Offbeat

Who Built Jeddah’s Hajj Terminal

Photo Credit: architecturelab.net

He is also referred to as “the Einstein of structural engineering.”


His Life

Born in what is now Bangladesh in 1929, Khan studied civil engineering first at the Bengal Engineering College Shibpur in India and then at Ahsanullah Engineering College in Dhaka. He earned a scholarship to the United States in 1952, where he studied at the University of Illinois in Chicago. It is in Chicago where Khan would go on to make some of his most iconic structures.

He started working in an architectural firm in Chicago at a time when the number of steel reinforcements required for keeping skyscrapers stable was seen as inefficient. It was then that he came up with his breakthrough ‘tube’ design.

Fazlur Khan and Bruce Graham with a model of the John Hancock Center (K & S PhotoGraphics, courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP)

Fazlur Khan and Bruce Graham with a model of the John Hancock Center (K & S PhotoGraphics, courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP)

In this design, a building was not held up by central supports of steel, but rather by the exterior frame of the building. The frame is made by a series of vertical tubes that protects against high wind speeds and earthquakes and even allows for more space within the building itself.

He went on to design many buildings including the John Hancock Center in 1968, which was the 2nd tallest building in the world at that time.  Then came Chicago’s Sears Tower (now Willis Tower), designed by Khan that became the tallest in America standing at 442 meters. It remained the tallest until the One World Trade Center topped its height in 2014.

Khan then continued to work on many mega-projects that would see his fame grow and ultimately bring him to Saudi Arabia.

Designing The Hajj Terminal

In the 70s, the number of pilgrims arriving for hajj kept increasing, hitting 500,000 by 1975.  To meet the growing seasonal demand, a hajj terminal was commissioned that would cater to these pilgrims.

The hajj terminal had Khan as its Chief Structural Engineer. He drew heavily from his experiences to help with the physical demands that pilgrims encounter, and the overall emotional fullness that is associated with the pilgrimage.

Photo Credit: som.com

Photo Credit: som.com

The final design of the terminal is of a tent-like roof structure that recreates the tent camp that pilgrims reside in during a good portion of the hajj. The terminal spread over an area of approximately 4.6 million square feet, making it the world’s largest shaded, cable-stayed, fabric-roofed structure at the time of its inauguration.

As the structure was made on an unprecedented scale, the tensile structure made use of newly developed fabric as a permanent structural element instead of the cable-supported in two directions technique that was the norm.

From 1977 to 1978, Khan also worked on the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah.

Legacy

Khan passed away on 27 March 1982 of a heart attack at 52.

His structural designs for skyscrapers are still in use today. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur draw upon his structural designs. Techniques pioneered by Khan enabled buildings to reach heights taller than ever before while increasing efficiency and safety, and reducing costs. This makes him one of the most influential architects and engineers in history.

Even Barack Obama in 2009 cited Khan as an example of Muslims’ contributions to America. He is after all the mastermind who made today’s skyscrapers possible.

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Food, Showdown

10 Saudi Restaurant Chains We Want To See Going International

Photo Credit: shawarmer.com

They’ve satiated our taste buds for years and it’s about time that they start expanding beyond the Kingdom’s borders and give a taste to the world of what our own versions of pizzas, burgers and other fast foods taste like.


The nuances of finding a local partner and supply chain teething problems aside, some of these restaurants can be assured of sure shot successes internationally.

Al Baik

Photo Credit: albaik.com

Photo Credit: albaik.com

It doesn’t need any introduction abroad as well. Even many international fried chicken biggies tried competing with Al Baik but failed in their endeavors. One store abroad and the crowds that we see in Saudi can be expected right from day 1. After all, we tried all those international fast food chains as well, but our Al Baik is in a league of its own.

Jan Burger

Photo Credit: makan-me.com

Photo Credit: makan-me.com

The homegrown grilled burger brand has been around since 1975. But it has been only in recent times that the brand has rebranded itself and become a big success. It now has outlets in many parts of the Kingdom and it’s about time that the world gets to taste it delectable burgers that we have become so fond of.

Shawermatac

Photo Credit: shawermatac.com

Photo Credit: shawermatac.com

Because, why not a good Arabian shawarma served in hygienic and clean conditions? Plus, Shawermatac comes from a family whose dealings with the food industry date back to 1830, so one can be assured that their food is in good hands.

Maestro

Photo Credit: maestropizza.com

Photo Credit: maestropizza.com

Their outlets have been springing up, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before across the country with close to 100 outlets already! Their pizzas and prices are giving even established pizza chains a run for their money. The brand has mastered the art of pizza making and the crowds thronging it are proof. Oh, and in case we forget to mention they also have mouth-watering appetizers.

Al Seddah

Photo Credit: maestropizza.com

Photo Credit: maestropizza.com

Though they still haven’t expanded nationwide, they do serve Arabian favorites unlike any other restaurant. From delectable mandis to scrumptious madfoons, this is Arabian food in probably what is their tastiest form.

Hummus Refi

Photo Credit: h-refi.com

Photo Credit: h-refi.com

Hummus Refi offers Levantine meals just the way we love them. Light and healthy, high in nutrition and good to taste – need any more reasons?

Century Burger

Photo Credit: jeddahfood.com

Photo Credit: jeddahfood.com

A youth favorite, the luscious burgers and cheesy fries served here are what make those long queues outside this burger joint on the weekends. The ambiance, taste, prices and just the overall vibe that the place has can guarantee the restaurant chain success internationally as well.

Taxi

Photo Credit: taxifoods-sa.com

Photo Credit: taxifoods-sa.com

Forget Kingdom-wide, they are worthy of an international expansion. With 17 branches in the Kingdom’s capital and more in the pipeline, they have capitalized on the city’s quick service food craze. Their offerings and prices can pit them against even established quick-service restaurants.

Shawarmer

Photo Credit: shawarmer.com

Photo Credit: shawarmer.com

Despite starting just under 2 decades back, Shawermer now operates close to 50 branches across Saudi Arabia. The best part about their shawarma, as opposed to others, is that they come in a variety of enticing flavors like tikka and pomegranate molasses. You can also ask for dips, to add to the already amazing flavor the shawarma holds.

Peruvi

Photo Credit: eruvi.com

Photo Credit: peruvi.com

The restaurant has been a surprise success. Peruvi already has 7 branches under its belt, all opening in a short span of time. Grilled chicken served with Peruvian sauces – it is hard to find a combination better than this.

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Historic Saudi, Offbeat

The Discovery Of Oil In Saudi Arabia – Here Is The Story Presented In A Way You’ve Never Seen Before

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

While the exact date for when the search for oil in Arabia commenced is arguable, there is one thing for sure; without the stability that King Abdul Aziz provided to Arabia, the search for oil on such a scale would most likely have not begun.


The hunt for oil was bolstered by 3 important events in world history; World War 1, the Great Depression and discovery of oil in other places in The Middle East. This led to another world-shaping event that being the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia. Here is a timeline of the story of oil in The Kingdom.

Photo Credit: rodhandeland.com

1922

A mining engineer named Major Frank Holmes who hailed from New Zealand set up the Eastern and General Syndicate Ltd. He was convinced that there would be much oil to be found in the region and started seeking oil concessions through the syndicate.

Photo Credit: adst.org

1923

King Abdul Aziz signed a concession with Major Frank to allow him to search for oil in the Eastern part of the country. A Swiss geologist was brought in, who stated that the ordeal of searching for oil in Arabia would be “a pure gamble”. This caused many banks and oil companies to back away from investing in Arabian oil ventures.

Photo Credit: geology.wisc.edu

1925

King Abdul Aziz sent an American mining engineer, Karl Twitchell, to examine the potential of oil discovery in Eastern Arabia. Twitchell found a few encouraging signs of oil, but advised that King Abdul Aziz await the outcome of the oil drilling in Bahrain Well No.1 before inviting foreign bids for oil exploration.

Photo Credit: craglobalaff.org

1932

The Bahrain Petroleum Company struck oil in Bahrain and this brought in a renewed interest in the hunt for oil in Arabia.

Photo Credit: geoexpro.com

1933

SOCAL was granted the oil concession in the Eastern part of The Kingdom. Under the agreement, SOCAL had been given the exploration rights to some 930,000 square kilometers of land for 60 years.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

1934

A team of geologists arrive in Jubail to identify potential spots for drilling.

Photo Credit: aramcoexpats.com

1936

Dammam Well numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, all show promising signs of oil available in commercial quantities.

However, in the same year, they all failed to live up to the expectations. However, they soon start digging another well – Well Number 7.

1937

Well number 7 also disappointed, even after drilling to a depth of close to 1400 meters.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

1938

With disappointing results, SOCAL’s executives faced a dilemma on whether to pull the plug on the Arabian venture.

Well number 7 eventually started flowing at a rate of 1,585 barrels a day. Further testing confirmed a major oil discovery.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

1939

Abdul Aziz turned the valve of the newly completed 69 kilometer pipeline from Dammam oil field till Ras Tanura Port and the first oil shipment was sent.

1944

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

The oil company’s name is changed to Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company).

11

1948

The Ghawar oil field, which is the largest conventional oil field in the world is discovered in the Eastern part of The Kingdom.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

1950

Aramco agrees to split profits with the Saudi Government. The agreement increases the government’s revenues substantially.

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1951

The Safaniya Oil Field is discovered, which went on to become the world’s largest offshore field.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

1973

The 1973 energy crisis occurs in the United States, when members of OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo.

Photo Credit: indianexpress.com

1974

The oil embargo is lifted and the price of oil rose from $3 per barrel to $12 per barrel.

Photo Credit: plus.google.com

1980

The Saudi government acquired a 100% stake in Aramco.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

1982

After more than 45 years of pumping oil, Dammam well number 7 is taken out of service.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

1999

Dammam well number 7 is renamed to prosperity well.

Photo Credit: saudiaramco.com

2015

Saudi Arabia continues to be the world’s largest exporter of crude oil. No other country even comes close.

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Offbeat

The Saudi Student Who Has An Asteroid Named After Him

Photo Credit: stalkture.com | @kabdo96

The asteroid is now called the “31926 Alhamood”


The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-university science competition where students around the world showcase their independent research. In 2015, Saudi student Abdul Jabbar Al Hamood won the accolade at ISEF for the best scientific research in the world and came first place for his plant science project, becoming the first Saudi student to win it.

Photo Credit: stalkture.com | @kabdo96

Photo Credit: stalkture.com | @kabdo96

His winning feat was a botany-related experiment he conducted using the TRV virus in genetic engineering. His project was applied to 450 typical plants and more than 50 tomato plants.

In an interview with Sky News Arabia, Al Hamood gave a brief description of his winning project. He explains “My project uses an anti-virus against harmful and toxic chemicals and enzymes that result from genetic engineering. It allows plants to grow safely in countries with difficult climates – extremely dry or cold areas.”

Photo Credit: stalkture.com | @kabdo96

Photo Credit: stalkture.com | @kabdo96

After winning these 2 awards, NASA recognized this young man’s achievement by naming a main belt asteroid after him – “31926 Alhamood.” The asteroid was discovered in the year 2000 and is found between Mars and Jupiter. Al Hamood was also bestowed with a special award that qualified him to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden.

Photo Credit: sciencenewsforstudents.org

Photo Credit: sciencenewsforstudents.org

More about Abdul Jabbar Al Hamood:

Hailing from the city of Qatif, Al Hamood studied at the Dhahran Ahliyya School. He is an alumnus of KAUST Saudi Research Science Institute and is currently pursuing his bachelor’s at Boston University.

Twitter: @Kabdo_96

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Business, Business Talks

Sir Richard Branson Travelled Around Saudi And It Seems Like He Had An Amazing Time

Image from Virgin.com

While the Red Sea Tourism project is expected to bring in a huge number of tourists, but even before that project kicks off, Saudi Arabia has an unlikely visitor – Sir Richard Branson.


The British business magnate known for being the founder of the Virgin Group is also an avid traveler. He visited Saudi Arabia recently and his social media feeds were filled with posts of his travels around the Kingdom. He visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Madain Saleh, an Ottoman-era railway station from the Hejaz Railway line and of course the Red Sea.

Image from Virgin.com

Image from Virgin.com

On his travels in Saudi, he writes “Just enjoyed a fascinating visit to Saudi Arabia, seeing an exciting project to welcome tourists to a beautiful, undiscovered country with a stunning natural landscape.”

Image from Virgin.com

Image from Virgin.com

In regards to Saudi Arabia’s ambitious tourism project he says, “Seeing this Red Sea Project up close, I was amazed at how completely untouched the landscape is. Standing on the islands, we could see turtles pulling themselves in and out of the water to lay their eggs, while eagle rays and dugongs swam past. It is a truly unspoilt ocean environment, possibly one of the last marine wonders of the world, and given the right protections, it could stay that way for decades to come.”

Image from Virgin.com

Image from Virgin.com

Web: virgin.com

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Business, Business Talks

And The Highest Funded Saudi Startup Is…

Photo Credit: carnews2day.com

The Saudi startup scene has already produced many noteworthy startups, largely from the entertainment industry.


However, the highest funded Saudi startup is not from the entertainment industry but rather is a fin-tech company that operates in the online payment processing business.

The startup we are talking about is PayTabs. With a funding of close to $16.5 million no other local startup even comes close.

What It Does

PayTabs offers secure payment options to customers of small or medium-sized businesses that sell goods or services online. They have a payment platform that can be integrated into any business’s website within 24 hours. And, the merchant’s money is wired to their account in 3 days.

What’s more is that even businesses that don’t have a website can accept payments through Paytabs. So even if a business is selling via social media or other e-commerce platforms their customers can make payments through PayTabs without having to worry about their banking security.

Plus, for customers from Saudi, they can even pay by SADAD accounts, which is one of the most popular methods of online payments in the Kingdom. This has aided in its rise.onile-payments2-1

The Man Behind It

PayTabs’ founder is Saudi entrepreneur Abdulaziz F. Al Jouf. He is a serial entrepreneur and has other business ventures as well including SaleTab and ExTabs.

His passion for entrepreneurship and innovation stems from his childhood and university days where his studies mostly focused on technology and eCommerce. He first tried his hand on a business venture in America, but that failed after earning 1 million dollars in revenue.

The failure didn’t deter him and the foundations for PayTabs were laid soon after when Abdulaziz found a gap in the online payments market in the Middle East. He is quoted to have said, “We had great products but we always had issues with accepting online payments. I faced the same problem that millions of others in this region face. Then one day, I said to myself that why do we have to wait for someone else to make a payment solution?”

That’s when PayTabs was born, but not without years of work by Abdulaziz, other developers and industry specialists.

Since then Abdulaziz has been featured in internationally renowned business magazines such Forbes and Entrepreneur. He was also featured on the list of “Leaders Inspiring a Kingdom Saudi Arabia’s Entrepreneurial Elite”.025fe66

Paytabs Today

Since its founding in 2013 PayTabs has come along way and is the Starchild of the Saudi startup scene. The company has a wide presence in the Middle East and North Africa region, with it becoming a preferred choice for SMEs clocking an annual revenue of around $100 million in 2016.

Even oil giant Saudi Aramco has backed it financially through its Venture Capital arm Wa’ed. The investment placed by Wa’ed on PayTabs has proved fruitful as the latter has grown to become one of the biggest startups in the Middle East.

Over the years PayTabs has won numerous accolades including the ‘Payment Solution of the Year’ at the KSA Enterprise Agility Awards.

After becoming the preferred mode of payment in the Middle East PayTabs now looks to expand eastwards to 10 countries in Southeast Asia. The company expects to raise its annual revenue to between $600 million and $700 million.

As for the ever-lingering question around it that will it become the first unicorn start-up in the country, well, the answer for it lies in whether it can replicate its success in other markets. Time will tell, but as of now it sure seems like it.

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Offbeat

Mishaal Al Shemimry – Get To Know The Saudi Woman Who Just Made It To NASA

Photo Credit: mishaalashemimry.com

Previously featured on the list of most powerful Arab Women, Al Shemimry is inspiring us all again.


News of her becoming the first Saudi woman to join NASA spread like wildfire on social media. Even the US Central Command tweeted about it saying that she is “an inspiring model for women.”

Photo Credit: mishaalashemimry.com

Photo Credit: mishaalashemimry.com

Her Story

Miami based Mishaal once said in an interview, “When I look back at the moment I was inspired, when I was six, it somehow puts things into perspective. I guess you can say I get my inspiration through my younger eyes staring at the sky in awe and enthusiasm.”

She continued, “My fascination with space started while gazing at the stars in the Unayzah desert. Since then my focus has been to become an aerospace engineer and contribute to the development of space vehicles and rockets” she said.

She pursued her passion and earned Bachelor of Science Degrees in Aerospace Engineering and in Applied Mathematics from the Florida Institute of Technology. She then went on to earn a Master of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering also from the Florida Institute of Technology, which was sponsored by NASA.

As a graduate research assistant, Mishaal worked on a NASA Marshall Space Flight Center project on nuclear thermal propulsion. She has analyzed and designed a new thermal nuclear rocket engine for the Mars Missions for NASA. Al Shemimry also worked for Raytheon Missile Systems’ Aerodynamics Department and contributed to 22 rocket programs.

Photo Credit: mishaalashemimry.com

Photo Credit: mishaalashemimry.com

Mishaal Aerospace

In 2010, Al Shemimry founded MISHAAL Aerospace, which she serves as the President and CEO. The aerospace company specializes in launch vehicle development.
A project that she has been working on for many years now through Mishaal Aerospace is the M-Rocket Series. They are a series of first generation cost-effective space access vehicles that can serve a broad range of applications of space payloads.

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Explore KSA

This 32-Year-Old Documentary Will Transport You To The Era Of Oil Discovery In Saudi

The Era of oil discovery in Saudi

Shot in 1984, this Saudi Aramco documentary will evoke a deep sense of nostalgia.


It takes you back to a moment in time when the fortunes of Saudi Arabia changed. Highlighting the complete process from the initial analysis by the geologists to the numerous challenges that they faced and to the final discovery of oil in well number 7.

The story of the discovery of oil in the country has been told many times, but not many are fully aware that it was not a walk in the park. There were moments when the project was being shelved together. Watch the documentary for yourself to listen to what some of the members of the original exploration team had to say.

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Explore KSA, Online Magazine, Travel Around Saudi

Haddaj Well – One Of The Largest Ancient Water Wells In The World

dsc_0227

It continues to pour forth water 2,500 years on.


Sitting at the edge of the Nafud Desert, the city of Tayma benefits from an abundance of groundwater. Haddaj Well historically was the main source of water to this ancient city and is believed to be over 2500 years old. With copious amounts of water, much prosperity came to the oasis as it found itself in the midst of trade and pilgrimage routes.

Though the water well is found in an easily accessible part of town, our navigation system took us through maze-like streets that passed through date farm after date farm. There are so many palm trees that are cultivated in the city of Tayma that we have only come across such large numbers of trees only in Madinah and Al Hasa before. The cool and shady pathways felt like a tranquil haven. The rustle of the palm fronds and birdsong had a soothing effect on our senses after an almost 3-hour journey from Madinah.dsc_0210

“It’s only a water well” was a thought that kept coming to mind as we were driving around the city. But when we reached it, the thoughts faded away and we were beginning to understand why this water well has become a tourist landmark.

The well is pretty huge measuring over 18 meters in diameter, this makes it the largest well in peninsular Arabia. It is architecturally intriguing as well; the wooden structure on top has been restored giving it much of an authentic feel and the bricks that hold the well together without mortar are a marvel in themselves. The time-worn bricks have scars of water all over them, but they still appear so sturdy that they seem to be good to stand for decades to follow.dsc_0237

As we reached the rim of the well, we were surprised that there was water in the well. The water was of a bright green color.  There were even a number of fishes and turtles thriving in it. We circumambulated the well, with each side of it presenting something new to us. Some portions of the well had wild plants protruding out from the brick walls, they somehow just added to the splendor.

The water seemed pretty deep as no matter how hard we tried we could not see the surface. It had a good amount of water in it even during the hot summer when many wells dry up. But the Haddaj Well hasn’t always been in use, in around the 5th century BCE, Tayma was abandoned, so the well fell into disuse for many centuries until Suleiman al-Gonaim restored it.dsc_0240

The water well originally worked on a pulley system. Bucket loads of water would be pulled from the well by means of camels or oxen, which would at times even number close to a hundred. This water would then be put into channels and through these channels, the water would reach nearby farmlands.

One can see these pulleys and channels to this day.  The channels and pulleys are of no use today, but the Haddaj Well continues to provide water to nearby wells and farmlands by modern water pumping systems.dsc_0196

Location: 27.634600, 38.553574

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Explore KSA, Historic Saudi, Online Magazine

Desert Kites: “Works of the Old Men”

aerial_view1

The tale of the ancient Arabian hunting technique.


The ancient hunting technique of using desert kites remained long forgotten till airplane pilots spotted them in the 1920s. Named “desert kites” because of their triangular shape, they were primarily used to capture gazelles and other wild animals.

They are generally made of two low dry-stone walls arranged in a V-shape, but the enclosure could be in other shapes too. Called “Works of the Old Men” by Bedouins, the idea behind desert kites was to trap a large number of animals.desert_kites

The game plan

A group of hunters would chase a herd of animals into the opening of the kite-like structure and capture them towards the narrow V-shaped end. Archaeologists believe that groups from various communities would participate in the ordeal together to hunt these wild animals en masse.

Desert kites were generally constructed on flat land between narrow deeply-incised valleys, where the surroundings would play a big role.kite-7_1

In Saudi Arabia, majority of the desert kites are found in the Harrat Khaybar area which is very close to modern-day Madinah. While archaeologists debate over exactly when this technique was created, desert kites are believed to have been built between 4000 BC and 2000 BC.

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