Plan developed to realize full potential of Riyadh region

Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Thu, 2017-01-19

RIYADH: The High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh (HCDA) has developed a plan to realize the full potential of the Riyadh region.
The Riyadh Development Authority (RDA) said the Riyadh Regional Plan is in coordination with the public and private sectors to address various development issues.
The RDA is the executive arm of the HCDA, which sets policies for city development formulated by the former.
The RDA said the futuristic vision underlying the plan focuses on transforming the region into a multi-functional economic zone, an investment magnet, and a home for geographically and demographically balanced development.
It added that the plan selected development centers to be transformed into regional planning clusters with variant population sizes.
Each cluster stretches over a number of provinces in Riyadh to achieve balanced development, diversity of resources and better efficiency.
The plan aims to improve significant sections of the road network, and establish a network of main roads to connect different areas of the region and re-route traffic outside the main population centers, including the city of Riyadh.
The plan recommends establishing roads linking development centers and the Riyadh region with neighboring regions.
The official railway (North-South & East-West) will be utilized via new stations to serve cargo and passengers from development centers along the network.
Given the relatively large distance between development centers, the existing network of civil aviation will be boosted with new regional airports to connect the southeastern and northern clusters.
The plan seeks to list all future activities and major projects that can be moved or relocated outside the city toward the region’s provinces according to their relative potential.
Exemplary projects typifying this approach are the recent inaugurations of three new universities: Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University in Kharj, Majmaah University and Shaqrah University. These universities have different colleges and teaching hospitals.
The RDA said the Riyadh Economic Development Strategy seeks to improve competitiveness in the region, create employment opportunities and achieve balanced development.
Based on analysis of targeted growth in economic sectors, it is expected to create about 99,000 jobs by 1445H, 60 percent of which will be provided by the private sector.
The RDA said two industrial cities are underway in Sudair (over 257 sq. km.) and Kharj (over 100 sq. km).
Establishment of similar industrial cities in other provinces are currently under study, in addition to hundreds of ongoing projects in the region in all sectors.

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Tourism Development Forum opens in Makkah

Arab News
Thu, 2017-01-19

MAKKAH: Adnan Khoja, assistant deputy governor for Development Affairs for Makkah launched on Wednesday the Tourism Development.
The forum is organized by the Makkah branch of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
Dr. Waleed Al-Humaidi, head of the SCTH for regional sectors, said Makkah is visited annually by 12 million Muslims who come mainly for Umrah and Haj. Many visitors are interested in visiting historic Islamic sites to learn about the Islamic culture and history of Makkah.
Al-Humaidi said the government aims to boost services and tourism in the region.
He added that the emirate’s committees provide support to projects and activities meant to develop Islamic heritage sites, supervise such efforts, and help partners organize cultural programs and activities that reflect original cultural and heritage values.
The committees also promote awareness about the importance of these cultural sites and their proper development, while providing incentives for potential partners.
Dr. Faisal Al-Sharif, director general of SCTH in Makkah, said the Makkah branch is working on launching a site, called “Discover Makkah,” which was designed using the latest technologies.
The site will serve as a global electronic platform for tourism in Makkah, and provide visitors with the latest tourism news, detailed guides about hotels and travel agencies, as well as up-to-date information on tourism activities in the Holy City.
Adviser to SCTH in Makkah, Tarek Khan, discussed the stages of the MASARI program, which provides the first tourist path to historic sites in Makkah, extending from Mount Rahma, Al-Baiaa Mosque, passing through Namra Mosque, Ein Zubaida, Al-Mash’aar Al-Haram Mosque, Al-Kheef Mosque and Al-Jamarat.
Program Supervisor Fahad Al-Wadee said there is approval of 10 tracks through which the program is carried out, including care for Islamic heritage sites, establishment of museums and cultural centers, operation and maintenance of museums, protection of archaeological sites, development of historic villages, research of cultural sites, development of handicrafts, promoting awareness of national heritage, training national cadres and other cultural activities.

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EU will cooperate with Kingdom on Vision 2030 — new envoy

Thu, 2017-01-19

RIYADH: The EU will cooperate with the Kingdom in implementing Saudi Vision 2030, Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, the new head of the EU delegation headquartered in Riyadh, told Arab News after presenting his credentials to Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
Besides Saudi Arabia, the new ambassador has also been designated to Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.
D’Urso said under Vision 2030, the Kingdom is engaged in a huge program to diversify its economy and improve educational and social development. This, he added, will also benefit the countries of the region.
He said the 20 EU member states present in Saudi Arabia have strong relations with the Kingdom, and thousands of Saudi students study in these countries and understand the people well.
D’Urso added that he was keen to promote people-to-people dialogue between Europe and the Kingdom.
“Europe understands the transformation process in the Kingdom, and we hope to strengthen relations with key entities such as the Shoura Council and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA),” he said.
D’Urso added that Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission vice president for jobs, is due in Riyadh this month to deepen economic cooperation between the Kingdom and EU countries.
He said the visiting delegation will hold talks with senior SAGIA officials to explore new areas of cooperation in the economic sector under Vision 2030.
D’Urso said the EU is the biggest business market for Saudi Arabia. Recalling a recent workshop on trade and investment dialogue between the EU and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the envoy said the two parties stressed the need for well-regulated investment and transparency to promote trade and investment.
D’Urso said the Kingdom is moving toward a new technological era where innovation and cutting-edge technology will benefit the people.
“Saudi Arabia has the potential to lead in the region in moving toward a sustainable technological solution that would benefit the people of the region, including those in the Kingdom,” he said.
D’Urso said plans are underway to celebrate “EU month” in the Kingdom in May. He said the theme will be fashion, and the event will be held in the capital Riyadh. “It exemplifies the cross-fertilization of experiences in areas of common interest,” he added.

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OIC to discuss Muslim Rohingya crisis in Myanmar

Arab News
Thu, 2017-01-19

JEDDAH: An Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting on Thursday is scheduled to discuss the crisis faced by the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.
A meeting of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers is expected to meet in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
Ambassador Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Alem, the OIC secretary general assistant for political affairs, pointed to the tragic situation and violence Muslims are suffering in Myanmar.
He pointed out that the number of displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar exceeds 120,000 people in need of humanitarian aid.
“During the period from Oct. 9, 2016 to Jan. 5, 2017 more than 65,000 … Rohingya Muslims sought refuge (in) Bangladesh, escaping from the systematic killings and violence against them in Myanmar, according to estimates by the United Nations,” Alem said.
Alem stated that the OIC meeting is expected to recommend steps such as urging the government of Myanmar to ensure humanitarian access to Rakhine State.
Islamic groups in New York, Geneva and Brussels last December held emergency meetings to discuss the ongoing crisis, in order to determine the necessary measures that can be taken in preparation for the extraordinary meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

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Inland tourism spending hits SR44.9bn in 2016

Wed, 2017-01-18

RIYADH: Saudis and expatriates spent more than SR44.9 billion on domestic tourist trips in 2016, a drop of 6.4 percent compared to figures of 2015, Saudi Press Agency said. The data was released by the Tourism Information and Research Center (MAS).
The number of inland tourist trips in the year exceeded 47.5 million, compared to 46.5 million in 2015, or an increase of 2.3 percent, MAS, an affiliate of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH), said in its report.
Meanwhile, the number of tourist nights of the inland tourism sector reached 243.5 million nights compared to 240.6 million nights in 2015, or a growth of 1.2 percent, the report said.
The number of trips for incoming tourism was estimated at 18.05 million in 2016, compared to 17.99 million trips in 2015, an increase of 0.3 percent. Likewise, the number of nights spent by incoming tourists in the year rose by 2.3 percent to reach 197.6 million, compared to 193.1 million nights in 2015, the report said.
The volume of spending on trips related to incoming tourism grew by 11.8 percent to SR92.3 billion in 2016, compared to SR82.5 billion in 2015, the report said.
Based on data released by MAS, the tourism sector in the Kingdom provides 882,900 direct jobs in the market, 27.8 percent being held by Saudis.
The tourism sector in the Kingdom annually generates some SR85.5 billion, which represents 3.5 percent of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product, and 4.9 percent of its non-oil sector.

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Sri Lanka agrees to follow KSA recruitment system

Mohammed Rasooldeen
Wed, 2017-01-18

RIYADH: A Sri Lankan labor delegation has agreed to follow Saudi Arabia’s Musaned online recruitment system following a meeting with senior officials.
A four-member Sri Lankan team headed by G.S. Withanage, secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Employment, met with Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Ziyad AI-Sayegh at the headquarters of the Labor Ministry in Riyadh.
Speaking to Arab News after the bilateral discussions, Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim said the two parties agreed to follow the Musaned system since it is fast and efficient.
Another advantage of the system arises in the event of labor violations by either employer or employee, the envoy said.

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Call for Saudis to apply to US education program

Fouzia Khan
Wed, 2017-01-18

JEDDAH: The US Embassy in Riyadh has called for Saudis to apply to the Study of the US Institutes (SUSI) education program.
Robin Yeager, Cultural Attaché at the embassy, told Arab News that SUSI “is a program that brings professional educators from around the world to an institute that provides thematic programs to enrich their teaching upon return to their home countries, while also providing the opportunity to build networks with both US contacts and fellow educators from other countries.”
SUSI for Secondary School Educators is an intensive postgraduate-level academic program with integrated study tours.
Its purpose is to provide foreign secondary school teachers from Saudi Arabia and other countries the opportunity to deepen their understanding of US educational system, society, culture, and institutions.
The SUSI Institute will take place at a US host university over the course of five weeks beginning in June 2017.
The focus will be secondary classroom teachers and will consist of a four-week academic residency component and a one-week integrated study tour eligibility.
Candidates should be Saudi citizens, between the ages of 30-50, highly motivated and experienced secondary school teachers, have little or no prior experience in the US, and demonstrate fluency in the English language.
Funding for all participants — including travel, housing, meals, and health coverage — is covered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.
For more details, email [email protected].

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Attempt to smuggle 1.6 million Captagon pills foiled

Wed, 2017-01-18

JEDDAH: Customs officers at Duba Port on Saudi Arabia’s west coast have thwarted two attempts to smuggle a total of 1,626,866 Captagon pills.
In both cases, the drugs were hidden inside iron sheets installed in the front of truck trailers. Ali Al-Atawi, director general of Duba Port Customs, said the first attempt involved 760,000 Captagon pills.
“The drugs were hidden at the front of the truck… inside the part allocated to tow the refrigerating trailer, after installing iron sheets manufactured for this particular purpose,” said Al-Atawi.
He added the second attempt involved another truck that entered the customs area a short while after the first truck.
After inspection and search operations the customs officers found 866,866 Captagon pills hidden in the same way as with the previous truck.
“Regulatory procedures were taken to deal with this situation,” asserted the director general of the port.

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Envoy lauds support for Saudi investments in Sudan

Arab News
Wed, 2017-01-18

KHARTOUM: Saudi Ambassador to Sudan Ali bin Hassan Jaafar praised the support provided to Saudi investments in Sudan in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Monday.
The remarks followed Sudanese Vice President General Bakri Hassan Saleh’s inauguration of the first phase of the National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) under construction in the North Kordofan State of Western Sudan.
Jaafar said the “participation of the first vice president and of ministers in the economic sector in the ceremony of inauguration of the project is proof of the significant status the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoys in Sudan.”
He said that modern methods, advanced technology and highly trained workers that make up the Saudi-Sudanese partnership will contribute to more food security in Sudan and will transform the agricultural sector through the projects for date palms, wheat cultivation and cattle raising.
Jaafar thanked Sudanese President Omar Bashir for supporting Saudi projects.
He also said that lifting the economic sanctions on Sudan will allow for the flow of more Saudi and non-Saudi investment into the Sudanese economy.
NADEC Managing Director and CEO Abdulaziz Mohammed Al-Babtain reiterated that Saudi-Sudanese ties are strong. He confirmed the Kingdom’s eagerness to support the Sudanese economy and help Sudan achieve food security through massive projects.
He said 32 kilometers of the Omdurman-Bara Jabratal road, to which the company contributed, were launched. He added that during this stage, 50 central irrigation systems for fodder and wheat farms were installed for the first time in North Kordofan. Work continues to plant 4,000 palm seedlings of different Saudi varieties.
He said that during the second phase of the company, the plan is to install 100 central irrigation systems for potato and maize farms, in addition to more wheat and fodder.
After the completion of the second phase, a project for dairy products will be implemented and 17,000 additional palm seedlings will be planted.

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