Saudi art show dazzles despite snowstorm in Washington

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Updated 23 March 2018
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Saudi art show dazzles despite snowstorm in Washington

WASHINGTON: Three inches of snow fell on Wednesday, and the cherry blossoms shook with the weight. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for Washington to slow down — possibly even shut down — and enjoy a good snowstorm.
Keith Nahigian, one-time head of the Trump transition team, whose eponymous firm is escorting the new nonprofit Misk Arts Institute around town, had the awkward task of trying to explain to the delegation from Saudi Arabia that their well-laid plans for an evening art party at the Kennedy Center might go awry.
“It’s hard to explain that people here are afraid of the snow … they can shut down the government,” he said.
The delegation was a little confused, he reported. It snows in Saudi Arabia, but maybe not in the cities. And how can a government … shut down for a day? Kingdoms don’t. Can democracies?
As it turns out, no one needed to worry. Official Washington, at least the large part of it engaged in the Middle East, turned out in force, in snow boots, sipping mocktails as they jammed the art exhibit.
The Misk Arts Institute — an as yet amorphous but large new arts initiative supported by the Crown Prince — is launching a five-city tour, with stops in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston.
Saudi Arabia is the story of the week in Washington. They garnered some protests — giant security guards hauled small women in fuchsia who were protesting against the war in Yemen from the exhibit. On Wednesday evening, they drew a large panoply of well-to-do Middle East Institute members, professors, aid workers, business people and youngsters looking for their first step up on a career ladder that suddenly looks more promising now than it did under the previous administration, when Obama decided the best policy in the Middle East was as little as possible contact.
But there was substance beyond the Saudi story. Saudi Arabia, following in the path laid out by the Emirates with Art Dubai, plan to use high culture to establish their credentials in the world.
The Misk Arts Institute’s message: Art and innovation, especially by youth, are exploding in Saudi Arabia. The Misk Art Institute is likely to provide crucial support to many artists, including women who see the opportunity to make their narratives central as the arts grow in their country. “Now is the time to invest in driving schools in Saudi Arabia!” shouted one American woman over the crush.
The artwork in the popup display at the Kennedy Center, with work by 33 artists, included mural paintings by women artists from southern Saudi Arabia, commissioned by the Foundation, and Ahmad Angawi’s gaint ball of microphones, looking large and cutting edge under the low light.
On an evening when the other hot topic of conversation was whether to delete Facebook, that piece of art seemed less about Saudi Arabia and more about the world.


Saudi Arabia’s first ‘smart’ pharmacy inaugurated

Updated 21 July 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s first ‘smart’ pharmacy inaugurated

TABUK: Prince Fahd bin Sultan, governor of Tabuk region, inaugurated the Kingdom’s first smart pharmacy — operated by a robot — at King Fahd Specialist Hospital on Thursday, following his meeting with the province’s director general of health affairs, Ghurmallah bin Abdullah Al-Ghamdi.
It is hoped that the smart pharmacy — which can dispense 1,500 packages of medicine per hour, store over 20,000 packages of medicine, reject expired drugs, and deal with 240 prescriptions per hour — will save the time of patients and pharmacists, ensure better control of drug stocks, provide the highest safety standards, and reduce medication errors.
The pharmacy has six outlets, one of which is dedicated to serving disabled people.
Prince Fahd congratulated Tabuk Health Affairs on this achievement, which he said would contribute to better health care services.
He stressed that serving citizens was the main objective and praised the role of young men and women in meeting the requirements of the future.
He also thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support for the health care sector in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Ghamdi thanked Prince Fahd for his support for the health care sector in the province.