ABHA: In the high altitudes of Asir, green landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see offer a unique connection with nature.
Asir topped the destinations announced by the Saudi Summer 2021 program launched by the Saudi Tourism Authority through the “Visit Saudi” portal, under the slogan “Your Summer Mood.”
The program began on June 24 and will last until the end of September. It includes 11 tourist destinations, with over 500 touristic experiences in cooperation with more than 250 partners from the private sector.
Famous locations in the Asir region, which can be accessed through roads paved between mountains and greenery, include Shada Palace, the mud-walled embodiment of traditional architecture, which has been turned into a museum.
As one explores the region, the archaeological village of Rijal Almaa appears from atop a hill with its immortal image that dates back over 350 years. The village retains its glory and beauty, illustrated by the white quartz that adorns its structures from the outside and merges into the rural scenery from afar, with the green terraces that extend along the mountains and on all edges.
Heritage is seen as an eternal symbol throughout the region, and this is reflected in its residents, who are proud of their deep-rooted sense of belonging to the land.
The small neighborhood of Al-Muftaha village is a distinct cultural center characterized by bright murals and narrow lanes with beautiful art.
Despite the ideal scenic landscape, the spirit of adventure remains the major motive for enjoying the trip.
Riding the cable car is one of the most enjoyable experiences in the Asir region, with panoramic views that will be remembered forever.
The cable car journeys between the mountains, traveling through four stations, the first based on the Abha Palace Hotel.
The new Abha cable car station, which heads toward the Green Mountain, is exciting in daylight and picturesque at night. The mountain is lit with green neon lights whose warm glow can be seen from all over the city.
The third station is the Al-Soudah cable car, which transports passengers from the Jabal Al-Soudah to the village of Rijal Almaa. The last station is the Habala cable car, which extends toward the old village of Habala, and is the only means of transportation since it can only be reached by cable car.
After experiencing the cable car, tourists can visit the high city linked to the summit of the mountain. Mountain rocks were carved into walls and sidewalks on which the city rests. The high city has recently flourished with cafes, restaurants, and various recreational activities that cater to everyone’s taste.
The Asir region offers a wide range of nature scenes every day depending on the light, wind or rain. The image of the earth changes from bright and glowing on clear days to refreshingly wet after rain, and the air tends to cool as people ascend the hanging roads that rotate around mountains.
Asir, Saudi Arabia’s summer destination for nature lovers
Asir, Saudi Arabia’s summer destination for nature lovers
- Famous locations in the Asir region include Shada Palace, the mud-walled embodiment of traditional architecture
ABHA: In the high altitudes of Asir, green landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see offer a unique connection with nature.
Saudi low-cost airline announces first domestic flight in kingdom with all female crew
- Saudi women have proved themselves in many careers that men dominated for a long time
- Flight 117, with crew of seven, was co-piloted by Yara Jan, 23, who is youngest Saudi female pilot
JEDDAH: Saudi low-cost airline flyadeal have announced the first domestic flight in the Kingdom with a fully female crew, most of them Saudis.
The announcement was made on the airline’s official Twitter account @flyadeal on Friday: “For the first time in Saudi aviation history! #flyadeal operated the first flight with an all-female crew, the majority of which are Saudis by the newest A320 aircraft. Flight 117, flew from #Riyadh to #Jeddah”
Saudi women have proved themselves in many careers that men dominated for a long time including aviation-related positions.
Flight 117, with a crew of seven, was co-piloted by Yara Jan, 23, who is also the youngest Saudi female pilot.
Jan told Arab News that she was extremely proud to be taking part in such a historic moment in aviation for Saudi women.
“As a Saudi woman trying to lead my country with a proud step it was a moment of pride and joy.”
Jan graduated from flight school in Florida, US, in 2019, and joined Flyadeal a year ago.
She said that being the co-pilot means assisting the pilot in many key role tasks such as navigation and completing many checklists.
Jan is aware of how important this is for young Saudi women.
“Although being a Saudi woman pilot is new, it is not impossible for our generation, especially with the backing that we are receiving from our beloved country and our respected leaders, who have supported me a lot to become the youngest female pilot in a Saudi airline. I will always be pleased to have the chance to make a positive change.”
The number of Saudi female pilots has grown recently. Three names stand out: Hanadi Zakaria Al-Hindi, the first female pilot to fly with a Saudi commercial pilot license; Rawia Al-Rifi the first to fly an Airbus A320 internationally as a civil aircraft from the UAE; and co-pilot Yasmin Al-Maimani, who was the first woman to co-pilot a commercial plane in the Kingdom.
Saudi deputy defense minister, Blinken discuss common vision to ‘confront Iran’s destabilizing policies’
- Prince Khalid, Blinken talk about the role the UN and the international community can play in moving Yemen to peace and development
WASHINGTON: Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.
During the meeting, the two sides affirmed their countries’ common vision to confront Iran’s destabilizing policies in the region.
They discussed the latest developments in Yemen, with Prince Khalid reaffirming Saudi Arabia’s aspirations for the Yemenis “to reach a comprehensive political solution that would move Yemen to peace and development.”
Both sides reviewed the strategic and historical relations between the Kingdom and the US and ways to strengthen them.
Prince Khalid noted that while the announced truce between the Arab Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen and the Iran-backed Houthi militia remained positive to a “to a large extent”, there is an important role for the UN and the international community to play.
He said the UN and world organizations need “to put pressure on Houthi militias to open Taiz roads, deposit the revenues of Hodeidah port and engage seriously in peace efforts to move Yemen to security, stability, construction and prosperity.”
Regarding Iran’s destabilizing activities, Prince Khalid and Blinken talked about security and diplomatic coordination “to confront Iranian threats, including dealing with Iran’s nuclear file and its program to develop ballistic missiles, as well as its sponsorship of terrorism.”
Prince Khalid also met US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman. During the meeting, they discussed various topics of common interest and continuous cooperation on efforts to maintain security, peace and stability in the region and the world.
The two sides further “reviewed developments the Kingdom is witnessing within the framework of its Vision 2030, commending the cooperation and dialogue between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs.”
Prince Khalid welcomed US affirmation of the Kingdom’s support in developing its military capabilities and meeting its defense needs.
The Saudi deputy defense minister also met US Special Envoy for Yemen Timothy Lenderking and discussed the latest developments in Yemen.
“I affirmed to him the Saudi-led coalition’s backing of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council and its supporting entities, and our aspirations for reaching a comprehensive political resolution to the crisis that will lead Yemen into peace and prosperity,” Prince Khalid said in a tweet.
Prince Khalid and his delegation began a series of meetings with key US officials last Tuesday under the US-Saudi Strategic Joint Planning Committee to review the Saudi-US partnership, and present and future strategic military and defense cooperation between the two countries.
Prince Khalid had earlier met White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, among others.
How Saudi Arabia can become the vanguard of sustainable tourism
- An agreement with Jamaica puts resilient tourism at the heart of the industry’s post-pandemic recovery
- The pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of tourism not only to pandemics but also extreme weather
LONDON: Saudi Arabia is stepping up its efforts to become the vanguard of a UN pledge to develop a sustainable model of tourism after the sector’s levels of resilience were pushed to breaking point by the pandemic and new dire warnings of tourism’s environmental footprint emerged.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on May 6, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said lessons about tourism’s vulnerability to sudden, unexpected events must be taken from the pandemic — which cost the sector 62 million jobs worldwide — and changes made.
“COVID-19 highlighted the vulnerability of the sector, not only to pandemics but also to the effects of extreme weather, so addressing climate change must be at the heart of building a more resilient tourism, and there is no resilience without sustainability,” he said.
“We must work collaboratively, putting sustainable, resilient tourism at the heart of inclusive recovery. Only by doing these things together will we ensure better and more resilient futures for the millions around the world reliant on tourism.”
The UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) welcomed the Saudi efforts, noting that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 has already provided the blueprint for a “transformative and deeply ambitious” economic strategy, and could do the same for tourism.
A spokesperson for the UNWTO told Arab News: “This ambitious plan aims to reshape the social and cultural landscape, accelerating growth through strategic investment, new industries and leadership.
“It is an opportunity to bring Saudi Arabia’s heritage, culture and hospitality to the world; and deliver on climate and sustainability goals. Properly managed, tourism can play a key role in achieving this vision.”
Scientists have said CO2 emissions from tourism will increase by 25 percent by 2030 compared to 2016 levels, which if left unaddressed could be a bullet for the sector as visitors begin to factor in the impact, and morality, of climate change on their destination choices.
Signaling the Kingdom’s intent to become the shepherd to sustainability, Al-Khateeb and his Jamaican counterpart, Edmund Bartlett, signed earlier this month a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on developing sustainable and resilient tourism between the two countries.
Part of the agreement also included determination to not only embrace the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development but to lay out a blueprint that can be rolled out globally for a sustainable model of tourism.
Although firm details on the blueprint have yet to emerge, the UNWTO spokesperson noted that policymakers are “best placed” to play a central role so long as their policies include aims to reduce environmental impacts of consumption and production patterns.
“National tourism planning is a well-established practice among national authorities with national tourism policies covering on average a time frame of 10 years and addressing the same thematic areas across regions,” the spokesperson added.
“Aspects such as human resource development, investment, marketing and promotion, employment, product development and diversification have been factored into the policies as these are relevant aspects for the sustainable economic development of tourism.”
Jonathon Day, associate professor and Marriott School of Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate program director, applauded the Kingdom’s “ambition and commitment,” believing it could become a leader in sustainable development.
“Tourism developed sustainably has the potential to contribute substantially to sustainability challenges faced by Saudi Arabia and the world, and I’m sure that through tourism Saudi Arabia can join the destinations leading in sustainable development,” Day told Arab News.
“The Kingdom has the resources to invest in infrastructure to support sustainability goals and knows that tourism that doesn’t adopt the principles of sustainability can make sustainability issues worse. It requires commitment to achieve positive outcomes.”
Day is not alone in seeing Saudi Arabia’s financial resources as key in any effort it may make to lead the way in green tourism, with Prof. Willy Legrand of the International University of Applied Sciences believing it “would translate” in attracting talent and developing policy.
“Not only this, the resources allow the country to develop and implement state of the art (existing) solutions as well as being a pipeline for the testing of new solutions to tackle some of the greater tourism challenges,” Legrand told Arab News.
Architect and sustainable tourism consultant Amine Ahlafi said that while Saudi Arabia had only recently opened for tourism more broadly, it was important to remember it had a rich history of religious tourism, and this was something it could learn from.
Anywhere from 2.5 million to 9 million pilgrims travel to the Kingdom each year, Ahlafi told Arab News that this results in around 15 million plastic cups being used to cater to the water needs of everyone traveling.
“You can of course use technology to recycle all the disposable cups, but sustainable tourism should be about finding ways to raise awareness so that we don’t have to rely on technology,” he said.
“As for developing new tourism, I think they should promote the desert potential of tourism as they can market it as a very interesting place for sustainable tourism — which does not mean they have to reduce the quality.
“We can do luxury combined with sustainability and not in a greenwashing way with the design of luxury desert camps that optimize the natural resources, the sun and the wind for energy.”
Ahlafi said a blueprint would need to be predicated on pushing technology and the habitat you find yourself in. “Technology is the tool, not the solution, the solution is building to suit the environment, not trying to have the environment suit you.”
Legrand said the Kingdom’s capacity to achieve its aims would depend on a “declaration of transparency” in which it not only set out its goals but communicated actions undertaken and results achieved.
Day said it was also important to construct the blueprint not as a series of steps that would work for every country but rather to realize it as a list of questions that all countries could ask of themselves.
“Sustainability and sustainable tourism are ‘wicked problems,’ which means there are many things that need to be done, and it requires many organizations and parts of government to work to achieve common goals,” Day said.
“And while there are a common set of tasks, each destination will have different priorities. So, the questions may be the same — but the answers may be different. For instance, Saudi Arabia probably will focus on water conservation more than some destinations.”
Legrand agreed that the Kingdom’s ability to produce a global blueprint would depend on its ability to recognize that there would be “no one size fits all” approach, but rather a series of questions and inclusion of all stakeholders in the process.
He suggested the questions could include: What are hoteliers’ views on sustainability? Are the restaurateurs capitalizing on local agriculture? Are local communities involved? What are the challenges for these different actors? Are the destination marketers aware?
But he also noted that there were “clear, key topics” that would need to be addressed in a global, universalized manner, not least of which is the elephant in the room: Long-haul air travel.
“Long-haul travel remains a major challenge on the emission front and will remain so for the years to come, although airlines are making progress both in terms of efficiencies and fuel technologies,” he said.
“Transparency at the booking stage is critical to make the right decisions about a trip, here Travalyst and its many members are making progress in providing travelers with that information, such as the carbon footprint of specific airline routes, for example.”
Both Day and Legrand agreed that for Saudi Arabia to meet its ambitions as the vanguard in a push towards sustainable tourism, the country would need to hang its efforts around the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for industry, not least “collaboration and cooperation.”
They face many challenges, foremost of which is improving citizens’ trust in state institutions.
Six Saudis make list of Arab world’s most inspirational businesswomen
- List recognizes women who have used their influence, experience and ambition to make a mark
- All Saudi women honored have made a significant contribution to the Kingdom’s evolving landscape
LONDON: Six trailblazing Saudis have been named among Arabian Business magazine’s 50 most inspirational businesswomen.
The list, published last week, recognizes women who have used their influence, experience and ambition to make a mark in the region.
All of the Saudi women honored have made a significant contribution to the Kingdom’s evolving landscape, in fields as diverse as architecture and philanthropy.
Among them was Princess Lamia Bint Majed Al-Saud, the secretary general and member of the board of trustees at Alwaleed Philanthropies, who is regarded as a pioneer of women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia.
Winner of the Achievement in Philanthropy prize at the Arab Woman of the Year Awards in 2017, the princess launched her own publishing company in 2003, which now produces three magazines from Dubai, Cairo and Beirut.
Given that female empowerment in the Kingdom is an integral part of Saudi Vision 2030, it was no surprise to see Mae Al-Mozaini, founder and CEO of The Arab Institute for Women’s Empowerment, on this year’s Arabian Business list.
Al-Mozaini is also the founder of Nusf, a social enterprise dedicated to helping advance the economic and social well-being of women across the Arab world.
Ghada Othman Alrumayan, group chief marketing and communications officer at ROSHN, was another inspiring business leader to make the list.
A national community developer and Public Investment Fund project, ROSHN is responsible for implementing one of the largest residential real estate projects in the Kingdom.
The three other Saudi women to be recognized were Mona Althagafi, Rabaa Abdulaziz Al-Othaim and Rasha Al-Hoshan.
As country director for Saudi Arabia at Serco, Althagafi is responsible for steering the British company’s growth in the Kingdom. With more than 20 years’ experience, she has held various positions within government and the private sector.
Engineer and founder of 4A Architects, Al-Othaim was recognized for her outstanding work in the Kingdom’s health, hospitality, residential and commercial sectors.
Owner and founder of interior design company Rasha Al-Hoshan Est, Al-Hoshan holds degrees in interior design and architecture from some of the world’s top universities. She is also responsible for introducing leading furniture brands like Nada Debs, Fendi Casa and B&B Italia to the Saudi market.
Saudi dialogue sessions to stimulate creativity and innovation in Hajj and Umrah
- Challenges faced by the Hajj and Umrah sector were discussed
MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia hosted a two-day session of virtual dialogue this week, aimed at “stimulating creativity and innovation in the field of Hajj and Umrah.”
The discussions addressed the challenges faced by the Hajj and Umrah sector, pioneering ideas in this field, and ways of promoting innovation within the sector.
Hisham Saeed, spokesman and undersecretary for Hajj and Umrah services at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, stressed that creativity and innovation are key pillars of Saudi Vision 2030.
“We aspire to impress the pilgrim throughout his journey, thanks to a creative and innovative work system in the field of Hajj and Umrah,” he said.
“If we want to innovate, we must have an ambitious vision founded on excellence and quality,” said Mohammed Saati, spokesman for the Hajj Smart Card Project. “The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah hopes to make the Hajj smart card a key tool in all pilgrims’ journey in the Kingdom.”
Dr. Naeem Al-Bihani, associate professor of entrepreneurship and head of business administration at Umm Al-Qura University, said the best ideas are generated in a stimulating culture and environment. “Innovation is not just about techniques and systems, it’s a way of life for individuals and institutions in all disciplines,” he noted.
Sami Sarhan, head of industrial partnerships at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, said it is vital to develop services provided to pilgrims from their arrival in the Kingdom until their safe return home.
Dr. Ammar Attar, CEO of Manaafi Consulting, stressed that a culture of innovation is essential for the Hajj and Umrah system.