Princess Astrid lauds interfaith initiative of King Abdullah

Updated 20 May 2014

Princess Astrid lauds interfaith initiative of King Abdullah

Princess Astrid of Belgium has lauded the efforts of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in promoting dialogue between religions and civilizations.
“We hold the initiatives taken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to promote dialogue between religions and civilizations in high esteem,” she said during a special reception hosted by the Belgian Embassy on Sunday night.
The princess also noted the growing relations between her country and Saudi Arabia in the fields of small and medium-sized enterprises, technology transfer, trade and investment.
“We equally value the king’s efforts in developing the country’s human potential in different fields, including social advancement and employment for women,” she said.
Saudi investment in Belgium is on the rise, she said.
“The economic mission, which was headed by my father, King Albert, and my brother, King Philip, had been welcomed here with great warmth and generosity in the past,” said the princess. “Many Belgian companies are already present in the Saudi market and are happy to be operating here.”
“I personally have retained fond memories of your rich culture and history,” she said. “To our business community, Saudi Arabia has become a trusted partner in many fields and projects.”
“It is also a privilege to be able to enjoy this dinner at the elegant residence of our ambassador to the Kingdom, which blends Belgian architecture with local architecture and traditions. This marks the perfect starting point of our economic mission to Saudi Arabia,” she said.
“This is not my first visit to Saudi Arabia. I had previously been afforded the opportunity to meet many Saudis from all walks of life,” she said. “This time, I am here in a different capacity as the head of the economic mission and I am very happy to be back.”
The delegation consists of some 170 companies and 350 business representatives who have registered to be part of the mission.
“Our delegation will move on to other cities in coming days, such as Jubail and Jeddah,” she said. “I was asked by King Philip to represent him during this mission and to be leader of this mission comprising a large group of representatives of Belgian companies, about 50 of whom are businesswomen.”
“Our big corporations were well represented, but we have also growing interest from our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the Saudi market,” she said. She said the delegation represents a wide variety of sectors, ranging from energy to environment, logistics and health care to sport infrastructure, banking and services.


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 20 February 2020

Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

  • “There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” says Abdullah Al-Joghiman

DHAHRAN: Saudi portrait photographer Abdullah Al-Joghiman has a message for everybody: You are beautiful just the way you are.

If you don’t believe him, let him take your picture.

“Even if you’re not photogenic, or think you look bad in pictures, I can always turn your frown upside down,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is a full-time financial analyst for the Saudi Electricity Co., but allows plenty of time for his work as a freelance portrait and event photographer on the side.

“I started off doing landscape photography, but I love portrait photography more. Landscape photographers have to travel a lot, and I wasn’t able to commit to that lifestyle for many reasons. But since I was a child I’ve always loved taking pictures of people. There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” he told Arab News.

The 34-year-old was born in Al-Hofuf and now lives in Dammam, but his passion for photography has taken him all over the Kingdom and to other areas of the world.

Al-Joghiman at the 2018 Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. (Supplied)

Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

“It was amazing, I met people from around 20 countries who came to take part,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Completely self-taught, Al-Joghiman caught the photography bug at college and has been training himself ever since. “I’ve been dabbling in photography since high school, but I started taking it more seriously in college. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2012 or 2013,” he said.

Al-Joghiman started off humbly, with a camera-centric smartphone, but has since expanded his collection significantly, and now shoots with a variety of high-tech cameras from Sony. Now he is attracting interest from both local and international sponsors, especially in the gaming and cosplay areas.

“Cosplayers are kind of difficult to shoot because they can be perfectionists, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they see the final pictures. That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is happy that social restrictions on photography in Saudi Arabia are easing, allowing him to find more opportunities to do the work he loves.

“It’s difficult to take pictures of people here, especially strangers, but I can’t really blame them, considering that they are not really used to that in our culture. But things are changing and it’s much easier to be a photographer in Saudi Arabia now,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdullah Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

He is grateful for the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revive the Kingdom’s art scene, and has long hoped that photography will become more regulated in the country.

“The market for photography and videography really needs to be regulated. It’s hard enough putting a price on one’s work without scoping out the competition and finding that someone else is charging thousands for just a headshot when I’m doing shoots for two or three hundred,” he said.

“I love my work, and I’d love to be able to do it for free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat,” he said.

Al-Joghiman doesn’t want to limit anyone else’s opportunities but simply wants the playing field evened out a little.

“As a photographer, I just want a fair chance for everyone. More importantly, a client should know exactly what they are paying for,” he said.

His advice to young Saudis looking to become photographers is this: “If you pursue photography, don’t worry. Just do what you love, and if people tell you that they don’t look good in pictures, convince them by taking a picture of them.”

AlJoghiman’s work can be found on Instagram and Twitter (@finalecco), and on his website, https://www.eccofantasyph.com