Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy

Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy
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Several Saudi cities are offering sessions for both men and women, allowing participants to reconnect with the heritage of Arabic calligraphy. (Photos/Supplied)
Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy
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Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy
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Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy
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Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy
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Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy
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Updated 21 December 2020

Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy

Year 2020 sees the revival and growth of Arabic calligraphy
  • Artists stress importance of learning the art form to boost pride in Arab culture

MAKKAH: With the Kingdom’s declaration of 2020 as the Year of Arabic Calligraphy, the art form is seeing a revival.

Several Saudi cities are offering sessions for both men and women, allowing participants to reconnect with the heritage of Arabic calligraphy, which continues to gain popularity among art enthusiasts. Other platforms to receive and support ideas and submissions have also been launched.

Arabic calligraphy:
Ancient craft,
modern art
For the Saudi Ministry of Culture's Year of Arabic Calligraphy in 2020/21, we take an in-depth look at how the craft has developed from ancient to modern times.

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When asked about the reason why many women are currently interested in reviving Arabic calligraphy, calligrapher Reem Al-Qahtani told Arab News: “It is due to their love for beauty.”
Aesthetics, however, were not the sole motivation. Those who take up calligraphy soon learn that it is “characterized by order, balance and proportions” and that it requires patience to execute.

It is a priority for us, the people of the Two Holy Mosques, to preserve this great heritage.

Reem Al-Qahtani

Interaction between men and women has increased during the Year of Arabic Calligraphy initiative, Al-Qahtani said, especially due to the diverse activities that were made available to all segments of society.

“This passion will surely remain with all those who had the honor of learning about Arabic calligraphy and Islamic patterning,” she told Arab News.
On how to preserve this heritage among young people, Al-Qahtani pointed out that Arabic calligraphy is historically related to writing revelations.
Before becoming a form of art on its own, calligraphy was a tool of documentation, she explained.
“It is a priority for us, the people of the Two Holy Mosques, to preserve this great heritage. We should learn it and pass it down to younger generations so that they may take pride in our long-standing Islamic values,” said the calligrapher.
She called on all government and private institutions to launch various activities and initiatives in order to boost the role of Arabic calligraphy.

Grand Mosque calligrapher Ibrahim Al-Rafei told Arab News that “in light of modern technological development, the importance of Arabic calligraphy resides in the fact that it is considered a means of communication that an increasing number of people are learning despite all the rapid advancements.”

FASTFACT

The art of Arabic calligraphy developed from two major styles: Naskh and Kufic. Originating in the Iraqi city of Kufa in or around the 7th century CE, Kufic is the earliest example of a universal calligraphic style.

Al-Rafei added that no matter how old the calligrapher’s tools are, he can integrate them with computer technology.
While computer letters are standardized, however, the calligrapher’s letters are his alone. “The calligrapher has his own imprint. His lines express his identity, personality, uniqueness and pride as he mixes classical writing with the era’s spirit and aesthetics.”
Writing in Arabic preserves the language and continuity of its usage as a means of communication, said Al-Rafei, adding that one of the language’s most important tools, aesthetically and visually, is Arabic calligraphy, which even catches the eyes of non-Arabic speakers.
He stressed the importance of teaching Arabic calligraphy to younger generations, as it boosts their confidence and pride in Arab culture.
“Throughout my 32 years of experience in learning Arabic calligraphy, starting from the Grand Mosque, where I have been learning for the past 17 years, all segments of society have demonstrated a passion for learning the different styles of Arabic calligraphy,” he said.

Aesthetically, Arabic calligraphy develops the student’s artistic taste.

Ibrahim Al-Rafei

He added that some of the students are highly determined, and this gives them great writing skills as well as the discipline necessary to pursue the art form.
“Aesthetically, Arabic calligraphy develops the student’s artistic taste,” the calligrapher added.
Calligraphy is a social experience, Al-Rafei explained, as the art brings people together, with many asking the artist to write out their names or expressions of their choice.
“This is what connects a calligrapher to others; the more he masters his craft, the more he becomes connected to all groups in society,” he added.


Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
An undated photo of Yahya Hamza Koshak, who died at the age of 80. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
  • Yahya Hamza Koshak was considered an authority on the architecture and history of the ancient site

JEDDAH: Saudis on Tuesday were mourning the loss of Yahya Hamza Koshak following his death at the age of 80. An engineer by profession, he became famous for his services to the Zamzam well.

Koshak, also known as the “father of engineers,” was a former director general of the National Water Company and member of the Okaz Organization for Press and Publication.
He was born in Makkah, where his father, a merchant, worked during the Umrah season, serving as chairman of the Establishment of Motawifs of Pilgrims of Turkish Muslims of Europe America and Australia.
His mother was a close friend of the wife of the late King Faisal, Princess Effat, whom she met at the Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools after it was founded by King Faisal and Princess Effat.
He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh. He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.
His nephew Nabeel Koshak told Arab News that the late engineer was dear to those who worked with him.

FASTFACTS

• Yahya Hamza Koshak was born in Makkah.

• Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools.

• He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh.

• He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.

• He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago.

• Koshak wrote a book, ‘Zamzam: The Holy Water,’ in which he recorded his observations inside the well.

“He was very social, close to people, and always kind and did not like to hurt anyone. He was light hearted — these were the characteristics that distinguished his personality.”
Koshak “was like a father to me,” and the family remained proud that he earned the trust of the Kingdom’s leadership, his nephew said.
“He greeted and received the king every year during the last 10 days of Ramadan.”
Koshak held a number of government positions in Makkah over a long career, including undersecretary for technical affairs at the Makkah Municipality.
He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago and wrote a book, “Zamzam: The Holy Water,” in which he recorded his observations inside the well.
“Cleaning the Zamzam well was one of his most important projects, a huge task under the direction of the late King Khalid,” his nephew said.
In his book, Koshak outlined the history of the well and its water sources, and also documented the archaeological objects found during the cleaning project.
The late engineer said: “By observation, it became clear that there are only two main sources of water, one toward the Kaaba, and the other toward Ajyad. As for the third source, which historical narratives said is on the side of Jabal Abu Qubays and Al-Safa, I found instead 12 small holes between building stones.”
Koshak’s interests included alternative medicine, which led to him establishing a specialist center in Jeddah.


Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
Saudi authorities inspect a site in the Jazan region where a Houthi projectile fell early on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 57 min 26 sec ago

Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
  • Iran taking advantage of international inaction, says analyst

JEDDAH: The US condemnation of the Houthi attack on Jazan “makes no difference” to the Iran-backed militia’s behavior as the group should be recognized as a terrorist organization, a Saudi political analyst said.

“Previous condemnations against Iran and its militia failed to stop them from what they wanted to do,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, who is also an international relations scholar, told Arab News.
The US Embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday condemned the latest missile attack by the Houthis targeting a border village in the Jazan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia, in which five civilians were injured. “We call on the Houthis to stop attacking innocent civilians and to engage in the diplomatic process to end this conflict,” the embassy said.
Al-Shehri said that if the US was serious in its denunciations, then the administration should have kept the Houthis on its terrorist list: “That is the least it can do, let alone being an ally to the Kingdom.”
“On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities as if they were not harmful, terrorist acts,” Al-Shehri said.
He expects more than words of condemnation from the US as Saudi Arabia has been on the receiving end of several Houthi attacks.
“The problem with the new US administration is that it knows quite well where dangers and problems are,” Al-Shehri said.

On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, Political analyst

He said Iran is keen to “heat up” the region and the increasing Houthi attacks on the Kingdom reflect that.
“Regionally, Iran is taking advantage of the current unrest and instability in the region for the benefit of its nuclear project,” he said. “The plan is being led by the military ruler of the Houthis, Hassan Irlu, who is now in Sanaa.”
The Houthis are under pressure in Marib and they are trying to use all ballistic missiles, military projectiles and drones against the civilians, Al-Shehri said.
“Iran is to be blamed, not the Houthis,” he said.
“The international community that is watching silently is also responsible for the terror acts by the Houthi militia, which has turned against the country’s legitimate government.”
UN Resolution 2216 acknowledges the legitimacy of the Yemeni government, but Al-Shehri said: “It has not even been implemented. Nor has it brought peace and stability to Yemen or the region.”
Meanwhile, the joint coalition forces on Tuesday night intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped drone launched by the Houthi militia.
“It was (sent) in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilians and civilian objects in the southern region,” Brig. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the Coalition to Support Legitimacy, said in a statement to SPA.


Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties
Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inaad Saadoun presents a memento to Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili in Baghdad. (SPA)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties
  • The Saudi military chief held a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah and reviewed bilateral ties in a way that help both sides achieve their common goals

Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, who is on an official visit to Iraq, met Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inaad Saadoun on Wednesday.
During the meeting, they discussed matters related to the armed forces and other issues of common interest.
They stressed the need to strengthening ties between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to ensure the security and stability of the region.
The Iraqi minister presented Al-Ruwaili with a memento.
The Saudi military chief also held a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah and reviewed bilateral ties in a way that help both sides achieve their common goals.
He also held meetings with the chiefs of the Iraqi army and air force.


Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality
Areej Attiyah Al-Johani
Updated 03 March 2021

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Areej Attiyah Al-Johani was recently appointed as the deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality.
She has been general supervisor of the Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Office (Afseh) at the Saudi Health Ministry since 2018.
Al-Johani received a bachelor’s degree in education from King Saud University in 2003. After completing a master’s degree at the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff, she obtained a Ph.D. in technology science from the University of South Wales.
Before her current role, Al-Johani served as director-general of the ministry’s workforce planning department from April 2019 to February 2021.
She has been a certified internal assessor at the health ministry for the King Abdul Aziz Quality Award since 2018.
Al-Johani headed the quality excellence team at the ministry’s deputyship of human resources between 2018 and 2019.
In 2016, she was a coordinator for the leadership renewal program at the ministry’s deputyship of human resources. In 2009, she worked for nearly a year as supervisor at the learning and resource center of the Jeddah-based Al-Abnaa High School.
Al-Johani has attended various local and international training courses. She is a recipient of several prestigious professional awards.
From 2005 to 2014, she attended several IT courses in the UK.
Al-Johani has had research papers published in various journals. She has also attended conferences inside and outside the country.


Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year. (Getty Images)
Updated 03 March 2021

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app
  • The Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year

JEDDAH: A group of recruitment experts in Saudi Arabia have joined forces to launch a jobs initiative via a popular new audio-only app.
The six volunteers have been giving up three hours a day to speak with job seekers on the Clubhouse social networking platform which is rapidly becoming a go-to staging post for connecting users with the country’s employers.
The team’s Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.
The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide — to discuss labor market needs, job interview techniques, freelancing opportunities, and other employment-related issues.
One of the forum’s founders, Saleh Al-Sodmi, told Arab News: “We are a group of volunteers representing ourselves in this initiative where we united our love of giving and compassion to help people. We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.”
Al-Sodmi and his colleagues all work in the human resources and recruitment sector but have been sacrificing their time on a daily basis to help Clubhouse users in their hunt for jobs.
During the first five days of the initiative, the group helped more than 20 people to find employment and numerous others to get job interviews, and Al-Sodmi expected more success stories as the app’s network of HR and recruitment specialists grew.
“It began with two young sisters who were looking for a job and started a room in Clubhouse for that purpose. Gradually many people within the recruitment field joined, and we agreed to carry on such meetings on a daily basis,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.

• The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.

Between 700 and 1,000 users have been attending the group’s forums in recent days, and numbers are increasing.
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year.
Al-Sodmi added: “This initiative has shown how people love good and giving. Personally, all I want in return is an honest prayer. We can always help. Even when we do not have the proper job for the job seeker, we can still offer advice on how to improve their chances or overcome concerns.”
Maryam Saleh, a Clubhouse user, told Arab News: “I am truly fascinated with the idea, and I appreciate the moderators’ commitment to giving three hours of their time or sometimes more to help others.

We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.

Saleh Al-Sodmi, Co-founder

“I found out about it from my friend; I hope it grows further and helps young people to get the opportunities they deserve, especially those, like me, who graduated in these difficult times amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Al-Sodmi said Clubhouse had helped users reach out to a wider audience and connect with people that were not as easily accessible via social media platforms.
“For instance, Clubhouse allowed the influencers’ privilege to dissolve and helped the different groups of societies to truly mingle amongst themselves and talk to each other.


“We have seen artists, economists, and CEOs connecting and interacting with the public easily and comfortably,” he added.
Hanan bin Fantokh, another volunteer recruitment specialist within the employment initiative, told Arab News that the platform has helped save recruiters’ time finding candidates and conducting initial interviews.
“It has also helped people break through their fear barrier by allowing them to introduce and market themselves publicly. It also helped many enhance their dialogue and persuasion skills.
“On the jobs front, many have started getting interviews, and some have signed contracts. However, the availability of jobs is less than the number of job seekers,” she added.