Saudi perfume mogul Hussein Bakry Gazzaz dies at age 95

I have dreamed of bringing what I saw in Cairo in the 1920s to my beloved country, Gazzaz said in a 2014 interview. (Supplied)
I have dreamed of bringing what I saw in Cairo in the 1920s to my beloved country, Gazzaz said in a 2014 interview. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 January 2021

Saudi perfume mogul Hussein Bakry Gazzaz dies at age 95

Saudi perfume mogul Hussein Bakry Gazzaz dies at age 95
  • Funeral prayer for the Kingdom’s most well-known magnate was performed in Makkah, his birthplace

JEDDAH: Saudi business people are mourning the death of the Kingdoms’s most famous magnate, Hussein Bakry Gazzaz, who died on Thursday morning at the age 95.
The funeral prayer for Gazzaz was performed in Makkah, his birthplace.
Gazzaz was one of the most well-known businessmen in the perfume sector in Saudi Arabia. He was born in 1925.
In his early years, he moved with his family to Egypt where he received his primary education before returning to Saudi Arabia, starting a small perfume business that became one of the largest of its kind in the region.
In a 2014 interview with Hia magazine, Gazzaz described Egypt in the late 1920s and early 1930s as the “Paris of the East.”
He said Cairo’s picturesque streets and shops left a strong impact on the mind “of the little boy who came from Makkah.”
Gazzaz told his interviewer that a child’s early dreams were the basis of any success.
“Dreams are the same, but what follows can be different. Normal people usually have the dream to succeed, but the stronger their belief in their dreams is, the more possible their dreams are likely to come true. Dream motives vary from one person to another,” he said.
“I have dreamed of bringing what I saw in Cairo in the 1920s to my beloved country. In the 1950s, I had another dream — my country would be like Paris, in its streets and beauty. I strongly believed that hard work is essential in making my dreams come true. Dreams live with us, and we should keep dreaming until we stop breathing,” he said.
According to the company’s website, the Hussein Bakry Gazzaz and Company (GAZZAZ) started in 1942, when Gazzaz became the first agent in Saudi Arabia to import fragrances.
Over 77 years, the brand name GAZZAZ has expanded to include cosmetics, watches, cufflinks, pens, gifts, antiques, hair products, makeup, accessories, leather goods and other luxury products.
Their main brands include Dior, Gucci, Versace, Cartier, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), Montblanc, Dunhill and Dupont.
In May 2001, former French president Jacques Chirac honored Gazzaz with the “Medal of Honor” for being the biggest importer of cosmetics in the Middle East in the 1990s.
The Gazzaz chain of showrooms is the strongest retail group in the luxury sector in Saudi Arabia, and in the Middle East.
 


UN official lauds Saudi support in ‘saving day’ for Syrian refugees in Jordan, stabilizing Yemeni food security situation

UN official lauds Saudi support in ‘saving day’ for Syrian refugees in Jordan, stabilizing Yemeni food security situation
Updated 03 December 2021

UN official lauds Saudi support in ‘saving day’ for Syrian refugees in Jordan, stabilizing Yemeni food security situation

UN official lauds Saudi support in ‘saving day’ for Syrian refugees in Jordan, stabilizing Yemeni food security situation
  • Corinne Fleischer: ‘KSrelief has provided $1 billion since 2018 to our operations in Yemen – this makes a very, very important difference to the people in Yemen’
  • Fleischer: ‘I have been in some of these camps in Jordan, and the situation of these refugees is dire, and they can’t survive without having what the WFP provides them, with the help of KSrelief’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia had “saved the day” for Syrian refugees in Jordan and stabilized the food security situation in Yemen through its generous financial backing, a top UN aid official has said.

Corinne Fleischer, regional director of the World Food Program for the Middle East and North Africa, made her comments following a meeting in Riyadh with Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, the general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief).

During talks at the center’s headquarters in the Saudi capital, the two officials discussed strengthening cooperation between KSrelief and the WFP to help fight hunger and poverty and assist countries in the MENA region to meet sustainable development goals.

In a press conference after the meeting, Fleischer said: “KSrelief has provided $1 billion since 2018 to our operations in Yemen. This makes a very, very important difference to the people in Yemen.

“And specifically, this year, thanks to the contribution of KSrelief, we were able to increase our assistance that we previously had to cut because of lack of funds, and we were able to bring it back to the same level for a large number of people.

“The impact of this has been very quick. We have seen that the food security situation of the people has stabilized as they have received full rations again.”

On the situation in Jordan, she added: “KSrelief has really saved our day in Jordan with the Syrian refugees. We were about to have to cut rations to about half the Syrian refugees we are supporting in Jordan. Thanks to the very generous contributions of KSrelief, we can actually continue at the same level.

“I have been in some of these camps and settlements in Jordan, and the situation of these refugees is dire, and they can’t survive without having what the World Food Program provides them, with the help of KSrelief.”

Lauding the center for its ongoing support for the WFP in the region, Fleischer said: “I’m really happy to be here, in this building, where I can finally see where our relationship with KSrelief has gone for years, has been strengthened for years, and has become more important for years.

“The Saudi Arabia government is a very important partner to the WFP, not only because they give us very important and vital contributions to our projects worldwide … but we are also deepening our relationship with KSrelief on drivers of food insecurity and how together we can tackle some of these drivers, bringing the expertise from both organizations together so that we can make a marked impact on people’s lives,” she added.

KSrelief, on behalf of Saudi Arabia, has implemented more than 600 food security sector projects around the world, many of them in partnership with the WFP.


First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site

First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
Updated 03 December 2021

First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site

First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
  • Six artists are currently part of the pilot residency running until January 14

The Royal Commission for AlUla and the French Agency for AlUla Development (Afalula) have announced the launch of the first art residency program at the Saudi heritage site.

The 11-week project, to be operated by Manifesto, aims to foster dialogue, exchange, and collaboration between the artists in residence and the community of experts working on the ground in AlUla, as well as local practitioners and other members of the community, a statement said.

Six artists are currently part of the pilot residency running until Jan. 14.

The work of Riyadh-based conceptual artist and arts educator Rashed Al-Shashai, from Saudi Arabia, explores the purpose of human existence and the functions of society with everyday objects and imagery.

French multidisciplinary artist Sara Favriau, who is based in Paris, produces sculptures, installations, and performances that investigate the very permanence of self, nature, and works of art.

Talin Hazbar, from Syria, works out of Sharjah, in the UAE, and is an architect and visual artist. Her work and processes aim to showcase the overlapping boundaries in nature, history, and ecology.

Paris-based French multimedia artist Laura Sellies finds new ways to understand the relationship between sculptures, people, images, and sounds through her work.

Sofiane Si Merabet, also French but operating from Dubai, is a multimedia artist who interrogates memories, identities, and migration.

And from his base in Riyadh, Saudi multidisciplinary artist Muhannad Shono explores what lies beneath the surface of the human experience.

Nora Al-Dabal, the RCU’s arts and creative planning director, said: “This pilot artist residency is a new milestone in AlUla’s cultural development. Our goal is not only to provide unique cultural experiences for visitors but also to contribute to creating a flourishing cultural ecosystem with a vibrant arts district and space for artists and creatives in AlUla.

“The art residency pilot program will lay solid grounds for such ambition.”

The pilot edition will be based in Mabiti AlUla, a palm grove and guest house in the heart of AlUla’s oasis. It will subsequently be established in Madrasat AdDeera, an arts and design center.

Artists in residence have already started building collaborations with local artisans through programs held at Madrasat AdDeera while delving deeper and focusing their research on the local materials of AlUla, and its craft and cultural practices, the statement added.

It is anticipated that Madrasat AdDeera will become a key anchor asset of the future arts district of AlUla, a dynamic cluster of programs, education, and production that will form an active and vibrant arts destination for communities, students, artists, and visitors.

Afalula scientific director, Jean-Francois Charnier, said: “The originality of this very first art residency program developed in partnership between the Royal Commission for AlUla and the French Agency for AlUla Development relies on the cooperation between international artists with the impressive array of scientific experts currently working in the oasis, including archaeologists, anthropologists, agriculture experts, botanists, and many more.”

Arnaud Morand, Afalula’s head of creation and innovation, said: “It is an unprecedented experiment to associate at this level artistic vision and scientific approaches in the writing of the narratives and the reimagination of a destination.

“This will undoubtedly contribute to further mark the originality of AlUla as a cultural destination of a new kind.”

And Laure Confavreux-Colliex, executive director at Manifesto, said: “We are very proud that Manifesto has been chosen to launch this first artists’ hub in the heart of AlUla’s oasis. We are working on site to make this the very start of a destination truly built by artists.”


Saudi sports minister follows up on preparations of Kingdom’s F1 race

Saudi sports minister follows up on preparations of Kingdom’s F1 race
Updated 03 December 2021

Saudi sports minister follows up on preparations of Kingdom’s F1 race

Saudi sports minister follows up on preparations of Kingdom’s F1 race
  • The minister said that the Kingdom is proud of the work made by the hands of Saudi citizens, as well as Saudi companies

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal was briefed on the latest developments of the Formula One Grand Prix which will be hosted by Jeddah Corniche from Dec. 3 to 5, state news agency SPA reported.
“We have the privilege of hosting this huge sporting event, which represents a dream for all motorsport lovers, and this event would not have been witnessed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia without the grace of Allah Almighty and then the support and follow-up of the Crown Prince. We promise everyone better hosting to achieve the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030,” he said.
The minister added that the Kingdom is proud of the work made by the hands of Saudi citizens, as well as Saudi companies.
On Sunday, Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, advisor to King Salman, was briefed on the latest preparations for the Saudi Formula One race.
Al-Faisal listened to an explanation by Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal about the 27-turn, 6,175-meter-long circuit, the second-longest track in F1 history. 
Prince Khalid, who is the president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, confirmed the completion of the preparations for hosting the F1 race.


Frankly Speaking: France has a lot to learn from Saudi Arabia on combating terror financing, says Senate member Nathalie Goulet

Frankly Speaking: France has a lot to learn from Saudi Arabia on combating terror financing, says Senate member Nathalie Goulet
Updated 03 December 2021

Frankly Speaking: France has a lot to learn from Saudi Arabia on combating terror financing, says Senate member Nathalie Goulet

Frankly Speaking: France has a lot to learn from Saudi Arabia on combating terror financing, says Senate member Nathalie Goulet
  • Leading French politician and foreign affairs expert makes the comments as President Macron embarks on Saudi visit
  • Gulet gives her views on “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video interviews with regional and international policymakers

DUBAI: France and the rest of Europe can learn from Saudi Arabia’s approach to combating the financing of terrorism, a leading French politician and foreign affairs expert has told Arab News.

Nathalie Goulet, a member of the Senate of France and the country’s commission on foreign affairs and defense, said: “Saudi Arabia has its own place on the subject of fighting financing of terrorism, and they do it very seriously. It is matching international standards on the subject.”

Goulet, who recently returned from a visit to the Kingdom for meetings with senior policymakers about the campaign to halt terrorism finance, highlighted Saudi initiatives with Etidal, the center for combating extremist ideology, as well as actions by the Saudi Central Bank, and financial intelligence services.

“In Europe and especially in France there has sometimes been a kind of bad habit to link Saudi Arabia with the financing of terrorism and we have to break this image and what is now purely fake news,” she added.

Nathalie Goulet noted that the Muslim Brotherhood was still playing a significant role in terrorism funding in Europe.

Goulet, speaking just before a visit to the Kingdom by French President Emmanuel Macron, gave her views on “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video interviews with prominent regional and international policymakers and businesspeople.

In a wide-ranging interview, she also spoke of the rising threat from the Muslim Brotherhood and its role in terrorism finance, the volatile relationship between France and Algeria, and the reforms in Saudi Arabia under the Vision 2030 strategy.

On terror funding, she contrasted the practice among the Muslim community in France, where zakat donations are made in cash and therefore harder to control, with the situation in the Kingdom.

“Saudi Arabia put in place a system to prevent any collection of zakat by cash. Everything is by banking transfer to a special NGO and that is very useful, very clever, and also very, very safe.

“On collecting zakat, Saudi Arabia can be an example for us because we are absolutely unable to track the money and, at the same time of course, most of the zakat is giving (money) for good purposes. But sometimes it’s not and we try to ban cash as much as possible. Saudi Arabia is giving us an excellent example,” she said.

Frank Kane hosts Frankly Speaking: Watch more episodes.

She noted that the Muslim Brotherhood was still playing a significant role in terrorism funding in Europe and pointed out the organization’s influence in the Islamic community and within humanitarian organizations.

“First of all, they have a lot of humanitarian actions but then they use the same money to sponsor terrorism all over Europe. We have to ban those people, definitely. Austria already banned the Muslim Brotherhood from Austria; Germany is on the way. France – not yet – but I am pushing them a lot,” she added.

Goulet hit out specifically at the role of the Islamic Relief organization, which she alleged had been aiding terrorism finance, supported the terror-designated Hamas organization in Palestine, and claimed its executives had been responsible for spreading anti-Semitic messages on social media.

“So, what we have to do is track the money and then try to ban any financing for those people. We have to check and have strong investigations into how they collect money and what they are doing with this money, and we have to stop any terror financing absolutely,” she said.

Statement by Islamic Relief Worldwide

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) categorically denies funding terrorism and also denies any support for Hamas. As a registered charity regulated by the Charity Commission of England and Wales, IRW is independently audited on behalf of governments, UN bodies, and other significant institutional donors several times a year. Between 2009 and 2019, the organization underwent over 500 internal and external audits which found no evidence of using funds for anything other than saving lives and contributing to the global humanitarian agenda in line with the important humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence.

We have stringent checks in place to ensure that money only goes to where it is needed – helping the most vulnerable. We routinely screen all trustees, senior management, staff, volunteers, partners, and contractors to ensure they have no links to proscribed groups or entities of any kind.

IRW rejects and condemns terrorism and believes that all forms of discrimination – including anti-Semitism – are unacceptable. Regrettably, there have been historic cases of individuals falling short of our values, but these have been dealt with firmly and swiftly, and the individuals involved are no longer with the organization. Following these past incidents, the Charity Commission of England and Wales conducted a fact-finding review last year which concluded that we had responded thoroughly and appropriately. In addition, an independent review was conducted by the former UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC, which found that the organization was not institutionally anti-Semitic.


You can find a link to the Independent Commission report here.

You can find the Charity Commission’s statement on the completion of its fact-finding review here.

The Kingdom’s resolve in tackling the funding of terrorism was an example of the positive changes taking place in the country under the Vision 2030 reform plan, which was having a profound effect on life in Saudi Arabia.

“When you see the difference on the streets, the way that the youth is happy in the country, and when you see the development, it is clear that something has happened. And it’s the Vision 2030 of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman which has brought it about and will bring such a lot of hope in the country,” Goulet added.

On French foreign policy toward Muslim countries, she thought that the issue was complicated by France’s colonial history. “It’s always very emotional,” she said.

With regard to Algeria, France’s former colony, relations with which have been strained owing to comments made by Macron, and some visa issues, Goulet expected the situation to improve, adding that “links with Algeria are very strong.”

On Lebanon, a country Macron has visited several times in attempts to help it through its intensifying crisis, she said the Lebanese people should look to a new political generation to repatriate the proceeds of corruption held in overseas havens, rather than seeking financial bailouts from countries such as France.

However, she spoke out against French policy in Lebanon with regard to Hezbollah. “The government for the last 15 years has been treating Hezbollah in a very strange way – like there is a political Hezbollah and a military Hezbollah, and we have to ban the military Hezbollah to discuss with the political Hezbollah.

“But the reality is that there is just one Hezbollah. Just as there is one Hamas, there is one Hezbollah, there is not one military and one political. It’s the same terrorist group,” she said.
Goulet was also critical of attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims within France. A recent Arab News survey with YouGov showed that 64 percent of French people had a negative impression of the minority groups.

“I think it’s a fact unfortunately and it’s because of the major political leaders surfing on the wave of populism right now. It’s something which will help them collect votes,” she added, referring to the presidential elections in France next year.

“We also have the yellow vests (movement) and street agitation, along with conspiracy theories, and everything is boiling in the same pan to produce something that smells very bad.”

Goulet, who is a member of the Centrist Union political grouping in the French Senate, was disparaging of the presidential prospects of Eric Zemmour, the rightwing populist who recently gained ground in opinion polls.

She said: “I think these things will collapse soon. It was just like a small fire. His campaign will collapse. That is not France, I mean that cannot be France. I mean this guy is a pure populist. He has no team and I hope he will run out of money soon and then will disappear in the trash because he doesn’t deserve anything else but trash.”

The politician expressed hope that relations between France and Britain – under increasing strain since Brexit and the arrival of the government of Boris Johnson – could improve but noted that the “misunderstandings” in Anglo-French affairs went all the way back to French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte.

With regard to the latest flashpoint – the migration of refugees across the English Channel – Goulet said the situation was “unbearable,” but pointed out that higher levels of social benefits were available to refugees in the UK compared to France and other EU countries.

“I know for sure that Britain attracts emigrants because it’s easier for them to live there and have some subsidies and help. So, maybe one of the keys is for Britain to be more restrictive regarding migrants so it doesn’t look so attractive – maybe.”


Cybersecurity conference a hit with young Saudi programmers

Cybersecurity conference a hit with young Saudi programmers
Updated 03 December 2021

Cybersecurity conference a hit with young Saudi programmers

Cybersecurity conference a hit with young Saudi programmers
  • Children from across the country met to exchange ideas and experiences and to enter competitions

RIYADH: The three-day @hack conference, a cybersecurity event held in Riyadh, attracted adults and children alike. Kids from across the country met to exchange ideas and experiences and to enter competitions.

Faisal Al-Qahtani, an 11-year-old who enjoys coding games, told Arab News: “I started programming when I was nine. I watched some tutorials online to improve my coding skills, and now I use software like Unity, Visual Studio, Blender, Audacity, and many other programs.

“I think this conference should not be limited to cybersecurity. I met new people, and I learned more about programming,” Al-Qahttani said.

Another 11-year-old, Abdulaziz Al-Odan, said he came to @hack to learn more about programming and to meet like-minded enthusiasts. “I heard that there are a lot of competitions here, like Catch the Flag and Bug Bounty,” he said. “But I was lacking a team, so I came here to meet people and now I have completed my team.”

Al-Odan first discovered his talent for coding through Satr — a free Arabic platform for learning programming languages. “I created an account on the platform and learned about Java scripts, and now I have my own scripts,” Al-Odan said.

Ayedh Al-Qahttani, 14, told Arab News that he became interested in hacking when his Sony account was hacked a year ago, which caused him huge problems.

“The hacker who took (control of) my Sony account used social-engineering techniques. I went straight to YouTube to learn about hacking, and I believe that researching is important to develop skills,” he said.

He praised the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones for creating the @hack event. “They gave us this beautiful opportunity to attend such a conference. I learned from many people, and I got to meet my team. I hope we see @hack next year,” he added.