Saudi artist, Amazon launch debut Eid-themed gift card collaboration

Saudi artist, Amazon launch debut Eid-themed gift card collaboration
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The collection offers Saudis the chance to send traditional ‘Eideyyahs’ (gifts of money) to loved ones digitally via Amazon.sa. Amazon is making efforts to highlight and showcase the work of local artists. (Supplied)
Saudi artist, Amazon launch debut Eid-themed gift card collaboration
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Updated 03 May 2021

Saudi artist, Amazon launch debut Eid-themed gift card collaboration

Saudi artist, Amazon launch debut Eid-themed gift card collaboration
  • New gifting experience to help citizens reach out to loved ones amid pandemic restrictions

RIYADH: A Saudi artist has become the first person in the Kingdom to join forces with Amazon to release a series of new themed gift cards, featuring unique Saudi culture-inspired illustrations to mark the upcoming Eid Al-Fitr holiday.

The collection, which features designs created exclusively for Amazon by self-taught local artist Majd Shaker Jaha, offers Saudis the chance to send traditional “Eideyyahs” (gifts of money) to loved ones digitally via Amazon.sa.
Jaha, 21, told Arab News that she was honored to have been selected for the job by Amazon, and was happy that the company was making the effort to highlight work by local artists.
“Not a lot of global companies would do the same, despite the fact that there is so much talent in the region that deserves attention. So I’m grateful to Amazon for the opportunity to show that there is a lot of untapped talent in the Kingdom,” she said.
Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon Middle East and North Africa, said that the company was delighted to bring customers a new Eid gifting experience, especially during the strains of the pandemic, which could prevent many Saudis from seeing their loved ones in person.
“These cards offer a modern way to share the joy of this special occasion with loved ones, while capturing the essence of cherished local traditions,” he said. “Our collaboration with Majd is the first of its kind in the Middle East and for Amazon.sa, and comes as part of our commitment to supporting the brightest homegrown talents and celebrating the region’s rich culture.”




Majd Shaker Jaha says she was honored to have been selected for the job by Amazon, and was happy that platform was making the effort to highlight and showcase the efforts of local artists.

Jaha discussed her inspiration behind the designs, saying that she tried to find a balance between the traditional aspects of Saudi culture and her own personal style.
“I take inspiration from culturally significant and recognizable designs, like the decorations of traditional Saudi cookware or fabrics such as Shalky and Sadu, and play around with those. Maybe I’ll alter the colors, but I always try to maintain the integrity of the design itself,” she said.
Jaha advised young Saudi artists to continue to pursue their dreams, adding that there are plenty of opportunities for them to display their ability and that there is more than one way to be an artist.
“I think a lot of young artists think that they have to be super-famous painters who work on huge canvases and sell them for lots of money to be able to consider themselves artists,” she said, “but I want them to remember that there are opportunities everywhere, especially in the wake of Vision 2030 and the new mentality the Kingdom has toward the art scene.”
The gift cards can be purchased on both the Amazon.sa website or the app, which customers can pre-charge with the amount of their choice in just a few seconds. Recipients will receive electronic notifications with a claim code where they can choose to either add the amount directly to their Amazon account or apply the code directly during checkout when shopping. The cards are valid for up to 10 years.


Dubai warns residents over ‘big cat’ on the loose

Dubai warns residents over ‘big cat’ on the loose
Updated 19 May 2021

Dubai warns residents over ‘big cat’ on the loose

Dubai warns residents over ‘big cat’ on the loose
  • The creature has been prowling one of the Springs 3 community

DUBAI: Dubai Police and Municipality officials were attempting to capture a “wild animal” on the loose since Tuesday morning.

The creature, described by residents as a black big cat, has been prowling one of the city’s gated communities.

Dubai Media Office tweeted saying Dubai Police had reassured the community that it is taking all measures to minimize any potential danger to people from a wild animal that was spotted in The Springs 3 area.

Trained professionals are currently conducting an extensive search to locate and capture the animal.

However, authorities advised members of The Springs community to exercise all necessary caution.

Dubai Police cautioned the public saying “bringing out any kind of wild animal into a public environment is strictly prohibited under the emirate’s laws.” Violators can face a jail term of up to six months in addition to severe financial penalties.


‘This needs to stop!’: Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton expresses support for Palestine

‘This needs to stop!’: Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton expresses support for Palestine
Updated 17 May 2021

‘This needs to stop!’: Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton expresses support for Palestine

‘This needs to stop!’: Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton expresses support for Palestine
  • ‘This is so heartbreaking. This needs to stop! #SavePalestine #GazaUnderAttack #stopthegenocide’

DUBAI: Socialite Paris Hilton has expressed support for Palestine and the Palestinian people as Israel continued its heavy bombardment of the occupied territories in an escalating conflict with Hamas militants.

The celebrity personality, who built her way from being a pampered hotel scion to a successful entrepreneur with a billion-dollar global brand, called for a halt in Israeli attacks against Gaza and a stop to the ‘genocide.’

““This is so heartbreaking. This needs to stop! #SavePalestine #GazaUnderAttack #stopthegenocide”,” Paris tweeted in an accompanying article from The Guardian where Israel claimed attacks in Gaza would continue until there is ‘complete quiet.’

Israeli air strikes killed 33 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst reported daily death toll yet in the almost week-long clashes.

 


The heaviest fighting since 2014, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, saw Hamas and Israel again trade heavy fire, with the death toll rising to 181 in the crowded coastal enclave of Gaza since Monday and at 10 in Israel, according to authorities on either side.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation opened an emergency meeting Sunday over the heavy fighting, the first major move among Middle East nations still grappling with how to address the conflict.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki of the Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, decried what he called Israel’s “cowardly attacks” at the start of the meeting.

Israel said Sunday morning its “continuing wave of strikes” had in the past 24 hours struck over 90 targets across Gaza, where the destruction of a building housing news media organizations sparked an international outcry.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “dismayed” by civilian casualties in Gaza and “deeply disturbed” by Israel’s strike on Saturday on the tower housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera bureaus, a spokesperson said.

Israel’s army said Sunday that about 3,000 rockets had been fired from the coastal strip towards Israel, the highest rate ever recorded, of which about 450 failed launches fell in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system had intercepted over a thousand rockets, the army said, in almost a week during which Israeli residential buildings have been hit, with over 500 people wounded.


Kazakhstan says 350 rare antelopes killed by lightning

Kazakhstan says 350 rare antelopes killed by lightning
Updated 14 May 2021

Kazakhstan says 350 rare antelopes killed by lightning

Kazakhstan says 350 rare antelopes killed by lightning
  • Discovery came during calving season for the Saiga, which is known for its distinctive bulbous nose
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Saiga among five critically endangered antelopes

Almaty: Kazakhstan said Friday that around 350 critically endangered Saiga antelopes had been killed, probably by lightning, after villagers found their bodies in steppe land in the west of the country.
The discovery came during calving season for the Saiga, which is known for its distinctive bulbous nose.
The Kazakh ecological ministry said in a statement that lightning was the probable cause of their deaths “as there are traces of lightning strikes on the carcasses.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), whose “Red List” is the scientific reference for threatened wildlife, lists the Saiga as among five critically endangered antelope species, with a population of around 124,000 adults.
Kazakhstan is home to the vast majority of the animals, with Russia’s Kalmykia region and Mongolia hosting much smaller populations.
In 2015, around 200,000 of the antelopes — well over half the total global population at the time — were wiped out by what scientists later determined was a nasal bacterium that spread in unusually warm and humid conditions.
In an aerial survey in 2019, Kazakhstan said its Saiga population was estimated at more than 330,000 individuals.
Poaching is a persistent threat, fueled by demand for horn in traditional Chinese medicine. Kazakhstan’s leaders pledged to crack down on the crime after two state rangers were killed by poachers in 2019.


As poverty bites, Lebanese give up their pets

As poverty bites, Lebanese give up their pets
Updated 14 May 2021

As poverty bites, Lebanese give up their pets

As poverty bites, Lebanese give up their pets
BEIRUT: Ibrahim Al-Dika had raised his Belgian shepherd Lexi since she was a tiny pup, but then Lebanon’s economic crisis made him jobless and he had to sell her to repay a bank loan.
“It got to the point where I was no longer able to feed her, the bank was pressuring me, and I hit a wall,” said the 26-year-old, devastated beside her empty kennel outside his Beirut home.
“I didn’t sell a car or a telephone. I sold a soul. I sold a part of me.”
Can you afford to keep your pet? Animal activists say this is a dilemma a growing number of Lebanese owners are facing as their purchasing power nosedives.
Tens of thousands of Lebanese have lost their jobs or seen their income reduced to a pittance due to Lebanon’s worst economic crisis in decades.
As many families struggle to stay afloat, activists say increasingly more pet owners are asking for help to feed or re-home their animals, selling them, or in the worst cases abandoning them.
Dika, after losing his father to illness, was laid off last year when his employer, a fashion retailer, closed shop, affecting his ability to support his mother and brother.
He had spent around a year caring for Lexi, and training her to sit, heel, give him the paw, and play dead.
But when the bank started calling, he saw no option other than to sell her.
He drove over a few days later to check in on her, and Lexi thought he had come to take her home.
“She leapt straight into my car,” he said. “She broke my heart the way she looked at me.”
With more than half of Lebanon’s population now living in poverty, many Lebanese have to depend on non-governmental organizations to get by — even to feed their pets.
Amal Ramadan, 39, said she used to make donations to animal charity PAW. But these days it is her receiving free bags of food from them for her pit bull and bichon, Nelly and Fluffy.
Her monthly salary working in car rental, once equivalent to $1,000, is now worth just $120 because of the Lebanese currency’s sharp devaluation.
“I don’t have enough income to feed my pets,” said the widowed mother of two, who has taken on extra work to make ends meet.
Ramadan said she would rather starve than give up Nelly and Fluffy.
But as the price of imported pet food, meat and veterinary care soars, activists said some other animals have not been so lucky.
At the Woof N’ Wags dog shelter in southern Lebanon, volunteer Ghada Al-Khateeb watched a female dog lying on her side, breathing weakly under a grubby white coat, after she was rescued from the local trash dump.
She said pet abandonments were on the rise.
“Nobody can afford to feed their dogs anymore,” said the 32-year-old hairdresser and divorced mother of twins.
“When they come to hand them over, they tell us: ‘our children are our priority’.”
The shelter’s founder, 28-year-old Joe Okdjian, said he was in desperate need of more donations.
“Sometimes they go a day or two without food,” he said of the 90 dogs already in his care.
As Lebanon’s economy crumbles, people’s fates are mirrored in those of their pets.
In the capital, rescuer Soraya Mouawad said two or three people a week were asking her to re-home their animal.
They say they are emigrating, moving into a smaller home, or can no longer look after them “for personal reasons,” said the founder of Animals Pride and Freedom.
Many young professionals have fled Lebanon since 2019, especially after a massive explosion in Beirut last summer killed more than 200 people and ravaged large parts of the city.
Dedicated activists are working to ensure dozens of pets can also emigrate.
In one room at the Animals Lebanon shelter in Beirut, two cats lay in their beds.
One of them, Hips, was hit by a car in February and is paralyzed below the waist. The other, Edward, was dumped in a box in the street in November and appears to suffer from an allergy.
Soon, the charity said, Hips and Edward are set to travel to a new life in the United States.

Looted Libyan statue returned from Britain

The 2,200-year-old figure was seized at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2013 under suspicion that it was illicitly imported, before being returned this week. (AP)
The 2,200-year-old figure was seized at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2013 under suspicion that it was illicitly imported, before being returned this week. (AP)
Updated 12 May 2021

Looted Libyan statue returned from Britain

The 2,200-year-old figure was seized at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2013 under suspicion that it was illicitly imported, before being returned this week. (AP)
  • 2,200-year-old figure was seized at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2013
  • Libyan Embassy in London thanks UK authorities, British Museum

LONDON: An ancient Libyan statue, believed to be looted from the country during its civil war, has been returned from Britain. 

The 2,200-year-old figure was seized at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2013 under suspicion that it was illicitly imported. Experts from the British Museum were called in to assist efforts to identify the statue.

“Only a handful of these sculptural types are found in museum or private collections outside of Libya,” said the museum.

In 2015, a judge ruled that the artifact was the property of Libya. The museum said the marble’s surface is fresh and preserved, suggesting that it had been recently recovered from the ground.

It assessed that the statue was illegally excavated from the archaeological site of Cyrene during the civil war.

British Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage thanked UK tax authorities and the museum, whose efforts ensured that the country is “able to return this important statue to Libya where it belongs.” 

British Museum experts said the statue was easy to identify as its style is limited to manufacture from workshops in Cyrenaica, ancient Libya. The area was settled by the Greeks in the seventh century BC.

Some 100 statues of the same style have been recovered in Cyrenaica, but the heads of the statues have survived in just over half of cases, said the museum.

Its experts said the statue that was returned to Libya is especially rare as it has both snake bracelets on its wrists and an offering in the shape of a small doll in its hand.

“An important part of the museum’s work on cultural heritage involves our close partnership with law enforcement agencies concerned with illicit trafficking,” said Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum.

“This case is another good example of the benefits of all parties working together to combat looting and protect cultural heritage.”

The Libyan Embassy in London thanked British authorities and the museum for working to recover the statue “to its original homeland.”