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.


FaceOf: Ahmad Al-Khatib, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries

Ahmad Al-Khatib
Updated 27 May 2018
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FaceOf: Ahmad Al-Khatib, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries

  • Saudi Arabian Military Industries aims to aims to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign purchases of military products

JEDDAH: Ahmad Al-Khatib was appointed the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) in October 2017. 

He also holds the posts of chairman of the board of directors of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) since 2016; chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development; adviser to the general secretariat of the Cabinet; adviser to the minister of defense; and adviser to the court of the crown prince.

Al-Khatib inaugurated on Friday the new facilities of the Aircraft Accessories and Components Company (AACC) at its new headquarters at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah during a ceremony under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

SAMI aims to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign purchases of military products and become one of the top 25 global companies in the field of military industries.

“Our goal is to localize more than 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending by 2030,” said the crown prince in his earlier statement.

Al-Khatib is a former adviser to the royal court, was the minister of health between 2014 and 2016, and served as the chairman for the Saudi stock company established in 2006, Jadwa Investment.

Al-Khatib has 23 years of experience in banking. In 1992 he joined the Bank of Riyad, working in various departments for 11 years and helping to establish the customer investment department. 

In 2003, Al-Khatib joined SABB Bank and participated in the establishment of Islamic Banking (Amanah). He then became the bank’s general manager.