JeddiCon Bidders Discuss Their Experience

The JeddiCon bid committee wants to bring the Worldcon to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022. When their bid went public in January, File 770 asked for more information about their conrunning experience. Here’s the background they shared.

(See all the official bid filing documents for the Jeddah and Chicago bids for 2022 at the CoNZealand website.)


Dear Mike,

Thank you for your interest in JeddiCon and its committee (The Jeddi High Council).

The Jeddi High Council members are all top professionals in their fields. Bellow you will find their summery bio that includes the event running experiences that they each have:

Master of The Order Yasser Bahjatt

Yasser has bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering specialized in Computer Engineering, he is also an alumni of Singularity University’s Graduate Study Program.

Yasser has been managing eSports events since 2003 with some events growing to several thousand players competing across 27 locations located around the kingdom. He was also the organized and co-organized several TEDx events in Jeddah.

He has been a driving force for cultivating and growing the SciFi culture in Saudi and across the Arabian world.

Lore Keeper Rami Hamzah

Rami Hamzah is a proactive knowledge seeker since he began to explore and make sense of written forms during his emerging literacy phase of his life. That’s when his journey began by a coincidence when he found the ancient “One Thousand and One Nights” book in his hand at the age of 7 years.

He was always fascinated by Fiction and historical novels.

Rami worked on managing logistical support of the opening and closing ceremony of Saudi Professional League 2015/2016. He had a multi-dimensional study/career path through the past 20 years in Information Technology, Logistics, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.

Master Thamer Alturaif

Thamer M. Alturaif is a Chemical engineer from King Abdelaziz university with a master’s in business administration from university of Colorado. Throughout his career as an HR professional Thamer managed numerous events and activities scaling from small events like workshops/trainings/townhalls up to companywide initiatives like roadshows and annual seminars. Biggest project was overseeing the deployment and management of over 3000 temporary employees from different nationalities during Hajj operations in the 2019 season.

Master Mohammed Albakri

He studied medical technology and is currently working in Laboratory Information Sciences and is still waiting for the lab accident that will grant him superpowers…

He was part of the planning committee for the 2nd annual Laboratory week hosted by King Faisal Specialist Hospital Jeddah.

Master Ahmad Sabbagh

Ahmed has bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering, and he also has an MBA.

Ahmad was in charge of organizing Buyer & Seller Conference in Indonesia and Bangladesh. And was also managing logistics activities.

Master Tameem Qashqari

He is a member of Geekfest community and he has participated in organizing Geekfest Jeddah. He was responsible for developing the marketing pitch to corporations to secure sponsors for the event.

He hosted the Low Priority Queue podcast which is A geek-centric podcast of three fanboys with great intentions, but absurdly poor taste.

Residing for eternity where gamers go to die

Master Ashraf Fagih

He has a PhD in Computing from Queen’s University in Canada and served as an assistant Professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals.

Between 2015 and 2017, Ashraf served as Vice Rector for University Relations & Community Outreach at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He was directly involved in the organization and crowd management of major university events including the graduation ceremony and all VIP reception affairs.

Since 2018, Ashraf has been appointed as the head of Communication-then Operations- of King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra); the flagship initiative of Saudi Aramco Company. Ashraf was directly involved in the programming, supervision and promotion of a wide set of cultural and scientific activities offered by Ithra, attended by more than 1.2 million visitors over the course of the past 18 months.

Master Raneen Bukhari

Raneen grew up in what she calls “a business/art environment”, Her mother is an artist and her father a businessman. She has worked on and led the planning and organization of many events over many different fields. In 2013, she was in charge of the launch campaign for NICE stores in AlKhobar. She is also the co-creator and curator of LOUD Art, a traveling platform for emerging experimental artists, organized annually from 2012 to 2016. Bukhari is a co-organizer of Huna Art, a casual art talk that has been happened bimonthly from 2013 to 2016. She has organized 28 art exhibitions in Saudi and around the world. Most recently, she just finished working on Desert X AlUla as logistics and shipping director.

If you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask.

May the 4th we’ll be with you,

63 thoughts on “JeddiCon Bidders Discuss Their Experience

  1. JeddiCon: The tentative schedule we have for the Hugo process is as follows:
    – Nomination opens on 1st Jan 2022 00:00 GMT+3 and closes on 14th Feb 2022 23:59 GMT+3
    – Voting opens on 14th Mar 2022 00:00 GMT+3 with last accepted paper submission on 28th Apr 2022 17:00 GMT+3 and last digital submission on 4th May 2022 23:59

    Thank you for your response.

    While your scheduling concerns with regard to the facilities are understandable, the Hugo schedule you’re proposing is utterly unworkable. 6 weeks is about the amount of time it takes to put the Hugo Voter Packet together. In other words, there wouldn’t be one. 6 weeks is also not enough time for voters to read all of the finalist works — and without a Voter Packet, many voters will simply not be able to read most of the finalist works and vote knowledgeably on them at all.

    And if voting doesn’t close until the start of the convention, how are you going to know how many Hugo trophies you need? (You won’t, because some entries may have 4 or more winners, and winners such as Semiprozine, Fanzine, and Fancast are permitted to buy extra trophies for their credited personnel.) How are you going to get the Hugo Trophy plaques engraved in time for the ceremony? (You won’t.)

    It is very concerning that you have so blithely dismissed the very valid concerns of the Worldcon members here regarding the insufficiency of time you’re allocating for the Hugo Award process. It indicates to me that something which is one of the most important parts of Worldcon is of very little importance to you.

     
    Jeddicon: As for the fear of mixing men and women, some of you must have heard about some of the major events in Saudi seasons such as MDL beast that was part of Riyadh’s Season (https://mdlbeast.com/). So we do not expect any issues of mixing men and women during JeddiCon.

    I’m sure that this means something to you, but it explains absolutely nothing to me (nor probably to a lot of other people, either). If you wish to allay concerns about this, then you have to actually explain your reasoning, instead of posting a link and expecting Worldcon members to figure out what it is you’re trying to say.

  2. A reading packet is certainly a nice perq for members, but the Hugos got on just fine for decades without one. If it didn’t happen, the awards would be no less valid.

    And it’s not clear to me why six weeks is a minimum number, instead of (for example) four. Obviously, more time makes it easier, but this step, more than others, seems to be one where you could throw bodies at the task and gain time. Having three people working on contacting publishers and formatting files for distribution instead of one would make it happen faster.

    The Oscars handle all of the equivalent steps (nominations, distributions of screeners, member review of nominees, voting, tabulation, trophies, awards, etc.) in six weeks. Just because the Hugos have always taken many months doesn’t mean it has to do so in the future. A timeline that was established in the snail mail era can certainly be improved in the email era.

  3. @JJ

    how are you going to know how many Hugo trophies you need?

    We will make sure we have enough trophies assuming the max number required for every one on the short list.

    are permitted to buy extra trophies for their credited personnel. How are you going to get the Hugo Trophy plaques engraved in time for the ceremony?

    We know we can engrave plaques on the same day, so that will not be a problem. And since such winners will only know that they won on the closing ceremony.We shall have a process for the winners to place such orders immediately after the ceremony and do our best to either hand them the additional trophies before they fly out or worst case ship the trophies to them.

    If you wish to allay concerns about this, then you have to actually explain your reasoning, instead of posting a link and expecting Worldcon members to figure out what it is you’re trying to say.

    Ww apologize if our answer was not clear. On this page (https://mdlbeast.com/the-festival/) is states “MDL Beast is a three day festival bringing together the best in electronic music, performing arts and culinary craft – just outside of Riyadh.” Also you can see pics of the audience that clearly has both men and women.
    We posted the link to demonstrate that the image most have about Saudi regarding the mixing of men and women is not correct.

  4. I have no idea what this does or doesn’t cover:

    Religion

    Indecent verbal or physical acts that might cause fear, harm, or endanger visitors of public places shall be prohibited.

    Not only is that vague, what does it have to do with religion?

    Another thing this doesn’t make clear what is considered “indecent behavior” under Saudi law, or what clothing is acceptable. The site gives a couple of examples of things that aren’t, but the only thing I’m sure of is that knees must be covered.

    Bearing in mind that you’re talking to foreigners, most of who aren’t Muslim, “don’t do anything that would offend people” isn’t a useful guideline. It may not be clear to Muslim foreigners either, but “don’t do anything that is forbidden in the Koran or the hadith” is more likely to mean something to them.

  5. bill: A reading packet is certainly a nice perq for members, but the Hugos got on just fine for decades without one. If it didn’t happen, the awards would be no less valid.

    I disagree. For 20 years in the 90s and noughties, Hugo voting participation hovered between 15-20% of the eligible membership. The Hugo Voter Packet was instituted in 2008, and in the last decade, participation has shot up to consistently between 35-50% of the eligible membership. Some of that is because of electronic voting (which started in 2000), but I believe that the packet is responsible for a significant amount of that, because people feel much more capable of weighing in on the final ballot when they’ve been able to read many of the finalist works.

     
    bill: And it’s not clear to me why six weeks is a minimum number, instead of (for example) four. Obviously, more time makes it easier, but this step, more than others, seems to be one where you could throw bodies at the task and gain time. Having three people working on contacting publishers and formatting files for distribution instead of one would make it happen faster.

    The delay isn’t really on the Worldcon end, for the most part. It’s on the publisher end. Most of the time delay is waiting for publishers to come back with a “yes, we’ll let you have the work” after it has passed through 6 different departments and levels of review by people in the company before finally being approved (and frequently one of them has intervened and said, “no, only an excerpt” or “okay, but only with a watermark on every page”).

  6. JeddiCon: We will make sure we have enough trophies assuming the max number required for every one on the short list. We know we can engrave plaques on the same day

    Rush orders for engraving typically come at a premium cost. And ending up with a large surplus of trophies is a problem (for more than one reason). What you are talking about is potentially wasting $6,000-10,000 USD of Worldcon members’ money — money which could, and should be spent on making the convention better in other areas, and money which would not need to be spent if the convention timeline had been appropriately planned to provide sufficient time for the Hugo Award process.

    And that still doesn’t address the problems with not being able to provide a Hugo Voter Packet and not giving members enough time to read the finalist works.

    Honestly, it really seems like you’re really not listening to what Worldcon members have been telling you about what a Worldcon involves, as well as having a really cavalier attitude about the fiduciary responsibilities of a Worldcon concom.

  7. I clicked that MDL Beast link, and did not find “pictures.” I saw that you have videos posted. I clicked the first of those videos, and found flashing lights, rapid, jangling music, and quickly changing images for as long as I was I able to watch. This is a matter of sensory tolerances that I don’t ordinarily mention because ordinarily I can just not watch an unsettling video and no one else needs to care.

    But you’re offering that website as a source of information on an issue I and others care about. You need to address that issue rather more directly, clearly, and accessibly.

    All your reasons for your date choice seem to make perfect sense, until one remembers that you are bidding for a Worldcon, which has its own traditions and also specific requirements that are actual, legal requirements.

    One of the few things the Worldcon is required to do is award the Hugos. The Hugo Awards are voted on not by a select awards jury, but by all the members who choose to do so.

    That takes time.

    One of the things which has significantly boosted participation in that is the Hugo packet. Granted that’s not required; it has become both pretty traditional, and a huge boon to those trying to read all the nominees before voting. Getting that Hugo packet involves getting the rights holders to agree, and that takes more time.

    You’ve chosen a date which makes scheduling impossible for a Hugo packet. It literally can’t happen on that schedule.

    You will apparently not have any non-Saudi members on your Worldcon committee. It’s unusual for any Worldcon to have no committee members who are not citizens of the country it’s held in. This is a WORLDcon. It’s even more unusual when it’s the very first Worldcon in the country.

    It is frankly bizarre and extremely unwise when you don’t have any committee members at all who have worked on a Worldcon at a senior level. No matter how experienced you are at other kinds of conventions, Worldcons are different in a number of ways–especially if you’ve only run conventions and events where your extremely vague “don’t do anything that would offend people” is clear and sufficient. You really don’t seem to realize how culture-specific that instruction is. And this is a WORLDcon.

    The date is also a problem for many people whom you are counting on to want to attend. For people who have kids, in the US and other countries, those kids will still be in school. For many of those kids, either it may be final exam time, or final exam time will be bearing down on them shortly after they return. That is, if they go. Which in many cases, they won’t.

    Take a good look at Worldcon dates over the last 20-30 years, and you’ll see a range of dates that mostly works for school vacation season in most of the countries that typically have lots of attending Worldcon members.

    It makes perfect sense that Hajj is not a good time of year to hold an event that relies on lots of people coming into the country who aren’t there for Hajj.

    It doesn’t change the fact that your dates don’t work for one of the major obligations of a Worldcon, and are likely not to work for a lot of university students and parents of younger children for people coming from a lot of places you’ll be wanting people to from. (I am honestly fairly ignorant on how these dates will work for fans on Australia and New Zealand.)

    You seem to have given serious and careful thought to how it can work in Saudi Arabia–and none at all to why the typical dates are the typical dates, why no one else has done a “May the 4th” Worldcon in the over forty years since the premiere of Star Wars.

    You really do need to listen to non-Saudi fans, to people who have attended more than one or two Worldcons, people who work on Worldcons. There are a lot of moving parts that you can’t find, or find the traditional fixes for, by reading the rules.

    And really, seriously. You need to think harder about how you’re going to explain necessary behavior restrictions to people who aren’t part of your religion and culture.

    And you certainly need more than a hand-wavy “we don’t have an answer for you” about gay and transgender members who regularly attend Worldcon. These are members of our community, not optional extras.

  8. bill: @JJ — so which awards from between 1990 and 2007 would you say are invalid?

    If you don’t want to continue a real discussion of the issues — you can just stop. You don’t have to poison the well.

  9. bill: so which awards from between 1990 and 2007 would you say are invalid?

    And also, when did I stop beating my wife? 🙄

    The more accessible the final works are to Hugo voters, the more people will read them and feel comfortable participating in the process. The more Worldcon members that participate, the better it makes the awards.

    Just because the Hugo Awards managed for years without a large number of Worldcon members participating, doesn’t mean that more Worldcon members participating isn’t a good thing. And let’s not pretend that there haven’t been a lot of clunkers besides They’d Rather Be Right over those years.

    Now that we’ve seen how the Hugo Voter Packet helps more members feel able and willing to vote, why would we want to go backward? The Hugo Awards would be poorer for that lack of participation.

  10. @GiantPanda
    Saudi laws are very strict when it comes to harassment. We are also working on a clear code of conduct (once it is ready it will be posted on our site) that will not tolerate any kind of harassment in JeddiCon.
    This code of conduct will be strictly enforced and offenders will in the least be kicked out of the event and maybe handed to the authorities.

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