Berlin-based Tunisian artist wins Saudi Arabia’s 4th Ithra Art Prize

 Nadia Kaabi-Linke
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Nadia Kaabi-Linke
Theater in King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) City, Dammam. (shutterstock)
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Theater in King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) City, Dammam. (shutterstock)
A view of the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran. (Shutterstock)
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A view of the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 30 August 2021

Berlin-based Tunisian artist wins Saudi Arabia’s 4th Ithra Art Prize

 Nadia Kaabi-Linke
  • The Ithra Art Prize was established to create a platform for artists to exhibit their works beside other distinguished artists within the region and internationally

JEDDAH: A Berlin-based Tunisian artist has won the fourth Ithra Art Prize in one of recent history’s most difficult years.

Capturing a moment created by the pandemic, which shut down the global economy, Nadia Kaabi-Linke employed the iconic symbol for economic growth — a rising arrow — for what she describes as directing humanity to a safer exit from the crisis.

Chosen from 1,500 submissions, evaluated and reviewed by a jury of local and international leaders in the global art scene, Berlin-based artists Nadia Kaabi-Linke won the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) fourth Ithra Art Prize. The prize money is worth $100,000, and her artwork proposal will make its debut this coming December.

“I chose to work with the symbol of the arrow as a symbol for economic growth, but at the same time I am using it to represent an exit sign, an exit from what we know, our comfort zones which is the world that is leading us to our extinction,” Nadia Kaabi-Linke told Arab News.

Kaabi-Linke is inviting humanity to view the pandemic as an opportunity to create an alternative world and think of a new economy that does not focus on growth anymore. “It is more about hope, being together, and exiting the old world to a new one and to have all the courage to go in a new direction that we do not know,” she said.

After its presentation at Ad-Diriyah Biennale in December, Kaabi-Linke’s work will join Ithra’s prestigious permanent art collection.

I am extremely optimistic for the regional art scene and particularly for Saudi Arabia, I am so happy from the bottom of my heart that it is opening and that people can come and discover the treasures.

Nadia Kaabi-Linke

Launched in 2017, Ithra Art Prize was held abroad for three years, supporting Saudi and Saudi-based contemporary artists.

“This time we decided to reach out to 22 Arab countries for contemporary artists who currently live in the Arab region or have been for more than 10 years, we are very proud of the shortlisted artists for the prize, we got great names of very well established in the scene, and the awarded winner will not disappoint the public, I assure,” Farah Abushullaih, head of the museum of Ithra told Arab News.

Born in Tunis in 1978, Kaabi-Linke has lived between Paris, Dubai and Tunis. After graduating from the University of Fine Arts in Tunis in 1999, she went on to earn a Ph.D. at Université Paris-Sorbonne, in 2008.  

The artist’s multinational background and history of migration have influenced her works.

The Ithra Art Prize was established to create a platform for artists to exhibit their works beside other distinguished artists within the region and internationally. It focuses on local artists’ enablement and knowledge transfer enhancement between artists, Abushullaih said.

Ithra’s partnership with Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation is biannual; the next competition will take place in 2023 and will also target Arab artists.

“I am extremely optimistic for the regional art scene and particularly for Saudi Arabia, I am so happy from the bottom of my heart that it is opening and that people can come and discover the treasures,” Kaabi-Linke said.

“Through the economic crises, the western world no longer invests in culture as it used to, but the opposite is happening in the Gulf region,” she said. “I am happy for the region for the upcoming period of culture and extremely honored to be part of it.”

The Ithra Art Prize is presented in partnership with the Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation. The winning submission will be unveiled at the inaugural Ad-Diriyah Biennale this December, the Kingdom’s first biennale.


Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 65 new cases

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 65 new cases
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 65 new cases

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 65 new cases
  • The health ministry says 38 patients have recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours
  • Municipalities close four businesses and issue fines to 171 others for violating precautionary measures

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed two new COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,782.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 65 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 548,368 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 70 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 27, followed by Jeddah with 14, Makkah recorded four, and Madinah and Quwayiyah recorded two cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 38 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 537,376.
Over 45.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 21.2 million people have been fully vaccinated.


Saudi municipalities have also ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of the Eastern Province carried out 2,582 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the past two days. Authorities found 171 violations and closed four businesses for not adhering to the precautionary measures.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 245 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.97 million.


Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Greek PM discuss boosting relations

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Riyadh on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Riyadh on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (SPA)
Updated 26 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Greek PM discuss boosting relations

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Riyadh on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (SPA)
  • They discussed opportunities to enhance prospects for cooperation in various fields
  • Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived in the Kingdom on Monday to attend the Middle East Green Initiative Summit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the capital, Riyadh, to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations.
At the beginning of the meeting, the crown prince welcomed the Greek premier to the Kingdom, while Mitsotakis said he was happy to visit the Kingdom and meet the crown prince.
During the meeting, they reviewed relations between the two countries, and discussed opportunities to enhance prospects for cooperation in various fields.
They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of concern for their two countries, “in a way that contributes to supporting and strengthening security and stability in the region,” Saudi Press Agency said in a statement.
Saudi Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, and Minister of Investment and head of the Saudi delegation to the Saudi-Greek Committee Khalid Al-Falih also attended the meeting, which was held at the Royal Court at Al-Yamamah Palace.
Mitsotakis arrived in the Kingdom on Monday to attend the Middle East Green Initiative Summit, which was launched by the crown prince, and comes one week before world leaders are set to gather for the annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland.


Georgetown University Qiyadat Global holds a graduation ceremony for over 200 female leaders 

Georgetown University Qiyadat Global holds a graduation ceremony for over 200 female leaders 
Updated 26 October 2021

Georgetown University Qiyadat Global holds a graduation ceremony for over 200 female leaders 

Georgetown University Qiyadat Global holds a graduation ceremony for over 200 female leaders 
  • Qiyadat Global is an international year-long program that aims to empower and create female leaders from 20 different countries

RIYADH: Qiyadat Global held a graduation ceremony celebrating the class of 202 graduating female leaders in partnership with Georgetown University

Qiyadat Global is an international year-long program that aims to empower and create female leaders from 20 different countries.

In partnership with Georgetown University McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C. the program aims to address the demand for female leaders.

“We had 2,000 applicants so it is as competitive as an Ivy League or the best universities anywhere in the world. It’s a symbol and signal of how hungry women are to lead and to have an impact on their communities,” said Michael Boyer O’Leary, senior associate dean for custom executive education. 

Learning about leadership styles, emotional intelligence, and common challenges, the program supplies its students with the necessary tools to become successful female leaders.

More than 200 women have taken part in the global program in the public, non-profit, and private sectors.

The theme of this year’s program was “empower to impact.”

Qiyadat Global is the first collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Georgetown University.

Each of the students who graduated from the program received a full scholarship through sponsorship from companies such as Saudi Aramco, Sabic, Bupa, Banquet Saudi Fransi, and SRMG. 

Diversity and inclusion was a key goal throughout the entire program, said the founder and executive director of Qiyadat Global, Nouf Abdullah Al-Rakan. 

The Qiyadat program does not only give women the tools to be powerful and successful leaders, it also connects them to a global group of business women and leaders that can share their unique and diverse insights and experiences. 

“I come from Japan, and Japanese women are very shy and they don’t express their emotions strongly. Before coming to the Kingdom, I assumed that Saudi women were shy as well,” Akiko Fukumoto, COO and CPO of Matsuhisa and a graduate from Qiyadat, told Arab News. 

“But after coming here I saw that Saudi women are very energetic and love to express their feelings and they love to talk, they love to encourage each other, and I want to bring this passion and energy from these ladies back to Japan with me,” Fukumoto said. 

She said that she would take the lessons she learned from some of her fellow Saudi classmates and incorporate them into her daily work life in Japan. 

Ingrid Naranjo, a graduate of the program and an investment banker in Dubai, told Arab News about her experience and how she implemented lessons from her program to protect women. 

“Through the program, I learned about common mistakes I was making as a leader. I have always cared about women’s empowerment and inclusion,” said Naranjo. 

“The program empowered me to find my voice and fight for a change in women’s rights and protection from abuse through the foundation I started in Ecuador,” Naranjo added. 

In August 2020, Ingrid launched the RAW Global Women Foundation to stop abuse against women and protect and empower them through education. 

“I want the world to know the atrocities against women and girls that happen in my country and to end it through education,” said Naranjo.  

Qiyadat Global has the power to not only create successful women, but global leaders who impact generations of young women. 

The team of Georgetown professors said that they are committed to educating the women of the future. 

During the closing of the graduation ceremony, the professors announced that there will be a second edition of the Qiyadat Global program. This next edition will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person lectures in Washington to ensure the highest level of inclusivity and diversity from women around the world. O’Leary told Arab News that there will be in-person modules in Washington at Georgetown’s campus and modules delivered in the Kingdom.

“We at Georgetown are honored to be a part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy empower to honor, and it is my distinct honor to announce the extension of the Qiyadat Global women’s leadership program for 2022,” said Prof. Brooks Holtom, the senior associate dean for strategy, finance, and organization.


Saudi, Moroccan leaders hold talks at Middle East Green Initiative Summit

Saudi, Moroccan leaders hold talks at Middle East Green Initiative Summit
Updated 26 October 2021

Saudi, Moroccan leaders hold talks at Middle East Green Initiative Summit

Saudi, Moroccan leaders hold talks at Middle East Green Initiative Summit
  • Kingdom’s efforts to protect the environment and combat climate change highlighted at Riyadh forum

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy prime minister and minister of defense, received a written letter from Moroccan King Mohammed VI.

Morocco’s Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch handed the letter to the crown prince during their meeting on the sidelines of the Middle East Green Initiative Summit held in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The prime minister also conveyed the greetings of the Moroccan king to King Salman and the crown prince, while in return, Mohammed bin Salman conveyed the greetings of King Salman to the Moroccan ruler.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed the Kingdom’s initiative aiming to preserve the environment and combat climate change.

From the Saudi side, the meeting was attended by Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, minister of energy, and Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, minister of foreign affairs.

From the Moroccan side, it was attended by the Leila Benali, minister of energy transition and sustainable development, and Dr. Mustafa Al-Mansouri, ambassador to Saudi Arabia.


Listen up: How Saudi Arabia is tuning in to a new future

Listen up: How Saudi Arabia is tuning in to a new future
Updated 26 October 2021

Listen up: How Saudi Arabia is tuning in to a new future

Listen up: How Saudi Arabia is tuning in to a new future
  • Digital-savvy Saudis are becoming a nation of podcasters embarking on an exciting aural adventure

JEDDAH: As digital audio and podcasts become part of everyday life in Saudi Arabia, millions of regular listeners are tuning into the future, sparking what one insider describes as a “podcast frenzy.”

Easy to access, and with a seemingly endless choice of programs and subjects, podcasts are transforming Saudis’ daily rituals, turning mundane activities such as driving, exercising and cooking into “listening experiences.”

But not content with simply tuning in, many people are setting up their own audio blogs and becoming podcasters themselves.

“It’s a free space; anyone can participate,” one podcaster told Arab News. “All you need is content, a microphone and a mobile device, to record and publish.”

Podcasts began to appear in the Kingdom in 2015, gradually reviving Saudis’ love of listening to radio broadcasts.

According to one 2020 survey, 15 percent of respondents in the Kingdom’s western region were regular podcast listeners, while more than 5.1 million people tuned in around the country.

Numbers continue to surge in line with worldwide trends, as national surveys in countries such as the US and South Korea show up to 50 percent of respondents listening to podcasts in any given month.

A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device. Typically, podcasts come in series, with new installments that subscribers can automatically receive.

According to Ammar Sabban, creative director and founder of the “Mstdfr” podcast, ease of access makes podcasts especially appealing.

FASTFACT

Podcasts, previously known as audio blogs, date back to the 1980s. With the advent of broadband internet access and portable digital audio playback devices, such as the iPod, podcasting began to catch hold in 2004. The term podcast is an amalgam of ‘broadcast’ and ‘pod’ from iPod.

“Unlike TV shows, you don’t have to wait for a podcast — you can listen to it any time,” he said.

“The average person usually listens for up to 15 minutes, but those who are into it can listen for up to two hours — the more the merrier for them. Some people are obsessed with podcast shows. Another reason is because the hosts are spontaneous and laidback, and people like that,” Sabban added.

As the trend gathers pace, more people are coming up with their own concepts for podcast shows. “Anyone can do it if they are talented enough,” he said.

“We can meet anyone, and record and upload anywhere, because we don’t have to be in the same place to interview people. Production costs are low, so we can interview people who are not that famous but are interesting to listen to. This is what our listeners want — someone they can relate to.”

Sabban believes podcasts can only grow. “There is a podcast frenzy now. A lot of people are making them and we have thousands of them. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest Arab countries and the production of podcasts is big here — now companies are aware of this and want to join the field.”

Firms seeking to creatively market their products are also looking to podcasts, with the equivalent of modern-day radio ads.

“Ads, sponsorship and company contracts are the main ways for podcast income, and we do have a studio that we rent for content creators. Companies contact us with a podcast idea, and we create it for them,” Sabban said.

He said that podcasts also lead to a lot of business deals. “We did not expect that our shows such as ‘Mstdfr’ and ‘Cartoon Cartoon’ would bring people together. Some of them created businesses because they found their people through podcasts.”

With more than five years’ experience in the field, Sabban and his colleagues constantly strive to keep their programs fresh.

Their latest podcast, “Let’s Talk Saudi,” highlights Saudis that people overseas want to know about.

“We received a lot of messages from Saudi students studying abroad, telling us that this show touched their hearts and they feel closer to home when they listen to it,” he said. “It is like a haven for locals away from home.”

Another Saudi podcaster, Abdul Aziz Al-Qattan, host of “Tanafs Breath,” described the podcast as an “audio companion that whispers to those who are curious about their surroundings.”

He added: “It guides those searching for answers and meaning, especially understanding themselves.”

Al-Qattan said that there is a revolution in podcasts and audio media in the Arab world. “The future of podcasting is very large and wide, but it lacks organizations and sponsors to support content makers, to push and motivate them to continue providing content,” he said.

The podcaster’s interest in audio media grew out of his love of voiceover and recitation. “I met with my friend Mohammed Ishaq, who had a passion for writing, and discussed the idea of a podcast, and we started publishing initial episodes. The popularity of the podcast was unexpected, exceeding half a million listeners. After that, we had Ibtihal Al-Misfer join as a writer, too.”

Al-Qattan said: “We started in October 2020, and it was a humble beginning. We had to learn how to present ourselves to an audience, to prepare realistic content.”

People listen to the podcast because it is an effective way to enjoy content, he said.

“Unlike visual content, which may require you to focus on certain details and visuals, with podcasts you can listen to a science article or story while you are driving or doing sports, in other words keeping outside noise out and enjoying an audio journey using your imagination.”