Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list

A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 December 2021

Arabic calligraphy added to UNESCO heritage list

A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. (Supplied)
  • Honor follows Saudi-led joint effort by 15 Arab nations
  • Place on Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity secured after Saudi-led joint effort by 15 Arab nations

RIYADH: After a successful collaboration between 15 Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia and under the supervision of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization, Arabic Calligraphy: Knowledge, Skills and Practices has been officially added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In addition to the importance of its use in religious texts, calligraphy has played a pivotal role in the advancement of the Arabic language throughout history. For centuries, it has contributed to the transfer and spread of Arab culture, customs and religious values, in the process instilling a sense of pride and belonging among Arabs.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Today, calligraphy remains extremely popular and is used by artists and designers across a broad range of media, including in paintings, sculptures and graffiti, or ‘calligraffiti.’

• Visitors to the Kingdom can witness early forms of the Arabic language in ancient inscriptions at locations including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, AlUla and Himā Najran.

Calligraphy remains extremely popular and continues to be used by artists and designers across a broad range of media, including paintings, sculptures and even graffiti, or “calligraffiti” as it is known.

Visitors to the Kingdom can see early forms of Arabic text in the ancient inscriptions preserved at historic locations such as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites at AlUla, and Bir Hima near Najran.

A symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply woven into the fabric of Saudi history. In recognition of this cultural importance, the Ministry of Culture designated 2020 and 2021 the Year of Arabic Calligraphy.

Commenting on the UNESCO announcement, Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan said: “We welcome the inscription of Arabic calligraphy, which is the result of the Kingdom championing this treasured aspect of authentic Arabic culture.

“Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Ministry of Culture has worked to preserve this important art form through the Year of Arabic Calligraphy, which has further cemented the Kingdom’s position as a global hub for Arabic calligraphy and the arts.”

Abdulrahman Alieedan, general manager of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society wrote in the nomination documents presented to UNESCO: “Arabic calligraphy is one of the most important forms of intangible cultural heritage that has been transmitted by generations in the Arab and Islamic world, as it is considered a major engine for transmitting Arab and Islamic culture through time and space.

“It also performed many social, scientific and religious (functions.) It is also considered one of the distinctive arts that the Arab and Islamic nation is proud of.”

The nomination also included testimonies about the beauty and importance of the art from from a large number of Arabic calligraphers, who presented samples of their work and advocated for the addition to UNESCO’s list as a way to preserve a key tradition that is threatened by a dwindling number of specialized calligraphic artists.

The addition of Arabic calligraphy to the UNESCO list is a fitting end to the year-long celebration of the art form. It is the latest cultural treasure with connections to the Kingdom to be listed, after: Al-Ardah Al-Najdiyah, a traditional dance from the Central Region; Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a form of interior wall decoration created by women in the Southern Region; Almezmar, a group dance from the Western Region; Arabic coffee; date palms; falconry; and majlis, a place where community members gather to discuss local events and issues.

Initiatives launched during the Year of Arabic Calligraphy included a ground-breaking exhibition at Riyadh’s National Museum that shed light on the origins of the Arabic language, the development of calligraphy, and the relationship between calligraphy, contemporary design and artificial intelligence.

The Ministry of Culture partnered with the Kingdom’s flag-carrier airline, Saudia, to decorate two of its aircraft with a special livery highlighting the initiative.


Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 

 Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 
Updated 17 August 2022

Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 

 Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 

DUBAI: Palestinian Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid this week opened up about starring in the third season of Hulu’s “Ramy.”

The Emmy-nominated show, starring comedian Ramy Youssef, is about an Egyptian-American living in New Jersey who is determined to become a better Muslim as he grows into an adult, often stumbling along the way.

In an interview with GQ Magazine, Hadid, who stars as a “weirdo girlfriend,” recalled moments on set that made her heart full. On the first day, the crew surprised her with a shirt that stated: “Free Palestine.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

“I couldn’t handle my emotions,” Hadid said. “Growing up and being Arab, it was the first time that I’d ever been with like-minded people. I was able to see myself.”

Youssef and Hadid first connected when the Golden Globe winner emailed the runway star and asked if she would be interested to guest star in the show. After a long Zoom conversation, Hadid agreed.

“I was like, this is perfect,” Hadid said. “We hadn’t even met before, but I had a feeling it was going to be kismet.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

The catwalk star, who has always been vocal about her support for Palestine, said that her friendship with Youssef grew stronger during the show.

“There was one time where Ramy came over during Ramadan and allowed me to pray with him,” she told the publication. “And it was one of the most beautiful moments of my adult life.”

Hadid, who was born in Washington, D.C., said her family relocated to California when she was a toddler. “I was with my Palestinian side (of the family in D.C.),” she said.

The relocation was not easy for her, she said.

“I would have loved to grow up and be with my dad every day and studying and really being able to practice, just in general being able to live in a Muslim culture,” she said. “But I wasn’t given that.”

“I speak about (this stuff) for the elderly that are still living there that have never been able to see Palestine free, and for the children that can still grow up and have a beautiful life,” she added. 


US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 
Updated 16 August 2022

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

DUBAI: US artist Grimanesa Amorós, famous as the Light Sculptor, is bringing her work to Riyadh. 

The Peruvian-born visual artist will present her latest monumental art installation titled “Scientia” in the Diplomatic Quarter Cultural Palace at the Noor Riyadh festival from Nov. 3 to 19.

The installation is titled ‘Scientia.’ (Supplied)

The installation addresses fundamental questions about the impact of a rapidly shifting environment on the mental, psychological and emotional well-being of individuals living in fast-paced, modern societies.

Her light sculpture was previously showcased at the Azkuna Zentroa Center of Society and Contemporary Culture in Bilbao, Spain.

Amorós, famous for her large-scale light sculpture installations, explores human emotions and connections to the social environment using an elemental understanding of the world involving nature’s basic elements: fire, water, earth and light.

The artist has exhibited her work in multiple locations around the world including Mexico, Beijing and New York City.


Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund
Updated 16 August 2022

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund
  • Winning ‘Lithium’ movie tackles bipolar disorder
  • Over $100,000 set aside for 23 individual MENA projects

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s support for the film industry continues with the Red Sea Fund’s announcement of its second-cycle winners, which will mean financial resources to bring their projects to fruition.

The fund, administered by the Red Sea Film Foundation, has allocated about $100,000 for 23 individual projects that will cover production, distribution and screening.

The aim is to provide a more diverse set of movies to global audiences and better serve both Saudi and Arab filmmakers.

“It means a great deal to us that the Red Sea Fund believes in this story enough to fund it. It’s both an honor and a responsibility,” Saudi filmmaker Talha B. told Arab News. He will be co-directing the winning project “Lithium” along with fellow creative Amro B.

The feature film tackles the subject of bipolar disorder and the silent suffering of individuals with mental health issues in the Arab region.

“It is a great responsibility to present this subject in a positive yet honest way, and we intend to do it the justice it deserves … It tackles a subject that we rarely admit we have in our society. We hope that more bold stories like this are told candidly because, like physical health, mental health too matters,” Talha said.

The film is currently in development and is set to premiere at the 2023/2024 Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah.

The rest of the 23 selections include shorts, documentaries, animated films and documentaries, with five submitted from Africa, 11 from the Arab region, and seven by Saudi directors.

The aim is to support young and ambitious filmmakers to carve a niche for themselves in the industry.

“It’s very fresh and exciting witnessing the great things Red Sea films are achieving and presenting to the filmmakers in Saudi Arabia and the world. The funded films speak a lot about the amount of understanding for both the creative process and the craftsmanship behind the walls of their visionary team and their out-of-the-box thinking,” Anas BaTahaf, the filmmaker and upcoming producer of the selected film “Hayat Yousef,” told Arab News.

BaTahaf is teaming up with long-time collaborator Sarah Taibah who will be joining as a screenwriter on the upcoming project that features meaningful character arcs, quirkiness, blended-genres, and “high voltage” absurdity, all packed within a contemporary dark romcom.

“Taibah’s knowledge and thorough understanding of romance — from her various art projects on studying love as a feeling and theme during a wide range of art residencies around the world — is another quality that grants her my full trust when it comes to telling this story,” BaTahaf said.

The aim to tell unconventional stories is the reason for the selection of “Red Eye,” set to be directed by filmmaker Mohammad Jastaniah.

“After so many trials, errors, and rejections it’s nice to see once again that persistence pays off, let alone being supported by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation — a place I call home. It feels special,” Jastaniah told Arab News.

The film is an “allegory” for the artist’s experience in Saudi, he said. “Red Eye” follows the story of a man navigating the stigma of being a rock star, fighting his own demons, and dealing with his relationship with his father.

“It speaks for those who stand out in the crowd, and there are so many of us out there, especially in these exciting times of change happening in the Kingdom. Pinch me because it feels like a dream,” Jastaniah said.

“I am very excited for our film and all the other films that won (backing) … Local filmmakers deserve all the praise and support,” said BaTahaf.

He said he was looking forward to his friends seeing the “great” films that were made.


Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan
Updated 16 August 2022

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

DUBAI: Hollywood star and humanitarian Angelina Jolie this week honored women in Afghanistan, “one year after the fall of the government.”

The 47-year-old actress shared on Instagram an op-ed she wrote for TIME and said: “It cannot end here.”

In the article, the Oscar winner said: “The daughters of Afghanistan are extraordinary for their strength, resilience, and resourcefulness.”

The actress said that one year ago, Afghan women worked in all fields — being doctors, teachers, police officers and politicians.

“To my Afghan friends, I have faith in you and your resilience and your strength,” wrote Jolie. “I dream of visiting with my daughters, making friends, traveling around your beautiful country, and seeing you free to determine your own future … I know it’s possible. This does not end here.”


Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  
Updated 15 August 2022

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

DUBAI: Iraqi authorities announced this week that they found an original painting by the renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso in the Iraqi province of Diyala on Saturday, Iraqi News Agency reported.

The painting, said to be worth millions of dollars, was seized from a drug group after a raid late July. 

Director of the anti-narcotics media office Colonel Bilal Sobhi told the publication: “The Anti-Narcotics Directorate carried out an operation in Diyala governorate, in which a network of three defendants who were involved in the trade and transport of narcotic drugs were arrested, and a painting belonging to the international painter Picasso was seized in their possession, estimated at millions of dollars.”

“It is a major operation that is calculated for the anti-drugs General Directorate,” he added.

Details of the artwork have not been revealed yet. The Pablo Picasso Foundation, responsible for promoting and managing the artist’s work, did not issue a statement either.