RIYADH: A 10-day writing retreat organized by the Literature, Translation and Publishing Commission, in collaboration with the Soudah Development Company, kicked off on Thursday in Soudah, Asir region, with the participation of a number of writers from Saudi Arabia and various countries around the world.
The commission noted that the retreat features training workshops provided by specialized guides, panel discussions, tours in selected areas, and working and writing sessions.
The writing retreat in Soudah complements those launched by the Ministry of Culture in the Qassim region in 2019.
The commission is seeking to organize several such retreats before the end of the year, with the aim of exchanging experiences between local and international writers and achieving international cultural communication by bringing together different literary cultures that will pave the way for a stimulating writing and creative environment.
Jeddah Jungle takes visitors on ultimate safari experience
Guests discover wildlife firsthand, including wild cats and other exotic animals
Updated 28 May 2022
JEDDAH: For the first time in the Middle East, “Jungle Trek” has been set up for a real-life animal-watching experience, where visitors walk along shaded paths and can interact with exotic animals.
The trek is one of Jeddah Jungle’s experiences as part of the Jeddah Season.
Experiencing wildlife firsthand, Jeddah Season visitors will also get to go on a thrilling safari experience on a Jeep and encounter seven different kinds of wild cats as well as other exotic animals.
On the Safari Game Drive, visitors can learn interesting facts about the wild cats with the tour guide.
For example, lions are the only cats that live in groups — a group can include 30 lions — and their roars can be heard up to 8 km away, with female lions being the main hunters.
Another fact: There are less than 2,000 Bengal tigers left in the wild, and their strips are just as unique as human fingerprints.
The tigers are an endangered species, grow faster than their orange counterparts, and are rare and happen once out of 10,000 births.
• Visitors to the Jeddah Jungle can wear costume symbolizing their favorite animals. It is an educational and entertaining initiative where children and young people compete in the designs of costumes for their favorite animals.
• It also encourages them to expand their knowledge about these animals and gain new information from the zone’s guides, in addition to removing the fear of some animals, learning to coexist with them, and dealing with them as a friend to humans.
The golden tiger, also known as the strawberry tiger, is extinct in the wild. There are about 30 remaining, with Jeddah Jungle having three of these.
White lions are only born if the mother and father have the same gene, and the earliest recorded sighting of them was in 1938.
The liger — a lion and tiger breed — with a mane like a lion and stripes like a tiger, is the largest known cat in the world, and there are less than 100 ligers left in the world.
Faisal Al-Rahili, Saudi, 18, has visited Jeddah Jungle five times since it opened. The teenager said that he loves animals and grew up watching wildlife shows and channels such as Nat Geo Wild.
“I have always had a love for animals since childhood, and this safari experience is a childhood dream fulfillment,” he told Arab News.
Al-Rahili’s favorite zone is the Jungle Trek because it allows him to get close to and interact with a giraffe.
“I love everything about this place; it’s huge and there is a place for each type of animal,” he said.
Six-year-old Saudi animal lover, Omar Kaaki, listed the big cats he saw to Arab News.
“With some tigers, lions and white lions, we saw deers too and a tiger with gold stripes,” Kaaki said.
“Cheetahs and tigers are my favorite animals,” he added.
The first-grader asked his parents to take him to Jeddah Jungle. His mother, Dareen Akbar, said that the experience had brought so much joy to her son.
“He loves animals so much, as soon as we found out they are making a safari experience in Jeddah, we came here,” she told Arab News.
“It is a very nice experience, you do not have to travel abroad to go on a safari and see the animals; you can take your kids to see the animals here in your country,” she said.
Indian engineer, Mohammed Anish, visited Jeddah Jungle with his wife and children for the first time.
“It is a great place to spend quality time with your family; my kids love animals,” he told Arab News.
“Jeddah Season is fantastic and provides a very good experience,” he said.
Visitors to the Jeddah Jungle can wear costume symbolizing their favorite animals. It is an educational and entertaining initiative where children and young people compete in the designs of costumes for their favorite animals.
It also encourages them to expand their knowledge about these animals and gain new information from the zone’s guides, in addition to removing the fear of some animals, learning to coexist with them, and dealing with them as a friend to humans.
The Jeddah Jungle is home to about 1,000 species of wild creatures, as well as 200 species of rare birds. It has a reptile section, a bird section, a dog section and a farm, in addition to sections for shows and other services, and an entertainment section.
Jeddah Jungle zones are; the Tram Station, Elephant Enclosure, Lighting Garden, Lucaland, the Aviary, Taxidermy Museum, Reptile Land, the Farm, Safari Game Drive, Jungle Trek, and the Park.
The park includes an adventure zone, a children’s playground, an open theater, an archery space, paintball area, karting, and a workshop zone.
The annual Jeddah Season festival aims to highlight the city’s rich heritage and culture through a total of 2,800 activities in nine zones over the event period.
Held under the slogan, Our Lovely Days, the second Jeddah Season follows on from the success of Riyadh Season, which recorded more than 15 million visits over five months.
The festival season offers 70 interactive experiences, more than 60 recreational activities, seven Arab and two international plays, marine events, a circus, four international exhibitions, and a host of other options for families.
What We Are Reading Today: What a Mushroom Lives For
Updated 10 min 38 sec ago
Author: Michael J. Hathaway
What a Mushroom Lives For pushes today’s mushroom renaissance in compelling new directions. For centuries, Western science has promoted a human- and animal-centric framework of what counts as action, agency, movement, and behavior. But, as Michael Hathaway shows, the world-making capacities of mushrooms radically challenge this orthodoxy by revealing the lively dynamism of all forms of life.
Many Tibetan and Yi people have dedicated their lives to picking and selling this mushroom—a delicacy that drives a multibillion-dollar global trade network and that still grows only in the wild, despite scientists’ intensive efforts to cultivate it in urban labs.
But this is far from a simple story of humans exploiting a passive, edible commodity. Rather, the book reveals the complex, symbiotic ways that mushrooms, plants, humans, and other animals interact.
Real Madrid beats Liverpool 1-0 for 14th European Cup title
Updated 13 min 18 sec ago
PARIS: Real Madrid became European champion for a record-extending 14th time after beating Liverpool 1-0 in a Champions League final that started 37 minutes late because of disturbing crowd issues outside the Stade de France on Saturday.
Brazil winger Vinícius Júnior applied a close-range finish in the 59th minute from Federico Valverde’s drive across the face of goal, securing a win that gave Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti a record fourth European Cup title.
While Madrid completed a Champions League-La Liga double, Liverpool finished a season that promised so much — a week ago, it was in contention for an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies — with just the two domestic cups in England.
The English team couldn’t find a way past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who tipped Sadio Mane’s first-half shot onto the post and produced an even better save to turn away Mohamed Salah’s effort in the 81st.
“Today nobody was going to get in my way,” Courtois said. “I was going to win a Champions League no matter what.”
Vinicius sank to his knees and covered his face at fulltime. Many of his teammates sprinted the length of the field to celebrate in front of Madrid’s fans at one end of the stadium.
Marcelo, Madrid’s serial winner of trophies who didn’t even play a minute of the final, was given the honor of lifting the trophy to a backdrop of fireworks and tickertape.
Madrid underlined its status as the king of European soccer, given the Spanish giant owns double the number of European Cups as the No. 2 on the list, AC Milan.
And this time, there was no need for the kind of stirring comeback that the Spanish giant had to produce in getting past Paris Saint-Germain, defending champion Chelsea and Manchester City in the knockout stage.
It might go down as the most grueling run to the title in the long history of the competition.
For many, especially Liverpool fans, pre-match crowd issues overshadowed this final, though, and are sure to be the focus of an investigation by UEFA and authorities in the coming days.
Riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray at supporters waiting in long lines to get into European soccer’s showpiece game, whose kickoff was delayed.
UEFA blamed the chaos on people trying to get into the stadium without legitimate tickets, without providing details on where they could be from.
“In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said in a statement.
Some fans climbed fences surround the stadium to get in. Others barged their way past security and sprinted onto the concourse before getting wrestled to the ground.
Riot police with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent pockets of fans forcing their way into the stadium.
“I’ve got really bad asthma and I’ve been tear gassed twice,” Liverpool fan Angela Murphy told The Associated Press through a fence. “I’m really struggling.”
About 15 minutes before the scheduled kickoff of 9 p.m. local time, an announcement was made that there would be a delay. It was greeted by jeers inside the stadium.
The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium before the European Championship final last year between England and Italy.
How a visually impaired talented Saudi realized her full potential
Through tailored training and mentoring, Ebtehal Al-Nasir is building a successful law career
Multiple schemes are helping improve quality of life and opportunities for Saudis with disabilities
Updated 24 min 19 sec ago
DUBAI: Ebtehal Al-Nasir was in her first year of medical school when she lost her sight as a result of illness. She had long dreamed of becoming a doctor but suddenly it felt like a successful career in any field was now out of her reach.
“I wondered what would happen to the hard work I had put in for years,” Al-Nasir, who is originally from Qurayyat, a city in northern Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.
“I heard a lot of negative, depressing things at that time. Among them: I should be grateful that I graduated high school and that a lot of people are doing well with just a high-school degree; university is hard, how are you going to study when you can’t see? And many other similar discouraging words.
“I would hear this and yet, in my eyes, I still saw my dreams, my ambitions, my goals, my effort and my toil. Should all that have been in vain? At that time, I made a decision: I said I would finish my studies no matter the difficulties I would face.”
People with disabilities account for 7.1 percent of the Saudi population, according to the General Authority for Statistics, including 811,610 who are classified as visually impaired,.
In an effort to ensure all citizens and residents enjoy a good quality of life, the Saudi government has prioritized efforts to preserve the rights of people with disabilities by enhancing the support and services available to them to ensure that their dignity is maintained. In the process, it has also worked to challenge the negative attitudes that can surround disability.
Refusing to allow blindness to define her or limit her potential, Al-Nasir and her family sought out charitable organizations and institutions that could help her adapt to life with impaired vision and, later, universities that were suitably equipped to accept students with sight issues.
Specialists at the National Association of the Blind, also known as Kafeef, and Mubseroon, a charity for people with visual disabilities, taught her how to use braille, a touch-based system of reading and writing that uses patterns of raised dots to represent the letters of the alphabet, and how to walk safely and independently using a white cane.
They also showed her how to operate specially adapted digital devices, including a smartphone and computer, using touch and sound.
These tools, together with the unstinting support of her family, gave Al-Nasir the confidence not only to return to her studies but to excel among her peers.
“I went back to university and left medicine to study business administration,” she said. “I specialized in law, which I had a passion for.
“That year, I was so grateful to receive a bachelor’s degree in law from the School of Business Administration at Northern Border University, with first class honors, and I was a top student in my college.”
In addition, Al-Nasir graduated with a diploma in English from the International Academy for Human Development in the UK, and was chosen for the Qimam Fellowship, an intensive, 12-day training program launched in 2018 to empower high-potential university students in Saudi Arabia through one-on-one mentoring and career guidance.
She is also an accredited trainer with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, a Saudi government agency.
All in all, in the seven years since she lost her sight, Al-Nasir has completed more than 60 courses and participated in a wide range of forums and events, the most prominent of which included representing her university during two consecutive rounds of a competition organized by the Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration.
She said that earning a place in the Qimam Fellowship was a particularly transformative experience, which helped redefine her life goals.
“I had the opportunity to connect with inspiring CEOs” through the fellowship, she said. “One of the guest speakers that came to deliver a talk about their personal journey was especially inspiring for me. They also had a disability.
“When I was accepted into Project1932, I told my mentor about this speaker and he actually helped me connect with him directly.”
Project1932, which is designed to empower the emerging young generation of future Saudi leaders, matches selected high-potential candidates with experienced business leaders to guide them during their first years of higher education and professional careers.
“The outreach was welcome and I found it fascinating that I could connect with someone of his caliber and start to build my network with inspirational thought leaders that I met through Qimam,” Al-Nasir said.
During their one-on-one coaching sessions, she was grateful for her mentor’s honesty about the difficulties she would likely face along her chosen career path and what development goals she should focus on.
“He gave me very specific advice,” she said. “I took it seriously and worked on his advice and made massive improvements. This has truly helped me develop my skills and capabilities.”
Al-Nasir has since interned at leading law firms, and volunteered with the charitable Princess Al-Anoud Foundation and the Saudi Association of Special Education, also known as GESTER, a scientific association at King Saud University that offers tuition and support services for people with disabilities and other special needs.
This voluntary work reflects Al-Nasir’s long-running desire to help others achieve their goals. During her studies at Northern Border University, for example, she and some friends established a society that promoted inclusion and lobbied for better services for students with disabilities.
“After losing my vision, I wanted to continue my undergraduate studies at a university that was qualified for people with visual disabilities,” she said.
“This led me to set a goal on the first day there, even though it was not equipped for the disabled, which was not to graduate until I had spread awareness, even if only minimally, about the culture of the visually impaired.”
The Saudi government has developed a legal framework designed to protect people with disabilities from harm, promote equality in education, and provide them with social care, rehabilitation services and healthcare.
Authorities have also introduced employment initiatives, improvements to mobility, transportation and parking, support for sign language, and housing and mobile services for people with disabilities, while also working to ensure that they are able to participate in decision-making processes.
The Authority for Persons with Disabilities was established in 2018 to improve quality of life for disabled people in the Kingdom and empower them to participate in society in inclusive and effective ways.
It is part of the National Transformation Program, an economic action plan launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification agenda.
“The Authority for Persons with Disabilities … was formed to empower persons with disabilities and enhance their role in the Kingdom,” said Al-Nasir.
She added that among other things it “aims to enable persons with disabilities to obtain suitable employment and educational opportunities, to achieve independence and integration as actors in society that contribute to the economic development of our country.”
Today, for the thousands of Saudis who, like Al-Nasir, live with disabilities, no ambition or dream is too great for them to achieve as far as education, employment or professional advancement is concerned.
“As the crown prince said, the sky is the limit for our ambitions,” Al-Nasir said.
13 Albanians, others from Kosovo are repatriated from Syria
Hundreds of people from Albania and Kosovo joined Daesh and other groups fighting in Syria and Iraq in the early 2010s
Updated 23 min 26 sec ago
TIRANA: Albania’s Interior Ministry said on Saturday that four Albanian women and nine children, all related to Albanians who joined extremist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq, have been repatriated from a Syrian camp.
The group, which landed at the Pristina Adem Jashari Airport in neighboring Kosovo, was joined by “other Kosovar citizens leaving the hell camps,” the statement said, without disclosing the number. At least one man’s blurred face was seen in a video distributed by the ministry.
Speaking at the airport, Albanian Interior Minister Bledi Cuci thanked US authorities and Lebanese Gen. Abass Ibrahim, who has played a key role in the repatriation efforts.
Kosovar Interior Minister Xhelal Zvecla did not give details on the Kosovar citizens repatriated but assured that specialized institutions would take care to “rehabilitate” and “de-radicalize” them.
Albanian Interior Minister Bledi Cuci thanked US authorities and Lebanese Gen. Abass Ibrahim, who has played a key role in the repatriation efforts.
Cuci said 43 Albanian women and children whose husbands and fathers joined Daesh and most often have been killed in fighting have been brought back in four missions since 2018.
Cuci said Albania had a list of citizens still in the camps and would continue efforts to bring them back.
Kosovo has repatriated at least 121 people since 2019.
“I would like to assure Albanians that we are determined to bring back from those camps any Albanians who remained there, every child and every woman,” said Cuci.
Hundreds of people from Albania and Kosovo joined Daesh and other groups fighting in Syria and Iraq in the early 2010s.
Many were killed, and their widows and children are stuck in Syrian camps.