Saudi Arabia issues royal decrees, appoints new health and Hajj ministers

Saudi Arabia issues royal decrees, appoints new health and Hajj ministers
Saudi Arabia's King Salman. (SPA)
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Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi Arabia issues royal decrees, appoints new health and Hajj ministers

Saudi Arabia issues royal decrees, appoints new health and Hajj ministers
  • Tawfiq Al-Rabiah has been appointed the new minister of Hajj and Umrah
  • Fahd Al-Jalajel has been appointed as the Kingdom’s new health minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia issued a host of royal decrees on Friday including the appointment of new ministers for the health and Hajj and Umrah portfolios.

Former health minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah has been appointed the new minister of Hajj and Umrah.

Fahd Al-Jalajel has been appointed as the Kingdom’s new health minister.

Abdul Aziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Arifi has been relieved of his post as assistant minister of transport and was appointed as an advisor to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers.

Lt. Gen. Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azima has been promoted to the rank of general and appointed commander of the joint forces.

A new authority for the development of the Saudi cities of Yanbu, Umluj, Al-Wajh, and Duba has been established.

 


Saudi artist paints elderly back into the social picture

In a latest collection, titled ‘See In My Eyes,’ the beauty of a group of elderly subjects. (Supplied)
In a latest collection, titled ‘See In My Eyes,’ the beauty of a group of elderly subjects. (Supplied)
Updated 47 min ago

Saudi artist paints elderly back into the social picture

In a latest collection, titled ‘See In My Eyes,’ the beauty of a group of elderly subjects. (Supplied)
  • Fawaz Binkolaib says remaining integrated in society is vital to the well-being of older people

JEDDAH: Art presents us with an opportunity to fight social stigmas and promote inclusion through the positive representation and empowerment of marginalized groups.

In a world where younger generations are celebrated and adulated, the elderly can sometimes feel like they have lost their place and succumb to loneliness due to social exclusion and ageist stigma. But according to a local artist, one way in which older people can remain full and active members of society is through art.
Ageism is a global phenomenon that affects senior citizens across all cultures. In the Saudi context, culture plays a vital role in socially including the elderly, where family solidarity equates to ensuring the well-being of senior members.

FASTFACT

In a world where younger generations are celebrated and adulated, the elderly can sometimes feel like they have lost their place and succumb to loneliness due to social exclusion and ageist stigma. But according to a local artist, one way in which older people can remain full and active members of society is through art.

Fawaz Binkolaib, a Jeddah-based artist with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Art Institute of Houston in Texas, said older members of society were all too often left on the sidelines.
“As we grow older, time leaves its marks on our skin, the stages of our lives telling stories of pain and laughter,” the 29-year-old told Arab News.
“We sometimes unintentionally exclude our seniors from daily social activities, treating them as unfit to take part.”
It was while studying in the US that Binkolaib realized how art could be used as a medium for conversation.
“My passion for art was sparked in a general education class I had to take in my first year called art appreciation,” he said. “My mind was woken by the subjective and various art forms and how that can provide different ways of communicating for us as a species.”
In his latest collection, titled “See In My Eyes,” Binkolaib showcases the beauty of a group of elderly subjects through the intricacies of every fold and wrinkle on their faces.
He said that creating the digital images, which he did using an electronic pen and pad, enabled him to really connect with his subjects.
“Speaking to the elderly was peaceful and easy,” he said. “They were excited to be voiced and heard. As we were speaking, other people passed by and joined the conversation, helping them to get across their stories.
“After talking with my senior muses, I became aware that a sense of community can enhance their overall psychological and emotional well-being,” he added.
“For that, I believe that promoting community-engaged art programs can empower and uplift senior citizens. I also think that their absence from social media has made it difficult for them to represent their image and how the younger generation perceives them.”
Binkolaib also said that facilitating and accommodating elderly people’s inclusion in community activities, like art, and familiarizing them with current trends was a good way to reintegrate them into society.
Art serves as a channel of untraditional communication for those unable to find the words to express their feelings, he added. Therefore, creating artistic outlets for senior citizens can help bridge the generation gap and energize their souls, providing solidarity and social cohesion.
Binkolaib says the elderly were us years before our time, leaving their thumbprint on all the places we are yet to experience for ourselves, carrying with them the wisdom of life gained through trials and tribulations.
“Because one day all we are going to have are the marks on our faces that relay our stories better than our words ever can,” he said.
Examples of the artist’s work can be found on his Instagram page, @Fawaz_designs.


Red Sea Fund announces support for 26 Saudi projects

Red Sea Fund announces support for 26 Saudi projects
Updated 12 sec ago

Red Sea Fund announces support for 26 Saudi projects

Red Sea Fund announces support for 26 Saudi projects
  • In its first cycle, the fund carefully selected 90 ‘game-changing’ films from over 650 submissions

JEDDAH:The Red Sea Fund will support 26 Saudi films in a list of 90 carefully selected projects from the Arab World and Africa.
Following over 650 submissions, the fund on Tuesday announced its final selection of the much-anticipated projects, aiming to create a game-changing generation of filmmakers.
The grants will be given to 37 films in development, 33 live projects, and 28 films in post-production.
Of the projects to receive funding, 11 hail from Africa, 60 from the Arab region, and 26 from Saudi Arabia.
The exciting and unique selection includes 59 feature fictions, 18 feature documentaries, 10 short fictions, five feature animations, three episodic series, and two short animations.
The fund will also back 28 talented Saudi film directors, 54 percent of whom are female.
The Red Sea Film Festival Foundation established the fund in June to back 100 feature films, short projects, and episodics by directors from the Arab world and Africa.
The fund was supported earlier this year by the Saudi Film Commission to help a larger pool of talented filmmakers from the Kingdom and the Arab region bring their work from script to screen.
Three committees of industry professionals were formed for each section of the funding: Development, production, and post-production support.
Edouard Waintrop, artistic director of the Red Sea International Film Festival and head of the committee awarding funds for post-production, said: “There is a wealth of undiscovered talent in Saudi Arabia and across the Arab world. As pioneers and believers in the importance of cinema and film in driving inspiration, creativity, and innovation, we are very proud to enable these brilliant artists to showcase their work by investing in their talents and empowering them to realize their dreams through the Red Sea Fund.
“These exceptional cinematic works will challenge people’s perceptions of traditional cinema and revive the film industry in KSA and the region.”
He continued: “We truly cannot wait to see these selections come to fruition and find their way to the big screen.”


Saudi students take part in university admission workshop

More than 200 Saudi students take part in university admission workshop. (Twitter: @mawhiba)
More than 200 Saudi students take part in university admission workshop. (Twitter: @mawhiba)
Updated 1 min 14 sec ago

Saudi students take part in university admission workshop

More than 200 Saudi students take part in university admission workshop. (Twitter: @mawhiba)
  • The program helps students with university admission by focusing on developing their leadership skills

RIYADH: More than 200 students participated in a training workshop to qualify for admission to prestigious US universities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The workshop was organized by King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation For Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba).

It was part of Tamayouz, an integrated training program that prepares secondary school students in the Kingdom for admission to the top 30 US universities.

Tamayouz lasts for one year, starting from the second semester of the second year of secondary school until the student obtains admission to the university.

The workshop had 207 participants, 119 males and 88 females, from across the country.

Mawhiba secretary-general Dr. Saud Al-Mathami attended the event.

He gave a speech in which he highlighted the keenness of the Saudi leadership to support local talent.

He said the Kingdom had become an incubator of minds and talent, and also a distinguished model in creativity, due to the leadership's efforts to promote the role of young people in overcoming challenges, creating a better future, and affirming the Kingdom’s position among developed countries.

Al-Mathami called on students to continue their hard work and present an honorable and bright image of the Kingdom in the universities they were to enrol in.

They were the nation’s ambassadors in these universities and would highlight Saudi capabilities, as well as contributing their knowledge and talent to support the Kingdom’s transformation into a knowledge-based society and achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, he added.

The program helps students with university admission by focusing on developing their leadership skills and preparing a “file of achievement” that will set them apart from other applicants.

Tamayouz was launched in 2015, and more than 700 students have enrolled in it so far.


STA launches Winter Season on its Visit Saudi platform

Visitors take photos of a musician playing an Arabic traditional instrument at Souq Al Ahsa World Heritage UNESCO Village. (REUTERS file photo)
Visitors take photos of a musician playing an Arabic traditional instrument at Souq Al Ahsa World Heritage UNESCO Village. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 19 min 29 sec ago

STA launches Winter Season on its Visit Saudi platform

Visitors take photos of a musician playing an Arabic traditional instrument at Souq Al Ahsa World Heritage UNESCO Village. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Options include city experiences and outdoor excursions tailored to colder months

RIYADH: The Saudi Tourism Authority has launched events and seasons through its Visit Saudi platform for the winter months.

From city experiences to outdoor excursions, the event schedule is filled with activities best experienced during the cold season.

Saudi Arabia is experiencing rapid growth through the interaction of visitors and tourists from inside and outside the Kingdom with all seasons, events, packages, and various destinations that have emerged through the platform, the official identity of Saudi tourism supervised by STA.

Through the Visit Saudi platform, visitors can find suitable packages and trips, and entertainment activities available until March 2022. STA is working with partners from the public and private sectors to promote this economic and social development that contributes to providing investment opportunities for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized companies, and job opportunities for the young men and women of the Kingdom.

After the great successes it has achieved in revitalizing local tourism during the past few years, STA will work during the current winter season to attract tourists from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the wider Middle East.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Through the Visit Saudi platform, visitors can find suitable packages and trips, and entertainment activities available until March 2022.

• STA is working with partners from the public and private sectors to promote this economic and social development that contributes to providing investment opportunities for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized companies, and job opportunities for the young men and women of the Kingdom.

STA is also collaborating with the Saudi tourism sector to generate one million job opportunities, reaching 100 million annual visits, and raising the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP to 10 percent by 2030.

The Kingdom is witnessing a great tourist revival which reflects the extent of the government’s interest in the sector, one of the fastest-growing in the world, with a promising future as one of the most important pillars in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Last year, STA launched its Saudi Winter season from Dec. 10 until the end of March 2021. Visitors were provided with over 300 experiences and packages offered by more than 200 private sector establishments during the season. The campaign allowed Saudi nationals and non-Saudi residents traveling as families, in groups, or as individuals, and GCC nationals, to discover the Kingdom’s geographical and climate diversity.


What’s on in December in Saudi Arabia’s crowded cultural calendar

What’s on in December in Saudi Arabia’s crowded cultural calendar
Updated 4 min 44 sec ago

What’s on in December in Saudi Arabia’s crowded cultural calendar

What’s on in December in Saudi Arabia’s crowded cultural calendar
  • First up will be Misk Art Week, annual weeklong program to be held at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh
  • Diriyah Contemporary Art biennale is probably the biggest attraction of the Kingdom’s upcoming cultural season

DUBAI: In common with other parts of the world, art, culture, and entertainment took a back seat in Saudi Arabia during the worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now, with infection rates under control in the Kingdom thanks to a successful immunization campaign, a two-year period of event closures and cancellations has finally ended.

Take December, which promises to be an especially action-packed month in the Saudi cultural calendar, with events running the gamut from in-person exhibitions and concerts to grand openings, many of which had been rescheduled since the onset of the pandemic.

First up will be Misk Art Week, opening at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh on Dec. 1. This annual weeklong program of exhibitions is being staged by the Misk Art Institute, operating under the auspices of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Then comes the first edition of Riyadh Art, billed as the largest public civic arts initiative of its kind in the world. Running from Dec. 5 to 8, it will feature 12 programs launched by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City to transform the Saudi capital into “a gallery without walls.”

Meanwhile, over in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, the Jameel Art Center is scheduled to open its long-awaited, multidisciplinary arts complex, Hayy Jameel, on Dec. 6.

Also coming to Jeddah in December is the annual Red Sea Film Festival. The Dec. 6 to 15 event, first launched in 2019, prides itself on featuring emerging talents from Saudi Arabia, the Arab region, and the developing world.

Then, to crown it all, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale opens on Dec. 11 in the new JAX district of Diriyah, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif, the first capital of the House of Saud dynasty founded in the 15th century. The event — Saudi Arabia’s first — will run until March 11.

Culture is an integral part of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, launched five years ago to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil as well as to embrace sectors such as tourism, technology and the creative industries.

Philip Tinari, director and chief executive officer of the Beijing-based UCCA Center for Contemporary Art and the lead curator behind the Diriyah biennale, told Arab News: “This is an art scene on the brink of greatly increased prominence and much of that has to do with government initiatives at all kinds of levels.

“Another big part of it has to do with this generation of artists who, maybe before these changes, were living abroad and have now decided to move home where they are finding new vectors of support.”

Before the COVID-19 outbreak morphed into a pandemic in early 2020, Saudi Arabia was gearing up to become a global destination for the arts.

Seasonal festivals were already popping up throughout the country and the ancient northwestern city of AlUla was staging a variety of concerts, conferences, and open-air exhibitions.

The cultural explosion was triggered partly by the Kingdom’s decision to open up to foreign tourists in September 2019 with a new electronic visa scheme. However, as the health crisis went global a few months later, the country was forced to close its doors once again.

Now that international travel has resumed with COVID-19 protocols in place, the cultural floodgates are open once more and visitors to the Kingdom are spoilt for choice.

FASTFACTS

• The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is the biggest attraction of Riyadh’s crowded cultural season.

• Hayy Jameel, designed by architectural studio waiwai, is Art Jameel’s new dedicated home for the arts in Jeddah.

Hayy Jameel is among the most hotly anticipated openings of the year. Designed by the multi-award-winning architectural studio waiwai, Art Jameel’s new dedicated home for the arts in Jeddah has been billed as a dynamic, creative hub for the community.

Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, told Arab News: “Hayy Jameel has been in the planning for more than 20 years, but it couldn’t have come to fruition at a timelier moment.

“The launch of our creative neighborhood accompanies an incredibly exciting calendar of events. The opening season opens to the public from Dec. 6 and unfolds through the spring, as cultural partners launch their spaces and we open the indie Hayy Cinema, making the complex Jeddah’s true home for the arts.”

In any event, the creative arts environment in Saudi Arabia is maturing fast, boosting demand for dedicated spaces for exhibitions, screenings and performances.

Carver said: “It needs independent, community-oriented endeavors working alongside the larger-scale government-led initiatives.

“The Ministry of Culture and other government entities are actively encouraging the not-for-profit sector and organizations like Art Jameel, given our mandate to give back to Saudi and support artists and nurture creative communities.

“To balance out the current breakneck pace of development, and demands on Saudi artists, we’re also aiming to foreground opportunities to develop long-term research, ideas, and skills; to explore and document local histories; develop contextual learning resources in Arabic; and to cross-pollinate the various creative art forms, bringing together visual arts, film, performance, architecture, design, and more.”

While Jeddah positions itself as one of the region’s foremost cultural destinations, Riyadh refuses to be outdone. First up in the Saudi capital’s cultural calendar is Misk Art Week.

Reem Al-Sultan, CEO of Misk Art Institute, told Arab News: “The fifth edition of Misk Art Week unites emerging and established artists in Saudi Arabia and across the globe with experts in critical and cultural discourse.

“Misk Art Institute offers an insightful array of multidisciplinary practices and international perspectives, providing a unique, educational experience to both the participating creatives and to the public engaging with these compelling conversations.”

Opening just a few days later will be Riyadh Art, staged by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, of which the Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium is part. The program includes an awards ceremony and will convene 20 sculptors from Saudi Arabia, the Arab region, and around the world.

Khalid Al-Hazzani, an architect and the RCRC’s director of projects, told Arab News: “Riyadh Art continues to transform the city into a gallery without walls with the launch of the Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium, its second initiative.

“As art and culture reflect the spirit of a city, we look forward to contributing to Riyadh’s vibrant art season this December and offering a platform for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.”

The Riyadh Art Project is just one of the city’s four mega-projects launched by King Salman on March 19, 2019. Dubbed a milestone in Riyadh’s mission to become one of the world’s most livable cities, the initiative will involve the installation of more than 1,000 artworks across the metropolis.

The Diriyah biennale is undoubtedly the biggest attraction of the crowded cultural season. Developed by a team of international curators led by Tinari, the event will feature works by around 70 artists examining the theme, “Feeling the Stones.”

The biennial event will alternate each year between a contemporary art and an Islamic art exhibition under the auspices of the Diriyah Foundation, chaired by Prince Badr Al-Saud.

“I think the Diriyah biennale will consolidate much of the progress that has been made,” Tinari said, referring to Saudi Arabia’s cultural awakening.

“What is really special about it is the scale — spread across 12,000 square meters of newly converted warehouse space that will be dedicated to this event moving forward.

“I hope that the Diriyah biennale will become a benchmark for the scene more generally and that other kinds of art events will congregate around it.”

Twitter: @rebeccaaproctor