‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign

The “Forever Revitalising” campaign will unfold through events aimed at travel trade and media partners across six major cities. (SPA)
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Updated 01 March 2024
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‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign

  • Strategy to include events at 6 major cities highlighting ancient location’s modern appeal 

RIYADH: AlUla is only just beginning its journey to becoming a global tourism destination, the region’s tourism chief said on Thursday after the launch of its new global brand campaign.

The “Forever Revitalising” campaign will unfold through events aimed at travel trade and media partners across six major cities: Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, and Mumbai, Saudi Press Agency reported.

“In just a few years, AlUla has established itself as a destination on the global traveler’s wish list,” Phillip Jones, chief tourism officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla, said.

He added: “Through this campaign, we can open up the dialogue even further on a global stage, and communicate the full depth of AlUla’s appeal, attributes and ambition. The best is yet to come,” he added.

The campaign includes a two-and-a-half-minute film by French cinematographer Bruno Aveillan.

This film, which can be adapted in length and is available in several languages, showcases the essence of AlUla through its core destination pillars: history and heritage, arts and culture, nature and adventure, and wellness, SPA added.

“Crafting this film was an enriching experience, not only because it allowed me to witness some of the world’s most breathtaking landmarks and locations but also because it offered me a vast canvas to explore the depths of my own creativity — a profound and enduring gift that AlUla bestows upon everyone who walks upon her historic sands and experiences the sheltered embrace of her oasis,” Aveillan said.

Additionally, the campaign features a series of “Brand Pillar” six-second videos that highlight iconic destinations within AlUla, such as Hegra, Jabal Ikmah, AlUla Oasis, AlUla Old Town, Sharaan Nature Reserve, and Elephant Rock.

Other highlights include balloon adventures, luxury accommodation, local arts and crafts, and the lively food and drink scene on offer in AlUla.

Melanie de Souza, executive director of destination marketing at RCU, said: “Forever Revitalising is not only about driving global awareness of a destination that until recently was relatively unknown to most travelers, but also about communicating the breadth and depth of the programs and initiatives designed to create a better future for all those who live, work and visit our ancient oasis.

“We hope that the film and creative assets do justice to a truly unique destination.”

 

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Saudi Arabia’s proptech investments surge 35% to $9m: MAGNiTT report

Updated 4 min 55 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s proptech investments surge 35% to $9m: MAGNiTT report

CAIRO: Property technology venture capital investments in Saudi Arabia saw an annual increase of 35 percent in 2023 to reach $9 million, according to MAGNiTT’s latest report.  

The venture data platform emphasized that the Kingdom outpaced Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, Turkiye, and Southeast Asia regions with six proptech deals last year. 

In funding amount, Saudi Arabia ranked fifth across all markets, with Indonesia leading with $54 million, followed by the UAE with $35 million, and South Africa and Singapore with $13 million and $11 million, respectively. 

In terms of deal count, the UAE followed the Kingdom with five deals, while Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkiye each had three. 

Total funding across all markets in 2023 amounted to $157 million, marking an 81 percent decrease compared to the previous year. 

Deal count also experienced a significant annual decline, reaching 34 transactions, reflecting a 40 percent fall compared to 2022. 

MAGNiTT’s Emerging Venture Markets Real Estate report focused on analyzing the property marketplace, co-working, tenancy management, and facility management subsectors. 

The property marketplace was the leading sub-industry, attracting $120 million in funding, though this represented an 83 percent decline compared to the previous year. 

Africa was the best-performing region, with a 10 percent annual increase in funding, reaching $22 million. 

Property management was the most funded subsector on the continent, receiving $18 million in 2023, reflecting a 6 percent annual growth. 

In terms of deal count, Africa experienced a 53 percent drop, totaling seven transactions for the year. 

In the MEPT region, $59 million in funding was deployed in 2023, marking a 78 percent year-on-year decrease.  

This was spread across 19 deals, with the property marketplace being the most funded subsector at $38 million and the most transacted with 11 investments. 

Notably, seven out of the 10 most active investors by capital deployed in the region are headquartered in the US. 

Founded in 2014, MAGNiTT is the largest venture capital data platform in the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Turkiye, and Southeast Asia, with a database of over 32,000 startups and 11,000 investment firms. 


Pakistan’s main health body warns of Congo fever risk ahead of Eid Al-Adha

Updated 22 min 7 sec ago
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Pakistan’s main health body warns of Congo fever risk ahead of Eid Al-Adha

  • Congo fever is viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals
  • NIH also urges timely and appropriate measures to ensure protection from heatstroke and typhoid fever

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s primary health body has issued an advisory for the prevention of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), a press release said on Thursday, in light of the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha that could be a breeding ground for the tick-borne virus.

CCHF is a viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals, mainly through handling livestock or their blood, tissue, or excrement. It can also be transmitted from human to human through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person. The disease has a high fatality rate, and there is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for it. 

“During Eid Al-Adha, there is an unusual increase in the movement of animals from all provinces and increased contact between the general public and animals, raising the risk of the spread of Congo fever,” the National Institute of Health (NIH) said on Wednesday, advising people to wear light-colored clothing to easily detect ticks on fabric and avoid areas where ticks were prevalent.

The NIH also urged timely and appropriate measures to ensure protection from heatstroke and typhoid fever.

Pakistan has been experiencing severe climatic changes due to global warming in recent years which has led to heat waves, untimely rains and droughts.

A sunstroke is a form of hyperthermia and medical emergency during which the body temperature is elevated and can be fatal if not promptly treated, the health body said, adding that profuse or no sweating, dry skin, headaches, chills, slurred speech and dizziness were common signs of heatstroke.

Emphasizing precautionary measures during extreme heat, the health advisory advised people to avoid direct sunlight, drink plenty of water and use an umbrella or hat when outdoors. 

On May 21, authorities had urged people to stay indoors as the country was hit by an extreme heat wave that threatens to bring dangerously high temperatures and yet another round of glacial-driven floods. Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, shut all schools for a week because of the heat, affecting an estimated 18 million students.

The country’s chief meteorologist has warned that the heat wave would “intensify” from today, May 23, onwards.

Regarding typhoid fever, a bacterial infection that can prove to be life-threatening if not treated properly, the NIH said Pakistan was among countries with the highest burden of typhoid fever due to a lack of safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene practices. 

The statement stressed the importance of following hygiene practices, using clean water and avoiding street food. The disease has been reported from various parts of the country since 2016, especially during the monsoon and summer seasons, the health advisory said.


Saudi film ‘Norah’ makes history with Cannes Film Festival screening

Updated 22 min 56 sec ago
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Saudi film ‘Norah’ makes history with Cannes Film Festival screening

DUBAI: Saudi film “Norah” had its official screening at the 77th Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, becoming the first film from the Kingdom to screen as part of the official calendar at the event.

The movie, filmed entirely in AlUla and directed by Tawfik Al-Zaidi, is running in the “Un Certain Regard” section of the festival.

The movie is running in the “Un Certain Regard” section of the festival. (AN/ Ammar Abd Rabbo)

The film is set in 1990s Saudi Arabia when conservatism ruled and the pursuit of all art, including painting, was banned. It stars Maria Bahrawi, Yaqoub Al-Farhan, and Abdullah Al-Satian and follows the story of Norah and failed artist Nader as they encourage each other to realize their artistic potential in rural Saudi Arabia.

“Norah” is in competition with 19 other films from around the world.

The cast, director and CEO and chairwoman of the Red Sea International Film Festival appeared together on the red carpet for French adventure drama film “Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.” (AN/ Ammar Abd Rabbo)

On Wednesday, the cast, director and CEO and chairwoman of the Red Sea International Film Festival Mohammed Al-Turki and Jumana Al-Rashed, respectively, appeared together on the red carpet for French adventure drama film “Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.”

“Norah” was backed by the Red Sea Fund — one of the Red Sea Film Foundation programs — and was filmed entirely in AlUla in northwest Saudi Arabia with an all-Saudi cast and a 40 percent Saudi crew.


Pakistan court reserves verdict on pleas against ruling Imran Khan, wife violated marriage law

Updated 40 min 4 sec ago
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Pakistan court reserves verdict on pleas against ruling Imran Khan, wife violated marriage law

  • Khan, wife Bushra sentenced to seven years in prison in February by court that ruled their 2018 marriage illegal 
  • Bushra is currently serving out two prison sentences at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail where Khan is also incarcerated

ISLAMABAD: A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Thursday reserved its verdict on appeals challenging seven-year jail sentences each for former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Khan for violating the country’s marriage law. 

Khan and his wife were sentenced to seven years in prison and fined in February by a court that ruled their 2018 marriage broke the law. Bushra was accused of not completing the waiting period mandated by Islam, called “Iddat,” after divorcing her previous husband and marrying Khan.

The Khans signed their marriage contract, or “Nikkah,” in January 2018 in a secret ceremony seven months before the former cricket superstar became prime minister for the first time. There was controversy over whether they had wed before the Iddat period was complete. After initial denials of the marriage, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf confirmed it weeks later.

The Khans both deny wrongdoing.

“The court will announce the judgment on May 29 (Wednesday),” Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper reported. Other Pakistani media also widely reported that the judgment would be announced next week. 

Bushra is currently serving out two prison sentences at Adiala Jail where Khan is also incarcerated. In January, both were sentenced to 14 years in prison in a case that relates to accusations they undervalued gifts from a state repository and gained profits from selling them while Khan was prime minister from 2018-22. 

CASES

Khan was first jailed after being handed a three-year prison sentence in August 2023 by the Election Commission for not declaring assets earned from selling gifts worth more than 140 million rupees ($501,000) in state possession and received during his premiership. In January, Khan and Bushra were handed 14-year jail terms following a separate investigation by the country’s top anti-graft body, or NAB, into the same charges involving state gifts. 

An anti-graft court in Islamabad also handed Khan a 10-year jail term in January for revealing state secrets, a week before national elections on Feb. 8. The ruling on his marriage to Bushra and a seven-year sentence each for both also came ahead of the polls.

Khan has also been indicted under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism law in connection with violence against the military that erupted following his brief arrest related to a land graft case on May 9. A section of Pakistan’s 1997 anti-terrorism act prescribes the death penalty as maximum punishment. Khan has denied the charges under the anti-terrorism law, saying he was in detention when the violence took place. 

Khan’s convictions, which mean he is banned from holding public office, ruled the 71-year-old out of the February general elections. Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are motivated to keep him out of politics.

SPIRITUAL LEADER

Bushra’s ex-husband, Khawar Maneka, to whom she was married for about 30 years, brought a criminal complaint against the Khans. 

Khan has often called Bushra his spiritual leader. She is known for her devotion to Sufism, a mystical form of Islam.

Born Bushra Riaz Watto, she changed her name to Khan after her marriage. Her husband and followers commonly refer to her as Bushra Bibi or Bushra Begum, titles that denote respect in Urdu.

Khan’s two previous marriages — to Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of tycoon James Goldsmith, and television journalist Reham Nayyar Khan — ended in divorce.


West Ham name Julen Lopetegui as new boss

Updated 23 May 2024
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West Ham name Julen Lopetegui as new boss

LONDON: West Ham named former Real Madrid and Spain boss Julen Lopetegui as their new manager on Thursday after David Moyes’ departure from the London Stadium.
The 57-year-old Spaniard had been out of work since leaving Wolves on the eve of the just-concluded Premier League season.
Lopetegui will officially begin work with the Hammers on July 1, replacing Moyes after the Scot’s exit at the end of this season.
“We came here with the idea and the thought to make a big, big noise,” he said. “That’s why we came here, and we are excited by this challenge.
“Of course, we are going to do our best to help the club and the team to achieve the best level and to achieve our aims.
“I assure the fans that they are going to be key in all our achievements.”
West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan said Lopetegui’s appointment would “ensure a strong opportunity to build on the positive progress made in recent seasons.”
The Hammers finished ninth in the Premier League in the 2023/24 season.