Jeddah celebrates 2nd Italian Design Day

Princess Duaa bint Mohammad, center, at the Italian design event. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 01 April 2019

Jeddah celebrates 2nd Italian Design Day

  • The annual celebration highlights the excellence and distinctiveness of Italian design around the world

JEDDAH: The Consulate General of Italy in Jeddah celebrated the second Italian Design Day by hosting a conference on urban design. 

The event, at the Italian Cultural Center, was promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

Organised by the Italian Business Group (IBG), the annual celebration highlights the excellence and distinctiveness of Italian design around the world and is observed on March 1 every year. 

This year’s theme focused on the connection between design and sustainability. 

“This initiative by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was taken to give a taste of what the Italian lifestyle is to the world,” Consul General Stefano Stucci said in his opening speech on Wednesday.

This year’s design day includes 100 events in 100 cities around the world, presented by 100 ‘ambassadors’ of Italian culture. Jeddah was among the cities chosen for 2019.

The ambassadors are professionals such as architects, designers, entrepreneurs, journalists, critics, educators. 


Jeddah’s event had two main speakers from Milan, which the consul general described as “the cultural capital of Italy.” 

They were Andrea Boschetti, architect and founder of Metrogramma, and Flora Ribera, general manager of Mediamond. 

Boschetti said it was essential to put people at the heart of design “otherwise modernity will fail. People come first.” 

He said that people sometimes suggested that everything should be destroyed and rebuilt when they wanted to modernize or redevelop part of a city. The reason for that view was because the past ceased to exist, he added.

The answer lay in studying the area from all perspectives “to dig inside reality, to explore the future,” he told Arab News.

“Al-Balad in Jeddah is one example of what I mean. How the buildings ... and the emptiness are distributed in the area is perfectly designed for human life. I was astonished and surprised when I first visited it,” he said, referring to Jeddah’s ancient port center. 

Although it has been a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site since 2014, many of Al-Balad’s historical buildings have perished due to fire and disrepair. UNESCO has, in the past 50 years, offered an incentive to preserve historical sites such as Al-Balad, which is considered a staple of Hijazi architecture.

Historical area 

A perfectly designed city is when “everything has to go in harmony and balance, the past and future, the volume and emptiness,” Boschetti said.

Lucio Frigo gave a presentation about Jeddah’s historical area, its unique urban and social structure and design, as well as how to regenerate and re-elevate it to become the heart of the city again.

Turki and Abdulrahman Gazzaz, architects and founders of Jeddah-based Bricklab, spoke about their projects and their participation in last year’s Venice architecture biennale.v

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Updated 25 April 2019

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

  • Al-Rabeeah: We have no hidden agenda in Syria and we work through international organizations

BEIRUT: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, signed on Wednesday seven agreements with Beirut and international and civil organizations operating in Lebanon to implement relief projects targeting Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the most affected host communities in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who participated in the symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut to sign the agreements, praised the strong Saudi-Lebanese relations, which have existed for decades, and stressed Lebanon’s keenness to ensure their permanence and development.

He said: “The meetings Al-Rabeeah has held with different Lebanese political and religious authorities over the past two days during his visit to Lebanon, under the guidance of King Salman, indicate the Saudi leadership’s true desire to deepen the fraternal ties with the Lebanese, support Lebanon’s unity, independence, sovereignty and coexistence formula, and protect its existence from the repercussions of all the fires, crises and interventions that plague many countries.”

During the symposium, which was attended by a large group of political, religious and social figures, Al-Rabeeah called on the international donor community to shoulder more responsibility.

Addressing the implementing bodies, he said: “It is time to reconsider your working mechanisms in order to develop them and improve procedures to avoid negative impacts.”

“What I mean by reconsidering working processes is that there is a need to work professionally and skillfully because there are not many resources, and we must eliminate bureaucracy and speedily make the most of resources,” Al-Rabeeah told Arab News.

He stressed the importance of developing a close partnership between the donor and the implementer of projects, highlighting that KSRelief’s work is subject to international and regional oversight mechanisms as well as its own internal control mechanisms.

“We have two strategic partners, and when agreements are signed with the recipients of assistance, this means accepting oversight terms,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia supports the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and so is the case for Yemen.”

“Saudi Arabia has supported peaceful dialogues, which restore security and stability,” he said. “In order for this to happen in Syria, we support the efforts of the United Nations and implement (as KSRelief) relief programs inside Syria. We also have major programs and we count on the UN to ensure a safe return for Syrian refugees.”

On the Syrian regions in which KSRelief is implementing its programs and the difficulties faced, Al-Rabeeah told Arab News: “We have nothing to do with military or religious matters, and wherever there is security, we work. We also work through the UN and the international organizations inside Syria, and we do not have any hidden agenda in this field.”

He stressed that “participating in rebuilding Syria requires security and stability, and the Saudi leadership hopes for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Until this is achieved, the relief work will continue and won’t cease.”

Al-Rabeeah announced that KSRelief is implementing a quality program to rehabilitate recruited children in Yemen alongside its education, protection, health and environment projects.

“There are those who recruit children to fight in Yemen, violating all humanitarian laws. Our center rehabilitates them so that they are not used as terrorist tools in the future,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 has given relief work its share, especially in terms of volunteering programs. “We have great examples involved in the field,” he said.

Among the signed agreements was one with the Lebanese High Relief Commission (HRC) to carry out a project to cover the food needs of Lebanese families.

Chairman of Lebanon’s High Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair told Arab News that the agreement targets distributing 10,000 food rations to orphans, widows and destitute families in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in Lebanon. “This project is encouraging and gives hope to people,” he said.

Khair said that there are 100,000 people in need in Bab Al-Tabbaneh district alone, pledging to commit to transparency during the implementation of the project. “It is not a question of sectarian balance; we are focused on those who are most in need,” he said.

The signed agreements include one for repairing, equipping, and operating the Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Center for Dialysis at the Makassed General Hospital, an agreement with the UNHCR worth $5 million to implement a project for assisting the most affected Syrian families for six months, an agreement to support Souboul Assalam Association in Akkar (northern Lebanon), an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement a project worth $3.8 million to cover the needs of Syrian families that are below the poverty line for a year, and an agreement with UNRWA to cover the medical needs and treatment of cancer and multiple sclerosis in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: “The challenge facing UNRWA after the reduction of its budget is maintaining the operation of its 715 schools in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for us, and owing to its help, we will be able to help cancer and multiple sclerosis patients,” he said.