'Tourism jewel' Diriyah will offer something for everyone, Pakistani executive says 

This undated photo shows aerial view of Diriyah region of Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
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Updated 23 September 2021

'Tourism jewel' Diriyah will offer something for everyone, Pakistani executive says 

  • Diriyah on outskirts of Riyadh is being developed into modern international tourism spot, hub of Saudi culture
  • The $50 billion project, carried out by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, is set to be completed by 2026.

RIYADH: As works are underway to turn Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah into a world-class tourism jewel, a Pakistani executive involved in the project seeks the revival of the past glory of the town that was the original home of Saudi Arabia’s royal family.
Located in Najd region, the heart of the Arabian Penisula, Diriyah served as the capital of the Emirate of Diriyah under the first Saudi dynasty in 1744-1818. Its Turaif district was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
The historic region on the outskirts of Riyadh is now being developed into a modern international tourism destination and a hub of Saudi culture. The $50 billion project, carried out by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), is set to be completed by 2026.
DGDA’s Pakistan-born hospitality director, Imran Changezi, has told Arab News the key aim of the project is to preserve the heritage value of the “jewel of the kingdom” and at the same time give it international exposure.
“We have been mandated to recreate and pay tribute to the past glory of Diriyah and how it used to be so popular and so important to the entire Arabian Peninsula,” he said. “We have a very pivotal role to play in offering an additional, unique tourism angle worldwide as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
The DGDA masterplan, he said, includes more than 400 retail shops and 100 food outlets and restaurants. Tourists will be welcomed to stay at 20 hotels in Diriyah itself and another 38 in the adjacent Wadi Safar area.
All new structures have been designed in the region’s traditional Najdi style — the architectural form specific to the center of the Arabian Peninsula, in which sun-dried mud brick houses are usually two stories high and built around an open central courtyard.
“Diriyah is always going to be a heritage and cultural destination first,” Changezi said.
He expects the new infrastructure to attract local and international visitors to explore Diriyah’s history and at the same time enjoy it leisure opportunities. Picnic sites, walking trails, cycling tracks, and car-free streets will make it a comfortable place for family tourism as well.
“There is something for everyone — families, couples, business travelers and event attendees,” Changezi said. “Mixed lifestyle and leisure entertainment facilities will give a reason for the population of Riyadh, whether Saudi or expat or any other nationality, to explore and educate themselves about its heritage, history, and culture.”
He believes Diriyah will draw Pakistani visitors as well, including the two million strong Pakistani community living and working in Saudi Arabia.
“I believe the Pakistani residents will be able to appreciate a sense of history and heritage that they are very proud of themselves as well,” he said. “Pakistani people are very interested in coming to know more about the history and culture and the art aspect of the nation.”


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Updated 22 October 2021

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Abdulrahman Al-Nimari has been the chief information security officer at Rock Solid Group since August.

A cybersecurity expert and regular conference speaker, he has more than 25 years of experience in the information technology and cybersecurity sectors.

At RSG, he is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic, long-term information security strategy and roadmap to ensure that data assets are adequately protected.

He has been an independent cybersecurity architect and consultant since 2019.

From September 2017 to June 2019, he was lead cybersecurity systems architect for ManTech International Corp. where he was in charge of developing security strategies and utilizing new technologies to enhance security capabilities and implement improvements.

Between March and August 2017, he held the position of chief enterprise security architect at Security Matterz.

Al-Nimari was technical manager and senior security consultant at Riyadh Business Machines from August 2013 to February 2017, and an IT manager at the Ministry of Education between January 2008 and July 2013.

During his time with the ministry, he also worked as cybersecurity team leader on a major education system project and was a network and system administrator and supervisor.

He gained a bachelor’s degree in English from Umm Al-Qura University.

Al-Nimari has headed numerous cybersecurity initiatives and projects for government and private-sector bodies.

He pointed out that all members of society had a duty to be aware about cybersecurity. “It is our role to participate in protecting the cyberspace of our beloved Saudi Arabia,” he said.


Saudi FM discusses Iran nuclear talks with EU envoy — statement

Updated 22 October 2021

Saudi FM discusses Iran nuclear talks with EU envoy — statement

CAIRO: Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud discussed the Iran nuclear talks with the European Union envoy coordinating talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal, Enrique Mora, the Saudi Foreign ministry said on Thursday.
“They discussed developments regarding the Iranian nuclear program talks, and international efforts to ensure that Iran does not violate international agreements and treaties in this regard,” it added in a statement.


‘Open library’: Tourists in AlUla glimpse distant past in Ikmah’s ancient inscriptions

Updated 22 October 2021

‘Open library’: Tourists in AlUla glimpse distant past in Ikmah’s ancient inscriptions

ALULA: Imagine stepping back into a time before cell phones, emails, or even paper. During this era, documenting important moments was simplified to sketching on rocks.
This is Ikmah mountain, or the “open library” as it is referred to by AlUla’s locals. AlUla was a highlight on the trading route many took through the Arabian Peninsula. Travelers stopped at the mountain to document their stories or carve their names for those who came after them.
“We call Ikmah the ‘open library.’ If you want to know why it has this name, have a look around for a few seconds and you will see inscriptions all over the mountain,” Amal Aljahani, an expert Rawi storyteller, told Arab News.

Ikmah has over 500 inscriptions from the Dadan and Lihyan civilization. The earliest texts from the mountain have been studied and translated by historians and archeologists and have been dated back to the ninth and 10th century B.C. 
The languages in the mountain include Aramaic, Thamudic, Dadanitic, Minaen, Nabatean, Greek, Latin, and Arabic. An important area for historians, Arabic linguistics experts, and archaeologists, the mountain offers a look back into the pre-Arabic era.
Tourists from the Kingdom and international visitors gather for hours to sit in front of the high peaks and observe the delicate techniques of the ancient language that turned into the modern Arabic letters we know today.

Some inscriptions were written by the region’s professional scribes while others were merely sketches by travellers and locals passing by years ago.
Many of these messages differed in meaning, some surviving inscriptions are names written in the ancient Arabic text, but many involve tales of the ongoing events of the local community.
These inscriptions described the kings who ruled the land, the religious beliefs of the people, and sometimes notes for other visitors.
Ikmah held a high place in the hearts of the locals and travelers. It was a sacred ground for pagan worship and sacrifice along with documentation.  One of the inscriptions on the mountains was written by a woman named “Mirwa,” who carved her name into the rocks and detailed an offering she made to her deity.

“The woman used to come here and give her deity offerings to bless her and her children. The inscription says the deity blessed her and her children. Those are the kinds of things the people wrote here on this beautiful mountain,” Aljahani said.
Mirwa returned to add another inscription that her prayers were answered and her sons were blessed.
Some of these inscriptions are personal, while others are names or drawings of animals and musical instruments.
The oldest inscription in the Islamic era — known as the Naqsh Zuhayr — and the earliest glimpses into the Arabic language are documented on the east side. The inscriptions date back to 644 A.D.
The mountain hosts different inscription methods, Aljahani said, such as “carving inside the alphabet to be clearer.”
He added: “The second way is what we call the 3D way. It is the hardest method. They beautifully carved in between the alphabet letters using sand stones for the message to be clearer.”
In 2017, the Royal Commission of AlUla closed the mountain to begin preparation for the public to visit. Ikmah is now prepared and open to the public under the commission’s supervision.

 

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 education minister, Egyptian envoy discuss cooperation

Updated 21 October 2021

Saudi education minister, Egyptian envoy discuss cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh met with the Egyptian Ambassador to the Kingdom, Ahmed Farouk Tawfiq, to enhance joint cooperation between the two countries in the education field.
The two sides also discussed the development of scientific and research partnerships between the countries’ universities along with the exchange of expertise and experiences in educational technologies.
The talks focused on joint cooperation between the Kingdom and Egypt in educational programs and ways to benefit from the development plans and programs implemented by educational institutions in both countries.
Saudi Ministry of Education’s undersecretary for international cooperation, Saleh Al-Qassumi, undersecretary for public education, Mohammed Al-Muqbil, undersecretary for university education, Mohammed Al-Adib, general supervisor of the general administration of media and communication, Ahmed Al-Jumaiyah, and supervisor of the public relations department, Saleh Al-Thubaiti, also attended the meeting.

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Updated 21 October 2021

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DUBAI: As part of the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s pavilion at GITEX Technology Week 2021 in Dubai this week, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah showcased the state-of-the-art technologies it employs to deliver the services the Kingdom provides to pilgrims and other visitors.
They include artificial intelligence technologies that are used as part of the ministry’s digital platform to help pilgrims.
They access the platform using smart cards that contain key information, including the details of their visit and medical data. This is used to organize their journeys.
The ministry’s aim in adopting the latest technology is to provide upgraded services and develop the work of the pilgrim-services system as a whole.