24,000 visitors to Saudi Arabia within 10 days of new tourist visa system

07/10/19

24,000 foreign visitors entered Saudi Arabia within the first 10 days of the implementation of instant tourist visas at airports in the Kingdom, according to a Saudi Foreign Ministry statement. (SPA)
  • The ministry revealed the number of visitors from the top 10 countries using the new system
  • New visa system also allows ease of access for Muslims to perform Umrah outside of the Hajj season

RIYADH: 24,000 foreign visitors entered Saudi Arabia within the first 10 days of the implementation of instant tourist visas at airports in the Kingdom, according to a Saudi Foreign Ministry statement on Monday.

The ministry revealed the number of visitors from the top 10 countries using the new system — with China topping the list, with the UK and the US in second and third respectively.

European nations France and Germany were also in the list, with Canada, Malaysia and Russia just behind the top three. Australia and Kazakhstan were in ninth and tenth place.

The new visa system also allows ease of access for Muslims to perform Umrah outside of the Hajj season without the need for a sponsor, as is the case with work permit visas.

Outside of religious journeys, the new visa does not exclude any visitor on religious grounds and the successful applicants can make multiple visits to the Kingdom within a 12 month period, provided each visit does not exceed 90 days.

The recently announced visa system was introduced in a bid to create one million jobs within the Kingdom, as well as targeting 100 million tourists by 2030 as part of the Vision 2030 program.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Oracle Women’s Leadership initiative launched in KSA

05/10/19

Oracle has launched its global Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) initiative in Saudi Arabia. OWL’s mission is to develop, engage, and empower current and future generations of female leaders at Oracle.

“Oracle thrives on diversity. By building diverse and inclusive teams, we think more strategically and work more creatively. That’s why it’s crucial that we continuously leverage our powerful pool of female talent,” said Fahad Al-Turief, country leader — Saudi Arabia, Oracle.

This is yet another initiative by Oracle to support the implementation of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 framework. The Oracle Cloud offers a complete suite of integrated applications for sales, service, marketing, human resources, finance, supply chain and manufacturing, plus highly automated and secure Generation 2 infrastructure featuring the Oracle Autonomous Database.

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How young Saudi engineers restored oil production after attack on Abqaiq

Time: October 02, 2019  

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser, right, addresses the engineers on the work in restoring production back to its pre-attack levels. (Aramco/Twitter)

TAREK MISHKHAS

Attacks last month on Saudi oil facilities were an attack on the heart of the global energy industry, as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has pointed out. The region accounted for about 30 percent of the world’s energy supplies and 4 percent of its GDP, and about 20 percent of global trade passed through the Gulf, the crown prince said in a TV interview broadcast on Sunday night.

“Imagine if all of these three things were to stop. That would mean a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the countries of the Middle East,” he said.

We visited Abqaiq — the heart of the global energy industry to which the crown prince was referring — and we were amazed by the efforts of the young Saudi engineers working there.

Two weeks after the drone and missile strikes on the oil installations, work is continuing and production is back to its pre-attack levels.

The world has praised Saudi Aramco for putting out the fires in record time, and for the remarkable repair operations that followed.

The many Aramco officials we spoke to had only praise for the teams of engineers who carried out this work; their excellence, their innovation and their courage made us all proud, one senior manager said.

Watching a video of the attack, we were impressed with the young Saudi engineer who kept spraying water on the blazing tanks to reduce the heat and avoid further explosions. He reacted quickly, while still implementing all the relevant safety rules. And although he is a relative newcomer — a company employee for only 18 months — he kept his cool even as the attacks were in progress.

While the fires were being extinguished, different teams were working simultaneously to assess the damage, and with the first part of the job done the second important step was on everyone’s mind: To get production back on track.

The world has praised Saudi Aramco for putting out the fires in record time, and for the remarkable repair operations that followed.

Tarek Mishkhas

After the initial assessment, some thought that to have the tanks ready even to be repaired might take three to four weeks if the usual procedures were followed; as one engineer explained, there were residual gases inside the tanks that would usually take weeks to clear.

However, a young Saudi engineer and a veteran Aramco supervisor with 40 years’ experience worked together to come up with an ingenious solution that enabled the tanks to be safely welded without further problems.

Some Aramco staff have grown up with the company, the third generation of their families to work there. Others had never set foot in any Aramco facility before they joined. All, however, share the same pride in being part of this giant, and are happy to call themselves “Aramcons.” They take pride in being problem solvers, not only on the rigs but everywhere they work.

This also applies to former Aramco engineers, expatriates who have never lost their connection with the company. Many were quick to offer their services after the attacks.

Aramco has many assets, but the most valuable is its staff. “Our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our younger generation. They are our nation’s pride and the architects of our future,” the crown prince said.

The achievements at Abqaiq proved his every word, and justified his faith in Saudi youth.

  • Tarek Mishkhas is the Deputy Editor in Chief of Arab News and Tweets at @TMishkhas

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Over 3.7 million enjoy Saudi National Day Season

25/09/19

These events ranged from festivals, concerts, and fireworks, to youth forums, accompanied by celebrations on the streets as well as in public places and squares
RIYADH: The five-day Saudi National Day celebrations, which concluded on Monday evening, attracted more than 3.7 million people to various events organized across the Kingdom.
The chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh, said that a workforce of 8,230 “happiness makers,” 91 percent of whom were Saudis, contributed to the success of the National Day Season. In the total workforce, some 23 percent were women. More than 6,800 season jobs were created. Al-Sheikh said visitors enjoyed more than 700,000 spectacular firework salvos. According to official statistics, more than 4,200 buses transported visitors to and from event locations.
This year more than 40 events took place between Sept. 19 and 23. These events ranged from festivals, concerts, and fireworks, to youth forums, accompanied by celebrations on the streets as well as in public places and squares.

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King Salman opens new terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah

Time: September 24, 2019  

  • The airport is one of the largest in the region
  • It is part of a major plan to put the Kingdom’s airports among the world’s leading

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened and toured a new terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on Tuesday.
The airport is one of the largest in the region, with a total area of ​​810,000 square meters and a capacity of 30 million passengers per year.
During the tour, the king saw a presentation of the details of the airport and on civil aviation in the Kingdom.
The Minister of Transport and Chairman of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi, said that the Kingdom’s civil aviation sector has recently achieved qualitative leaps and creative developments that contributed to 4.6% of GDP.
Jeddah is the main airport where pilgrims arrive before travelling on to Makkah to perform the religious Haj and Umrah pilgrimages.
Pilgrims comprise the bulk of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million annual foreign visitors, apart from workers and business travellers.
He said, according to indicators by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the number of domestic and international airports doubled to 28 airports.

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened and toured a new terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, one of the largest in the regionhttps://cutt.ly/sw0OBvG 

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman toured the newly-opened terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, with a capacity to welcome 30 million passengers per yearhttps://cutt.ly/sw0OBvG 

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“As a result, the number of passengers increased from 47 million passengers in 2010 to 100 million passengers in 2018,” the minister added.
The King Abdulaziz Airport accounted for 36% of the total number of passengers in the Kingdom.
The minister said the “objectives will be extended to contribute to the construction of a logistic platform in the Kingdom linking the three main continents of the world, as the new airport will be able to work pivotally linking East and West, and serves as an intensive collection point for the movement of passengers and goods, to become an influential position among international airports.”
The airport operates flights to three international destinations and 21 domestic ones.
RIYADH, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened Jeddah airport’s new terminal on Tuesday, state media said, part of a push to increase foreign visitors to the kingdom and diversify its oil-based economy.
Jeddah is the main airport where pilgrims arrive before travelling on to Mecca to perform the religious haj and the umrah, the year-round lesser pilgrimage.
The inauguration of the new Terminal 1 of King Abdulaziz International Airport brings the airport to 810,000 square metres with the capacity to handle 30 million passengers annually, state news agency SPA said.
The airport operates flights to three international destinations and 21 domestic ones.
Economic reforms pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aim to make the country an entertainment destination and a tourism hub. They are also trying to lift domestic and foreign tourism spending to $46.6 billion in 2020 from $27.9 billion in 2015, when the reform plan was announced.
Pilgrimage is the backbone of a plan to expand tourism under the crown prince’s economic reform program, announced a year ago to diversify the economy away from oil.
Pilgrims comprise the bulk of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million annual foreign visitors, apart from workers and business travellers.
Officials aim to increase the number of umrah and haj pilgrims to 15 million and 5 million respectively by 2020, and hope to double the umrah number again to 30 million by 2030.
The government has approved plans to issue electronic visas for foreign visitors to attend sporting events and concerts, and is expected to announce details this month.
Economic reforms aim to make the Kingdom an entertainment destination and a tourism hub. They are also trying to lift domestic and foreign tourism spending to $46.6 billion in 2020 from $27.9 billion in 2015, when the reform plan was announced.

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Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties

Time: September 24, 2019  

Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono posed with staff from Saudia airlines for a photo during a reception to celebrate Saudi National Day in Jakarta. (AN photo by Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)
  • Saudi Arabia is still one of the major sources of foreign tourists to Indonesia

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Saifuddin extended on Monday the best wishes to Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the Kingdom’s National Day and expressed hope for stronger ties between the two countries.

“On behalf of the Indonesian government, we rejoiced in this celebration and prayed that the Kingdom and the people of Saudi Arabia are always blessed and under God’s protection,” Saifuddin told journalists during a reception at a hotel in Jakarta held by the Saudi Embassy.

The minister, who was the guest of honor at the reception, said the two countries have ties that Islamic scholars cemented centuries ago and that they remain the same today.

Saudi Arabia is still one of the major sources of foreign tourists to Indonesia, and the biggest from the Middle East, with 165,852 Saudis visiting Indonesia in 2018.

“We hope to see more of our brothers and sisters from Saudi Arabia visiting Indonesia in the coming years,” Saifuddin said.

Trade between the two countries increased from $4.5 billion (SR16.8 billion) in 2017 to $6.13 billion in 2018. Saudi Arabia is one of Indonesia’s most important partners in the investment sector, with investment value increasing from $3.5 million in 2017 to $5.36 million last year.

“The government of Indonesia wishes to cooperate more to ensure intensification of Saudi direct investments in the country,” Saifuddin said.

Saudi Ambassador Esam Abid Althagafi said that the Kingdom continues development in all sectors in line with the 2030 Vision reform plans, which has shown significant results among developing countries.

Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono were also among the guests attending the reception. Herlino was one of the guests invited by the Saudi Ministry of Media to perform Hajj this year.

He told Arab News that it was a memorable experience and he was grateful for the privilege.

“I was extended the best service, including the opportunity for a helicopter ride above Makkah,” Herlino said.

“We would like to congratulate the Kingdom for its national day celebration and I hope that Indonesia and Saudi Arabia’s bilateral relations will remain strong,” he added.

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Saudi National Day Celebrated in New Delhi

Time: September 24, 2019  

  • People from all walks of life and leaders from different political parties attended the ceremony

NEW DELHI: The Saudi Embassy in New Delhi celebrated the Kingdom’s National Day on Monday with pomp and fanfare. The ceremony was held in the new embassy building, which was inaugurated in February this year during the visit of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

“The building symbolizes not only Saudi architecture but also the deepening ties between Saudi Arabia and India,” said Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Sati, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to India.

People from all walks of life and leaders from different political parties attended the ceremony. Among the important guests at the ceremony were Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor, and former foreign minister Salman Khusheed of the opposition Congress party.

A Saudi business delegation visiting India was also present at the event, along with its Indian counterparts.

The main guest at the event was India’s junior minister for power Raj Kumar Singh.

In his inaugural speech the Saudi ambassador narrated the Kingdom’s journey from 1932 to date and how it is modernizing all walks of life in line with Vision 2030.

Calling the National Day as an important landmark in the history of modern Saudi Arabia, Sati said: “Today Saudi Arabia is playing a leading role at both global and regional levels, as a global economic power and as an anchor of peace in the region.”

He said: “We are transforming our economy, governance and society. Economic and social reforms are beginning to bear fruits and the Kingdom is emerging as one of the attractive economic destinations in the world. Our efforts to diversify the economy are also yielding results.”

“Saudi women are now more empowered and are playing many roles in public and private sectors,” said the Saudi ambassador.

He said that the country will continue “to march ahead in the area of economic development and modernization and continue to play a leading role in regional and global politics.”

He underlined the deepening ties with India and called the visit of Mohammed bin Salman to India early this year “a historic milestone.”

He emphasized that Saudi’s current economic investment of $34 billion will continue to grow in time to come.”

Finally, he talked about the strong cultural ties between New Delhi and Riyadh.

Minister Singh also dwelt on the relationship between the two nations and said that the ties between the countries are “historical and derive their sustenance from people to people contact”. He called the relationship “vibrant and forward looking” and termed the visit of crown prince in February this year as “landmark that further cemented the ties between India and Saudi Arabia”.

Singh condemned the drone attacks on Saudi’s oil installation and facilities and said: “India is opposed to terrorism in all its forms and manifestation.”

He appreciated the kingdom’s promise to make a $100 million investment in India.

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Foreign ambassadors congratulate Saudi leadership, people on National Day

24/09/19

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has restored more than 75 percent of the production lost after attacks on two oil processing plants and will return to full capacity next week.

The Khurais facility is now producing more than 1.3 million barrels per day and the Abqaiq plant about 3 million, industry sources said. 

Both Aramco plants were hit in drone and missile attacks on Sept. 14 that caused fires and significant damage, halving the country’s oil output. The Kingdom’s ability to quickly restore production demonstrated an important degree of resilience to potentially damaging shocks, the ratings agency Moody’s said.

King Salman said on Monday that Saudi Arabia was able to deal with the effects of what he described as “this cowardly sabotage, that targeted the Kingdom and the stability of global energy supplies.”

He spoke after talks in Jeddah with King Hamad of Bahrain, who denounced the “serious escalation targeting the security and stability of the region.”

Meanwhile, the diplomatic focus on the fallout from the missile strikes moved to New York, where world leaders are gathering for the UN General Assembly. Saudi Arabia and the US have blamed Iran for the attacks, and they were joined on Monday by Britain.

“The UK is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran for the Aramco attacks. We think it very likely indeed that Iran was responsible,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on his way to the US.

“We will be working with our American friends and our European friends to construct a response that tries to deescalate tensions in the Gulf region,” he said.

However, the UK risks opening a diplomatic rift with other European countries trying to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions. Their efforts have so far failed, with the US withdrawing from the deal and reimposing sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to blame Iran for the Aramco attacks. “One must be very careful in attributing responsibility,” he said on his way to New York.

Macron, Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks on Monday to coordinate their Iran strategy before meetings with US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Gulf states, the US, the Europeans and others needed to engage in “collective diplomacy” to defuse tensions, a senior GCC official said.

“The conversation should no longer be about the JCPOA, but Iran’s missile program and its regional misbehavior, which are as important if not more important — they have the potential to hold the region to ransom,” he said

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Air shows and parades as Saudis make an early start to National Day celebrations

23/09/19

Public will be treated to festivals, concerts and firework displays
RIYADH: There’s still a day to go, but the celebrations are already in full swing.

Formations from the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Saudi Hawks aerobatics team took to the skies above Jeddah on Saturday in preparation for National Day on Monday.

Fighter jets bearing the Saudi flag flew in formation past an audience at the North Corniche of the Jeddah waterfront, with their F15s, F15C, Tornado, Typhoon and MRTT refueling aircraft.

Monday’s celebrations will feature more than 40 entertainment, cultural and sporting events and activities across the country, including festivals, concerts and firework displays.

Major entertainment shows are being staged in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh, including a special creation from the famous Balich Worldwide Shows. “Tariq Al-Himma” takes the audience on a journey through Saudi Arabia’s past, present and future.

The hour-long performance at the Green Halls in Riyadh will be from September 21 to 23, starting at 9:30 p.m. each night. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Al-Hamra Corniche in Jeddah is the location for “Star Island” on Sept. 23. Fireworks will fill the sky with a dazzling display accompanied by lighting and laser beams.

Riyadh has been covered in green for National Day celebrations. Major streets are hosting festivities including children’s workshops, restaurants and food stalls. The entrance to the event has been designed to resemble the Masmak Palace gate.

The world’s most popular circus show, Cirque du Soleil, presents a specially created hour-long show for Saudi National Day at the Dhahran Expo in Dammam. Featuring 40 artists performing a variety of acrobatic routines, the show begins at 9 p.m. each night until September 23.

In Arar and Najran, there are folk bands and musical theater performances, as well as handicrafts and products made by Saudi families. Saudi female artists exhibited their paintings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in West Arar.

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Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince congratulate King Salman ahead of Saudi National Day

23/09/19

Trump said that the “US-Saudi partnership is more vital than ever, particularly as we confront regional security challenges”
King Salman received telegrams of congratulations from Bahrain, Kuwait , and Oman
RIYADH: US President Donald Trump, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and other leaders congratulated King Salman on Sunday ahead of Saudi National Day.
In a message to King Salman conveyed by US Ambassador John Abizaid, Trump said that the “US-Saudi partnership is more vital than ever, particularly as we confront regional security challenges and work hand-in-hand to achieve shared economic and political objectives.”
He added that “the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is strong and multifaceted.”
Sheikh Mohammed congratulated King Salman and Saudi Arabia ahead of Saudi National Day and tweeted “Your day is our day, your joy is our joy, and your achievements are a source of pride for us.”
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos also sent telegrams of congratulation.

The British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Andrew Murrison also congratulated the Kingdom, speaking in a video message recorded during his visit to Ad Diriyah.

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