News agencies embrace information technology

Updated 23 November 2013
0

News agencies embrace information technology

Abdul Aziz Khoja, minister of culture and information, launched the fourth News Agencies World Congress (NAWC) in Riyadh on Monday. Khojah is also the chairman of the board of directors of the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA), which is hosting the congress. He called upon the media fraternity at the largest gathering of international media to brace themselves for the challenges faced by the information technology sector in the 21st century.
“Today, the world is full of changes and contradictions,” he said. “Media play an important role as a communicator around the world. The main goal of this media conference is to get a better understanding of new developments and the future role of media around the world. We aim to share experiences and expertise.” The minister hoped the conference would lay foundations for positive cooperation among news agencies in the world during the three-day brainstorming session.
“The Kingdom always supports humanitarian work and we see the role of the media as an enforcer of humanitarian aspects,” he maintained. “Saudi Arabia is setting up dialogues and reaching out to all cultures.” International communication is an excellent opportunity for sound dialogue, he said.
He said, “We have made ample progress in media objectivity in the Kingdom.”
The Kingdom’s private and public media outlets are very keen to adopt the latest developments taking place at a local, regional and international level, the minister stated.
Abdullah bin Fahad Al-Hussein, SPA president, stressed the importance of technological development for the growth of the media industry.
Al-Hussein, who is also NAWC chairman, called on the media to improve skills among personnel and to stick to the ethics of the profession.
He said that the SPA is hosting this international conference for the first time in the Middle East region, the fourth in a series of conferences.


In 2004, Russia hosted the first NAWC at an invitation from the Russian agency Itar-Tass. The second congress was held in Spain in 2007 at an invitation from the Spanish news agency Efe and the third congress was hosted by Argentine in 2010 at an invitation from the Argentine national news agency Telam.
“We are hoping that the Riyadh congress contributes to strengthening cooperation between news agencies around the world to serve the interest of future programs and plans leading to the enhancement of professionalism in news agencies,” the NAWC chairman asserted.
He hoped that the discourse at this convention would enrich the work of the congress and reach positive outcomes for the media.
Clive Marshall, executive director of the British Press Association Agency, emphasized the importance of the fourth news agencies congress in the wake of ongoing development and the impact of Internet technologies on the media in the world contributing to the rapid spread of information.
He urged media personalities to take advantage of Internet technologies and social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


Saudi artists draw inspiration from Islam

Wafa Alqunibit says her work has its place in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 18 min 59 sec ago
0

Saudi artists draw inspiration from Islam

  • Wafa Alqunibit: “The difficulties that I faced were getting the names on point, because a lot of them are very similar to each other

JEDDAH: The work of Saudi sculptor Wafa Alqunibit is on display in a Jeddah art gallery. A small glass box holds objects that have the appearance, shape and texture of dates. Only they are wrought from metal and glint silver and gold.
Alqunibit concedes that art can sometimes be a taboo subject in Saudi society, but says her work has its place.
“I do this to promote and represent our culture and religion as I belong to a very religious family. We have our freedom and we have open minds and I just wanted to portray this image to the world,” she told Arab News.
Her Instagram feed shows other examples of her art, including sculptures featuring the distinctive ringed and slightly curled horns of the Arabian oryx, and videos of her carving, sanding and sawing using machinery that can be seen in any carpentry or masonry workshop.
But her journey toward the arts — specifically sculpture — has not been straightforward.
“I went to Portland (in the US) to complete my doctorate in human resources. But I ended up changing my major to arts and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and they accepted me as a painter.”
But her professors thought she had different strengths — with one telling her she was born to be a tough person.
“At first I thought he was referring to me as an aggressive person, but later when I started sculpting I found out what he meant.”
She uses her work to communicate with people, especially those who misunderstand Islam, and recalled living in the US at a difficult time for Muslims.
“I took support from the arts, to tell people what we really are and now my artwork is displayed in so many galleries and I have been given the title of religious artist.”
Another artist taking inspiration from culture and religion is 26-year-old author Allaa Awad, who has taken the 99 names of Allah and turned them into poetry.
Her debut work, “Ninety-Nine: The Higher Power,” includes poems about purity, mercy, blessings and peace.
“I have encountered many people in life. They have a negative concept about life and God and I just wanted to turn that around and put my own perceptions of what I think God is, who He really is and how we should perceive Him,” she told Arab News.
She also experienced a struggle in her artistic journey, like Alqunibit did, but in a different way.
“The difficulties that I faced were getting the names on point, because a lot of them are very similar to each other. The best part was how people reacted to it on a spiritual level and how they were able to relate to what I had to say, rather than what online research had to say.”