Fellow laureate excoriates Nobel literature winner

Updated 26 November 2012
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Fellow laureate excoriates Nobel literature winner

A past winner of the Nobel Prize in literature has called this year’s choice for the award, China’s Mo Yan, a “catastrophe” and accused him of “celebrating censorship,” a Swedish newspaper said Saturday.
Herta Mueller, who won the prize in 2009, told the daily Dagens Nyheter that she wanted to cry when she heard Mo Yan had been given the prestigious award.
“The Chinese themselves say that Mo Yan is an official of the same rung as a (government) minister,” the Romanian-born writer said.
“He celebrates censorship. It’s extremely upsetting.”
She noted that the laureate had copied by hand a speech by late Communist ruler Mao Zedong for a commemorative book this year. In the speech Mao says art and culture should support the Communist Party.
Mueller, 59, added that handing the prize to the vice-chairman of the government-backed China Writers’ Association, while 2010 peace laureate Liu Xiaobo remains in jail, was “a slap in the face for all those working for democracy and human rights.”
Liu is serving an 11-year prison term for subversion after he called for democratic reforms to China’s one-party system.
The day after his prize was announced, Mo Yan told reporters that he hoped Liu could be released from prison “as soon as possible.”
“He should have said that four years ago, or at least two weeks before receiving the prize,” Mueller said.
Mueller was persecuted by Romania’s Communist-era secret police for refusing to become an informant, and her work was censored at home. She emigrated to Germany in 1987.
Her novels, notably “The Appointment” and “The Land of Green Plums,” describe the terror and humiliation she said she suffered under Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime.


 Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

Saudi Arabia plans to create 1.2 million jobs in the tourism sector by 2030. (AN photo/Mo Gannon)
Updated 33 min 33 sec ago
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 Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

  • Vision 2030 has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry
  • We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed: tour operator

DUBAI: From diving in the Red Sea to sand-skating in the desert, from Jazan’s Fifa Mountains to the archaeological wonders of Al-Ula, it has been impossible not to be wowed by all that Saudi Arabia has to offer on the opening day of this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. Travel posters of its varied regions blanketed almost every pillar in the concourse, through which thousands of visitors passed on their way into the Dubai International Convention Exhibition Center, part of a colorful Saudi tourism campaign. 

And if you somehow missed that on your way into the exhibition halls, then you couldn’t have missed the Saudi pavilion, featuring 60 travel-related agencies under the umbrella of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

“We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed,” said Abeer Al-Rashed, project co-ordinator for Al Sarh Travel and Tourism, which organizes tours and helps with visa arrangements. “It’s not just a desert in Saudi Arabia. We have a lot of activities.”

The expanded role of tourism under Vision 2030, which has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry, is top of mind for those with a foothold already in the region.

“We are thrilled at this accelerated pace of growth in Saudi Arabia and want to make sure that we’re aligned with that,” said Simon Casson, president of hotel operations for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its Riyadh hotel, Four Seasons’ first in the Gulf when it opened in 2002, is now offering a tour of the Tuwaiq escarpment, otherwise known as the Edge of the World. 

Four Seasons’ plans for a hotel in Makkah, announced in the fall, are in the design phase, with construction expected to begin next year. “The site of the hotel is really the last remaining piece of land that’s ringside, if you like, and has a direct view facing onto the Kaaba, so that will partner very well with our Riyadh hotel,” Casson said.

As for more hotels? “I would say stay-tuned because we’re actively working on other opportunities within Saudi Arabia — not things we can announce at this time but we see a tremendous amount of opportunity as we look forward.”

Omer Kaddouri, Rotana’s president and CEO, also sees tremendous potential. It’s operating four hotels in the Kingdom right now and will have three more by the end of the year. 

“They’re building more reasons to travel there,” Kaddouri said, speaking of the recent changes. “I’d like to say that by the time they’ve reached their 2030 vision, Rotana will have no less than 20 operating hotels in the Kingdom, with more in the pipeline.”

As for the long-awaited Nobu Hotel in Riyadh, Khaled Al-Ashqar, director of sales and marketing, said it’s “very close” to opening. The boutique hotel, with a restaurant by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will also have a tea lounge and a live cooking station in the Royal Suite. “I’m 100 percent sure it will be the spot of the city,” Al-Ashqar said.