Young Saudi architects make a difference by renovating schools

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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
Updated 08 July 2018
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Young Saudi architects make a difference by renovating schools

  • Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. Ten young architects founded the group back in 2015. 
  • Despite the limitations of time and resources, the group (which has eight strong, independent females among its members) has successfully renovated five schools, which has had a positive impact on 650 students.

JEDDAH: Three years ago, during the holy month of Ramadan, a group of young enthusiasts volunteered in an Iftar Sayem campaign, serving and distributing iftar (breakfast) meals to fasting people in need. 

When the month ended, instead of winding up the project they decided to expand it to continue serving the community even after Ramadan. This eagerness to serve humanity led to the establishment of the Ihyaa Group. 

Bayan Hallak (one of the group’s founders) told Arab News: “We could not accept the fact of going back to our normal routines, and usual lives. We had the energy and the knowledge, so we thought why not start giving more to people?”

Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. Ten young architects founded the group back in 2015. 

“We wanted to make a sustainable change to our community,” Hallak said. 

“By doing something that has an effect, not only on a single person or a family but rather on the generations to come. That was when we decided we wanted to renovate schools and create better learning environments.”

The group’s main objective is to develop a generation of educated and socially active students, by providing them with the opportunity to participate in the renovation of their own schools. 

Hallak said: “In some schools, we worked on the lack of basic needs for health, safety and sometimes education itself.”

Despite the limitations of time and resources, the group (which has eight strong, independent females among its members) has successfully renovated five schools, which has had a positive impact on 650 students. Their work included building classrooms and improving the learning environment by enhancing ventilation and light. They used their own architectural skills and knowledge to improve the schools’ interiors, drawing interactive arts and painting walls.

The group used psychological techniques using different colors in classrooms. “After we finished one of our projects, the school’s principal was surprised by the impact of our work on her students,” Hallak said.

They also do periodic checkups, maintenance, and activities throughout the year. For instance, they have created libraries in three different schools. As a result, their work has had a positive impact on students. Hallak explained: “Now, some of the schools are being used for (adult) literacy classes and craft workshops in the afternoon.”

Ihyaa has been supported through collaborations with local people and sponsorship from suppliers and organizations through their corporate social responsibility programs. This way the group receives the means to do its work effectively. Aiming to help more students every year, the group is planning to work on two more projects this summer. 

“We are passionate to do more, and people are always willing to collaborate and support our work for the development of the community. We educate children today to enhance their living standards in the hope that in the future they will have the power to serve their community by themselves and continue the cycle of giving,” Hallak said.


Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

Updated 21 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

RIYADH: A joint press conference between the MBC Group, the General Entertainment Authority, and Cirque du Soleil was held at King Fahd Stadium on Thursday afternoon to answer media questions and give some details about Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming special performance, part of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day celebrations. The show is slated to be one of the biggest performed by the Cirque and their first in Saudi Arabia. It is a one-night-only, exclusive event, designed especially for this occasion.
Daniel Fortin, vice president of Creation at Cirque du Soleil, teased the audience with a few details of the upcoming show. “With a cast and crew of over 300, this is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Without giving too much of the plot away, the story is centered around the sun, and takes place from sunset to sunrise. Everything from the costumes to the stage props was created as a homage to Saudi culture. You’ll see a lot of Bedouin influences in the staging and in the music. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, such as traditional Bedouin tents, desert scenery, even the stadium itself.”
The show has been in development for six months, and the cast and crew have been preparing for the show at the King Fahd International Stadium since the beginning of August.
The show will contain new technology, and 16 unprecedented acrobatic acts. However, Fortin refused to share too many details. “You’ll just have to see what we have planned at the show.” He said. “But I think you will be impressed. We’re doing things we’ve never done before.”
Tickets to the show sold out in less than 48 hours after their release; an incredible feat as the show has allocated more than 27,000 seats for the performance. Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, spokesperson for the General Entertainment Authority, was pleased— but not entirely surprised— by the public’s reaction to news of the show. “We felt that variety in the types of events we brought to Saudi Arabia was important,” he said, “and we conducted a number of research workshops to determine what sort of events would be well-received by the public. Cirque du Soleil was mentioned frequently in our research, so we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to bring them here.”
MBC head of events Omar Al Radi also expects a big response to the televising of the show, which he estimates will break records. “We’re broadcasting the show live on both our local and international channels, such as those in Europe and in America.” he said.
“We’re expecting over 200 million views. Probably record-breaking numbers. MBC is proud to have been part of bringing this historic event to Saudi Arabia, and we can’t wait for you to see it.”