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.


King Salman welcomes Pakistan PM Imran Khan in Jeddah

Updated 13 min 6 sec ago
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King Salman welcomes Pakistan PM Imran Khan in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan met with King Salman on Wednesday as part of his first state visit overseas.

During the talks, they reviewed the close relations between their two countries, the prospects for their development and strengthening in various fields, as well as the latest regional developments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting was attended by Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Advisor to the King, Prince of Makkah Region, Prince Mansour bin Mteb bin Abdulaziz and a number of other officials from both countries.

Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Tuesday for a visit expected to focus on bilateral ties, regional security and Pakistan's economic situation.

Earlier, the prime minister was received by the King at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah before the a luncheon was held in his honor.

He then met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who congratulated him on his election as prime minister.

"They reviewed the historical relations between the two brotherly countries and ways to enhance them," SPA said.

 

In an interview with Al Arabiya aired on Wednesday, Khan said Pakistan would always stand by Saudi Arabia, and that anyone who comes into power in the country would visit the Kingdom first.

“Saudi Arabia came to Pakistan's aid when it needed it," Khan said. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Khan performed Umrah in Makkah.

He then held a series of meetings, including with the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih on Wednesday.

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Khan received Al-Falih at his residence in Jeddah to discuss ways of cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

He also held a meeting with the Secretary General of the Islamic Cooperation Organization (OIC) Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen

Khan, whose Tehreek-e-Insaf party won the July elections, is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other senior members of his cabinet.

On Tuesday, the former cricketer visited Madinah where he prayed at the Prophet's Mosque.