Grandma Stories: Saudi storyteller teaches values and critical thinking by letting children speak up

Children attentively listen to Ghadeer Yamani. (AN photo)
Updated 22 April 2018
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Grandma Stories: Saudi storyteller teaches values and critical thinking by letting children speak up

  • Storytelling is not only a fun way to ignite imaginations; it also improves children’s verbal and critical thinking abilities, says Yamani
  • Yamani has read stories in both Arabic and English for more than 6,000 children of 15 nationalities all over the Kingdom and the Gulf region

DHAHRAN: You can see children forming a gigantic circle and listening carefully when story time starts. Ghadeer Yamani, the founder of Grandma Stories, found her passion for spreading the love of reading among children and delivering values through her storytelling sessions.
The Grandma Stories initiative started six years ago when Yamani returned home after spending years abroad owing to her husband’s work. Yamani has read stories in both Arabic and English for more than 6,000 children of 15 nationalities all over the Kingdom and the Gulf region, including the UAE and Bahrain.
“The idea of Grandma Stories was not an epiphany; it came to me after I saw how reading was a huge part of children’s life abroad. I used to see children reading in libraries, in bus stops, in hospitals — everywhere. I wanted to help spread reading culture in my society.
“I wanted children back home to love reading! And with the support of my husband and family, I think I was able to do this,” Yamani told Arab News.
With the prevalence of national reading competitions, school contests and reading clubs, awareness among families and society members is growing. “The interaction and excitement of families and children are amazing when it comes to story time,” said Yamani.
About the title of her initiative, she said: “When I was a child I used to visit my father’s grandmother in Madinah who had a phenomenal way of telling stories and riddles. I still remember how the entire family would get around her as she started telling her tales, and in an atmosphere filled with love and contentment.
“No one ever wanted her stories to finish and nothing could ever distract us while listening to her. That is exactly how I want children to feel in Grandma Stories story time.”
Storytelling is not only a fun way to ignite imaginations; it also improves children’s verbal and critical thinking abilities. Yamani allows children to criticize the stories by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each one. The advancement in such skills is what inspires Yamani and keeps her going.
“The fondest moments throughout my years in storytelling have been when mothers come and tell me how their children used to be shy and reluctant but have started to become fluent and can express themselves well, and that Grandma Stories is the reason for this great progress.”


Ramadan fun activities reflect on Saudi Arabia’s potential

Cirque du Soleil has reportedly signed a deal to perform in the Kingdom. Cirque du Soleil
Updated 11 min 16 sec ago
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Ramadan fun activities reflect on Saudi Arabia’s potential

  • Investors is increasing, although the sector is still experimenting
  • Creating an aqua park and three funfairs and the creation of an art and culture island in Jeddah

RIYADH: The holy month of Ramadan is one of the platforms used to reinforce morals, ethics, and Islamic values through practicing rituals.

However, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has been shouldering the responsibility to deliver and reinforce these values in its own way by supporting events across the Kingdom that introduce children and teenagers to the Kingdom’s culture, customs and traditions.
The huge number of events can surely play a role in helping more local and international investors to step into the market. Arab News met Abdulrahman Al-Khalifa, GEA media and communications manager, to discuss the potential this market has and the challenges it faces.
He explained that while the authority supports organization of events, not all receive financial backing.
“We can finance up to 30 percent  of events taking place in the Kingdom for the first time; the financial support is usually given to the most creative events. We are selective about the types of events we finance,” he said.
The GEA is building the industry to make it appealing to local and international investors.
Al-Khalifa added that the GEA’s main aim is to create competitiveness, raise standards and keep ticket prices at a suitable level for both investors and visitors.
“We do not directly control the pricing rate; however, we provide the investors and organizers with our consultations.”
It has set a target of running 5,500 events across the Kingdom’s 13 governorates during 2018.  
Currently, the number of investors is increasing, although the sector is still experimenting. The potential is extremely high, especially after the unveiling of the “Quality of Life 2020” program, aiming to enhance lifestyles for everyone in the Kingdom by 2020. This includes the establishment of one opera house and 16 theaters, opening 45 cinemas and 16 entertainment centers, creating an aqua park and three funfairs and the creation of an art and culture island in Jeddah.
Al-Khalifa added that the door is open for international investors. With the cooperation with General Investment Authority, high-profile meetings were held with entertainment investors and big companies’ CEOs in the US during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit.  And 350 international investors attended a summit in Los Angeles to hear more about opportunities in the Kingdom.
Five agreements were signed during the summit, including for a Cirque du Soleil performance, cooperation with Feld Entertainment Inc. to produce and conduct live shows, as well as Disney live shows. Cooperation with National Geographic will result in 10 virtual reality cities by 2019.

“Foreign investment will surely help with job creation for Saudi youth throughout the process of preparation, operation and execution, helping all parties to conduct win-win business,” he said.