‘Back to School’ skills festival hailed a success in Saudi Arabia

The activities were designed to build children’s educational and scientific capacities and develop their physical and mental skills in a fun and entertaining way. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 05 September 2019

‘Back to School’ skills festival hailed a success in Saudi Arabia

  • The festival tested children through various games and challenges

JEDDAH: A Saudi festival aimed at boosting children’s educational and scientific skills in readiness for the new school year, has been hailed a success.
Organizers of the “Back to School” event held at the Red Sea Mall, a leading shopping and entertainment destination in Jeddah, said this year’s edition had offered a record amount of activities and seen increased retailer participation.
The fun and entertainment activities, staged in the mall’s fountain area and designed to appeal to children’s imaginations and dreams, included four sections, namely scientific experiments, physical activities, manual skills and discoveries.  
Shops supported the festival, which ran from Aug. 15 to 31, by offering prizes, gifts, and rewards. Every participating child was given a free meal, while their mothers received a complimentary massage and facial skincare session from a specialized outlet.
Red Sea Mall General Manager Al-Rayan Gaddouri said: “We were pleased to host the “Back to School” event. We believe in empowering children and promoting their skills for competition, discovery, and initiative-taking.
“The activities were designed to build children’s educational and scientific capacities and develop their physical and mental skills in a fun and entertaining way, helping them look forward to a new school year.”

FASTFACT

6m - More than 6 million public school students around the Kingdom went back to school on Sunday for the start of the academic year’s first term.

147m - The Education Ministry printed and distributed 147 million textbooks before the start of the term.

Omar Al-Maghazwi, Red Sea Mall marketing officer, thanked the retailers that took part in the festival and said: “Our common goal is to keep our shoppers and visitors entertained and develop children’s mental and physical abilities through modern scientific techniques and educational methods.”
The festival tested children through various games and challenges. The science section quizzed youngsters on chemistry and physics, while physical activities included fun and mental challenges featuring math and geometry.
Training workshops in the manual skills section invited children to use their imagination to make soap and candles and use salt, flour, water, wood, and other materials to create shapes and colors.
The discovery section introduced children to the world of plants, insects, and human anatomy, and provided health and medical information on dental care and the discovery of space through the use of astronomical tools.


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 38 min 50 sec ago

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