At Jeddah's CreativeMornings — magic is in the air

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Balqis AlRashed during an intense side talk.
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after talk side discussions between the crowd.
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Creative morning, where creative minds meet.
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Rozana AlBanawi, Creative Morning's Jeddah chapter’s host, in the opeining speech.
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Balqis AlRashed showing creativity in her talk.
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Jeddawi creative vibes filled the crowd.
Updated 07 October 2016
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At Jeddah's CreativeMornings — magic is in the air

Magic is a word used often to describe something extremely wonderful, unexpected, life-altering at times, scary, mind boggling, and even unwanted. A concept we search for in our lives not because it’s dull and boring, it’s an extra “something” that can be saved on the side for a rainy day. With all the potential meanings to “magic”, it can be more than that, it can be an inspirational push to change, to let go, to grow, to wind down and be humble, oh the options are limitless. It’s just that one weird word that we don’t understand fully yet, but bring up every now and then to inspire ourselves, to strike us down to better ourselves, to be happier, grow fonder and more acceptable of ourselves. We hear magic and think Disney princesses, fairy dust, talking teapots, underwater kingdoms and so much more. A bit too surreal, so? Why must we confine ourselves to reality and not make space for something more interesting that is magical? Life changing? Beautifying? Hindering? Something!
The monthly talk series for the creative community, aptly named CreativeMornings’ theme for the month of September was Magic. A special theme is held each month and chapters worldwide get to work in choosing the best candidate for that theme. Rozana Al-Banawi, the Jeddah chapter’s host, said: “It’s a fun way to gather with strangers and friends alike and listen to something unfamiliar maybe.”
CreativeMornings helps in creating the space many are looking for, provides the speakers that same space that will intrigue and inspire their listeners. CreativeMornings Jeddah chapter host AlBanawi and her team gather every month to plan ahead, choose the most compatible speaker and go ahead from there, September’s choice fell on the talented Balqis AlRashed. September marks Jeddah chapter’s 6th talk and the room couldn’t be anymore full than it already was.
People of different ages and different backgrounds were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the guest speaker and hear what she had to say. The Jeddah chapter team chose well. “This is my first time attending CM Jeddah,” said one young woman, “a friend of mine mentioned it to me once as she was going through her Instagram and the idea to meet for a talk was exciting and new to me. The fact that I don’t know who the artist is adds to the element of surprise and I can’t wait to see what she has in store.”
The vibe at the newly decorated rooftop closed terrace-like area was heavy with anticipation until the opening line of the artist, shifting the vibe from heavy to light, questionable, demanding and extremely inquisitive.
“I felt the crowd was receptive, welcoming and you could see how their young minds were working through the questions that were asked. I was honored to have been asked and I felt that the organizers were all on point with the arrangements and helped me out when I needed it. The venue was packed and the crowd wasn’t challenging, instead they were curious and I loved interacting with them. It’s a space where you can speak your mind and providing such a platform for this kind of intermingling is important whether it’s here in Jeddah or any other city,” said Balqis.
True, such a platform provides room to find answers to many of the questions we have in the back of our heads but in need of a certain push to blurt them out and have them answered by a stranger. It’s magical! Sorry for the pun but many of the attendees did feel that spark when Balqis the hula-hooping artist spoke of her transformation, her method of expression, her understanding of art through her eyes and her personal magical moment.
A group of young freshly graduated girls mentioned how the 20-minute-talk was actually much more beneficial than a long one hour talk. One of the girls said that one hour talks can actually be grueling and boring, unproductive and you tend to wander with your thoughts. “It’s 20 minutes, straight to the point and attention grabbing. This definitely won’t be the last time my friends and I attend and we can’t wait to see next month’s theme and what the speaker has for us,” exclaimed one of the girls.
The vibe at CreativeMornings Jeddah was fun, laughter mixed with hushed intense conversations covering the topic of the month. With a cup of coffee in one hand, many attendees engaged with the speaker, the organizers and just random strangers, all in all it was a feel good and positive atmosphere.


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Unmapped roads raise risk to Southeast Asian rainforests — study

An aerial photo of a road running through an palm plantation in Dumai, Riau, Sumatra island, Indonesia. (Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/via REUTERS/File)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Unmapped roads raise risk to Southeast Asian rainforests — study

  • Researcher Alice Hughes found that roads have penetrated areas previously considered untouched and unreachable by vehicles.
  • An average of 75 percent of roads in five countries were missing from OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping platform widely used by researchers and academics.

KUALA LUMPUR: Forests in parts of Southeast Asia face greater threats than previously thought because researchers often rely on data that ignores new roads, which are precursors to deforestation and development, a study shows.
The paper, published this month by the journal Biological Conservation, showed that an average of 75 percent of roads in five countries were missing from OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping platform widely used by researchers and academics.
“Large-scale forest clearance is preceded by the growth of road networks, which provide a stark warning for the region’s future,” the study said.
Author Alice Hughes, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, studied a total of 277,281 square kilometers by analyzing satellite images and maps showing forest loss and coverage, as well as agriculture concessions.
She found that roads have penetrated areas previously considered untouched and unreachable by vehicles.
“We are deluding ourselves that we still have large tracts of inaccessible, pristine forest, when the reality is highly-fragmented, very accessible forests,” Hughs said on Friday.
Her research examined road networks in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“In some parts of the region, up to 99 percent of roads on those global maps, which are used as the basis for a huge amount of further analysis, are not included,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Deforestation and development of forests in the area studied have occurred at a rapid pace since 2000, said Hughes, while maps used by researchers do not regularly update their road data.
“Most of the time these roads are just providing access to forests and up to 99 percent of deforestation is within 2.5 km of road,” she said. “They are clearly the access method.”
She added that the region urgently needs better protection and enforcement for its remaining forests.
Indonesia, which is the world’s biggest palm oil producer, introduced a forest clearing moratorium in 2011 to help reduce deforestation.
Hughes said the ban should be expanded beyond just land designated as natural, untouched primary forest to include all high biodiversity forests.
Hughes’ research methodology should be used to determine whether the same patterns exist in other parts of the world, said Christopher Martius, team leader for climate change at the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research.
“It is surprising that nobody ever did that before, and it is shocking that the result shows we grossly underestimated the possible threat to tropical forests from road building,” he said by email.