Saudi Arabia turns green for 93rd National Day … and rehearses for Expo 2030

1 / 4
Saudi children will be among families waving the Kingdom’s unmistakeable green flag on Saturday and getting into the National Day spirit. (AFP photo)
2 / 4
In the northern province of Al-Jawf, streets and public places are adorned with green flags, national signs, colorful lights, and models on the occasion of National Day. (SPA)
3 / 4
The number 93, symbolizing Saudi Arabia's 93rd National Day, is flashed in one of the skyscrapers on Riyadh's King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) beside the King Fahd Road and Northern Ring Road interchange. (SPA)
4 / 4
Public roads and squares in Jeddah turned green on Friday in celebration of the Kingdom’s 93rd National Day. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 23 September 2023

Saudi Arabia turns green for 93rd National Day … and rehearses for Expo 2030

  • In a special edition, Arab News explains why Saudi capital is perfect venue for world fair

RIYADH: Welcome to the day Saudi Arabia turns green! Saudis will take to the flag-decked streets in their thousands today to celebrate the Kingdom’s 93rd national day.

A raft of free activities will be available for families to enjoy the day.

Among the most eagerly awaited events is the air show by the Saudi Hawks, the aerobatics team of the Royal Saudi Air Force. Pilots will take to the skies in their six BAE Hawk Mk.65A aircraft for a gravity-defying display, leaving a trail of Saudi flags in their wake.

Horse-drawn artillery and other vehicles will take part in a military march through Riyadh at 4 p.m., accompanied by musicians from the Border Guard, the National Guard, and the Royal Guard. The parade will travel from Prince Mohammed bin Saad bin Abdulaziz Road to Umm Ajlan Park in the Qairawan neighborhood.

There will also be special events at the already buzzing Boulevard Riyadh City, including fireworks, a drone show and traditional folklore acts. 

A young girl joins citizens and residents celebrating Saudi National Day at a park in the waterfront of Qatif in the Eastern Province as early as Friday. (SPA)

The celebrations are a dress rehearsal for what the Kingdom can expect if its bid to host the Expo 2030 world fair is successful. In a special edition of Arab News today, we explain why the answer to that should be a resounding “yes.”

We explore the natural, archeological and architectural wonders that define Riyadh, learn about the history of the Ardah dance, and sample the Kingdom’s coffee culture.

We unpack how Salmani architecture redefined Riyadh’s development, highlighting the capital’s megaprojects, and look at how King Salman International Airport and the Riyadh Metro are transforming the city.

Riyadh’s hospitality industry serves up what it has to offer Expo visitors, while we examine the distinctive Saudi characteristic of generosity.

We highlight Riyadh’s thriving business landscape and booming retail sector, and check its cultural pulse, including headline events such as Noor Riyadh.

And taking readers on a tour of Expo 2030 preparations, we speak to Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions, which will elect the host city by secret ballot in November.

Saudi FM, Qatari PM hold meeting in Doha

Updated 03 December 2023

Saudi FM, Qatari PM hold meeting in Doha

  • Prince Faisal and Sheikh Mohammed emphasized the importance of sustained coordination between the two countries

RIYADH: Saudi foreign minister and Qatari Prime Minister and foreign affairs minister co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Executive Committee of the Saudi-Qatari Coordination Council in Doha on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the meeting, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani commended the cooperation and coordination demonstrated by the subcommittees and the working groups of the council's general secretariat in both countries.

Working groups of the council's general secretariat presented their progress on preparatory work and the outcomes achieved recently by the subcommittees and their respective working groups.

The outcomes encompassed targets, initiatives and memoranda of understanding that are to be signed during the forthcoming meeting of the Saudi-Qatari Coordination Council, SPA added.

Prince Faisal and Sheikh Mohammed emphasized the importance of sustained coordination to fulfill the aspirations of the leaderships and to advance the interests of the peoples of the two countries.

The Saudi ambassador to Qatar Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan and director-general of the Foreign Minister's Office Abdulrahman Al-Dawood also attended the meeting.

Saudi surgeon who gave Gaza’s conjoined twin new lease of life fearful about her fate

Updated 03 December 2023

Saudi surgeon who gave Gaza’s conjoined twin new lease of life fearful about her fate

  • Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of KSrelief, separated Haneen from twin sister in 2018 in marathon surgery
  • Whereabouts of the six-year-old unknown following destruction of her hometown, northern Gaza, in Israeli military action

RIYADH: Five years before Israeli forces bombarded the Gaza Strip in one of the most intense escalations of force the region has witnessed, one baby girl was given a new lease of life. 

Baby Haneen, who was born on Oct. 21, 2017 as a conjoined twin with her sister Farah, underwent surgery at the King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital in Riyadh at less than two months old.

The complex surgery to separate her from her sister, who sadly did not have the necessary organs to live and was thus treated as a parasitic twin, would take up to 15 hours to complete and was led by pediatric surgeon Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, who had already carried out 44 successful twin separation procedures.

As of 2023, as part of the Saudi Program for the Separation of Conjoined Twins for poor families, Dr. Al-Rabeeah has evaluated more than 134 sets of conjoined twins, and separated 59 sets of twins from 24 countries, with a success rate close to 100 percent.

“We brought a smile on the face of the parents of those twins, and we managed to take (Haneen) back to Gaza in 2018,” Dr. Al-Rabeeah, who is also the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, said in the latest episode of the Arab News show “Frankly Speaking.”

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund reported in May this year that Haneen, now six years old, was alive and thriving, despite health issues including the loss of a leg and kidney problems.

“Despite her challenges, Haneen has a positive outlook on life. She loves playing with other children, attending kindergarten, singing, and helping her mother with housework. She always greets people with a smile and brings positive energy to her family and those around her. Haneen dreams of becoming a doctor in the future and helping children,” the PCRF site read, adding that Haneen had joined their amputee program, which helps children with amputations living in the Gaza Strip.

However, with much of northern Gaza — Haneen’s home — destroyed by Israeli military action, Dr. Al-Rabeeah fears the worst.

“Now, I am not sure as of today whether Haneen is alive, whether her parents are alive, or all of this work that has been done by Saudi Arabia has been lost,” he said. “It’s painful for me until I secure that Haneen and her parents are alive.”

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla, Kenya’s Space for Giants sign deal to enhance natural reserves

Updated 03 December 2023

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla, Kenya’s Space for Giants sign deal to enhance natural reserves

  • The partnership aims to protect biodiversity in AlUla, reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon storage capabilities

JEDDAH: The Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate has partnered with Kenyan-based Space for Giants, an organization specializing in environmental conservation, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

The partnership aims to protect biodiversity in AlUla, reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon storage capabilities in AlUla’s natural reserves.

Over the next three years, the two parties will work together to design and implement joint activities focused on managing, protecting and monitoring biodiversity and natural environments.

These efforts will align with international standards and support the goals of the Saudi Green Initiative, which was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021 to promote climate action, and with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The partnership includes providing nature conservation groups in the authority’s natural reserves with the necessary equipment, systems and capabilities to protect areas and ensure the health and safety of rangers.

It will also look to develop means and techniques of communication between nature protectors to enhance their capabilities to preserve reserves and share data quickly.

The partnership also includes developing the management of the reserves to enable them to achieve the requirements of the IUCN Green List certification by 2025, as well as working to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon storage.

Both parties are also keen to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism model in AlUla, SPA said.

RCU is developing natural reserves throughout AlUla Governorate, which include Sharaan, Al-Gharamil, Wadi Nakhla, Harrat Al-Zaben and Harrat Awairid, each of which is characterized by distinctive plants, organisms, and geological features.

The reserves extend over an area exceeding 12,000 sq km, constituting more than 50 percent of the land area of Al-Ula governorate.

The nature reserves are patrolled with 154 AlUla nature conservancy staff who have completed an 18-month training program.

Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh

Updated 03 December 2023

Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh

  • Japan will pass baton to Kingdom after Osaka hosts global event in 2025
  • Saudi Arabia, Japan can learn from each other on green issues, Gov. Koike Yuriko says

DUBAI: The governor of Tokyo hopes World Expo 2030 in Riyadh will be an exciting and sustainable event with the potential to “surprise the world.”

Speaking to Arab News Japan on Saturday, Gov. Koike Yuriko offered her best wishes to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh this week won its bid to host the prestigious event.

“I’d like to congratulate the Kingdom,” she said. “And I hope the Expo … would be an exciting one (and) make the people of the world surprised.”

Japan will pass the Expo baton to the Kingdom after Osaka hosts the event in 2025. Speaking on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, Koike said she hoped the event in Riyadh would be a “sustainable one.”

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region and Japan should learn from one another and collaborate in order to achieve decarbonization and other green initiatives, the governor said.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are producing countries, while Japan is a buying one. Both regions already collaborate and can share knowledge and initiatives to seek the best ways to save the great climate,” she said.

Tokyo’s first female governor, Koike also spoke about the plans and initiatives in place to make the city greener.

“To tackle climate change in Tokyo is very challenging,” she said. “Our timeline is to curb CO2 emissions by 2030 and (achieve) net zero by 2050.”

As 70 percent of Tokyo’s CO2 emissions come from residential property, Koike said the city would implement a new policy in 2025 requiring all new buildings to install solar or renewable energy equipment.

“This is the very first regulation that requests people, or especially house-builders, to set solar panels or solar cells.”

Next year, Tokyo will host the SusHi Tech summit, which aims to make Tokyo a smart city and promote a digital economy. The event will also encourage startups to come up with new initiatives to help Tokyo achieve its green goals.

On the situation in the Gaza Strip, Koike said she was “anxious” for the Palestinian people.

“I have asked a Japanese company, which runs the sanitary goods products in that area, to send their products to children and women in Gaza,” she said. “The Japanese government previously supported building a school for deaf children. But that was bombed many years ago.”

Koike said she hoped the crisis could be resolved as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music

Updated 03 December 2023

Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music

  • Local band Immortal Pain fulfills growing appetite for genre among Saudi music lovers

JEDDAH: Saudi metal band Immortal Pain delivered a loud and lively concert at Comic Con Arabia in Jeddah, with a huge crowd of fans cheering and singing along with them.

Friday night marked the second performance of the band at the convention. They have been in the rock and metal scene since late 2005, starting with two members and later doubling.

In a previous interview with Arab News, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Emad Ashoor said the band started with only him and the lead guitarist Rasheed Attar. Later, drummer Moayad Al-Shammari and bassist Anan Al-Sabban joined the group, and just last year, they signed a contract with Saudi recording company Wall of Sound: Dark Mode.

The local band has been in the rock and metal scene since late 2005, gradually increasing their audience over the years. Instagram/immortal_pain_official. (Supplied)

The Jeddah-based band has been throwing mini-concerts across the Kingdom. They have also released original music and are working on releasing more to their Saudi, Arab, and international audiences.

While they previously spoke to Arab News about their origins, this time the members shared insight into the dynamic of the group and how they work together on making their songs and music videos.

It all begins with inspiration.

“The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt,” said the drummer Al-Shammari. “Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us.”

The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt. Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us. (Supplied)

On the unusual places or moments that can inspire, Al-Shammari said: “One day, I was passing by a construction site, and the sounds of wrecking and drilling inspired me somehow and I made a song based on the noise of the construction site.”

Ashoor, gifted with a poetic sense, takes over the next step of writing the lyrics.

So far, they have been writing lyrics in English, but they all agreed they were open to the challenge of writing in Arabic and were eager to experiment and evolve with their music.

The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt. Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us.

Moayad Al-Shammari, Immortal Pain drummer

Once the lyrics are in place, they decide upon a melody and arrange the song, deciding which riff goes first and which follows. The lyrics are recorded last.

When asked about the difficult times they have encountered throughout their career, the four agreed that starting was tough as metal music was considered a Western genre and was not popular locally. Although they have supportive families, they said it was hard for them to find an audience at the very beginning.

Their audience gradually increased from a few people to several dozen, and by the time they played at Comic Con last year and this year, they had amassed about 1,000 music fans.

“Rock and metal are both on the rise contrary to what Gene Simmons and the likes of KISS might think. They can go ahead and retire if it’s getting too loud,” bassist Al-Sabban joked when asked about the metal scene in the Kingdom.

“But the local and global scenes are growing,” he said, adding that Metallica would be playing in the Kingdom next week. “As we all know, when Saudi Arabia gets involved, it’s going to be bigger and better.”

When MDLBeast announced that Metallica would be performing in Saudi Arabia, fans from across the Middle East and North Africa bought tickets to see the legendary metal band.

Immortal Pain also told Arab News exclusively that after only releasing singles, they are officially going to record their first full album first thing next year. They also revealed that in 2024, they will hit the road on a tour across the MENA region, throwing concerts in the Kingdom, the UAE, and Egypt.

Al-Shammari proudly added that they have also received an invitation to perform in Germany, and while nothing is yet confirmed, they are hoping things will work and they will hold an international concert.

For updates about the band, follow their Instagram @immortal_pain_official.