KAUST Challenge selects finalists for three Hajj and Umrah prizes

The KAUST Challenge is focused on improving the Hajj and Umrah experience for pilgrims from all over the world. (SPA)
The KAUST Challenge is focused on improving the Hajj and Umrah experience for pilgrims from all over the world. (SPA)
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Updated 25 March 2021

KAUST Challenge selects finalists for three Hajj and Umrah prizes

KAUST Challenge selects finalists for three Hajj and Umrah prizes
  • The winners, who could receive up to SR1.3 million ($346,645) in cash and other prizes, will be announced at the award ceremony to be held on March 28 at the Emarah Foyer in Jeddah

JEDDAH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), alongside strategic partners the Makkah Cultural Forum, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and the Doyof Al-Rahman Program (DARP), confirmed on Wednesday that 1,306 applications from 34 countries were submitted to the first edition of KAUST Challenge – Ideas and Solutions for Hajj and Umrah.

The comprehensive multi-stage selection process, lasting over a month, resulted in the shortlisting of 33 finalists.

In line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the first edition of the KAUST Challenge focused on improving the Hajj and Umrah experience for pilgrims from all over the world, and advancing efforts to make Makkah a smart city.

The challenge is focused on three themes: Healthcare, mobility, and crowd management, which were all selected after extensive research on the most pressing issues facing Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.

Eleven finalists for each theme were selected for the finalist pool.

An expert panel of over 30 judges evaluated the ideas and solutions proposed by the finalists. The winners, who could receive up to SR1.3 million ($346,645) in cash and other prizes, will be announced at the award ceremony to be held on March 28 at the Emarah Foyer in Jeddah.

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah, along with Dr. Tony F. Chan, president of KAUST, and Dr. Najah Ashry, vice president for strategic national advancement at KAUST, will host the award ceremony.

Speaking on the success of the inaugural edition, Ashry said: “We are proud that more than 1,300 innovators were inspired to submit applications to this first KAUST Challenge and that more than 300 of them are based in Saudi Arabia.”

She added: “Many of the out-of-the-box hi-tech solutions that the applicants proposed are viable ideas that could enhance the experience of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. The winning ideas and solutions will require cultivation across Saudi Arabia’s research-development-innovation ecosystem. By encouraging continued collaboration of KAUST Challenge winners with ecosystem players in the Kingdom, we will ensure that the outcomes from the KAUST Challenge have real-world impact for the people for whom they are designed.”

KAUST also announced the selection six sponsors for the challenge: Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) for the healthcare prize, SAUDIA (formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines) and the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) for the mobility prize, and Saudi Ground Services (SGS) for the crowd management prize. 

Microsoft was selected as the technology sponsor, and Arab News as the event’s media sponsor.


Stunning French soprano enthralls Jeddah audience

Clara Barbier Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini. Her journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. (Photos/ Hayy Jameel)
Clara Barbier Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini. Her journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. (Photos/ Hayy Jameel)
Updated 24 January 2022

Stunning French soprano enthralls Jeddah audience

Clara Barbier Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini. Her journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. (Photos/ Hayy Jameel)
  • Clara Barbier Serrano performs arias taking audience on a special journey through European history
  • To be in this place in this Maraya concert hall was just incredible, because it’s beautiful; it’s so magical how we can bring this music to the whole world, and then people will somehow connect to it

JEDDAH: The first recipient of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship, French soprano Clara Barbier Serrano, thrilled a Jeddah audience with her stunning performance on the Hayy Jameel stage on Jan. 22.

Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini, taking the Jeddawi audience on a special journey through European history from the 17th to the 20th centuries, via Italian opera, Mozart and finishing with French songs, accompanied by a pianist to complete a beautiful, intimate recital.
This event is considered the first classical music performance at Hayy Jameel.
In an exclusive interview at Hayy Jameel, Serrano told Arab News that she was lucky to receive the scholarship as it created chances for her, including the opportunity to perform next to Bocelli at different locations throughout the world.
“I had my first performance next to Bocelli after I received the Bocelli-Jameel scholarship, it is really always a pleasure to sing next to him,” she said.
“Now I feel more at ease when we’re on the stage together. I’m more relaxed than before because I know him a little bit. There is very nice energy that he gives on stage.”
The talented young singer performed the day before with Bocelli at one of the Kingdom’s prominent cultural destinations, the award-winning Maraya in AlUla.
“To be in this place in this Maraya concert hall was just incredible, because it’s beautiful; it’s so magical how we can bring this music to the whole world, and then people will somehow connect to it,” she said.
As a child, Serrano said that she did not know much about opera. “My family also didn’t listen to classical music, I was not particularly into it. I was listening more to jazz and things like that.”
Serrano’s journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. “I played the violin as a kid, and I took so many musical classes, singing in the choir, and playing the violin, I got more and more interested in the voice and then my teachers would tell me, you have a nice voice you should think solo, and that’s how I got interested in opera or more in lyrical singing.”
“At the time, I hadn’t seen many operas in my life. And it’s a very particular form of art actually. However, this interest in the voice just led me to practice this kind of singing,” she said.
Serrano said that when an opera is performed on stage a great narrative combination happens. “When we are on stage, it is like a story and a plot, it is like a theater piece being performed in a music style. The technique and the way we use our body to make the sound are very emotional. You have to take people with you in something very personal.”
Serrano received the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship in 2020; she was rewarded with a two-year diploma in opera and a chance for her to be fully immersed in the opera world.
“I have been studying opera classical singing for six years, including my four years of bachelor in art and music in Germany, and now I am doing a special kind of postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music in London,” she said.
Serrano performed with Bocelli in the 2020 “Believe in Christmas” concert at the Teatro Regio di Parma, at the annual Concerto di Natale in Assisi in 2020, and in 2021 at the Teatro di Silenzio in Bocelli’s Tuscan hometown of Lajatico.
The opera scholarship is open to students from around the world. Community Jameel, which supports the scholarship, and Art Jameel, which runs Hayy Jameel, are sister organizations founded by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia.
The Andrea Bocelli Foundation and Community Jameel scholarship were established in 2019, with the aim of supporting up-and-coming singers to study opera at the Royal College of Music in London. The second Bocelli-Jameel Scholar was awarded to Egyptian talent Laura Mekhail in 2021.


Internal Audit Conference to start today in Riyadh

The conference will be held under the patronage of Hussam Al-Anqari. (SPA)
The conference will be held under the patronage of Hussam Al-Anqari. (SPA)
Updated 12 sec ago

Internal Audit Conference to start today in Riyadh

The conference will be held under the patronage of Hussam Al-Anqari. (SPA)
  • The conference will host 30 local and international leaders and experts specialized in internal auditing and control systems

RIYADH: The activities of the 8th annual internal audit conference starts in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Organized by the Saudi Institute of Internal Auditors, the conference will be held under the slogan “The Future of Internal Audit,” under the patronage of Hussam Al-Anqari the president of the General Auditing Bureau and chairman of the board of directors of Institute of Internal Auditors.

The two-day conference aims to review the developments of the internal audit profession and control systems globally, chart the future of the profession according to worldwide developments and enhance the characteristics of flexible leadership for the profession in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The conference will host 30 local and international leaders and experts specialized in internal auditing and control systems, in addition to a number of representatives of international organizations and companies, led by the president and CEO of the International Institute of Internal Auditors , Anthony Pugliese.

The conference will include dialogue sessions, presentations and specialized workshops, discussing the new trends in internal auditing and risk tools in leading control systems in enterprises, as well as role of governance in crisis management and business continuity and growing demand for internal auditing in the Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia assumes presidency of GCC Commercial Arbitration Center

Saudi Arabia assumes presidency of GCC Commercial Arbitration Center
Updated 43 min 48 sec ago

Saudi Arabia assumes presidency of GCC Commercial Arbitration Center

Saudi Arabia assumes presidency of GCC Commercial Arbitration Center
  • Saudi Arabia takes over the presidency from Bahrain

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has assumed the presidency of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Commercial Arbitration Center and will be headed by the Kingdom’s representative Fahd bin Ali Al-Omari, Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.
Saudi Arabia takes over the presidency from Bahrain following a decision made during a board of directors meeting in December.
Tariq Yousef Al-Shammari, the center’s secretary-general, said that Al-Omari is regarded as one of the most prominent legal figures in the Kingdom, and holds a leading position in the Federation of Saudi Chambers.
He also served as vice chairman of the disciplinary committee in the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and participated in several research projects on economic systems.
Bahrain’s representative and former president, Sami Zainal, praised the GCC’s accomplishments over the past year and the efforts made by the General Secretariat to achieve the center’s strategic objectives.
Oman’s Ali bin Salem Al Kasbi assumed the position of vice president.


Cirque du Soleil to debut major international shows in Saudi Arabia

Cirque du Soleil to debut major international shows in Saudi Arabia
Updated 24 January 2022

Cirque du Soleil to debut major international shows in Saudi Arabia

Cirque du Soleil to debut major international shows in Saudi Arabia
  • The Kingdom will host a brand new Cirque du Soleil resident show unique to Saudi Arabia
  • The deal also says the two parties will establish a regional Cirque du Soleil academy and office

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture has signed an agreement with the Canadian entertainment group Cirque du Soleil to enable it to put on its renowned creative performances in the Kingdom.
The agreement was signed by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture and chairman of the Theater and Performing Arts Authority, and Gabriel de Alba, co-chairman of Cirque du Soleil, at a meeting held in New York City.
The agreement will see Cirque du Soleil present a number of award-winning circus shows for the first time in the Kingdom, including touring shows such as “The Illusionist,” “Now You See Me,” “Paw Patrol Live,” “Race to Rescue,” “Trolls Live,” and the Blue Man Group’s world tour. The Kingdom will also host a brand new Cirque du Soleil resident show unique to Saudi Arabia.
The agreement also says the two parties will establish a regional Cirque du Soleil academy and office, to provide a curriculum of high standards led by the best global circus experts. Students from all over the Kingdom and abroad will have the opportunity to hone their performance skills through the circus’ international school exchange and artist-in-residence programs, and will also be awarded internationally recognized certificates.

Cirque du Soleil has presented six shows in Saudi Arabia since 2018, the last of which was the “Messi 10” show, which was held in November during the Riyadh Season and shed light on the life of the famous Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.
The agreement comes with the performing arts witnessing greater development in the Kingdom, especially after the establishment of the Theater and Performing Arts Authority, which announced its strategy to further improve the sector last year.
The plan includes better infrastructure for theater and performing arts, providing job opportunities, building partnerships, and providing educational and training opportunities for about 4,500 playwrights and more than 4,000 trainees by 2030.


New judicial costs system to reduce false lawsuits in Saudi Arabia

The most prominent provision mentioned is the mechanism for calculating the judicial costs of the lawsuits. (Shutterstock)
The most prominent provision mentioned is the mechanism for calculating the judicial costs of the lawsuits. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 January 2022

New judicial costs system to reduce false lawsuits in Saudi Arabia

The most prominent provision mentioned is the mechanism for calculating the judicial costs of the lawsuits. (Shutterstock)
  • The mechanism will be in full effect starting March 13
  • Judicial costs are imposed on the lawsuit in an amount not exceeding 5 percent of the value of the claim, with a maximum amount of SR1 million, with defined regulations and criteria for estimating judicial costs

JEDDAH: Less than 50 days remain until the application of the judicial costs system, which entails the imposition of fees when filing civil, commercial, and criminal lawsuits, borne by the convicted party or the party who loses the case.

The draft executive regulations for the judicial costs system revealed that the purpose behind imposing fees on types of cases is to reduce malicious and false lawsuits, and promote alternative means for settling disputes.
The application of this system will be in full-effect from March 13.
Waleed bin Naif, a lawyer, told Arab News: “The judicial costs system objective is to reduce the overgrowth of malicious lawsuits, urge the documentation and proof of transactions and contracts, as well as directing litigants to resolve their dispute amicably.
“Judicial costs are imposed on the lawsuit in an amount not exceeding 5 percent of the value of the claim, with a maximum amount of SR1 million ($266,596), with defined regulations and criteria for estimating judicial costs,” added Bin Naif.
According to the new system, the estimation of the judicial fees of the lawsuit ranges between 5 percent and 2 percent.
The most prominent provisions mentioned are the mechanism for calculating the judicial costs of the lawsuits, estimated in a descending percentage of no more than 5 percent.
The draft also explains the mechanism for calculating the financial execution request and direct execution request, determining who bears the costs of execution requests, and ascertaining criteria for cost estimation of requests on lawsuits.
In addition to issuing rules and procedures for notification and objection to judicial litigation expenses, the draft includes issuing cost bonds for lawsuits, requests, and collection and objection methods, and clarifying cases of exemption from judicial costs.
“The provisions of the law shall apply to all cases and requests submitted to the courts, excluding the following: The first exception being general criminal cases, disciplinary cases, and requests related thereto. The second is cases and requests that are within the jurisdiction of the Personal Status Courts, except for the cassation request and the request for re-examination,” Bin Naif said.
“The third includes cases and requests that fall within the jurisdiction of the Board of Grievances. The fourth is the cases and requests related to lawsuits for the division of estates, except for a request for cassation and a request for reconsideration. The fifth includes cases and requests that arise from the application of the provisions of the bankruptcy system. While the sixth exception is for cases of termination and related requests.”