Palestinians hold nightly demonstrations against the new settlement of Avitar

Palestinians hold nightly demonstrations against the new settlement of Avitar
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Updated 21 June 2021

Palestinians hold nightly demonstrations against the new settlement of Avitar

Palestinians hold nightly demonstrations against the new settlement of Avitar

Palestinian demonstrators in the village of Beita, south of Nablus, have been attempting to disturb settlers in the new settlement of Avitar, south of the village.

The protests have seen rubber tires ignited, fireworks launched, lasers shone through the windows of the settlement buildings, while making loud noises and shouting slogans calling for the settlers to leave the village lands.


Why this retired engineer is a ‘model’ Saudi citizen

The models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth. (Photos/Huda Bashatah)
The models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth. (Photos/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 28 min 30 sec ago

Why this retired engineer is a ‘model’ Saudi citizen

The models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth. (Photos/Huda Bashatah)
  • Abdul Aziz Taher Al-Hebshi aims to preserve the history of social and cultural life in Saudi Arabia
  • Makkah in those days was a beacon for writers, poets and scientists

MAKKAH: A Saudi agricultural engineer is spending his retirement years helping to preserve the Kingdom’s architectural and cultural history — in the form of extremely accurate models of important buildings and sites in Jeddah and Makkah.

Now Abdul Aziz Taher Al-Hebshi has turned his house in Jeddah’s Al-Rawdah neighborhood into an exhibition space to showcase his models, which represent a fascinating record of daily social and cultural life in the cities in the early-to-mid 20th century.
A good example of this is his model of a “writer’s cafe” in the Misfalah neighborhood of Makkah that was once popular with writers, intellectuals and poets. Through it, he said, he aims to immortalize the role these figures played in the development of literature in Saudi Arabia and the country’s cultural history.
“Knowledgeable people told me that the cafe where Makkah’s writers, poets and intellectuals used to go to was Saleh Abdulhay Cafe, located next to Bajrad Cafe,” 72-year-old Al-Hebshi told Arab News. “Similar cafes were found throughout Makkah’s Misfalah neighborhood in the past.”
He said culture and literature thrived in Makkah in those days, along with the study of science and the quest for knowledge. The city was therefore a beacon for writers, poets and scientists, and the Saleh Abdulhay Cafe was one of the places where they could gather for intellectual and cultural discussions.
“Among the cultural and intellectual figures that used to go to the writer’s cafe … was the Saudi Minister of Culture Mohammed Abdu Yamani,” he said, adding that such venues were the country’s first literary and cultural forums, where people could gather to discuss literary and intellectual issues.
With his models and exhibition, Al-Hebshi said he wants to depict and preserve this history of day-to-day life and culture in Makkah and Jeddah in days gone by. In addition to the cafe, his models include typical houses and traditional shops that served fava beans, barbecued meat, kebabs and mabshoor, a traditional Arab dish of bread in a meat or vegetable broth.
In particular, he said he wants to immortalize the lives of the intellectuals and writers of the era by documenting their daily lives, the ways in which people interacted with them and how neighborhoods such as Misfalah developed as important cultural centers.
So far he has spent three years building his models of cafes, shops, houses and public squares. He has completed four and is working on a fifth. The task requires hard work and patience, he said. For example, it requires great effort to accurately recreate in miniature the rawasheen, the elaborately patterned wooden window frames found in old buildings in Makkah and Jeddah that maximize natural light and air flow. Great accuracy is required throughout the model making process when it comes to the sizes, dimensions and scale.
“One meter in real life is 10 centimeters in the models,” Al-Hebshi said, which represents a scale of one-to-10. “This measure seeks to maintain, as much as possible, the space’s real dimensions.”
The contents of rooms must also be in scale with the building and each other, he explained: “A bottle of Coca-Cola cannot be bigger than a watermelon and so on.” These are all important details in his models, he added, which ensure they are accurate and consistent.
Given the incredible detail and quality of the models, you would be forgiven for thinking Al-Hebshi is a trained carpenter; in fact he is an enthusiastic amateur with a true passion for the craft. Such is his dedication that even hand injuries — and the need for surgery after damaging a finger with a drill — have not kept him from his work for long.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdul Aziz Taher Al-Hebshi says he was inspired by Jeddah’s Old Town and its magnificent Hijazi buildings with rawasheen, beautifully crafted doors, ornate engravings and delicate details, along with the beauty of its landscape and old streets.

He said his model making began after he found some tools that had been abandoned in a carpentry shop, and for materials he used wood and discarded kaftans he found in stores he shopped at. Wood cutting requires great skill, he added, and while he makes most parts of his models, he said he imports some items from abroad to ensure the highest levels of accuracy. For example he buys miniature signs advertising popular international brands such as Pepsi, Miranda and 7-Up, which are difficult to recreate through woodworking.
Al-Hebshi was director of the Agricultural Bank in Jeddah when he was forced to retire in 2006 as a result of a back injury, and he found himself wondering what he could do with his time. A few years earlier he had developed an interest in woodworking but the demands of his job left him with little time to pursue it. A friend who was aware of this suggested he do something with the wood from a large felled neem tree that had been dumped in Jeddah.
“That tree turned out to be the start of me professionally building models,” he said. He added that he was inspired by Jeddah’s Old Town and its magnificent Hijazi buildings with rawasheen, beautifully crafted doors, ornate engravings and delicate details, along with the beauty of its landscape and old streets. The Saudi leadership has put a special focus on the area to showcase its history and splendor and Al-Hebshi said that this has helped him research his detailed designs.
He added that he welcomes all those who wish to visit his house, in Al-Rawdah neighborhood 3, to see his models. He plans to build more to add to his incredible picture of past life in the Kingdom, and the people who helped the country become the nation it is.


Who’s Who: Mohammed Alkaltham, general director of the Saudi Ministry of Finance’s budget planning department

Mohammed Alkaltham. (Supplied)
Mohammed Alkaltham. (Supplied)
Updated 3 min 11 sec ago

Who’s Who: Mohammed Alkaltham, general director of the Saudi Ministry of Finance’s budget planning department

Mohammed Alkaltham. (Supplied)

Mohammed Alkaltham has been the general director of the Saudi Ministry of Finance’s budget planning department since March.
He is currently working on developing a new budget framework for medium-term financial planning (MTFP), an extension of the annual process involving three to five-year budget horizons aligned to national priorities and fiscal strategy.
Building an MTFP framework would streamline the Kingdom’s forward planning by bringing the country’s budget in line with key government spending targets and increasing collaboration between relevant authorities, Alkaltham said, creating a clear vision of public finances over the medium term.
He joined the Ministry of Finance in May 2019 as an executive adviser in the budget deputyship department. Between 2018 and 2019, he was the senior business development manager at Saudi joint stock company Elm, providing a wide range of ready-made and customized digital solutions to clients in the Saudi government.
From 2015 to 2018 he held the position of program manager at Advanced Electronics Co., delivering energy technologies and solutions, and worked for two private finance companies between 1999 and 2005.
Alkaltham gained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from King Faisal University in 1999, a master’s degree in business administration, specializing in accounting, from Johnson and Wales University in the US, in 2009, and a certificate as a certified estimation professional in 2019.


What We Are Reading Today: Music by the Numbers; From Pythagoras to Schoenberg

What We Are Reading Today: Music by the Numbers; From Pythagoras to Schoenberg
Updated 18 min 23 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Music by the Numbers; From Pythagoras to Schoenberg

What We Are Reading Today: Music by the Numbers; From Pythagoras to Schoenberg

Music is filled with mathematical elements. The works of Bach are often said to possess a math-like logic, and Arnold Schoenberg, Iannis Xenakis, and Karlheinz Stockhausen wrote music explicitly based on mathematical principles. 

Yet Eli Maor argues that it is music that has had the greater influence on mathematics, not the other way around. Starting with Pythagoras, proceeding through Schoenberg, and bringing the story up to the present with contemporary string theory, Music by the Numbers tells a fascinating story of composers, scientists, inventors, and eccentrics who have played a role in the age-old relationship between music, mathematics, and the physical sciences. 

Weaving compelling stories of historical episodes with Maor’s personal reflections as a mathematician and lover of classical music, this book will delight anyone who loves math and music.


Yanbu Night Market offers centuries of history at no extra cost

The market is a cultural aspect and part of Yanbu’s cultural identity. (SPA)
The market is a cultural aspect and part of Yanbu’s cultural identity. (SPA)
Updated 20 min 29 sec ago

Yanbu Night Market offers centuries of history at no extra cost

The market is a cultural aspect and part of Yanbu’s cultural identity. (SPA)
  • The buildings there are of traditional coastal design and construction, and the area is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike

JEDDAH: Yanbu Night Market, the Saudi city’s oldest marketplace, has been pulling in the crowds, young and old, for generations. After a period of decline it has undergone a restoration and revival in recent years, and is now considered one of the most important historical sites on the Kingdom’s west coast.
Residents believe its origins can be traced back hundreds of years to the days when merchant ships carrying supplies from Africa and East Asia, and passenger ships filled with pilgrims arriving for Hajj and Umrah, would dock there.
It was dubbed the “night market” by sailors and fisherman who would buy provisions there shortly before setting sail in the early hours of the morning. The fishermen would return to sell their fresh catches and so it became known as one of the finest fish markets in the region. Thousands of fishermen have set up stalls there through the years, and the latest generation continues the tradition, selling their wares to residents and restaurants.
Turki Al-Khaldi, who was born in Thuwal, north of Yanbu, fondly remembers accompanying his father on long journeys to and from Yanbu to buy food and supplies for the family home.
“When I was a child, we only had the beaches to play on, or some small parks, and so these trips were special, specifically because I was the eldest child and my father believed that I needed to learn everything from him,” he told Arab News. “They might be two-hour trips now, but they used to take a bit longer, 30 or more years ago, and my father would tell tales of sailors coming from everywhere and the different sizes of ships that would dock.
“I saw everything in the market, though it didn’t look like what my father used to describe from his younger days. But I remember seeing large crates of dates being sold; an assortment of seafood, fresh and dried; textiles; cookware and so much more. The market had everything.

FASTFACT

Said to have been established hundreds of years ago, the market is considered one of the most important historical sites on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.

“Of course, it’s not the same today; it has become a tourist attraction and there’s been so much development in Yanbu that I can hardly recognize it. It’s amazing that I can now bring my own children and show them the different shops — the fish is still excellent too, which is a plus for my family.”
In the past few years a number of successful projects have been launched to revive the market and restore it to something approaching its former glory, after several decades of decline during which the number of traders and visitors gradually fell.
Now, the old shops have reopened and the heritage and unique identity of the market has been reinforced as part of a project to rehabilitate Al-Sour neighborhood, Yanbu’s historical area. The buildings there are of traditional coastal design and construction, and the area is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
This year, market authorities say visitor numbers have been boosted by its participation in the Kingdom’s Our Summer, Your Mood season, which was launched by the Saudi Tourism Authority in June and continues until Sep. 30. It features 500 diverse tourist experiences offered by more than 250 private-sector partners.


Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues

Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues
Updated 50 min 13 sec ago

Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues

Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues
  • Rising demand from domestic, overseas clients supported upturn: Survey

RIYADH: Non-oil business activity in Saudi Arabia maintained a sharp pace of expansion in July, despite slowing for the second month running, according to a survey released on Tuesday. 

Output grew at a sharp pace, underlined by a robust increase in new business inflows, but still staff levels rose only fractionally in July as firms continued to signal an excess of business capacity despite rising sales.

Rising demand from domestic and overseas clients supported the upturn, which some firms linked to competitive pricing strategies.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell for the first time in four months to 55.8 in July, from 56.4 in June, due to weaker growth in output, new orders and employment compared to the previous month. 

Employment prospects were also harmed by a drop in future output expectations to the joint-weakest for more than a year, despite the strong improvement in operating conditions that extended the current run of growth to 11 months.

Hiring growth weakened to a fractional pace, as only few firms reported needing additional staff and backlogs were reduced solidly, suggesting a wide gap between demand and full capacity in spite of a sharp increase in new orders in recent months

“While Saudi Arabia’s PMI continued to signal strong growth in the non-oil economy in July, our survey data related to business capacity highlighted that challenging economic conditions prevailed,” said David Owen, an economist at IHS Markit.

“Firstly, employment growth slowed to only a marginal pace, suggesting that many companies still have little need for new hires in spite of a sharp rebound in new orders. Secondly, backlogs of work fell at the second-quickest pace for a year, adding further evidence that businesses have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels of capacity utilization,” he said.

“Sustained rises in demand should help the economy move closer to full capacity over the second half of the year. However, a drop in business expectations to its joint-weakest since June 2020 illustrated growing doubts that this will be a smooth ride,” he said.

Nearly 27 percent of surveyed businesses reported an increase in activity, linked to strengthening client demand and a loosening of pandemic-related measures.