Offbeat

10 Useful Google Products You Can Start Using Today

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There are tons of Google products out there. Some of them like Google Maps, Google Glass, and other upcoming projects like internet-beaming balloons and smart contact lenses have managed to gain a lot of limelight. Most of the other products and services that Google offers, however, get overshadowed by its search engine.


Here are some useful Google products that you can start using today.

  • Trendalyzer

Instead of the regular boring stats and graphs, with this tool by Google, you’ll be able to create interactive bubble charts that are easy and fun to use.  nationswealthhealth2009

  • Google Keep

The note-taking app that works on iOS and Android allows you to take notes in the form of text, lists, images and even audio. It comes with a reminder service and works on desktops as well.google-keep

  • Google Scholar

In simple terms, it is scholarly literature right at your fingertips.google_scholar_logo-svg

  • Google nGram Viewer

Ideal for armchair historians, the nGram Viewer displays how many times a particular word or phrase has been used between 1500 and 2008 on books that are available on Google’s vast database.screen-shot-2010-12-15-at-10-30-57-pm

  • Google News 

The platform aggregates headlines from news sources around the world and groups them together according to each user’s interests.google-news-updated-with-new-features

  • Google Art Project

It allows one to access high-res images of artworks housed in p1200px-screenshot_google_art_project_manet_wintergartenartner museums of the project. It provides a virtual tour like experience through some of the biggest museums in the art world.

  • Google Fonts

You get to choose from hundreds of free fonts through this service allowing you to use beautiful typography in the virtual world.  google-fonts-redesign

  • Google Sky

Enjoyed Google Earth? If yes, then you’ll love Google Sky. The application allows you to view the stars and galaxies by images sourced from NASA, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Hubble Telescope.unnamed

  • Google Sites

An easy way to build a website from scratch or by using pre-existing templates. Just spend a few hours on this and you’ll have a website that is good to go.new-sites-postpic

  • Google Goggles 

Just snap a picture and Google will handle the rest. If it finds anything related to what you’ve just shot you’ll end up with all the info related to it that Google’s complex algorithms can find for you on the internet. So next time you’re standing in front of a landmark and have no clue about it, just take a photo of it through the app.google-goggles

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Offbeat

Top 6 Ambitious Vision 2030 Construction Projects

Photo Credit: rcrwireless.com

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has got the world’s eyes on it. The Vision has a lot of stated goals, one of the principal ones being the reduction of the country’s dependency on oil revenues.


Massive infrastructure projects play a huge part in achieving these goals. We take a look at some of the most ambitious infrastructure projects announced so far under it.

Red Sea Project

Photo Credit: Public Investment Fund

Photo Credit: Public Investment Fund

The project plans to transform hundreds of kilometers of the Kingdom’s Red Sea coastline stretching from the cities of Umluj and Wajh into a global tourism destination. The area that the project will cover will be around 34,000 square kilometers spread over 50 islands.

Leading names in tourism and hospitality sectors are expected to set a foothold here and create a total of 35,000 jobs. Revenues from the project are anticipated to generate SR 15 billion annually.

Al Faisaliah City

Al Faisaliah project is planned to give the city of Makkah a huge extension. The project will span an area of 2,450 square kilometers along the southwestern side of Makkah.

The project will see the development of a new airport, seaport, and an Islamic research center. This is in addition to the industrial, agricultural, and educational facilities that will be provided. 995,000 housing units accommodating up to 6.5 million people are planned to be constructed by the year 2050.

The geographical boundary of the new city will start from the edge of the Makkah Haram and extend up to the Red Sea coast of Al Shuaiba. It is expected to draw 10 million visitors annually including Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.

Abraj Kudai

Photo Credit: time.com

Photo Credit: time.com

Since revenues from pilgrimage play a huge role in Vision 2030, the construction of building the largest hotel in the world has resumed. Situated at a distance of two kilometers from the Grand Mosque, the mammoth hotel project comes with a cost of US$ 3.5 billion.

The planned construction includes a ring of 12 towers spanning a total area of 1.4 million square meters. When completed, Abraj Kudai will consist of 10,000 rooms and 70 restaurants.

Fadhili Gas Plant

Photo Credit: utilities-me.com

Photo Credit: utilities-me.com

The gas plant will supply energy through the clean-burning of natural gas and help lower the country’s reliance on oil as a fuel for generating power. Boasting of a processing capacity of 2.5bcf/d, the gas plant will process gas from both onshore and offshore fields.

The project is currently under construction 30 kilometers to the west of Jubail. The facility is being built by Saudi Aramco with an estimated investment of a staggering SR 50 billion.

Entertainment City

rides-2613956_960_720Spread over an area of 334 square kilometers, the entertainment and cultural city will be bigger than the Maldives. The new city will be built to the southwest of Riyadh in an area called Al Qidiya.

The foundation stones are expected to be laid in 2018 and the opening of the first phase is scheduled for 2022. Major attractions in the new city will include a safari and a theme park by American giant Six Flags.

Neom

Photo Credit: veja.abril.com.br

Photo Credit: veja.abril.com.br

Sitting close to the borders of Egypt and Jordan, NEOM is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – infrastructure projects to be announced in the Middle East. Being built on a colossal scale, measuring almost 25,900 square kilometers, it will be 33 times bigger than New York City.

The headline-grabbing US$ 500 billion investment in the city will be funded majorly by the Saudi government, Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund and other local and foreign investors.The NEOM project will be run by Klaus Kleinfeld, a former CEO of Alcoa Inc and Siemens AG. The expected completion of the first phase of the city is set at 2025 and we can’t wait for 2025 already.

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Offbeat

Riyadh’s KAPSARC Is One Of The Most Beautiful Buildings In The Middle East – Here Are 8 Facts About It

Photo Credit: bimcommunity.com

Photos of the futuristic-looking King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) have been circulated far and wide on every medium possible. But many still don’t know what it does or anything else about it for that matter apart from the way it looks. That’s where we come in and clear all doubts that surround this amazing building.


  • The KAPSARC campus measures a huge 70,000m² in size.

That’s enough to fit nine football fields.

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

  • It actually is a non-profit institution.

And collaborates with international research centers, public policy organizations, government institutions and global industry to tackle energy challenges.

  • In simple terms, KAPSARC develops policies and economic frameworks.

Particularly those that reduce the environmental impact and overall costs of energy supply.

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

  • In fact, it not only makes environmentally friendly policies, its campus in itself is environmentally friendly.

And was awarded LEED Platinum certification as it minimizes energy usage by using solar power, water recycling and passive cooling systems amongst others.

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

  • KAPSARC was designed by celebrated architect Zaha Hadid’s company –ZHA.

The structure resembles a honeycomb.

  • The structure is designed considering the harsh desert conditions that surround it.

It blocks the sun’s harshest rays while remaining open to northern and westerly winds.

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

Photo Credit: archdaily.com

  • It has been named Saudi Arabia’s smartest building.

By the Honeywell Smart Building Awards program.

  • There is even a sizeable musallah inside it.

Like the other structures in KAPSARC, even the musallah looks futuristic.

Photo Credit: hok.com

Photo Credit: hok.com

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Offbeat

If Your Network Changed To ‘KSA UAE TOGETHER,’ Here’s Why

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People across Saudi Arabia woke up yesterday to find their STC network has switched from their regular one that reads STC to a new one that reads ‘KSA UAE TOGETHER’.


Twitter erupted with questions on why.

Well, we have the answer for you.

The UAE’s National Day is celebrated on the 2nd of December. To highlight the close friendship that Saudi Arabia and the UAE enjoy, the network shifted their name to ‘KSA UAE TOGETHER’.

In fact, networks like Etisalat and Du in the UAE changed their network names previously during the Saudi National Day celebrations to ‘UAE KSA TOGETHER’ as well.

So does this mean that we will probably see more customized network names in future? Most likely.

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Offbeat, Videos

Off-Road Enthusiasts Help Out #JeddahRain

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An off-road team called Riders, who are normally spotted driving their group of 30-40 Jeeps to the outskirts of the city towards the desert or going up the Hada road towards Taif, were spotted doing something completely different during the recent Jeddah rains.


Their lifted Jeeps, all modified and equipped to pull out vehicles in stranded situations, were deployed around the city in flood-prone areas. Operating under the Barq Rescue team (Thunder Rescue), which is a voluntary rescue team alongside Civil Defense and is run by Jeep enthusiasts. The organization is officially registered with Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) and the Saudi Civil Defense Force (fire emergency services), they pulled out stranded cars and people from places where the water rose above knee level.

They also posted on social media to reach out to anyone needing assistance and were stranded in the waters. They even went on transporting people from one place to another as taxis and taxi-hailing services were more or less non-existent. When we reached out to them about their voluntary efforts they mentioned, “we off-roaders, adventurers feel we do have a social responsibility and a way to create awareness about us is not only by having fun in the sand dunes, but also act professionally when it comes to incidents like these.”

Aamir Farouk, 28 one of the team leaders for the Riders group, said, “Why do what everyone else is doing when you can make your mark by doing something completely different? Keep your focus on what YOU want to do – Not what anyone else wants or is doing. You lose time watching others succeed. There are so many ways to win.” #OneDayOrDayOne”  The Riders team consists of 4 team leaders and 100+ members.

Instagram: BarqRescue
InstagramRiders.KSA
Instagram: SandSpyderJK

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Explore KSA, Online Magazine

An Island Off The Umluj Coast – A Red Sea Tourism Project!

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Part of the mega Red Sea tourism project.


When news of the Red Sea tourism project came, it made headlines across the globe. After all, it is one of the most ambitious tourism projects in this part of the world.

The plan is to turn a string of islands between Umluj and Al Wajh into a global tourism destination. The project will cover 50 islands, spanning an area of 34,000 square kilometers.

With all the hype surrounding it, we decided to pay a visit to these islands and get a first-hand experience of what they are like. 158862abeer-bajandouh

After checking into our hotel at Umluj, we noticed a small poster that read “island tours.” The following morning, we call the number and he tells us to come to the seaport. It took us some time to find the location, as he kept on explaining the route as if we were locals who knew the nooks and crannies of the city like the backs of our hands. Nevertheless, we did manage to find the port. No ships or ferries here, just small motor boats, most of which are probably used for fishing.

We finally meet the man on the phone who was to be our makeshift tour guide. But before we can sit in his charming boat that even had a mini majlis seating arrangement in it, we had to submit our resident permits to the port authorities. They handed over a slip to us, which we had to return once we were back from our journey to get our IDs.162242abeer-bajandouh

We step in the boat, wear our life jackets and off we go, passing the barrier of the light colored shallow waters into the deep dark waters. The boat rides fast, bumping off waves while its motor makes the sound of a jet propeller.

As we went deeper into the Red Sea, we saw two islands on the horizon. The islands were beautiful, the turquoise waters surrounding them just added to their beauty. It was like a tropical island sans trees.

Our boat couldn’t reach the island’s shore as the water was too shallow and, on top of that, we reached during low tide. Nonetheless, we anchored next to one of the islands and began exploring while taking mindless photos for our social media feeds.dsc_0001

We couldn’t swim in the waters as they were too shallow, so we tried our hands at fishing. The waters were abundant with marine life, so much so that we would just throw the bait and within a minute or two would catch a fish.

We moved around a bit in our hunt for schools of fish and we managed to find a few more, but we’d already caught more than we could in our wildest imaginations. Our guide informed us that there were islands further up ahead, but they were a good 30 minutes away. With seasickness starting to catch up with us, we decided to go back.dsc_0953

Though we only visited two of the 50 islands that are part of the project, we got a slight understanding of what these islands have to offer. The promise of a tropical gateway in the Middle East, offering coral reefs, year-round warm sun, pristine waters, virgin beaches and plentiful opportunities for island-hopping can be all too alluring. Plus, Saudi Arabia sits at what can be called the crossroads of the East and the West, so for much of the world, long flights will not be required to reach here.

So if one decides to go now to this place, there is not much that they can expect to see here, apart from isolated islands. But once the infrastructure is in place, these islands are poised to top the lists of must-visit places in the Middle East.dsc_0990

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News, Offbeat

Game of Thrones Stars Descending Upon Riyadh This November

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Multi-genre entertainment and comic convention Comic-Con Arabia is coming to Saudi Arabia for the first time.


To be held in Riyadh from Nov. 23-25 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, the event’s guest stars have been, as always, quite the talk of the town. Two stars from the upcoming event will be from the popular TV show Game of Thrones, which also enjoys huge popularity in the country.

So if you’re a GoT fan, you know where to head this weekend.

Jason Momoa

Photo Credit: thisisinsider.com

Photo Credit: thisisinsider.com

He has a huge fan base thanks to his portrayal of Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, apart from which he has also worked on numerous films and TV shows, including the recently released Hollywood blockbuster Justice League. Momoa is all set to be one of the biggest draws for Comic-Con.

Pilou Asbaek

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The Danish actor is famous for his portrayal as Euron Greyjoy aka Crow’s Eye in the Game of Thrones. Though his character is a bit of late entrant in the show with its first appearance in season 6, he has quickly developed a sizeable following. And, we couldn’t have been more excited to finally get a chance to see him in person.

P.S: Even if you are not a GoT fan you will have plenty to look forward to as the list of celebrities attending the event includes Big Bang Theory star Kevin Sussman, Underworld: Awakenings Tudor and Lost Girl star Kristen Holden-Reid, Mother! Star and video game Legend of Zelda Princess Zelda’s voiceover actress Patricia Summersett and many more.

If you’re going to Comic-Con Riyadh, come find the Destination Riyadh team and say hi!

For updates check @comicconarabia


 

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Offbeat

This Is What These 18 Saudi Cities Literally Mean

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If you want to understand a city better, start by looking at its name.


Some of these cities probably have no association whatsoever with what their meanings, but their literal translation will probably change your outlook of the city in some way. (Note: In the case of exact translations not being available, the probable root word from which the name of the city is derived has been used instead.)

Before we start, just an FYI – these translations are not definitive.

 

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Travel News

Expats in Saudi Can Now Enter Tunisia Visa-Free. Here’s Why You Should Go ASAP.

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While Tunisia is visa-free for Saudis, the Tunisian government has now made the country visa-free for all GCC expats. All you need is your original residence permit and voila you are granted entry to the beautiful North African country.


1. Sun, sand, and sea – it brings the full combo.

In very few places will you get to feel Mediterranean bliss like here.

2. It used to cost SR 200 to get a Tunisian tourist visa before.

Now, it won’t cost you a dime. tunisia-342855_960_720

3. The country is an interesting combination of North African, Maghrebi and Mediterranean.

The same is reflected in its people, culture and heritage.

4. Despite being small in size, it has a large amount of natural diversity.

Forested coastlines in the north and Saharan sand in the south.tunisia-733613_1920

5. It has rich history as well.

From the remains of the ancient city of Carthage to grand cities constructed during the Islamic Golden ages – even those not into history may fall in love with its charming historical cities.

6. The laid-back capital Tunis has two distinct urban plans.

The new city is the French colonialist type created in the 19th century and then there is the old part of town that has a Maghrebi/Arabian feel to it. star-wars-2082969_960_720

7. Luxury is affordable here.

Many holiday packages offer private coastal cottages at prices that don’t burn a hole in your wallet.

8. It’s only a four-hour flight away from Saudi.

And, flight tickets are pretty reasonable too – with some fares hovering around SR 2,000.

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Offbeat

The 2nd Tallest Building in Saudi Arabia (No, It’s Not The Kingdom Center)

Photo Credit: rightcompound.com

While Makkah’s Royal Clock Tower tops the list of being the tallest in the country with its mammoth height of 601 meters, the 2nd tallest building is not the Kingdom Center in Riyadh as many would expect.Which is natural as the Kingdom Center was the tallest building in Saudi Arabia right till the Makkah Royal Clock Tower topped it.


But 3 years ago, another skyscraper, the Burj Rafal, topped the height of the Kingdom Center. Located in the city of Riyadh, Burj Rafal has a total height of 308 meters (1,010 feet).  It is just 5 meters taller than Kingdom Center, thereby becoming the tallest building in Riyadh.

Constructed at a cost of $320m, the 70-storey tower offers 360-degree views of the surrounding area. The first 23 stories are occupied by the Kempinski Hotel. The floors above the hotel house 440 luxury residential apartments and eight penthouses.burj-rafal-kempinski

The designers behind Burj Rafal are P&T Architects, who are famous for designing some of Hong Kong’s most iconic buildings.  Built on a 20,000 square meter plot, Burj Rafal took 4 years to build and was formally opened in 2014.  The Kempinski Hotel inside the building has won numerous accolades including the 2016 award for Saudi Arabia’s Leading Hotel and Saudi Arabia’s Leading Hotel Residences by World Travel Awards.

Though it is the current tallest in Riyadh, Burj Rafal’s record is soon to be overtaken by the under construction Capital Market Authority Tower that is expected to have a final height of 385 m.

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