Events & Happenings, Offbeat, Things To Do

Remembering The 10 Best Events That Took Place In Saudi In 2017

Photo Credit: goodhousekeeping.com

The past year was a landmark year not only because of the amazing reforms that took place but also because of the steady push towards modernity. Ever since the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) was established Saudi Arabia has been witnessing the kind of events that it never had in its history.


Here were some of the biggest ones that were held in 2017.

P.S. We haven’t included recurring events local like Janadariyah and Yanbu Flower Festival, our list consists mostly of first-timers.

Japanese Orchestra Concert

Photo Credit: english.alarabiya.net

Photo Credit: english.alarabiya.net

Held in the first half of 2017, this concert kind of set the tone for the concerts that were to follow later in the year. The celebrated orchestral conductor Hirofumi Yoshida led the orchestra enthralling Riyadhis.

Toby Keith And Rabeh Saqer Concert

maxresdefaultThis was an event were Country music met Khaleeji music. American country music star Toby Keith shared the stage with Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer in Riyadh.

Monster Jam

Photo Credit: olden1center.com

Photo Credit: olden1center.com

The American action-packed motorsport event came to Saudi Arabia for the first time. Riyadhis got a chance to see some of the most outrageous monster trucks doing the most outrageous things. The event was held at the King Fahd Stadium.

Saudi Comic Con

Photo Credit: arabnews.com

Photo Credit: arabnews.com

It was the country’s first comic-con event and it was held in Jeddah. Celebrities like Mads Mikkelsen, Charles Dance and Julian Glover amongst other local celebrities graced the event. Huge numbers poured in for the three-day event.

Comic Con Arabia

Photo Credit: arabianbusiness.com

Photo Credit: arabianbusiness.com

Jeddah held an amazing comic con event and so did Riyadh in the same year called Comic Con Arabia. Fans of pop culture some dressed in the coolest cosplays costumes attended the event. Jason Momoa, Greg Grunberg and Pilou Asbaek amongst many other regional and international stars came for the event.

iLuminate

Photo Credit: milleroutdoortheatre.com

Photo Credit: milleroutdoortheatre.com

The New-York based entertainment group iLuminate who are famous taking part in the sixth season of America’s Got Talent came to Saudi Arabia. They literally lit up the stages in Jeddah and Riyadh as they performed in the dark with only their LED suits. They held their shows over multiple days which were major draws in both Jeddah and Riyadh.

Yanni Concerts

Photo Credit: world.greekreporter.com

Photo Credit: world.greekreporter.com

Greek maestro Yanni was originally supposed to hold 4 concerts, but he increased it to six seeing the huge demand. He even tweeted about the love that he received in Saudi.

Balqees Fathi Concert

Photo Credit: saudigazette.com.sa

Photo Credit: saudigazette.com.sa

The Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi performed at what has been termed as Saudi Arabia’s first female-only concert. She even sang the Saudi national anthem to a roaring applause.

Blue Man Group

Photo Credit: goodhousekeeping.com

Photo Credit: goodhousekeeping.com

They have performed all around the world and in 2017 they finally came to Saudi Arabia. As expected their shows were entertainment galore.

Nelly & Cheb Khalid

Photo Credit: radionz.co.nz

Photo Credit: radionz.co.nz

You’ve got not one but two major singers coheadlining a concert that was held in King Abdullah Economic City. Nelly is a multi-grammy winning artist and Cheb Khalid is one the Arab World’s most recognizable singers internationally, so as expected when the two got together the event was one of the best concerts ever held in the country. The concert was held towards the end of 2017, which just makes us look forward to the amazing events that are set to be held in 2018.

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Offbeat

A 6-Step Guide To Move To Canada

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So let’s say for whatever reason (from the hundreds that Canada is presenting) you want to move to Canada, here’s our guide to help you go to the land of a thousand dreams.


Canada has many different programs through which one can enter the country including family sponsored, business start-up or investor, refugee, caregiver and express entry amongst many others.

For purposes of ease, we will be covering the express entry system, which is the most preferred amongst residents of the Gulf countries and has some of the shortest waiting periods.

Express Entry Explained

It is a Canadian immigration program   in which applicants apply for permanent residency under the following programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Canadian Experience Class

This program targets skilled immigrants. Candidates are selected based on their ability to settle in Canada and contribute to the country’s economy.

Applicants have to meet the minimum requirements of at least one of these programs. The credentials of the applicants will be posted on a government website where immigration officials and potential employers can view the application. They can later approach the candidate if they meet their requirements.

Step 1: Check if you are eligible to apply

You just have to answer a few questions based on which applicants will get to know if they are eligible for this program. This will take about 15 minutes.

At the end of the test, you will be given a reference number. You can use this number later when you build your profile.

Check eligibility here.

Step 2: Fill an online express entry profile

Create an account on the Canadian government’s official website. You will then have to fill in your details on the same website to complete your express entry profile.

Fill the form here.

Step 3: Register with the ESDC Job Bank (Only for those who do not have a valid job offer or a nomination from a province or territory)

This will help connect applicants with potential employers in Canada. If one does not register within 30 days, their express entry profile will expire.

Register here.

Step 4: A ranking system will then rank the applicants

Applicants are given scores out of 1200. Those with the highest scores on the point based ranking system will be issued an invitation to apply.

Step 5: Candidates who have received an invitation to apply will have to apply within 90 days.

This can be done online here.

Step 6: Wait 

The majority of applications will be processed within 6 months. If your application fails to make the cut then you can reapply by filling your express entry profile again after a period of 12 months.

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Offbeat

Much-Awaited Saudi Construction Projects Slated To Be Completed In 2017

Photo Credit: designboom.com

With Vision 2030 acting as a guidance force, many new construction projects have been announced in recent months and ones that are long due are now closer than ever to completion.


While 2016 may not be counted amongst the best years for the construction industry, 2017, on the other hand, has many things to look up to with many mega construction projects slated to be completed. Here are a few of them.

 Jeddah New Airport

The first phase of the new KAIA airport is expected to open in mid-2017. The airport expansion project is part of GACA’s 2020 strategy, which seeks to develop the Kingdom’s 27 domestic, regional and international airports.  The strategy aims to raise the capacity of Saudi Arabia’s airports to more than 100 million travelers by 2020.

The project is being developed in 3 phases, the cost of the 1st phase alone is said to be over a whopping 7 Billion Dollars. Sprawling over an area of 670,000 square meters, the airport will be one of the largest travel hubs in the world. In addition to that, the control tower in the new airport is said to be the tallest in the world standing at a height of 136 meters.

Haramain High-Speed Rail

The 449-kilometer railway is one of the most keenly watched projects in the Middle East. Upon completion, the railway will connect the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah with Jeddah and KAEC. The trains will run at speeds of 300 km/h making the journey from Jeddah to Makkah in less than half an hour. Operations are expected to commence by the end of 2017.

King Abdulaziz Center For World Culture

The first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, the center is all set to become a thriving hub of knowledge and cross-cultural engagement. Backed with iconic architectural design and state-of-the-art technologies, it will give a much-needed push to innovation and creativity across various streams of knowledge. At the heart of the center is the Knowledge Tower that is made up of 18 floors and will host around 2,000 workshops in STEM ((Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects on an annual basis.

Things to watch out for in the center include the Energy Exhibit, multimedia theater, performing arts theater and the library that will house over a massive 220,000 books. Though the center has already been inaugurated it is expected to open in the 2nd half of 2017.

King Abdullah Port Expansion

The port has been a success story for the Kingdom. The expansion project will add an additional 2 berths to the port. Expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, the expansion works will see the port’s annual capacity rise to 4 million TEUs (twenty feet container equivalents).  This will boost its standing in the maritime industry and will bring it a step closer to its vision of becoming one of the largest seaports in the world.

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Business

This City Has The Highest Salaries In Saudi Arabia

Photo Credit: therakyatpost.com

The question that often lingers when discussing cities is which one offers the better salary options. While the cost of living may be on the lower sides in small towns and villages, metropolitan cities have the biggest pay scales.


However, it should be understood that a bigger pay scale does not necessarily guarantee or translate into the bigger saving, as cities come with a high cost of living.

In our research to find the city that has the highest salaries, we came across a useful website called payscale.com. Based on their findings, we present to you the median annual salaries in various cities across Saudi Arabia.

For the most accurate results, we filtered the results by years of experience and picked the 1-4 years group – the group that has the largest data available on the website. The smaller cities don’t have much data to reach a final conclusion and are therefore excluded.

As expected the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh has the highest salaries, with the median salary standing at SAR 82,373/per annum.

Following it in a close second is Al Khobar with SAR 80,656/per annum.

Jeddah comes at the third place with the median salary coming to around SAR 77,242/per annum.

113648Dammam’s result is bit surprising as despite being geographically attached to Al Khobar, the salaries speak of a different story. The annual salary for Dammam is much lower when compared to that of Al Khobar, standing at SAR 59,236/per annum.

We’re interested to know what you think!

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TECH

4 Apps That Will Help Make Your Hajj A Lot Easier

hajj

The hajj season is underway and pilgrims from all corners of the globe are making their way to the Holy Cities of Makkah. For many of them it’s the first time that they are partaking in the annual ritual.


The regular stories amongst pilgrims of not being able to find their way back to their tent or their struggles to communicate with other pilgrims due to language barriers have long been heard. In turn, many apps have been created to help the foreign pilgrims coming to Saudi Arabia with problems they may encounter.

Tawaf

Platforms: iOS and Android
Many a times in the process of circumambulating the Kaa’ba, you tend to forget how many rounds you have completed. Well, this is where the problem is solved. Just click on the start button and let the app do the counting of rounds for you while you can focus solely on worship.

tawaf

Al Maqsad

Platforms: iOS and Android
The Grand Mosque in Makkah is so huge that it needs a dedicated app to help visitors navigate it and its surrounding key locations. Al Maqsad app is a must-have for all first time pilgrims. From bus stations to nearby restaurants, you are in safe hands.

al maqsad

Salam

Platforms: iOS and Android
The app is quite popular and has ranked in the top 10 in 59 countries under the travel segment on the App Store. The app comes full circle with features such as a hajj map, hajj related tips, a friend tracking system and an interactive Quran reader – it’s got you covered.

Hajjsalam5

Smart Hajj

Platforms: iOS and Android
Developed by the Umm Al Qura University, the app provides an authentic detailed step-by-step guide for performing hajj. The app also offers instant translation to overcome language barriers. One of the most interesting features of the app is that it has an option wherein you can automatically update your loved ones each and every time you reach your desired destination be it Mina, Muzdalifah or Arafat etc.

smarthajj

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Explore KSA, Travel Around Saudi

French Photographer Captures His 15 Day Stay In Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia has always evoked much interest in the eyes of the West. There are many stereotypes associated with it and all these shatter once a person steps inside The Kingdom. Something similar happened to renowned French photographer, Eric Lafforgue.

He was on his maiden visit to the Kingdom, that too for just 15 days. In this short visit, he ended up traveling a good deal around the country. The photos he shot on his trip have made it to many tabloids around the world.

From men wearing flowers on their heads to the contrasting landscapes, he captured them all for the world to see. Here they are:

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Offbeat

The 11 Best Websites To Buy Used Cars In Saudi Arabia

Photo Credits: carproof.com

We all know that the value of a new car depreciates fast. The older it gets, the depreciation curve tends to stabilize. No wonder there is a huge market for used cars.

The search for a used car can be exhaustive, but with these useful websites you can easily browse according to your need and contact car owners that are willing to sell their used cars. These websites are like a virtual car lot, in which you won’t have a salesman around your neck forcing you to check cars that you have no intention of buying.

Eharaj.com
Eharaj.com is a decent website to browse used cars provided that you don’t accidentally click those Google Adsense ad banners that are placed all over the website. Eharaj.com however is not as popular as others on this list.

Saudisale.com
A noteworthy feature of this used cars website is the ‘SMS ME’ feature. Through this feature you can fill a request of the car you want and once an ad for a car that matches your requirements is posted on the website it automatically sends you an SMS.

Gulfharaj.com
The website is popular amongst those looking for higher end used cars. Out of all countries in the Gulf, the most number of used cars the website has are from Saudi.

Mourjan.com
The list of cars for sale on this website is not extensive and visitors may find it a bit difficult to browse through. It is good for other items on sale but maybe not cars – at least for now.

Bey3.com
Though not as popular in Saudi Arabia as compared to other Middle Eastern countries, Bey3.com has a user friendly interface – which is a big plus, as most classifieds websites fare poor on this front. Out of all various classifieds on the website, used cars by far are on the forefront.

Yallamotor.com
With a good presence in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in general, Yallamotor.com is growing fast in becoming one of the most preferred used cars websites today.

Ksa.hatla2ee.com
It has a good filtering system based on brand, body style and price amongst several other factors. It also has a popular car forum where you can discuss about cars with others looking for used cars. In case, you switch your mind and want to purchase a 1st hand car, you can search for them on this website as well.

Carmudi.com
It claims to be the fastest glowing cars classifieds listing in the world. It is one of the best websites to search for cars, offering a commendable end-user experience. Carmudi.com also offers easy-to-use advanced searching options.

Olx.sa.com
Formerly Dubizzle in Saudi Arabia, the internationally renowned online classifieds marketplace has a decent amount of used cars on sale. However, while browsing the website one gets the impression as if the website was not made for selling used cars – contrary to the others on this list. It is however good for other items.

Expatriates.com
Though it’s a mumbo-jumbo of numerous cars with poor filtering options, Expatriates.com features one of the highest numbers of used cars in the country. However, of late many car agents have started to advertise on it posting as individual users.

Ksa.motory.com
Apart from selling used cars like the rest of the websites on this list, this website even features the latest car news. Based in Saudi Arabia, the cars listing on Motory.com is extensive.

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Community, Explore Your City, Food, Foodie Corner, Uncategorized

A First Timer’s Jeddah Vegetable Market Experience

credits: Susie of Arabia

The vibrant vegetable market is like a hub of all things fresh and colorful.

I’ve been hearing about the vegetable Market for many years now, but never actually got a chance to visit it. My fruit and vegetable requirements were always met by the supermarkets so the need never arose. However, out of curiosity (and looking for something new do,) I’ve decided to finally pay it a visit.

Nestled in Al Safa District just off Umm Al Qura Road, this bustling vegetable market is the largest in the city. When I reached it, trusting the Google location that I was given, I was actually surprised by its large size – more so, by the number of people that were there.

The parking area is of a decent size, but most parking slots were already taken. After finding parking in one of the nearby alleys, I made my way to the nearest entrance. I saw uniform clad porters carrying heaps of produce on flatbed trolleys to the cars of the customers. A porter with a flatbed trolley can be hired for 10 Riyals and the majority of people were using their services. It seemed to be a necessity as visitors to this market seemed to end up with large quantities of fruits and vegetables.

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Once inside, I saw that the market was abundant and alive. It’s surprising to see the amount of goods being purchased here despite there being stiff competition from the supermarket chains these days. The market has somehow endured the fad and survived.

The stalls go on for hours, almost like if it were a small mall- sans the glittery lighting and air conditioners. There are parts of the market that are shaded, but then there are others that are open air- giving it more of a street market look.

I personally found the prices to be reasonable; the larger the order, the cheaper it gets. A few vendors were selling fruits and vegetables that you generally won’t find at the supermarkets at all times. Deliveries to the vendors keep coming in. I wonder what they do when their stock nears its expiration as the items on offer all seemed fresh. Most of which were sourced locally.

On the street parallel to the vegetable market, date shops galore. Many famous local date brands have their official outlets here.

On the whole, I must say that here you won’t find the energy to match that of other street markets in Jeddah, but somehow I seemed to enjoy the lesser buzz for a change. Yes, the stallholders kept asking us to buy their produce, but it didn’t feel noisy at all despite all the activity happening around. I found the visit a welcome change to my routine, especially since I used to think that I’ve seen all what Jeddah has to offer and was tired of having to visit the supermarkets for these items. Plus, my visit to the market gave me a set of new veggies to incorporate into my home cooking.

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Activities, Explore Your City, Fitness

The Original Arabian Sport – Falconry

Photo Credit: Fahad - Explorer Tours

Middle Easterners have been entertaining themselves with the sport of falconry for centuries. Some sources suggest that the sport of falconry started over 4,000 years ago.

Of late, the sport of our ancestors has been gaining ground, yet it still hasn’t become widespread amongst the masses. So it’s about time, we educate ourselves about this sport that continues to intrigue people from far and wide.

Origin

Although falconry is widely associated with Arabia today, it is believed to have originated in China. It features in many historic Chinese paintings and literature as well.

When it spread to Arabia, it wasn’t considered a sport, rather a means of obtaining food as falcons are expert predators. Falcons can spot prey at distances of several kilometers and some species of falcons can fly at over 100 km per hour and near 200 km per hour speeds on dives.

Photo Credit: Fahad - Explorer Tours

Photo Credit: Fahad – Explorer Tours

Over time, the falcon has integrated with the cultural heritage of the region. It is not only bedouins that engage in the sport today, many youngsters have developed an interest in the sport.

A Rite Of Passage

Falconry enthusiasts in The Kingdom regularly head to popular falcon spotting areas during the migration season that starts in October. However, the number of falcons migrating on these migration paths has been declining over the past few years due to poaching.

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Photo Credit: Fahad – Explorer Tours

These falconers use their falcons to hunt, compete with other falcons and at times when they capture other injured falcons they even make the effort to heal them. Popular falcon breeds in The Kingdom include the Barbary, Sooty, Saker, Peregrine, Laner and Gyr.

During non-migrating seasons, falconers meet up to train their falcons. On sight of prey, the falconers remove the hood from the falcon’s head and let it fly. The falcons start a chase that can last for days. Radio transmitters are attached to the falcons so their respective owners can track them down after they have flown miles to catch their prey. In Saudi Arabia, the popular preys of choice include rabbits and desert quail.

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Photo Credit: Fahad – Explorer Tours

At night, during camping, all falcons are lined up sitting on a perch next to their owners. They are kept hooded throughout the night with some clasping onto the arms of their owners. Most falcon owners have bought these falcons or have been gifted them by other fellow falcon owners. Some falcons can even fetch up to hundreds of thousands in auctions.

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Photo Credit: Fahad – Explorer Tours

Falconry is not an easy sport in any sense of the word; it demands time, patience and training. Training a falcon can take up to 10 days and a falconer has to carry the falcon on his arm for hours.

For those more interested in this sport, they can get in touch with Explorer & Expat’s Tours, who organize visits to popular falcon spotting grounds and can even arrange an informative session on falconry, bringing with them trained falcons to introduce the concept to children at their schools.

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Photo Credit: Fahad – Explorer Tours

Explorer Tours Contact
Email: trailcheeta@yahoo.com
Mob: +966-507678139

 

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The Ostrich, which was a bird Arabia took pride in centuries ago, has been extirpated from Saudi Arabia and today can’t be found anywhere across the country in the wild. However, there still are many birds that have survived poaching and climate changes, and continue to thrive in Saudi Arabia. There are various hot spots around the country that are regularly visited by bird watchers to catch glimpses of these magnificent flying creatures that have intrigued humans since time immemorial.

Most of the birds in this list are endemic to Saudi Arabia and stay in the country year round. Here are some birds one can expect to see in Saudi Arabia:

Photo Credit: M Al Fahad

Photo Credit: M Al Fahad

Arabian Woodpecker

This is the only woodpecker that breeds in Arabia and has been classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The number of mature birds of this species are believed to be lesser than 10,000 and are mostly found in the Red Sea foothills.

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Greater Flamingo
It is the most widespread species of all flamingos. It can occasionally be found by the sea along the western coast of the country. Renowned for standing on one leg, the flamingo is one of the most prolific birds in Arabia.
Photo Credit: ibc.lynxeds.com

Photo Credit: ibc.lynxeds.com

Arabian Partridge

Found in the southwestern mountainous part of the country, the Arabian Partridge prefers juniper dominated rocky knolls for its habitat. It is a ground-dwelling bird and feeds mainly on plant seeds and other plant materials.

Photo Credit: ibc.lynxeds.com

Photo Credit: ibc.lynxeds.com

Jouanin's petrel

Classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN, Jouanin’s Petrel is found in hotspots on both sides of the Red Sea. The petrel prefers open and shallow seas for its habitat.

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Yemen Thrush

Confined to the mountainous areas of the country, this is the Middle Eastern member of the Thrush family. The population of the bird is believed to be small and declining due to a loss of habitat. However, the woodland habitat of the Yemen Thrush is protected under 2 protected areas in Saudi Arabia, these include the Raydah Reserve and Asir National Park, which is helping in maintaining its numbers in the region.

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Arabian Magpie

This rare species of the magpie is endemic to Saudi Arabia. It is so rare in fact, that its numbers are believed to be standing at less than 135 pairs.

Photo Credit: stevebondimages.com

Photo Credit: stevebondimages.com

Little Grebe

Found near open bodies of water, the Little Grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver. An interesting thing about it is its breeding call, which sounds much like the whinnying of a horse.

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Yemen Warbler

Native to southern Arabia, this warbler has a large head, long tail and short wings. In Saudi Arabia, they are found in places where the elevation is between 1,500 and 2,900 meters.

Photo Credit: kaukasusplus.nl

Photo Credit: kaukasusplus.nl

Arabian Golden-Winged Grosbeak

Found in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, this species of bird has been classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. They have noticeable head patterns and are present in low densities throughout their range.

Photo Credit: flickr.com

Photo Credit: flickr.com

Arabian Waxbill

Endemic to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the Arabian Waxbill resides mainly in the Tihama region. The waxbill is known to be highly social, but of late their famous communal roosting has been affected due to loss of areas of dense waterside vegetation, which it inhabits.

Get your bags packed, bird spotting checklist, a pair of binoculars and you are good to go. Enjoy bird watching!

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