DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi-Italian ties celebrated through culture and science

Updated 17 May 2018
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DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi-Italian ties celebrated through culture and science

JEDDAH: The Consulate General of Italy in Jeddah hosted a celebration of the country’s National Day with a two-day cultural event, part of which focused on music from the Middle Ages.

This an era from which it is easy to spot similarities and shared mutual influences between Western Christian and Arab Islamic music. To illustrate this, musician Stefano Albarello performed a concert during which he played both the Arab oud and the European lute.

“The similarities were evident during the performance by maestro Albarello,” said Elisabetta Martini, Italy’s consul general in Jeddah. “The first part was dedicated to Arab music and the second to Christian medieval music. It was very difficult to know which part belonged to which culture and country.

“It was beautiful to witness these similarities, and this also goes for the recent opening of the Saudi establishment and leadership to inter-religious dialogue. The visit of the cardinal here in Riyadh, and the visit of the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the Vatican, for us marked an important turning point in the inter-religious dialogue between the Muslim world and the Christian world in a time when it is much needed.”

The musical performance also helped to shed light on the cultural bonds between Italy and Saudi Arabia, and the mutual respect and tolerance. Through the event, part of a wide-ranging Italian initiative called “Italy, culture, the Mediterranean,” Martini said she wanted to offer her guests a unique and innovative experience, combining traditional music and the latest visual technology, presented by an Italian musician and a Saudi-Italian entertainment company called Top Hat.

“The first day included a 15-minute performance by maestro Albarello backed by 3D mapping in an immersive atmosphere,” she said. “The next day we had a 50-minute concert for those who are more interested in the music.”

In addition, Italian Research Day took place on May 14 at the Italian Cultural Center.

“We want to celebrate the scientific research of Italian universities and communities (and their contribution) to recent and past discoveries,” said Martini. “In particular, since I want to underline what unites Italy and Saudi Arabia, I want to celebrate it together with the Italian scientific community based here in Saudi Arabia, particularly at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).”

She explained that Italian Research Day included a conference titled “Future Environmental and Biological Scenarios Between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea,” featuring two Italian professors from the universities of Padua and Genoa in Italy, and one based at KAUST. 

“It is about the future of the environment of the Mediterranean on the basis of what is happening in the Red Sea,” said Martini, adding that it highlights the similarities between the seas and the environmental changes and issues they face as a result of climate change.


Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

Riyadh hosts the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum in April with its focus on investment opportunities in the urban heritage. (Reuters)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

  • Forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage
  • Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage hosts the forum each year in a different part of the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi capital will host the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum (NUHF) next April to coincide with World Heritage Day, with its focus on investment opportunities in urban heritage.

“The four-day National Built Heritage Forum will be launched in Riyadh on April 15,” said Majed Alshadeed, a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), on Thursday, adding that the forum will culminate on April 18, World Heritage Day. World Heritage Day is celebrated every year on April 18 with the aim of preserving the human heritage and recognizing the efforts of the relevant organizations in the field.

Organized by SCTH under the umbrella of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program, the 6th forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage.

The forum will look at developing business models in the management and development of — and investment in — urban heritage sites, as well as the development of crafts and handicrafts.

The heritage forum is organized each year by the SCTH in a different province in collaboration with the relevant governorates, municipalities and local universities, following the recommendations of the first International Conference for Urban Heritage in the Islamic Countries, which was held in Riyadh in 2010.

The first session of the NUHF was organized in Makkah province, the second in the Eastern Province, the third in Madinah province, the fourth in Asir province and the fifth in Al-Qassim province.

Next year’s forum seeks to invest the expertise, knowledge and experience that the SCTH has gained and transfer it to the four economic sectors working in urban heritage. These sectors are construction, restoration and contracting, site operation, human resources development, and services and industries related to urban heritage.

The forum will include the distribution of prizes to the projects winning the Prince Sultan bin Salman Urban Heritage Awards, exhibitions, scientific sessions, workshops and business meetings with Saudi and international experts and consultants to discuss investment opportunities in urban heritage. There will also be a specialized expo for companies and institutions working in the sectors of the economics of architectural heritage, restoration and engineering consultancy.