Naming babies under scrutiny

Updated 13 March 2015
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Naming babies under scrutiny

The names of newborns in Saudi Arabia has changed greatly in recent years due to increased cultural openness and the spread of knowledge within society. Unusual or rare names have been reduced due to the work of authorities across the Kingdom who have enacted regulations to curb exotic or strange names.
The most circulated names in the Kingdom include Mohammad, Fahd, Abdullah, Abdulrahman, Turki, Bandar, Omar, Ali, Fatima, Aisha, Nora, Hessa, Sheikha, and Maha.
Parents are no longer calling their children a variety of odd names, including Rashash (a gun machine), Zaqam (to do with the mouth) and Najar for boys, as well as Faziah (one who is afraid) and Mureibah (fearful) for girls.
Nowadays parents can find dictionaries for names in most bookshops and libraries in order to help them choose good names that suit their preferences.
Reports suggest that some men become angry, hoping for a boy, after their wives give birth to girls. In such cases, they usually choose a distasteful name for their girls. However, such instances have declined due to increased awareness regarding the issue in the society.
Bodies like the social status department help people with odd names to change them.
According to the department, the majority of those who want to change their names are young males and females.
To help people with odd names to avoid humiliation, lists of names have been published, highlighting names which under no circumstances should be used.
Dr. Iman Al Saied, professor at the King Saud University, believes that humans are closely linked to their names.
“Name of a person is an integrated part of his or her psychological context. Some names may induce laughing, provoke sarcasm and mockery, or may simply be repulsive or ugly, which might inflict harm on the person, leading him to lose self-confidence.
“In such cases, the person becomes depressed and prefers to be left alone. Such feelings distances him or her from family members and friends,” she said.
“It is in the lawful rights of a Muslim person to be named a good, worthy name.”
Muhammad Al-Jasser, spokesman at the Civil Status Department, said there are controls and regulations in place when choosing a name for the newborn.
“We urge citizens to give names that are compatible with Islamic law to their newborns,” he said, adding that the department always issues directions in this regard.


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

Updated 26 June 2019
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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.