DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia and Latvia poised to take official ties to next level, envoy says

Latvian Ambassador Astra Kurme with officials of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (AN photo)
Updated 15 November 2018

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia and Latvia poised to take official ties to next level, envoy says

  • Kurme: “The Kingdom and Latvia will hold political consultations following the ratification of their memorandum of understanding by the Shoura Council"

RIYADH: Latvia intends to develop its commercial and cultural relations with Saudi Arabia, with a particular focus on a number of cooperative areas including education, the economy, information technology, culture, food and food processing, Astra Kurme, Latvia’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday. The countries are also discussing plans to hold their maiden round of political talks in near future, she added.
“The Kingdom and Latvia will hold political consultations following the ratification of their memorandum of understanding by the Shoura Council,” said Kurme, who is the first envoy of a Baltic state in Saudi Arabia. “We are also talking about setting up a legal framework and endorsing agreements such as the avoidance of double taxation.”
The ambassador said that she discussed with Saudi officials possible areas of cooperation during several meetings last week at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Princess Nourah University, King Saud University and at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“One of the potential projects can be establishing an Arabic language and culture center in Latvia,” she said, adding that there are also many opportunities to work together in the fields of information technology and cybersecurity.
Some Latvian companies already have a direct or indirect presence in the Gulf region, Kurme said. She also pointed out that Latvia has some of the fastest internet connections in the world, having taken major step to develop high-speed internet, and that there are plenty of commercial opportunities for both countries.
She noted that Air Baltic already flies to Abu Dhabi four times a week and that Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa also serve the Gulf-Latvia sector.
Latvia welcomed a large number of Saudi tourists this summer, said Kurme, adding that Latvia is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its independence this year.


Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

Updated 19 August 2019

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

  • One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020
  • A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is to set up arts academies, including two in the next two years, offering a step toward academic qualification and enlarging the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The initiative is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life program. 

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, said investment in “capacity building” was one of the most important elements in encouraging the cultural sector, which enjoyed unlimited support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom was rich in diverse arts, talents and artistic production, Prince Badr said, and the academies would be a first step toward academic qualification in the arts within the Kingdom.

One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020, targeting 1,000 students and trainees in long- and short-term programs. 

A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021.

The music academy in particular will be “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi musician, composer and producer Mamdouh Saif told Arab News.

The music industry was a large and diverse field, Saif said, and education was crucial. 

“The academy is the right place to launch the music industry in Saudi Arabia, and it will have a significant impact on Saudi youth, and young people in surrounding countries,” he said.

He expects “a very high turnout” for the academy among young Saudis. 

“Due to my expertise in this area, I receive many questions from people who want to learn music, but through private lessons,” he said.

“But the availability of an academy for this purpose, that teaches music in a methodological way, will be the right start for those interested in music.”