Channel your emotions through self-expression, says young Saudi poet

Nora Alfard leads a poetry reading session at the artsy cafe Nabt Fenjan in Riyadh. (Supplied photo)
Updated 15 January 2019
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Channel your emotions through self-expression, says young Saudi poet

  • Nora Alfard is a source of encouragement for youngsters to boost their literary skills
  • Alfard’s poetry is surprisingly powerful for such a minimalist style. She is able to express so much in so few words.

RIYADH: In the newly burgeoning art scene of Saudi Arabia, Nora Alfard has found a home. Debuting her first book of poetry at a launch party in Riyadh on Sunday night, Alfard has established herself as a brilliant poet and a talent to watch.

Alfard, 24, has been writing poetry since she was 16 years old, as a member of the Riyadh Writing Club. While she credits the club with the beginning of her poetic process, she eventually left to write at her own leisure, unconstrained by the club’s policy of assigning topics to the pieces shared. 

Alfard has been a fixture in Riyadh’s budding spoken word scene since the very beginning. She has organized poetry readings and open mic nights at artsy cafe Nabt Fenjan and encouraged several young Saudis to try their own hand at poetry.

“She is amazing,” said fellow artist Hala Mosaab. “I am so proud of her for everything she has achieved. She is an inspiration.”

Alfard writes as a way of releasing emotions after significant life events. “I began writing as a way of expressing my emotions,” she said. 

“A lot of my poems come from a place of pain. But after writing them, I feel like I am no longer defined by that pain.”

Her book, “For You The Reader,” has been in the works for the past three years. From concept to publication, the road was long and there were moments in which she felt as though she might not be able to see the project through to the end. But ultimately, she was able to persevere, which she credits to the support of her family and her friends.

“When Nora decides she wants to do something, she just rolls up her sleeves and jumps right into it,” said musician and friend Nawaf Al-Harbi. “She is one of the most dedicated and ambitious people I know. If anyone could do it, it would be Nora.”

The book’s strength comes from its ability to invoke raw human emotion in a way that resonates with readers. Alfard’s poetry is surprisingly powerful for such a minimalist style. She is able to express so much in so few words. 

Nora Alfard listening to participants at a poetry reading session. (Supplied photo)

The book’s title is reflective of the fact that everyone can relate to the poems inside. “I wanted to show people that it is OK to be vulnerable, that we all have these feelings and that there is no shame in them. That is why the book is called ‘For You The Reader.’ This book was written for everyone.”

The event took place at On Studio in Riyadh, where almost 50 fellow artists and poets gathered to hear her read from the book. She performed some of her most popular pieces, including “Hourglass,” “Comfortable” and “Laughter.”

The book is self-published, having been made via lulu.com’s online creator software, and is available for purchase from the Lulu website. Alfard made the decision to self-publish after seeing some friends successfully do the same and encourages anyone considering writing a book of poetry to do the same.

“Just go for it,” she said. “Do not let anyone’s opinions of what you should or should not do stop you. It is not as hard as you might think it is, and you will never know if you will be successful or not unless you try.”

Asked if there was one thing she wanted people to take away from the book, she said: “Weakness is OK. Reaching a low point in your life is fine and normal. You can get out of it. Find a way to express those feelings, embrace them, and you will be OK.”


Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

Updated 26 May 2019
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Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

  • Umrah trip held as part of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah's “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative 

JEDDAH: Several Muslims with special needs have benefited from a special Umrah pilgrimage organized by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to statement from the ministry, the Umrah trip, was held on the 17th of Ramadan  (May 22) under the “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative in partnership with Sawt Alasm association in Jeddah.

A busload of 20 people with special needs were accompanied by 12 volunteers of Sadiq Almutamir, including sign language interpreters for the deaf pilgrims. 

The first stop was at Kuday area in Makkah, where pilgrims received the special gifts of Sadiq Almutamir, supported by the Establishment of Motawifs of South East Asian Pilgrims. Next was their arrival at the Grand Mosque, wherein the pilgrims performed Umrah, enjoyed Iftar meals, and received souvenirs from Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association. 

Volunteers assisted the pilgrims by communicating with them, providing instructions and directions in addition to sharing their feelings with the support of the sign language interpreters. 

Sadiq Almutamir also accompanied pilgrims during the performance of Umrah, providing wheelchairs for the elderly, sharing breakfast, and learning about their impressions of performing Umrah for their first time. 

Sadiq Almutamir is one of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s initiatives in Makkah’s Cultural Forum. It focuses on promoting the culture of giving and cooperation between the Saudi youth as well as elevating the volunteering services provided to Umrah pilgrims in order to enrich their experiences. It also provides optional tours to visit attractions, monuments, and places contribute to enriching experiences of Mutamirs and immortalizing beautiful memories in the Kingdom.

Launched late last year, the initiative aims to develop the spirit of volunteerism among Muslims and to invest in the youth by engaging young men and women in service and social responsibility.

“It focuses as well on improving the efficiency level of services provided to pilgrims, promoting the culture of volunteering, helping elderly and special needs’ people to perform Umrah rituals, and finally contributing to the realization of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 of reaching 1 million volunteers annually,” ministry statement said.

The trip was held in cooperation with the Western Fleet Transport, in coordination with the undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for pilgrims’ transportation affairs and Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association.