Saudi official’s gesture brings smile on Yemeni child’s face

The winning bid was $10,000.
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Updated 21 May 2020

Saudi official’s gesture brings smile on Yemeni child’s face

  • Handmade ‘goggles’ made by refugee boy bought for $10,000 by MD of Kingdom’s project for landmine clearance in Yemen

MAKKAH: The story of a child in a refugee camp in Yemen who made a pair of spectacles from a metal coat hanger so that he could sell them to buy Eid clothes for his family caught the imagination not only of the Yemeni media but also international humanitarian groups.

When Yemeni photographer and filmmaker, Abdullah Al-Jaradi, heard about the youngster’s creativity, he took up the cause and arranged an online auction to raise as much money as possible. His efforts were widely embraced on social media by international charities.

The winning bid was placed by Ousama Al-Gosaibi, the managing director of the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance in Yemen (Masam).

“The proceeds from the spectacles, which amounts to 2.5 million Yemeni riyals ($10,000), will be allocated to buy clothes not only for the child that made the glasses, but for all the children in the refugee camp,” said Al-Gosaibi. “This comes as part of the Saudi humanitarian efforts in Yemen. “The whole idea began with a competition launched by a journalist on social media. He displayed the glasses and they went on sale for 2 million Yemeni riyals. This initiative aimed to promote the humanitarian efforts and support, meet the needs and lift the spirits of the Yemeni people as Eid approaches, particularly the children.”

A team at Masam, a project launched by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) in June 2018, researched the auction to ensure it was genuine and legal before making the winning bid, he explained.

Journalist Al-Jaradi suggested that representatives from MASAM should document the distribution of aid and clothing to the children and make sure the funds are correctly spent. Work on this is now underway.

Masam is a charitable project that forms part of the humanitarian efforts being made by the Kingdom to aid the Yemeni people and help them rebuild their lives free from the Houthis’ terrorism and oppression.

“The project comes within the framework of the humanitarian projects implemented by Saudi Arabia along with the relief projects in Yemen,” Al-Gosaibi said. He added that the aid provided through the auction is an extension of MASAM’s projects in Yemen, as part of the Kingdom’s role in providing assistance to the country in the form of humanitarian aid, food and relief services.

The situation in Yemen remains very difficult, according to Al-Gosaibi. After working there for almost two and a half years, he said he can see the misery in the eyes of refugees as a result of the actions of the Houthis, including the placing of landmines.

Masam has helped tens of thousands of refugees return to their villages on Yemen’s western coast after clearing the region of mines. Others, however, are still not able to return home.

“The number of refugees in Marib, which was the safest region in Yemen, reached 2 million people,” said Al-Gosaibi. “We helped clear landmines from some of its lands, on which the refugee camps were built. We also cleared villages, orchards and agricultural lands. This allowed tens of thousands of people to return to their homes.”

Italian language week celebrated in Saudi Arabia

Roberto Cantone, Italy’s ambassador to the Kingdom, inaugurated MUSICA, the photo exhibition by artist Michele Ardu, at Oud Square in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 25 October 2020

Italian language week celebrated in Saudi Arabia

  • Embassy invited illustrator Marianna Balducci to participate in a dialogue with Saudi artist and actress Sarah Taibah

RIYADH: The Italian Embassy is celebrating the 20th annual Week of the Italian Language with the aim of demonstrating the richness of the language.

The Italian language week, from Oct. 19-25, is a flagship initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to promote the use of the Italian language worldwide, in collaboration with the Swiss Embassy, where Italian is one of the official languages.
The theme for this year’s initiative is “Italian in words and images: Graffiti, illustrations and comics” and it aims to highlight the beauty and relevance of the Italian illustration and comics industry.
“Italy has a long tradition of artists using illustrations, graffiti and comics to express themselves, and it is such a great opportunity to be able to celebrate this heritage of beauty, innovation and creativity. This is what Italy stands for,” Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone said.
He added: “For this reason, I am very proud that despite the challenges and the distance due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have been able to host two brilliant and very talented Italian young artists, to showcase their artwork and have a fruitful and deep cultural exchange with their Saudi counterparts.”
The Italian Embassy invited illustrator and artist Marianna Balducci to participate in a dialogue with Saudi artist and actress Sarah Taibah, moderated by Talal Al-Zeid.
The webinar took place on Oct. 19 with the artists discussing their creative journey and sharing their experience about what it means to be an illustrator and to work in the creative industries.
The ambassador inaugurated the photo exhibition, MUSICA, by Italian artist Michele Ardu, in collaboration with the Diplomatic Quarter Authority on Oct. 21 at Oud Square. The exhibition will run until Dec. 1.
MUSICA includes eight original artworks located within the Diplomatic Quarter. Each artwork represents a song from the musical heritage of Italy and Saudi Arabia and Italian musical pieces — ranging from opera to classical and contemporary Italian music — the Barber of Seville by Rossini as well as a performance by Andrea Bocelli, and by two famous female Italian singers Mina and Mia Martini, as well as the Italian national anthem and the soundtrack of the film “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” by Ennio Morricone.
There are also two artworks representing the musical heritage of Saudi Arabia — the traditional Saudi sword dance “Ardha” and one of the many beautiful love songs by Mohammed Abdu (Kul Ma Nasnas).  

I am extremely glad that we have been able to collaborate with Michele Ardu and show his work for the first time in Saudi Arabia. He is an excellent example of the creativity and innovation of the Italian cultural scene.

Roberto Cantone, Italy’s ambassador

Using a conceptual approach to photography, the artist captures in each artwork the shape that sound waves create when they meet a linear stream of flowing smoke.
The exhibition challenges the audience to encounter music in a radical new way, by experiencing it through their eyes rather than through their ears.
“I am extremely glad that we have been able to collaborate with Michele Ardu and show his work for the first time in Saudi Arabia. He is extremely talented, and an excellent example of the creativity and innovation of the Italian cultural scene,” the envoy said.
“We have chosen to organize the MUSICA exhibition because of the interesting concept behind it and its relevance for today. By blurring the lines between music and photography, the exhibition reminds us that no matter the obstacles we face, we always have the opportunity to overcome our limits and succeed.
“Over the past few months, especially during lockdown, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all experienced what this means. Thanks to the courage and talent of artists like Michele, both in Italy and Saudi Arabia, despite all challenges, we have had the opportunity to rediscover the essential role that art and culture play in our lives and to reconnect us with our humanity. I am happy that we have this opportunity today to strengthen the cultural partnership between our two countries,” Cantone said.