.

He is also the vice president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, president of the Saudi Triathlon Federation and chairman of the Saudi Camel Federation,

He has been the president of the West Asian Triathlon Federation since December 2020, when the federation’s general assembly recommended that Prince Fahd head the organization. 

Prince Fahd graduated from Riyadh Schools in 2003 and studied at King Saud University for his bachelor’s degree in law. 

He obtained an MBA in international relations from the University of Wales in 2012, and three years later received an executive master’s degree in sports organization management from Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.

Between 2007 and 2014 he was a legal and international relations adviser at the Ministry of Sport, previously known as the General Presidency of Youth Welfare.

Prince Fahd was the president’s adviser of international relations at the Saudi Sports Authority between 2015 and 2017.

In November 2016 Prince Fahd became the president’s adviser of Olympic committees and federations at the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees, and a member of International Relations Commission at the union. 

He is also a member of the international relations committee at the Association of National Olympic Committees.


Saudi Arabia’s historic Hail mosque reopens to worshippers

The building’s unique style originates in its construction from mud and stone. (SPA)
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s historic Hail mosque reopens to worshippers

  • The mosque used to host Friday prayers when worshippers traveled from neighboring villages to pray

HAIL: Several famous mosques in the Hail region, including the Qafar Mosque, have been rehabilitated as part of the Mohammed bin Salman Project for Historical Mosques Renovation, through which 30 religious sites in 10 regions will be restored.

The construction of the Qafar Mosque dates back to between 1334 AH and 1445 AH when Ruqayya bint Abdullah founded the site following the death of her husband. It was renovated in 1385 AH, according to the pillar of the mihrab.

The mosque used to host Friday prayers when worshippers traveled from neighboring villages to pray. A modern prayer house was built inside the mosque’s campus in 1412 AH. Today, the mosque is open to worshippers for the five daily prayers and Friday prayer.

Qafar Mosque is located in the old town of Qafar near the road linking Hail and AlUla, about 20 kilometers southwest of Hail.

The building’s unique style originates in its construction from mud and stone, with a wooden roof built from tamarix and palm fronds.

Qafar mosque covers an area of 687 square meters and can accommodate 170 worshippers.

The mosque features the Al-Saha courtyard, which houses two depots and a rectangular eight-meter minaret.

After the mosque’s restoration, it now contains a prayer house, the upgraded Al-Saha courtyard, a prayer area for women, toilets and ablution facilities for both men and women. It can now house more than 400 worshippers.

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Saudi Arabia administers 7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses: Health ministry

Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi Arabia administers 7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses: Health ministry

  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 387,795
  • A total of 6,810 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said seven million coronavirus vaccination doses have been administered across the Kingdom, according to Al-Arabiya TV.
It added that the doses were provided to over 587 areas.
The country announced nine deaths from COVID-19 and 948 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 419 were recorded in Riyadh, 210 in Makkah, 133 in the Eastern Province, 34 in Asir, 32 in Madinah, 23 in Jazan, 20 in Hail, 15 in Tabuk, 12 in the Northern Borders region, nine in Najran and seven in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 387,795 after 775 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,810 people have succumbed to COVID-19 in the Kingdom so far.

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