Efforts to secure visas for king’s Haj guests stepped up

Updated 16 September 2015
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Efforts to secure visas for king’s Haj guests stepped up

RIYADH: The designated body responsible for attending and serving the 1,400 special guests of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for Haj this year has intensified its efforts to issue visas for them as quickly as possible.
According to Abdullah Al-Medlej, head of the program’s general secretary, his office is in constant contact with Saudi embassies abroad to issue visas for this year’s guests from 70 different countries.
He said there are other parties besides the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance who implement the program.
Other government agencies in Saudi Arabia offer services to overcome difficulties faced by the secretariat including the Foreign Ministry, represented by Saudi embassies in these particular states.
“We are in constant contact with them as partners to inform these guest, provide services to them and sort out visa issue,” the official said, adding there is great cooperation to overcome difficulties to help in completing their travel procedures at airports.
These embassies themselves select the guests who meet the terms and conditions, in accordance with the number determined for each state based on the proportion of Muslims in that country, the size of the state, its importance and the need for hosting them.


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

Updated 8 min 13 sec ago
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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.