The Riyadh International Book Fair, one of the region’s largest cultural events, kicked off March 13 with the participation of more than 900 publishers and institutions from 30 Arab and foreign countries.Visitors arriving at the Riyadh International Book Fair 2019 enter through four main gates bearing the names of the Saudi Vision 2030’s megaprojects: Neom, Qiddiya, Red Sea and Amaala.
The first gate leads visitors to virtual photos of the Qiddiya project. Qiddiya will become the place to live, work and play, a prominent landmark and an important hub to meet and satisfy the recreational, social and cultural needs of the kingdom’s current and future generations. Visitors will have access to more than 300 recreational and educational facilities designed around five cornerstones of development: Parks & Attractions, Sports & Wellness, Motion & Mobility, Nature & Environment and Arts & Culture.
The second gate, Neom, contained a large electronic chip, alternative energy-based lighting and photos of Neom future projects. Neom is a Saudi project for a smart and tourist cross-border city. The project is located in the far north-west of Saudi Arabia. It will be constructed in Tabuk. It includes marine land located within the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. It will cover a total area of 26,500 km2 and will extend 460 km along the coast of the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia aims to complete the first section of Neom by 2025.
The Red Sea gate shows a virtual image of the Kingdom’s coast in the future. The Red Sea project will be a luxury resort destination situated across the islands of a lagoon and steeped in nature and culture. It will set new standards for sustainable development and bring about the next generation of luxury travel to put Saudi Arabia on the international tourism map. The Red Sea project is located along the Western coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh. The Red Sea will be situated on the site of one of the world’s last natural hidden treasures. In addition, The Red Sea project’s nature reserve is inhabited by rare wildlife including Arabian leopards, Arabian wolves, Arabian wildcats, and falcons. The initial groundbreaking of The Red Sea project is expected in the third quarter of 2019. Completion of phase one of the project is anticipated by the last quarter of 2022.
The Amaala project displayed at the fourth gate of the fair will offer an ultra-luxurious touristic experience focused upon wellness, healthy living and meditation, thanks to the site’s moderate climate. A megaproject along the Red Sea that will border the city of Neom and the Red Sea Project within the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve, helping to establish a new tourism hub. Amaala is the new luxurious tourist destination, which will also stimulate economic growth and diversify the tourism industry in line with Vision 2030 while preserving cultural values and sustainable environment.
Saudi cultural heritage, that has been officially recognized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is being celebrated with an exhibition at the fair. The display includes official UNESCO certificates awarded in recognition of the importance of Arab and Saudi culture and traditions such as the mizmar flute; Arabic coffee; the majlis; Al-Qatt Al-Asiri interior wall decorations; the Ardeh, the Saudi folkloric dance; and falconry.
Falconry has been on UNESCOS’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2012. Falconers in Saudi Arabia and the GCC region oasis include the most important local and Gulf specialties and farms, while the oasis of veterinary and falconry services attracts specialized people to identify entities in veterinary and food industries.
The Ardeh, which was added in 2016, is a type of folkloric dance in Arabia and combines poetry, swordplay and drums, and is one of the most prominent performing arts in the Kingdom. The dance is performed with two rows of men. Najdi ardah is the most common variant of ardah in Saudi Arabia.
Arabic coffee, added in 2015, has been an important part of life in the region for hundreds of years and has its own deeply rooted customs and traditions.
Majlis is an Arabic term meaning “a place of sitting”, used to describe various types of special gatherings places for social events, discussions of social issues and honoring guests, it was also added in 2015.
The mizmar flute, registered by UNESCO in 2016, is one of the best-known musical arts in the Hijaz region. It is a conical oboe and uses a double reed which generates a sharp, piercing sound. It has 7 holes on the front and 1 thumb hole in the back.
Al-Qatt Al-Asiri was the most recent Saudi addition to the list, in 2017. It is a traditional form of art that women use to decorate the interior walls of Asiri homes.
Tabuk University President Dr. Abdullah Al-Theyabi said Amaal, Red Sea and Neom projects will help the Kingdom open to world’s cultures and civilizations because they enjoy a strategic location that connects several continents with one another.
Sara Hernández Díez
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