RIYADH: King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve has opened its doors to reveal its treasures to visitors at the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival.
The festival, held at the headquarters of the Saudi Falcons Club in Mulham, north of Riyadh, is running until Dec. 16.
The reserve is known for its broad geographical scope, which includes Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs, Noura parks, and parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, covering approximately 28,000 sq. km.
The wild animals and birds include the steppe eagle, the griffon vulture, the Arabian oryx, the goitered gazelle, the Arabian wolf, the sand cat, the Arabian red fox, honey badger, and porcupines.
The King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve hosts ample vegetation, such as perennial ruminant, wild sidr, bitter melon, acacia, ragweed, grass, buttercup, lavender, star anthracnose, which is famous in Chinese medicine, and the thorny ladder tree that can reach up to five meters in height.
The reserve is also known for its topography, sites, and parks for visitors to the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival, including the Al-Dahna Desert, famed for its dunes, the Al-Summan plateau east of the Najd Plateau, and Rawdat Al-Tanhat, known as the King’s Forest known due to its lush and fertile land.
The reserve also includes Qalta rock formations — also known as the Qalta Umm Qalidah — east of Tamir. It is characterized by natural carvings that have become waterfalls, which look like natural pools amid the eroded rocks.
The fourth day of the festival showed fierce competition between falcons in the speed category. In the first round, the first-place winner in the 400-meter run came in at a speed of 19.125 seconds, second place followed closely with 19.224 seconds, while the third place hit 19.261 seconds.
Winner of first place in the second round went to a falcon that crossed the 400-meter run at a speed of 18.650 seconds. Second place went to a time of 18.671 seconds, with third place going to a time difference of no more than 0.2 seconds.
The festival allocated financial prizes of about SR25 million ($6.66 million) to the winners of the Al-Milwah and Al-Mazayen competitions, and for the champion of the King Abdulaziz Cup.
Clara Barbier Serrano performs arias taking audience on a special journey through European history
To be in this place in this Maraya concert hall was just incredible, because it’s beautiful; it’s so magical how we can bring this music to the whole world, and then people will somehow connect to it
Updated 13 sec ago
JEDDAH: The first recipient of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship, French soprano Clara Barbier Serrano, thrilled a Jeddah audience with her stunning performance on the Hayy Jameel stage on Jan. 22.
Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini, taking the Jeddawi audience on a special journey through European history from the 17th to the 20th centuries, via Italian opera, Mozart and finishing with French songs, accompanied by a pianist to complete a beautiful, intimate recital.
This event is considered the first classical music performance at Hayy Jameel.
In an exclusive interview at Hayy Jameel, Serrano told Arab News that she was lucky to receive the scholarship as it created chances for her, including the opportunity to perform next to Bocelli at different locations throughout the world.
“I had my first performance next to Bocelli after I received the Bocelli-Jameel scholarship, it is really always a pleasure to sing next to him,” she said.
“Now I feel more at ease when we’re on the stage together. I’m more relaxed than before because I know him a little bit. There is very nice energy that he gives on stage.”
The talented young singer performed the day before with Bocelli at one of the Kingdom’s prominent cultural destinations, the award-winning Maraya in AlUla.
“To be in this place in this Maraya concert hall was just incredible, because it’s beautiful; it’s so magical how we can bring this music to the whole world, and then people will somehow connect to it,” she said.
As a child, Serrano said that she did not know much about opera. “My family also didn’t listen to classical music, I was not particularly into it. I was listening more to jazz and things like that.”
Serrano’s journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. “I played the violin as a kid, and I took so many musical classes, singing in the choir, and playing the violin, I got more and more interested in the voice and then my teachers would tell me, you have a nice voice you should think solo, and that’s how I got interested in opera or more in lyrical singing.”
“At the time, I hadn’t seen many operas in my life. And it’s a very particular form of art actually. However, this interest in the voice just led me to practice this kind of singing,” she said.
Serrano said that when an opera is performed on stage a great narrative combination happens. “When we are on stage, it is like a story and a plot, it is like a theater piece being performed in a music style. The technique and the way we use our body to make the sound are very emotional. You have to take people with you in something very personal.”
Serrano received the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship in 2020; she was rewarded with a two-year diploma in opera and a chance for her to be fully immersed in the opera world.
“I have been studying opera classical singing for six years, including my four years of bachelor in art and music in Germany, and now I am doing a special kind of postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music in London,” she said.
Serrano performed with Bocelli in the 2020 “Believe in Christmas” concert at the Teatro Regio di Parma, at the annual Concerto di Natale in Assisi in 2020, and in 2021 at the Teatro di Silenzio in Bocelli’s Tuscan hometown of Lajatico.
The opera scholarship is open to students from around the world. Community Jameel, which supports the scholarship, and Art Jameel, which runs Hayy Jameel, are sister organizations founded by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia.
The Andrea Bocelli Foundation and Community Jameel scholarship were established in 2019, with the aim of supporting up-and-coming singers to study opera at the Royal College of Music in London. The second Bocelli-Jameel Scholar was awarded to Egyptian talent Laura Mekhail in 2021.
Saudi foreign minister meets ICESCO director in Riyadh
Updated 8 min 28 sec ago
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan held a meeting with Dr. Salem Al-Malik, the director-general of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), in the capital, Riyadh, on Sunday.
During the meeting, they reviewed the Kingdom’s efforts to support culture and science regionally and internationally, in order to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
The two sides also discussed opportunities to enhance cooperation between Saudi Arabia and ISESCO in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Rebranded mentoring platform for Saudi designers Adhlal unveils new identity
The research-based consultancy launched its new direction and strategies during a special event at the Saudi Design Festival in Diriyah
‘I want to see designers who are more empowered … and have no fear in expressing their creative ideas,’ said founder Princess Nourah Al-Faisal
Updated 20 min 57 sec ago
RIYADH: Adhlal, a platform that aims to help Saudi designers develop their skills and give them a leg up in the industry, unveiled its new, rebranded identity during a ceremony at the Saudi Design Festival in Jax District in Diriyah on Monday.
“Today we are launching the new identity and the new brand of Adhlal which we hope will reflect our hopes and dreams for the future and everything that we hope to achieve,” said Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, the founder of Adhlal.
“I want to see designers who are more empowered, who have a true understanding of their identity and have no fear in expressing their creative ideas and no fear in really pushing forward.”
Adhlal is a research-based consultancy that aims to equip future generations of Saudi designers with the tools they need to succeed and build on the aims of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 national development plan. The rebranding aims to create an enhanced forum for discussion where designers can gather, share knowledge and help each other excel.
“That is the whole point of Adhlal: the community and that ability to bring people together and strengthen themselves, to share knowledge,” Princess Nourah said.
By doing this, she added, Adhlal aims to create an environment in which designers can grow together. The process of rethinking the identity of Adhlal raised many questions that helped the founder and her team to understand the strategies required to better help the Saudi design community to develop and grow.
“We were taking a deep dive into who we are and what we are trying to achieve, to see what our goals are,” Princess Nourah said.
What emerged at the heart of the process was a realization that to strengthen and support the design community there was a need to redefine the very idea of what design truly is and what it can achieve. We all utilize design concepts in every aspect of our daily lives, Princess Nourah pointed out, whether we realize it or not.
“Design is everything,” she said. “It’s the strategies; you design your future, you design your life and you design your day.”
She also highlighted the importance of design and its contribution to the future of the Kingdom.
“We really need to accelerate the development of design,” she said. “Design is the only tool that will get us to Vision 2030 and beyond. There is nothing else in this world that will allow us to achieve that.”
However there is a gap between where things stand and where the country aspires to be in terms of accelerating design, according to the princess.
“In Saudi Arabia, and a lot of parts of the world, we tend to focus on the product more than anything else — we think of the product, merchandising, manufacturing — but design is really much bigger than that,” she said, adding that a better understanding of design will aid the development of the Kingdom.
“If we really learn to utilize design thinking, it is really something that will help us in the future.”
Through the rebranding, Adhlal has developed new strategies it says can tackle the obstacles designers face. These strategies will be shared among the design community to enhance design thinking and awareness of its importance to all aspects of daily life.
“Definitely, the core of what we do is always research and consulting, and we really believe in working with all sectors of different fields,” Princess Nourah said.
It is also important to educate people about design thinking and design research, and one of the ways in which this can be achieved is by supporting creativity from a young age, she added.
During the rebranding launch event, part of the venue was transformed into a design workshop for children in partnership with NExAR, a design-consultancy initiative that aims to build bridges between the Netherlands and the Arab world through education and shared insights.
“We are teaching children the importance of design thinking as a tool in life to (aid) their imagination and understanding,” said Princess Nourah.
The Saudi Design Festival, which began on Jan. 10, is a three-week event hosted by the Architecture and Design Commission as a hub for creative dialogue that brings together design communities to share knowledge and insights.
Program launched to tackle baboon menace in Saudi Arabia
According to the center, baboon troops are terrorizing children and parents and damaging agricultural crops
Updated 24 January 2022
MAKKAH: The National Center for Wildlife has launched a program to assess the damage caused by increasing numbers of baboons in residential and agricultural sites and find appropriate solutions.
NCW is conducting studies to contain the increased number of baboons that are causing severe damage in some areas, particularly in tourist destinations. The center is putting in place integrated plans and awareness campaigns to address the problem of baboons, which threaten highway goers, residential neighborhoods, parks and agricultural terraces.
It said that a balanced presence of baboons in the environment was healthy. The center said that it is not looking to get rid of them at all, as it aims through its program to create an environmental and natural balance.
According to the center, baboon troops are terrorizing children and parents and damaging agricultural crops. Studies confirm that one of the reasons for the increase in their numbers is that passers-by feed them. This phenomenon also causes accumulated waste.
It called on the community to cooperate with the campaign by refraining from feeding the baboons, disposing of waste in their designated areas and not acquiring and raising baboons at home or adopting them in a non-natural environment.
“The monkeys are the number one enemy of all farmers in the region, especially for mango, cocoa, bananas, coffee, corn and fruit trees”, Yahya Masdaf, the owner of a farm in Baish province in southern Saudi Arabia, said.
He said that the number of monkeys is increasing, possibly due to the small number of predators. There are more than 5,000 baboon monkeys in the area.
Baboons attacked the whole of his farm in half an hour while he performed Friday prayers several weeks ago, resulting in damage to all crops without exception.
He explained that this phenomenon has become very harmful and dangerous to people, farms and the livelihood of farmers whose only source of income is crops.
Hamza Al-Ghamdi, spokesman for Rahmah Animal Welfare Association, said there are more than 400,000 baboons in the Kingdom. According to the association’s studies, 65 percent of these baboons do not approach residential areas.
He said that 35 percent of these baboons are accustomed to being fed by humans, which changed their behavior and made them bolder to break into farms on the outskirts of cities and provinces. Al-Ghamdi added that the number of baboons feeding naturally ranges from 10 to 150 per troop.
He called for the education of individuals not to provide food to monkeys and said anyone who feeds monkeys in streets, public places, and parks should be fined.
One possible solution was for farmers to acquire trained guard dogs and to erect a low-volt electric fence at the top of the normal fence to prevent monkeys from breaking into farms. This solution could keep monkeys away without having to kill them.
Thailand seeks to foster ties with Saudi Arabia during PM’s Riyadh visit
Thai prime minister is scheduled to arrive in Riyadh for a two-day visit on Tuesday
He will be accompanied by the deputy prime minister, foreign minister, energy minister and labor minister
Updated 24 January 2022
BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s trip to Saudi Arabia — Thailand’s first top leadership visit to the Kingdom in three decades — is expected to promote bilateral relations, the Thai government said on Monday.
The Thai prime minister is scheduled to arrive in Riyadh for a two-day visit on Tuesday, at the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The prime minister is scheduled to have an audience and discuss with the crown prince (ways) to strengthen and promote bilateral relations,” Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, spokesperson for the Thai government, said during a media briefing.
“This visit is the (first) government leader-level visit of the two countries … in more than 30 years.”
He added that on his Saudi Arabia trip, the prime minister will be accompanied by the deputy prime minister, foreign minister, energy minister and labor minister.
The Saudi foreign ministry said on Sunday the visit follows “consultations that resulted in convergence of views on various issues of common concern.”
Dr. Sarawut Aree, director of the Muslim Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, told Arab News that normalization of bilateral ties would allow Thailand to again send workers to the Gulf state.
“Thailand definitely wants to normalize the diplomatic relation,” he said. “Thailand sent more than 200,000 laborers to Saudi Arabia each year when they had good relations, and now Saudi Arabia is driving Vision 2030 that focuses on economic (development) and infrastructure with less reliance on oil. So, Thailand can see the opportunity for laborers in Saudi Arabia.”
Aree added that the prime minister’s trip was “like a signal or a formal protocol that will make the improvement of the relationship more concrete.”