How Saudi Arabia can become the vanguard of sustainable tourism

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A deserted California beach on July 4, 2020 as pandemic curbs hit the travel industry worldwide. (Getty Images)
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A deserted California beach on July 4, 2020 as pandemic curbs hit the travel industry worldwide. (Getty Images)
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People walk past empty tables and chairs in Melbourne, Australia, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 22 May 2022
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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.”




A partial view shows an ancient Nabataean carved tomb at the archaeological site of Hegra, near the northwestern Saudi city of AlUla. (Photo by 

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.




The Taif rose season draws visitors from Saudi Arabia and beyond. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

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.




AlUla, home to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, is at the heart of the Kingdom’s tourism ambitions. (Courtesy: Royal Commission of AlUla)

“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.

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From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition

Updated 24 February 2024
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From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition

  • The princess joined an expedition in November to the remotest parts of Antarctica led by Australian NGO Homeward Bound
  • She joined the expedition to raise awareness about climate action, sustainability, and the need for ‘a peace pact with nature’

RIYADH: Princess Abeer bint Saud bin Farhan Al-Saud recently became the first person from Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region to go on a research expedition to the remotest parts of the Antarctic continent.

In November, the princess was among 80 people selected from a pool of 1,800 applicants from 45 nations who joined the expedition led by Homeward Bound, an Australian organization that promotes women’s leadership in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine).

Princess Abeer told Arab News: “The whole purpose of me joining this expedition was to raise awareness about climate action, environmental sustainability, and making a peace pact with nature and biodiversity.”

The women on The Island Sky 2023, from 18 countries, set sail on Nov. 12, 2023, from Puerto Madryn, Argentina, for a 19-night voyage. (Photo courtesy of Homeward Bound)

Also on the expedition were astronomers, oceanographers, glaciologists, mathematicians, marine biologists, and renewable energy engineers, who collaborated on various projects some of which were part of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), held in Dubai in November and December.

The princess said: “As a group, a few of us collaborated on multiple projects combining science, art, and policy and advocating at the UN by drafting reports and preparing our talks and findings for our participation at COP28.”

FASTFACT

• In November, Princess Abeer joined an expedition to the remotest parts of Antarctica, led by Homeward Bound, an Australian organization that holds leadership programs for women in STEMM, becoming the first person from the Gulf region to do so.

Princess Abeer is an international development professional with culture and heritage, peacebuilding, multilateralism, and NGO expertise, who has worked for several UN agencies.

She currently chairs the Sustainable Development Association (Talga) which aims to localize the UN Sustainable Development Goals in alignment with Vision 2030.

Princess Abeer has worked for several UN agencies and currently chairs the Sustainable Development Association, also called Talga. (Supplied)

The princess noted that she was passionate about dedicating her life to projects that helped preserve endangered species, land, and the planet.

She is also an artist, inspired by her surroundings and what she described as her “cosmic desert” adventures in Saudi Arabia, where she produces works on canvas utilizing natural materials.

Before setting off for Antarctica, Princess Abeer pointed out that she would channel her ancestral heritage.

“I will draw on my roots as a woman from the desert and as a sailor, looking to the heavens to guide me.

“The Southern Cross has led me to many answers and many more questions, just like the North Star has led wanderers through the desert for countless generations,” she added.

The Bedouin who traversed Arabia’s vast deserts over the millennia relied on the stars.

November’s expedition was not all plain sailing. An unexpected storm struck the team’s ship as it navigated the Drake Passage, one of the world’s choppiest sea routes located between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.

Navigating through icebergs amid stormy waters could be a truly frightening experience. (Photo by Maya Beano)

The princess said: “We had a very challenging 48 hours on the Drake Passage. My expedition mates lay on their bunks. Others used dark humor to console their anxiety by playing the ‘Titanic’ soundtrack on the old piano on board in the open area lounge.

“A few others were brave and calm, enjoying their time knowing that the storm would pass.”

While the experience was no doubt frightening, she added that she felt humbled, both by the power of nature and the skill of the ship’s crew who brought them safely through the towering waves to calmer seas.

“Witnessing and experiencing the majesty of nature’s fury is the art of humble exploration. I think it requires so much mental agility, gentle wisdom, and humor to overcome any storm, rogue waves, or any hardship in your life,” she added.

When the team arrived in Antarctica, Princess Abeer noted that it felt like she had been transported to another world, similar to “Alice in Wonderland.”

She said: “It felt like being in an immersive and multi-sensory natural museum of raw and untouched beauty. You can hear the sound of silence. Antarctica is the icebergs and glaciers gazing at you.”

Although the expedition took place during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season, it was vital that participants wore the appropriate gear to withstand the cold, plus polarized sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays.

But to work in such inhospitable conditions, the princess pointed out that participants required inner strength.

Humpback whales gracefully surface in the Gerlache Strait during sunset. (Photo by Maya Beano)

“In isolated polar regions, just like hibernating animals live off their fat, as polar explorers we sought to ignite our spirits — with sea crafts like bunting,” she added.

Princess Abeer and the rest of the team slept aboard their ship, anchored off the Antarctic coast, but each day used Zodiacs — heavy-duty inflatable boats — to commute to their research stations and to conduct field research.

While studying the impact of climate change on the Antarctic’s weather, wildlife, and geography, the princess was shocked to see the massive icebergs breaking into the ocean and the record number of invasive species drawn to the continent by its warming climate.

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In particular, she was stunned to see rainfall in a part of the world where water in the atmosphere should be falling as snow.

She said: “It was raining occasionally instead of snowing. That is defying nature by all measures. It can’t and shouldn’t be raining in Antarctica at all.”

Out on the Antarctic ice, Princess Abeer was a long way from the vast sandy deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. However, she found some unexpected similarities in the contrasting environments.

“When you’re in a desert of ice, as opposed to a desert of sand, you’re living with people who are on the very edge of human tolerance. I think the upshot of that is the incredible hospitality you get,” she added.

View of Antarctica on a sunny day. (Photo by Maya Beano)

It highlighted to her how the world’s most distinct ecosystems — from polar regions and subtropical rainforests to vast interior deserts and coastal habitats — were interconnected by the global climate system.

Princess Abeer said: “Safeguarding the cryosphere is not a matter for polar regions alone but all countries alike. Glaciers and icebergs melting at faster rates will cause rising sea levels, affecting all coastlines in the world.

“The polar and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) regions — in fact the entire globe — are linked. If we want to save one, then we have to save the other.

“The importance lies in understanding these reciprocal relationships for effective climate management, ensuring global climate stability, and safeguarding ecosystems in both polar and desert regions alike, and henceforth contributing to safeguarding the global climate system,” she added.

Another major concern for polar researchers was the impact of a warming climate on seabird habitats. The breakup of sea ice has disrupted colonies, while the arrival of invasive species from further north has brought with it the spread of avian flu.

The breakup of sea ice has disrupted bird colonies. (Photo by Princess Abeer Al Farhan)

“Antarctica is like a haven paradise of wildlife. On a daily basis we had awe-inducing surprise encounters with humpback whales flashing their flukes against the water.

“There were also colonies of Weddell seals that I think can only be found in ice-free islands in Antarctica,” the princess said.

Antarctica is home to one especially iconic species — penguins. Of the world’s 18 different penguin species, seven of them are only found on the southernmost continent.

“We were so lucky to have seen them all in their natural habitat during our last expedition.

Adelie penguins colony on the iceberg Antarctica. (Shutterstock)

“The species found in Antarctica and the Subantarctic region are the emperor penguin, Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni, rockhopper, and king penguin,” she added.

For Princess Abeer, the biggest takeaway from her time in Antarctica was the need for the world and individuals to take a cross-sectoral approach in their efforts to halt climate change and prevent global temperatures from rising any further. Failure to do so, she highlighted, would lead to further ice melt and a rise in global sea levels.

“I believe that it’s time to make a peace pact with nature. We must not let our faith for a regenerative future for this planet melt away. What happens in Antarctica doesn’t stay in Antarctica,” she said.

 


Culture Ministry launches ‘1727’ competition to mark Saudi Founding Day

Competition begins on Thursday and runs until Saturday; it is open to the general public. (Twitter @SAFoundingDay)
Updated 24 February 2024
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Culture Ministry launches ‘1727’ competition to mark Saudi Founding Day

  • The competition is part of numerous activities and events presented by the Ministry of Culture to commemorate Founding Day, a source of immense pride for all Saudis

RIYADH: The Ministry of Culture announced the launch of the "1727" competition, featuring a prize pool of SR100,000, in honor of the Saudi Founding Day.

The competition, open to the general public, commences on Thursday and will run through Saturday. It entails a series of questions related to the establishment of the Saudi state by Imam Muhammad bin Saud in 1727 AD.

Participants will encounter eight diverse questions divided into four phases, with two questions per phase, focusing on the cultural and historical aspects of Founding Day.

Participants who correctly answer all questions, progressing through all phases, will qualify for a prize draw. Randomly, 100 winners will be chosen, each receiving SR1,000.

The competition is part of numerous activities and events presented by the Ministry of Culture to commemorate Founding Day, a source of immense pride for all Saudis. These events aim to engage all segments of society throughout the Kingdom.

 


Saudi Fund for Development, Tunisia sign $55m loan agreement to support transport sector

Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi Fund for Development, Tunisia sign $55m loan agreement to support transport sector

  • The financing aims to renew about 190 km of the railway network, enhancing the capacity for phosphate transportation and contributing to Tunisia’s economic growth

RIYADH: Saudi Fund for Development CEO Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Marshad signed a soft loan agreement worth $55 million with Tunisian Minister of Economy and Planning Feryel Ouerghi. The loan will finance the renewal and development of the railway network for phosphate transportation in Tunisia.

Tunisian Minister of Transport Rabie El-Majidi, Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Abdulaziz bin Ali Al-Saqr, and officials from both sides attended the signing ceremony.

The financing aims to renew about 190 km of the railway network, enhancing the capacity for phosphate transportation and contributing to Tunisia’s economic growth.

The agreement will also create direct and indirect job opportunities while reducing traffic congestion.

Ouerghi expressed appreciation for the SFD’s efforts in monitoring the development projects it funds, which facilitates their completion and helps remove obstacles.

She also commended the SFD’s role in achieving the projects’ desired results and opening promising prospects for cooperation for new initiatives.

Al-Marshad, for his part, emphasized the importance of the transportation sector in the development of countries aspiring to a prosperous future for their people.

“This sector contributes to the growth of vital opportunities toward sustainable development, leading to societal well-being and progress,” he noted.

He underscored the SDF’s belief that the transportation sector in Tunisia is key in supporting social and economic development in the country, expressing hope that this agreement would serve as an additional contribution to this end.

Since 1975, the SFD has provided financing to Tunisia, supporting the implementation of 35 development projects and programs through soft loans and generous grants totaling over $1.3 billion.

These funds have been allocated to sectors including social infrastructure, transportation, energy, and rural development.

 


Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh

Updated 23 February 2024
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Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh

  • The Asprey bags redesigned by Princess Nourah pay homage to Kingdom’s five regions with distinct motifs, colors

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Jewellery Salon, which wraps up on Friday, brought together international and local jewelry houses to meet Saudi clientele before the fair heads to Jeddah from Feb. 27 to March 1.

One of those firms was British luxury label Asprey, which collaborated with Saudi brand Nuun Jewel’s founder Princess Noura Al-Faisal to produce a capsule collection that features five clutches, each of which represents a distinct region of Saudi Arabia.

The Pochette 1781, as interpreted by Princess Nourah in five styles is part of a capsule collection that is on showcase at Jewellery Salon this year. (Supplied)

“Asprey are very well known for their jewelry but also for their bags. They are known for the Asprey Pochette 1781 iconic clutch, and I was trying to spread my wings as a designer and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to portray Saudi heritage in a way that’s not really thought of?’” Princess Noura told Arab News.  

The designer thought it would “be wonderful to be able to use traditional patterns from different areas (and) put them within the bag design so you have the leather on the outside and then the precious hand embroidery on the inside and that felt very Saudi as well somehow. The colors and the patterns — each one is truly representing that region,” Princess Noura added.

I was trying to spread my wings as a designer and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to portray Saudi heritage in a way that’s not really thought of?’

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, Nuun Jewels founder

Powered by the desire to transform the jewelry scene in Saudi Arabia, Haya Al-Sunaida launched the Jewellery Salon in 2009 to invite international designers to an industry that was previously dominated by a few elites. Her aim was to curate an exhibition that could unite local and international jewelers in a single platform and serve exclusive clientele in the country.

While perusing exquisite jewels at the exhibition, which took place at the Al-Faisaliah Hotel, guests were drawn to a rainforest green pop-up that featured the distinctive designs of London’s Glenn Spiro jewelry house.

A selection of pieces from Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum featuring both Indian and Arabian jewelry styles was also on display.

“We are a family-run business that purchases rare gems. We’re not aiming to sell the pieces or grow it into a massive business; we are actual jewelers, dealers. Every year, we produce a specific number of pieces. We purchase materials, stones, and gems that we adore. In addition, we don’t promote anywhere while having a great client of private customers,” founder Spiro told Arab News.  

A selection of pieces from Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum, which is well-known in Bahrain and Dubai and boasts both Indian and Arabian jewelry styles, was also on display.

The greatest pieces from the Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum, which is well-known in Bahrain and Dubai and has an Indian and Arabian jewelry style, are also on display. (AN photo by Rahaf Jambi)

The fourth-generation owner of the brand Dev Devji attended personally to meet visitors.

“We are born and raised in Bahrain. So, we have been coming to the Saudi market for quite some time now. We have a huge clientele from Saudi Arabia that visits our boutiques in Bahrain and Dubai, so we’re quite excited to be part of the exhibition this year,” Devji said.  

Saudi jewelry label Sulaiman Al-Mudhiyan, known for their diamonds, brought glittering pieces to the Jewellery Salon exhibition and even offered competitive prices at the event.

“We are returning to this exhibition. We have a large selection of rings, earrings, and other items, and we are offering our guests incredible prices,” Nasser Ahmed, a sales executive at Sulaiman Al-Mudhiyan, said.

 


Residents unite to celebrate Saudi Founding Day in Jeddah

Updated 23 February 2024
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Residents unite to celebrate Saudi Founding Day in Jeddah

  • In Al-Balad the cultural extravaganza features nine activity zones with a Founding Day theme

JEDDAH: Citizens and residents have come together to celebrate Saudi Founding Day with a plethora of exciting events and activities in Jeddah. The festivities are taking place over a long weekend, allowing everyone to fully immerse themselves in honoring Saudi Arabia’s rich history.

One of the main highlights is being held in Al-Balad — nine activities with a Founding Day theme. Visitors are taken on a journey through Saudi Arabia’s history, and given the opportunity to indulge in street food, participate in various activities, and spend quality time with their family and friends.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Guests are welcome to begin their visit at Bab Jadid, where they can savor Saudi coffee, explore the crafts area, and engage in folk games. Moving on to Thaker Courtyard, visitors can experience a live cooking corner, while Al-Hazzazi Courtyard showcases the mesmerizing traditional dance called Ardah and other folk arts.

For those with children, Al-Eidrous Courtyard features a dedicated children’s corner, a theater area, and art workshops. Meanwhile, Zawiya 97 is brimming with artistic performances, providing a vibrant and immersive experience for all attendees.

HIGHLIGHT

One of the main highlights is being held in Al-Balad — nine activities with a Founding Day theme. Visitors are taken on a journey through Saudi Arabia’s history, and given the opportunity to indulge in street food, participate in various activities, and spend quality time with their family and friends.

Sari Salem Hariri, co-founder and general manager of Al-Mugasap, a Saudi traditional fashion clothing brand, shared his passion for showcasing Saudi traditional attire: “We have meticulously crafted all our Saudi traditional founding designs in alignment with the guidelines of the founding day, catering to both men and women. Each piece embodies the spirit of celebration.”

He further expressed his enthusiasm for promoting awareness of Saudi traditional attire, and said: “I am thrilled to be part of this event and to contribute to the preservation of our deep-rooted customs and traditions. Our booth offers visitors the opportunity to try on these outfits and create lasting memories of our cultural heritage.”

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Their stall is not limited to Al-Balad; it can also be found in Thuwwal and at various locations such as the Saudi German Hospital and Red Sea Mall.

Dalia Al-Sahref Al-Abdali, an advisor at the Jeddah Historic District, also played a part in the celebration with a stall showcasing traditional outfits for visitors to wear and have a photo session.

“This is the time when we can proudly participate and celebrate our culture and show the real Saudi culture,” she said.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Hend Al-Gheethi, the owner of a perfume brand bearing her name, crafted exclusive perfumes specifically for the foundation day, capturing the essence of traditional Saudi scents.

She said: “I am proud to have created perfumes that embody the rich and authentic aromas of Saudi tradition, specially designed to commemorate this special occasion.”

The lively streets of Al-Balad are filled with men singing and dancing to traditional songs. Skilled artists can be observed playing ouds, reviving the community’s musical heritage.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Huda Labib, founder of Mansaj Studio located at Zawiya 97, conducts workshops on textiles knitting and weaving. She actively took part in the celebrations, guiding both children and adults in creating special designs through knitting and weaving to celebrate the occasion.

“It is a privilege to empower individuals of all ages to engage in the art of textiles knitting and weaving, fostering creativity and celebrating our heritage on this significant founding day,” she said.

In addition to the festivities in Al-Balad, another experience awaits visitors at the Founding Village, located in Al-Baghdadiyah Al-Gharbiyah district. This event offers guests the opportunity to journey back 300 years into the rich cultural heritage.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Through engaging storytelling, creative showcases of traditional crafts and interactive experiences at the Culture Square, guests can immerse themselves in the spirit of Saudi Founding Day. This inclusive and interactive event is tailored for all age groups, especially with amazing entertainment activities organized for children.

The festivities will continue until Feb. 24, and admission is free for all attendees.