DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai recorded 1 million visits on Thursday since it opened on Oct. 1.
The occasion was marked with a ceremony in the open square area of the pavilion, a five-story structure that is the second largest pavilion at Expo.
A video and a countdown to the 1 million mark were shown on a large digital screen, amid a shower of colorful confetti, followed by a traditional musical show performed by Saudi artists.
“I extend a message of appreciation to all our visitors. I am very proud to see Saudi Arabia’s pavilion attract so many visitors from around the world who have all come to experience the transformation of the Kingdom and learn about our country’s rich heritage, diverse people, vast opportunities, and natural wonders,” Hussain Hanbazazah, Commissioner General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s pavilion, said.
“We invite everyone who hasn’t had the chance to visit yet, to come and learn about the real, authentic Saudi Arabia – and I extend an open invitation to visit our country and experience our culture and hospitality firsthand,” he added.
The pavilion showcases Saudi Arabia’s 13 regions a variety of exhibits on various subjects including economy and investment, arts and culture, and nature.
Over the expo’s six-month course, taking place under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Building the Future’, the Saudi pavilion is hosting a series of events on various topics, and cultural shows that include dance, poetry, art and music.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed one new COVID-19 related death on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,824.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 36 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 549,479 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 49 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 13, followed by Jeddah with 10, and Madinah and Makkah confirmed three cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 48 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 538,590.
Over 47.0 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 22.2 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Saudi authorities continued their monitoring campaigns to ensure compliance with the precautionary measures imposed to stem the spread of the disease.
The Ministry of Interior reported 869 violations in the past week, with the highest number of breaches recorded in Riyadh with 241, followed by Makkah with 235, Madinah with 185, and Hail with 114. Qassim recorded the lowest number of violations with two.
The ministry called on citizens and residents to abide by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities.
Saudi municipalities have also ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of Eastern Province carried out 8,678 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the past week. Authorities recorded 640 violations and closed 13 businesses for not adhering to the precautionary measures.
The Northern Borders Province, represented by Rafha Municipality, carried out 700 tours in the past week and field teams issued fines to 22 commercial outlets for breaching protocols.
In Hail, 26 facilities were closed in the past week during 496 inspection rounds.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 245 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 5.16 million.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s air defenses intercepted a drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward the Kingdom’s southern region, state TV reported on Sunday.
The Arab coalition said the drone was targeting Najran airport, adding that drone fragments and shrapnel landed in Al-Araysah neighborhood in Najran, however no casualties have been reported.
The drone that was intercepted was launched from Sanaa airport to carry out the attack on Najran airport, the coalition said.
It added that response options are now on the table for the Iran-backed group’s attempt to target the airport.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia welcomed on Sunday a political deal signed between Sudan’s military and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
The Kingdom’s foreign ministry said that it welcomed the agreement “regarding the tasks of the next phase, the restoration of transitional institutions leading to elections on time, and the formation of a competent government to push the transitional process forward and contribute to achieving the aspirations of the Sudanese people.”
The ministry reaffirmed the Kingdom’s support for everything that would achieve peace and maintain security, stability and development in Sudan.
The 14-point deal signed by Hamdok and the military on Sunday officially restores the transition to civilian rule that had been derailed by the October 25 coup in the country.
The agreement declared that General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan’s decision “to relieve the transitional prime minister (of his duties) is cancelled” and that all political detainees be freed.
Egypt and the Arab League also welcomed the agreement.
MAKKAH: It has been 75 years since Saudi Arabia joined UNESCO, and for more than half a century, the Kingdom has developed plans and programs to promote its unique culture and heritage to the world.
In 1945, UNESCO was created in response to the firm belief of nations that in the wake of two world wars in less than a generation, political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace.
On April 25, 1945, the Kingdom joined UNESCO when it signed the UN Charter that states “to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples” in one of its clauses.
Two months later, the founding members of the body for the establishment of UNESCO began working together. Saudi Arabia was a founder state that wanted to advance with the other member states in this advance in relations between states and people.
A year later, the Kingdom took part in UNESCO’s first conference held in France, consolidating its stance to promote and exchange knowledge on culture and heritage, become a global partner, and more.
The foundations laid by King Abdulaziz included accepting and building upon the human experience and serving the development and growth strategy.
Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan tweeted pictures of the signing of the agreement, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s vision of culture and its pivotal role in promoting peace.
• 1946 Saudi Arabia among 20 countries that meet in London to establish UNESCO. • 1964 Kingdom appoints its first permanent representative to UNESCO.
• 2003 Kingdom submits the oldest Islamic inscription (Kufic) for inclusion in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
• 2006 Program established to support the Arabic language, which contributed to its preservation in UNESCO as a major language.
• 2007 Establishment of the first Saudi research chair in UNESCO.
• 2008 Kingdom elected as a member of the Executive Council; Hegra, the Kingdom’s first heritage site, inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
• 2009 First Saudi poetry evening held in UNESCO.
• 2010 At-Turaif district in Diriyah becomes second Saudi heritage site registered on UNESCO World Heritage list; Saudi international prize for translation distributed at UNESCO headquarters.
• 2012 Kingdom elected to Executive Council for second time in a row.
• 2014 Downtown Jeddah registered as third site on UNESCO’s World Heritage list; MOU signed between Saudi Arabia and UNESCO to enhance value of dialogue between peoples and religions.
• 2015 Rock art in the Hail becomes Kingdom’s fourth heritage site included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
• 2018 Al-Ahsa Oasis becomes Kingdom’s fifth heritage site on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
• 2019 Saudi Arabia elected member of Executive Board during the 40th general conference.
• 2020 Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin named permanent delegate of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO.
• 2021 Hima cultural area becomes Kingdom’s sixth heritage site on UNESCO World Heritage list.
Dr. Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Samari, secretary-general of the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives, told Arab News: “The participation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a UNESCO founding state in the organization’s conference in Paris in 1946 and in the preparatory conference for the establishment of the UN subsidiary in London a year earlier, proves King Abdulaziz’s political and developmental vision, his commitment to peace through common culture, diverse education and genuine culture exchange between people throughout the world. That includes cultural development that puts Saudi society in a global context that believes in common humanitarian principles.”
The notion of global culture is not new to Arabs. According to Al-Samari, Islam originated in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, and was the first humanitarian and cultural movement to view people and races as equal. Islamic principles are in the heart of Saudi society, reflecting how Saudis view world cultures and peoples.
During his reign, the late king oversaw the signing of agreements between foreign dignitaries, established the foundation for longstanding relations and cultural exchanges, and left his stamp on all Arab, regional and international agreements and external memberships.
“He brought together the internal objectives to restore the state on greater developmental grounds to build a cooperating and integrated society,” said Al-Samari.
Throughout its years, Saudi Arabia offered an interest-free $4.6 million loan to the organization and made a $50,000 contribution to the UNESCO special fund for the advancement of scientific research in Africa.
The Kingdom supported the efforts of UNESCO to boost its experience by utilizing the organization’s educational, cultural and scientific capabilities. UNESCO provided experts and consultants to the Kingdom to develop and manage the country’s cultural heritage, support learning institutions and develop their performance.
In 1966, UNESCO experts helped support the Faculty of Education in Riyadh. Moreover, UNESCO contributed to establishing the teachers’ training college in Riyadh, and supported the Saudi government in its literacy orientation, technical education and educational programs by bringing international experience to the Saudi educational institutions.
Since its inception in 1962, the College of Engineering at King Saud University has benefited from the organization in training engineers and geologists. UNESCO also established the Center for Applied Geology in Jeddah and played a significant role in establishing the social development centers, including the development center in Diriyah and others.
Al-Samari has highlighted the founding king and his sons’ vision: The Kingdom should participate internationally, develop educational and cultural institutions administratively, not compromise practical experiences, develop national human cadres with the most modern theories and become a strong voice in supporting Arab and Islamic matters.
Historian and writer Hamad Al-Salimi told Arab News that the Kingdom was a leader in joining UNESCO and had a solid political presence to serve its aims — the Arab and Muslim causes — through the international organization.
Saudi Arabia’s presence was notable at the organization’s events to serve people historically and culturally.
“That had a positive impact on Saudi Arabia, which includes registering the country’s antiquities and addressing its civilization and cultural heritage, as well as presenting it to all the states that have become aware of the Kingdom’s archaeological features, arts, crafts with historical significance that put the Kingdom at the forefront of the general cultural scene,” said Al-Salimi.
Today, Saudi Arabia has six listed heritage sites, the first of which was the Hegra archaeological site in 2008, followed by At-Turaif district in Diriyah in 2010, historic Jeddah, the gateway to Makkah in 2014, rock art in the Hail in 2015, Al-Ahsa Oasis in 2018 and Hima cultural area earlier this year.
Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the cultural scene in the Kingdom, led by its Culture Ministry, is clear, with the hosting of more than 100 events — varying from culinary arts to calligraphy and archaeology — by the end of the year.
As the year comes to a close, Saudi Arabia has come a long way in the sector, achieving several distinguished titles.
The Kingdom was elected to the vice presidency of the World Heritage Committee last August, while Hima Najran, home to more than 100,000 magnificent petroglyphs, was recognized by UNESCO for its heritage and historical significance.
The organization also recognized Buraidah for its remarkable gastronomy, the second Saudi city to join UNESCO’s Creative Cities network after Al-Ahsa, a World Heritage site. Farasan Islands also joined the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program.
RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested almost 14,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work, and border security regulations, an official report has revealed.
During the period Nov. 11 to 17, a total of 6,597 arrests were made for violations of residency rules, while 5,775 people were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,534 on labor-related issues.
The report’s findings showed that among 356 arrested while trying to cross the border into the Kingdom, 54 percent were Yemeni citizens, 44 percent Ethiopians, and 2 percent other nationalities.
A further 34 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 14 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.
The Ministry of Interior pointed out that anyone found to be helping people gain illegal entry to the Kingdom, and transporting, or providing shelter for them could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), or confiscation of vehicles and property.
Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.