France to lend Saudi Arabia its classical expertise

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The orchestra of the Opera of Lyon rehearses before the Victoires de la musique classique award event at the Grange au Lac auditorium in Evian-les-Bains in February. AFP
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French Minister of Culture Francoise Nyssen, right, and her counterpart Awwad Alawwad sign an agreement help Saudi Arabia set up a national orchestra and opera. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2018

France to lend Saudi Arabia its classical expertise

  • Paris Opera is one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses
  • About 350 cinemas are expected to be in operation by 2030
PARIS: France is to help Saudi Arabia set up a national orchestra and opera as part of a series of agreements signed on Monday to boost cultural cooperation.
“Today an agreement was signed with the Paris Opera to help Saudi Arabia set up a national orchestra and an opera,” said French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen, during a joint press conference with Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad.
The deal will see the Paris Opera company help the Kingdom produce its own classical music and shows, AFP reported.
Founded in 1669 by the then king, Louis XIV, Paris Opera is one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses.
The agreement comes during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to France — the fourth leg of his foreign tour, and one focused on building relations through culture, the arts and heritage.
Nyssen said she had also discussed “the importance of translating books in both directions, from Arabic into French and French into Arabic.”
A key pillar of the visit is the collaboration with Paris to develop Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula, an area in the northwest packed with ancient archaeological sites, into a key attraction for visitors while using French expertise in its preservation.
The agreements in France highlight the importance of culture and the arts in the sweeping social and economic reform program being led by the crown prince.
Several other agreements were signed and events held related to cultural cooperation in Paris on Monday.
On Sunday, Arab News revealed that Saudi Arabia would officially participate for the first time in the Cannes Film Festival
Al-Awwad said the Kingdom would submit a selection of short films when the prestigious competition opens next month.
“With a rich tradition of storytelling, Saudi Arabia is embarking on the development of a sustainable and dynamic (film) industry,” Al-Awwad told AFP
The Kingdom is reopening cinemas on April 18 for the first time in more than 35 years. About 350 cinemas are expected to be in operation by 2030.
AMC, the largest cinema operator in the world, was awarded an operating license last week by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Last year, the heir to the throne set up the Misk Art Institute in Riyadh, aimed at the young and designed to encourage grassroots artistic productions in Saudi Arabia.
In Paris on Monday, the institute held a two-day “festival of culture” showcasing work from nine Saudi artists and featuring the VR documentary film Reframe Saudi.
MisKulturExpo, as it was named, takes place over two days at the prestigious famous Arab World Institute. Collectively, the documentary and exhibits demonstrate how art and the creative industries are an integral part of the change that is transforming Saudi Arabia,” Ahmed Mater, director of the Misk Art Institute, said.
“It is essential at this time that Saudi artists engage with audiences around the world, as they are here in Paris, to help to tell the continuing story of change in Saudi Arabia.”
Another exhibition titled the “Saudi Cultural Days” organized by the Kingdom’s General Culture Authority also got underway in the French capital on Monday.
The three-day event at the Tokyo Palace of Art will offer a variety of artistic and cultural activities, including cinematic performances and discussions held in the presence of artists and directors, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
It also includes art exhibitions dealing with heritage and modern art and panel discussions with the artists.

Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

King Salman chairs the Cabinet session in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 16 January 2019

Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

  • Cabinet OKs air transport pact with Indonesia

JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet met to discuss a series of national and global developments on Tuesday, in a session chaired by King Salman.

At the forefront of the agenda was the escalation in tensions between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza border, and the continuing encroachment on Palestinian land by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The Cabinet responded by demanding that the UN Security Council intervene. King Salman also relayed to ministers the outcome of his talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which covered many regional issues.

The minister of media, Turki bin Abdullah Al-Shabanah, announced that after reviewing proposals from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a decision from the Shoura Council, a memorandum of understanding between the government and the Republic of Korea on granting visit visas had been agreed upon.

The Cabinet approved the amendment of the air agreement on regular air transport between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

The Cabinet, meanwhile, praised the progress of the 2025 Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development Program, aimed at enhancing farming techniques by promoting sustainable water and renewable energy sources.

They also discussed the framework in Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020 for building a sustainable renewable energy sector, reiterating aims to lead global renewable energy developments over the next decade, and create projects such as the wind-powered plant at Dumat Al-Jandal, as part of the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative.

In a statement, though, Al-Shabanah said: “The Cabinet discussed the announcement made by the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources about the Kingdom’s oil and gas reserves, which highlighted the importance of Saudi Arabia as a secure source of oil supplies in the long term.”

He added, in closing, the Cabinet’s praise for the efforts of Saudi security forces in the tracking and arrest of seven people in Qatif, which foiled a planned terrorist attack.