Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’

Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’
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Updated 10 June 2021

Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’

Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’
  • Scholars of Afghanistan and Pakistan meet to discuss reconciliation and peace

The Muslim World League hosted on Thursday in Makkah, the conference “Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan”, with scholars of Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss achieving reconciliation between the warring factions, under the auspices of Saudi Arabia.

The conference includes five sessions, in which more than 20 key speakers from senior scholars will speak on; peace, tolerance, moderation and reconciliation in Islam.

The opening session will be attended by Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, President of the Association of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Dr. Noor Al-Haq Qadri, Minister of Islamic Affairs and Tolerance of Religions in the Republic of Pakistan, and Sheikh Muhammad Qasim Halimi, Minister of Hajj, Endowments and Guidance in the Republic of Afghanistan.

Senior scholars of the two countries will also attend this session, Ambassador Lt. Gen. Bilal Akbar, Ambassador of the Republic of Pakistan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Ahmed Javed Mojadidi, Ambassador of the Republic of Afghanistan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Rizwan Saeed Sheikh, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Pakistan to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Ambassador Dr. Shafiq Samim, Permanent Representative The Republic of Afghanistan to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.


Saudi Arabia approves uniform for taxi, transport app drivers

Saudi Arabia approves uniform for taxi, transport app drivers
Updated 1 min 46 sec ago

Saudi Arabia approves uniform for taxi, transport app drivers

Saudi Arabia approves uniform for taxi, transport app drivers
  • From July 12 the uniform is a requirement in accordance with the provisions of the regulations governing the activity of taxi and taxi intermediaries
  • The TGA called on those interested in its services to visit its website, tga.gov.sa, to view the details of the approved uniform

RIYADH: The Saudi Transport General Authority has revealed a uniform for public transport, airport taxi and private hire taxi drivers, as well as drivers of passenger transport applications.

From July 12 the uniform will be mandatory for drivers in these roles.

The uniform is a requirement in accordance with the provisions of the regulations governing the activity of taxi and taxi intermediaries.

Uniforms will contribute to strengthening development efforts and will raise the quality of services in transport activities, the TGA said.

It added that the decision came as part of updates and improvements to taxi transport and passenger transport applications, including changes to the technical specifications of taxis.

The TGA has also rolled out electronic payment systems for taxi customers.

The authority affirmed its keenness to serve beneficiaries and strive to achieve the highest standards of quality in transport services throughout Saudi Arabia’s regions.

It called on those interested in its services to visit its website, tga.gov.sa, to view the details of the approved uniform. The public can also call the unified number 19929 to obtain further information.


Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge

Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge
Updated 2 min 52 sec ago

Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge

Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge
  • More than $50,000 in cash prizes on offer
  • Through the challenge, creators across the world will be among the first to experience the transformative potential of the metaverse

DUBAI: Meta, in collaboration with Coders HQ and the Museum of the Future, announced the launch of the first global Spark AR Challenge in the Middle East.
The challenge will be held under the theme of “Tomorrow Today — What will the next decade bring?” It encourages creators to visualize the impact of technology and innovation on future lifestyles, mobility, work and communication by designing augmented reality (AR) effects using Meta’s AR tool, Spark AR.
Fares Akkad, regional director for MENA, Meta, said: “As Meta builds for the metaverse, the developer and creator community will play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the physical, augmented and virtual worlds. Through the challenge, creators across the world will be among the first to experience the transformative potential of the metaverse.”
The program, which is running from May 23 to June 17, challenges participants to use AR to identify how modern technologies will improve wellbeing across various sectors.
The Spark AR challenge is supported by Coders HQ, which aims to empower programmers with digital skills and train them to use programming languages in line with the UAE’s national efforts.
Omar Sultan Al-Olama, UAE minister of state for artificial intelligence, digital economy and remote work applications, said: “The global Spark AR Challenge that has been organized for the first time in Middle East keeps pace with the rapid developments in the sectors that are related to human life and driven by modern technology, data and digital solutions.”
He added: “It contributes to simulating innovation, finding viable proactive solutions, and continuous improvement to build a digital economy based on knowledge and innovation.”
Emirates and Accenture have also partnered with the program. As part of the partnership, participants will be asked to create AR effects around “Mobility of Tomorrow” for Emirates and the “Opportunities of the Future” for Accenture.
Winners will get the chance to have their winning effects featured on Emirates’ and Accenture’s social media pages as well as a chance to win cash prizes amounting to more than $50,000.
Meta is also offering participants the chance to enhance their skills through workshops with two expert AR developers: Kym Fiala, a Spark AR network partner and co-founder of South Africa-based digital agency Pixel Chefs; and Balraj Bains, a creative designer, project manager and freelance AR creator based in the UK.


A look at Queen Elizabeth II’s style through the decades

A look at Queen Elizabeth II’s style through the decades
Updated 10 min 54 sec ago

A look at Queen Elizabeth II’s style through the decades

A look at Queen Elizabeth II’s style through the decades
  • Her Majesty neither sets trends nor follows them
  • The queen's style has been hyper-documented since her birth

NEW YORK: Queen Elizabeth II just might have the hardest working wardrobe on the planet.
“Every outfit worn in public is carefully calibrated to inspire or remind, to signal gratitude or respect, to convey a sense of power or familiarity,” wrote The Mail on Sunday in 2015. “Her Majesty neither sets trends nor follows them — but while she is deaf to the siren call of fashion, she has her own singular style.”
From her tiaras, hats and Hermes scarves to her Launer London handbags and even her umbrellas, the queen’s style has been hyper-documented since her birth, young princess days, ascension to the throne and now, more than 70 years into her reign, as she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee at age 96.
Now known for her bright coats (so as to be seen by huge crowds) with matching brimmed hats, the queen was a young, glamorous princess and monarch in earlier decades.
Some highlights of the queen’s style through the years:
HER CHILDHOOD
Cotton or wool? The queen’s very birth prompted style debate, writes Bethan Holt, fashion editor of The Telegraph and author of this year’s “The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style.”
Her wardrobe from the get-go was a topic of national fascination with a layette sewn by her mother and grandmother, and a little help from underprivileged women throughout Britain. Declaring that babies in wool looked like “little gnomes,” Lilibet’s mum, then the Duchess of York, opted for frilly cotton, rejecting anything too fussy.
When sister Margaret came along four years later, the princesses often twinned it, dressing alike into their teens. But the future queen as a girl “never cared a fig” about clothes, according to her former governess, Marion Crawford.
“She wore what she was told without argument, apart from a long, drab mackintosh that she loathed,” Crawford wrote in her controversial memoir, “The Little Princesses.”
THE YOUNG HEIRESS
With the tumultuous abdication of her uncle and the rise of her father to become King George VI, Princess Elizabeth became heiress presumptive (absent any future male heir, who never materialized).
Enter couturier Norman Hartnell, according to Holt. While there were other designers, he was entrusted with dressing the family as they emerged on the world stage, including the two princesses at ages 11 and 6. Their “bow-adorned dresses and little cloaks signalled a return to the calm dependability of the monarchy,” Holt wrote.
During World War II, 18-year-old Elizabeth began to make more public appearances, training as a mechanic in early 1945 toward the end of the war. It was the only time she routinely wore trousers (and boiler suits), according to Holt.
The queen was, and remains, a practical dresser when necessary, but also glamorous in sparkly gowns when the moment beckoned. And she often went short sleeved or with no sleeves at all, something that doesn’t happen today. She stood for photos with Prince Philip in a simple, light-colored dress with sleeves above the elbow and peekaboo low heels on her size 4 (6 US) feet shortly before their wedding in 1947.
“People want to see their royals looking like royals, but equally, they don’t want to think that taxpayers’ money is being blown away,” said Nick Bullen, editor in chief of True Royalty TV.
THE WEDDING DRESS
Hartnell transformed the florals of Botticelli’s “Primavera” into a gown of white crystals and pearls. But it wasn’t easy. There were diplomatic questions in the still-miserable aftermath of the war, Holt wrote. Customs impounded 10,000 seed pearls from the US, and journalists were assured that the origins of the silk produced in Kent and woven in Essex were worms from “nationalist” China rather than “enemy” Japan.
Thousands in the UK sent in their ration coupons for Princess Elizabeth to use for dress materials. That would have been illegal, so she saved up her own and asked the government for 200 extra, Holt told The Associated Press.
“It showed the thirst there was in the country for this big moment of glamor,” she said. “In recent years, we have known the queen and Prince Philip as this sweet old couple but we have to remember, in that time they were this dazzling, glamorous new couple on the scene.”
The wedding was not without behind-the-scenes drama. Queen Mary’s Fringe tiara, made by Elizabeth’s grandmother from a necklace given to Mary by Queen Victoria, snapped right before the ceremony and was rushed off to crown jeweler Garrard for repair.
The dress, and the wedding, offered “a real moment of hope,” Holt said.
HER HEMLINES
She settled years ago on skirts and dresses just below the knee, but her hemlines were sometimes an issue for senior members of her family. In 1952, the 25-year-old queen led her family in mourning at her father’s funeral in accordance to strict dress codes set out during the reign of Queen Victoria, according to Holt.
As Queen Mary curtsied to her granddaughter and kissed each cheek, she admonished: “Lilibet, your skirts are much too short for mourning,” Holt writes. The new queen’s dress hovered well above her ankles yet respectfully below the knee, while that of her grandmother reached the ground. All, including Queen Elizabeth II, were shrouded in black veils, as Queen Victoria was for 40 years after the death of Prince Albert in 1861.
“The evolution of the queen’s style from young princess to longest-serving monarch in British history has her being of the time but not following fashion,” Bullen said.
FINDING A UNIFORM
The queen we know today wears sensible block heels or brogues, usually handmade by Anello & Davide, a custom Launer perched on her arm and a brooch on one shoulder. She goes with kilts and skirts in tartans and plaids as her country style. But the queen of the early 1950s charmed the world in nipped-in waists, pencil silhouettes and some floaty, full experiments as a post-war fashion quake took hold in the country.
“In the early years of her reign, she really embraced Dior’s New Look aesthetic, and women looked to her outfits as a source of inspiration, much like people do with the Duchess of Cambridge today,” said Kristin Contino, style reporter for Page Six.
There was a playful glamor in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, including a bold multicolored evening dress in 1999 for a Royal Variety Performance. Created by Karl-Ludwig Rehse, it featured a riotous sequin diamond-pattern bodice of bright yellow, blue, green and pink.
There were also some trouser days and a turban phase in the ‘60s and ‘70s amid a wide range of hat styles.
The queen learned of her father’s passing on a stop in Kenya en route to Australia. Some reports indicate she was wearing jeans for an encounter with a herd of elephants the moment her father died in his sleep at Sandringham, Holt wrote. She donned slacks on safari in Zambia in 1979, and a trouser set in 2003 as she left King Edward VIII hospital in London after a knee operation.
It was Margaret, the rebel, who was renowned as a fashion plate in Dior and other designers, and her influence on Elizabeth was tangible. Little sister helped the queen scout new British designers and introduced her to up-and-comers, such as milliner Simone Mirman, according to Holt. Mirman created some of the queen’s standout hats, including her Tudor-style “medieval helmet,” as Hartnell called it, in soft yellow, for the 1969 investiture of Prince Charles.
“Margaret was really in tune with fashion. She would have been the one reading Vogue. And so she would often go with the queen to appointments to help her inject that little bit of extra style into her looks,” Holt said.
Usually sticking to British designers, the queen has a long-held fondness for silk scarves by the French fashion house Hermes. The brand has issued several special designs in her honor. It did so in 2016 with a horse-themed scarf to mark her 90th birthday.
One doesn’t equate the queen of today with a mad rush to copy her style, but for a brief spell in the 1950s women could do just that thanks to her love of cotton dresses in dainty floral or abstract prints from Horrockses Fashions, a British ready-to-wear brand, Holt said.
Another look from those early years stands out as well. In October 1952, soon after ascending the throne, the queen was a sensation at the Empire Theatre for a royal viewing of the musical comedy “Because You’re Mine.” She wore a tuxedo-like Hartnell gown in black with a white front and wide lapels in a halter design, paired with long white gloves, a tiara on her head and a diamond bracelet on one wrist.
She hit every magazine and newspaper the next day. Manufacturers rushed to copy it. It was dubbed the Magpie and she never wore it again.
MATCHY MATCHY
The queen loves to color coordinate, sticking to bright colors and pastels in coats and floral dresses today.
That goes for her signature clear, bird-cage umbrellas as well. They’re made by Fulton Umbrellas and are attainable at $30 or less, though the queen’s are custom made. She owns about 100 in a rainbow of colors but contrary to reports, she doesn’t possess 200 of her favorite Launer bags, Holt said. Gerald Bodmer, who rescued Launer in 1981 after a period of decline, was keen to clear up that myth.
“He says she has several styles in several colors. He says that 200 is very far off the mark,” Holt said.
Launer extends the straps of her leather bags to make it easier for her to hang them on her arm, and they make them lighter for her to carry. And what does she carry? Bullen said he’s heard there’s always a lipstick, a handkerchief and a photo of Prince Philip, who died last year at 99.
Irish designer Paul Costelloe, who dressed Princess Diana in the 1980s and ‘90s, told the AP of the queen’s style: “She’s a bit like a schoolteacher, a good schoolteacher. She never shocks. She gets it right.”


China In-Focus: Airbnb to halt listings in China after 2.5 years of lockdowns weighed down operations

China In-Focus: Airbnb to halt listings in China after 2.5 years of lockdowns weighed down operations
Updated 16 min 33 sec ago

China In-Focus: Airbnb to halt listings in China after 2.5 years of lockdowns weighed down operations

China In-Focus: Airbnb to halt listings in China after 2.5 years of lockdowns weighed down operations

RIYADH: America’s Airbnb announced that it will stop operations in China partially amid strict lockdowns. Local Luckin Coffee’s revenue jump’s 90 percent in the first quarter of 2022. Also, iron ore futures slipped amid slowing economic repercussions.

·      American vacation rental company Airbnb has announced that it will halt its listings in China after two years of strict lockdowns with no signs of easing off soon, CNN Business reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. Founded in 2008, the firm will keep its office in Beijing for the sake of outbound travelers and global projects rather than operations in the Asian country itself. 

·      Chinese coffeehouse company Luckin Coffee’s first quarter earnings revealed a surge in revenue of almost 90 percent despite strict Covid-19 restrictions and a slowing economy, CNN Business reported. In addition to achieving its first profit since its launch, the firm also ended the first quarter with 6,580 stores in China, surpassing Starbucks which currently has around 5,650 outlets in the country.

Chinese coffeehouse company Luckin Coffee’s first quarter earnings revealed a surge in revenue. (Shutterstock)

·      Chinese iron ore futures slipped on Thursday amid low investor demand. This comes as the world’s second largest economy is facing large economic struggles when compared to 2020. While some indicators saw a steep drop in March, the country should start achieving reasonable growth in the second quarter of 2022, Reuters reported, citing Premier Li Keqiang.


New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair
Updated 28 min 45 sec ago

New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

DUBAI:  Tokyo-born Fuad Kouichi Honda is widely recognized as one of the world’s top Arabic calligraphers and he just launched his new book, “Noor Ala Noor,” during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) 2022, underway until May 29.

The book was released in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, where a collection of Honda’s work is on display.

“The Arab and Japanese culture share common values, aesthetics and artistic practices that have always acted like a bridge of cultural communication between the two civilizations,” said Dr Ali Bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center, which inaugurated the book during a book launch ceremony in the UAE capital.

The book was released in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. Supplied

“Both Japanese and Arabic languages use calligraphy as a medium of artistic expression and allow calligraphers to reinvent existing styles and innovate and create new ways to personalize their creations. Their styles are based on age-old traditions developed ages ago and are passed down through the generations,” he added.

Syed Mohamad Albukhary, Director of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, said: “The Islamic Arts Museum is proud to present this bilingual publication in honour of the works of Japanese calligrapher Fuad Honda. We hope that together we are able to contribute to enhancing the vision of Arabic art and Islamic calligraphy at the international level. Honda’s works of art carry the message of Arabic calligraphy throughout the world.”

The museum is home to thousands of artifacts and archaeological manuscripts from across the Muslim world that have contributed to the development of Islamic arts, particularly the art of Arabic calligraphy and the decoration of Qurans and manuscripts.

Albukhary hopes that the book, authored and translated by Dr Heba Barakat, will help spread Honda’s calligraphy to a wide spectrum of readers and art connoisseurs.

The Japanese Muslim, who teaches at Daito Bunka University, has won numerous awards for his work, including at the International Arabic Calligraphy Competition.

It was topography that inspired Honda to try his hand at calligraphy. 

After graduating in Foreign Studies at Tokyo University, he joined a Japanese company that was working with the Saudi government to survey and make maps of the Arabian Peninsula. He traveled to the Kingdom in 1974 as a translator for the company. Several of the maps the company was using bore Arabic calligraphy and Honda says he fell in love with the art form. He started teaching himself to recreate the work he had seen.