Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail

Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail
Former reporter and jazz and blues singer, Loulwa Al-Sharif has been singing for seven years. The larger-than-life singer has been the talk of the town for years, delivering high and low notes with passion. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 June 2021

Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail

Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail
  • Social reforms open doors for female musicians in traditional male field

JEDDAH: Saudi female musicians and performers are hitting the high notes and creating crowd-pleasing beats for Saudi fans.

Jazz and blues, rock, rap and many other genres have been explored by Saudis, but now more Saudi women are making their way to the performance stage, thanks to social reforms that mean career choices that once were taboo are now supported by many.
Saudi electronic music producer and DJ Nouf Sufyani, known as Cosmicat, told Arab News that has been obsessed with music since childhood.
“My love for music was overwhelming and kept leading me back until I started making my own,” the 27-year-old said.
In 2017, Sufyani began gaining attention in the male-dominated field because of her unique style.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in dental medicine and surgery, and worked as a dentist for a while before pursuing her music career.
“It’s a struggle proving myself in a male-dominated industry, and there is also the fear of being a social outcast for what I do since it’s not a traditional job and the style of music I play is not really mainstream,” said Sufyani.
Music is “the motivation that keeps me going every day — it’s a form of art that I keep rediscovering over and over.”
Sufyani taught herself to DJ. “I do electronic music, I love to use my voice and some Arabic poetry or spoken word or even a capella. I make music that can be enjoyed on the dance floor; my flavor is more underground and very personal.”




Saudi electronic music producer and DJ Nouf Sufyani, known as Cosmicat, told Arab News that has been obsessed with music since childhood.

Her music is available on major platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, Anghami, Deezer and Soundcloud, and is also played on the flight entertainment system of Saudi Airlines.
Lamya Nasser, a 33-year-old facility and travel management officer, developed an interest in rock and metal at the age of nine, and began recording her music in 2008, long before the social reforms, as part of the first Saudi female rock band the Accolade.
“What got me started is my love and passion for rock music, how much I can relate to a lot of its messages and how it shaped my character along the way,” she told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHT

Jazz and blues, rock, rap and many other genres have been explored by Saudis, but now more Saudi women are making their way to the performance stage, thanks to social reforms that mean career choices that once were taboo are now supported by many.

“I started my journey with the Accolade back when I was 21 and a student at King Abdul Aziz University. I got to know a very talented guitar player named Dina and along with her sister we formed the band.”
In that year, the band visited Khaled Abdulmanan, a music producer in Jeddah at Red Sand Production. They have recorded three songs: “Pinocchio” (2008), “Destiny” (2009) and her favorite, “This is not me” (2010).
After the women graduated, they went their separate ways. “Sadly, we weren’t able to gather for rehearsals like we used to, and each one of us started her own career.”
In 2018, Nasser went solo and continues to share her performances on Instagram @Lamya.K.Nasser. She recently joined a new recording studio under the name of Wall of Sound.




Lamya Nasser, a 33-year-old facility and travel management officer, developed an interest in rock and metal at the age of nine, and began recording her music in 2008.

“Music can be the fuel to our soul and regenerate our energy. We can translate our pain and express ourselves through music,” she said.
Nasser said that the song “Pinocchio” had more than 19,000 listens on Soundcloud. “It made me truly happy and proud. Even now I still messages on my Instagram account from time to time from beautiful souls sharing their admiration for Accolade’s music,” she said.
Former reporter and jazz and blues singer, 33-year-old Loulwa Al-Sharif (@loulwa_music) has been singing for seven years. The larger-than-life singer has been the talk of the town for years, delivering high and low notes with passion.




Music is the motivation that keeps me going every day — it’s a form of art that I keep rediscovering over and over.
Cosmicat

“I tried working in different fields since I was 17, and decided to leave journalism three years ago to work on what I’m passionate about,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.
“I was one of very few women performing six years ago. It was a little difficult. There were talented females, but no one was singing live in front of an audience. I was maybe the first or second,” she said. “It was hard, but a lot of people were supporting me.” She described music as raw emotion.
“Blues is real emotion and jazz is unpredictable, I love how unpredictable it is from the sound of the piano — there are no rules, and the lyrics from blues music are so real.” Al-Sharif hopes to educate the new generation on jazz and blues through her performances.
“I chose to sing it back then because not many from the new generation listen to jazz and blues, so I really wanted to bring it back and for people to enjoy it.”


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.


Virus recoveries pass half-a-million mark in Saudi Arabia

The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community. (SPA)
The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community. (SPA)
Updated 27 July 2021

Virus recoveries pass half-a-million mark in Saudi Arabia

The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community. (SPA)
  • More than 25 million vaccine doses have been administered so far at a rate of 288,858 per day

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has reported 1,299 new recoveries from COVID-19, raising the total number over the course of the pandemic to 500,428, passing the half million mark.

The Kingdom’s recovery rate now stands at 96.3 percent and rising.
Community response in coordination with the Kingdom’s health authorities has helped stabilize the daily confirmed case count through precautionary measures and high immunization rates. As a result, the number of recoveries has continued a steady rise in recent weeks.
On Monday, the Saudi Health Ministry announced 1,252 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of cases over the course of the pandemic to 519,395.
The Makkah region topped the case count with 316 cases, while the Riyadh region reported 265, the Eastern Province 169 and Asir 145. Jouf remains the region with the lowest case count, recording only three cases on Monday.
The number of active cases continues to fluctuate between the 10,000-11,000 mark. With today’s numbers, there are now 10,788 active cases, 1,424 of which are in critical care, a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.

FASTFACTS

• The Kingdom’s recovery rate now stands at 96.3 percent and rising.

• On Monday, the Health Ministry recorded 1,252 new COVID-19 cases.

• The number of active cases continues to fluctuate between 10,000 and 11,000.

• There were 12 new COVID-19-related deaths reported on Monday.

There were 12 new COVID-19-related deaths reported on Monday, bringing the Kingdom’s death toll to 8,179.
As part of precautionary measures, 90,510 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number completed to more than 24.4 million.
More than 25 million vaccine doses have been administered so far at a rate of 288,858 per day. So far, 71.8 percent of the Kingdom’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 18 percent have received both doses.
Ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline requiring visitors and employees of government, private and commercial entities and establishments to be immunized by at least one vaccine dose or recovered from an infection, the number of registrations for vaccine appointments has surged.
Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said in Sunday’s press conference that more time slots have been made available for appointments.
The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community.


Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay
  • The supplies included 53 respirators and more than 2.3 million surgical masks
  • The aid also included protective clothing, medical gloves and other preventive supplies

RIYADH: Medical aid from Saudi Arabia arrived in Uruguay on Monday to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
The equipment, sent by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSrelief), included 53 respirators and more than 2.3 million surgical masks, in addition to protective clothing, medical gloves and other preventive supplies.
The aid was delivered on behalf of KSrelief by Raed Al-Harqan, the acting charge d’affairs at the Saudi Embassy in Uruguay. It was accepted in the capital, Montevideo, by Pablo Picabea, the Ministry of Public Health’s deputy director of general inspection.
Al-Harqan said the assistance reflects the Kingdom’s relationship with Uruguay and its pioneering humanitarian role, and the desire of King Salman and the Saudi government to help alleviate the suffering of people affected by the pandemic.
It is part of the aid being provided by Saudi Arabia, through KSrelief, in support of international efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.


Saudi IT experts weigh in on Clubhouse data breach reports

Photo/Shutterstock
Photo/Shutterstock
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi IT experts weigh in on Clubhouse data breach reports

Photo/Shutterstock
  • Until recently, new users had to obtain an invite from an existing user to access the application

JEDDAH: Experts in Saudi Arabia have reacted to reports that audio-chatting social platform Clubhouse has experienced a data breach and billions of users’ phone numbers have been offered for sale on the darknet.
Clubhouse denies the reports, however, and said the phone numbers being offered for sale were created randomly.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Clubhouse data had been accessed and hackers had obtained more than 3.8 billion phone numbers from the app’s servers.
Abdulsalam Al-Hamzani, a Saudi cybersecurity expert and instructor, told Arab News that if the reports are accurate, the application could have been compromised.
He said: “In a hacked application, any type of information we share with the app is exposed to the risk of being leaked,” whether it is phone numbers, access to a phone’s microphone and camera, or any pictures and videos that are shared.
Denying reports about data breach, a spokesman for the app told the Indo-Asian News Service: “There are a series of bots generating billions of random phone numbers.”

HIGHLIGHT

Reports over the weekend suggested that Clubhouse data had been accessed and hackers had obtained more than 3.8 billion phone numbers from the app’s servers.

 “In the event that one of these random numbers happens to exist on our platform due to mathematical coincidence, Clubhouse’s API (application programming interface) returns no user identifiable information.”
Al-Hamzani said that Clubhouse appeals to many people because it offers something new.
“Many applications lack one thing: An audio chat room,” he said. Its conference call-style format has been described as an online “majlis,” or a sitting room where people with common interests can gather and share their thoughts.
Until recently, new users had to obtain an invite from an existing user to access the application. Al-Hamzani said this gave Clubhouse added credibility.
“These two factors (the audio chat room format and the exclusivity of the invite policy) are what helped spread the application,” he added.
Mohammad Al-Kadi, a 35-year-old Saudi who is a senior consultant in cybersecurity, said it can be difficult for people to keep track of how their information is used or exposed online but there are steps they can take to reduce the risks.
“Avoid using your personal information on social media and websites as much as you can,” he told Arab News.

 


Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector aims to bring 100 million visitors annually

Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector aims to bring 100 million visitors annually
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector aims to bring 100 million visitors annually

Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector aims to bring 100 million visitors annually
  • Marketing and promotional campaigns for tourist destinations in the Kingdom have been launched
  • Cruise tours have started from Jeddah port to discover the treasures of the Red Sea

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has become a tourist destination for regional and international visitors and the Kingdom’s tourism sector is accelerating the pace for the future by announcing several programs and initiatives.
Saudi tourism offers geographical and historical diversity, highlighting natural resources, archaeological treasures and historical places that meet the aspirations of tourists.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 450,000 tourist visas were issued, since the Kingdom’s Tourism Authority launched the tourist visa program in 2019, by targeting 49 countries in the initial stage, and facilitated access to tourist visas electronically or through entry points to the Kingdom within specific regulatory controls.
It set up performance indicators to keep pace with the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to raise the number of annual visits to 100 million visitors by 2030, 55 million of which are inbound, and 45 million domestic, providing 1 million job opportunities and an increase of 10 percent of the country’s GDP.
The authority has prepared programs to attract tourism, and has been activating tourism investment and the role of the private sector. The authority has also participated in local and international tourism exhibitions and has managed marketing destinations, sites, itineraries, products and tourist packages internally and externally.

Marketing and promotional campaigns for tourist destinations in the Kingdom have been launched, the last of which was the “Summer of Saudi Arabia” program, which was launched by the “Spirit of Saudi Arabia” platform under the slogan “Our Summer, Your Mood”, to promote 11 tourist destinations until the end of September, with more than 500 tourist experiences, provided by 250 private sector partners.
Tourism is one of the pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, to contribute to diversifying the base of the national economy, attracting investments, increasing sources of income, and providing job opportunities for citizens, as the sector is witnessing rapid growth as a result of plans to promote the tourism sector,.
In an effort to reach a new horizon for local tourism, cruise tours have started from Jeddah port to discover the treasures of the Red Sea, and include many packages that allow travelers to have fun during the summer vacation.