‘What Singapore did in 60 years, Saudi Arabia wants to accomplish in 15 years’: Diriyah Group CEO

The fifth edition, being held at the Pavillon Vendome in Paris ahead of the Bureau International des Expositions announcement of the Expo 2030 host country, gathers a delegation of Saudi ministers. (FILE/AFP)
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Updated 28 November 2023
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‘What Singapore did in 60 years, Saudi Arabia wants to accomplish in 15 years’: Diriyah Group CEO

  • Media Oasis gathers Saudi delegation for 3-day event ahead of BIE Expo 2030 announcement
  • For Diriyah, chief executive says 140m sq m must be finished by 2030 to welcome people from around world

PARIS: Media Oasis is a three-day event organized by the Saudi Ministry of Media, highlighting the Kingdom’s economic, development, and culture transformation.

The fifth edition, being held at the Pavillon Vendome in Paris ahead of the Bureau International des Expositions announcement of the Expo 2030 host country, gathers a delegation of Saudi ministers, the mayor of Riyadh, and the leadership of Saudi megaproject companies, to talk about their latest and upcoming projects under Vision 2030, what the Kingdom will look like by 2030, and why Riyadh is the place to be and host the next world expo following Osaka in 2025.

The Media Oasis comprises nine sections from hospitality to culture and sport with Riyadh Expo 2030, Diriyah, NEOM, the Ministry of Sport, Visit Saudi and more present to showcase the “city of tomorrow,” Saudi heritage, and the country’s cultural gems.

The Ministry of Sport is working on 33 new events for 2024 in addition to hosting Asia 2027, Trojena winter games, with sustainability factored into the Kingdom’s transformation efforts, sustainable sports events, and activities.

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Group, told Arab News how Diriyah was at the heart of the Kingdom’s transformation journey for 2030 and beyond.

Diriyah is a model for urban development and cultural renaissance, and an ambitious project aiming to become one of the leading culture centers, tourism hubs, and entertainment destinations on a global scale.

“We’re very blessed at this point in time to have two great visionary leaders of one time, King Salman, and the dynamic Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Their vision of the Kingdom to give happiness and well-being to all its people is 2030.

“The reason why this Expo is more important to Saudi than anybody is because we feel that it will allow us to welcome people from all over the world to see the accomplishments of the Kingdom by 2030.

“The crown prince said we will not only show our commitment, but we will also physically be there to show how much this means to us and I think it was a very thoughtful and brilliant strategy,” Inzerillo said.

Moving forward and beyond the announcement, the megaprojects are in progress to achieve the targets of Vision 2030, alongside a continued conversation between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world to meet the Kingdom’s economic, culture, and hospitality objectives.

With 50 years of experience in the tourism industry, Inzerillo highlighted authenticity and passion as a driving force behind the Diriyah projects, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the birthplace of the Kingdom.

“Winning the bid is when the work begins, because we have a giant task to do to get everything completed by 2030. In the case of Diriyah, 140 million square meters must be finished by 2030 and we will be ready to welcome everybody from all over the world,” he added.

In the six years leading up to 2030 the biggest challenge was expected to be manpower.

Inzerillo said: “We’re lucky because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a very young population, highly educated.

“What Singapore did in 60 years, what the Emiratis did just in tourism in 30 years, the crown prince wants to accomplish that in 15 years.

“Diriyah will be very famous by 2030. Now we have to get NEOM going, Red Sea going, the city of Riyadh will be unrecognizable, one of the great G20 cities of the world, as the crown prince continues his global leadership as a G20 head of government,” he added.


Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call from French President Emmanuel Macron, the Saudi Press Agency said early Thursday.

The pair discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation in all fields, in addition to issues of mutual interest.

They also exchanged views on several regional and international issues and the efforts made regarding them to achieve security and stability. 


Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 28 February 2024
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Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

  • During the meeting, officials discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector

RIYADH: Tunisian President Kais Saied met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During the meeting, they discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector. 

Al-Jalajel stressed the Kingdom’s keenness to enhance health cooperation between the two countries.

Saied highlighted and expressed appreciation for the pivotal role that the Kingdom plays in the Arab and Islamic world.


Saudi deputy minister meets Organization of African, Caribbean, & Pacific States chief

Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi deputy minister meets Organization of African, Caribbean, & Pacific States chief

Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji on Wednesday received Secretary-General of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States Georges Chikoti, in Riyadh.

During the meeting, they discussed issues of mutual concern and ways to further boost cooperation between the Kingdom and member countries of the OACPS.

In a separate meeting, Saudi Deputy Minister for Consular Affairs Ambassador Ali Al-Yousef held talks with the Mexican envoy to Saudi Arabia, Anibal Gomez Toledo, and reviewed relations between the two nations.
 


Aloula’s bazaar unites Jeddah for a charitable cause

Updated 28 February 2024
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Aloula’s bazaar unites Jeddah for a charitable cause

  • Visitors explored a range of offerings, including Ramadan item shops, a Saudi coffee corner, a dining area and shopping booths containing unique goods from different cultures

JEDDAH: The Women’s Charitable Society in Jeddah, known as Aloula, held its eighth annual charitable event on Feb. 27, celebrating tea and coffee cultures from around the world.

The event, titled “A Cup for a Good Cause,” brought Jeddah residents from a variety of countries together to take part in fundraising activities supporting underprivileged families.

The bazaar, a central feature of the event, featured six zones with more than 100 local participants and representatives from countries such as India, South Africa, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Egypt.

Visitors explored a range of offerings, including Ramadan item shops, a Saudi coffee corner, a dining area and shopping booths containing unique goods from different cultures.

The event also showcased a variety of performing arts from around the world. 

Visitors were treated to folklore shows from Indonesia, Colombia, Kazakhstan and India, as well as performances of Saudi Ardah, Egyptian folklore and Saudi folklore. Acclaimed artist Abdallah Rashad held a musical performance, adding to the cultural tapestry of the event.

Dania Al-Maeena, Aloula CEO, expressed her gratitude for the support of Jeddah residents, as well as local and international brands.

In comments to Arab News, she highlighted the importance of community collaboration in achieving Aloula’s mission of supporting underprivileged families in Jeddah. 

Founded in 1964, the nonprofit, which supports thousands of people, focuses on the holistic development of children’s intellectual and physical skills to help them realize their full potential.

Ahmed Al-Safahi, director of the community development department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said he was “proud and delighted by Aloula’s efforts and dedication for this charity event.”

During the opening day of the event, sponsors including Haji Hussein Ali Reza, Arabian Tires, Aqua Power, Best Events, 3 Arts Entertainment and Success Makers were honored for their contributions.


US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion

Updated 28 February 2024
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US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion

  • Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings

RIYADH: US singer China Moses wowed the audience when she took to the stage in Riyadh.

The musician’s performance was the third of cultural and creative hub Fenaa Alawwal’s Safar Nights concert series.

She was joined by band members Jerome Cornelis on guitar, bassist and musical director Lawrence Insula, Tom Lartigue on keyboards, and Ebow “Lox” Mensah on drums.

After the show Moses told Arab News: “The crowd was lovely and so warm and welcoming. You just never know how the music is going to connect, and I really felt at the end that it was a choir — we were a family at the end.

“That makes me very happy. I’m overjoyed actually right now,” she added.

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments.

Raised in France, she sang several of her most popular tracks including “Etre la-bas” and had fans grooving to improvised tunes such as one she described as having a barbecue tempo.

Introducing “Disconnected,” she told the audience: “This song is about getting together just like we are and just feeling the vibe, just feeling alright. So, if your feet are moving, and if your head is grooving, then that means we’re doing our job.

“We want to take a moment to celebrate our roots. With this song we’re going to celebrate Tina Turner and Al Green,” she said, before performing a cover of “Let’s Stay Together.” 

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)

She also paid tribute to other Black musicians with renditions of Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You,” written by Prince, and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings.

Quoting the late American singer Nina Simone, she said: “It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times.” She then sang “Sirens,” a song that she noted helped to purge the feelings of disbelief and pain after the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, and the Colorado Springs’ Club Q bar shootings in 2022.

A storyteller by nature, she uses her voice to platform both tribulations and celebrations of the African American experience.

The daughter of American jazz singer and actress Dee Dee Bridgewater, Moses blends several genres into her repertoire including blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk.

“There are so many different kinds of jazz, and so many different layers. Some of the stuff I did tonight was not planned. It’s a music of freedom. It is the music of my Black American heritage but, more importantly, a music that was a gift from such a horrible period in humanity,” Moses added. 

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)

She pointed out that she always aimed to send her audiences home with joy and hope in their hearts.

Jazz emerged in New Orleans, influenced by spirituals and the slave experience of the African Americans in the US, the sounds of which were also rooted in ragtime and blues incorporating improvisation and syncopated rhythms. It led to various subgenres such as bebop, cool jazz, and fusion.

Moses said: “Who separated the jazz and the blues? Because that’s the same people who made both, and all those people would go to church. And if you don’t explain it that way, you don’t understand Black American society.

“You can’t understand why Black American church is so important. You can’t understand why jazz can sound so warm and round and rugged and raw, like the blues. And you don’t understand why the blue sounds so simple.”

Saudi Arabia has recently hosted top artists including R and B and soul singer Alicia Keys, rapper Lauryn Hill in AlUla during Saudi Founding Day celebrations, and queen of funk Chaka Khan (a close friend of Moses’ mother) who performed at Riyadh’s first International Jazz Festival earlier this month.

“I’ve played in a lot of places in the world I never thought I would play because I do Black American music. I think that that’s a testament to the power and universality of it.

“Alicia Keys is a universal person. We have the same message, we just express it in different ways because we’re different people,” Moses added.

Starting her career at the age of 16, Moses said she had never imagined performing around the world, hosting two radio shows, and becoming a co-founder and artistic director to both the Tahiti Soul Jazz festival, and Paris Soul Fest.

On her advice to the rising talents on the Saudi music scene, Moses said: “Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to explain. The music is enough, of course. But don’t be afraid to talk to the audience.

“Whether you choose to express yourself through spoken word, sung word, or no words with your voice, you’re communicating. For me, the most important thing is to do the best with what you have. There’s beauty in all of us,” she added.