Museum telling Jeddah’s historic story to open in 2022

Museum telling Jeddah’s historic story to open in 2022
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The building, designed in typical Jeddah style, bears white walls made of a heady mix of coral stones extracted from the nearby reef along the Red Sea shores, and purified clay from nearby lakes. (Photo/Supplied)
Museum telling Jeddah’s historic story to open in 2022
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Saudi artist Dia Aziz Dia. (Supplied photo)
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Updated 21 September 2020

Museum telling Jeddah’s historic story to open in 2022

Museum telling Jeddah’s historic story to open in 2022
  • Red Sea Museum in the Bab Al-Bunt building will house rare collections, manuscripts, pictures and books

JEDDAH: Jeddah’s rich and colorful past is riddled with events that can take a lifetime to tell, and which will soon be on display for all to see.

Situated on the western shores of the Kingdom, the city is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, languages and ethnicities. Jeddah, “The Pearl of the Red Sea,” will soon have a museum in the heart of its historic district that will showcase the city’s story.
The Ministry of Culture (MoC) has announced that the Red Sea Museum in the Bab Al-Bunt building will open to visitors at the end of 2022. The building’s location was historically known as Bab Al-Bunt port, connecting the residents of the Red Sea coast to the world, and a key gateway for pilgrims, merchants and tourists to the city.
The port also served as the departure point for Kingdom’s founding father, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, when he sailed to Egypt to meet King Farouk 74 years ago.

The building, designed in typical Jeddah style, bears white walls made of a heady mix of coral stones extracted from the nearby reef along the Red Sea shores, and purified clay from nearby lakes used to cement them, with the walls dotted with the unique intricate woodwork balconies and windows known as “rowshan,” historically known to have been influenced by the Levant.
It is believed that the building was also named after one of Jeddah’s old gateways, dating back over 200 years.
The MoC announced that the museum will house rare collections, manuscripts, pictures and books that tell the story of the building and city. It is seeking to celebrate the cultural value that the Red Sea coast represents, and the experiences of its residents, shedding light on stories of seafaring, trade, pilgrimage, diversity and other cultural elements that have shaped Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.

Saudi artist Dia Aziz Dia, one of the Kingdom’s pioneers of the arts told Arab News that Jeddah’s unique place in history was a story that could be told in many ways, but that showcasing it in a museum would be the right approach.

“Our placement and history must be placed in a museum because if it’s not placed now and studied properly to show to the world who we are, then all of our heritage could be lost in time,” Dia said.
He added that it is no easy task to reach international museum standards, as many of the items, paintings and artifacts will need special attention with highly skilled workers to ensure optimal preservation and display, fitting for a museum that will accommodate not only locals, but visitors from across the world.
The museum will house more than 100 creative artworks, hold about four temporary annual exhibitions, and offer educational programs for all age groups.

It will tell stories of woven cultures and traditions handed down throughout time — of east meeting west, openness, and centuries of progress.
“Whatever will be on display in the museum will show the history of the city and its special location in the world, because Jeddah is a gateway for all (pilgrims) arriving to head to Makkah and Madinah for Hajj (and Umrah),” said Dia. “At the same time, those who stayed in Jeddah throughout history, the mixing and diversity that resulted from that gives Jeddah its broad culture because the people are not from one category or one nationality, such as in other cities in the Kingdom.
The Red Sea Museum is part of the Quality of Life Vision Realization Program of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. It also comes under the umbrella of the Specialized Museums Initiative, part of the first package of the MoC’s range of initiatives.

 


Hajj 2021: Revealing the history behind famous Islamic names

Dr. Abdullah Al-Malki, translation coordinator at Hadiya Charity Association and former dean of the College of Languages and Translation at Abha’s King Khalid University, speaks to Arab News during an interview. (AN photo)
Dr. Abdullah Al-Malki, translation coordinator at Hadiya Charity Association and former dean of the College of Languages and Translation at Abha’s King Khalid University, speaks to Arab News during an interview. (AN photo)
Updated 22 July 2021

Hajj 2021: Revealing the history behind famous Islamic names

Dr. Abdullah Al-Malki, translation coordinator at Hadiya Charity Association and former dean of the College of Languages and Translation at Abha’s King Khalid University, speaks to Arab News during an interview. (AN photo)
  • New exhibition details history of Mina and Arafat for educating pilgrims and Saudis
  • For the history of “Arafat,” Al-Malki said this place earned its name because Adam and Eve knew each other in Arafat. “In Arabic, the word ‘araf’ means ‘knew’ in English”

MINA: For many, the origin of Islamic names is a mystery. The history behind the names of towns — such as Mina and Arafat — has escaped many Arabs. To fix this, the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites has launched a new exhibition to enrich Muslims’ knowledge about various locations of Islam’s birthplace.  

The “Between Thabeer and Al-Sabeh” exhibition was opened on Tuesday and welcomed hundreds of pilgrims hoping to learn more about the places that have long been associated with their religious rituals.

For its project, the commission has worked closely with the Hadiya Charity Association (Hadiya). Its translation coordinator and former dean of the college of languages and translation at Abha’s King Khalid University, Dr. Abdullah Al-Malki, told Arab News that the name “Mina” came from the Arabic term “Al-Muna,” plural of “Omniah,” which means “wish.”

“When the Angel Gabriel wanted to leave Adam, he asked to make a wish (Omniah). Adam wished for Paradise. The place was then called Mina, plural of Omniah. There are other narratives which have different claimed explanations for the meaning,” Al-Malki said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The name ‘Mina’ came from the Arabic term ‘Al-Muna,’ plural of ‘Omniah,’ which means ‘wish.’ When the Angel Gabriel wanted to leave Adam, he asked to make a wish (Omniah). Adam wished for Paradise. The place was then called Mina.

• The exhibition also presents the story of the Prophet Abraham with the devil, who tried to trick the prophet into disobeying Allah’s order to kill his son Ishmael.

Al-Malki added that visitors can also learn about the 70 prophets who have passed the valley of Mina. “Mina is a valley alongside of which there are two mountains, Thabeer and Al-Sabeh, and it is believed that some 70 prophets have passed through this place, wearing white woolen garments.”

The exhibition also presents the story of the Prophet Abraham with the devil, who tried to trick the prophet into disobeying Allah’s order to kill his son Ishmael. “The heavenly order was just to test Prophet Abraham’s faith.”

Al-Malki said that the exhibition teaches its visitors how the Quranic surah of Al-Mursalat was revealed in a cave in Mina.

For the history of “Arafat,” Al-Malki said this place earned its name because Adam and Eve knew each other in Arafat. “In Arabic, the word ‘araf’ means ‘knew’ in English.”

He added that it is important that pilgrims and ordinary people learn about the history of these places because they are central to Arab civilization.

Al-Malki pointed out that the exhibition, which is being held for the first time, includes 10 sections where visitors can learn more about Al-Masha’er and what services the Saudi kings have offered to contribute to the development of key historical Islamic sites.

“The care and unlimited spending of the leaders of this county — beginning from the late King Abdul Aziz and his sons, to the era of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — have made these places a source of pride for us all through the giant projects that have been implemented here,” he said.

He added that their efforts have also made the mountains and valleys secure and safe places.

“All the historical information about Mina — its water wells, mosques, and mountains — can all be discovered here under one ceiling,” he said, adding: “We are also broadcasting digital materials and pictures with detailed information about the landmarks of the holy sites to enrich the pilgrims’ experience.”

A similar exhibition called “Alsakhrat” was also opened in Arafat to provide pilgrims with historical information about the site. However, the two exhibitions were combined into one in Mina, where the pilgrims are present during the Days of Al-Tashreeq, on which they carry out their “stoning of the Devil” rite.

Pilgrims can also scan an iQR code to visit the exhibition’s multi-language website to read more about the holy places.


Italy to ban mammoth cruise ships from Venice as of Aug. 1

Italy to ban mammoth cruise ships from Venice as of Aug. 1
Updated 14 July 2021

Italy to ban mammoth cruise ships from Venice as of Aug. 1

Italy to ban mammoth cruise ships from Venice as of Aug. 1
  • Culture Minister said the ban was urgently adopted at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday and will take effect Aug. 1
  • Government acted fast “to avoid the concrete risk” the UNESCO lists Venice to “world heritage in danger”

ROME: Declaring Venice’s waterways a “national monument,” Italy is banning mammoth cruise liners from sailing into the lagoon city, which risked being declared an imperiled world heritage site by the United Nations within days.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the ban was urgently adopted at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday and will take effect Aug. 1. It applies to the lagoon basin near St. Mark’s Square and the Giudecca Canal, which is a major marine artery in Venice.
Franceschini said the government decided to act fast “to avoid the concrete risk” that the UN culture agency UNESCO would add Venice to its list of “world heritage in danger” after it meets later this week in Beijing.
The Cabinet decree also “establishes an unbreakable principle, by declaring the urban waterways of St. Mark’s Basin, St. Mark’s Canal and the Giudecca Canal a national monument,” the minister added.
Before the coronavirus pandemic severely curtailed international travel, cruise ships discharging thousands of day-trippers overwhelmed Venice and its delicate marine environment. Environmentalists and cultural heritage have battled for decades with business interests, since the cruise industry is a major source of revenue for the city.
UNESCO recommended last month placing Venice on the agency’s list of World Heritage in Danger sites.
The Italian government previously decided to ban the ships but without establishing so soon a date. But on Tuesday, the government “decided to impose a strong acceleration” to implementing the move given the looming UNESCO review, Franceschini said in a statement.
The ban applies to ships weighing more than 25,000 tons or longer than 180 meters (530 feet) or with other characteristics that would make them too polluting or overwhelming for Venice’s environment.
The Cabinet decree also establishes compensation mechanisms for navigation companies and others affected by the ban. Until a more suitable docking area can be established elsewhere in waters outside the heart of Venice, the government has approved creating at least four temporary docking sites near the industrial port of Marghera, located on the northwestern Adriatic Sea.


Foreign yacht owners receiving entry licenses in 30 minutes to cross into Saudi waters

The service was provided to all foreign tourist yacht owners outside Saudi Arabia, shipping agents and tourist agents. (SPA file photo)
The service was provided to all foreign tourist yacht owners outside Saudi Arabia, shipping agents and tourist agents. (SPA file photo)
Updated 12 July 2021

Foreign yacht owners receiving entry licenses in 30 minutes to cross into Saudi waters

The service was provided to all foreign tourist yacht owners outside Saudi Arabia, shipping agents and tourist agents. (SPA file photo)
  • License requests were made through the toll-free number 1980 from inside Saudi Arabia and through 009661980 from abroad

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s military and civil servants are working 24 hours a day at Jeddah’s Red Sea Operations Center to provide tourist yachts with entry licenses in half an hour.
The multi-agency center assists foreign yacht owners, and their local agents, in Arabic and English to receive licenses to cross into Saudi waters in support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to reinforce tourism through facilitating entry to the country for marine activity purposes.
The center is run by the Saudi Border Guards alongside government bodies such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism, the General Directorate of Passports, the Transport General Authority, the Saudi Ports Authority, and the Public Investment Fund.

“Launching this center comes in implementation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s directives to set up a department for marine activities to reinforce tourism and support achieving the Saudi Vision 2030,” center manager Commander Hasan Al-Asmari told Arab News.

Keeping physical distance, military and civil servants work jointly at the center to provide entry licenses to tourist yachts. (AN photo)

“Any request should include the yacht’s registration, its classification, and its marine radio certification. A list of the names of the onboard staff, safety and insurance certificates are also necessary for applying for a license. In 30 minutes, we reply to the request via email with the license approved.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Red Sea Operations Center is run by the Saudi Border Guards alongside government bodies such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism, the General Directorate of Passports, the Transport General Authority, the Saudi Ports Authority, and the Public Investment Fund.

• License requests were made through the toll-free number 1980 from inside the Kingdom and through 009661980 from abroad. They were also sent by email.

• Since the center was launched, almost 30 licenses had been issued for foreign yachts to enter the Kingdom and sail in its waters.

License requests were made through the toll-free number 1980 from inside the Kingdom and through 009661980 from abroad. They were also sent by email at [email protected]

Commander Hasan Ali Al-Asmari speaking to Arab News. (AN photo)

The service was provided to all foreign tourist yacht owners outside the Kingdom, shipping agents and tourist agents, he said.
He said Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif had ordered the establishment of the center.

Cap. Engineer Omar Al-Abidi reviewing a license request. (AN photo)

“In full cooperation and coordination with representatives from different entities, we issue licenses for visiting islands and beaches, as well as permits for practicing various water activities.”
He added that, since the center was launched, almost 30 licenses had been issued for foreign yachts to enter the Kingdom and sail in its waters. The center has also received more than 83 sailing-related requests for these yachts.


Virgin Galactic spaceship carrying Branson touches down

Virgin Galactic spaceship carrying Branson touches down
Updated 11 July 2021

Virgin Galactic spaceship carrying Branson touches down

Virgin Galactic spaceship carrying Branson touches down
  • Touch down occurred around 09:40 am Mountain Time (1540 GMT), about an hour after take-off
  • "Congratulations to all our wonderful team at Virgin Galactic for 17 years of hard hard work to get us this far," Branson said

SPACEPORT AMERICA, United States: A Virgin Galactic spaceship carrying Richard Branson touched down Sunday after a voyage the British billionaire called an "experience of a lifetime."
"Congratulations to all our wonderful team at Virgin Galactic for 17 years of hard hard work to get us this far," he said during a live feed as the VSS Unity spaceship glided back to Spaceport America in New Mexico.
It reached a peak altitude of around 53 miles (85 kilometers), beyond the boundary of space according to the United States, allowing the passengers to experience weightlessness and admire the Earth's curvature.
Touch down occurred around 09:40 am Mountain Time (1540 GMT), about an hour after take-off.


Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species

Climate change is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. (Shutterstock)
Climate change is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species

Climate change is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. (Shutterstock)
  • Red Sea shores are safe nesting sites for endangered turtles due to health of reefs and protection Kingdom provides them

JEDDAH: As the number of certain species of sea turtles declines, NEOM and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have taken it upon themselves to ensure their preservation and protection.

The Red Sea is home to five out of seven of the different sea turtle species, including the endangered green turtle and hawksbill turtle, which is critically so. NEOM, though, has become a recognized safe haven for them.
Carlos Duarte, KAUST’s distinguished marine bioscientist, explained that the turtles are endangered due to being hunted excessively for their distinctive shells.
“Their carapaces are popular historically in Europe and are still being hunted and then sold on the black market today,” said Duarte. “Their shells are used to make hair combs, bracelets, sunglasses and other materials. Some just buy the shells as decorative pieces.”
Duarte added that the collection of turtle eggs is not as prevalent as it used to be, but still occurs and impacts population numbers.

The Red Sea’s coral reefs are well maintained and in very good health, so hawksbill turtles can find good feeding grounds. (Shutterstock)

Turtles face other threats from humans, too. “Since sea turtles are reptiles, they will come to the surface of the water to breathe and the fast metal propellers from boats could puncture their shells, and at times, even their lungs, since they’re placed right underneath their carapaces,” Lyndsey Tanabe, a doctoral student at KAUST working on the nesting ecology and conservation of sea turtles in the Red Sea, explained.
“Often the turtles get entangled in plastic under the water, meaning they can drown if they don’t free themselves in time to reach the surface to breathe.”
According to Tanabe, the most common way turtles drown is by getting entangled in ghost nets thrown by fishermen with the intention of trapping fish; the nets are usually discarded and left in the water. The turtles also tend to mistake pieces of plastic for jellyfish, which they feed on.
Duarte shared with Arab News how the Red Sea shores are safe nesting sites for endangered turtles, due to the health of the reefs and the protection the Kingdom provides them.
“Fortunately, the Red Sea’s coral reefs are well maintained and in very good health, so the hawksbill turtles can find good feeding grounds. It is illegal in the Kingdom to hunt them and they are well taken care of and protected here,” Duarte said.

The Red Sea’s coral reefs are well maintained and in very good health, so hawksbill turtles can find good feeding grounds. (Shutterstock)

He listed the different dependable nesting sites for the turtles along the Kingdom’s coast, and mentioned that the best area is what is now under NEOM’s stewardship, which is located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.
In NEOM, various programs and projects are being implemented with the intention of protecting endangered species and conserving the environment.
NEOM is committed to protecting species in all four categories of endangerment — least concerned, vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered — such as the sooty falcon, the humpback dolphin or the whale shark.
However, there is a considerably higher focus on the critically endangered species such as the hammerhead shark and the hawksbill sea turtle.
The director of the marine conservation environment department in NEOM, Dr. Ameer Eweida, stated that NEOM’s shores and coast are perfect nesting and feeding sites for sea turtles, due to the region being the highest latitude in the world with a tropical marine climate. This makes its coral reefs and seagrass an ideal source of nutrients for the turtles.

FASTFACTS

• The Red Sea is home to 5 out of 7 of the different sea turtle species, including the endangered hawksbill and green turtles.

• The collection of turtle eggs is not as prevalent as it used to be, but still occurs and impacts population numbers.

• Often the turtles get entangled in plastic, meaning they can drown if they don’t reach the surface to breathe.

“What makes NEOM such a unique place for sea turtles is its offshore islands,” said Eweida. “They are easily accessible to these turtles and are safe environments for them to nest in. We found significant numbers of nests on all the islands — I’d say potentially about 60-70 percent of the turtles in the Red Sea have nested in NEOM’s islands.”
He also stated that the type of sand on the beaches of NEOM and its islands is excellent for nesting.
In addition to the natural environment in NEOM being perfect, there are strict guidelines NEOM’s beach visitors must follow in order to not disturb the sea turtles or harm their homes.
Eweida added that they developed buffers around the turtles’ nesting sites so as to protect them from construction.
Both NEOM and KAUST are running projects to help better understand the behaviors of sea turtles and work out how else they can be protected, and what they need to be protected from.


In KAUST, Duarte, collaborating with the Red Sea Development Co. and NEOM, ran a project which tagged and tracked turtles in the Red Sea to understand their use of the coastal habitat as well as the size, frequency and distribution of the animals.
Sea turtles’ existence is vital for the basic function of the marine ecosystem. “Sea turtles are what we call keystone species,” said Eweida, “which means they are critical for the functioning of a system because they influence other species around them and are responsible for their balance. Naturally, when a keystone species is removed from a system, that balance and order falls apart, harming all other species.”
Tanabe added that Hawksbill turtles eat mostly sponges, “and sponges try to take up more space than coral reefs, damaging them. So by removing these sponges, the hawksbill turtles are keeping the coral reefs habitable and healthy for other marine species.”
Duarte said that without sea turtles, there would be an overgrowth in the jellyfish population, highlighting the important roles of green sea turtles in an ecosystem. “Since they feed on seagrass, without them there would be an excess amount of seagrass which will affect the oxygen level, which will of course lead to a high mortality rate. It’s a chain reaction. That’s why we have to protect them.”
Although sea turtles off the west coast of the Kingdom are well protected, it is important to note that they are still threatened by other natural elements that organizations such NEOM or KAUST cannot shield them from.
Sea turtles, like many other species, tend to travel and migrate to other oceans, seas and beaches where hunting is still prevalent.
Climate change, meanwhile, is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. Temperatures in seas can determine turtles’ gender, which in turn can decrease the population of one gender if the temperature is at an extreme level.
The NEOM and KAUST experts said that individuals can make small changes that could have a “tremendously positive” impact on the lives of sea turtles. Some of these changes are as simple as reducing the use of plastic, not littering on the beaches or in the water — specifically nylon fishing lines, which can get wrapped around turtles’ flippers and dig into their bones — and keeping eyes open for nesting sites on beaches to avoid disturbing them.