Saudi walking wonder completes latest trek to promote AlUla, personal fitness
In 2020, Nayef Shukri walked in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) following the old Hijrah road, and last year he hiked from Jeddah to NEOM on what he dubbed his Vision 2030 trip
Updated 14 January 2022
JEDDAH: Saudi walking wonder Nayef Shukri has been putting his best foot forward in a solo mission to promote fitness and his country’s rich heritage.
In his latest marathon meander around the Kingdom, the 33-year-old adventurer recently completed a 760-kilometer trek from Jeddah to AlUla to highlight the desert tourist destination.
Battling through extreme weather conditions and the pain barrier, Shukri covered the distance in 22 days, sleeping along the way in places including gas stations and under trees, and proudly carrying the Saudi national flag.
With just a backpack and a change of clothes, his only companion was manager Abu Hatem who shadowed him by car to light the route during the night.
Shukri, from Jeddah, said his walk to AlUla had been prompted for two main reasons. “First, out of absolute love for my country and to support tourism in AlUla with the start of the AlUla Season. Another reason for the march, was fitness. I wanted to promote the idea of keeping fit and setting an example for both young and old.
“It wasn’t just my family and friends who supported this trip. Wherever I went, people would come out in droves to wave and cheer for me. They didn’t know me, nor did I know them, but everyone who saw me walking the flag wished me luck and encouraged me. I felt the true spirit of Saudi Arabia on this trip,” he added.
He pointed out that he wanted to encourage young people to travel within the Kingdom, visit historic sites, learn more about the country’s heritage, and enjoy experiences away from the daily routines of city life.
“Everyone has to discover the abilities in their own body and challenge themselves to discover new skills,” he said.
In 2020, Shukri walked in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) following the old Hijrah road, and last year he hiked from Jeddah to NEOM on what he dubbed his Vision 2030 trip.
During his walks he has visited many archaeological, historical, and cultural sites including in Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Taif, Yanbu, Dammam, Jubail, Al-Ahsa, Asfan, and Badr.
“It relates to the biography of the Messenger (peace be upon him), and I completed my journey walking in the footsteps of the Messenger, and across the Hijrah Road, the old road, where I covered the distance in eight days and nine nights,” he added.
On his recent AlUla walk, Shukri said: “The hospitality was overwhelming. We knew we would be welcome but the hospitality we received along the way was amazing.”
And posting on social media, he told followers of his joy at arriving in the old city of AlUla. “Finally, we reached it, thanks to God. Thank you all for your support.”
Saudi King Salman leaves hospital, says royal court
King Salman bin Abdulaziz was admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the city of Jeddah on May 7
He became ruler of the world’s top oil exporter in 2015 after spending over two years as crown prince
Updated 16 May 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 86, left hospital on Sunday following a colonoscopy last week, the royal court said in a statement on state media.
Saudi TV ran a video clip showing the monarch walking slowly using a cane as he left King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the city of Jeddah, where he was admitted on the evening of May 7.
An entourage kept close and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, appeared in the clip.
King Salman, the custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, became ruler of the world’s top oil exporter in 2015 after spending more than 2-1/2 years as the crown prince and deputy premier.
He underwent bladder surgery in 2020 and had the battery of his heart pacemaker replaced in March.
Saudi Aramco dethrones Apple to become world’s most valuable company
Largest oil producing company in the world valued at $2.42 trillion based on the price of its shares at close of market
Apple has seen its share price drop over past month, was valued at $2.37 trillion when official trading ended Wednesday
Updated 13 May 2022
SAN FRANCISCO: Saudi Aramco on Wednesday dethroned Apple as the world’s most valuable company as surging oil prices drove up shares and tech stocks slumped.
The Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company, billed as the largest oil producing company in the world, was valued at $2.42 trillion based on the price of its shares at close of market.
Apple, meanwhile, has seen its share price drop over the past month and was valued at $2.37 trillion when official trading ended on Wednesday.
The sinking share price came despite Apple reporting better-than-expected profits in the first three months of this year amid strong consumer demand.
But, Apple warned that the China Covid-19 lockdown and ongoing supply chain woes would dent June quarter results by $4 to $8 billion.
“Supply constraints caused by Covid-related disruptions and industry-wide silicon shortages are impacting our ability to meet customer demand for our products,” Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said on a conference call with analysts.
The results looked good following stumbles by some Big Tech peers as growth from the stay-at-home demand amid the pandemic slows and companies confront rising operating and labor costs.
Oil giant Saudi Aramco recently reported a 124 percent net profit surge for last year, hours after Yemeni rebels attacked its facilities causing a “temporary” drop in production.
As the world economy started to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic, “Aramco’s net income increased by 124 percent to $110.0 billion in 2021, compared to $49.0 billion in 2020,” the company said.
The kingdom, one of the world’s top crude exporters, has been under pressure to raise output as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Moscow have roiled global energy markets.
Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser cautioned that the company’s outlook remained uncertain due in part to “geopolitical factors.”
“We continue to make progress on increasing our crude oil production capacity, executing our gas expansion program and increasing our liquids to chemicals capacity,” Nasser said.
On the results, for 2021, he acknowledged that “economic conditions have improved considerably.”
A strong rebound last year saw demand for oil increase and prices recover from their 2020 lows.
Inflation could cause a drop in consumption, reducing demand for oil, while tech shares could continue to be dragged down by investor concerns over company costs, interest rate rises and supply chain woes.
Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
Beyond its scenic charm, favorable climate and natural beauty, Yanbu has a particular appeal for history buffs
own’s historic architecture, including a house where T. E. Lawrence once lived, have been faithfully restored
Updated 13 May 2022
Rebecca Anne Proctor
DUBAI: Just a few hours’ drive west of Madinah is the historic port town of Yanbu, the second largest settlement on Saudi Arabia’s western Red Sea coast. With its curious heritage and growing wealth of attractions, this unassuming coastal gem is fast becoming a must-visit destination in its own right.
Visitors to Yanbu can traipse along the town’s historic harbor, enjoy Red Sea-caught fish prepared in the local style, and explore the recently restored Souq Al-Lail, or night market, where they can buy local dates, green mulukhiyah leaves, as well as other sweets and delicacies.
At night, the old harbor area comes alive with locals flocking to outdoor eateries overlooking the tranquil waters, protected from the waves by unspoilt coral reefs that have long lured divers to the coastline.
As one of the oldest ports on the Red Sea, Yanbu has a history reaching back at least 2,500 years, when it served as a crucial staging post on the ancient spice and incense route from Yemen to Egypt and onward to the wider Mediterranean.
Its strategic importance in the world of commerce continues to this day. Further south along the coast from the idyllic old town is an important petroleum shipping terminal that is home to three oil refineries, a plastics factory, and several other petrochemical plants.
While Yanbu has long enjoyed a reputation as a place of commerce, it is now developing into something of a tourism hotspot.
“In the past, most tourists were from Saudi Arabia, but now we are getting more foreigners, from France, Germany, and the UK,” Ghazi Al-Enezi, who runs the Riyadh-based operator Ghazi Tours, told Arab News.
“Yanbu has been receiving many visitors via cruises from Jeddah, cities in Egypt and Jordan.”
In 2014, Al-Enezi was named the Best Tour Guide in the Kingdom by the Saudi government. Since then, his fledgling operation has grown into a successful enterprise, with 12 members of staff operating tours across the country and a wealth of local and international clients.
The Kingdom’s growing tourism market has offered a boost to Yanbu’s hospitality industry, with the recent opening of a Novotel, a Holiday Inn, and the Al-Ahlam Tourism Resort. This in turn has drummed up new business for local cafes and restaurants.
“Many hotels and restaurants are opening now, and local people are also trying to serve visitors their own local dishes,” said Al-Enezi. “The weather is nice as well. It doesn’t get too hot in the summer, which means during the hot months people can escape to Yanbu.”
Beyond its scenic charm, favorable climate and natural beauty, Yanbu also has a particular appeal for history buffs. The British army intelligence officer T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, lived in Yanbu for a time between 1915 and 1916 in a typical Hijazi building.
The British archaeologist, diplomat and writer became famous for his role in the Arab Revolt and the Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.
Lawrence was deployed to the region to help the Arabs overthrow their Ottoman rulers, who had sided with Germany against Britain and France.
On Dec. 1, 1916, the Ottoman forces of Fakhri Pasha launched a daring offensive against Yanbu with the aim of reestablishing control over the strategically vital port.
After some initial Ottoman successes, the Arabs counterattacked with the support of five British Royal Navy warships anchored off the coast. By Jan. 18, 1917, the Ottomans were in full retreat.
Yanbu served as a supply and operations base for Arab and British forces for the remainder of the war.
In 1975, the Saudi government decided to transform Yanbu into one of the country’s two new industrial centers, the other being Jubail on the Arabian Gulf.
Since then, state and private development projects in Yanbu have boosted its economic value and prestige, attracting huge petrochemical and logistics infrastructure.
Today, as the Kingdom undergoes a fresh transformation, heralded by the Vision 2030 economic and social reform agenda, Yanbu’s fortunes are once again shifting — this time toward tourism, heritage and culture.
In 2020, the Ministry of Tourism launched a project to restore T.E. Lawrence’s Hejazi house, renovating its white stone walls and ornate wooden screens in what would become the first of the ministry’s efforts to revive the old town of Yanbu.
Soon, other traditional Arabian homes followed, with sensitive restoration work launched to restore their coral-stone walls and wooden latticed windows to their former glory. The rebirth of Yanbu’s authentic architecture has made the city a highly desirable place to visit.
Since then, a host of tour operators have sprung up across Yanbu to cater for this recent influx of visitors.
Al-Enezi, who has run tours in Yanbu since 2008, offers a choice of two main tours — one along the coast that features a visit to Oyster Island, known for its pristine beaches and clear waters, and another into the urban heart of Yanbu that acquaints visitors with local heritage and crafts.
He also takes visitors to Umluj, which is situated 150 km north of Yanbu. Often referred to as the “Maldives of Saudi Arabia,” the coastal town is made up of more than 100 small islands where hotels and other attractions are now under construction.
Also outside the town, thrill-seeking visitors are drawn to Radwa Mount, with its red-hued jagged peaks towering some 2,282 meters above sea level, making it the highest point in the Al-Nakhil range.
Known for its rich biodiversity, including lynx, tigers, ibex and wolves, visitors can enjoy a safari tour along the rugged highland landscape and stop at high-altitude villages to sample the local honey.
For Al-Enezi, the tourism industry in Yanbu is unrecognizable today from what passed for it when he began organizing tours there 14 years ago.
“It was hard for the few of us working in the business in the beginning because at that time the Saudi government wasn’t focused on tourism and not many people were coming to visit the Kingdom,” he told Arab News.
“But this is now a growing and changing business.”
Top UK school opens in Riyadh with pledge to ‘motivate, inspire’
Downe House ‘will prepare Saudi girls for their place on world stage’
Updated 13 May 2022
RIYADH: Downe House, Riyadh’s first British international school for girls, opened on Thursday with a promise to inspire a generation of young Saudi women to take their place on the national and world stage.
The school, one of the most highly regarded for female students in Britain, said that its Riyadh branch will offer a global curriculum utilizing the latest education advances in the developed world.
Downe House UK Principal Emma McKendrick, who attended the school’s opening ceremony, said: “This is one of the most exciting opportunities to create a rich school to support the development of young women in Saudi Arabia, who, I hope, will go on to play a significant part in society and global society.”
She told Arab News that the school will seek to “foster cognitive and intellectual curiosity, nurture talents and interests outside the classroom, open up to cultures and respect others.”
The opening comes as part of a Royal Commission for Riyadh City program to bring international teaching institutions to the capital. A major project led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to attract global education organizations to the Kingdom, in partnership with the ministries of education and investment.
Downe House School has over a 100 years of experience, and focuses on the academic excellence and well-being of female students, developing their abilities and self-confidence in order to contribute to the development of their local and global community.
Graduates of Downe House Riyadh will join an alumni community of more than 3,000 women, including members of British and other royal families, and leading figures in research, writing, arts and business.
Neil Crompton, British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said that the opening of a Downe House School branch in the Kingdom is an affirmation of the strong historic relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia, as well as a model for strengthening both countries’ links in the education sector.
“I think having the school here is terrific news (and shows) that the relationship is flourishing between the two kingdoms and has a lot of commitment by both governments,” Crompton told Arab News.
“Education is very important and, historically, many Saudis come to the UK to study. But I think it’s nice to have the opportunity here, as in the past year four British schools were opened in Riyadh. And Downe House is distinguished for its education as it will be the first independent British girls’ school to open its doors in Saudi Arabia, and we are proud to support this journey,” he said.
Downe House Riyadh offers a modern campus, with facilities including libraries, open halls, technical and scientific laboratories, a music studio, a theater that can accommodate 560 people, a major sports academy, and an indoor swimming pool designed by leading Saudi female architects.
Faisal Al-Muammar, chairman of Downe House Riyadh, expressed his gratitude to the partners in RCRC, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Investment, and the Ministry of Human Resources for their support and vision to attract the British school to Saudi Arabia.
“Downe House Riyadh focuses on motivating and inspiring female students. It will work to develop personal skills, research skills, and knowledge to enhance individual talents and interests and instil a culture of participation and respect for others beyond the limits of academic achievement,” he said.
Mango cultivation is spread over several governorates in the Jazan region
Updated 12 May 2022
JEDDAH: With 1 million mango trees, Jazan farmers have made great strides in expanding their production of tropical fruit for local and international markets.
With this initiative, as part of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s southwestern region has reintroduced itself as a key player on the country’s agricultural development map.
In January 2019, King Salman inaugurated the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program, which aims to boost the production, processing and marketing of fruit, fish, livestock, Arabic coffee, and the cultivation of rain-fed crops.
The program also aims to improve the income of small farmers, create jobs, contribute to food security, and sustainable development of all agricultural products.
According to a report carried by the Saudi Press Agency, some 250,000 mango trees produced over 18,000 tons of fruit per annum, as estimated in May 2005. The number of farms increased to over 19,100 in 2022, with 1 million mango trees, at an annual production rate of more than 65,000 tons of fruit.
According to a report, some 250,000 mango trees produced over 18,000 tons of fruit per annum, as estimated in May 2005. The number of farms increased to over 19,100 in 2022, with 1 million mango trees, at an annual production rate of more than 65,000 tons of fruit.
Mango cultivation is spread over several governorates in the Jazan region. Sabya is home to one of the country’s largest farms, with more than 30,000 trees and an annual production of more than 600 tons.
The region’s Agricultural Research Center has contributed significantly to the development of mango cultivation. The center’s nurseries include the oldest varieties of mango that were planted in 1973 to test whether they would grow well in the region. Other experiments began in 1983, with the introduction of new mango types that were imported from countries including Kenya, Egypt and India.
The imported mango trees that were successfully grown in the region include the special Indian type, Tommy Atkins, Keitt, Kent, and Palmer along with others that produce more than 55 varieties.
The Jazan branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, through the Agricultural Research Center, provides support services to the region’s farmers to help them increase the quality and quantity of their production.
The assistance includes soil and water analysis services to help farmers determine the appropriate crops to be planted, in addition to fertilization, technical instructions and seedlings at low cost.
The Jazan mango production season begins in the middle of March and reaches its peak in May.