Indonesia welcomes Saudi promotion of moderate Islam: Consul general

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Indonesian Consul General Dr. Mohamad Hery Saripudin, center, is honored with a plaque by Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas, left, and Arab News Western Region head Mohammed Al-Sulami at the Arab News annual iftar in Jeddah on Sunday. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 13 May 2019

Indonesia welcomes Saudi promotion of moderate Islam: Consul general

  • Green card residency program a step in right direction, says Mohamad Saripudin

JEDDAH: Indonesian Consul General Dr. Mohamad Hery Saripudin said his country welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s call for the promotion of moderate Islam.
Speaking as a guest of honor at the Arab News annual iftar at Assila Hotel in Jeddah on Sunday, Saripudin said the crown prince’s vision of moderate Islam aligns well with Indonesia’s concept of Islam Wasatiyyah.
“We believe in Islam Wasatiyyah — the middle way of Islam — in implementing moderation in the practice of the Islamic faith, and as a response to check the spread of extremism,” Saripudin said, adding that Indonesians have a special attachment to Saudi Arabia.
“Indonesia sends the largest number of Muslims on Hajj. This year 231,000 Indonesians will perform Hajj, and in terms of Umrah pilgrims, last year we were second only to Pakistan, with Indonesia sending approximately 1.2 million Umrah pilgrims,” he said.
“That translates to roughly 100,000 Indonesians visiting Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah every month, and this is over and above the 221,000 pilgrims who performed Hajj last year,” he added. “Hajj and Umrah certainly have played important roles in building relations between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.”
The important element of a good relationship are these people-to-people ties, Saripudin said. “The Indonesian pilgrims play an important role in strengthening ties. Our pilgrims spend almost 70 days on average interacting with the local Saudi population, and this helps bring our two peoples together,” he added.

Indonesian Consul General Dr. Mohamad Hery Saripudin speaks at the Arab News annual iftar party in Jeddah on Sunday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“The Indonesians ensure that they take souvenirs from Saudi Arabia, which they then distribute to their families, relatives and acquaintances back home. This binds them all with Saudi Arabia. Both the spiritual and the tangible connections strengthen relations.”
He said ties between the two countries are rooted in history. “Long before the historic visit of King Salman to Jakarta in March 2017, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries of the world to recognize the independence of Indonesia,” Saripudin added.
“We welcome the clearance by the Shoura Council of the green card (residency) system. We’ve had many, many queries from our businesspeople and Indonesian expatriates about the new incentives being offered by Saudi Arabia, which will improve the business climate. The new green card system is a very significant step in the right direction,” he said.
The huge numbers of Indonesian citizens and people of Indonesian descent in the Kingdom have adapted well to Saudi culture, and have thus become a powerful bridge in strengthening bilateral relations, he added.
“We invite Arab News to help us trace the footprints of the Saudi-Indonesian diaspora in both countries,” Saripudin said, praising the newspaper’s role in bringing different communities and countries together.
“I make it a point to read Arab News every morning before starting my day. If I don’t read it, it’s like having soup without salt. Arab News helps my sanity,” he added.
“It’s an honor to be here at the Arab News iftar as a guest of honor. The media is an essential part in promoting good ties between our two countries, and it has the ability to highlight the good and the bad in both.”
Arab News has been “very supportive of us (Indonesians), and has played a positive role in promoting good Saudi-Indonesian ties,” Saripudin said.
He thanked the newspaper’s Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas, and promised greater cooperation with Arab News.
He highlighted the familiarization trips that the Indonesian government sponsors in order to familiarize Saudi journalists with Indonesia.
Speaking at the event, Abbas said: “Our iftar comes at a very important time for the Kingdom, when his royal highness the crown prince has announced that we want to go back to moderate Islam. This is important not just for Saudi Arabia but for the entire Muslim world.”
There is no better example of tolerant Islam than Indonesia, the editor in chief added. Introducing Saripudin, Abbas said: “Indonesia was selected as the guest of honor at the 2019 Janadriyah cultural festival, so it’s with great pleasure that I introduce to you our guest speaker for tonight’s iftar.”
Abbas said Arab News was founded 44 years ago. “We’ve recently gone through a transformation to make it more digital and more global,” he added.
“We’re also proud of our initiative to hire more Saudis and more women, and we’re proud that women now form 35 percent of our global workforce.”
Despite all these changes, “we were, and always will be, an international Arab newspaper based in Saudi Arabia,” Abbas said.
This means “we’re equally privileged to have some of the best Saudi, Arab and international talent working with us,” he added.
Abbas and Arab News Western Region head Mohammed Al-Sulami presented to Saripudin a plaque that has the newspaper’s first edition — dated April 20, 1975 — embossed in metal.
Earlier, Deputy Editor in Chief Tarek Mishkhas delivered welcoming remarks, followed by a video presentation of the newspaper’s latest achievements.
Arab News staffer Aisha Fareed was honored by Abbas, who announced her promotion to be head of the Jeddah local desk.
A number of diplomats, dignitaries and journalists attended the iftar.

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.


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,