The day started off by checking out and a final good-bye to the ex-Mövenpick hotel where Ueli Prager’s spirit was still alive. The hotel Al Khozama hotel was featured by friendly personnel, delicious breakfast buffet, and arguably the most expensive coffee in Riyadh. Our well-known bus with the highly professional driver Bob brought us safely and on-time to our destination, namely, Saudi Research and Publishing Company (SRPC), which is a subsidiary of Saudi Research and Marketing Group. Once again, we experienced a very warm welcome and unmatched hospitality of the well-organized host. Entering the conference room, we found ourselves confronted with a tremendous buffet including Sushi, Salmon-Crackers, juices, pastry, and much more. There were 7 staff members in nice traditional dress distributing the snacks and drinks making us feel as royal as it only is possible.
The official part of the visit commenced with a lively presentation elucidating the nature and operation of the host organization, namely, the newspaper Arab news, which is one of the 29 publications of the SRPC. The Arab News is an exemplary employer, who employs approximately 100 females working either on a permanent or freelance basis.
It is interesting to note that Arab News sells approximately 100’000 hard copies of the newspaper, of which 25’000 are sold abroad. Christoph was lightning fast in exploring the web site appearance of Arab News and he was deeply impressed by the quality and extent of the site, which offered free of charge access to the resource and its archive. Christoph, thanks a lot for your initiative!
Among many important issues echoing the daily life of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), such as media freedom, proliferation of renewable energy, international collaboration, and the questions related to the involvement of KSA – Syrian refugees – were discussed.
Jochen raised a question regarding the freedom of speech in KSA, and is particular, the freedom of expressing the opinion of the publisher. An honest answer came straight away, indicating that on the scale from 1 to 10, the current freedom is ranked to a minimum of 9.
The group raised a question regarding the top challenges of the region in general, and KSA in particular. Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan elaborated on the answer, indicating that the most important contemporary challenge is the disassociation of KSA with the terrorism and a fair reflection of KSA reputation.
During the presentation, we were repeatedly invited to enjoy the rich selection of the aforementioned food; an advice that we gladly followed to the extent allowed by the breakfast consumed three quarters of an hour before. In any case, the food has proven to be of the highest quality and delight.
In the course of the presentation we were introduced to a gifted actor, producer, and photographer Mr.Gaffar Khan, who won a prestigious governmental award for his music video addressing the timely problem of illegal immigrants in KSA.
As was discussed by Prof Khaldoun Dia-Eddine and Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, the visit of our group may in the future be marked by a publication in Arab News.
The visit was concluded by a group photo and warm good-byes. We sincerely wish the team of Arab News all the best in their endeavors!
Our beloved bus then took us to our next destination, namely, Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City. The meeting commenced by a very interesting presentation held by a well known Princess of the Saudi Royal Family. The presentation helped us to gain an in-depth insight into the philosophy and daily life of this truly amazing and sophisticated organization.
The mission statement and vision of the organization were presented to us. Remarkedly, the vision of the organization is touching and giving hope to all in need: “Helping People to help themselves”. Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City consists of:
- Recovery Center
- Ambulatory Care Center
- Rehabilitation Center
- Child Development Center
- Sporting Facility
Following the presentation, there was a brief question and answer session, where such questions as:
- The largest challenge faced by the organization in its growth
- Key success factors for the organization
- The utility of robotics in the daily operation of the organization
- Healthcare insurance for the population
- Collaboration with the State Ministry of Healthcare.
In a few numbers, the remarkable Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City can briefly be described as follows.
- 469 bed are available for the patients
- The total area of the facility is approximately 1’000’000 square meters
- More than 656’000 patient visits were recorded since 2014
- The organization has received a large number of awards, including “Best Healing», «Best patient hospital”, “Best work environment”, “Best education award”, and many others.
After another delicious local snack feast we were led to a site tour across the facility and surroundings of the city. We started off at the rehabilitation station, guided by an expert in the field working at the facility for the last 8 years. The tour included an insight in the men’s section of the rehabilitation area and the Therapy street, where the patients are prepared to face daily challenges once they return home and live independent lives, echoing the vision of the organization.
In between stations we were driven by the personnel in fascinating and unique electrical cars.
It was with a great sadness that we parted the passionate and highly professional team of Sultan Abdulaziz Humanitarian City so early; however, our next destination was calling upon us. An exchange of gifts and final handshakes concluded this wonderful visit.
Bob, our bus driver, brought us straight away to the International Airport of KSA and with a big applause he was said goodbye. After check-in, some of us used the remaining time to shop some gifts for our loved ones at home, others tried to drink coffee and a few found themselves at a Pizza-Corner.
A few hours later Dubai was in sight and the aircraft landed safely at the Dubai International Airport and we could line-up for a taxi which would bring us to the smoking rooms of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The trip so far has proven excellent by far exceeding our best expectations and we look forward to new experiences in United Arab Emirates.
A well-deserved «Feierabend-Bier” was expecting us in the middle of the Dubai night.
Valerijs Knazkins & Hubert Hubregtse