Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

The meeting between Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili and Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. in Riyadh, attended by their respective delegations. (SPA)
The meeting between Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili and Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. in Riyadh, attended by their respective delegations. (SPA)
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Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

RIYADH: Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili, chief of the general staff of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, received Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command, and the accompanying US delegation at King Salman Air Base.

During the meeting they discussed aspects of cooperation between the two countries, especially in the defense sector, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

They reviewed the importance of strengthening military cooperation and also discussed issues of common interest with regards to regional security and stability.

The meeting was also attended by a number of senior officers from both sides.


Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization

Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization
Updated 5 min 16 sec ago

Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization

Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization
  • Australia on Wednesday said it intends to add the group to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday welcomed Australia’s intention to designate Hezbollah, both its political and military wings, as a terrorist organization.

Australia on Wednesday said it intends to add the group to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations.

The Kingdom’s foreign ministry said the step was important in enhancing international peace and security, and urged the international community to take a similar stance to confront terrorism and terrorist groups around the world.


Who’s Who: Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat, mayor of the Qassim region

Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat. (Supplied)
Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat. (Supplied)
Updated 10 sec ago

Who’s Who: Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat, mayor of the Qassim region

Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat. (Supplied)

Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat was recently appointed mayor of the Qassim region following a royal decree.
Prior to his new position, Al-Suwat served as the mayor of the Baha region for nearly four years beginning in 2017.
A few days before his recent appointment, the municipality of Baha was ranked fourth among 17 local municipalities on the digital transformation index issued by the Kingdom’s Digital Government Authority.
Before his work in Baha, he was head of Abqaiq mayoralty in the Eastern Province. He also served as the director of the urban planning department at the Eastern Province municipality, where he previously was the director of the project coordination department.
Al-Suwat, who has many research, scientific papers and studies published in both Arabic and English, was speaker at a number of conferences and meetings on urban and developmental issues. He presented a paper at the roundtable discussion sustainable cities alliance on the sidelines of the third UN-Habitat forum for green development, held in 2019 in Chengdu, China. 
When working for the Eastern Province municipality, he represented the municipality to the World Energy Cities Partnership, which connects leading energy cities on all continents that are committed to fostering the transition to a more sustainable energy future, held in 2012 at the WECP headquarters in Houston, in the US.
A year prior to that, he represented the Eastern Province mayor at the WECP annual meeting, held in Doha, Qatar.
Al-Suwat received a bachelor’s degree in 1995 from King Faisal University’s college of architecture and planning. Four years later, the university’s department of building engineering granted him a master’s in project management. In 2011, he obtained a Ph.D. in sustainable architecture from the college of architecture and planning of King Saud University.


Saudi Arabia to allow direct entry from all countries for single jabbed

Saudi Arabia to allow direct entry from all countries for single jabbed
Updated 27 November 2021

Saudi Arabia to allow direct entry from all countries for single jabbed

Saudi Arabia to allow direct entry from all countries for single jabbed

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will allow direct entry to travellers from all countries who have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of next Saturday.

The Kingdom’s interior ministry said that as of 1 a.m. on December 4, anyone who has had a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to enter provided they quarantine for three days on arrival.


Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 27 November 2021

Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 538,824
  • A total of 8,832 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 29 new infections on Saturday.

Of the new cases, 11 were recorded in Riyadh, seven in  Jeddah, two in Madinah, and two in Makkah. Several other cities recorded one new case each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 538,824 after 40 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,832 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 47.2 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia’s Ithra Islamic Art Conference examines history of mosques

 Showcasing mosque aesthetics, evolution and function, the exhibit brings together the most extensive collection of Islamic art masterpieces ever displayed in Saudi Arabia. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Showcasing mosque aesthetics, evolution and function, the exhibit brings together the most extensive collection of Islamic art masterpieces ever displayed in Saudi Arabia. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 27 November 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra Islamic Art Conference examines history of mosques

 Showcasing mosque aesthetics, evolution and function, the exhibit brings together the most extensive collection of Islamic art masterpieces ever displayed in Saudi Arabia. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
  • Using recent studies, experts discuss how 3.5m mosques around the world will transform with time

DHAHRAN: For thousands of years, mosques have served as sacred ground for Muslims around the world. But there is more than meets the eye, with Ithra’s Islamic Art Conference examining the deeper meaning and spiritual effects that mosques have on their communities.

The conference is a collaboration between the Abdullatif Al-Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture and Ithra, a leading destination for art and culture.

(AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

It was held from Nov. 24-25, and involved many perspectives, covered several themes and included studies by a group of elite speakers from around the world.

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Items and pieces originally from the Two Holy Mosques of Makkah and Madinah on loan from the National Museum in Riyadh, 84 works from the Museum of Islamic Arts in Cairo under the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities, and 34 objects from Ithra’s collection are showcased.

Ashraf Fagih, head of the programs division at Ithra, told Arab News: “We have philosophers, historians, the museum board of trustees and thinkers all discussing the different aspects of the mosque, not only as a building, but as a living entity which has been a vital part of human civilization since the dawn of Islam.

“When we talk about the objects, we talk about the tangible and intangible parts of the mosque, crafts, endowments, schools of thought and opinions that revolved around the mosque as a living entity. All of that is an essential and crucial part of our identity, not only as Muslims and Arabs, but as global citizens,” he added.

Using recent studies, Abdullah Al-Rashid, director of Ithra, discussed the mosque of the future, outlining its shape and function, and discussing how the 3.5 million mosques around the world will transform with time.

Al-Rashid announced that Ithra is launching a competition related to mosques that will focus on university students. As part of the event, organizers will gather an array of specialists from universities across the Kingdom and collect Saudi youth opinion, creative ideas and visions of future mosques.

The conference facilitates a more profound discussion and a crucial understanding of the historical development of mosques, with a particular focus on Islamic art and the preservation and revitalization of culture.

 

Its six themes were the evolution of the mosque, beauty, and function of mosque objects, mosque aesthetics, traditional architecture, and the preservation and revival of the mosque from mosque to museum.

One of the outstanding abstracts presented during the first day of the conference was the sonorous audible mosque, a new perspective on Islamic architecture by Michael Frishkopf, professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Frishkopf told Arab News: “Architecture is for life. It is to be used by people, and people live in social arrangements. In the case of the mosque, there is a spiritual relationship which involves sounds. It is critical for social life, and because of speech and expression, it conveys emotions. So I called the mosque a sonorous object, which is much closer to the spiritual function of the mosque than the visual.

“The root of the word masjid (Arabic for mosque) is sojood, which is the act of prostration. It is a postural sonic act, so a mosque goes away behind the idea of a building, and if we look at the spiritual essence of the mosque, we should focus on prostration. As when the forehead touches the ground the visual field is blocked but the ears are open,” Frishkopf added.

The discussions featured in the conference show the value through time of mosques should be preserved and integrated into the future.

Under the theme of the revival of mosque arts, Minwar Al-Meheid, a Jordanian project manager with a particular emphasis on architectural engineering and design, discussed the Minbar of Saladin at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the most famous Islamic pulpit in design, industry and art, and how it was made with inlaid wood and carved ivory, and crafted with ornamentation and inscriptions by skilled craftsmen.

(AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

This shed light on great efforts made across the Arab world to create a substitute minbar, which would revive the remains of the original pulpit that was burned to ashes in a 1969 incident. The new version was reconstructed in Jordan by Turkish and Asian craftsmen and woodworkers, and was then relocated to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Meheid said that the delicate nature of geometry in Islamic art also applies to the ancient mosque and its value.

Shatr Al-Masjid: The art of orientation

Farah Abushullaih, the head of museum at Ithra, told Arab News: “There is an increased interest in and recognition of Islamic art and culture globally, but Ithra’s research has identified established misconceptions and perceptions in this field. The complementing exhibition, “Shatr Al-Masjid: The art of orientation,” the first of its kind in the world, addresses this gap in knowledge and understanding of the significant impact, history and culture around this topic.”

Showcasing mosque aesthetics, evolution and function, the exhibit brings together the most extensive collection of Islamic art masterpieces ever displayed in the Kingdom in unprecedented partnerships on a global and national level. It features several pieces from the greatest Islamic dynasties, from the Ayyubids and Fatimids to the Mamluks and Ottomans, covering different styles and periods over 1,000 years of history.

Visitors were given the honor of participating in weaving part of the Kiswah located over the black stone. The section will be placed later this year, using raw silk threads and silver wire coated with gold water. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Items and pieces originally from the Two Holy Mosques of Makkah and Madinah on loan from the National Museum in Riyadh, 84 works from the Museum of Islamic Arts in Cairo under the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities, and 34 objects from Ithra’s collection are showcased.

The exhibit also showcases 10 3D models of ancient mosques from around the world displayed in a sequenced timeline, starting with Thee Prophet’s Mosque. It also shows how other mosques are inspired by their structure, function and architecture.

Dr. Sami Angawi, founder and director of the Hajj Research Center, which he established in 1975, is one of the leading researchers who helped to reach the final result of the 3D modeling of The Prophet’s Mosque in the era of Prophet Muhammad, which is displayed in the exhibition.

(AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“I have been searching and working in Makkah and Madinah for the last 40 years. We have cooperated with Ithra in making this particular model of The Prophet’s Mosque,” Angawi told Arab News.

“Dealing with Makkah and Madinah’s mosques and reconstructing them to be showed in virtual reality through time and place is of huge significance, as we are trying to turn what is documented in books into visual reality. This is one of the results which was conducted with Ithra and we have many other things we are working on,” he added.

The exhibit uses four techniques to enhance and enrich the visitor experience: Audio guides, screens, interactive timelines and virtual reality headsets that showcase five mosques around the world. Once a visitor wears the headset, they will be taken on a tour through the mosques, which gives non-Muslims the chance to feel and walk through the Two Holy Mosques.

Abdullah Alkadi, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Dammam, told Arab News that tried to find links between astrolabe and GPS devices as part of his research for the exhibition. “I focused on time and space because everything, every transaction in the world falls between these two aspects,” he said.

(AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“I was also trying to link that with GPS and with old instruments used in the past such as an astrolabe. I was trying to show how the astrolabe was introduced for the last several centuries. It was a navigating system where people can easily know time and directions and they also have used it to determine prayer time, so here lies the connection between the ancient tool and the new technology of GPS. Place and time can be utilized, analyzed and linked to many things from the past, present and future,” he added.

The Art of Masjid

On the sidelines of the Conference, an exhibit titled “The Art of Masjid” showcased contemporary works related to mosques from around the world through collaborations with Turquoise Mountain. The exhibition highlights calligraphy and architectural ornaments, including panels, furniture, prayer mats and more.

The King Abdulaziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswah also took part in the three-day conference, exhibiting tools used for washing the Holy Kaaba, as well as some antiquities, a 3D model of Maqam Ibrahim and more.

Visitors were given the honor of participating in weaving part of Kiswah located over the black stone. The section will be placed later this year, using raw silk threads and silver wire coated with gold water.

Abushullaih said: “Ithra takes the conversation into communities with an outreach project, where the public can share their photos and stories for publication on Ithra’s platform. The combined information from the exhibitions and conference represents the importance of learning, disciplinary development, and the preservation of mosques and cultural heritage.”