New AlUla archaeological and conservation research institute to help ‘unfold Arabia’s contribution to humanity’

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Updated 30 April 2021

New AlUla archaeological and conservation research institute to help ‘unfold Arabia’s contribution to humanity’

An Archaïos survey team at work in the AlUla Cultural Oasis. (Supplied)
  • Royal Commission of AlUla’s Kingdom’s Institute set to become an international destination for the study of archaeology and conservation

DUBAI: To be located in AlUla amid the ruins of the ancient North Arabian Kingdom of Dadan and as if to bring back to life the dazzling past of this still enigmatic civilization, the recently announced Kingdom’s Institute, established under the auspices of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), is marked to become AlUla’s global hub for archaeological and conservation research. 

Its most prominent buildings are destined to be carved themselves into the mountains opposite the archaeological site of Dadan while the design of the remaining edifices will be inspired by the archaeological structures uncovered pertaining to the Dadan civilization.

“Inspired by the crown prince’s vision for AlUla to protect 200,000 years of history, AlUla’s cultural legacy continues with the Kingdom’s Institute,” Prince Badr bin Abdullah, the Saudi minister of culture and RCU governor, told Arab News.

“It will be a global hub for knowledge, research and collaboration, exploring the frontiers of archaeology and unlocking new careers for our community. The Institute will be a place for discovery and celebration as we unfold Arabia’s contribution to humanity.”

 

Dadan, a civilization that dates back more than 2,700 years and pre-dates the Nabataean civilization as well as the Roman presence in the Arabian Peninsula, was once the capital for the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms and is considered to be one of the most developed 1st-millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula.

“The ‘era of the kingdoms’ — the time of the Dadan, Lihyan and Nabataean Kingdoms circa 1000 BCE to 106 CE — will be an area of special emphasis for the institute and indeed gives it its name,” said Munirah Almushawh, the archaeology survey lead of the Kingdom’s Institute. 

Almushawh is also the first female archaeologist to co-direct an archaeological project in Saudi Arabia. She is working on the Khaybar Long-Duree Archaeological Project, a major archaeological project southwest of AlUla, which is being developed with the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

“In deference to the architectural style of the district, the institute’s permanent home will be a red sandstone structure echoing the monumental works of the Dadan civilization,” Almushawh said.




The design of the Kingdoms Institute will be inspired by the works of the Dadan civilisation with the most prominent buildings carved into the mountains opposite the archaeological site of Dadan. (Supplied)

The institute, which is part of AlUla’s recently announced “The Journey Through Time: a masterplan for preserving and sustainably developing Saudi Arabia’s ancient AlUla,” is expected to complete its first phase of construction by 2023 and open to visitors by 2030, which is also the year of the Saudi Vision 2030. It forecasts a visitation of 838,000 people by 2035.

“In a spirit of co-construction and co-development of research with its partner French Agency for Alula Development (AFALULA), specialized and original research programs have been set up with the best experts in the region in order to write the history from the Neolithic to today of this unique heritage jewel in the world,” Ingrid Perisse, AFALULA’s head of archaeological and cultural heritage projects, told Arab News.

“The interdisciplinary research teams that take turns on the different sites have made AlUla the most important archaeological hub in the Arabian Peninsula.”




The design of the Kingdoms Institute will be inspired by the works of the Dadan civilisation with the most prominent buildings carved into the mountains opposite the archaeological site of Dadan. (Supplied)

Perisse said the scientific community will come together for this project.

“Historians, geo-archaeologists, ceramologists, numismatists and other specialists of this scientific community bring their knowledge and know-how to participate in the training of the next generation of Saudi archaeologists,” she said.

History and heritage are at the heart of the Dadan district and its upcoming Kingdom’s Institute. With its enduring sense of mystery, perpetuated by its magnetic red rocks, the institute intends to pay homage to Saudi Arabia’s past as well as the role AlUla will play in the future of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom’s Institute will be built on a 28,857 square-meter site. Inside will be a multidisciplinary and innovative scientific center where visitors and residents can study from seven core archaeological programs, including rock art conservation and preservation, inscriptions and languages, prehistoric and historic agriculture and sustainability, connectivity and the archaeological record, in addition to seven major disciplines, from research to fieldwork, publishing and exhibition management.




Extensive aerial surveys of AlUla, conducted by a University of Western Australia team, are providing a fuller picture of its rich archaeological heritage, including this tomb in Sharaan. (Supplied)

The Institute will provide access to the study of 200,000 years of history and prehistory amid a survey of 22,675 square meters. Already, the Institute has begun preparing 15 research and conservation missions.

One example is the recent discovery of mustatils, fence-like structures built by people thousands of years ago in what is now Saudi Arabia by piling rocks to form low walls that were then formed in the shape of rectangles.

While the existence of the mustatils was previously known, the more than 1,000 mustatils that the RCU-commissioned team recently recorded, are approximately twice as many as were previously identified and constituted the largest study of mustatils to date.

“We have only begun to tell the hidden story of the ancient kingdoms of North Arabia,” RCU Archaeology, Heritage Research and Conservation Executive Director José Ignacio Gallego Revilla told Arab News. 

“There is much more to come as we reveal the depth and breadth of the area’s archaeological heritage, which for decades has been underrepresented, but which will finally have the showcase it deserves in the Kingdom’s Institute.”


British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion

 British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion
Completing "puzzle-work" of a smashed glass beaker at the Archaeological Museum, AUB. Courtesy of the AUB Office of Communications and Archaeological Museum
Updated 28 July 2021

British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion

 British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion

DUBAI: It has been almost one year since two explosions rocked the port of Beirut, killing more than 200, injuring over 6,000 and leaving hundreds of thousands without a home. The incident, which occurred on Aug. 4, 2020, caused significant damage to buildings in Lebanon’s capital, including the Archaeological Museum at the American University of Beirut (AMAUB), situated two miles away from Beirut’s port where the blasts occurred. During the explosions, many of the artworks on display were damaged.

Now, almost a year after the devastating event, the British Museum and The European Fine Art Foundation have announced that they will partner to help restore some ancient artifacts that were damaged by the blast.

The museum and the fair will restore eight glass vessels dating to Roman and early Islamic times.

The case of glass vessels displayed at the Archaeological Museum (AUB) before the explosion. Courtesy of the AUB Office of Communications and Archaeological Museum

During the explosion, the glass objects that were on display at the AMAUB shattered into hundreds of tiny shards. They will now be painstakingly pieced back together at the British Museum’s conservation labs in London.

Most vessels were shattered beyond repair with only 15 being identified as salvageable.  Of these, only eight are safe to travel to the British Museum to be conserved.

The restored glass works will go on view at the British Museum in a temporary exhibition before returning to Beirut.

Claire Cuyaubère, a conservator from the French Institut National du Patrimoine helped to collect and categorize the shards of ancient glass from the mixed debris, which included glass from the display case and surrounding windows, after the blast.

Conservator Claire Cuyaubère assisting with "puzzle-work" of shard from a glass dish at the Archaeological Museum, AUB. Courtesy of the AUB Office of Communications and Archaeological Museum

She returned to Beirut in July 2021 to identify and match broken shards from each vessel, and identify those suitable for shipment to London. The puzzle-work was supported by the Friends of the Middle East Department at the British Museum.

Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said in a statement: “Like the rest of the world, we looked on in horror at the devastating scenes in Beirut in August last year. We immediately offered the assistance of the British Museum to colleagues in the city. As we mark one year since the tragedy, we’re pleased to be able to provide the expertise and resources of the British Museum to restore these important ancient objects so they can be enjoyed in Lebanon for many more years to come.”


How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers

How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers
Part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik is in Croatia to celebrate model Jasmine Tookes’ bachelorette party. File/Instagram
Updated 28 July 2021

How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers

How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers

DUBAI: With the easing of travel restrictions in some countries, our favorite jet-setting It-girls have taken the opportunity to catch a flight this summer — and they’re making sure to document every minute of their holidays on social media.

Part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik, along with her closest friends, fellow models Sara Sampaio, Lais Ribiero, Jasmine Tookes and Josephine Skriver, flew to Croatia to celebrate Tookes’ bachelorette party.

Tookes and Snapchat’s Juan David Borrero are set to get married in Borrero’s home country of Ecuador, but due to COVID-19, the exact wedding date is yet to be announced.   

“Seeing the beautiful sights,” Shaik wrote. Instagram

The stylish friend group toasted the future bride, who got engaged to Snapchat’s director of international markets in September 2020, this week in Hvar, an idyllic island surrounded by turquoise waters in Croatia. The models were transported to the island by way of a fun-filled boat excursion, which saw them dancing, tanning, sight-seeing and swimming.

“Seeing the beautiful sights,” Shaik wrote alongside a video of the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea.

Elsewhere, Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam decided to spend her summer in her homeland.

The 24-year-old jetted to Agadir, Morocco, where she is enjoying some much-needed family time following months of lockdowns and movement restrictions.

Hammam, who was born in the Netherlands to a Moroccan mother and Egyptian father, offered her followers a sneak peek into her family life, sharing candid photos of herself snuggling with her baby cousins and enjoying traditional Moroccan food.

Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam decided to spend her summer in her homeland. Instagram

And Hammam isn’t the only jetsetter to revisit her roots this summer.

British-Albanian crooner Dua Lipa is currently Albania with her partner of two years, part-Palestinian model and singer Anwar Hadid.

Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid are in Albania. Instagram

 The 25-year-old hitmaker has made sure to document the trip for her 69.4 million Instagram followers, sharing photos and videos of herself and her beau making the most of their downtime by relaxing by the beach and lapping up the sunshine.

The couple are with the Grammy award winner’s parents, Dukagjin and Anesa Lipa, in Albania, where the “New Rules” singer made an appearance at the Sunny Hill Kindergarten construction site last week.

And it seems like Hadid is getting along well with the parents.

Anwar Hadid with Dua Lipa's father Dukagjin Lipa. Instagram

Lipa shared a carousel of images on her Instagram feed, which included a sweet photo of the two most important men in her life in an affectionate embrace.  

Elsewhere, Moroccan-British model Nora Attal is enjoying Paris with her family and US-Somali model Halima Aden’s “Munich trip is going lovely,” as per her Instagram caption.


Three Arab films set to premiere at Venice Film Festival

The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1. (Shutterstock)
The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1. (Shutterstock)
Updated 28 July 2021

Three Arab films set to premiere at Venice Film Festival

The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1. (Shutterstock)

DUBAI: The Venice International Film Festival unveiled a starry lineup of world premieres for September, including three films from the Arab world.

“Amira” by Mohamed Diab is set to play in the Horizons section and is a coming-of-age drama shot in Jordan, but set in Palestine.

“Costa Brava” is Lebanese director Mounia Akl's debut work and pairs Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri with Lebanese actress and director Nadine Labaki.

Finally, “Republic of Silence” by Diana El-Jeiroudi is a personal account of the director’s childhood in Syria and, 40 years on, her exile in Berlin.

The films will premiere alongisde international titles, including Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, and Ridley Scott’s medieval drama “The Last Duel,” featuring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Adam Driver.

The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1 on the Lido with the premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s “Madres paralelas,” starring Penelope Cruz. “Spencer” and “Madres paralelas” are among 21 features premiering as part of the official competition, which has often helped guide eventual Oscar best picture nominees and even winners.
 


Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand
Ketish, launched by former Huda Beauty product developer Eman Abbass, is the first brand to be launched by HB Angels. Supplied
Updated 27 July 2021

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

DUBAI: Iraqi-US beauty mogul Huda Kattan has announced Ketish as the first brand to be launched by Huda Beauty Angels — which falls under HB Investments, Kattan’s venture capital firm. Ketish, a feminine care label, is being spearheaded by Eman Abbass, a former Huda Beauty product developer.

“I’m really excited on a deep level about Huda Beauty Angels and being able to reveal to you guys very soon the first project we are investing in with an amazing founder who has such an amazing mission and purpose and we know they’re going to change the world,” she said in a video shared with her 49 million Instagram followers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HUDA KATTAN (@hudabeauty)

“When we first started our brand, nobody wanted to invest in us. Nobody wanted to really believe in our cause and what we were doing,” she added, revealing what prompted her to start the $10 million female entrepreneur seeding initiative, HB Angels.

Specializing in female wellness, Ketish aims to launch its first product in August 2021, although Abbass has been tight-lipped on the sort of products that will be offered, telling The Industry Fashion website that the brand will focus on “targeted body care products.”

The new brand was inspired by Abbass’s own health experience. When she was 21-years-old, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer during her first-ever gynecologist appointment. Coming from a conservative background, Abbass felt ashamed to talk to her American-Egyptian family about her health during the diagnosis and treatment process.

Huda and Mona Kattan pictured with Eman Abbass (M). Supplied

Following a nine-year healing journey that she had to go through alone, Abbass was inspired to launch the luxurious female wellness brand that aims to reform feminine care products in the Middle East and is named after a female ancient Egyptian deity.

“A lot of those brands and products that we find now are in the pharmacy and the pharmacy is traditionally a place that you go when you are sick or something is wrong,” she told The Industry Fashion website. “We want to take feminine wellness and care out of the pharmacy and put it in the places that women shop… when I’m having a bad day I go to Sephora or I hop on to Cult Beauty. It’s those spaces that we want to be playing in to really elevate that experience and give women products that they can incorporate into their overall beauty and self-care routines.”

“Ketish is a movement,” Kattan said in a press release. “It’s about taking power back and being fully comfortable with yourself. When people start to become part of this community, they’re going to feel liberated. I realized very quickly that this was a topic that so many people had so many issues with. The more I started talking to Emaan, the more I was convinced that she could change the category.”


Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
  • Offering people easy ways to learn new skills, explore methods to promote self, business

JEDDAH: Online platforms are helping smaller creative businesses to pass on their knowledge to interested parties. Two such platforms that have been attracting attention from Saudi locals are Suplift and Upgrade.

These online platforms began popping up on social media a few years ago with experiences and activities offered with a registration fee.
Fadi Yahya, the founder of Suplift, told Arab News that the question that inspired Suplift was “How can I ask people with skills to share them with other people who are interested in learning?”

I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities.

Fadi Yahya, Founder of Suplift

“I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities,” he said. “It was extremely hard for an average person to try any activity they like.”
This led to Yahya giving over a few years of his life to build a business from scratch that allowed profits to be given back to a talented person rather than an organization. “Our job was to make the structure simple.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.

• Upgrade-sa.com’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.

He said there were many challenges as the team was building a new market. “We are not running away or finding the easy way out. One thing we had trouble with was the lack of experience.”
Yahya said that to enable the experiences, the team had to find locations, work out the structure, marketing, customer service, technology, management, as well as ways of working with the government.
The aim of Suplift is to promote the idea of having hobbies. “The thing I am most proud of is that we help so many people make money. Many people say that passion can not help you make money, but I think it is needed in order to help the Saudi economy move further.”
Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.
“Now that people understand that they can make money doing what they love, we will have more artists, golfers, divers, archers and so many more,” he said. “This makes me proud of my team and myself.”

When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things.

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com, told Arab News that their platform’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.
The early days of the business were very challenging, Mujahid said. “When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things. So now when the trainers or upgraders, as we call them, come to us, we provide them with guidelines so they can spread their knowledge.”
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector — supporting Saudi economic diversification objectives and building a prosperous future.