Makkah deputy governor receives arriving Indonesian pilgrims as he inspects Hajj services at Jeddah international airport

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Prince Saud bin Mishal bin Abdulaziz, Makkah province deputy govern, inspecting Hajj services at the Jeddah international airport. (SPA)
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Officers of the Saudi Border Guard welcome visitors arriving at the Kingdom's land and sea ports to perform Hajj. (SPA)
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Officers of the Saudi Border Guard welcome visitors arriving at the Kingdom's land and sea ports to perform Hajj. (SPA)
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Updated 08 June 2024
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Makkah deputy governor receives arriving Indonesian pilgrims as he inspects Hajj services at Jeddah international airport

  • Border Guards welcome and assist pilgrims arriving in land and sea ports
  • Pakistani man detained in Jeddah for promoting fradulent housing services to pilgrims

JEDDAH: Prince Saud bin Mishal bin Abdulaziz, deputy governor of Makkah province, received some 400 pilgrims arriving at the Jeddah international airport early on Saturday from the city of Surabaya, Indonesia, the SPA reported.

They were among those who came through the “Makkah Route,” an initiative launched by the Saudi government six years ago to facilitate travel procedures for those performing the rituals of Hajj in the Kingdom.

Prince Saud presented gifts to the arriving pilgrims as he conducted an inspection on the progress of work at the Hajj and Umrah lounge complex of the King Abdulaziz International Airport.


READ MORE:

• Hajj weather expected to be extremely hot this year

• Minister of transport: 22 comprehensive plans developed to serve pilgrims


Prince Saud also reviewed work at the health center for pilgrims in the Hajj and Umrah halls, and the group luggage acceptance area, which is located on an area exceeding 35,000 sq m and includes 24 external loading lane stops. The service aims to provide an easy travel experience, facilitate pilgrims’ procedures and transport their luggage to their locations of residence in Makkah and the Holy Sites.

The deputy governor checked the area designated for the “Pilgrim Without a Bag” initiative, and inspected the locations of the air-conditioned lounges in the general area, as well as the locations of government agencies operating at the airport.




Officers of the Saudi Border Guard welcome visitors arriving at the Kingdom's land and sea ports to perform Hajj. (SPA)

Also on Friday, the General Directorate of Border Guard continued to welcome pilgrims arriving in land and sea ports, providing them with the required facilities and guiding them to authorities at the port to complete their procedures quickly and easily.

Meanwhile, the Jeddah police arrested a Pakistani man on charges of fraud for promoting false and misleading housing and transportation to pilgrims. The suspect was also found in possession of forged Hajj bracelets, SPA said in another report. The case has been referred to the Public Prosecution.


Saudi focuses on global economy at G20 development meeting

Updated 23 July 2024
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Saudi focuses on global economy at G20 development meeting

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Economy and Planning Minister Faisal bin Fadel Alibrahim has been holding talks with officials from several nations on the state of the global economy at the G20 Development Ministerial Meeting in Brazil.

On the sidelines of the G20 meeting, which began on Monday and ends on July 24, Alibrahim held discussions with Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira on the latter’s agenda while holding the presidency of the G20.

They also discussed efforts to enhance cooperation in various sectors, including infrastructure, agribusiness and renewable energy, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The minister also met with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Secretary-General Mathias Cormann on regional and global economic developments, and Saudi Arabia’s work with the OECD.

In addition, Alibrahim had discussions with Singapore’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education Mohamad Maliki Osman.

They focused on ways to enhance relations including in the industrial, education, investment and financial sectors.

 

 


Mermaids in the Red Sea: Jeddah diving course offers new aquatic adventure

Updated 23 July 2024
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Mermaids in the Red Sea: Jeddah diving course offers new aquatic adventure

  • It's a whimsical yet invigorating experience for divers wanting to try something new

JEDDAH: Inspired by mythical sea-dwelling creatures, a diving center in Jeddah is offering a first-of-its-kind mermaid diving course for those wanting to splash around in cool waters during the summer.

Scuba Schools International at Al-Haddad Scuba in the coastal city offers a whimsical yet invigorating experience for those in search of an aquatic adventure.

All over the world, mermaids represent beauty, danger, transformation, duality, and feminine power. Today they continue to inspire literature, film, fashion, and even marine conservation efforts.

Ali Ayoub, Al-Haddad Scuba, certified mermaid diver

Arab News spoke to Corinna Davids, an Austrian scuba diving and swimming instructor known for her groundbreaking approach to mermaid diving. She developed the SSI Mermaid Program after years of expertise in free diving and swimming.

Davids became an instructor in swimming and scuba diving at SSI when she was 18 and has since revolutionized the diving industry, making waves with her innovative techniques and passion for the sea.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In April, Corinna Davids held the first mermaid diving course for instructors in Saudi Arabia.

• The course comprises extensive theory sessions, in-water training, and evaluations of teaching abilities.

Mermaid diving, she explained, is an art form that combines the technique of dolphin kick used in swimming with an exaggerated, aesthetically pleasing movement. This unique style not only looks beautiful but also ensures efficiency and safety.

“By mastering various fun skills and tricks, SSI mermaids can perform beautifully while maintaining safety protocols,” she told Arab News.

Saudi model Wafaa Al-Masry said the mermaid diving course was ‘a fun and unique experience.’ (Supplied)

Davids says that to become a mermaid one needs only basic water confidence. “The program is easily accessible, and to become a mermaid instructor, one needs to complete additional steps after becoming a mermaid,” she added.

The mermaid diving experience is incomplete without the mermaid costume. Davids recommends using high-quality monofins, such as the Mahina Monofin, which provides efficiency and aesthetic appeal. The tail skin, made from Lycra or scuba fabric, completes the look and will give mermaids the confidence to shine.

In April, Davids held the first mermaid diving course for instructors in Saudi Arabia, focusing on safety, technique and teaching methods to ensure that trainees are able to teach mermaid diving to students of all levels. The course comprises extensive theory sessions, in-water training, and evaluations of teaching abilities.

Initiatives such as the Vision 2030 plan aim to diversify the economy and promote tourism, which includes the development of new recreational activities like mermaid diving.

Ali Ayoub, Al-Haddad Scuba, certified mermaid diver

“The course received an overwhelmingly positive response from the trainees, who showed significant improvement throughout the program,” she said.

The newly certified instructors will be able to teach the mermaid diving program throughout Saudi Arabia.

“The primary aim of conducting this course in Saudi Arabia was to introduce a new, fun program that would appeal to kids and adults alike. Mermaid diving offers an exciting experience for those who may be hesitant to try scuba diving or freediving,” Davids said.

Corinna Davids, a respected scuba diving and swimming instructor known for her groundbreaking approach to mermaid diving. (Instagram/corinna.flowrebels)

Four participants from diverse backgrounds took part in the course, including a swimming instructor and lifeguard, two scuba instructors (one of whom is a doctor), and a free-diving instructor who is also an air traffic controller.

Ali Ayoub, a certified mermaid diver and scuba instructor from Al-Haddad Scuba, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia has been undergoing considerable social and cultural transformations, with more emphasis on leisure and recreational activities.

“Initiatives such as the Vision 2030 plan aim to diversify the economy and promote tourism, which includes the development of new recreational activities like mermaid diving.”

Ayoub added that mermaid diving requires strong swimming abilities and good physical fitness. “Practice swimming regularly, work on your breath-holding techniques, and consider taking free-diving courses to improve your underwater endurance,” he advised.

He added that mermaid divers can participate in educational programs for schools, community groups, and public events: “They can share information about marine ecosystems, the threats they face, and how individuals can help. Their captivating presence can make learning about these issues more engaging and memorable.”

Wafaa Al-Masry, 22, a Saudi model, took the mermaid diving course under the supervision of coach Ayoub. She told Arab News: “It was a fun and unique experience. Initially, I thought it would be difficult, but with the training and the coach’s guidance, I found it easy and enjoyable.”

She said that breathing techniques, relaxation, and mastering the fin method were new skills she managed differently throughout the mermaid course. “The trainer was excellent in providing instruction, making the experience fun, and delivering valuable information,” she added.

Davids has written a comprehensive guide for those interested in discovering the magic of mermaid diving in Saudi Arabia. The guide provides all the necessary information for new mermaids to stay safe, make informed decisions, and choose the right equipment.

Having trained more than 3,000 divers in the past five years, Al-Haddad Scuba specializes in unique activities such as snorkeling, deep diving and night diving, providing immersive experiences of the vibrant underwater world alongside a community of fellow ocean enthusiasts.

 

 


Saudi farmer turns worm waste into wealth in innovative move

Updated 22 July 2024
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Saudi farmer turns worm waste into wealth in innovative move

  • Vermicomposting operation is an example of agricultural ingenuity

RIYADH: A Saudi farmer has developed a technique that transforms a common garden nuisance into a useful resource.

Mohammed Al-Shaer, of Al-Dhafir village in Baha, has established a thriving vermicomposting operation on his farm, producing high-quality organic fertilizer from earthworms, according to a report by the Saudi Press Agency.

Al-Shaer’s venture began approximately a year ago with a simple setup: a single 5-meter-long, 60 cm-high tank housing roughly 2,000 worms. The worms were fed a diet of dry leaves, organic waste, and food scraps and were closely monitored for four months, yielding over 300 kg of nutrient-rich compost and a tenfold increase in their population.

Baha farmer Mohammed Al-Shaer’s worm compost accelerates plant growth, enhances fruit production, and improves overall soil health. (SPA)

“Through extensive field trials and research into global best practices, I have gained insights into worm behavior, needs, and breeding techniques,” Al-Shaer explained in an interview with the SPA. His operation has since expanded to four tanks, producing enough vermicompost to fertilize roughly 250 trees on his property.

The benefits of this organic fertilizer are manifold. It accelerates plant growth, enhances fruit production, and improves overall soil health.

FASTFACT

Mohammed Al-Shaer’s venture began approximately a year ago with a simple setup: a single 5-meter-long, 60 cm-high tank housing roughly 2,000 worms.

Al-Shaer added: “The worms naturally enhance soil quality, optimize nutrient cycling for crops, and develop sound agricultural practices to enhance the production of fruits and vegetables.”

Looking ahead, the farmer aims to scale up his project to develop it into a comprehensive operation that produces large quantities of worm compost.

He also intends to raise awareness about this ecofriendly practice among fellow farmers through agricultural festivals in Saudi Arabia, encouraging his contemporaries to use organic fertilizer as an alternative to chemical fertilizers, which can harm soil, plants, and human health.

Local officials, notably Fahd Al-Zahrani, director general of the branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Baha, have expressed support for the proposal.

Dr. Lubna Saad, an associate professor of applied nutrition at Al-Baha University, emphasized the scientific benefits of vermicomposting, describing it as a potent mixture of worm castings and processed organic matter.

“These worms consume most of the organic inputs, transforming them into vermicompost,” Saad said in an interview with the SPA.

“The resulting material is then sifted and filtered, producing a ready-to-use fertilizer suitable for all types of agricultural fields. It significantly enhances the soil’s ability to absorb and retain water.”

Farmers participating in the recent Khayrat Al-Baha Festival praised Al-Shaer’s initiative, noting improvements in their crop quality after using organic fertilizer, the SPA reported.

 

 


Al-Baha Honey Festival to begin Tuesday

The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)
Updated 22 July 2024
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Al-Baha Honey Festival to begin Tuesday

  • Al-Zahrani added that all types of honey exhibited are tested carefully to ensure quality

AL-BAHA: Under the patronage of Al-Baha Gov. Prince Hussam bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, the 16th International Honey Festival kicks off on Tuesday, July 23, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and held at the Cooperative Association of Beekeepers headquarters in Baljurashi Governorate.

Fahd Al-Zahrani, director general of the ministry’s Al-Baha branch, said the festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5.

The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)

He said the festival will witness the participation of 90 beekeepers from seven countries to showcase their products.

Al-Zahrani added that all types of honey exhibited are tested carefully to ensure quality.

The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)

Nine governmental, civil, and voluntary entities are also participating in the festival, which is one of the most important agricultural festivals in the Kingdom, attracting exhibitors and experts from around the world every year.

 


Financial district in Riyadh earns SmartScore Neighborhood certification

View shows the King Abdullah Financial District, north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 22 July 2024
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Financial district in Riyadh earns SmartScore Neighborhood certification

  • With this certification, the financial district becomes the first development in the Middle East and Africa to receive WiredScore’s SmartScore Neighborhood certification

RIYADH: The King Abdullah Financial District obtained the SmartScore Neighborhood certification by WiredScore, the world’s leading authority on smart building technologies, for its excellence in advanced digital infrastructure that provides a robust network, sustainability and seamlessness at the level of living, work and leisure.

With this certification, the financial district becomes the first development in the Middle East and Africa to receive WiredScore’s SmartScore Neighborhood certification.

The recognition comes after a rigorous evaluation and certification process that started in Sept. 2023, when WiredScore announced at a Cityscape Global event in Riyadh that KAFD met the pre-certification criteria for the SmartScore Neighborhood certification.