Saudi Arabia launches exhibition at UNESCO in Paris

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Featuring 39 works by 19 artists, the Saudi exhibition in Paris takes visitors on an exciting journey through time, showcasing the history of the Kingdom through its culture and heritage. (SPA)
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Featuring 39 works by 19 artists, the Saudi exhibition in Paris takes visitors on an exciting journey through time, showcasing the history of the Kingdom through its culture and heritage. (SPA)
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Featuring 39 works by 19 artists, the Saudi exhibition in Paris takes visitors on an exciting journey through time, showcasing the history of the Kingdom through its culture and heritage. (SPA)
Updated 21 November 2019

Saudi Arabia launches exhibition at UNESCO in Paris

  • Prince Badr bin Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's minister of culture, inaugurated the event on Tuesday
  • The exhibition aims to promote international cultural exchanges, the preservation and sharing of Saudi heritage

PARIS: An exhibition of Saudi art and culture has officially opened at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. Prince Badr bin Abdullah, minister of culture and chairman of the National Commission for Education, Science and Culture, inaugurated the event on Tuesday.

The exhibition aims to promote international cultural exchanges, the preservation and sharing of Saudi heritage and the development of the cultural environment.

The opening of the Saudi showcase coincided with the Forum of Ministers of Culture, which was hosted by UNESCO on Tuesday. The Kingdom was only participating nation to organize an event to accompany the forum, during which the key role of culture in public policy around the world was discussed, along with its effect on sustainable development.

The Saudi exhibition features 39 works by 19 artists, including contemporary works, bronze sculptures, photographs, a detailed presentation about Saudi heritage, poetry sessions, live music and culinary arts.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture, the Royal Commission for AlUla and Misk Art Institute, it takes visitors on an exciting journey through time, showcasing the history of the Kingdom through its culture and heritage, while the Misk Art Institute provides a round-up of the current Saudi arts and culture scene.

The event reflects the Kingdom’s cultural and educational initiatives in line with the principles of UNESCO. It is also designed to raise the awareness of the Kingdom’s rich cultural history and its creativity.

Also present at the launch of the exhibition were Prince Abdullah bin Khalid, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Austria; Noura Al-Kaabi, the Emirati minister of culture and knowledge development; and Park Yang-woo, the Korean minister of culture, sports and Tourism. They were joined by Saudi and French officials and senior figures from the fields of archaeology, arts, culture and nature.

During UNESCO’s 40th General Conference this month, Prince Badr said that “culture and arts are at the heart of the national transformation through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to build a vibrant society, a prosperous economy and an ambitious nation.

“Culture is essential to human development and to building bridges of agreement among societies that pave the way for a stronger world, where all peoples are interlinked despite their differences.”


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.