The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
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The second edition of the Flowerman Festival offers live music, performances and a laser show to celebrate the local culture and heritage of the floral garlands. (Ministry of Culture)
The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
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The second edition of the Flowerman Festival offers live music, performances and a laser show to celebrate the local culture and heritage of the floral garlands. (Ministry of Culture)
The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
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The second edition of the Flowerman Festival offers live music, performances and a laser show to celebrate the local culture and heritage of the floral garlands. (Ministry of Culture)
The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
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The second edition of the Flowerman Festival offers live music, performances and a laser show to celebrate the local culture and heritage of the floral garlands. (Ministry of Culture)
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Updated 20 September 2021

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
  • Flowerman Festival celebrates the rural traditions in the Asir mountains in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Bright colors, regional flowers and celebrations of heritage are highlights of the second Flowerman Festival, hosted by the Ministry of Culture in the Asir region.

Young and old visitors wear colorful floral garlands and join hands and dance to celebrate this important cultural and historical event.

The Flowerman Festival celebrates the rural traditions in the Asir mountains in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia from Sept 13 to Sept. 27.

One of the missions of the festival is to share the Flowerman heritage and spread awareness of its cultural diversity with local and international visitors through art, dance and storytelling.

The festival is centered around three features, which focus on the preservation of culture under the theme of “nine years of glory.”

The first feature of the festival depicts the stories of the historical roles of the flowermen in a feature called “FlowerMen and Determination,” showing Rijal Almaa’s timeline through dance and chanting.

The second feature of the festival will celebrate women and the important role they play in preserving the heritage of the Asir region through their colorful artwork.

Some of the local women can be seen around the festival grounds carefully weaving the traditional floral crowns made of marigolds, jasmine and basil.

These floral crowns are the staple of the festival, worn not only the locals in Rijal Almaa village but by all visitors in celebration of its rural heritage. 

Made of freshly cut flowers, these crowns are a historical symbol of power, health and eternity worn by many locals in the Asir and Jazan region. 

The third feature of the festival is “Rijal’s Fort.” This showcases the local architecture — made of colorful stone, delicately stacked — and which also makes use of clay and wood.

Projected on the 60 buildings in the village is a laser show that shares the story of Rijal’s history.

At night these buildings, 14 of which were used as forts, are highlighted with bright colored lights that trace each corner of the structures, creating a bright glow from miles away.

The events are hosted in two locations — the first is the village of Rijal and the second is in Al-Soudah Park.

Al-Soudah Park features a 360-degree main stage where folk performances are held, and where the local colorful thobes and floral crowns have caught the attention of locals and international visitors. 

Located 45 km west of Abha, the hub of the festival Rijal Almaa, the location is in the process of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The hub was once the meeting place for merchants and pilgrims traveling to the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. Here merchants traded food, grains, household items, spices and jewelry.

This culturally rich region is home to the Rijal Almaa village, also referred to by international tourists as the gingerbread village because of the bright colors of the stone bricks carefully laid to create its century-old architectural structures.

Rijal Almaa holds a deep historical importance for the Kingdom; it is the location where the Asiri tribes claimed independence over the region and defeated the Ottoman forces in 1825.

The Flowerman Festival is a harmonious celebration of the environment and the rich local heritage of the village people. The festival showcases the connected villages that coexist within the environment, where people harvest flowers to create garlands and live in harmony with nature.

Few places in the world are preserved in the way that the Asir region is, with its historic villages hidden in the mountains.

The second edition of the festival offers live music, horseback riding and an open-air heritage market that sells many handmade crafts created by the local village people of the Asir region.

The first festival in 2019 welcomed more than 30,000 visitors with the theme of the local roses.

The Flowerman Festival will continue as an annual event organized by the Ministry of Culture to attract global visitors.


Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization
Updated 21 sec ago

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Alaa Abdulaal has been the vice president of strategy and governance at the Digital Cooperation Organization since September 2021.

The organization, a global multilateral entity that aims at increasing social prosperity through accelerating the growth of the digital economy, was established by a group of countries that share an interest in collaborating to realize their collective digital potential. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, and Pakistan.

Prior to joining the organization, Abdulaal had served for more than a year as the director of IT strategy and governance at the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services. For over nine years, beginning in 2011, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a database unit leader, technical operation strategist, and a strategic planning and development manager.

In the latter role she established key performance metrics, designed reporting solutions, and promoted the use of structured information to drive enhanced business performance. She also led critical communication development and business reporting.

In 2015, she spent eight months as a research intern at Riva Modeling Systems in Toronto, where she demonstrated a strong interest and aptitude for user experience.

Before that, she worked for more than four years as a database administrator at the Saudi Exchange Market. There, she helped enhance the database’s performance and security. Her job responsibilities also included evaluating the proposed auditing systems and developing the availability process from scratch with the IT service management project consultants. Moreover, she created availability dashboards for Tadawul production services.

Abdulaal received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2006 from King Saud University, where she graduated with first class honors. In 2014, she obtained a master’s degree, majoring in applied computing, with the highest GPA result.

She is a certified strategic business planner and a professional business process manager.


Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan
Updated 5 min 35 sec ago

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

RIYADH: Saudi air defenses intercepted a Houthi drone aimed at Jazan, the Arab coalition said early Saturday.

The Houthis consistently target civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom using explosive drones.

The Kingdom has labeled Houthi attempts to target civilians as war crimes.

Earlier this month, attacks on Abha and Jazan airports in southern Saudi Arabia sparked widespread condemnation of the militia’s tactics of targeting civilian sites.

The Arab coalition has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthis, after the militia seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia as repeatedly said the only way to a peaceful Yemen is through dialogue, and has called on the Houthis to end the fighting. The Riyadh Initiative, which was launch by the Kingdom in March, includes a nationwide ceasefire and a plan to reopen Sanaa airport. The plan has been rejected by the Houthis.

Fighting in Marib province has claimed thousands of lives, among both government and Houthi forces. The resource-rich region has been heavily contested as the militia seek to strengthen their control of northern Yemen.

The Arab coalition said on Friday that ten military vehicles were destroyed and over 180 Houthis killed in operations it carried out in Abedia, a district in Marib that has been under siege since Sept. 23.

The Houthi action in Abedia has hindered the movement of civilians and impeded humanitarian aid flows, including medical supplies, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier this week.

The war, which has now lasted for seven years, has cost thousands of Yemenis their lives and has forced many more to depend on humanitarian assistance.

Saudi relief agency, KSrelief, has poured billions of dollars worth of aid into Yemen and has hundreds of projects focusing on food and health.


Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women

Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women

Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women
  • While cases among males are rare, the illness follows the same path as in women

RIYADH: Breast cancer has long been known as one of the greatest health risks for women, with incidence rates of up to 30 percent in Saudi Arabia, according to some studies.
However, less well known is that men can also fall victim to the disease.
While cases among males are rare, the illness follows the same path as in women, with cells in the breast growing abnormally, dividing rapidly and then spreading to lymph nodes and other parts of the body, often with devastating consequences.
The risks of the disease to both women and men are being highlighted during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is observed every October as part of an international health campaign.
Global events include walks and runs, and the lighting of city landmarks in pink — the color used by campaigners worldwide to highlight their stand against breast cancer. Joining the campaign, major buildings in Riyadh have been illuminated in pink every night, while other cities across the Kingdom have also taken part in activities to raise awareness.
Thirty female cyclists rode around the streets of Jeddah dressed in pink to highlight the importance of early detection and treatment of the illness, and to offer support to survivors. The initiative was organized by Al-Murjan investment group in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Brave Cyclist club.
The Saudi government and private sector also will launch a series of initiatives, including educational exhibitions, lectures, mall drives, sports activities and mammogram screenings to promote awareness of the disease.
Arab News, the leading English daily in the region, has placed a pink ribbon on its masthead to highlight the important role that screening plays in combating the devastating disease.
According to a World Health Organization 2018 report, the incidence of breast cancer among females in Saudi Arabia stands at almost 30 percent. The illness is more common among over-40s, the health ministry said.
Early detection of breast cancer can significantly improve chances of recovery in both women and men, experts say.
Dr. Osama Halaweh, a hematologist and medical oncologist at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, told Arab News: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it does occur in men as well, though rarely. But awareness of the possibility is important. Since there is no screening for breast cancer in men, it is usually detected at a later stage when the lymph nodes are involved.”
Dr. Amer Mahmood, associate professor and molecular biologist at the College of Medicine in King Saud University, said: “Breast cancer is rare in men and usually happens in those over 60, but can occasionally affect younger men. About one in every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the US is found in a man.”
Common symptoms of breast cancer in men a lump or swelling in the breast, irritation or dimpling of the skin, nipple discharge or pain in the nipple area, he added.
Mahmood said that early diagnosis dramatically improves the chances of a cure. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the breast tissue. Other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, also may be recommended.
While the exact cause of breast cancer in men is not known, several factors increase the likelihood of developing the disease, he said.
Some men inherit abnormal, or mutated, genes from their parents, putting them at a greater risk of developing breast and prostate cancers. Other conditions that increase the level of oestrogen in the body will also add to the breast cancer risk.
However, male breast cancer is often overlooked. In 2009, the advocacy groups Out of the Shadow of Pink, A Man’s Pink, and the Brandon Greening Foundation for Breast Cancer in Men joined forces to have the third week of October labeled Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.
Studies in Europe and the US have shown that one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
Halaweh said that the illness in women can be hereditary in about 5 percent of cases, so genetic testing is important to determine personal and family risk.
“Currently, there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, but there is knowledge of risk factors that increase the possibility of developing the disease. So prevention and early detection remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control,” he added.
Advances in breast cancer management include systemic therapies in which drugs are used to target cancer cells wherever they may be in the body. These approaches include chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted drugs and immunotherapy.
Mahmood said that cancer is a universal public health problem and a leading cause of death worldwide, claiming an estimated 9.6 million lives in 2018.
Breast cancer is by far the most prevalent form, followed by lung cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. In absolute numbers, cancers in Islamic countries caused 1.02 million deaths in 2012, accounting for 17.4 percent of the total deaths in low and middle-income countries and 12 percent of the global cancer deaths, he added.
A balanced diet, and losing weight in cases of obesity may help to lower risk. Increased body weight is linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause.
Studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity can reduce breast cancer risk, Mahmood said.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week.


Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign

Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign

Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign

JEDDAH: Saudi businesses have joined the annual October drive to think pink with increasingly innovative ways to help raise awareness about breast cancer.
Every year the pink ribbon symbol is used around the world to represent solidarity with breast cancer sufferers and show charity support for the health movement.
The condition is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Saudi women, and the annual global awareness campaign highlights not only the challenges and threats posed by the disease but also new research on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
And whether offering a free checkup or a unique October product, Saudi firms have been at the forefront of the monthlong pink link push in the Kingdom.
Shaimaa Waleed, owner and founder of Jeddah-based Woow ice cream shop, has created a special edition of pink ice cream to mark the occasion.
She said: “I learned that one-out-of-eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and I wanted to remind women that they need to get checked as part of the awareness campaign for early detection.
“So, I came up with a marshmallow-flavored pink ice cream with marshmallow pieces in it, only served this month.”
Waleed added that the cause was close to her heart as a friend had died from the disease, and she advised every woman to get a checkup. “You are precious and your health matters to us, and because you are half of the society, get the early examination, it may be a reason to save your life.”
Jeddah-based Ward and Balloon filled its shop window display with pink flowers and has been offering discounts on everything it sells that is pink to support the cause.
Shatha Abdulhaleem, the business’ founder, told Arab News: “This awareness campaign hits close to home. I have some women in my family who were diagnosed with cancer, and I think it is very important to remind people of the matter using my business too.”
Meanwhile, Fighters, an all-women’s gym, has illuminated its machines with pink lights and pink equipment to celebrate survivors and support fighters of the disease. The gym is also offering big discounts for new female members.
Moayyad Al-Tayyeb, the gym’s owner, said: “One of the causes of breast cancer is obesity. In my gym we support and encourage all our clients to have a healthy lifestyle and a better future.”


Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: AlAnoud Al-Saud — a rising star at Diriyah Gate Development Authority

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: AlAnoud Al-Saud — a rising star at Diriyah Gate Development Authority
Updated 15 October 2021

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: AlAnoud Al-Saud — a rising star at Diriyah Gate Development Authority

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: AlAnoud Al-Saud — a rising star at Diriyah Gate Development Authority

AlAnoud K. Al-Saud is the senior marketing officer at the Diriyah Gate Development Authority. The 24-year-old has a history of leadership roles in project management, making her one of Saudi Arabia’s rising young stars.
Often leading design projects and directing the development and implementation of business and product marketing campaigns at DGDA, AlAnoud has a bright future ahead of her.
Her journey at DGDA began as a marketing intern, quickly learning the ropes and finding herself with a full-time position just four months later. She was then promoted just a year later to the position of SMO.
In one of the latest DGDA initiatives, known as “Plant Your Land,” AlAnoud finds herself as senior community engagement officer. The upcoming campaign seeks to bring the locals of Diriyah together to afforest their lands, while encouraging good neighborliness and fostering strong relationships within the Diriyah community.
Plant Your Land aims to transform the area of Diriyah, which is widely recognized as the “Jewel of the Kingdom,” into a global hub for Saudi culture and heritage.
AlAnoud said: “I’m passionate about self-development and self-improvement in my personal life. I’m always looking to challenge myself and learn new things. That’s one reason I enjoy working in DGDA; I’ve learned great communication skills, socializing skills, and problem-solving skills that help me in my day-to-day work but also in my personal life in terms of confidence, communication.
“Diriyah is my home and where I came from. It’s definitely a dream come true to be able to work and support the same area my great-grandfathers and country came from. Giving back to my community and being there for them makes me.”
She added: “When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a doctor, that was my dream job, to save people. That’s why I feel satisfied in the community department, where I can change people’s lives by empowering them.”
Holding a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from Alfaisal University, AlAnoud finds herself in a field she was born to excel in.
While studying, AlAnoud worked for three months as Alfaisal University’s external relations coordinator, which led her to work at career expos, take on research and provide materials required for the organization and its partners.
After completing her higher education, AlAnoud undertook several courses, gaining different qualifications to boost her career and her personal development. These included a “She Means Business” certificate from the Misk Foundation, the “Strategy for Content Marketing” from the University of California, Davis, and the “Design Thinking for Innovation” from the University of Virginia.
AlAnoud speaks Arabic, English and French.
In her personal time, AlAnoud enjoyed volunteering at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh for two months in 2019, and participated in renovating classrooms in Morocco with NomuHub the same year.
In 2016, she co-founded her own business called One Plus One, an event planning company, where she spearheaded management and presentations and dealt with clients on a regular basis. One Plus One organized the Formula E VIP gala dinner in 2018, as well as the Salayel Stud for Arabian Horses VIP lunch and the VIP lounge for MDL Beast in 2019.