How young Arabs are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through art

How young Arabs are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through art
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Amal Al-Ajmi’s painting shows a woman wearing niqab and a man covering his face with a mask adding the caption ‘it is the niqabi men era.’ (Photos/Supplied)
How young Arabs are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through art
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How young Arabs are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through art
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Updated 14 April 2020

How young Arabs are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through art

How young Arabs are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through art
  • Even the simplest acts of love, compassion and solidarity have taken new forms

JEDDAH: Everything is changing as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rages on. Humanity is facing the biggest global crisis of this generation, where the impossible has already happened and things have suddenly overturned.

The current crisis has imposed radical changes on the way people practice daily life. Even the simplest acts of love, compassion and solidarity have taken new forms that are completely strange from what humans used to consider normal, whereas the greatest act of love is to stay away from your loved ones. 




Saudi artist Lina Amer used her art to express sentiments of Muslims across the world who are unable to visit mosques due to COVID-19. She showed mosques’ prayer rugs printed on a human heart depicting Muslims’ longing for mosques and prayer gatherings. Instagram link


Consequently, art and music production has also been affected. Arab artists are using their talents in different ways to enhance community connections, spread awareness, express appreciation and document history.
Saudi artist Lina Amer has used her art to document the effect of COVID-19 on the religious practices of millions of people around the world.
Saudi Arabia closed mosques for the customary five daily prayers as well as Friday congregations in March, many other countries took similar measures. Amer pictured mosques’ prayer carpets printed on the human heart with the caption “Pray at home, March 2020.”
Across Muslim countries, the call for prayer has partly changed, muezzins had to replace the penultimate part of the adhan — “Hayya Alasalah” (come to the prayer), with “pray where you are,” or “pray at home.”
Interpretations of sacred texts can change too in the time of the pandemic. Concept artist Yasmin (@yasmintoon) used a verse from the Qur’an that tells the story of the two sons of Adam, Able and Cain, to refer to the danger of handshaking as a greeting norm during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The verse reads: “If you will stretch forth your hand towards me to slay me, I am not one to stretch forth my hand towards you to slay you surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds,” (5:28)
While Asma Khamis (@a0sma.k), Omani painter and graphic designer, chose to send more than one message in her work where she substituted a sanitizer for an engagement ring.

I hope that artists play a positive role in this difficult period because it is unfortunately very stressful and uncertain.

Amal Al-Ajmi

“First, I wanted to express how brides feel, whose weddings were postponed or canceled because of the crisis,” Khamis told Arab News, adding: “It is intended to console those women by reminding them that sacrificing their special day indicates a high sense of responsibility towards the health of the community.”




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Khamis also wanted to say that sanitizers have become more important than jewelry because they help to preserve health. There is no more valuable gift than sanitizer because they are rarely available in the market.
Regardless of the obvious downside of this crisis, artists like Khamis see that it has given them two important things: “It has given us the time and a new problem, which is a new space for work and inspiration.”




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Other artists used their work to express their appreciation to health workers, like Bahraini artist and art director Sayed Al-Majed (@almajed.art).
Al-Majed pictured a medical staff member raising their hand with the victory sign using the line drawing technique, which he said “indicates interdependence, coalescence and unity between humankind, and the line ends with the heart symbol which indicates life, love, giving as well as gratitude to health workers.”
The circle represents Earth with its population under one roof.
Al-Majed said: “I believe that artists have an ethical and societal responsibility to devote their art in facing this crisis by spreading awareness and extending thanks and appreciation to the defenders of all humanity at this stage of our lives: Health workers.”

Sanitizers have become more important than jewelry because they help to preserve health.

Asma Khamis

Amal Al-Ajmi (@al.up2sky) from Kuwait agrees with Al-Majed that artists should use their art to spread awareness but she added that art has to be an antidote to the growing sense of alienation, isolation and anxiety.




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“I hope that artists play a positive role in this difficult period because it is unfortunately very stressful and uncertain,” Al-Ajmi told Arab News. Al-Ajmi decided to use art as to declare an ironic statement, by drawing a Khaliji woman wearing niqab and a man covering his face with a mask adding the caption “it is the niqabi men era.”

Her work comes after a tweet by a Saudi influencer who wanted to promote niqab as obligatory for Muslim women said: “People are racing to buy masks to protect them from corona, while Islam discovered the treatment a 1400 years ago when it ordered the wearing of Niqab to as a protection against viruses.” The tweet went viral and was deleted days later after it received a lot of criticism.




Amal Al-Ajmi’s painting shows a woman wearing niqab and a man covering his face with a mask adding the caption ‘it is the niqabi men era.’ (Photos/Supplied) Instagram link


Michelangelo’s legendary painting “The Creation of Adam” will always find its place in every trend and will forever inspire artists and internet meme creators. Ibrahim Al-Baker (@ibxrm) reconceptualized the painting by adorning one hand with henna as it reaches from behind the door to the hand of her lover who holds a sanitizer.
Al-Baker used a sentence from a popular Khaliji song and reworded it saying, “I stand at your door bewildered and sanitized.”




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Similarly, collagist Razan Al-Naas (@razangryffindor) from Libya used the same hands from Michelangelo’s painting to place them under a huge sanitizer bottle, to resemble how suddenly sanitizers gained an existential meaning and an intrinsic value.

Artists have an ethical and societal responsibility to devote their art in facing this crisis by spreading awareness.

Sayed Al-Majed

In the same sense, designer Anas Al-Absi (@anas.alabsi.design) has placed the sanitizer in what Michelangelo depicted as God’s hand outstretched to Adam.




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In another piece, Al-Nass explained how quarantine measures are not new for people living in war zones, “In Tripoli, you can’t spell quarantine without war.”




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On the social impact of the pandemic, Moroccan artist Ichraq Bouzidi pictured how distancing has impacted society’s hospitable social habits, especially the Atay or Moroccan mint teatime, which is central to social life.
Bouzidi pictures two Moroccan neighbors continuing their teatime tradition though the windows, socializing while maintaining social distancing. One woman appears to pour traditional mint tea from her window to her neighbor’s cup reached out from the other window and the caption reads, “Confinement Story: So close no matter how far.”
The piece also reflects another important phenomenon that appeared during the crisis, which is the revival of the use of windows and balconies in different societies around the world.

The bustling life of the world before COVID-19 stripped windows and balconies of their value. But now, windows are no longer facing busy streets, they have recovered their value, with balconies becoming quiet and peaceful places. More importantly, they are a window of interaction with others in their neighborhood.




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Changes caused by the crisis will continue to appear to us day by day. Daily routines, patterns of social interaction, art, music and many other aspects of life after COVID-19 are never going to be the same again.


Saudi HR ministry launches tough measures for unvaccinated workers

A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi HR ministry launches tough measures for unvaccinated workers

A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
  • Authorities instruct all institutions to require proof of immunity against COVID-19 from employees

JEDDAH: Unvaccinated employees within the Saudi public, private, and nonprofit sectors will have their leave days deducted until they receive a COVID-19 jab, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has warned.

The ministry issued a statement on Sunday clarifying procedures to deal with unvaccinated employees following the Ministry of Interior’s instruction for institutions to limit entry to vaccinated people after Aug 1.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Saudi Arabia has increased ahead of the deadline, with about 350,000 doses being administered per day, with a total vaccination rate of about 78 doses per 100 people in the Kingdom.
As a result, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development instructed all institutions in the Kingdom to require proof of immunity against COVID-19 from employees and workers, as approved by the Ministry of Health on the Tawakkalna mobile app.
The gradual plan to deal with unvaccinated employees begins with directing them to work remotely, according to the work need. In case remote work is not beneficial for the institution by Aug. 9, the employee will be granted leave deducted from their official leave balance.

HIGHLIGHT

The gradual plan to deal with unvaccinated employees begins with directing them to work remotely, according to the work need. In case remote work is not beneficial for the institution by Aug. 9, the employee will be granted leave deducted from their official leave balance.

As for the public sector, employees will consume their eligible leave days according to their legally approved conditions and requirements. However, if those requirements are not met or the employee has exhausted their leave balance, then absence days must be deducted from the balance of regular leaves or will be considered as an unpaid excused absence.
In the private and nonprofit sectors, employers will allow unvaccinated employees to go on official leave that will be calculated from their annual leave.
In case the annual leave balance is exhausted, employees will be granted unpaid leave, and their work contract will be considered suspended during the period once it exceeds 20 days, unless the two parties agree otherwise.
In case of disagreement with a worker, the employer shall deal with the consequences according to the procedures approved by law. The employee must be informed about decisions issued in this regard.
However, the ministry said that the new regulations do not apply to people who are excluded from taking the vaccine according to the Tawakkalna app.


Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry
Updated 02 August 2021

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry
  • Primary, kindergarten pupils will return to classrooms once 70% of population has been double-jabbed or October 30

JEDDAH: Only students who have been fully jabbed against COVID-19 can go back to school once the academic year begins on Aug. 29, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education said on Sunday.
High school and middle school students who have completed their vaccination program in Saudi Arabia are set to return to the classroom by the end of the month.
Elementary and preschool students will be exempt from returning until 70 percent herd immunity has been achieved through double dosage.
Saudi Arabia has so far administered more than 27.2 million vaccine doses and 8.25 million people have received both shots, making up 23.7 percent of the country’s 34.8 million population.
The ministry said appointments would be provided for staff and eligible students to get vaccinated in time for the start of the school year.
At Sunday’s press conference, Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged pregnant women to get jabbed. He reaffirmed the vaccines’ safety and efficacy and said a large number of unvaccinated pregnant women around the world had been hospitalized with COVID-19.

FASTFACT

The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 526,814.

He also called on doctors to do their part in communicating the importance of COVID-19 vaccines to pregnant women. “You aren’t just protecting one life, you’re protecting two,” he added.
Exemptions, including cases of medically proven hypersensitivity to the vaccines or one of their components, are determined through reports issued by the ministry.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Husain said that more than 1 million commercial establishments had followed health precautions to only admit immune customers on the first day that all residents in the Kingdom were required to have had at least one dose or have recovered from COVID-19 in order to enter commercial, government, private and public establishments.
On Sunday there were 1,084 new cases recorded in the Kingdom, bringing the total to 526,814.
There were 1,285 new recoveries, taking this total to 507,374, while 12 new deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 8,249. More than 25.12 million PCR tests have been conducted so far.


Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart
Updated 58 min 31 sec ago

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Chief of the General Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili received Chief of Staff of Bahrain Defense Force Lt. Gen. Dhiyab bin Saqr Al-Nuaimi, and his accompanying delegation, at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh on Sunday.

During the meeting, they exchanged military views and discussed issues of common interest, stressing the strength of relations and ways to achieve the shared goals of the armed forces of the two countries.

Saudi Deputy Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azima, who is also the acting commander of the joint forces, then accompanied Al-Nuaimi on a visit to the Joint Forces Command and briefed him on the progress of the operations led by the Arab coalition forces to support legitimacy in Yemen.

They also discussed ways to support and enhance these to ensure regional security and stability.

Maj. Gen. Turki bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, commander of the Royal Saudi Air Forces, also received Al-Nuaimi in the Air Force Command. During the meeting, they discussed many issues of common interest.

 

 

 


Who’s Who: Abdullah Saud Al-Hammad, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing 

Who’s Who: Abdullah Saud Al-Hammad, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing 
Updated 02 August 2021

Who’s Who: Abdullah Saud Al-Hammad, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing 

Who’s Who: Abdullah Saud Al-Hammad, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing 

Abdullah Saud Al-Hammad has been the deputy minister for land and survey at the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing since June 2021.

He has been a board member of the Real Estate General Authority, the Saudi Authority for Accredited Valuers and the Off-Plan Sales and Rent Committee (Wafi) since November 2020. He has also been a supervisor of the Idle Lands Program since September 2019.

Prior to that, Al-Hammad was assistant to the deputy minister for land at the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing from September 2019 to June 2021.

He served in several positions at the ministry, working as assistant to the deputy minister for technical affairs from December 2018 to September 2019 and as director of the project management office from January 2018 to December 2018.

From January 2017 to January 2018, Al-Hammad was program manager at the ministry, serving as director of the Eastern Province projects and Alkhobar housing project and as an architectural engineer.

Al-Hammad is passionate about architecture, which is his specialty, and is currently a member of the advisory board of the department of architecture and building sciences at the College of Architecture and Planning at King Saud University.

His areas of interest include digital transformation, and he contributed to transforming the customer experience for one of the products of the Sakani Program into an integrated electronic journey that reduces the process from six months to five minutes. He aspires to transfer the experience to the municipal sector.

Al-Hammad received a bachelor’s degree in architecture and building science from King Saud University in August 2010 and completed the executive leadership development program from Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning in November 2020.


Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company signs contract KACST to provide satellite data

The images will carry the coordinates of its geographical location. (SPA)
The images will carry the coordinates of its geographical location. (SPA)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company signs contract KACST to provide satellite data

The images will carry the coordinates of its geographical location. (SPA)
  • The data is collected using satellites to monitor the progress of the Red Sea project
  • It will enable the company to know how the project is progressing and the impact it may have on the environment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company signed a contract with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) to provide high-resolution data for key locations at the company’s headquarters.
The data is collected using satellites to monitor the progress of the Red Sea project, which covers an area of ​​28,000 square kilometers, and to track developments in real estate assets more effectively.
The CEO of the Red Sea Development Company, John Pagano, said that this technical work will enable the company to monitor any unexpected effects in the development of real estate assets on the surrounding environment, and work immediately to find alternative solutions.
Pagano said the Red Sea Project’s stakeholders and its affiliates can obtain reliable and detailed images on a monthly basis, adding it was important to understand how the actual development processes affect the natural destination environments.
He also said that this partnership will enable the company to monitor the main assets, both natural and real estate, closely during the construction phase, which will support efforts to lead renewable tourism worldwide.

Pagano added that KACST, through the National Consortium on Remote Sensing in Transportation (NCRST), will capture monthly high-resolution data for the Red Sea project, using the GeoEye-1, WorldView, and Pleiades satellites.
This will allow the images to be color-balanced as they are on the ground, and each will carry the coordinates of its geographical location. The images will be integrated with the company’s Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems and will be available to its employees from the planning, engineering, and environment departments.
The company’s GIS department will periodically compare the data provided by KACST with the latest versions of the master plans and detailed designs of the project to monitor changes and avoid any environmental damage.
The images will be used to determine the best methods and locations to perform construction and development activities. It will also be an important part of the project’s monthly progress reports.
Dr. Talal Alsedairy, the supervisor of the Space and Aeronautics Center at KACST, said that NCRST will support the company by providing them with high-resolution images of the project area that will enable them to have a more comprehensive perspective on how the project is progressing and the impact it may have on the surrounding environment.