Saudia reveals bold rebranding for a tech-infused future

The new look represents the airline’s commitment to digital advancement and an array of new services and products in the pipeline, said a top official. (Photo courtesy: Saudi Arabian Airlines)
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Updated 02 October 2023
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Saudia reveals bold rebranding for a tech-infused future

  • Top official says new look represents airline’s commitment to digital advancement
  • Saudia introduces option for female passengers to request seating next to other females

RIYADH: The unveiling of a new brand identity for Saudi Arabian Airlines is more than a change in its appearance, as according to a top official it is but a part of a huge transformation in the company’s approach in line with the ongoing digital transformation.

Khaled Tash, group chief marketing officer at Saudia, told Arab News on Sunday the new look represented the airline’s commitment to digital advancement and an array of new services and products in the pipeline.

He said the rebranding signifies the company’s embrace of the developing tech industry, reflecting the Kingdom’s broader ambitions.

The official said: “This is not about changing our logo or changing our colors.” It is, he added, more about improving our services and introducing new products.

“We are very keen to accelerate the transition…the overall reaction from the market” has been overwhelming, Tash said.

Elaborating on how the update reinforces the airline’s digital transformation, Tash noted that Saudia stands out as one of the pioneering airlines in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to integrate artificial intelligence into its customer experience.

“The Travel Companion is an AI-driven personal aide. When users access the Saudia app, it intuitively recognizes them without requiring manual data input and promptly aids with all travel-related queries,” elaborated Tash.

Highlighting its capabilities, he mentioned that users can ask Saudia’s travel companion bot for holiday recommendations, which will engage in an interactive dialogue to understand preferences before offering tailored suggestions.

Additionally, users can seamlessly book their flights directly within the chat interface when conversing with the travel companion, eliminating the need to navigate away from the conversation.

The AI-driven bot is slated for launch by the end of this year, coinciding with an enhanced version of the airline’s application.

“Digital transformation is not just a buzzword that we use, we aim to improve the customer experience using new innovations,” Tash stated.

He elaborated that, guided by that motto, the company has pinpointed 260 features and services for introduction or enhancement if they already exist.

The airline has also launched a VIP meet-and-greet service. Tash expects this addition to boost revenue from booking services by 10 percent.

In alignment with Arab culture, the airline has introduced an option for female passengers to request seating next to other female passengers on specific, long-duration flights.

Tash said the unprecedented growth in the Kingdom’s tourism sector is also proving to be fruitful for the airline and it is part of the ongoing transformation. He specifically mentioned the fact that Saudia is the first airline to begin operations to and from the Red Sea International Airport.

The marketing head also revealed that the airline has ambitious goals to more than triple its passenger count over the next seven years.

Clarifying the shift in Saudia’s vision, Tash mentioned that historically, the airline’s objective was to connect the Kingdom’s citizens to the world. However, the current goal emphasizes bringing the world to Saudi Arabia.


‘Saudi Arabia not just talking but doing, investing’ in climate change mitigation, Kingdom’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir tells Arab News

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‘Saudi Arabia not just talking but doing, investing’ in climate change mitigation, Kingdom’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir tells Arab News

  • Saudi Climate Envoy Al-Jubeir says $186 billion targeted for investment in more than 80 different projects under SGI and MGI
  • Says Kingdom believes climate conversations should “revolve around logic and science, not emotions and political point scoring”

RIYADH: Very few countries have embarked on efforts such as Saudi Arabia has in reducing the impacts of climate change and improving the quality of life, the Kingdom’s Climate Envoy Adel Al-Jubeir has said.

Al-Jubeir, who is also Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, made the remark during an exclusive interview with Arab News on Tuesday, coinciding with the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference, or COP28, in Dubai.

“Saudi Arabia has not just been talking. We are actually doing, and we are actually investing. And the results are clear for everyone to see,” he said.

“If you go to NEOM, you will see the tremendous work that’s being done to protect the environment. If you look at our coastlines, you will see the work that’s being done with mangroves.

“If you look at our cities, you’ll see the work that’s being done in terms of greening of our cities and (the) redesigning of our cities to make them more efficient, so that you reduce commute time and you reduce pollution, and you increase the quality of life for people.”

“There is no contradiction between Saudi Arabia’s commitment to climate change and dealing with that challenge and producing oil and gas,” Al-Jubeir told Arab News. (AFP)

Al-Jubeir explained that Saudi Arabia has so far targeted investments of $186 billion in more than 80 different projects as part of the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative. Inaugurated in 2021, the two initiatives unite environmental protection, energy transition and sustainability programs with the aims of offsetting and reducing emissions.

He said these projects and investments have been set in place to boost climate mitigation, reverse desertification and help countries adopt a “circular carbon economy approach.”

Al-Jubeir explained that the “circular carbon economy approach” is centered around a “holistic, all-of-government, all-of-society approach of dealing with the reduction of carbon and contributing to our atmosphere.”

He said he believes very few countries in the world have committed the type of resources that Saudi Arabia has in order to confront climate change.

“We do so because we are inhabitants of this planet,” he said. “We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

Discussing the Kingdom’s green energy plans, Al-Jubeir pointed out that Saudi Arabia is building the largest green hydrogen plant in the world in NEOM, a futuristic smart city under construction in the northwestern Tabuk province.

“We are looking at producing other forms of clean hydrogen. We are looking at reducing carbon in terms of the airline industry in order to contribute to a reduction of carbon,” he said.

“We are looking at the shipping industry. Every facet of our society we are looking at in order to reduce the carbon, in order to improve the quality of life and very few countries, as I said, have embarked on a program like this.”

Responding to critics of the Kingdom for not agreeing to a “phase-down” of fossil fuels, Al-Jubeir described the “discussions” around the topic as “devoid of reason and rationality.”

The minister talking to Arab News’ Noor Nugali. (AN photo/Abdulrahman bin Shulhub )

Al-Jubeir said that “fossil fuels will be with us for many, many decades to come, adding that it is inconceivable to have economic development without having energy at reasonable prices — and fossil fuels provide that, oil and gas in particular.

“We have always argued that the challenge is mitigation,” he said.

Al-Jubeir added that the challenge lies in ensuring that these resources are produced and used in the most efficient, most clean way possible.

He pointed out a certain irony in critics talking about the issue at meetings of COP28 or climate discussions in general. “People tend to go for superlatives and they tend to go for dramatic statements that have very little connection to reality,” he said.

“The countries that call for a reduction in production of oil and gas, they should start with themselves. I haven’t seen any of those countries without naming them. I haven’t seen any of those countries come up with a timeline for reducing their own production of oil and gas, much less coal, which is a much, much worse polluter.”

​Al-Jubeir explained that Saudi Arabia has so far targeted investments of $186 billion in more than 80 different projects. (AFP)

Underlining Saudi Arabia’s commitment to mitigating climate change while also stressing the important role of fossil fuels, he said: “There is no contradiction between Saudi Arabia’s commitment to climate change and dealing with that challenge and producing oil and gas.”

“We (Saudi Arabia) believe in being rational. We believe in being logical. We believe in being practical, and we believe in being pragmatic,” he added.

Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom has solutions in place with tremendous investments in renewable energy and has made investments in redesigning Saudi Arabia’s cities, designating large areas of both land and sea as protected areas.

He said the Kingdom is also investing in transforming waste into energy, plus dedicating investment around the world to help other countries deal with issues of climate and energy.

“We are reasonable, practical, pragmatic, rational people. We believe that the conversations and the discussions (have) to revolve around … logic and science, not emotions, and trying to grandstand and score a political point,” he said.

Al-Jubeir pointed out the hypocrisy of some Western countries deploying contradicting policies when it comes to pollution.

Al-Jubeir spoke to Arab News as the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP28, is hosted in Dubai. (Reuters)

“Countries that say they are against hydrocarbons all of a sudden go back to producing coal, which is a much, much worse polluter than oil and gas, and they have no problem with it. To me, this is this is not a reasonable, rational position,” he said.

Discussing the long-term returns from renewable energy, Al-Jubeir highlighted that the future benefits that will result from the Saudi Green Initiative outweigh the investments being made in projects by Saudi Arabia.

“Renewable energy is very profitable. The Public Investment Fund has tremendous investments in those areas, whether it’s solar whether it’s wind, whether it’s hydro, whether it’s electric cars, electric car batteries, because they are very profitable in addition to being very important to confronting climate change,” he said.

Concluding the interview, Al-Jubeir discussed Saudi Arabia’s successful bid to host the 2030 World Expo. “The idea is: for the world, by the world, in Saudi Arabia, 2030,” he said.

He described 2030 as the “perfect year” for Saudi Arabia as it is the target date for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

“Saudi Arabia is about being connected to the world and having the world be connected to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“It’s about connection. We are the world’s largest exporter of energy, so we have a huge stake in the global energy markets. We intend to be one of the largest exporters of green and clean hydrogen. So that makes us also an important country.

“Saudi Arabia has not just been talking. We are actually doing, and we are actually investing. And the results are clear for everyone to see,” Al-Jubeir said. (AN photo/Abdulrahman bin Shulhub )

“We are one of the largest investors in the global community financial system through the Public Investment Fund.”

Al-Jubeir said World Expo 2030 in Riyadh would be “totally renewable, totally green,” and each country will have its own pavilion.

And in line with Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainability, he explained that the pavilions would be designed to be recyclable or rebuildable. “They can be disassembled and rebuilt in the countries that would like to move them and used for another purpose such as a clinic, a school, shelter,” he said.

“Expo 2030 will bring the world to Saudi Arabia and also allow Saudis to connect with the world. That’s important to us. It will be a very unique and special expo that we have no doubt will set the standard for expos going forward.”


Jameel Health Lab presents link between art, health and climate crisis at COP28

Updated 19 min 22 sec ago
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Jameel Health Lab presents link between art, health and climate crisis at COP28

  • Art can be a ‘powerful ally in our quest to improve health for all,’ states WHO director general

RIYADH: In February the Jameel Arts & Health Lab was established to show how the arts have the power to help tackle climate change and the global health crisis.

From Dec. 1-3, the lab presented COP28 Healing Arts Week, a platform to promote the role of the arts at the intersection of health and climate. Included was a high-level panel in the COP28 Green Zone titled “Arts, Health and Climate” moderated by Princess Mashael Saud Al-Shalan, co-founder of Aeon Collective.

The lab aims to show more evidence regarding the relationship between arts, health and climate change, especially in displaced populations. (Supplied)

A panel on “Safeguarding Our Planet: Biodiversity, Climate and One Health” was held at the Saudi Pavilion in the Blue Zone featuring Princess Mashael; Prince Sultan bin Fahad, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation; Princess Hala bint Khaled, president of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; Raquel Peixoto, associate professor of microbiology at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; Richard Bush, chief environment officer at NEOM; Christopher Bailey, founding Co-Director of Jameel Arts & Health Lab; and Catherine Cone environment and sustainability director at the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“The climate crisis is a health crisis,” stated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director  general of the World Health Organization. “The arts can be a powerful ally in our quest to improve health for all.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jameel Arts & Health Lab is the first major arts and health initiative in World Health Organization’s history.

• It was established as a result of agreements between the WHO, the Steinhardt School at New York University, Community Jameel and Culturunners.

• For more information about the lab’s work, check jameelartshealthlab.org. 

“I have seen the impact of the arts on community well-being, and I’m very pleased that this collaboration (with the Jameel Arts & Health Lab) will help us understand the science of that impact in order to improve the lives of people from all backgrounds.”

The Jameel Arts & Health Lab is the first major arts and health initiative in the WHO’s history.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization director general

“We are interested in connecting the arts and health with climate change because obviously the climate crisis is a health crisis. There’s no doubt that now the question is to understand whether or not the arts might be able to offer answers to these crises,” Clea Daridan, senior curator and culture lead at Community Jameel, told Arab News. “At COP28 we were trying to explore how the intersection between arts, health and climate change from a research and a policy perspective because it is through the implementation of policy that change can happen.”

I have seen the impact of the arts on community well-being ... this collaboration (with the Jameel Arts & Health Lab) will help us understand the science of that impact in order to improve the lives of people from all backgrounds.

Tedros Adhanom, Ghebreyesus World Health Organization director general

The lab focuses on overlooked and underserved communities. It was established as a result of agreements between the WHO, the Steinhardt School at New York University, Community Jameel and Culturunners.

According to its website, the lab “will coordinate and amplify scientific research into the effectiveness of the arts in improving health and wellbeing” by “leveraging data, artist-led advocacy and a global ‘Healing Arts’ campaign that aims to drive policy implementation across 193 UN member states.”

Clea Daridan, Community Jameel senior curator and culture lead

Stephen Stapleton, co-director of the lab and CEO of Culturunners, told Arab News: “The Jameel Arts & Health Lab has been at COP advocating for the important role of the arts in telling the story of the climate crisis as a health crisis.

There’s no doubt that now the question is to understand whether or not the arts might be able to offer answers to these crises.

Clea Daridan, Community Jameel senior curator and culture lead

“In so doing to inspire the behavioral change, on both a personal and societal level, which is so urgently needed … through arts therapies and self-expression, the arts can also help those most vulnerable to cope with the psychological impact of the perceived and real changes which are already affecting millions of people around the world.”

Through the lab’s COP28 Healing Arts Week, Bailey and Stapleton participated in various events at the Jameel Art Center, the Saudi Pavilion, and in the Green Zone.

Stephen Stapleton, Culturunners CEO

The week culminated in an evening with Ghebreyesus, hosted by Community Jameel and the WHO Foundation.

The arts represent a relatively new area in modern healthcare and one that has grown rapidly since the late 1990s. Recent research shows strong evidence for the positive impact of the arts on our health and well-being.

The arts can also help those most vulnerable to cope with the psychological impact of the perceived and real changes which are already affecting millions of people around the world.

Stephen Stapleton, Culturunners CEO

In 2019 the WHO Regional Office for Europe reported how engaging in the arts and creative arts therapies can have wide-ranging positive impacts and health outcomes, including mental and physical health promotion, ill health prevention, and the management and treatment of health conditions and symptoms.

Other research has demonstrated the benefits of general as well as targeted arts-based interventions for different populations, including community-based museum programs for people living with dementia, community dance classes for those living with Parkinson’s disease, music therapy to reduce stress and drama therapy to support the social and emotional skills of children and young people, among other examples.

The lab aims to show more evidence regarding the relationship between arts, health and climate change, especially in displaced populations. (Supplied)

Additionally, a 2022 report by the CultureForHealth project demonstrated how the arts can help to address specific public health challenges, including the need to support the health and well-being of young people, health disparities, and the mental health challenges faced by forcibly displaced people.

“Through the Jameel Arts & Health Lab we are generating data and rigorous studies to prove the effectiveness of the arts on health and well-being,” added Daridan. “It is by leveraging this data that we will be able to drive policy implementation across the 193 UN member countries. Now, when it comes specifically to the link between arts, health and climate change, this is also a specific area of research that the lab is currently conducting.”

This year, the lab partnered with the Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, one of the oldest of its kind, to lead a global series on the health benefits of the arts with a focus on non-communicable diseases, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. The outcomes will be published in early 2025.  

Daridan added that the lab was working on a report, likely published in the first quarter of 2024, to show more evidence regarding the relationship between arts, health and climate change, especially when it comes to displaced populations.

For more information about the lab’s work, check jameelartshealthlab.org.

 


Creativity to spark at AlUla Arts Festival

Updated 27 min 8 sec ago
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Creativity to spark at AlUla Arts Festival

  • Third international event will feature exhibitions, live performances, workshops

JEDDAH: The third AlUla Arts Festival is all set to begin in the historic city from Feb. 8 to Feb 24.

With a captivating lineup, the multi-artist festival promises a top-notch experience for attendees, featuring flagship events, immersive exhibitions, live performances, photography exhibitions, street art tours, cinema screenings and hands-on workshops.

The three-week program aims to shine a spotlight on AlUla’s role as a hub for creative inspiration and cultural interchange.

Attendees can explore modern and contemporary works by Saudi artists, with support from prominent art collectors aiming to re-canonize the history of Saudi Arabian art. (Supplied)

It aims to stimulate imagination, foster dialogue and position AlUla as a prominent center for contemporary art and art integrated with the landscape, with a vision to revive ancient artistic traditions of past civilizations.

It will also feature the third Desert X AlUla, from Feb. 8 to March 23, which will once again showcase visionary contemporary artworks by both Saudi and international artists amid the breathtaking desert backdrop of AlUla.

Desert X AlUla, the inaugural site-responsive exhibition in Saudi Arabia, invites everyone to experience an artistic exchange among international and local communities and curators.

FASTFACT

The festival aims to stimulate imagination, foster dialogue and position AlUla as a prominent center for contemporary art and art integrated with the landscape, with a vision to revive ancient artistic traditions of past civilizations.

Rooted in a curatorial vision inspired by the desert, this exhibition is complemented by Wadi AlFann, a cultural destination showcasing permanent contemporary land art installations in AlUla’s breathtaking desert landscape, which is opening in 2026.

As part of the pre-opening program at Wadi AlFann, visitors to this year’s festival can enjoy an exhibition by Saudi artist Manal Al-Dowayan.

Her work captures stories from AlUla’s communities, setting the stage for her groundbreaking commission, “Oasis of Stories.”

Attendees can explore modern and contemporary works by Saudi artists, with support from prominent art collectors aiming to re-canonize the history of Saudi Arabian art. (Supplied)

The Saudi contemporary artist Al-Dowayan is also set to represent the Kingdom at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, taking place from April 20-Nov. 24.

The festival also features the exhibition “More than Meets the Eye,” a key component of the flagship event lineup.

Attendees can explore modern and contemporary works by Saudi artists, with support from prominent art collectors aiming to re-canonize the history of Saudi Arabian art.

Attendees can explore modern and contemporary works by Saudi artists, with support from prominent art collectors aiming to re-canonize the history of Saudi Arabian art. (Supplied)

This documentation offers the stories of artists and recent art movements and serves as part of the pre-opening program for AlUla’s contemporary art museum, focusing on regional and global contemporary art with an emphasis on the Arab world.

Madrasat Addeera, AlUla’s mixed-use creative hub, provides the backdrop for workshops spanning palm-weaving, pottery, jewelry-making, geometry, 3D structures, textiles, and more. Additionally, culture enthusiasts can explore Design Space AlUla, set to open during the Arts Festival with its inaugural exhibition.

 


NAUSS hosts 6th international forensic sciences conference

Updated 27 min 48 sec ago
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NAUSS hosts 6th international forensic sciences conference

  • NAUSS issued more than 53 publications that discussed forensic sciences and forensic medicine in Arabic and English, which have become main references for researchers and enriched the Arab library specialized in this field

RIYADH: The 6th International Conference on Forensic Sciences & Forensic Medicine 2023 began on Tuesday at the headquarters of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences in Riyadh.

The three-day event will be attended by about 700 specialists and experts in forensic sciences, forensic medicine and criminology from the Arab Society for Forensic Sciences and Forensic Medicine, the Arab region, Pakistan, US, UK, Australia, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Serbia and Brazil, among other international organizations.

Prof. Tariq Al-Rayes, vice president of NAUSS, said that the university took due care of forensic sciences and its laboratories given the role these play in achieving criminal justice and crime detection.

He said that the conference was held with the participation of a large number of experts from Arab countries and from around the world. It is considered an important event in forensic medicine as it keeps experts updated on the newest discoveries in this vital field.

Al-Rayes said that the university was seeking to enhance cooperation and exchange ideas and expertise during the conference.

A worldwide distinguished scientific body of experts was attracted to this event.

An accompanying exhibition was organized in which several leading companies in the fields of forensic sciences and forensic medicine participated to introduce scientific and security institutions and bodies to their products.

Al-Rayes said that the university was interested in applied training aimed at enhancing the performance of those working in the field of forensic investigation in general and those working in forensic laboratories in particular.

Based on that interest, the university launched numerous academic forensic sciences programs, while its laboratories underwent constant development to keep pace with the latest developments and technologies.

The university also established several centers of excellence to serve the comprehensive concept of security, which constituted a scientific addition that meets the aspirations of Arab families in security-related fields.

Professor Michael Thali, chair of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, stressed in his address the importance of the conference and its role in promoting communication among specialists in forensic medicine.

“The outcomes of previous conferences have positively contributed to the development of a number of areas in the field of forensic sciences and provided the participants with the latest developments related to their fields of specialization,” he said.

The conference will discuss scientific papers focused on several topics, namely forensic genetic tracks, forensic toxicology and chemistry, cybercrimes, digital forensics, forensic medicine, pathology, forgery and counterfeiting, crime scenes, forensic naturalism, anthropology, criminal law as well as crises and disasters.

The conference will also feature several specialized workshops.

NAUSS issued more than 53 publications that discussed forensic sciences and forensic medicine in Arabic and English, which have become main references for researchers and enriched the Arab library specialized in this field.

 


Ihtra celebrates International Volunteer Day

Updated 28 min 24 sec ago
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Ihtra celebrates International Volunteer Day

  • More than 15,000 male and female Ithra volunteers have completed more than 600,000 volunteering hours in service of their communities

DHAHRAN: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture celebrated International Volunteer Day, which falls on Dec. 5 each year.

Ithra’s International Volunteer Day events are part of a series that the center is organizing from Dec. 5-14 with various activities, workshops and panel discussions.

The celebration highlights the importance of volunteering programs and their impact on developing young people’s skills.

More than 15,000 male and female Ithra volunteers have completed more than 600,000 volunteering hours in service of their communities.

The celebration includes the Dec. 14 launch of the International Volunteer Day Forum, titled “Sustainable Volunteering.”

The forum will focus on sustainable volunteer work and explore a range of volunteering programs and initiatives.

Lcal and international speakers, as well as experts from Gulf countries, will discuss the most effective ways and methods to achieve sustainability in volunteering.

The center will also hold an accompanying exhibition under the slogan “Ithra Volunteering,” comprising four stations.

The first station will feature a screen displaying the achievements of Ithra’s volunteer services unit.

The second station will include a visual presentation summarizing the work carried out by volunteers last year, while the third will tell the personal stories of Ithra volunteers, including young people and cultural volunteers.

Virtual reality technology will be used in the fourth station, with visitors getting a glimpse into the Ithra volunteering experience while taking part in interactive games.