Who’s Who: Mukhtar Alam, Saudi calligrapher

Mukhtar Alam. (Supplied)
Mukhtar Alam. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 November 2021

Who’s Who: Mukhtar Alam, Saudi calligrapher

Mukhtar Alam. (Supplied)

Mukhtar Alam, calligrapher at the factory that makes the Kiswa for the Kaaba, was recently granted Saudi citizenship.
The move came after the government decided to bestow the honor on a number of foreign nationals with specialist skills.
Alam is also a supervisor to the Charitable Association for the Memorization of the Holy Qur’an in Makkah, an Arabic calligraphy counselor at the Hands Craft Association in Jeddah, a founder of Jeddah’s Arabic Calligraphy Society, and a member of the Saudi Scientific Society for Arabic Calligraphy.
He was formerly deputy head of the panel committee for an Arabic calligraphy contest organized by Dar Al-Arqam Schools in Jeddah between 2001 and 2014, and a member of arbitration committees for similar competitions run nationally and in Makkah from 2008 to 2014.
Between 1995 and 1999, he taught calligraphy at Umm Al-Qura University’s department of art education.
In addition, he has received numerous local and international awards, including one for Persian calligraphy at the second International Arabic Calligraphy Competition, held in Turkey in 1989. He holds two licenses in the Holy Qur’an which he received in 2002 and 2011 from Sheikh Fouad Mustafa, a student of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Akhdar, former imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
In 1980, Alam joined the Charitable Association for the Memorization of the Holy Qur’an in Makkah working there as a Qur’an teacher for 13 years, and for three years he taught at Dar Al-Arqam Institute in the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which is affiliated to the Qur’an memorization organization.
Alam gained a master’s degree in art education (calligraphy) in 2001 from Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah and a bachelor’s degree in art education in 1992 from the same institution.


UN official applauds Saudi Green Initiative aimed at addressing climate change effects

UN official applauds Saudi Green Initiative aimed at addressing climate change effects
The UN resident coordinator in Saudi Arabia, Nathalie Fustier, addresses participants at Riyadh Blue Talk. (AN photo by Ali M Al
Updated 53 min 59 sec ago

UN official applauds Saudi Green Initiative aimed at addressing climate change effects

UN official applauds Saudi Green Initiative aimed at addressing climate change effects
  • UNRC applauds Saudi Green Initiative aimed at addressing devastating effects of climate change
  • The environment is a key priority for the UN globally and in the Kingdom

RIYADH: The UN resident coordinator in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday praised the Kingdom for stepping up its commitment to the environment by launching initiatives aimed at addressing the devastating effects of climate change.

In her opening remarks at Riyadh Blue Talk, an event organized by the UNRC office and the embassies of Portugal and Kenya to raise awareness of oceans ahead of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference to be held in Lisbon next month, Nathalie Fustier said:

“In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up its commitment to the environment and launched last year the Middle East and the Saudi Green Initiatives aimed at addressing some of the devastating effects of climate change. Recently, the Saudi government announced the establishment of the Red Sea Authority, a new body to protect the coral reefs and sea turtles in the Red Sea.

“Saudi Arabia has more than 2,000 km of coastline, the largest in the region, with 30 percent of the Kingdom’s population living within 100 km of a coastline. This enormous coastline is home to diverse marine ecosystems and the basis for the future blue economy of the Kingdom.

“Considering the valuable contributions and efforts that Saudi Arabia has made to the conservation of marine environment at national, regional, and global levels, we are glad to gather stakeholders from government, private sector, civil society, academia, regional and international organizations to exchange knowledge and solutions and build partnerships to solve pressing challenges.”

The environment is a priority for the UN and the Kingdom. The UN in Saudi Arabia supports the Kingdom in its progress toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Vision 2030, she added.

“We are working on a five-year development cooperation framework with the government which has a strong focus on ‘planet.’ We have also established a dedicated Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Advisory Working Group within the UNCT (UN Country Team) to enhance internal UN coordination and improve support to the government in the field of (the) environment.”

The UN secretary-general firmly believed that solutions were possible and the current trends could be reversed to bring considerable improvements to the environment, she said.

“With this optimism in mind, I look forward to learning more and hope that the discussions here will inform the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon and create new ways of working towards an effective solution to better preserve our oceans.”

Speaking at Riyadh Blue Talk, Dr. Osama Faqeeha, Saudi Arabia's deputy minister for environment, water, and agriculture said: “Saudi Vision 2030 plays a central role (in) coming out with a deep conviction that economic development and prosperity cannot be complete without environmental protection and social development."

In 2016, the Environment Ministry approved a national strategy that included a comprehensive assessment of all environmental challenges and opportunities and an intensified focus on environmental protection.

That was followed by a complete restructuring of institutions working in the environment sector, resulting in the National Center for Environmental Compliance.

It also resulted in the National Center for Waste Management to accelerate work in the Kingdom toward a circular economy, maximizing recycling, minimizing waste generation, maximizing utilization of waste, and reducing waste diversion to landfills.

The National Center to Combat Desertification addresses national challenges related to vegetation cover. Saudi Arabia also has a National Center for Wildlife and a National Center for Metrology to tackle climate and environmental issues.

Peter Thomson, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for the ocean, said: “(The) Ocean’s health is vital to us all. Just consider the fact that over 50 percent of the planet’s oxygen is produced in the ocean. That is why my daily mantra is, ‘No healthy planet without a healthy ocean.’ And the ocean’s health is measurably in decline.

“We can stop the decline of the ocean’s health in 2022 and we made a great start with the consensual agreement at UNEA (UN Environment Assembly) in Nairobi in February to begin work on a binding global treaty to end plastic pollution.

“We must continue this positive momentum by ending harmful fisheries subsidies at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Geneva, by adopting the 30 by 30 target at the Biodiversity COP in Kunming, and when we gather in Sharm El-Sheikh in November for COP27, by moving the climate finance needle decisively in the direction of the Sustainable Blue Economy.

“2022’s highlight opportunity will be the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, in support of SDG14’s implementation. There, we will launch a great fleet of science-based solutions, heavily powered by innovation and partnerships.”

Riyadh Blue Talk held two panel discussions.

One was about managing, protecting, conserving, and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems. It was moderated by Portuguese ambassador Nuno Mathias. The other was about increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology. This was moderated by the Kenyan ambassador Peter Nicholas Ogego.

Riyadh Blue Talk is part of a global action initiative to raise ocean awareness.


Saudi foreign minister reiterates Kingdom’s position on Israel

Saudi Arabian FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated the kingdom’s stance regarding normalization with Israel. (AN Photo)
Saudi Arabian FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated the kingdom’s stance regarding normalization with Israel. (AN Photo)
Updated 43 min 15 sec ago

Saudi foreign minister reiterates Kingdom’s position on Israel

Saudi Arabian FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated the kingdom’s stance regarding normalization with Israel. (AN Photo)
  • Normalization comes as an end result of a path, Prince Faisal tells Davos audience

DAVOS: Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated the Kingdom’s stance regarding normalization with Israel at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday that there is no change despite recent unconfirmed media reports suggesting otherwise.

“I’ve addressed that several times in the past and nothing has changed in how we view the subject. I think we have always seen normalisation as the end result, but the end result of a path,” Prince Faisal told at a Davos panel titled “A New Security Architecture in the Middle East.”

“We always envisioned that there will be full normalisation with Israel, and I’ve said before that a full normalisation between us and Israel, between the region and Israel, will bring immense benefits - we won’t be able to reap those benefits unless we address the issue of Palestine,” he added in response to a question about recent unconfirmed media reports involving a US brokered deal involving Egypt and Israel. 

For his part, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi chimed in as well and said “The key issue that we should be looking at here is the absolute no political horizon for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

“That is killing hope, that is allowing the enrichment of despair and empowering radicalization on all sides and that’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos. (AN Photo)

The murder of Al Jazeera’s veteran news anchor, Shireen Abu Akleh, in Palestine at the hands of Israeli defence forces was also brought up as the panel called for a thorough investigation.

“Thats one among many, many cases since the beginning of the year over 42 Palestinians have been killed in clashes that have erupted across the occupied Palestinian Territories,” Safadi said.

When asked about ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Prince Faisal said they need to find a way toward pushing forward the political process that has been stalled for a long time, and they need to find a way to address the refugee crisis.

“Its easy for someone talking from 10,000, 4,000, 5,000 miles away, to look at it from a different perspective than we in the region,” Jordan’s FM said.

“The question is not ‘normalize or not normalize’, the question is ‘do we continue with status quo politics?’ Which means the crisis continues to deepen, the suffering its causing continues to effect more people..”

“We believe that we should look at the interconnectedness of everything in the region, with Syria we should accept the fact that the crisis cannot continue and we have to solve it.”

With regards to normalising ties with regional crisis points and threats, the topic of dialogue with Iran was brought up as well.

“Our hands are stretched out, we are trying to send the message that going into a new era of cooperation in the region can deliver benefits for all of us,” he told a World Economic Forum panel, adding that “that does need a decision in Iran to sign onto that vision of a much more prosperous, cooperative future.”

“We continue to encourage our neighbors in Iran to lean into what can be a very, very important….see change in our region,” he said.

While the GCC is in discussions with Iran, the government two months ago claimed a missile attack on the Kurdish capital Erbil in Iraq stating it was targeting an Israeli “strategic centre of conspiracy.”

Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said that “we must look at the security of the region as a whole.”


Saudi embassy in Germany cautions citizens against stormy weather conditions

Saudi embassy in Germany cautions citizens against stormy weather conditions
Updated 24 May 2022

Saudi embassy in Germany cautions citizens against stormy weather conditions

Saudi embassy in Germany cautions citizens against stormy weather conditions
  • Severe weather conditions across Germany have left dozens of people injured
  • Local authorities cautioned people against venturing outdoors

JEDDAH: Due to recent bad weather in Germany, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Berlin on Monday called on all Saudi citizens living in or visiting the country to take the utmost care and caution and follow the instructions issued by the local authorities.
In a tweet, the embassy urged Saudis to contact it in case of emergency via the emergency mobile number 00491755760249, the embassy landline phone number +493088925111, or through the fax number +493088628823.
The embassy added that its citizens living in Frankfurt can also call the Saudi Consulate on +49697680580 for any assistance needed.
Severe weather conditions across Germany have left dozens of people injured, with the western region hit by three tornadoes as of Friday. Local authorities cautioned people against venturing outdoors as roofs of some houses were blown off, trees were uprooted and traffic was disrupted, according to various media reports.
Other outlets said the violent storms killed a man in his late thirties and injured more than 40 locals, including women and children. At least 10 were seriously injured, among them a 37-year-old woman who was airlifted to a local hospital to receive medical assistance.
Germany usually experiences tornadoes as colder air from the north collides with the warmer air blowing from the south.


Saudi crown prince receives members of US Congress

Saudi crown prince receives members of US Congress
Updated 24 May 2022

Saudi crown prince receives members of US Congress

Saudi crown prince receives members of US Congress
  • The crown prince reviewed bilateral relations and a number of issues of common interest with the delegation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a delegation of US Congress members on Tuesday.

The delegation included Chris Stewart, Guy Reschenthaler, and Lisa McClain.

During the meeting, the crown prince reviewed bilateral relations and a number of issues of common interest with the delegation.

Saudi ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir attended the meeting. (SPA)

The meeting was attended by the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US Princess Reema Bint Bandar, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, and other officials.


Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo

Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo
Approximately 40 local and foreign enterprises specializing in the production and import of tea from all over the world particip
Updated 24 May 2022

Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo

Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo
  • There was strong competition between various Sri Lankan and Kenyan teas at the event
  • Tea, along with coffee and dates, is one of the drinks traditionally offered as a show of hospitality in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Tea aficionados got the chance to taste all manner of varieties of their favorite beverage at the Tea Colors International Exhibition, which wrapped up Tuesday at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

There was strong competition between various Sri Lankan and Kenyan teas at the event, attended by producers from the region and beyond, including Kuwait, Qatar, and local entrepreneurs.

Tea, along with coffee and dates, is one of the drinks traditionally offered as a show of hospitality in Saudi Arabia.

The four-day exhibition featured approximately 40 local and foreign enterprises specializing in producing and importing tea from all over the world. The exhibition also displayed nuts, citrus fruits, and a variety of other goodies that go with tea, the favorite drink of millions of people worldwide.

Visitors were eager to try teas without sugar in particular, because it “makes you appreciate the actual taste” of tea, according to Fawaz Al-Daoud from Al-Kharj, tea drinker since childhood and a devotee of Kenyan tea.

Al-Daoud’s colleague, Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, accompanied him, though he admitted he was more interested in coffee than tea, and was pleased that there were plenty of stalls that displayed coffee as well to cater to his needs.

Omar, a 13-year-old Riyadh native, enjoys drinking tea and favors it piping hot. He walked his family enthusiastically between the pavilions, featuring brands including Al-Ghada, Rabea, Abu Jabal, and Al-Munayes from Kuwaiti, Mumtaz from Oman, and many more.

The Tea Colors International Exhibition is Saudi Arabia’s first exhibition dedicated to tea and related supplies, such as baked products and nuts. According to the exhibition’s communications officer, Yazeed Al-Sarhani, approximately 13,000 people attended the event in the first three days.

The exhibition also featured live paintings and displays that shed light on the world of tea, emphasizing the significance of International Tea Day and its objectives, which is observed on May 21 of each year.

According to Al-Sarhani, the exhibition intends to showcase the cultural side of tea, one of the world’s greatest consumer markets.

“Through this show, which brings together producers, suppliers, and customers under one roof,” he said, “we hope to be the first destination for this product to develop and improve it, achieve the consumers’ taste, and match their desires.”