Roman shipwreck pieces to be displayed in Riyadh museum

Updated 18 April 2016
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Roman shipwreck pieces to be displayed in Riyadh museum

ABHA: A joint team of Saudi and German archaeologists has found the remains of a Roman shipwreck along the Red Sea coast.
In addition to it, the remains of another ship dating back to the early Islamic period have also been discovered in the area between Rabigh in the north and Al-Shoaibah in the south.
The items have been delivered to the National Museum in Riyadh for public display, said the discoverers at a seminar.
German archaeologist Michaela Reinfeld said many underwater remains are waiting to be discovered.
She said it was part of her team’s job in the Kingdom to train Saudis in the field of underwater archaeology.
Reinfeld added that the Saudi coast is rich in these wrecks and their presence has prompted the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage to step up efforts to discover the treasures with the assistance of international experts.
Mahdi Al-Qarni, head of the Saudi team, said the successive civilizations on the Arabian Peninsula were major contributors to underwater relics in the Red Sea which has been a trade route since ancient times. He said the Saudi and German team had earmarked 50 locations for more exploration.

He stressed that the discovery of underwater archaeological finds requires specialized expertise, especially as the Red Sea waters contain a good deal of waste and other pieces that are not of archaeological interest.
Al-Qarni added, “The underwater cultural heritage is part of our identity and national history, and protecting it is the responsibility of all of us.”
Al-Qarni praised the German team’s efforts in providing expertise through intensive training, and pointed to the success of the Saudi team in getting diving licenses. This promises to produce specialized archaeologists, and will contribute to the discovery of submerged relics by trained national cadres in the near future. There is a growing interest in underwater archaeology all over the world with a number of universities and scientific institutions involved in the search.
He said that the monuments system, museums and architectural heritage sites are devoted to discovering underwater relics. In addition he highlighted the cooperation between relevant government agencies to preserve the underwater cultural heritage and encourage the immediate reporting of new discoveries.
Reinfeld pointed out that the protection of sunken/underwater monuments depends on several elements, including spreading awareness of the importance of the sunken relics/discoveries by qualified archaeologists, and by adopting scientific procedures that teach how to explore and protect the discoveries as well as the museum’s role in preserving and presenting the items as well as educating the public about them.
There is also a need for laboratories dedicated to the study of archaeological finds under the sea and the way to deal with them scientifically. In this context, she mentioned the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.


Called to the barre: Saudi ballet gets its groove on

Ballet’s popularity is growing among different age groups. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 18 min 26 sec ago
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Called to the barre: Saudi ballet gets its groove on

  • Widad Al-Kibsi, a Saudi ballet instructor at the studio, said that people in Jeddah were now familiar with ballet
  • A 13-year-old student at the studio, Oroub Al-Shareef, said that she began ballet when she was 4 years old

JEDDAH: Ballet, one of the world’s most demanding art forms, is enjoying soaring popularity in Saudi Arabia as a new generation discovers its physical, mental and social benefits, and a Jeddah-based studio is at the forefront of the dance’s development in the Kingdom.
Sera McKnass, founder of iBallerina, said that the studio is shaping future ballerinas to be effective members of society.
“The goal is not only to pass on the art of ballet but also to raise up participants into healthy, classy and confident, caring individuals,” the 30-year-old Turkish-Lebanese master teacher said.
Ballet’s popularity is growing among different age groups.
“Mothers sign up their daughters to be trained as ballerinas, but now young adults have dreams of learning how to pirouette, chasse and jete,” McKnass told Arab News. “They come to iBallerina to start the journey and transform their souls and bodies, becoming stronger and more graceful women.”
Widad Al-Kibsi, a Saudi ballet instructor at the studio, said that people in Jeddah were now familiar with ballet. “It's now in most of the main gyms, and private or international schools in the city.”
The 20-year-old advises aspiring ballerinas to start at a young age. “It’s important to start early because improved strength and flexibility are easily acquired at a younger age.”
Ballet offers myriad physical benefits, she said. “It improves muscle tone and definition, elongates arms, and aligns the posture properly.”
Al-Kibsi said that while many Saudis saw ballet as an activity for children, “not a lot of them are aware that adults can also perform. They assume that you should be thin or flexible from the get-go. They don’t understand that with dedication and discipline, ballet strengthens and increases flexibility.”
Dana Garii, a 23-year-old Saudi writer, has been practicing ballet at the studio since February.
“I’ve been wanting to do it since I was young, but I couldn’t find the opportunity. When I found they have classes here, I just went for it. People asked me, ‘aren’t you too old?’ But that’s a myth. People think you can’t do ballet after a certain age, but you can start any time,” she told Arab News.
“Ballet is important to me. It’s more than just the physical aspects — it has taught me how to be modest, and that nothing hard ever comes easy.
“It has also taught me patience and how to take on difficult situations because it’s not only difficult physically but also psychologically. It has taught me how to overcome my fears,” Garii said.
A 13-year-old student at the studio, Oroub Al-Shareef, said that she began ballet when she was 4 years old.
“There was a TV show for kids about the mouse that did ballet (‘Angelina Ballerina’) and it inspired me. I’ve always wanted to be a ballerina,” she said.
“Ballet is very important to me. Dance is one of the ways I express myself and I feel at one with myself when I’m practicing.
“It’s a very hard thing to do, but it brings me so much joy.”
Saudi graphic designer Sara Al-Sabaan, 22, has also been practicing ballet since she was a young child.
“I started dancing in a ballet school in Guadalajara, in Mexico. Then I continued at the Kinetico dance school in Riyadh,” she said.
Al-Sabaan’s mother inspired her to take up the art form. “I’m following in her footsteps. She was a ballet dancer herself.”
The young dancer has watched ballet’s growth in popularity. “Dance classes were available when I was a child, but they have been most popular in the past decade.”
Practicing ballet is a form of self-expression, she said.
“I have danced modern, contemporary and classical ballet, and it affects me immensely. Not only is it a great physical activity, it’s also an outlet for self-expression through movement.”