‘The more people interact with each other, the better it is,’ Adam Savage tells Ithra crowd

Adam Savage: I think for a young creator, it’s really important to move towards the things that you find challenging. (Shutterstock)
Updated 15 October 2018

‘The more people interact with each other, the better it is,’ Adam Savage tells Ithra crowd

  • American writer Mark Twain was famous for saying: ‘Travel is toxic to bigotry,’ and I totally agree. I relish the opportunity to go far and wide and come to a place I don’t know: Savage
  • I have made so many deep friendships in places I did not expect, and that happens for all people attending, said Savage

DHAHRAN: Adam Savage, MythBusters’ host and special effects master, was a guest speaker at Tanween on Friday, and his talk on telling stories through objects and the obsession required to tell these stories inspired an audience of all ages.

As a child, Savage said he struggled to communicate with his peers and sought refuge in inanimate objects and costumes, designing and recreating things he loved as a form of storytelling — the child in almost every adult present could relate to that.

While taking the audience down his creative memory lane, Savage presented some of his memorable projects, such as creating NASA spacesuits from scratch; the most lasting impression was his venture to make a model of The Overlook Hotel’s maze in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

After innumerable hours of obsessive research, Savage managed to complete the maze: one so exquisite it replaced the one on display as part of Stanley Kubrick’s traveling exhibition.

“It turns out that all I’ve ever been doing is telling stories — it is one of the single pleasures of my life,” he concluded, eliciting massive applause.

Speaking to Arab News before the talk, Savage explored the idea of visiting a country like Saudi Arabia. “A few years ago I was able to do a series of performances in Abu Dhabi, and it was my first time to the Middle East. As an American, the Middle East is not a place that I’d normally travel: it’s not part of an American’s idea of where you should go. And yet, I find the whole region incredibly fascinating, and to come here and visit a culture that I’m unfamiliar with, and meet such lovely people: it widens the eyes. American writer Mark Twain was famous for saying: ‘Travel is toxic to bigotry,’ and I totally agree. I relish the opportunity to go far and wide and come to a place I don’t know.”

The creative guru also spoke about the importance of events like Tanween. “I think these events signify bringing people together from different places to hear each other. I go to a lot of conferences, and my favorite thing about them is listening to other viewpoints and opinions and ideas, but another part of it is meeting the people there.

“I have made so many deep friendships in places I did not expect, and that happens for all people attending. There are these collisions and the more people interact with each other, I think the better it is, in general, for all people,” he added.

Savage’s most recent work with 12-16 year-olds for the new show “MythBusters Jr.” is “the most creatively satisfying thing” he’s ever done.

He said his creativity stems from his exploration of everything that is challenging, and that was the advice he had for Saudi youth. “I think for a young creator, it’s really important to move towards the things that you find challenging, to listen to opinions you don’t understand, to unpack the things that confuse you and confound you. Staying comfortable - it’s not good for you.”

He appreciated how deeply invested Saudi Arabia is in arts, and described some of the artwork coming out of the region as “exciting, challenging and complicated.”

His stay in the Kingdom was a short-lived 26 hours, but he confessed to wanting to visit again and explore the country. 


Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

Awareness campaigns highlight the importance of trees. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 February 2020

Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

  • The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year through destruction and tree logging.
Trees help stop desertification because they are a stabilizer of soil. In the Arabian Peninsula, land threatened by desertification ranges from 70 to 90 percent. A national afforestation campaign was launched in Saudi Arabia last October, and there is a national plan set to run until this April.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said that although natural vegetation across the country had suffered in the past four decades, modern technologies such as satellites and drones could be used to track down individuals or businesses harming the Kingdom’s vegetation.
“Harsh penalties should be imposed on violators such as the seizure or confiscation of transport and hefty fines,” Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sugair, chairman of the Environmental Green Horizons Society, told Arab News.
These were long-term solutions and they needed coordination with authorities to ensure warehouses and markets did not stock logs or firewood, he said. Another solution was sourcing an alternative product from overseas that was of high quality and at a reasonable price. A third was to provide support to firewood and coal suppliers.
“The general public needs to be more aware of the importance of trees and should have a strong sense of responsibility toward these trees,” Al-Sugair added.
“They should also stop buying firewood in the market. We can also encourage investment in wood production through agricultural holdings as well as implement huge afforestation projects and irrigate them from treated sewage water.”
The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000. These fines could not be implemented as they should be because there were no available staff to monitor and catch violators and, to make matters worse said Al-Sugair, there was a weak level of coordination between authorities.
Most of the Kingdom’s regions have suffered in some way from tree felling, and some places no longer have trees. These violations are rampant in the south and Madinah regions, as well as in Hail and Al-Nafud Desert.
Riyadh is the most active and the largest market for firewood. Many people in Al-Qassim use firewood as do restaurants in some parts of Saudi Arabia.
Omar Al-Nefaee, a microbiology professor at the Ministry of Education in Taif, said the reason behind the widescale destruction of the environment could be attributed to a supply shortage of imported firewood.
“Tree logging causes an environmental disequilibrium,” he told Arab News. “The Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water has launched an initiative raising public awareness on the issue and is asking people not to use local firewood. Several awareness campaigns have been launched for the same purpose to educate people about the importance of using imported wood instead of the local wood in order to protect the Kingdom’s vegetation.”
Official reports warn that the Kingdom has lost 80 percent of its vegetation and that the drop will have a detrimental effect on its biodiversity, as well as causing great damage to the environment.
The general public should use other heating options during the winter and stop using firewood, Al-Nefaee said.
Some local studies have called for farms that can produce wood from plants that do not consume too much water and do not affect vegetation, while at the same time reducing the pressure on other regions in the Kingdom that are rich in animal resources.
Falih Aljuhani, who runs a business that imports wood from Georgia, encouraged Saudi firms to import wood from the Balkans because it was a competitive market and the trees had low carbon percentages.