A timeless love story from heart of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Now more than ever, the limestone formations of AlUla provide an enchanting atmosphere for tourists and locals alike. (AN file photo)
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Now more than ever, the limestone formations of AlUla provide an enchanting atmosphere for tourists and locals alike. (AN file photo)
A lovely women in ancient costumes is seen at the tourism site of AlUla. (Supplied)
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A lovely women in ancient costumes is seen at the tourism site of AlUla. (Supplied)
A lovely women in ancient costumes is seen at the tourism site of AlUla. (Supplied)
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A lovely women in ancient costumes is seen at the tourism site of AlUla. (Supplied)
A lovely women in ancient costumes is seen at the tourism site of AlUla. (Supplied)
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A lovely women in ancient costumes is seen at the tourism site of AlUla. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 April 2021

A timeless love story from heart of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

A timeless love story from heart of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
  • Jamil Buthainah was a pioneer in the poetic style of ghazal poetry, an element of Islamic literature that approaches themes of love in a lyrical style

JEDDAH: As Valentine’s Day arrives, celebrations of joy and romance can be found across all languages. However, one story has found its way out of the AlUla desert sands.
The patron St. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome and was prosecuted for performing marriages for young lovers in secret. The unions angered Emperor Claudius II, who believed that unmarried men made better soldiers. Canonized by the Catholic Church, St. Valentine was given an annual feast day on Feb. 14. At some point in medieval England, the festival drifted away from being a commemoration of ultimate sacrifice in the name of faith and evolved into a more general celebration of love.
Though the tale of St. Valentine and that of many Arab love stories have been inextricably linked, it is the mystery and the power of love and the adventures that came along with it that became appealing. The enchanting desert lands of AlUla and its rich history continues to mesmerize Saudis and those interested in historical reference to the land.
The story of Jamil and Buthainah is one of forbidden love.




The late seventh-century Bedouin love poetry was written by Jamil ibn Mamar, a poet from the Bani Udhra tribe of Madinah during the Umayyad period. (Social media)

The late seventh-century Bedouin love poetry was written by Jamil ibn Mamar, also known as Jamil Buthainah, a poet from the Bani Udhra tribe of Madinah during the Umayyad period. He was a pioneer in the poetic style of ghazal poetry, an element of Islamic literature that approaches themes of love in a lyrical style. He was renowned for his poetic tradition of chaste love, a common theme in Beduin tribes of that era.

HIGHLIGHTS

Verses of poetry by Jamil ibn Mamar.

• If only the prime of the youth were new and old times come back, Buthayna. Should my poetry spend a night in Wadi AlQura, then I’m happy.  

• I took to loving her from childhood,   and up til today this love continues to thrive and grow.

The poems tell of Jamil’s intense but unrequited love for Buthainah bin Hayyan bin Thalabah from the Uthrah tribe, a beautiful maiden from a tribe residing near Bani Udhra in Al-Qura Valley in AlUla.
Infatuated by her beauty from a young age, Jamil wrote poems praising their love for years. The brave equestrian was proud of his love and his sword. He asked for his love’s hand in marriage but was rejected as Buthainah was promised to another man. Almost driven by madness, it did not deter the love-struck soldier, who continued to create beautiful and romantic poetry.
Much to the disdain of her family, Buthainah’s love for Jamil was true. His pleas fell on deaf ears as they would meet secretly in the plush oasis of AlUla, her homeland.


As time passed, Jamil left for Egypt and the star-crossed pair were separated, but their love will forever be told through the beauty of his love poems.
With thousands of years of history, it is no surprise that a love story would emerge from the sand of AlUla. The story of love and loss portrayed by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and can be felt through the verses:
“We grew older, Jameel Bouthaina and I, each alone, in two separate eras . . .
It is time that does what sun and wind do: It polishes us then kills us whenever the mind bears the heart’s passion, or whenever the heart reaches its wisdom Jameel! does she grow old, like you, like me, Bouthaina?
She grows old, my friend, outside the heart in others’ eyes. But inside me the gazelle bathes in the spring that pours out of her being”

 The way in which this poem has been transmitted over time was demonstrated beautifully a year ago when the world-renowned theater company Caracalla performed “Jamil and Buthainah: A love legend from the oasis of AlUla” at the Maraya Concert Hall. The performance, fitting for the Valentine’s Day weekend, came alive through song, music, dance and theater.
 This year, we celebrate the love story of the lost love emerging from the sands of one of the Kingdom’s gems. It is a story that has withstood the test of time and emerged again to retell the story of the star-crossed pair.

 


Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 536,900
  • A total of 8,760 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 45 new infections on Saturday.

Of the new cases, 20 were recorded in Riyadh, five in Jeddah, two in Tabuk, two in Makkah, two in Al-Khobar, and two in Yanbu. Several other cities recorded one new case each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 536,900 after 41 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,760 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 44.4 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation

KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation
Updated 16 October 2021

KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation

KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation
  • The men praised their countries’ successful cooperation in the field of environmental protection

CAIRO: Egypt’s Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad and her Saudi counterpart Abdulrahman Al-Fadley discussed environmental cooperation between their two countries.

They praised their countries’ successful cooperation in the field of environmental protection, with Fouad saying the environment is a priority for Egypt’s leadership.

She also welcomed cooperation with Saudi Arabia in terms of converting waste into energy.

The two sides discussed cooperation in the fields of coastal management, marine policies, environmental monitoring, management of chemicals and hazardous waste, and integration of environmental knowledge into educational curricula.

Al-Fadley expressed his aspiration to cooperate with Egypt in the field of water desalination and reusing extracted salt.

The two sides agreed to focus on cooperating to preserve the Red Sea, with Fouad noting its richness in coral reefs and marine life.


Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince
  • Prince Khalid: “We have a very young population. They want a different world”
  • “I grew up with religious police telling us what to do, but now it’s about letting people make their own choices”

LONDON: The Saudi ambassador to Britain has praised the wide-ranging modernization efforts carried out by the Kingdom’s leadership.

“In the last five years the pace has been huge — 1,000 laws have been altered or removed,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan told The Times.

“There is a misconception about Saudi that we never change, but going back 100 years it’s been dramatic. My grandfather went to work on horseback, my father flew fast fighter jets, and my cousin went into space.”

Prince Khalid said the way the Kingdom legislates for women is also changing. “Just before I was posted here (in the UK), I went back for two days and I called one of my sisters and said, ‘Let’s go for a coffee. Shall I come and pick you up?’ and she said, ‘No, I’ve got my car.’ It brought a real smile to my face,” he said.

“Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable for her to have a job, let alone drive. We are still a very conservative society but we have a very young population. They want a different world.”

The ambassador, who attended the prestigious Eton College before Oxford University and Sandhurst, said: “I feel very Saudi, but I was brought up in the West.” 

His links to Britain are strong, not only through being educated in the UK but also through his English wife Lucy Cuthbert, a niece of the duke of Northumberland.

Prince Khalid has seen some of the modernization he witnessed in Britain appearing in his homeland, including mobile phones, which he said have made a huge difference to Saudi society.

“We have one of the highest percentages of phones per capita in the world, nearly three phones per person,” he added.

“The young are all over Instagram. In my generation, there wasn’t much entertainment at home so we had to go abroad. Now the young want to go to shops and cinemas, and there has been an explosion of events,” he said.

“There are women-only sections but no enforced separation. I grew up with religious police telling us what to do, but now it’s about letting people make their own choices.”

He told The Times that his sister said she “discovered there wasn’t a glass ceiling — it was more of a soft tent and she could push it out.”

The ambassador said 34 percent of the Saudi workforce is made up of women, dramatically leaping from 18 percent in 2016.

“We have had our first graduation for women in the army, there are women in government, in the police, we are training female judges, we have an equal opportunities and equal pay law,” he added.

Prince Khalid also detailed the rapid expansion of the Saudi tourism industry, including the giga-projects being planned. 

“In 2019 we launched our tourist visa online. We issued 440,000 visas before the pandemic started, 60,000 to the UK,” he said.

“We are developing resorts with a Red Sea project and NEOM, a new futuristic city. Saudi Arabia is the size of Western Europe. We also have 330 heritage sites.” These giga-projects are part of $7 trillion of investment under the Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Kingdom is expected to participate in the UN Climate Change conference, also known as Cop26, in Glasgow later this month. 

“We decided to move away from fossil fuels in 2016. We don’t want to be an oil provider but an energy provider,” said Prince Khalid. “We have committed to producing 50 percent of our energy by renewable sources by 2030.”


Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization
Updated 16 October 2021

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Alaa Abdulaal has been the vice president of strategy and governance at the Digital Cooperation Organization since September 2021.

The organization, a global multilateral entity that aims at increasing social prosperity through accelerating the growth of the digital economy, was established by a group of countries that share an interest in collaborating to realize their collective digital potential. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, and Pakistan.

Prior to joining the organization, Abdulaal had served for more than a year as the director of IT strategy and governance at the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services. For over nine years, beginning in 2011, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a database unit leader, technical operation strategist, and a strategic planning and development manager.

In the latter role she established key performance metrics, designed reporting solutions, and promoted the use of structured information to drive enhanced business performance. She also led critical communication development and business reporting.

In 2015, she spent eight months as a research intern at Riva Modeling Systems in Toronto, where she demonstrated a strong interest and aptitude for user experience.

Before that, she worked for more than four years as a database administrator at the Saudi Exchange Market. There, she helped enhance the database’s performance and security. Her job responsibilities also included evaluating the proposed auditing systems and developing the availability process from scratch with the IT service management project consultants. Moreover, she created availability dashboards for Tadawul production services.

Abdulaal received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2006 from King Saud University, where she graduated with first class honors. In 2014, she obtained a master’s degree, majoring in applied computing, with the highest GPA result.

She is a certified strategic business planner and a professional business process manager.


Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

RIYADH: Saudi air defenses intercepted a Houthi drone aimed at Jazan, the Arab coalition said early Saturday.

The Houthis consistently target civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom using explosive drones.

The Kingdom has labeled Houthi attempts to target civilians as war crimes.

Earlier this month, attacks on Abha and Jazan airports in southern Saudi Arabia sparked widespread condemnation of the militia’s tactics of targeting civilian sites.

The Arab coalition has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthis, after the militia seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia as repeatedly said the only way to a peaceful Yemen is through dialogue, and has called on the Houthis to end the fighting. The Riyadh Initiative, which was launch by the Kingdom in March, includes a nationwide ceasefire and a plan to reopen Sanaa airport. The plan has been rejected by the Houthis.

Fighting in Marib province has claimed thousands of lives, among both government and Houthi forces. The resource-rich region has been heavily contested as the militia seek to strengthen their control of northern Yemen.

The Arab coalition said on Friday that ten military vehicles were destroyed and over 180 Houthis killed in operations it carried out in Abedia, a district in Marib that has been under siege since Sept. 23.

The Houthi action in Abedia has hindered the movement of civilians and impeded humanitarian aid flows, including medical supplies, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier this week.

The war, which has now lasted for seven years, has cost thousands of Yemenis their lives and has forced many more to depend on humanitarian assistance.

Saudi relief agency, KSrelief, has poured billions of dollars worth of aid into Yemen and has hundreds of projects focusing on food and health.