Destination Riyadh: crown prince boosts Saudi bid to host Expo 2030

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attended the reception on Monday. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 November 2023
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Destination Riyadh: crown prince boosts Saudi bid to host Expo 2030

  • Reception in Paris attended by international diplomatic corps is key part of process before November decision

PARIS: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attended the Kingdom’s official reception in Paris on Monday to present its candidacy to host Expo 2030.

Representatives of 179 member countries of the Bureau International des Expositions, which organizes the expo, also attended the event in the French capital.

The crown prince toured an exhibition held by the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh that showcases Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and culture, and the cultural depth of the Kingdom and its capital.

The exhibition takes visitors through a virtual journey in Riyadh in 2030, starting with arrival at King Salman International Airport and then a tour of the most prominent landmarks such as the Sports Boulevard, King Salman Park, Diriyah Gate and Qiddiya. 

Monday’s reception was an important part of the nomination procedure for countries to host the expo. It will be followed by the General Assembly of the International Bureau of Exhibitions on Tuesday and Wednesday at its headquarters in the French capital.

The General Assembly will listen to the detailed candidature dossier submitted by four competing countries. Voting will take place next November to choose the host city.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea and Ukraine are competing to host the expo in Rome, Busan and Odesa.

The project examination phase for World Expo 2030 is currently underway. The host country will then be elected by BIE member states at a General Assembly in November.

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Monday’s reception was attended by a high-ranking Saudi delegation, members of the international diplomatic corps based in Paris, ambassadors of countries accredited to UNESCO, representatives of major participating entities and projects, representatives of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions, and senior French government and private sector officials.

Riyadh’s bid is already attracting widespread support in France. In an interview with Arab News en Français, influential French senator Natalie Goulet said holding the expo in the Saudi capital would be “the culmination of Vision 2030.”

Goulet said: “It is not a date chosen at random, but a date which corresponds to a project, to the culmination of what has been promised and which is in the process of being carried out under the impulse of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“People who don’t know Saudi Arabia don’t see the difference, but I, who have been going there for 20 years, can see it. Whether it is the role of women, the end of wearing the abaya for foreign women, modernization, music, openness, tourism. You can see it very well in the streets of Riyadh or Jeddah. All those sports shops, all that music, all the liberated youth. It is obvious.

“There are really only people of bad faith who do not see the difference, or who do not know the country or who remain on fixed ideas.”

Jack Lang, president of the Arab World Institute and France’s former minister of culture, told Arab News in another interview that Riyadh would be a “smart and visionary choice” to host expo.


Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations

Updated 19 July 2024
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Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations

  • Officers in the Al-Raboah and Al-Farsha areas of Asir seized more than 137000 tablets

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s Border Guard has thwarted several attempts by criminals to smuggle drugs into the country, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Thursday.

Officers in the Al-Raboah and Al-Farsha areas of Asir seized 125,500 and 11,893 narcotic pills, respectively.

In Asir’s Dhahran Al-Janub area, three Ethiopian nationals were arrested for attempting to smuggle 27 kg of hashish into the country.

The authorities have urged citizens and residents to report any information related to drug smuggling or selling by calling 911 in Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and 999 in other regions of the Kingdom.

They can also call the General Directorate of Narcotics Control at 995 or contact via email at [email protected]. All reports will be treated with strict confidentiality.

 


How a Saudi startup is using AI to boost the efficiency and uptake of solar energy

Updated 19 July 2024
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How a Saudi startup is using AI to boost the efficiency and uptake of solar energy

  • OptimalPV addresses the high costs and inefficiency of solar PV systems by leveraging AI in the design phase
  • Its software uses algorithms to determine the optimal number and placement of solar panels on buildings 

RIYADH: Mindful of their carbon footprint, a growing number of people are opting to power their homes and businesses with solar photovoltaic systems rather than traditional energy sources. One Saudi startup is leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to help increase uptake.

Solar PV systems are a type of renewable energy technology that converts sunlight into electricity, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel-generated electricity. 

Despite the numerous benefits of transitioning to solar energy, including cost savings on electricity bills and greater environmental sustainability, the upfront investment required can be a significant barrier to wider adoption.

Abdulelah Habib, CEO and founder of OptimalPV, a distributive solar design startup founded in 2023, told Arab News that the high capital cost for solar systems is primarily due to the expensive materials required. 

“This includes high-quality solar panels, inverters, and other essential components,” he said.

With recent advances in technology, solar PV systems are becoming more efficient and cost-effective, making them a popular choice for homeowners and businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.

From solar panels on rooftops to large-scale solar farms in the desert, Saudi Arabia has embraced renewable energy sources to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The country aims to install 50 GW of solar capacity by 2030. 

However, if the government wants to make good on its commitment to encourage the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources, it will need to find ways to make the technology more affordable and accessible to the general population. 

“The company was founded to address the challenges of high costs and inefficiency in traditional solar PV system installations, aiming to make solar power more accessible and cost-effective through advanced artificial intelligence technology,” Habib said. 

An AI-equipped robot helps install solar panels. (Shutterstock image)

OptimalPV’s AI-powered software automates the design of solar PV systems by using 3D modeling and optimization algorithms to create the most efficient and cost-effective layout without needing a site visit.

“While the installation and warranty costs are comparatively low, the operation and maintenance costs can be negligible over the 25-year lifespan of the system,” Habib said.

Unlike traditional systems that require manual design and site inspections, OptimalPV’s AI software optimizes the design process to reduce costs

OptimalPV’s AI-powered software automates the design of solar PV systems by using 3D modeling and optimization algorithms. (Supplied)

“The software uses advanced algorithms to determine the optimal number and placement of panels, considering factors like shading, orientation and solar irradiation,” Habib said.

Supported by The Garage, a tech startup incubator hosted by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and the Royal Commission of Riyadh City, the company provides solutions for both residential and commercial buildings. 

By providing information, addressing concerns about cost and installation, and offering incentives for adopting solar energy, OptimalPV encourages more individuals to take advantage of this renewable energy source. 

Not only does it reduce installation costs. OptimalPV also maximizes the return on investment for homeowners. 

“The company’s advanced design optimizes the efficiency and capacity of rooftop solar systems, making them capable of meeting high electricity demands in urban areas like Riyadh,” Habib said.

A new startup, The Garage focuses on local and international startups, scouting and inviting them to join The Garage’s programs and events. (Supplied)

“By optimizing the system design for maximum efficiency, many houses can potentially meet their full electricity needs through PV systems designed by OptimalPV.”

Habib said that by reducing upfront costs and ensuring maximum efficiency, OptimalPV helps homeowners to save more on electricity bills and achieve a quicker payback period.

OptimalPV also supports homeowners, local governments and the private sector throughout the process, from the initial feasibility study to post-installation monitoring. 

“Customers can use an online tool to generate a feasibility report, including expected monthly savings and payback period,” Habib said.

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The company helps customers to find affordable financing options, where they are matched with trusted service providers for installation.

When it comes to post-installation monitoring, OptimalPV monitors the system’s performance to ensure it operates efficiently.

As Saudi Arabia continues to invest in solar energy infrastructure, it is start-ups such as these that are helping to pave the way for a cleaner and more environmentally friendly energy future.
 

 


Review: Curva Pilates Studio in Alkhobar

Updated 19 July 2024
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Review: Curva Pilates Studio in Alkhobar

There’s a new way to stay fit in Alkhobar this summer with the recent opening of Curva Pilates earlier this month.

The women-only studio is situated on the second floor of an indiscreet building, marked with the letter A on the outside. It is an ideal place to spend an hour using the reformer Pilates machine, either in a solo session or with a group class. There is limited parking directly outside of the studio space.

Pilates, which is a form of exercise developed by the German Joseph Pilates in the 20th century, helps combat health issues and increases flexibility. It was originally designed to help soldiers gain strength by attaching springs to hospital beds to create resistance. If you have ever done yoga or ballet or gymnastics, you might enjoy this process — but it is its own thing.

You may opt to message their account on Instagram, where you will be asked to provide your name and phone number, after which you will receive a welcome message on WhatsApp, with the class details and some ground rules. “For your safety and to keep up our hygiene standards, you should always make sure to wear Pilates socks when taking a class,” it says.

Once entering the serene space, decorated with fresh flowers and the refreshing scent of lemon detox water, which is free for all customers, you will be given an electronic key to a locker where you can securely place your handbag. You can keep the key with you and return it at the end of your visit. There are hooks to hang your abayas and a shoe cubby.

If you do not have Pilates socks you may use regular ones. And, in case you forget to push your hair back, there are hair clips available in the mirror area to use, and wet wipes at the ready, should you wish to freshen-up before or after your session.

You may take a session with Coach Lubna, who is fair and balanced. For first-timers, she asks whether they have any body ailments they need to be aware of — do they have any existing body aches or injuries, any surgeries or issues with their back, shoulders, arms or legs.

Lubna explains every step briefly, and makes the experience enjoyable. The reformer machine is not hard to use and is ideal for any fitness level.

She makes sure to ask for feedback and listens to all comments and concerns. Lubna believes that consistency is what matters most — no matter what level you are on — and recommends visitors try the reformer three times per week.

Reformer classes at Curva can be purchased either per session for SR175 ($46) each, or in a package for a slightly better rate. Five sessions go for SR850, 10 sessions for SR1,650 and two other package options are available — for 15 sessions and 20.

There is a 10 percent discount for college students and a 10 percent discount for Aramco staff.

While it has become a global trend, this enduring form of exercise that emphasizes core strength, flexibility and overall body awareness is not yet widely practiced in the Eastern Province. Curva is there to change that.

Find them at CurvaPilates.com or on their Instagram, @CurvaPilates.


KSrelief runs medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

Updated 18 July 2024
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KSrelief runs medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief continues to provide healthcare for vulnerable people in Sudan and Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The project in Port Sudan for urology surgery, from July 13 to 20, involves 11 volunteers with training in various specialities.
The team members have already completed six surgeries.
A similar project is currently being implemented for orthopedic surgery in the Seiyun district of Yemen’s Hadhramaut governorate, with seven operations already completed.
Recently, the agency started a training program for people supervising orphans in Hadramout in coordination with the country’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.


Saudi Red Crescent in Makkah region puts in almost 80,000 volunteer hours during second quarter

Updated 18 July 2024
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Saudi Red Crescent in Makkah region puts in almost 80,000 volunteer hours during second quarter

JEDDAH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority in the Makkah region revealed its volunteer statistics for the second quarter of 2024, with the number of volunteer hours reaching 79,128.

It said the volunteer opportunities ranged from providing first-aid services to worshippers in the courtyards of the Holy Mosque in Makkah to national occasions, international days, events, humanitarian aid, and sports events.

Additionally, several first-aid courses were held to train male and female volunteers.

The authority indicated that Makkah has the largest number of volunteer initiatives with 273 opportunities, followed by the Jeddah governorate with 207 and the Taif governorate third with 104 opportunities.

The volunteer medical staff included several specialties, most notably consultants, general practitioners, and emergency medicine doctors. The authority emphasized its commitment to developing its volunteers by organizing specialized courses and training them in line with the authority’s mission and work.