Riyadh governor launches SR3 billion educational projects in Saudi capital

Saudi students sit for their final high school exams in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. (AFP/Amer Salem)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Riyadh governor launches SR3 billion educational projects in Saudi capital

  • 253 schools will open their doors to students: governor
  • The school buildings would serve 206,465 male and female students at all stages of schooling with 5,899 classrooms

RIYADH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar launched SR3 billion ($800 million) worth of educational projects on Wednesday at the Riyadh General Administration of Education. 

The launch was in the presence of Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa and a number of educational and pedagogical leaders as well as governmental bodies.

Prince Faisal said: “Today, we are seeing the cancelation of many old schools and the enhancement of many new ones; 253 schools will open their doors to students, a very high number that is not very common in many other states.”

The director general of education in Riyadh, Hamad bin Nasser Al-Wahaibi, said the educational projects aimed to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which includes providing an adequate educational environment for students and teachers.

He said that the number of educational projects launched on Wednesday by Prince Faisal totaled 253 educational buildings, including 132 for boys and 121 for girls, along with 122 modern gyms, 44 playing fields, and 28 kindergartens and educational offices. He said that the school buildings would serve 206,465 male and female students at all stages of schooling with 5,899 classrooms. 

The total worth of these projects was SR3 billion ($800 million) and the current school year had seen the operation of 48 educational projects worth more than SR572 million.

These projects included four kindergartens, 12 primary schools, 11 educational projects for middle school, five for high school and 13 educational complexes and gyms. 

This year, seven kindergarten buildings, 22 primary schools, 15 middle schools, nine high school buildings and 20 gyms were operated, along with 31 buildings for boys (including 757 classrooms for 22,000 students) and 33 buildings for girls (including 404 classrooms for 12,000 female students), he said.

He said that the Riyadh administration supervised 119 educational projects worth more than SR1.2 billion.


Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 17 min 23 sec ago
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Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

  • From the age of three, Hisham Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art

JEDDAH: When it comes to royal connections, Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi can truly claim to have made it an art form.

During a lifetime at the easel, the unassuming Jeddah-based artist’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings.

And it all began at the age of just 14, when Binjabi painted a portrait of King Faisal and ended up presenting it in person to the late king of Saudi Arabia.

Further commissions were to follow, which resulted in Binjabi producing works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too.

Today he owns two galleries in Jeddah from where he exhibits artwork and sculptures from around the world. 

Binjabi revealed his incredible story to Arab News while at work painting on canvas at a recent Jeddah book fair.

Hisham Binjabi made works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too. (Photos/Supplied)

From the age of three, when he painted the walls of his family home in black, Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art. His talent was recognized at school where he was known as the “boy who paints,” and although he chose to major in science, a teacher spotted his artistic skills and taught him the basics of mixing colors.

Binjabi said: “After that I started to practice, and whenever I didn’t need to attend a class, I would escape to the painting room. As I became stronger with the use of colors, my teacher suggested I pick a subject to paint and I chose to do a portrait of King Faisal.”

After framing his picture, Binjabi was spotted carrying his creation down the street by the then-minister of education, who was so taken by it that he invited the teenager to present it to King Faisal himself. 

On the right track

The young artist continued to paint in his home and later studied English literature at King Abdul Aziz University, where again his talents were spotted. 

The dean of the university asked him to produce a painting to display in a tent, and this time the subject was to be camels.

During a visit to the campus, the then-King Khaled saw the painting and asked to meet the artist. “Before I knew it, I was standing in front of King Khaled,” said Binjabi. 

“The king asked me why I had painted camels, and I told him that camels were the friends of Bedouin people.”

The king invited Binjabi to go to Riyadh and attend the first ever Janadriyah Festival, and from then on his works became highly prized by royalty. The then-Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz asked him to produce a painting of his guests, a French prince and Sheikh Zayed of the UAE, watching camels through binoculars. 

As a result, Binjabi was invited to stay at Sheikh Zayed’s palace in Abu Dhabi, where he spent four months painting a family portrait for the leader.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to be another of Binjabi’s distinguished clients, and even while studying for a Master’s degree in Lebanon, he painted for the king of Lebanon.

He said: “It did get overwhelming. I never asked to be associated with royalty, it just happened. Something in my heart kept pushing me along and telling me I was on the right track.”

Today he still represents the Kingdom in many different countries. 

“My life is full of stories about art which I find inspirational,” Binjabi added.