FaceOf: Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla, muezzin of the Grand Mosque in Makkah

FaceOf: Sheikh Ali  Ahmad Mulla, muezzin of the Grand Mosque in Makkah
Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla
Updated 13 June 2018

FaceOf: Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla, muezzin of the Grand Mosque in Makkah

FaceOf: Sheikh Ali  Ahmad Mulla, muezzin of the Grand Mosque in Makkah

JEDDAH: Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla has been muezzin (the caller for prayer) of the Grand Mosque in Makkah since 1975. 

He is considered one of the most famous muezzins at the Grand Mosque for the past 40 years and his voice is recognized by most guests that visit the mosque.

Mulla was born in June 1945 in Makkah, and grew up in a family where working as a muezzin is a family tradition. 

His maternal uncle, Hafeez Khoja, his paternal uncle, Abdul Rahman Mulla, and his grandfather, Ahmad Mulla, were all muezzins at the Grand Mosque of Makkah. 

He received Islamic education from a young age, and graduated in 1971 from the artistic education department at the Model Capital Institute in Riyadh. 

He later received his master’s degree in the same field. 

After his graduation, Mulla worked as a teacher at Abdullah ibn Al-Zubair Intermediate School. In 1974 he was officially appointed muezzin at the Grand Mosque. Since then, calling for prayer is his main career, in addition to working in his own business.

Mulla began practicing performing Adhan (prayer call) when he was 13 and practiced the call to prayer from the minaret of Bab Al-Zeyada in the Grand Mosque. 

He moved to the minaret at Bab Al-Mahkma and then became the muezzin for the entire mosque.

In 1979, during the Grand Mosque seizure, Mulla was a witness to the incident where the Adhan stopped in the mosque for 23 days. 

After the siege was lifted he was the first to raise the Adhan of Maghrib prayer (sunset prayer) in the Grand Mosque, and King Khalid attended the prayer.


Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds
Noha Raheem says when she was younger, she discovered the three famous Japanese written scripts — including Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana — and she was awestruck. (Supplied)
Updated 25 min 30 sec ago

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds
  • My enthusiasm for Kanji script started six years ago, says Saudi designer and calligrapher Noha Raheem

JEDDAH: Saudi artist, designer and calligrapher Noha Raheem ventured into the world of calligraphy in an unconventional way, fusing her interest in Kanji — the logographic Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system — with Arabic calligraphy.

The result has been a portfolio of unique and eye-catching works that capture the beauty of both worlds
“I’m fond of Arabic calligraphy and graphics in general. My enthusiasm for Kanji script started six years ago,” Raheem told Arab News.
“Any calligraphic font has its roles and system. When I was younger, I discovered the three famous Japanese written scripts — including Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana — and I was awestruck. The impressive vertical letters, the way they are formed and their meaningful symbols were like a secret code.”

FASTFACT

In Arabic calligraphy, writing proceeds from right to left and forms a horizontal line. Artists rarely confine themselves to convention, though.

In Arabic calligraphy, writing proceeds from right to left and forms a horizontal line. Artists rarely confine themselves to convention, though.
“For Kufic calligraphy and freestyle in Arabic, I was driven by passion. I was inspired by Hajji Noor Deen in my beginnings, and later on, I created Arabic calligraphy in the Kanji style to show the beauty and flexibility of this complex yet innovative mix,” Raheem said.


The self-taught calligrapher discovered the roles and philosophy behind the beauty of Kanji script. “It is said that the only rule for Japanese and Chinese calligraphy is that it is beautiful, no matter what is written. What matters is how it is written. That’s why I believe the Kanji style can be merged and fitted with our Arabic letters to create a masterpiece for both eye and mind,” she said.
She explained that Arabic letters are equally malleable. “They can be shaped in any way, and still keep their form and meaning. Today I wrote my letters in the Kanji style. Later, I might do it in Urdu just to show the world how flexible and beautiful Arabic letters are.”
Raheem’s artworks, including famous sayings and poetry in Arabic, are written freestyle — a tricky task.


She also writes Qur’anic verses in Kanji: “I love to write words that anyone can relate to, including poetry and short verses with iconic and universal messages. I can apply this art to any word, as long as it makes sense to me.”
Raheem is faithful to the cultures she draws inspiration from, using traditional Sumi ink and off-white, antique-style background colors with black script, or vice versa, to mirror the essence of the Japanese style.
She also uses Japanese calligraphy brushes, Xuan rice paper, and Kakejiku, a Japanese hanging scroll used to display and exhibit paintings and calligraphic inscriptions and designs.
Her love for and dedication to Japanese art drove her to share her knowledge and display her works at art cafes, galleries, and sushi restaurants in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
She encourages other Arab artists to explore the beauty and flexibility of the Arabic language and preserve it through art. Raheem can be found at her Instagram account @noha_raheem.


Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official

Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official
Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh held a meeting with UNESCO’s top official Stefania Giannini in Italy on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 21 min 44 sec ago

Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official

Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official
  • The UNESCO official said the Kingdom’s success in introducing distance learning in a short time has propelled it into a leadership role in this field

RIYADH: UNESCO’s assistant director general for education on Tuesday lauded Saudi Arabia for promptly switching over to online learning methods in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
During a meeting with Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh on the sidelines of the G20 education ministers’ meeting in Catania in Italy, Stefania Giannini said the Kingdom has achieved great success in e-learning and distance education during the pandemic.
She praised the swiftness of the Saudi authorities in switching over to online learning without compromising on the quality of education.
The UNESCO official said the Kingdom’s success in introducing distance learning in a short time has propelled it into a leadership role in this field. Giannini said the Madarasti online learning platform introduced by the Kingdom is among the top four global models.

FASTFACT

The Madarasti platform provides students with virtual classes, homework assignments, and delivery tools and is used in conjunction with the iEN YouTube channel and the iEN national education portal.

The fully interactive platform was developed as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down schools across the Kingdom. It is designed so that students can log in and attend their lessons digitally, interact with their teachers and track their progress.
It provides students with virtual classes, homework assignments, and delivery tools and is used in conjunction with the iEN YouTube channel and the iEN national education portal.
School leaders consistently monitor the educational process via Madrasati, prepare class schedules, communicate with absent students, and provide technical support for students and their parents.


Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks

Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks
Saudis will not be allowed to enter airports or board aircraft without showing their health status through the Tawakkalna app. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 43 min 37 sec ago

Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks

Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks
  • Countries are demanding travelers have travel insurance in order to lift the financial burden of medical bills in case of emergencies
  • ‘A traveler is exposed to losses such as quarantine and treatment costs of COVID-19, cancellation of a flight or shortening its duration or missing flights, or loss of luggage or delay of luggage. The policy includes coverage of emergency medical expenses

RIYADH: With summer vacations underway and more countries easing restrictions on international travelers, health risks from COVID-19 remain a source of concern.
Citizens are being encouraged to follow health precautions before departure to ensure a safe trip, while health insurance is also an entry requirement for some countries.
Pre-flight tests are required and more countries are demanding travelers to their countries have travel insurance in order to lift the financial burden of medical bills in case of emergencies. Others require visitors to buy healthcare policies from their destination’s government.
For travelers under 18, health insurance that covers COVID-19 infection is mandatory. The 12 accredited health insurance service providers are following the guidelines.
In a joint press conference with the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation last month, Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) spokesman Othman Al-Qasabi said that a new insurance policy in conjunction with the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) will include benefits that cover the risks of COVID-19 infection.
The policy is mandatory for those under 18 planning to travel.
Talal Albotty, regional director of the Central Region at Salama Insurance Co, told Arab News that the central bank initiative in collaboration with the CCHI aims to distribute risks and losses if these occur.
Comprehensive coverage is included for travelers on international flights against all risks related to travel outside Saudi Arabia, he said.
“A traveler is exposed to losses such as quarantine and treatment costs of COVID-19, cancellation of a flight or shortening its duration or missing flights, or loss of luggage or delay of luggage. The policy includes coverage of emergency medical expenses, personal accidents, or transportation of a deceased from or to Saudi Arabia and liability toward others as per the conditions and exceptions delineated in the unified insurance policy,” he said.
Albotty said the cost of an insurance policy does not exceed SR375 ($100) a month. However, if more services are added, these will be calculated proportionately as per the duration of the policy.
The policy is for people vaccinated against COVID-19 and is required for anyone under 18 traveling outside Saudi Arabia since they are not required to take a vaccine under global protocols, he said.
Husain Quhal, a senior executive with a leading insurance company, told Arab News: “The Saudi Central Bank has launched a campaign to educate people on the importance of travel insurance covering COVID-19 risks as well as reducing costs of traveling abroad.”
Feroz Khan, vice president of sales in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for Webbeds, a leading accommodation supplier to the travel industry, told Arab News: “Resumption of flights in May, opening of borders, and relaxation in travel and quarantine protocols have all resulted in positive travel sentiments.”
Webbeds is in touch with its partner company in the Kingdom and will make this travel insurance available for travel agents to book online shortly, he said.
Saudis travelers will not be allowed to enter airports or board aircraft without showing their health status through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna.
Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders.


Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts
Updated 22 June 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya has been appointed director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts.

Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts in line with the institute’s vision.

She is one of the top academics in the field of art and design, having worked as a faculty member at Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University.

She also worked as a consultant, and was a member of advisory committees at the university and other organizations.

Al-Yahya obtained a master’s degree in art education and a Ph.D. in educational technology, as well as a Ph.D. in educational policies and leadership at the University of Northern Colorado, US.

She has authored research papers in various fields and participated in several scientific conferences.

The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching traditional arts, training specialized national cadres, raising the level of public awareness, and preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts is one the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Ministry of Culture aims to develop the local cultural sector through education and knowledge. The institute will provide advanced educational programs to prepare young Saudis to help the Kingdom develop its cultural sector along modern lines.


Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST partner to create the world’s largest coral garden in the Red Sea

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST partner to create the world’s largest coral garden in the Red Sea
Updated 27 min 45 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST partner to create the world’s largest coral garden in the Red Sea

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST partner to create the world’s largest coral garden in the Red Sea
  • The Shusha Island Coral Park will become a global center to showcase innovations to protect and restore coral reefs
  • NEOM will use a technique incorporating Maritechture technology on the beach reefs first and then the coral gardens surrounding the island

JEDDAH: Officials in Saudi Arabia have announced a joint project to establish the largest coral garden in the world at NEOM, the futuristic mega-city being built in the Kingdom’s northwest.
NEOM and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) said that the project that will cover 100 hectares on Shusha Island on the shores of the Red Sea.
The Shusha Island Coral Park will become a global center to showcase innovations to protect and restore coral reefs and accelerate conservation solutions, helping to reduce the effects of climate change, a statement issued by Saudi Press Agency said.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2025, making NEOM a world leader in restoring and developing coral reefs.
“We work within an integrated system to preserve the environment and all its components, and we seek to preserve coral reefs, in particular, and marine life, in general. This is one of the environmental goals that we are working to achieve, and our cooperation with KAUST shows the important dimension of these efforts,” NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said.

He added that the agreement with KAUST also aims to advance technologies and joint experiences, work to enhance the scientific community’s understanding of the way coral reefs adapt to climate change, and search for innovative solutions to preserve coral reefs in the Red Sea.
KAUST President Tony Chan said that the university is pioneering research in the Red Sea, and the promising project with NEOM is one of the largest technology transfer deals in the KAUST’s history, using innovations originating from the university.
“We look forward to working alongside NEOM to improve our lives through science and technology,” Chan said.
Shusha Island is home to more than 300 species of coral and 1,000 species of fish, and the coral garden will provide a unique opportunity for research and development, attracting scientists, researchers and tourism lovers who are interested in the environment, he added.
NEOM will use a technique incorporating Maritechture technology — developed by scientists from the Red Sea Research Center and the Coastal and Marine Resources Laboratory at KAUST — on the beach reefs first and then the coral gardens surrounding the island.
The project will enable NEOM to be a new tourism icon and a futuristic destination with a global character, as Shusha island reflects NEOM’s bold ambition toward developing marine tourism based on innovation to protect and grow marine organisms in the Red Sea.
In February, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a luxury Red Sea resort project called the “Coral Bloom” development, which has been designed by world-renowned British architectural firm Foster + Partners.
It will be built on Shourayrah Island, the main island of the Red Sea Project off the Kingdom’s west coast.
On Monday, the Kingdom’s Red Sea Development Company signed a research agreement with KAUST that will see the two organizations cooperate in fields such as marine environment sustainability, food security and energy conservation.