‘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)
Short Url
Updated 01 March 2024

‘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






Trump supporters meet representatives of Michigan’s Arab and Muslim communities

Updated 10 min 26 sec ago

Trump supporters meet representatives of Michigan’s Arab and Muslim communities

  • The aim of the meeting was to secure support for Trump’s presidential bid, amid widespread dissatisfaction with Biden’s stance on Israel during the war in Gaza
  • In 2020 Biden won Michigan by only 154,188 votes out of more than 5.5 million cast — a slender 2.8% margin of victory

CHICAGO: Arab and Muslim supporters of the former US president, Donald Trump, held a meeting in Michigan on Tuesday night to discuss with community leaders his actions while he was in the White House, and attempt to win their support for his bid to regain the presidency. 

It comes after the #AbandonBiden movement claimed a significant degree of success in their efforts during the primary elections process to persuade Muslim voters to protest against President Joe Biden’s actions in support of Israel during the war in Gaza by refusing to endorse him as the Democratic candidate for president. 

Biden comfortably won his party’s nomination in the primaries. However, on his way to victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election, he won several key swing states by slender margins, and if the Muslim voters who rejected him in the primaries in those states were also to abandon him at the election in November, they might have a significant effect on the outcome. 

Michigan was one of those swing states in 2020; Biden won it by only 154,188 votes out of more than 5.5 million cast — a 2.8 percent margin of victory. 

Since the war in Gaza began, Biden has provided Israel with more than $40 billion in military-funding support and provided political cover for the actions of Israeli authorities during the conflict, which has claimed more than 35,000 lives. Because of this, some Arab American and Muslim American leaders and progressive Democrats have urged the community to protest against his reelection. 

Bishara Bahbah, the national chairperson of Arab Americans for Trump, an independent organization that is separate from the official Trump campaign, told Arab News on Wednesday that he and other supporters of the former president met about 40 “leaders” of the Arab and Muslim community in Michigan on Tuesday to “straighten out the many misconceptions about what Trump has done and seeks to do” in the Middle East. 

“The meeting went very well. A number of the issues were cleared up. There was no ‘Muslim ban’ — the Democrats spun it,” he said, referring to Trump’s controversial policy while president of blocking citizens of certain, predominantly Muslim, countries from entering the US. 

“It was a question of proper vetting (of those) coming either as visitors or as immigrants to the United States,” said Bahbah. “The impact was only on a few countries that were in turmoil, and the people who were qualified to be allowed in were let in. 

“Many Muslims entered the US during that alleged ‘ban.’ All Trump did was implement the laws of entering the country for everyone.” 

He added that the policy had affected only six of 50 predominantly Muslim countries and accused the Democrats and the media of distorting the issue into “something it was not.” 

Bahbah also said the Trump administration’s recognition in 2017 of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and its decision to move the US embassy to the city on 2018, were also misrepresented by the Democrats. 

“Yes Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but he did not specify that he would not recognize the Eastern portion of Jerusalem as a capital for Palestine,” said Bahbah. He added that many Arabs, including some of his relatives, worked at the embassy. 

“If that was wrong, why didn’t Biden reverse that? Biden had the opportunity to reverse it but he did not.” 

He accused Biden of being “absolutely deceptive” and added: “The US president should answer to the people of the United States. Under a Trump leadership, there would be an end to the wars in the Middle East, including the war between Israel and Hamas. 

“Once Hamas is out of the picture and once new leadership is elected in both Israel and in the Palestinian authority, there will openly be talk about developing the Palestinian areas. The ultimate solution would be satisfactory to Israelis and Palestinians, and we all know what that means.” 

Bahbah said: “The only person (Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin) Netanyahu fears is President Trump. Netanyahu played political football with Biden but Trump would be forthright.” 

Asked about a survey by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the results of which were published last week and suggested both Biden and Trump were performing poorly among Arab Americans, with support in single digits, he said: “I respect ADC but I think there is a difference between a survey and a poll. It may reflect the views of ADC members but not the Arab and Muslim community. 

“Trump has been misunderstood. Trump will muscle peace and he will bring about prosperity to the region and lead to a satisfactory resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.” 

Oubai Shahbander, a Trump supporter who helped organize Tuesday’s meeting, which took place at a restaurant in Troy, a suburb of Detroit near Dearborn, said Arab and Muslim community leaders were invited to attend and hear “directly from Trump supporters” why they should back the former president’s election bid. 

One of the speakers was Trump’s former director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell. 

“What’s very clear is that Arab Americans in Michigan are not supporting Joe Biden and they never will,” Grenell told Arab News after the meeting. 

“They know his disastrous leadership led to multiple wars and massive death. What’s also true is that the support for Donald Trump has never been higher with Arab Americans, because peace and peace accords and sanctioning Iran are very popular.” 

There was pushback against Grenell from some of the attendees, who criticized Trump for surrendering Jerusalem to Israeli government control, and for promoting peace accords with Arab countries without firmly securing Israeli support for a two-state solution. 

Grenell acknowledged those issues but said Trump can still provide Arabs and Muslims with greater respect and honesty than Biden. He added that Trump continues to support a two-state solution, an option publicly rejected by Netanyahu after becoming Israeli Prime Minister. 

Critics also highlighted comments by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, at the start of the war in Gaza in which he suggested the beachfront of the territory could be developed by authorities in Israel as a tourist attraction or an upmarket residential area for Israelis. 

Others at the meeting said their party and Trump can deliver peace for the Palestinians, and would deliver on their promises and respect the community, unlike Biden, who they said has repeatedly broken his promises to Arabs and Muslims in the US. 

“The feedback from the community has been incredibly positive,” Massad Boulous, whose son, Michael, is married to Trump’s daughter, Tiffany, told Arab News on Wednesday. 

“We spoke to a diverse set of members of the Arab American community on Tuesday night and the level of support for President Trump’s policy is clearly growing. We made it clear that Arab American support is absolutely crucial in this election and that our interests in the community, and for our families, are best served with Donald Trump back in the White House. 

“I spoke about my personal experience as an Arab immigrant to this great country and the importance of preserving this great country for our children and grandchildren — it’s a message that resonates with Arab Americans in Michigan. Arab Americans just can’t afford another four years of a president that doesn’t care about them or share their values and interests.” 

Bahbah and Shahbander said further meetings between Trump supporters and Arab and Muslim community leaders would be organized “to clarify distortions” from Biden and the mainstream news media, which they accused of favoring Biden over Trump. 

The meeting came less than a week after several Arab American leaders met Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

Leaders of the #AbandonBiden movement have said they hope to organize a “national gathering” in the Fall at which Arab, Muslim and other voters can consider alternative presidential candidates.

London art exhibition addresses Arab pasts to ‘envision bright futures,’ says artist

Updated 45 min 47 sec ago

London art exhibition addresses Arab pasts to ‘envision bright futures,’ says artist

  • Born in Los Angeles, Massoud Hayoun draws upon his Tunisian, Moroccan and Egyptian heritage to explore notions of belonging and identity
  • The exhibition is entitled ‘Between Broken Promises, Harissa’

LONDON: An art exhibition “addressing Arab pasts to imagine futures full of solidarity, progress and unity” has debuted at a gallery in London, drawing people from different Arab backgrounds, according to the artist.

Born in Los Angeles, Massoud Hayoun draws upon his Tunisian, Moroccan and Egyptian heritage to explore notions of belonging, identity and systems of power through his work, exhibiting 14 canvases drawn from his critically acclaimed memoir “When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family’s Forgotten History,” published in 2019 by The New Press in New York.

“His evocative portraits, painted as though they were drawn using a blue-ink ballpoint pen, celebrate the complexity of society at its fullest, featuring convicts, sex workers and migrant laborers while also paying homage to the people who raised him: his Egyptian and Tunisian grandparents,” the London-based Larkin Durey gallery said in a statement.


A post shared by Larkin Durey (@larkindurey)

The exhibition, entitled “Between Broken Promises, Harissa,” which is set to conclude on Friday, was listed as one of “the coolest things to do in London this week” by British GQ magazine when it opened on May 9.

“I wrote a book on Arab identity in 2019 in which I ask what Arabness is and apply that to the lives of my grandparents, who raised me ... and I felt it was important to share our little political theories with the world,” Hayoun told Arab News.

“Those ideas reflect largely in these works. Our family is of Jewish faith, but like many believers in Arabism of diverse backgrounds, our Arabness is paramount. It supersedes but does not cancel out any simultaneous identity,” he added.

The death of Hayoun’s grandparents, with whom he was especially close, led him to interrogate his Jewish Arab roots as, for the 36-year-old artist, “politics are personal, and the more people benefit from certain oppressive power structures, the less likely they are to notice ... the degree to which all politics are personal.”


A post shared by Larkin Durey (@larkindurey)

Similarly, his two poetic novels, “Building 46” and “Last Night in Brighton,” both published by Darf Publishers in London, use the framework of the ghost story to examine body image, migrant laborers, and the North African diaspora.

“As a journalist, Hayoun was drawn to ‘help uplift voices — not just those of analysts and academics, but on many occasions of people who are systematically silenced,’ and personal loss, the pandemic and the example of his grandmother taking up drawing late in life, inspired Hayoun to focus on painting, a language he has always enjoyed as an immediate, visceral way in which to tell stories,” the gallery said.

His portraits are painted as though drawn using a blue ballpoint pen, which Hayoun described as “blue faces with highlights look ethereal and ghostly, and I’m often painting about people who are either passed away or set in the past or distant history.

“But, as with all art and literature, there are no invalid interpretations. Their interpretations will certainly influence my work going forward,” he said.

“The works in this show are about Arabness — not Jewish Arabness or any particular Arab community. With the news as it is, it is radical to envision bright Arab futures,” Hayoun explained.

Having already toured the US and almost concluding his UK exhibition, the artist said he is now in the process of talking to several galleries and museums to show more in Arab and Gulf countries instead of being “in the position of talking about Arabs in the so-called West.”

He said: “I’m just one of very many younger people of Arab origin right now who, for a variety of reasons, are coming together to ask what Arabness was, is, and will be and that’s a pressing and prescient question with current events as they are.

“Above all the more superficial things I’m taking away from London is a community of kindred spirits thinking past the darkness of these times. That’s a hopeful thing that will fuel my practice indefinitely,” he added.

Bomb kills five civilians from same family in Iraq’s Salahuddin province, two security sources say

Updated 27 min 43 sec ago

Bomb kills five civilians from same family in Iraq’s Salahuddin province, two security sources say

A roadside bomb killed five civilians from the same family in Iraq’s Salahuddin province after detonating on a vehicle transporting them, two security sources said on Wednesday.


Where We Are Going Today: Casa Noor

Updated 22 May 2024

Where We Are Going Today: Casa Noor

When Noora Ahmed Almubsher decided to start a home-based business, she went all in. In 2021, armed with a degree in business, she used her passion for food to fill in the gaps she found in the market. She wanted to create something innovative that reminded her of home, and thus named her entrepreneurial pursuit “Casa Noor.”

While the word “casa” translates to “home” in Spanish, a place which generates comfort, warmth and deliciousness, her products and “noor” or “light” in Arabic, are very Saudi-centric.

Based in the historic Tarout Island in Qatif in the Eastern Province, she handpicks ingredients from local farms while sprinkling in what she calls the “Noora” touch.

Her purple-hued Saudi-made sauerkraut will perk up any boring dish, offering a perky pickled pick-me-up that is both healthy for your gut and fun for your taste buds. I added it to the middle of a grilled cheese sandwich, the oozing melted sharp cheddar merged well with the sauerkraut bits that offered a fresh, tangy bite to the crunchy toast.

We also tried her pickled loumi lemons in a jar, an essential staple which is the pride and joy of neighboring Al-Ahsa. Those lemon-lime bits of citrus goodness have a distinctive taste as it requires very high temperatures and humidity to generate that signature Hasawi flavor. They are perfect for chicken marinates, to scoop up into rice, or drizzle into tart desserts.

For the Noora Tea blend, which was curated specifically to celebrate Founding Day, Almubsher brought in ingredients from different parts of the Kingdom and combined them into one mix. She joked that it was extra personal since it shares her first name, but it is also a loving tribute to the late Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman, whose name is proudly displayed at the front of the world’s largest woman-only university in Riyadh.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that Saudi Arabia has the capacity to produce world-class products that reflect our rich agricultural heritage,” she told Arab News. “These products are not only healthy and free from preservatives and hydrogenated oils, but they also taste good.”

“We want to convey to the world — and to our own community — that we have the resources and expertise to offer clean, sustainable, and locally-sourced food options that are accessible to everyone. This aligns perfectly with the broader objectives of Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy and promote local industries,” she said.

For more details and to order, visit her Instagram @casa.noor.

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Updated 22 May 2024

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

  • Accreditation follows evaluation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve by the international organization Key Biodiversity Areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been granted accreditation as “the first major biodiversity site in the Kingdom.”

The organization Key Biodiversity Areas confirmed the accreditation, after an evaluation based on international standards, on its website on Wednesday. It said the reserve meets three global standards, including the presence of endangered species, and so qualifies for inclusion. The announcement coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place on May 22 each year.

KBA works to monitor and preserve approved sites of great importance as part of its efforts to sustain biological diversity on a global level, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi reserve is managed by the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority with the aim of protecting endangered species, developing natural habitats, raising environmental awareness among the public, and reducing natural and human threats to the area. It is considered the largest nature reserve in the Middle East, covering a total area of 130,700 square kilometers.