‘Furijat’ initiative releasing detainees from financial debt

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Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif launching Furijat in the presence of Justice, Commerce and Communication and IT ministers. (SPA)
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The interior minister inspecting the progress of the "Fujirat" initiative. (SPA)
Updated 10 June 2019

‘Furijat’ initiative releasing detainees from financial debt

  • Since its launch, donors have contributed more than SR30 million ($8.5 million)
  • With that amount, 467 detainees have been reunited with their families after their debts were cleared

JEDDAH: On May 29, Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif launched the “Furijat” initiative, which allows people to contribute funds to assist detainees in prison for failing to pay off their debts through the proper channels or for defaulting on payments.

So far, thanks to the contribution of more than SR30 million ($8.5 million), 467 detainees have been reunited with their families after their debts were cleared.

According to the head of Public Relations and Media Department at the General Directorate of Prisons, Lt Col. Dr. Bandar Al-Khormi, the initiative was comprehensively studied and reviewed for more than 14 months before its launch.

“The start was truly a success,” he told Arab News. “We noticed that people are urging one another to contribute. There have been many questions about the initiative itself, asking how to participate and (how much) has been contributed.”

Al-Khormi stressed that “Furijat” is being run by a reputable organization, and that the money would be properly managed and dispersed.

“The service is (being run) through the Absher platform, and this what makes it trusted and reliable,” he said. “This (will) prevent any misuse of money. Absher is a trustworthy secure service provider.”

He added that donors are able to verify information about inmates whom they are considering helping and make sure that they are really in need of financial assistance.

“There are committees and employees who carefully examine every imprisoned defaulter’s situation to make sure that they are eligible for the contributions. So there are no fears of adding undeserving names to that list,” he explained, adding that the program could be expanded to include other services, according to certain restrictions and measures. He could not confirm whether those services would include fundraising to help people pay diyya (blood money).

“I can’t predict what services will be added to the program in the future, but I assure you that there are committees working on assessing this initiative and they will come up with ideas and suggestions to develop it in order to help prisoners who really deserve assistance,” he said.

Al-Khormi described the initiative as being “in full compliance with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030, as it provides support to inmates in need,” noting that it also promotes “social solidarity and charity and voluntary work, ensuring that all these values run parallel to (Vision 2030).”

“The service was primarily meant to be humane and of social benefit. This caring initiative has put the Saudi General Directorate of Prisons head and shoulders above jails worldwide in regard to humanitarian assistance,” he said. “You cannot find such a service in prisons anywhere else in the world. This initiative can be copied elsewhere, but what is important to us is that it is a successful experience that reflects our care for our prisoners.”

Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

Updated 26 June 2019

Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

  • 40 works by Edvard Munch go on display for first time in Middle East

DHAHRAN: A dynamic Saudi cultural center is to showcase the works of one of the world’s most famous painters in an exhibition-first for the Middle East.

Forty pieces by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, best known for his iconic “The Scream” painting, will go on public display at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The special exhibition, titled “Landscapes of the Soul,” is the latest in a series of high-profile cultural events to be staged at the showpiece exhibition in Dhahran.

Developed by Saudi Aramco with the aim of stimulating knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement, Ithra’s theater, museum, exhibition hall and art gallery complex forms a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan to promote culture and entertainment.

The Munch exhibition, which runs until Sept. 3, portrays the artist’s personal life experiences of misery, love, despair, loneliness and reflections of the soul, through his distinctive works.

“It is such an honor to host and introduce to Saudi Arabia, and indeed, the Middle East, the work of the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch,” Rania Biltagi, Ithra’s head of communications and partnership, told Arab News.

Munch’s (1863-1944) original exhibition has been located in Oslo, Norway since 1963, and the Saudi display is being staged in Ithra’s Great Hall in partnership with the Munch Museum in Norway.

As well as a lithograph version of his most famous painting “The Scream,” other works on show will include “Summer Night. The Voice,” 1894, “Self-Portrait,” 1895, and “The Sick Child,” 1896.

“A moment that stood out from the opening was when speaking to a couple visiting the exhibit, they mentioned that they were Norwegian and working in Saudi,” Biltagi said. “They explained that they had never had the chance to visit the Munch Museum in their homeland and what an unexpected pleasure it was to be able to see Munch’s work in Saudi.”

Biltagi added that the event epitomized the aim of Ithra in providing a platform to bring together cultures as well as people.

The center, featured in Time magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 places to visit, is a pioneer on the Kingdom’s culture and arts scene, organizing a variety of events, performances, programs and experiences to suit all ages and backgrounds. Previous exhibitions have included a focus on Saudi contemporary art, Leonardo da Vinci, and installations symbolizing creativity and innovation.