RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism announced on Thursday that residents of Gulf Cooperation Council countries can now apply for an eVisa to visit the Kingdom through an online portal, making it easier than ever to visit the country.
GCC residents can now apply for an eVisa through the online portal at, and residents of the UK, US, and the EU can apply for a visa on arrival in the Kingdom.
Holders of a valid tourist or business visa from the UK, US, or one of the Schengen Agreement countries continue to be able to apply for a visa on arrival, provided that it has been used at least once to enter the country granting the visa, the ministry said.
The new regulations remove the need for many would-be visitors to visit their country’s embassy before entering Saudi Arabia, increasing opportunities for potential travelers through a simplified journey, the ministry added.
Announcing the new rules, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said “elevating the visitor experience is at the heart of the tourism sector’s future.”
Al-Khateeb added: “Through harnessing digital innovation and streamlining the traveller journey, Saudi Arabia is welcoming more and more visitors from all corners of the globe.
“On track to deliver our ambitious Vision 2030 goals, this is an important step as we develop a sustainable, resilient, and competitive tourism sector while also delivering for our people.
“Tourism bridges cultures and connects communities, it provides opportunities and uplifts neighborhoods, and I am proud to lead the ministry as we build this future together.”
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have congratulated Britain’s new King Charles III, Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.
In a message to the British monarch, the Kingdom’s leaders praised the ties between the two countries and affirmed their willingness to further bilateral cooperation, and wished the new monarch success and prosperity.
“We are pleased to mark your accession to the throne in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and we send to Your Majesty our congratulations and wishes for success,” the king said.
“We also praise the status of relations that unite our two countries, assuring you of our keenness to strengthen bilateral cooperation for the benefit of our two friendly countries and peoples,” King Salman added, wishing King Charles good health and happiness, and for the UK to have continuous progress and prosperity.
King Charles pledged on Saturday to follow the example of his late mother as he was officially proclaimed as Britain’s new monarch at a historic ceremony in St James’s Palace.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested in just one week 15,568 people who violated residency and work visas in the Kingdom. 
This includes 9,331 who violated their residency permit, 4,226 who violated border security laws, and 2,011 who violated their work permits, , the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.
A total of 260 people were arrested while attempting to enter the country illegally, out of which 27 percent were Yemenis, 65 percent Ethiopians, and 8 percent were of other nationalities, SPA added. 
Twenty others were arrested for attempting to smuggle, transport, harbor and employ people who did not hold viable residency or work permits. 
Currently, 46,064 individuals have pending legal procedures against them for violating visa laws, out of which 43,005 are men and 3,059 are women.
Saudi authorities referred 36,540 violators to their embassies to obtain travel documents, 2,081 violators were referred to their embassies to complete their travel reservations, and 9,293 violators were deported.
The Ministry of Interior confirmed that anyone who facilitates the entry of individuals into the Kingdom illegally, harbors them, employs them, provides them with shelter will face a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of $266,111 (1,000,000 SAR), according to SPA.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) have been ramping up aid efforts in Lebanon and Somalia.
Funded by KSrelief, the Ambulance Service of Subul Al-Salam Social Society in Miniyeh Region, Northern Lebanon, carried out 63 emergency missions in the past week, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The missions included the transfer of patients to and from hospitals and ambulance services to those injured in traffic accidents in the city of Miniyeh. These are part of the center’s efforts to support health services and ambulance transports in the refugee areas, SPA added.
In Somalia, the organization distributed 4,000 food baskets to 24,000 displaced people and those affected by drought in Jubaland State.
Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated $7 million to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for aid that will help more than one million vulnerable women and girls in Yemen in the coming 12 months, the Yemen News Agency (SABA) reported.
The aid is intended to improve reproductive health services in eight hospitals, four portable clinics, as well as six safe areas for women and girls.
The UNFPA said that there are approximately 6.5 million Yemeni women and girls that lack preventive and treatment services from gender-based violence, SABA reported.
AMSTERDAM: It all started with a yellow cow and a leap of faith.
In 2008, Aarnout Helb, a young Dutch lawyer who studied at Leiden University, was reading the Holy Qur’an while trying to piece together a larger global narrative from a legal and artistic perspective.
While poring over the various passages in the holy book, he came across the story of the yellow cow from Surat Al-Baqarah.
It ignited something within him. After a quick internet search, a piece of art by a Saudi artist popped up — about that very same yellow cow mentioned in the Qur’an. He couldn’t believe his luck. He sent a message to the artist right away.
The artist wrote back. And that was how Helb serendipitously started his long relationship with Saudi artists which resulted in him creating the Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Holland.
The artist who made the Yellow Cow piece was none other than world-renowned Saudi artist Dr. Ahmed Mater, who has since become his friend. Today, the book by Mater — with the yellow cow on the cover — sits proudly on the main table upon entering the museum space. Pieces from the yellow cow project have been acquired by Helb — and then some.
• In 2008, Aarnout Helb, a young Dutch lawyer who studied at Leiden University, was reading the Holy Qur’an while trying to piece together a larger global narrative from a legal and artistic perspective. While poring over the various passages in the holy book, he came across the story of the yellow cow from Surat Al- Baqarah.
• It ignited something within him. After a quick internet search, a piece of art by a Saudi artist popped up — about that very same yellow cow mentioned in the Qur’an. He couldn’t believe his luck. He sent a message to the artist right away.
• The artist wrote back. And that was how Helb serendipitously started his long relationship with Saudi artists which resulted in him creating the Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Holland.
Helb is an unlikely connector to Saudi Arabia’s art scene. Today, at 58 years old, he’s a bit of an introvert, mostly working alone around his space, which he likes to refer to as his “cabinet of curiosities.”
He started to piece together the collection based on what captivated his imagination and fascinated his sensibilities.
After the constant misrepresentation in the news following the tragic events of 9/11, where several of the hijackers were Saudi-born, Helb kept that fascination tucked away until 2008 when he started to really see a shift in the world.
He refers to that time as a global “mental prison,” where Islam and the West seemingly couldn’t cooperate and he wanted to try and get to the bottom of things.
“I started this in a very complex way — it’s always difficult to explain, but it was influenced very much by 9/11. And the period after that, because I didn’t start right away. I started in 2008, which is much, much later but the world was in some kind of mental prison after that.
“You know, these ideas that Islam and the West — or whatever you call it — can’t work together. And to my mind, it made no sense for Holland within the NATO structure as friends of the US to try and reorganize Afghanistan into our vision of how a country should work,” he told Arab News.
“My knowledge about Saudi Arabia prior to this museum was very much influenced by the fact that I have Indonesian roots, and Indonesia is one of the largest Islamic countries in terms of population. And there has always been a very strong relationship between Holland from its Indonesian colonizing context — specifically the Hijaz region because of Makkah and Madinah — so we’ve been involved with making money and taking care of pilgrims at the same time,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia culturally is extremely important for the world — not because you have oil in Dhahran, not because in Riyadh you have a nice royal family; it’s important because people from all over the world travel to Makkah and Madinah,” Helb said.
His first visit to Saudi Arabia was in 2013 after many years of surrounding himself with the Kingdom’s art.
The reason the trip was delayed was because he was, and is, adamant at remaining independent. Every single piece in the collection was curated carefully and thoughtfully by him and not influenced by anyone else.
It’s hard to gauge how many pieces he has in the collection, because some are part of a series, but he estimates that he has over 100 works.
“Although the museum started in dead center Amsterdam, at some point, the space was not big enough for me. It was a rented space and I went looking to buy something within the budget I have, and this is a small warehouse, where the collection — which is not my private collection, I finance it privately — but it’s a public space for people to visit.
“It has statutes about what it should do. And the art, although owned by me, is bought with the statutes in mind. And it’s given into use to the foundation for public viewing and research. I take that seriously.”
According to Helb, three types of visitors typically came through the doors.
“The Dutch visitors come because I’m here; the international visitors who somehow find me and usually have some interest in the Middle East — they don’t come completely out of the blue — which happened more when I was still in the center because that was easy to come; and Saudis actually visiting … those I find most interesting because I learn about the art from them,” he said.
He has been to the kingdom several times since but his home base is in Holland.
Last year, Helb moved his museum to a remote location in Hoofddorp, where he took his own time unwrapping each piece and putting it in its new place — something he realized was a blessing.
Helb is still deciding on the exact shade he wants to paint the museum and isn’t sure if he wants to replicate the old wall’s tint, deliberating over the exact green hue that might grace the walls of the new Greenbox.
Ironically, and perhaps fittingly, the color green in the museum’s name was not chosen as a patriotic nod to the Saudi flag but rather due to a personal connection to Helb, who admired a painting in his home with a green tone which relaxed him.
The new location brought in a slew of unexpected visitors: Taxi drivers with origins in North Africa, many of whom reside on the outskirts of Amsterdam because it is more affordable.
Those Dutch nationals with strong pride in their Arab or Muslim roots usually don’t bike or use local public transport, so they come with their cars, park and just wander in.
The space is just a 15-minute drive from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, which is a five-hour flight from the closest Saudi city.
To schedule a visit or to find out more about the Saudi artists showcased in the museum, contact Helb via or on Instagram (@greenbox_museum).
RIYADH: Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Alsubayel, chairman of the board of trustees of the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue and secretary general of the King Faisal International Prize, has won the cultural pioneer award during the Ministry of Culture’s second session of the “National Cultural Awards.”
He received the prize in recognition of his distinguished literary and cultural career, as well as his roles in cultural administration, where he held a number of leadership and academic positions while serving Saudi culture, intellectuals and literature.
The event was held under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A global prize, called the “international cultural excellence award,” will be launched in the next session of the event, organizers announced. The award will recognize and celebrate global and regional cultural personalities and institutions that enrich the cultural landscape, and reaffirms the Kingdom’s determination to open new avenues for cultural creativity and expression and encourage cultural dialogue with the world.
Meet the winners of this year’s #NationalCulturalAwards, who have each made outstanding contributions to the Kingdom’s cultural sector.

Congratulations to you all! #SaudiMinistryOfCulture
Deputy Culture Minister Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez said in a speech delivered on behalf of Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan: “I am delighted to welcome you to the Capital of Culture, the Beacon of Knowledge, and the Oasis of Art in a cultural event in which we celebrate the creative personalities, with the support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the patronage of His Highness the Crown Prince, who is supportive of our culture and the champion supporter of it.
“The historical depth and civilization of our homeland and the creativity of our people have put the Kingdom in an advanced cultural place, which enabled the Ministry of Culture to highlight our creative treasures as per the Vision 2030,” he said.
Fayez said: “The National Cultural Awards initiative was an inspiration for creators and an essential pillar for further advancement of cultural and cognitive development.”
Cultural sector award recipients were also recognized.
Badr Al-Hamoud, a writer and filmmaker, received the “youth cultural” award for his efforts in the film industry, publishing initiatives, translation and technical projects. He founded the Center Menaverse for Innovation and Development, the world’s first center to interactively disseminate cultural products, and has established a platform called “Meaning” to spread knowledge, artistic and philosophical content. He managed the translation projects of 30 books in philosophy and humanities.
Just announced!

The 2023 #NationalCulturalAwards will include a new international category to celebrate the achievements of global cultural pioneers, reaffirming our commitment to cultural exchange between #SaudiArabia and the world. #SaudiMinistryOfCulture
Kifah Bu Ali won first place in the literature prize while Jarir Bookstore won the publishing award. Shareef Bogona, a translator and poet, won the translation award while Samira Alotaibi won the fashion award. Ahmed Alneghaither, a researcher in drawings and engravings, won the national heritage award and Abdulsamad Alhawsawi won the culinary art award.
Artist Muhannad Shonu won the visual arts award while Ali Khobrani won the theater and performing arts award. Bandar Bin-Obaid won the music award while Faisal Battoyoor won the film award and Muhammed Shafea won the architecture and design award.
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority won the cultural institutions award in the state sector while the Misk Institute of Art won the cultural institutions award in the non-profit sector. The Music Home School of Art won the cultural institutions award in the private sector.
Ahmed Qirran Al-Zahrani, deputy dean of communications and information for graduate studies and academic research at King Abdulaziz University, told Arab News that nations founded on cultural legacy were able to elevate their homelands to the forefront of the cultural landscape around the world.
Cultural symbols deserved to be honored and acknowledged for their contributions to the nation, as well as to preserve cultural memory and encourage future generations to follow in their footsteps, he said.
Al-Zahrani said that the Ministry of Culture had a significant obligation to revitalize heritage, assist the cultural movement and financially and morally encourage intellectuals.
The cultural movement was evident in domestic cultural activities such as organizing book fairs, holding cultural festivals, holding conferences, supporting cultural institutions, honoring intellectuals, participating in outdoor cultural events and supporting intellectuals individually participating in festivals, meetings and outdoor exhibitions to represent and communicate local culture beyond geographical boundaries.
Abdulaziz Al-Kheshaiban, chairman of the board of the Media and Public Relations Society in Onaizah, said that recognizing local cultural symbols was connected with recognizing cultural pioneers, creators and achievers.
He said that the cultural movement was witnessing a diversity of platforms, and that official literary clubs, private literary meeting places and cultural cafes were the most important of these.
Al-Kheshaiban said that education and knowledge were important in the evolution and progress of cultures.


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