Happy days in Madinah with Quba’s Entertainment Boulevard

Updated 16 January 2018

Happy days in Madinah with Quba’s Entertainment Boulevard

MADINAH: The Madinah Development Authority, in cooperation with the Culture and Arts Society, organized the activities of Quba’s Entertainment Boulevard that began last Thursday and witnessed heavy attendance by visitors, Madinah residents and Umrah performers.
The visitors also saw various events of the customs of the people of Madinah, which included the children’s procession in traditional Madinah dress, in addition to other activities.

Quba’s Entertainment Boulevard included corners for photography, calligraphy and visual arts, and a productive family corner.

Ali Jaber Al-Qahtani told Arab News that he came from the city of Khamis Mushayt to visit Madinah. “I heard about the activities of Quba’s Entertainment Boulevard so I came here and saw the various shows. I liked the activities that represent the originality of Madinah,” he said.

Abdel Karim Abdel Rahman from Sudan told Arab News that the events are wonderful, especially the open theater. “I am so pleased to see the various events from the corner of fine arts and practicing drawing and graphic art in front of the public. Quba’s boulevard location is distinguished as it is very close to the Prophet’s Mosque,” he said.

In the calligraphy corner, Youssef Bakhsh practices his hobby of writing calligraphy and the names of the visitors for free. He writes their names using his wooden pen. Bakhsh told Arab News that he has been practicing calligraphy for five years and that the public loves Arabic calligraphy.

“My corner is considered one of the busiest and most popular by the public. I write their names and phrases they request. I write using the kasbah, which is considered one of the best tools in writing calligraphy. I also can do handwriting in three types of Arabic script: Diwaniya, Reqaah, and Naskh.”

Visual artist Ghofran Al-Ansari told Arab News that she is practicing visual drawing in front of the public on Quba’s Entertainment Boulevard. “The turnout is big; I did not expect this attendance.”

Tariq Abbas also talked about his role as mayor of the neighborhood around Quba Boulevard.

“Despite the cold weather, the turnout is big. The public is asking about the different social images and the most important social events are the groom’s wedding procession and the delivery of the dowry to the bride. The most prominent social images are the educational sessions or the katatib.”


Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province feels very American, says US consul general

US Consul General Rachna Korhonen finds the diwaniya and majlis culture of the Eastern Province fascinating. (Supplied)
Updated 25 February 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province feels very American, says US consul general

  • Saudi hospitality wins the heart of diplomat who considers Kingdom one of her favorite destinations

DAMMAM: The US consul general in Dhahran, Rachna Korhonen, lists the Kingdom as one of her favorite places and is in love with the local culture and traditions.

Working in the Kingdom since 2017, she has been impressed by the tremendous changes taking place in Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030.
Arab News caught up with Korhonen to discuss all things American and Saudi.
“As US Ambassador Abizaid has said, the US-Saudi partnership is more vital than ever, particularly as we confront regional security challenges and work hand-in-hand to achieve shared economic and political objectives.”
This relationship is strong and multifaceted, she said, adding: “We work together every day to promote prosperity and economic development, protect the security of our two countries, and build the people-to-people ties that keep our relationship strong.”
She said that a posting to Saudi Arabia was her first choice for an assignment.
“I did not know at the time that I would be the first woman to serve as the US consul general in Dhahran. I really wanted to learn about energy! I was pretty nervous and somewhat scared, but also excited and enthusiastic. I spent three years in Riyadh and some time in Kuwait and Iraq so I had a pretty good understanding of the region.”
Korhonen speaks highly of the Saudi hospitality and the way people welcomed her.
“I came (to the Kingdom) just before Eid Al-Adha. It is a tradition that the consul general makes Eid calls to visit prominent families. I was lucky enough to meet people from the very first moment I arrived. I have always made an effort to get to meet people at different occasions. Saudis have welcomed me into their homes, shared meals and traditions with me. I really have the best job in the best place at the best time,” she told Arab News.

Saudis have welcomed me into their homes, shared meals and traditions with me.

Rachna Korhonen, US consul general

Korhonen said she finds the diwaniya and majlis culture of the Eastern Province fascinating.
“I enjoy meeting new people and learning about what is happening in the Eastern Province. Diwaniyas are a great place to do that. I also love gahwa (Arabic coffee) and dates,” she said.
Korhonen said the Eastern Province feels very American to her. She thinks this is partly due to the close relationship enjoyed by the countries since the 1930s, which began with Aramco and also because thousands of Saudis from the Eastern Province have studied in the US.
Commenting on the social transformation in the Kingdom under Vision 2030, she said: “I still remember very well the first game I attended in Saudi Arabia. It was a very hot and humid day in August, but I wanted to be in attendance to show support for the Eastern Province teams. There was a big crowd and the energy in the stadium was amazing. At that game, I was the only woman in the family section. Now, it completely feels normal to see entire Saudi families in the stands. I could be anywhere in the world at a sporting event. It’s such a huge change.”
She told Arab News that “there have been no recent changes” in the US visa process, adding: “We have visa appointments most weeks from Sunday to Thursday. We encourage everyone interested in going to the US this summer to start thinking about applying now, since we expect demand will grow as we approach the summer season.
“We continue to look for ways to reduce the amount of time a person spends in our waiting room, the wait for visa appointments (especially for students), and the time it takes for someone to get their passport back with the visa.”
She said her favorite initiative that brings Saudis and Americans together is the International Leadership Program.
“The consulate also works with local Saudi partners to bring American athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, artists and other experts to the Eastern Province to exchange ideas and explore ways to collaborate. Our EducationUSA office helps Saudi students who are interested in studying in the US learn about US universities, the admission process and how to prepare for their educational experience,” the consul general said.