Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking

Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking
The Saudi Design Garden workshop in the Adhlal warehouse at the design festival also involves the Playroom, a group set up in 2014 to nurture divergent thinking in children under the age of five. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 27 January 2022

Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking

Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking
  • Formal education limits youngsters’ potential to develop problem-solving skills, expert says

RIYADH: Experts from the Kingdom and the Netherlands are working together at this year’s Saudi Design Festival to nurture creative thinking among children.

Representing two groups — the Saudi Adhlal and the Dutch NExAR — the experts’ aim is to share the best elements of their nations’ design culture, to learn from each other and to foster innovation.

According to NExAR’s founder, Dennis Meulenbroeks, one of the primary focuses of the collaboration is building a community for children to grow their creativity in design rather than conforming to structured educational thought.

“I believe that if you teach design thinking, critical thinking, and out-of-the-box thinking at an early age, children will benefit from that in the future,” he told Arab News.

He added that although children were born creative, they were taught at school to abide by the rules — to color between the lines, for instance — which restricted individuality.

“When a baby is born, they are creative, and then you come to elementary school and one of the first things that a teacher is doing is killing the creativity,” he said.

This limited children’s potential to develop problem-solving skills and to brainstorm creative and unique ideas, he added.




The children’s design workshop is open every day after 6 p.m. at the festival, which is being held in the Jax district of Diriyah. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah) 

NExAR describes itself as a “bridge building initiative between the Netherlands and the Arab world in the field of design.” Adhlal is a research-based consultancy founded by Princess Nourah Al-Faisal that aims to equip future generations of Saudi designers with the tools they need to succeed and build on the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.

The Saudi Design Garden workshop in the Adhlal warehouse at the design festival also involves the Playroom, a group set up in 2014 to nurture divergent thinking in children under the age of five.

According to its co-founder, Bessma bint Bader, the workshop’s aim is to create child-led play challenges that empower youngsters to innovate and build strong social skills.

“Children will always do the most unexpected and intelligent things when given the tools, support and freedom,” she told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • NExAR describes itself as a ‘bridge building initiative between the Netherlands and the Arab world in the field of design.’
  • Adhlal is a research-based consultancy founded by Princess Nourah Al-Faisal that aims to equip future generations of Saudi designers with the tools they need to succeed and build on the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.

Stephanie Assio, a design-thinking specialist with NExAR, said the workshop posed children with thought-provoking challenges intended to inspire them to create out-of-the-box solutions.

“It’s all about design and innovation in education, creativity and coming up with programs to teach kids in new ways,” she said.

When the children enter the workshop, they are introduced to four different challenges. One of which is to design a nontraditional space for people who fly.

“This garden is for people who fly. You don’t have legs, you only have wings,” Assio said.

“Then children are posed the question of how to design furniture for people who fly.”

Other challenges include creating a garden using limited space on a balcony and designing a space to constrain furniture that “wants to keep running away.”

“Naturally, kids are creative thinkers, they know how to problem solve, and they know how to think limitlessly,” Assio said. “But over time, that creative thinking is drained out of them through the educational system and through the way life is.”

The children’s design workshop is open every day after 6 p.m. at the festival, which is being held in the Jax district of Diriyah.

The collaboration between Adhlal and NExAR began during the Saudi Design Festival in 2019 when Princess Nourah began discussing her goals and ambitions with Meulenbroeks.

“We had a booth to explain what design thinking can do in business and education, and we started with a small dialogue about our thoughts about design and what it can do in the future for different countries. Then Princess Nourah told us her vision, and we felt the connection,” he said.

He commended the princess on her initiative to strengthen the design community in Saudi Arabia.

“Everything you see here is a compliment to Princess Nourah. She had a vision and she had a dream. For us, even if we were not here, she would still have done something amazing.”


AmChamKSA discusses women empowerment during 2nd Women in Business Committee meet

AmChamKSA discusses women empowerment during 2nd Women in Business Committee meet
Updated 16 sec ago

AmChamKSA discusses women empowerment during 2nd Women in Business Committee meet

AmChamKSA discusses women empowerment during 2nd Women in Business Committee meet

JEDDAH: The American Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia (AmChamKSA) has held its second Women in Business Committee diwaniya at Sunbulah Group’s head office in Jeddah.

In Saudi culture, a diwaniya is a gathering of people in a special room at home or casual setting, usually for tea or coffee, where different issues or friendly conversations on political and social issues affecting the community are discussed.

The main theme of the AmChamKSA’s diwaniya was women empowerment and leadership in the business world. Attendees enjoyed monologues from two guest speakers, Mrs. Kaya Ikuma, wife of the consul general of the US, and Dr. Abeer Bar, who focuses on educational leadership and policy studies. They shared their inspirational life experiences as career women and mothers. 

Dr. Abeer Bar

Dr. Bar briefed everyone with a well-received presentation about higher education, current research in female leadership under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans, and how advanced education impacts empowering women and the mindset and policies in place to boost the country’s economy.

“Women from different sectors and around the world face similar challenges. It is important to celebrate women in their multiple roles in society and business and share experiences through such a platform that will help encourage and motivate women of different nationalities,” she told Arab News.

She added: “The Women in Business Committee spotlights women who have made it in their respective fields and recognizes those who go above and beyond in their work areas. Being an educator, I highly appreciate AmChamKSA for the warm welcome and for creating an inviting atmosphere to freely talk about the trials and triumphs in my career journey.”

The event was followed by an open dialogue that circulated around the topic, with a few attendees sharing their personal experiences and struggles in balancing careers and family life.

Some of them shared their experiences in changing sectors after many years so they could concentrate on family life.

Rozana Al-Tayyar, a professional mediator in business disputes, was one of the attendees who shared her amazing career-changing inspirational story from banking to arbitration during the open dialogue.

All of the attendees expressed how there is power in sharing stories for inspiration, education and uplifting others. The AmChamKSA members chose to share authentic stories from a diverse range of Saudi women in leadership roles. Each woman bravely contributed their story in the hope of encouraging others.

Among the many success stories, the members of AmChamKSA welcomed two iconic Saudi women who are excelling in their fields and climbing the stairs to leadership roles: Roaa Zaki, founder and CEO of the Design Studio, and Nouf Aldhahri, assistant F&B manager at the Jeddah Hilton. 

Nouf Aldhahri and Mohamad Tafesh

Rola Osta, the engagement manager of the chamber’s Jeddah chapter, said: “The AmChamKSA and Women in Business Committee members were highly interested in attending more of these insightful events, building the bilateral relationship between Saudi and US businesses while focusing on creating the engagement on the advancement of women as outlined in the Vision 2030 development goals.”

Mohammad Tafesh, vice president of the Jeddah chapter, said that these events help attendees build connections and enjoy thoughtful conversation on issues that focus on empowering, inspiring and motivating each other.

“As an organizer, we aim to hold more events, seminars, and panel discussions to bring in business leaders — both men and women — to share stories and to foster more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive workplaces. Through this event, I am hopeful that everyone will leave with clear ideas on how to empower women and create workplaces that empower them,” Tafesh said.


French envoy praises Yanbu, as ancient port city looks to the future

French envoy praises Yanbu, as ancient port city looks to the future
Updated 16 min 19 sec ago

French envoy praises Yanbu, as ancient port city looks to the future

French envoy praises Yanbu, as ancient port city looks to the future
  • ‘The tourist potential of Yanbu is impressive. It is captivating, both the traditional architecture of its historic district, and the beauty of its coasts and exceptional rich seabed’

RIYADH: The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, has highlighted Yanbu’s tourist potential during a visit to the ancient Red Sea port city in Saudi Arabia’s western region.

Pouille was welcomed by Yanbu Gov. Saad Al-Suhaimi, along with the consul general of France in Jeddah, Mostafa Mihraje, on Wednesday for discussions on industrial and tourist development in the governorate and the strengthening of ties with France.

Pouille told Arab News en Français: “The tourist potential of Yanbu is impressive. It is captivating, both the traditional architecture of its historic district, and the beauty of its coasts and exceptional rich seabed, as well as its surrounding mountains that offer promising perspectives in eco-tourism.” 

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, concluded his first day in the old town of Yanbu with a “very pleasant” visit to the traditional night souk. (Supplied)

Yanbu, a few hours’ drive west from Madinah, is the second-largest city on the shores of the Red Sea after Jeddah.

Pouille praised Yanbu’s gastronomy, saying that it “offers the best fresh fish in the country and the most delicious Sayadieh brown rice.”

The French envoy visited the Royal Commission in Yanbu and met with its CEO, Fahad Dhaifallah Al-Qurashi, and his team. 

On the second day of his tour in Yanbu, the Ambassador visited on Thursday the industrial and commercial port of King Fahad, one of the most important ports in the Red Sea. (Supplied)

Pouille and Al-Qurashi discussed the contribution of French companies to the economic development of the industrial city.

The ambassador also met with the mayor of Yanbu, Yasser Al-Rifai, for discussions that focused on the city’s promising industrial, energy, cultural and tourist outlook.

Pouille said that within the framework of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, “the industrial development plans of the city and the port should double in the next 15 years, and also create many opportunities for strengthening Franco-Saudi economic relations.” 

Captain Ali Salem Al-Mehwari, Director General of King Fahd Industrial Port and Yanbu Commercial (right) and French ambassador Ludovic Pouille. (Supplied)

He ended his first day in the old town of Yanbu with a visit to a traditional night souq, where products made by the women’s cooperatives of the region are displayed and sold as part of the women’s empowerment policy steered by the governorate.

On the second day of his tour, the ambassador on Thursday visited the industrial and commercial port of King Fahd, one of the most important ports in the Red Sea.

Thanking Capt. Ali Salem Al-Mehwari, director general of King Fahd Industrial Port and Yanbu Commercial, for his warm welcome, Pouille said: “The greeting I received there from the authorities and the population confirms, if need be, the renowned Saudi hospitality.”

The French envoy ended his tour by visiting the industrial city, where he met with the CEO of the Yasref Refinery, Hicham Al-Adel, who established a strategic partnership with the French multinational Air Liquide group in the field of hydrogen production.


The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee holds 5th meeting

The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee holds 5th meeting
Updated 34 min 45 sec ago

The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee holds 5th meeting

The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee holds 5th meeting
  • The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee is one of the permanent committees emanating from the periodic meeting of the heads of the Shoura, Representatives, National and Nation Councils in the GCC

RIYADH: The Shoura Council hosted today the fifth meeting of the Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee. The meeting was held virtually with the participation of several members of the Shoura, Representatives, National, and Nation Councils in the Gulf Cooperation Councils.

The meeting began with the committee offering its deepest condolences to the government and people of the UAE for the passing of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The committee also congratulated and sent its sincere blessings to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on his election as president of the UAE, wishing him and the country more success, progress and prosperity.

In his speech, Shoura Council member and Chairperson Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas stressed the importance of coordinating Gulf stances to unify parliamentary diplomatic efforts towards all Gulf-European issues.

The committee agreed that the presiding state will work with the GCC General Secretariat to initiate a bilateral meeting with the European Parliament delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula.

The committee will also coordinate between the presiding state and the General Secretariat regarding communication with the European Parliament to determine the date of the mutual visits.

The Shoura Council delegation participating in the meeting included council member and chair of the meeting, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, the secretary-general of the Shoura Council, Mohammed Al-Mutairi, and council member Dr. Tariq Al-Shammari.

The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee is one of the permanent committees emanating from the periodic meeting of the heads of the Shoura, Representatives, National and Nation Councils in the GCC.

The committee is concerned with studying issues related to parliamentary relations between the legislative councils in GCC countries and the European Parliament.


Saudi chief of staff attends Dragon Group meeting in UK

Saudi chief of staff attends Dragon Group meeting in UK
Updated 26 May 2022

Saudi chief of staff attends Dragon Group meeting in UK

Saudi chief of staff attends Dragon Group meeting in UK
  • The Dragon Group is an annual forum for Middle East defense chiefs
  • Al-Ruwaili held bilateral talks with UK Chief of Defense Staff Adm. Sir Tony Radakin

LONDON: Saudi Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili recently headed a Saudi delegation at the fifth annual meeting of the Dragon Group in London.
The Dragon Group is an annual forum for Middle East defense chiefs, with 10 countries taking part in the latest meeting, in addition to the GCC General Secretariat’s military affairs.
On the sidelines of the forum, Al-Ruwaili held bilateral talks with UK Chief of Defense Staff Adm. Sir Tony Radakin at the headquarters of the UK Ministry of Defense.
They reviewed strategic relations linking the two countries, opportunities to enhance military cooperation and ways to confront common challenges.
Earlier, Al-Ruwaili attended the Dragon Group meeting at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Defense chiefs discussed security challenges and threats to the region, most notably weapons smuggling and the dissemination of technologies to terrorist militias.
The Saudi chief of staff also held bilateral meetings with representatives from countries that attended the Dragon Group meeting.
During the meetings, he stressed the need to strengthen intelligence and security cooperation among Dragon Group member states to confront aggressive behaviors that target the stability of the region.
He urged the importance of meetings to exchange views, unify efforts and increase levels of coordination to support the security of the region.


Riyadh hosts second edition of luxury jewelry event

Riyadh hosts second edition of luxury jewelry event
Prince Sultan Hall in the Al-Faisaliah Hotel that is hosting the second edition of the Riyadh International Luxury Week. (AN pho
Updated 26 May 2022

Riyadh hosts second edition of luxury jewelry event

Riyadh hosts second edition of luxury jewelry event
  • In a luxurious hall in the center of the Saudi capital, visitors move between pavilions displaying latest jewelry products
  • Timepieces displayed include Christophe Claret’s limited-edition AlUla watch crafted especially for Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Prince Sultan Hall in the Al-Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh is hosting the second edition of Riyadh International Luxury Week featuring some of the best-known names in the jewelry sector.
Krayem Al-Enazi, president of the National Committee for Precious Metals and Gemstones, officially inaugurated Riyadh International Luxury Week on Tuesday, May 24. Guest of honor Prince Bandar bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Msaad bin Galaw Al-Saud also visited the event on its opening day.
Riyadh International Luxury Week, which will run until Saturday, May 28, is a curated event showcasing creations presented by international watch and jewelry brands and aiming to consolidate Saudi Arabia’s position as a key luxury market in the Middle East.
“We are proud to have inaugurated the second annual Riyadh International Luxury Week and welcome all our participants. It is a pleasure for us to bring together such a diverse range of brands, all under one roof in Saudi Arabia,” said Abdulrahman Al-Zeer, CEO of Riyadh International Luxury Week.
“The number of watch and jewelry collectors is growing here. And the appreciation for luxury goods is definitely on the rise. So, it is exciting to be providing the opportunity for brands to engage with enthusiasts on a more personal level,” Al-Zeer added.
Timepieces displayed include Christophe Claret’s limited-edition AlUla watch crafted especially for Saudi Arabia; Reservoir’s Kanister Silver, which pays tribute to the spirit of freedom and speed from the 1950s, and Timeless’ new neo-vintage watch, inspired by the design codes of yesterday and tomorrow.
Some of the jewelry brands to present their creations include Daniel K, which is featuring its Dani line of attainable jewelry for women who want a variety of designs with the versatility to transition from day to night, and Nsouli Jewelry, which combines exceptional gems with unique aesthetics to shape its timeless pieces. Luxury Italian brand FerrariFirenze, recognized for its meticulous craftsmanship, is also showcasing a collection of its new and best-selling creations.
The event saw a seminar on May 25 supported by Sotheby’s and the Saudi National Committee for Precious Metals and Gems. A second one, on watchmaking and collecting, is taking place on Thursday, May 26.
Misk Jewelry, which was established in Dubai in early 2020, also showcased its gems at the event, displaying “contemporary jewels reimagining traditional Emirati motifs…with each piece expertly handcrafted in the UAE,” according to founder and CEO Maher Khansaheb.
Khansaheb told Arab News: “After gaining exposure through our online store and excited clientele from our Gulf Cooperation Council market, we were eager to start venturing into markets outside the UAE, where we could provide our clients a physical presence. Saudi Arabia is one of our first international locations to do that.”
Khansaheb, who has 15 years of experience in jewelry designing, said that “clients from Saudi Arabia are particularly excited for the modern heritage-inspired designs of our collections, which give them a pop of their favorite colors through the gemstones that complement each piece.
“Saudi clients choose Misk for the quality of the items they would like to purchase and keep with them to treasure for years,” he added.
Abeer Al-Saeed, executive director of Dalal Jewelry, is also displaying her jewelry in a small booth at the exhibition.
Dalal Jewelry is a Saudi brand whose establishment seeks to tell stories about Saudi heritage and culture in a modern, inspiring way that aims to “raise the value of the Saudi brand in the field of jewelry,” according to Al-Saeed.