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AlUla tourism: $560 daily spend and 3-day stays, RCU senior official shares insights

An average tourist in Saudi Arabia’s heritage town of AlUla spends $560 (SAR 2100) per day and stays for three days on average, a senior member of the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) told Al Arabiya English on Friday.

The Vice President of Destination Marketing and Management from the RCU, Rami Almoallim, said there was an increase in the number of tourists visiting the oasis valley, nestled amidst mountains over 1,000 kilometers from the capital city of Riyadh.

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Speaking on the sidelines of the Azimuth music festival, Almoallim said the town seeks to attract local, regional and international travelers, adding that their “main target is the wanderlust nomad, the intrepid voyagers, the free-spirited people and the luxury seekers who come from around the globe.”

After Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched mega tourist projects in 2019 following the setting up of the RCU in 2017, the previously sleepy, primarily local town was pushed into the spotlight.

Tourist sites in AlUla

AlUla is home to the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site Hegra, a site with well-preserved tombs that was once part of the Nabataean city from the end of the first millennium BCE into the first millennium CE.

The city now has an airport serviced by flydubai, connecting the UAE financial hub twice weekly, and domestic flights by Saudia airline and flynas from Riyadh, Jeddah, and Damman. It has various stay options, from luxury wellness resorts like Habitas and Banyan Tree to glamping with 26 North.

“I would foresee four to five days is really good to visit the heritage sites, to have some experiences; for those who love adventure, they can enjoy all activities in these beautiful canyons. For people who love food and beverages, there are some offerings from really distinguished international brands,” Almoallim said when asked about the optimal time to spend in AlUla.

In addition to Hegra, some must-see sights include Maraya, an art installation adorned by massive mirrors; AlUla Old Town, a labyrinth of tightly packed streets towered by hundreds of mudbrick houses and a mighty fort; and Elephant Rock, a natural geological formation in the shape of the mammoth.

Various viewpoints, oasis trails and museums like the Hejaz Railway Station – one of the oldest known rail networks in the Middle East – round up the AlUla sights to see.

A picture taken on January 4, 2019, shows the Hejaz train station near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula, an Ottoman era railway. (AFP)

A picture taken on January 4, 2019, shows the Hejaz train station near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula, an Ottoman era railway. (AFP)

Additionally, star gazing points and activities including hiking, biking and ziplining are available for visitors seeking adventure and nature-oriented experiences.

AlUla airport expansion

To keep up with the increasing yearly influx of tourists, Almoallim said that the purpose-built local airport will expand in size and connectivity. In addition to the seasonal flight from Paris, Cairo is next in line to be added to the roster.

While tourism is a principal driver of AlUla’s economy, in line with Saudi Arabia’s larger plans to wane off its reliance on oil income, Almoallim is confident about the RCU’s ability to preserve the identity and culture of the ancient city.

“Culture and heritage [sit] in the heart of the Royal Commission of AlUla’s mandate,” Almoallim said.
“We have complete departments and sectors that look after how to preserve this, how to showcase it to the world. We build our events and experiences on that rich culture and history of AlUla.”

“We do connect the experiences of AlUla and the people who come and visit AlUla, with the culture. Basically, we find the connection in between the experience,” the RCU official said, giving the Azimuth music festival as an example of connecting arts, culture and music with the oasis valley.

Peggy Gou at the Azimuth music festival in AlUla, Saudi Arabia on September 21, 2023. (Supplied)

Peggy Gou at the Azimuth music festival in AlUla, Saudi Arabia on September 21, 2023. (Supplied)

Titled AlUla Moments, the RCU has planned numerous events including a wellness festival and desert polo to take place until April.

Read more:

Azimuth 2023: Saudi Arabia marks National Day, weekend party in AlUla’s oasis valleys

AlUla Moments features exciting calendar of events with concerts, festivals, sports

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Almarai signs an MoU with the Authority of People with Disabilities to train and employ them.

Almarai Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Authority of People with
Disabilities to train, qualify and employ persons with disabilities. This came on the sidelines of
the First International Labor Market Conference, organized by the Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Development on December 13 – 14, 2023, at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center
in Riyadh.

The memorandum was signed by the Chief Human Resources Officer of Almarai Company,
Fahad Mohammed Aldrees, and the CEO of the Authority of People with Disabilities, Dr.
Hisham bin Muhammad Al-Haidari.

“This agreement comes within the framework of the company’s social responsibility program, as
Almarai employs more than 500 people with disabilities, which is one of the most suitable work
environments for them.” Fahad Aldrees said. Pointing out that Almarai has the “Silent Line”,
which is one of its production lines that is designated for people with hearing disabilities.

It is worth mentioning that Almarai supports over 300 charity organizations annually across the
kingdom that operate in the field of community development.

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Central Phuket Shopping Center Prepared Surprises This Christmas & New Year 2024

Central Phuket Shopping Center, the luxury lifestyle landmark o Phuket, invites everyone to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024 in The Great Celebration 2024 Campaign. Joining hands with global partner ‘The Pokémon Company’, Central Phuket bring over Pokémon, the super cute character popular around the world, for all locals and international fans. The special campaign launch presents a procession of cute ‘Pikachu’ alongside with the giant Christmas tree for the first time in Thailand.
This December, Central Phuket prepared many activities for shoppers when visiting Phuket! Experience the “Surprise of the Day” with free Cotton Candy for our little ones, a sweet and fluffy treat, a special gift from Central Phuket. Bring your kids to enjoy this sweet treat every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of December. Don’t miss the Christmas Carol that
everyone loves, little Santas spread freshness by singing together in the Christmas Carol activity. Plus, Christmas Live Music, the festival of joy is back! Celebrate Christmas in a luxurious and classy atmosphere, enjoying the music that will bring us joy. Also, there will be Christmas Troop, Santa Claus is coming to town! The Santa troop will spread happiness throughout Central Phuket. Lastly, Cake Workshop, workshop activity with Chef Sebastien’s IRON CHEF Thailand teaching how to make Christmas Vanilla Cake. A special activity for the Christmas season. Moreover, Central Phuket provides special promotion exclusively for international tourists throughout December 23 – January 24 including:

1) Get Free! Tourist welcome discount package valued up to THB 10,000.
2) Receive THB 100 Gift voucher when spending up to THB 2,500 per receipt.
3) Get to buy ‘Happy Holiday Collections’ special price: Pokémon 2-in-1 pillow blanket, tumbler, travel bag set, and keychain. Visit redemption counter for the price.
4) Exclusive for Grab Users get discount code up to 25% off* when traveling to participating Central Shopping Centers.
5) Receive famous Elephant Pants when spending over THB 5,000 in shopping center.
6) Get Free! H&M THB 100 gift voucher when booking any accommodations in Phuket with Agoda. Terms and conditions apply.

Central Phuket is a home of global luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. Exclusive for this season, Louis Vuitton launches a pop-up store located at Central Phuket. The design is inspired by the story of Damier or Checkerboard, the brand’s signature pattern. This classic pattern was created by Louis
Vuitton and his son Georges Vuitton in 1888 and has always been part of the design of Maison’s iconic items and concepts. Find clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men at the Pop-up Store from Louis Vuitton at Central Phuket, 1st floor, from today until 31 March 2024. And with over 500 renowned fashion brands and lifestyle shops ranging from local to international
well-known brands covering all categories, international shoppers will be able to find what they are looking for in Central Phuket.
Central Phuket is located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous beach cities, Phuket and await to welcome both locals and international visitors this holiday. Also, don’t miss one of the most joyful New Year Count Down events in Phuket city at Central Phuket Shopping Center on December 31, 2023.

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Saudi Fund for Development Provides $100 Million Development Loan for the Rogun Hydropower Project

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, signed a new development loan agreement with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Kahhorzoda Fayziddin Sattor, through which SFD is contributing $100 million USD to fund the Rogun Hydropower Project, a landmark initiative that will enhance energy,
food, and water security, and foster sustainable development in the country. The signing was attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Waleed Al-Reshiadan, and the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Akram Karimi, alongside other officials from both sides. SFD’s development loan will help contribute towards a more sustainable and equitable food and water future for Tajikistan, while driving the country’s energy transition and climate resilience. The project aims to contribute to the national energy security and will help advance sustainable
development in the Republic of Tajikistan, by providing the renewable electricity supply to meet local demand and expand electricity production domestically and regionally, producing 3600 MW of energy. The loan agreement will also finance the construction of a 335-meter-tall dam, which will enhance irrigation capabilities and bolster agricultural activities across the country. Additionally, the project will improve flood protection through the construction of four hydraulic
tunnels for diversion and drainage. It will also provide clean and drinkable water to people through desalination, and help advance socio-economic development, by creating both direct and indirect jobs.
Importantly, this project also supports the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); specifically, SDG 2, Zero Hunger, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
On this occasion, the CEO of SFD, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said: “Today’s signing marks a major milestone in our shared journey towards a more sustainable future. With this landmark development loan, SFD is not just supporting Tajikistan’s energy future, but also its sustainable development and the well-being of its people. The Rogun Hydropower Project is a beacon of
hope for a bright future that is powered by clean, renewable energy. It will propel Tajikistan towards environmental stewardship and prosperity.”

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