Every country celebrates its national day-be it the date of country’s independence from a former colonizer, the day when the country declared itself a new and sovereign state, thus marking its place in the international community of nations or simply the time when a once-divided country was reunified and made whole again. This event paper will focus on the celebration of a National Saudi Arabia Day, which is traditionally celebrated on the 23rd of September. This is the date when King Abdul Aziz reunited the country in 1932.
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Saudi’s National Day was declared a holiday only fairly recently, but its social, historical and cultural impact is felt every time it is celebrated. The researcher would like to recommend holding a number of activities held simultaneously on the culminating event of the celebration. This will be called “Soar Saudi Arabia” and will feature activities that relate to the country’s rich history, economy and social life.
The main event will be held in the capital city, Riyadh, during the evening. The capital is the most perfect location for the main event because it is the most accessible and cosmopolitan place in the country. It offers all the top of the line amenities and services that potential tourists will look for, such as taxicab services, car rentals, and five-star hotel accommodations. But the celebration will not be confined to just the capital. The NDC will also launch small token events in other parts of the country to impart the feeling of a collective national celebration.
Other smaller events will likewise be held during the day in Riyadh to build up the excitement for the primary celebration at night. There will be exhibits showing photographs and artefacts relating to the history of Saudi Arabia, books and movies depicting Arabian culture, and a specially commissioned documentary depicting the rise and reunification of KSA which will be shown for free every two hours in the main event tent. Kiosks and booths selling tourist items, trinkets, delicacies and other crafts shall surround the main staging area.
During the culminating program, there will be a live cultural presentation from KSA’s tribal and ethnic groups, a grand pyrotechnic show, and a short awarding ceremony for honouring Arabian citizens who have given substantial contribution to KSA society. This program shall be held at the main event tent.
Taking advantage of the 2005 declaration of September 23rd as a national holiday, the researcher proposes to hold all the events on this particular date to take advantage of the number of people who do not have to go to work or school on that day, and can instead be convinced to participate in an important patriotic event. “Soar Saudi Arabia” is therefore a most opportune event for both the organizers and the people to make the most out of the national day celebration for the first time. It is an excellent opportunity for companies and other organizations to give back to the community as well as to directly expose their product or service to the market of consumers (Mack 1999).
This year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will celebrate its 78th National Day, surely a momentous event for any state. The Kingdom enjoys a strong and prosperous economy despite the global financial downturn that happened in the last quarter of 2008. As the KSA welcomes another year of sovereignty and prosperity, it is but fitting that the private sector, the state and the international community come together to celebrate a very significant time in the country’s history.
According to Almaeena (2005), a nation’s act of honouring its national day is not merely paying lip service to the long-established tradition of celebrating this particular day. Rather, it is also important to look at September 23rd as the date when the people of KSA can individually and collectively look back upon the historical foundation of their nation and also look forward to future challenges and developments that will come upon them.
The need to rekindle the Saudi Arabian society’s passion for celebrating their national day can be addressed by putting up an event to mark this famous day. “Soar Saudi Arabia” is an event that is meant to accomplish many things, but for the most part it is designed to serve as a venue for bringing the Saudi Arabian citizens together in a day of pride and honour. It is also a day to remind the international community of the KSA’s power and influence, its unique history and people, and its exalted position in the global economy and politics.
The event is likewise expected to generate profits for both the government and the private sector by increasing the tourist traffic. September is one of the slow months of the tourist season, and launching a big national celebration on the national holiday will definitely attract a sizable crowd of tourists who have never before seen how the people of KSA celebrate this day. The driving ideal behind the event is to portray that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is more than just the petroleum products that it produces-it is a country peopled by intelligent, hardworking citizens who share a proud common heritage and who believe in the same positive social objectives.
Because this is the first time that KSA will really go all out on a national day celebration, it is expected that “Soar Saudi Arabia” will attract not merely business but also notable dignitaries from other states who will wish to attend a distinctive event. Thus, the event at hand is not just for tourism and business purposes; it is also a way for KSA to promote the country and claim its place in the international community.
“Soar Saudi Arabia” is therefore not just any typical national day celebration that begins with a welcome speech and ends with a brilliant display of fireworks. The researcher has designed this event so that it will cater to the interests of both old and young people, whether or not they are citizens of KSA. What is important is for the event to become a symbol of the country’s grand story and its readiness to face the challenges that the future may pose. It is hoped that through this event, the younger generations will be more convinced to pay greater attention to their exceptional history and heritage, even as globalization continues to facilitate a kind of uniformity across different countries.
Mission, vision and objectives of the event
At the heart of this event is an opportunity for the people of KSA to express their patriotic feelings on the national day celebration. More than anything else, “Soar Saudi Arabia” is a venue for the people to show their pride for their fatherland. It is the goal of this event to provide an excellent chance for the world to understand Saudi Arabian society in particular and the Muslim world in general. The widespread prejudice today against the Islamic community has not considerably hindered the economic activities of Saudi Arabia and of Arabic companies, but the social stigma makes an impact beyond the realm of corporate engagements.
“Soar Saudi Arabia” is envisioned to be a means for the world to know more about Saudi Arabia, to appreciate the beauty of how their society came about. The event will be spearheaded by a 2010 National Day Council (NDC), members of which will come from the private sector, the government, the royal family, foreign investors, the academe, non profit organizations, international groups, and other relevant stakeholders.
The NDC envisions the celebration to be a showcase of all the best that Saudi Arabia has to offer: its food, music, fashion, artwork, history, culture, sports, tradition and literature. It will be a venue that will allow the varying threads that make up the social life of KSA to come together and blend in a beautiful design to honour the day when the country was reunited as one state and one territory. The organizers intend for this celebration to be a reminder to everyone that KSA is not just a country where oil makes people rich; it is also a country with a colourful past and a lot of new lessons to learn.
Yon Cho (n.d.) noted that festivals and special events (FSEs) have recently become a catalyst for community development, as well as becoming more popular among communities (Small et al. 2005). “Soar Saudi Arabia” is designed to become a driver for the growth of tourism and international interest in KSA, as well as a source of pride and joy for the people themselves. Liang et al. (2008) are entirely in agreement when they said that FSEs have the peculiar effect of crystallizing the sense of identity of the local community who holds such events, as well as piquing the interest of tourists who have little or no exposure at all to their particular culture and history.
Tourism has become an important business in recent years because of the lowered costs and improved safety of methods of transportation. Globalization has also helped in the process because new technological tools such as the Internet and the email have allowed people to learn more about far-flung places that they had only read or heard about, therefore making them curious enough to actually visit these locations. With the array of transportation and accommodation options available to international visitors, the tourism industry has certainly grown and become a robust economic sector.
The KSA is not exactly a hot tourist spot by today’s standards, but it is hoped that through events like “Soar Saudi Arabia” new festivals and special gatherings will be created and held in order to boost not just the country’s tourism profits but also its cultural and historical heritage. The present event is but a small step towards opening the KSA society to the whole world and introducing a different side of the country to the international community.
Proposed organizational structure
As already mentioned, the 2010 National Day Council will be spearheading “Soar Saudi Arabia” and will serve as the main government agency to handle all affairs and transactions necessary for the event. The Council shall be composed of eleven notable leaders and personalities in their respective fields, with one chairperson and ten regular members. They will be appointed by the King through a careful nomination and selection process. Some of the proposed sectors from which the council members must come from include the banking industry, the academe, the petroleum manufacturers and so on and so forth.
The Council will have its own paid organizational staff who will oversee all aspects of the celebration, from the coordination with partner agencies and companies to the documentation of all the events and programs for the duration of the month-long celebration. However, the entirely staff will not be permanent; only a core group of personnel shall be necessary to perform the Council’s regular work. Additional employees will be hired on a project basis as needed prior to the September 23rd event itself.
Work breakdown structure
A work breakdown structure allows is a kind of family tree that gives an accurate graphical description of all the job components needed to complete a particular project or event. Breaking down the project at hand into smaller work units allows the coordinator to have a more manageable concept map of all the work that needs to be accomplished. By dividing the whole project into ‘smaller bites’, improvements can be applied at once and problem areas identified and addressed properly.
Figure 2. Work breakdown structure for the “Soar Saudi Arabia” 2010 celebration
The project will go through the requisite four stages of event management: planning, running, following up and evaluating. These four steps are necessary in order for the Council and its partner agencies to have a clear idea as to the changes that need to be integrated in the next National Day Celebration. This being the very first time that KSA will officially celebrate its reunification day, it is incumbent upon the Council to make this a good standard against which future special events and festivals will be measured and analyzed. Thus, ensuring the event’s success is important not only for the sake of a good show, so to speak, but also for the sake of future celebrations to be held in KSA.
Human resource plan
Basic risk management plan
In any event or occasion, it is always important for the organizers to come up with contingency plans that are sufficient to answer for any problems that will occur prior to or during the event itself. The bigger and more complex an event is, the greater the chances of something going wrong along the way, even if every detail was carefully planned and executed prior to the event itself. This is why event organizers have to establish back up plans or what is more properly called a risk management plan that can be made operative in case of any breach or failure in the agreed scheme of activities.
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In an event as big as the national day celebration of KSA, there are a number of risk factors that have to be taken into serious consideration. Most important among them are the security and crowd control measures that will be employed, especially during the night of the culmination program in Riyadh. The main event tent will be the venue for the evening celebration but the surrounding areas shall be also be a staging ground for the pyrotechnic show.
An estimated 10,000-20,000 people (locals and tourists alike) plus the NDC personnel are expected to stay in Riyadh as early as a week before the September 23 event. Therefore, proper security measures have to be outlined in order to protect the safety of all the people. Additional police officers would have to be taken in from the surrounding provinces so that the city police would be sufficient in number to respond to any emergency situations.
Another priority risk that has to have back-up plans is the very real likelihood of transportation and accommodation problems among the guests. The city’s carrying capacity is so much less than the number of people who are expected to pour into KSA for the duration of the event, so solutions have to be designed in order to make the travel to and from the hotels and the events area should be as seamless as possible. To allow traffic and transportation jams to occur is to leave a negative impression, especially with the first-time tourists who are only just beginning to form their ideas about KSA. Hotels and second-class living areas also have to be built or leased from private companies so that there will be sufficient rooms for every tourist, whatever their particular budget may be.
Income and expenditure
The following represents the proposed income and profit scheme between the NDC and the private companies who will be selected as partners for the event:
From corporate sponsorships
Construction of event venue
From voluntary donations
Government allocated budget
Complimentary transportation and accommodation for selected VIPs
Share from the profit of commercial booths in the events area
Tokens to VIPs and sponsors
Rentals from the booths and other business in main area
Salary for additional police and peacekeeping force
Beautification for Riyadh City
Gratis for cultural performers, filmmakers and others
Event monitoring and evaluation
Even with the financial partnership with corporate organizations and other socio-civic groups, the 2010 National Day Council will remain as the main oversight body that has veto power over all decisions and strategies regarding the event. For example, a corporate sponsorship may be terminated in case of any breach committed by the partner company or individual. The hiring of additional personnel for the actual event day shall be supervised by the regular staff of the NDC in order to have a firm control of the necessary skills and qualifications needed but their wages shall be borne by the collective NDC funds.
The event shall be separately and jointly evaluated by the different partner agencies and companies as well as by the NDC. This two tiered process is necessary in order to determine the success of the event as perceived by the different participants and stakeholders. An on-site feedback survey shall also be done on the day of the event itself by randomly selecting visitors to the booths and the evening program. Holding separate evaluations is also necessary to determine the actual benefits of the corporate partnership on a mutual level.
On the part of NDC, it is a way to identify if there are ineffective partners or groups that have been selected for this first event, so that future festivals can have better sponsors. As for the corporate partnerships, the companies themselves will be able to know if their investment in the event has paid off. Each party to the partnership has a different objective upon joining, and holding discrete assessment methods tailored to their specific requirements will give a fuller and realistic view of the event’s success. At the end of the day, the evaluation outcomes shall be put together and analyzed as a comprehensive, interlocking series of activities.
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