Lebanese president congratulates King Salman on Saudi National Day, calls for Arab solidarity

Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 23 September 2021

Lebanese president congratulates King Salman on Saudi National Day, calls for Arab solidarity

Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
  • Aoun’s warm comments come as Mikati’s government wins vote of confidence amid calls for greater links with Arab countries
  • State electricity supplier warns of ‘total darkness’ across the country as fuel supplies dwindle

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun congratulated King Salman on the occasion of Saudi National Day, praising his efforts to “strengthen Arab solidarity, which is what we need the most today to address the challenges facing our region and the world.”

Aoun stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, since the era of King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who laid the foundation for unity and convergence, the values that your Kingdom has remained committed to toward our nation and people.”

His warm comments follow recent statements where Aoun expressed his rejection “for Lebanon to be the source of anything that might offend or harm Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries,” after the Saudi government’s decision in April to ban the entry of Lebanese fruits and vegetables into or via its territories over drug smuggling.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government obtained the parliament’s vote of confidence this week, based on the ministerial statement that stressed the need to “promote the Lebanese relations with Arab countries, activate the historic cooperation among Arab countries and urge Arab brothers to support the Lebanese during these difficult times.”

Aoun is expected to deliver via video a speech on Friday at the UN General Assembly in New York from his office, to express “Lebanon’s position regarding local and regional developments as well as the topics on the session’s agenda.”

Mikati headed to Paris on Thursday, his first official visit after the formation of the government, and is expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

France exerted intense pressure on Lebanese politicians to form a government in line with the initiative launched by Macron in the aftermath of the Beirut blast, which rocked the country last August.

On the eve of Mikati’s visit to the French capital, the International Support Group for Lebanon welcomed the formation of the new government and the parliament’s vote of confidence in the administration and its program.

The ISG urged “Lebanon’s leaders to move quickly to alleviate the burden of socio-economic hardship on the people of Lebanon and restore basic services, to prepare for fair and transparent elections to take place on time in 2022, and to initiate the critical reforms needed to restore trust and deliver justice, stability and prosperity for the Lebanese people and to pave the way for enhanced international support.”

Recalling its statement of Aug. 3, the ISG reiterated “the importance of swiftly completing the investigation into the Beirut port explosion.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s state electricity company warned on Thursday that the entire country was facing a total blackout by the end of the month as fuel oil reserves dwindled.

The company can generate less than 500 megawatts from fuel oil it secured through a deal with Iraq, it said.

Worsening fuel shortages have left the Lebanese with little if any state-supplied power for the past few months. Much of the country now relies on private generators.

The EDL said its reserves of both Grade A and Grade B fuel had reached a critical point and had run out already in the Jiyeh plant and the electricity-generating ships of Fatmagül and Orhan Bey, which have now stopped production.

“Reserves are also about to run out in the Zouk thermal plant and in the power-generation facilities in Zouk and Jiyeh, which will also be forced to stop production soon,” it said.

EDL said that “the Iraqi fuel to be imported following an agreement signed between Lebanon and Iraq can only generate 500 megawatts, which is not enough to secure the network’s stability and thus, the network will be at risk of total collapse at any moment.”

It added: “If things persist, there is a high risk of reaching total and complete darkness by the end of September.”

EDL held Lebanon’s central bank responsible for not securing dollars in exchange for “the surplus of local currency accumulated in the company’s account to generate power.”

Elsewhere, Hezbollah has continued to provide fuel for municipalities and hospitals hoping to procure Iranian diesel through the Al-Amana company, which is under US sanctions.

The administration of a hospital in northern Lebanon denied having received fuel through Al-Amana.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history

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Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season

Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season
Updated 14 sec ago

Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season

Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season
  • The zone offers a luxurious experience, reflecting the great diversity of culinary cultures around the world with a range of famous international eateries — Italian, Japanese, Argentinian, French and others
  • Other areas in the zone boast sweet shops — like that of Pierre Hermé, famous French pastry chef — light-strewn night gardens, concept stores, art shops and traditional clothing stores

RIYADH: Al-Murabba, one of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, is welcoming visitors this week as part of the city’s festivities.

Visitors are offered a taste of authentic Saudi hospitality as they are greeted with Arabic coffee, incense, and music at the main entrance.

The zone offers a luxurious experience, reflecting the great diversity of culinary cultures around the world with a range of famous international eateries — Italian, Japanese, Argentinian, French and others. Reservation can be made through The Chefz application.

In addition to gastronomic experiences, visitors can enjoy a host of musical and artistic performances.

Musician Re’aab Bukhari told Arab News that he plays Saudi music for famous local singers at the zone.

“I’m here with my crew to participate for Riyadh Season in Al-Murabba zone. I came to the first Riyadh Season a couple of years ago, and the level of organization I’ve witnessed is beyond professional,” he said.

Other areas in the zone boast sweet shops — like that of Pierre Hermé, famous French pastry chef — light-strewn night gardens, concept stores, art shops and traditional clothing stores featuring the work of local designers.

Visitors eager to taste Japanese cuisine can book at restaurant Bar Masa, featuring authentic creations by Chef Masa Takayama, known for his three-star Michelin restaurant in Manhattan, New York City.

Charming Parisian-style restaurant Oplaisir welcomes its diners with music and a menu rich with unique dishes. The Petit Trois, another famous, award-winning French restaurant, is also available in Al-Murabba.

Dareen Rajeh, a senior specialist at Takamol Holding who came to Al-Murabba for the festivities, shared with Arab News her feelings on Riyadh Season.

“Part of me can’t believe it, and the other part is grateful because we never expected to return to normal so quickly, especially as everything we used to read would say that life will never go back to normal. But, in a record time, we are back,” she said.

Having experienced Riyadh Season in the past, Rajeh was excited to relive the festival again.

“I’m also excited to visit Winter Wonderland this year, as the winter is almost near. I definitely want to experience the Crystal Maze as well,” she added.


Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister

Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister
Updated 31 sec ago

Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister

Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister
  • The ministry said the statements showed a clear bias toward the Houthis who threaten regional stability
  • The foreign ministry expressed its disappointment at comments made by Lebanon's information minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia summoned the Lebanese ambassador to the Kingdom on Wednesday over “offensive” comments made by Lebanon’s information minister.

The foreign ministry expressed its disappointment at comments made by Lebanon's Information Minister George Kordahi regarding the Arab coalition in Yemen.

It said it was disappointed by the “insults contained in those statements directed at the Kingdom and countries part of the Arab coalition.”

The ministry said that the statements showed a clear bias toward the Houthis who threaten security and stability in the region.

The “statements contradict the simplest political norms and are inconsistent with the historic relations between the two brotherly peoples,” the ministry added.

Kordahi sparked controversy on Tuesday when a video of him referring to the Houthis as defending themselves emerged online. He also called the war in Yemen “futile.”

The comments were made before he took up his current position.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the interview was recorded more than a month before his cabinet was formed and reflected a personal opinion that had nothing to do with government.

The Houthis continue to target civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom and Yemen almost daily.

The Gulf Cooperation Council and Kuwait also condemned the comments. 


Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
  • The Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation ‘to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally’ in the sector

JEDDAH: In a move that experts said will help to further advance the space sector in the Kingdom, the Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation.

The federation, a leading space organization founded in 1951 to promote discussions between scientists worldwide and encourage cooperation in space, announced the Saudi membership on Monday.

Mohammed Al-Tamimi, CEO of the commission, said that the space industry is one of the sectors targeted for development by Vision 2030 with the aim of the Kingdom becoming a world leader in the field. He added that the commission is working to enhance the sector through the scientific and professional development of the skills required in the field, and by providing the necessary support to promote research and development in space technologies.

“We are pleased today to join the International Space Federation to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally and to consolidate its leading role in the development of the space economy internationally,” Al-Tamimi said.

FASTFACTS

• The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said.

• They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said. They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The Saudi Space Commission was established by royal decree in late 2018 to stimulate space-related research and industrial activities. In 2020, Prince Sultan bin Salman, the first Saudi, Arab and Muslim astronaut, said the Kingdom was planning an SR8 billion ($2.1 billion) investment in the nation’s space program as part of Vision 2030.

“In the time we live now, space is becoming a fundamental sector of the global economy, touching every aspect of our lives on Earth,” he said. “Space business and the space economy are expected to grow into the trillions of riyals as we go forward.

“We believe there are a lot of opportunities that exist in the space sector and we, in Saudi Arabia, intend to tap these opportunities at all levels.”

The Kingdom aspires to being a leading global player in the space industry while advancing the prospects for future generations, the prince added.


Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
  • Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools

JEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as Ithra, will launch the fourth Tanween creativity season with a plethora of cultural events for curious minds.

Held under the theme “Tools: Crafting Creativity,” the event features high-profile speakers and a series of targeted workshops and masterclasses until Nov. 13, and is designed to celebrate, explore and inspire the creative process. 

Underscoring Ithra’s goal of supporting and developing the region’s creative industries, a key highlight will be the unveiling of one of the most comprehensive studies mapping the cultural and creative landscape of the Middle East and North Africa, including rare insights into the Saudi cultural pulse.

“Since its inception, Ithra has positively disrupted the scene in culture, art, knowledge, creativity and community. Through the annual creativity season, Tanween, a cultural catalyst and global gateway, Ithra has succeeded in creating an unprecedented ecosystem that embodies its five pillars, while offering unique experiences to the public and to creative professionals,” said Ashraf Fagih, head of programs at Ithra.

Miznah Alzamil, head of innovation and creativity at Ithra, explained that like previous editions, titled “Disruption,” “Play,” and “The New Next,” this edition of Tanween will explore an aspect of the creative process and tap into how cultural and creative industries continue to innovate and steer the future of the creative economy — highlighting the tools at their disposal. 

“Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools and identifying new opportunities presented by adopting and developing new toolsets,” she said. 

“From the first stone hammer to modern-day technology, tools enable our creativity to shape our world. From hand and head tools to digital and physical tools, and abstract and real toolsets, Tanween 2021 explores the role tools have in our creative process and industries, and shaping our creativity for the future.”

From its launch in 2018, Tanween has connected change-making creatives and innovators with global subject matter experts in an inspiration-fueled environment to nurture creative potential, share ideas and redefine what creativity means in a changing world. It offers a platform for them to connect with curious learners, aspiring creatives, and professionals to unlock creative potential across all levels and industries.  

This year’s headline speakers include former Adidas Senior Design Director Chris Law, founding director of the Khatt Foundation Dr. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares, international contemporary artist and researcher Sougwen Chung, and Arthur Mamou-Mani, founder of the award-winning Mamou-Mani Architecture practice.


Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
Updated 27 October 2021

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
  • The new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while promoting new talent and expertise

JEDDAH: The curtain is set to rise on a new era for Saudi performing arts with the establishment of a dedicated theater association.

As part of the Kingdom’s cultural transformation, the new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while also attracting and promoting new talent and expertise.

Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said the association would bring together professionals from the worlds of theater, folk arts, circus, stand-up comedy, and dance.

Headed by Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, the association’s board of directors will include academic researcher Sami Al-Jamaan, actors Rashid Al-Shamrani, Sami Al-Zahrani, and Fatima Al-Banawi, director Khaled Al-Baz, actor and playwright Yasser Madkhali, writer Fahd Al-Hoshani, kinetic arts performer Roaa Al-Sahhaf, comedian Yasser Bakr, and Saudi ballerina Samira Alkhamis.

Performing arts has been a part of human culture down the ages and was even used as a way to inform people about the negative impact of social practices.

However, although well-represented in the West, only recently have theatrical shows and their performers been supported in the Kingdom by official bodies such as the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission, set up under the National Strategy for Culture framework. 

In a tweet, association president, Al-Qasabi said: “I am honored to work with my colleagues in the new association to overcome difficulties and advance this lofty profession. In a few months, the work of the association will be launched, and we look forward to your participation in a new creative journey.”

Performing arts are considered to have benefits on a personal, social, and community level, with live theater helping to encourage social dialogue, highlight issues, and provide an outlet for society to find solutions to problems.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

• These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Subaih, director of the Jeddah-based Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the establishment of the new association as “a most welcome move” that would offer a strong voice for performers in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “It will definitely contribute to the work of actors and performers and also bring up the level of work of Saudi theater.”

Saudi actor Abdullah Al-Sinani said: “(The association is) a wonderful step that reinforces our permanent ambition toward the status of Saudi theatrical superlatives. I wish the association and its members success in enriching the local theatrical movement.”

In a tweet, Wael Al-Harbi said: “I was honored to be chosen as a founding member of the first association for theater and performing arts.”

And Sultan Al-Bazie, chief executive officer of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, said: “We expect the association to be an active element in the development of the sector.”

The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

In 2016, the General Entertainment Authority was formed, followed by the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission last year. The current registration of the Cinema Society will represent the first specialized civil body of its kind in the Kingdom concerned with the film industry.