First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site

First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
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Hawa City by Sofiane Si Merabet, 2018. (Courtesy of the artist)
First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
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Toutes ces filles couronnées de langues : les instruments by Laura Sellies and Amélie Giacomini, 2019. (Courtesy of the artist)
First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
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Streams, dreams and flow states by Muhannad Shonno, 2019. (Courtesy of the artist)
First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
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A Concise Passage by Rashed AlShashai, 2020. (Courtesy of the artist)
First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
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La redite en somme, ne s’amuse pas de sa répétition singulière by Sara Favriau, 2016. (Courtesy of the artist)
First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
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Transient by Talin Hazbar, 2017-2018. (Courtesy of the artist)
First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
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Updated 03 December 2021

First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site

First AlUla art residency program launched at Saudi heritage site
  • Six artists are currently part of the pilot residency running until January 14

The Royal Commission for AlUla and the French Agency for AlUla Development (Afalula) have announced the launch of the first art residency program at the Saudi heritage site.

The 11-week project, to be operated by Manifesto, aims to foster dialogue, exchange, and collaboration between the artists in residence and the community of experts working on the ground in AlUla, as well as local practitioners and other members of the community, a statement said.

Six artists are currently part of the pilot residency running until Jan. 14.

The work of Riyadh-based conceptual artist and arts educator Rashed Al-Shashai, from Saudi Arabia, explores the purpose of human existence and the functions of society with everyday objects and imagery.

French multidisciplinary artist Sara Favriau, who is based in Paris, produces sculptures, installations, and performances that investigate the very permanence of self, nature, and works of art.

Talin Hazbar, from Syria, works out of Sharjah, in the UAE, and is an architect and visual artist. Her work and processes aim to showcase the overlapping boundaries in nature, history, and ecology.

Paris-based French multimedia artist Laura Sellies finds new ways to understand the relationship between sculptures, people, images, and sounds through her work.

Sofiane Si Merabet, also French but operating from Dubai, is a multimedia artist who interrogates memories, identities, and migration.

And from his base in Riyadh, Saudi multidisciplinary artist Muhannad Shono explores what lies beneath the surface of the human experience.

Nora Al-Dabal, the RCU’s arts and creative planning director, said: “This pilot artist residency is a new milestone in AlUla’s cultural development. Our goal is not only to provide unique cultural experiences for visitors but also to contribute to creating a flourishing cultural ecosystem with a vibrant arts district and space for artists and creatives in AlUla.

“The art residency pilot program will lay solid grounds for such ambition.”

The pilot edition will be based in Mabiti AlUla, a palm grove and guest house in the heart of AlUla’s oasis. It will subsequently be established in Madrasat AdDeera, an arts and design center.

Artists in residence have already started building collaborations with local artisans through programs held at Madrasat AdDeera while delving deeper and focusing their research on the local materials of AlUla, and its craft and cultural practices, the statement added.

It is anticipated that Madrasat AdDeera will become a key anchor asset of the future arts district of AlUla, a dynamic cluster of programs, education, and production that will form an active and vibrant arts destination for communities, students, artists, and visitors.

Afalula scientific director, Jean-Francois Charnier, said: “The originality of this very first art residency program developed in partnership between the Royal Commission for AlUla and the French Agency for AlUla Development relies on the cooperation between international artists with the impressive array of scientific experts currently working in the oasis, including archaeologists, anthropologists, agriculture experts, botanists, and many more.”

Arnaud Morand, Afalula’s head of creation and innovation, said: “It is an unprecedented experiment to associate at this level artistic vision and scientific approaches in the writing of the narratives and the reimagination of a destination.

“This will undoubtedly contribute to further mark the originality of AlUla as a cultural destination of a new kind.”

And Laure Confavreux-Colliex, executive director at Manifesto, said: “We are very proud that Manifesto has been chosen to launch this first artists’ hub in the heart of AlUla’s oasis. We are working on site to make this the very start of a destination truly built by artists.”


Saudi Arabia registers 4,474 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia registers 4,474 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
Updated 28 January 2022

Saudi Arabia registers 4,474 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia registers 4,474 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
  • Health ministry says 4,445 patients have recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Friday confirmed 4,474 new COVID-19 infections in the previous 24 hours, meaning 675,471 people have now contracted the disease.
According to the Ministry of Health, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 1,564, followed by Jeddah with 331, Dammam with 222, Al-Hofuf confirmed 190, and Makkah recorded 174.
Of the total number of cases, 869 remain in critical condition.
The ministry confirmed two new coronavirus related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,931 since the pandemic began.


The health ministry also announced that 4,445 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 626,532.
Over 56.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 23.6 million people have been fully vaccinated.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 367 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 5.65 million.


AlUla says ‘bienvenue’ to France as first direct flight arrives in ancient city

The inaugural SAUDIA direct flight from Paris touched down in AlUla on Thursday night. (Supplied)
The inaugural SAUDIA direct flight from Paris touched down in AlUla on Thursday night. (Supplied)
Updated 28 January 2022

AlUla says ‘bienvenue’ to France as first direct flight arrives in ancient city

The inaugural SAUDIA direct flight from Paris touched down in AlUla on Thursday night. (Supplied)
  • Officials including Phillip Jones, RCU, and Gérard Mestrallet, AFALULA arrived on the first direct flight from Europe at AlUla’s Airport last night
  • The weekly non-stop flight will operate from 30 January to 27 March 2022, as winter season events enter full swing

ALULA, Saudi Arabia: Carrying 75 passengers on board, the inaugural SAUDIA direct flight from Paris touched down in AlUla on Thursday night.

The flight departed from Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport and arrived at AlUla International Airport at 10:30 p.m., after a comfortable five-hour flight.

“Today we celebrate a milestone in the history of Franco-Saudi cooperation for AlUla's development: the inauguration of the Paris AlUla flight operated by Saudi_Airlines,” the French Agency for AlUla development tweeted.

French ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ludovic Pouille hailed the step, thanking Saudia and the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“My dear French friends, come and discover the treasures of AlUla”, he tweeted in Arabic.

Marking the first direct flight from Europe, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was welcomed at AlUla Airport by Saudi officials including AlUla Airport Director, Eng. Abdulwahab Bokhari.

Guests on the inaugural flight included officials from SAUDIA, Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer, Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), Gérard Mestrallet, Executive Chairman of the French Agency for the Development of AlUla (AFALULA).

Guests arriving in AlUla will attend the equestrian events as part of the destination’s Winter at Tantora festival including Pierre Durand, ex-Olympic Champion show-jumper.

Timed to coincide with the winter event season in AlUla; the new flight will welcome French visitors to explore the ancient desert city and take part in one of many arts, music, cultural events on offer.


Stars come out in Riyadh for Joy Awards 2022

The Bakr Al-Sheddi Theater in Riyadh rolled out the purple carpet on Thursday, welcoming some of the biggest names in entertainment to the second annual Joy Awards. (Supplied)
The Bakr Al-Sheddi Theater in Riyadh rolled out the purple carpet on Thursday, welcoming some of the biggest names in entertainment to the second annual Joy Awards. (Supplied)
Updated 28 January 2022

Stars come out in Riyadh for Joy Awards 2022

The Bakr Al-Sheddi Theater in Riyadh rolled out the purple carpet on Thursday, welcoming some of the biggest names in entertainment to the second annual Joy Awards. (Supplied)
  • John Travolta received lifetime achievement award from Saudi General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh

RIYADH: The Bakr Al-Sheddi Theater in Riyadh rolled out the purple carpet on Thursday, welcoming some of the biggest names in entertainment to the second annual Joy Awards.

“It’s my honor to be a part of something that helps spread the ultimate feeling: The feeling of joy,” US actor John Travolta said as he picked up his Lifetime Achievement Award. “And to be here on this stage tonight in this incredible celebration of culture; to be surrounded by such immense talents who are able to bring joy to millions through their music, their art, and, above all, their passion.

“I’ve worked with thousands of talented people — people that create movies and have caused the world to laugh and to cry and to smile too, hopefully, like this evening that is filled with joy,” he continued. 

Travolta, best known for his performances in “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever,” and “Pulp Fiction,” received his award from Saudi General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh.

“Four years ago, I visited Saudi Arabia. This is my second visit and I am truly impressed,” Travolta said. 

The star concluded his speech with an inspiring message for young Saudis. 

“All I want to say to the Saudi people, especially the younger generation, is ‘Keep dreaming and dream more and more,’ because — from what I can see — your dreams can come true,” he stated. 

The Joy Awards — part of Riyadh Season — is hosted by the GEA, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. It is billed as the largest celebration of entertainment creators in the Arab world.

More than 200 Arab and international artists were invited to the ceremony, which honored entertainers in 13 separate award categories ranging from television and cinema to social media, sports, and music.

The show kicked off with dancers and aerial performers decked out in gold putting on an extravagant theatrical show.

The awards began by celebrating the first category of best male television actor. Saudi star Yacob Alfarhan picked up the evening’s first award — Best Male TV Actor. 

“I thank everyone who took part in making the Joy Awards happen, especially Turki Al-Sheikh,” Farhan told Arab News. “I am happy to have such an event that connects us all.” 

Saudi singer and YouTube star Zena Emad took home the coveted Favorite New Face in Music award. Her fellow Saudi nominee, Ayed Yousef, told Arab News: “Being in the Joy Awards and being a part of Riyadh Season is a huge honor for me. Tonight, I have seen all the stars of the Arab world.”

Yousef was not exaggerating. Some of the biggest names in Middle Eastern music took to the stage to perform during the ceremony, including Kadim Al-Sahir, Hany Shaker, Mohammed Abdu, Elissa, Majid Al-Mohandis, and Assala Nasri.

Among the international winners was Bollywood star Salman Khan, who won the Personality of the Year award.  

“I’m excited and I’m happy. That love that you get from the fans all over the world? I really appreciate and treasure that,” Khan said.

“It’s been a very long, but very quick, journey,” the 56-year-old actor said of his career. “I think I was only about 18 or 19 when I signed my first film.”

Following an In Memoriam section, posthumous achievement awards were given to Egyptian entertainer Samir Ghanem and his wife, the actress Dalal Abdel Aziz, who both died last year. Their daughters, who are also actresses, received the awards from Al-Sheikh.

Saudi actor and writer Khalid Abdulaziz told Arab News that he would never forget the night.

“To be a part of Riyadh Season for the first time was a huge step in my career and the things I am seeing at the Joy Awards tonight are extraordinary,” he said. 


AlUla Design Award announce winners for inspired product designs 

Winners and jury of AlUla Design Awards in Saudi Design Festival. (AN Photo/Saleh Al Ghannam)
Winners and jury of AlUla Design Awards in Saudi Design Festival. (AN Photo/Saleh Al Ghannam)
Updated 28 January 2022

AlUla Design Award announce winners for inspired product designs 

Winners and jury of AlUla Design Awards in Saudi Design Festival. (AN Photo/Saleh Al Ghannam)

RIYADH: The AlUla Design Award has announced the winners of its various categories for outstanding products inspired by AlUla.

The categories adjudicated at the Saudi Design Festival in Riyadh’s Jax district included jewelry, leather goods, footwear, homeware accessories, and other lifestyle products. 

Over 400 applications were received, with shortlisted designs reviewed by a jury. The six best products were selected to receive the prestigious AlUla Design Award, including Harry Dobbs Design x Rukun, a collaboration between a British and Saudi design studio, which proposed a distinctive set of artifacts that capture AlUla’s spirit and memory.

The other five winners included Nour Shourbagy, a Saudi-based designer, whonproposed a collection of travel carry-ons and clutches inspired by AlUla’s aesthetics and motifs.  

Tarek Elkassouf, a Lebanese designer, now based in Australia, proposed a collection of gifts crafted by traditional artisans, while Mohamad Baalbaki x AlJoharah Al-Rasheed, a Saudi-based studio, put forward a collection of products evoking all five senses, with an interaction between play and memory. 

Niko Kapa, a Greek designer based in Dubai, offered a collection of accessories inspired by the natural landscapes of AlUla, and Reem Bashawri, a Saudi-based designer, entered a line of luxurious winter shawls echoing the region’s natural beauty.

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, stated that the award was an important milestone in AlUla’s flourishing arts and cultural sector, to make AlUla a region for inspiration to all designers globally.

One of the judges for the award, sponsored by RCU, Yara Al-Namlah, an arts and culture influencer, said that it took the panel a lot of time to choose the winners.

 “We received a lot of applications from very talented local and international designers from different categories, but the six winners were the highest-ranked and they deserve this award,” Al-Namlah told Arab news.

Dobbs said that Saudi Arabia’s heritage and landscape were his inspiratio.

“The root to contemporary Saudi culture is a current and a living culture, so we want to make sure that we are in the creative platform in Saudi Arabia,” Dobbs said. 

Amr Al-Madani, CEO of RCU, spoke about the challenges they had in order to make the awards happen. 

“The toughest challenge was how can you inspire creatives to be in AlUla; there is a lot in the world that gets people’s attention, but how can you get genuine attention from the creative community? We are very pleased to see that AlUla has gotten to the heart of the creative community, and see this amount of applications, and see their designs, from furniture to gifts to clothes, has outperformed expectation,” Al-Madani said.

Nora Al-Dabal, art and culture programming director for RCU, was pleased to see the high number of applicants. “AlUla has always been a place for inspiration and to see the designers being inspired and transforming natural elements and traditional elements to contemporary designs that live in today’s world and we cannot wait for next year’s applicants,” Al-Dabal said.


Saudi and British ministers discuss developing cooperation

Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji holds talks with UK Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly. (SPA)
Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji holds talks with UK Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly. (SPA)
Updated 28 January 2022

Saudi and British ministers discuss developing cooperation

Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji holds talks with UK Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly. (SPA)

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji held talks with British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly, via video conference.
During the meeting, they reviewed aspects of cooperation between the two kingdoms and ways to enhance and develop them in all fields, in addition to discussing regional and international developments and the importance of strengthening joint coordination.
Cleverly also held a phone call with the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, to discuss developments in the Yemeni crisis and the efforts made to establish security and peace in Yemen, and the region in general.
The call comes a day after Cleverly and Al-Jaber met in person on the sidelines of a UK-hosted conference on Yemen, with senior representatives from the UAE, Oman, the US and the UN.