King Abdulaziz Public Library launches Qur’an collection in ‘message of peace’

King Abdulaziz Public Library launches Qur’an collection in ‘message of peace’
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Priceless manuscripts of Qur’an from around the world are now on display at the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh. It aims to highlight the richness and peaceful practices of Islamic civilizations. (Supplied)
King Abdulaziz Public Library launches Qur’an collection in ‘message of peace’
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(Supplied)
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Updated 22 April 2022

King Abdulaziz Public Library launches Qur’an collection in ‘message of peace’

King Abdulaziz Public Library launches Qur’an collection in ‘message of peace’
  • ‘God ordered us to know each other — this is the best way to serve our religion,’ says supervisor

RIYADH: King Abdulaziz Public Library launched a rare Holy Qur’an Exhibition on Thursday in Riyadh to celebrate World Heritage Day.

The event aims to highlight the richness and peaceful practices of Islamic civilizations.

“We are proud that this exhibition is connected to serving the Holy Qur’an, the Two Holy Mosques and the Islamic civilizations,” said Faisal bin Muammar, the King Abdulaziz Public Library’s general supervisor.

“The goal of the exhibition is to celebrate the richness of the Islamic culture and the Holy Qur’an in this great month of Ramadan,” Muammar added.

The collection, consisting of 267 copies of the Qur’an and 20 highly valuable museum copies, is unique because of the characters, type, font, decoration and dates of the texts, most of which were written between the 10th century and 13th century A.H.

The library’s general supervisor said that the exhibition also highlights the diversity of Islamic civilizations.

“The library has set up an exhibition that contains distinguished models of the Qur’an collection, which contains about 300 copies of the Qur’an, including a very rare collection that differs in terms of place, time, calligraphy method and the nationality of the calligrapher,” said Bandar Al-Mobarak, general manager of King Abdulaziz Public Library.

“We have Qur’ans from India, Timbuktu and China, and you can distinguish between them by the fonts used,” he added.

The library and its surrounding institutions around the Kingdom have spent more than 30 years collecting the best manuscripts from around the world to share.

Muslims around the world have long decorated Qur’ans with Islamic embellishments such as geometric lines, patterns, shapes, Arabic fonts, vegetal motifs and colors, transforming the texts into works of art.

In light of recent events in Sweden, the Qur’an Exhibition is another way for the Kingdom to reinforce the peaceful practices and values of the Islamic faith.

“We know that in Islam and especially in Saudi Arabia, we respect every religion and every culture, and we respect the civilizations of others,” Muammar said.

“I am sure that whoever commits an ugly act like what has happened in Sweden is not concerned about his own beliefs or his own religion,” he added.

The general supervisor stressed that the exhibition is not a response to the events in Sweden, but rather a peaceful exhibition to highlight ancient manuscripts of the Holy Qur’an.

“Whatever they do (in Sweden), they want the others to react in a violent way so this is not the best way to respond — ignoring them is the best solution,” he said.

“I am speaking on behalf of King Abdulaziz Public Library — the best answer to (the events in Sweden) this is to do exhibitions and to send peaceful messages,” Muammar added.

The general supervisor said that another way to respond is to strengthen communication and ties with other beliefs in a “peaceful and understanding manner.”

He added: “God ordered us to know each other — this is the best way to serve our religion and our faith.

“For us, the aim of this exhibition is not to reply. This is an individual act,” Muammar said.

During the exhibition, visitors will get to see a complete Qur’an from Surah Al-Fatihah to Surat Al-Nas, written in Makkah in front of the Kaaba during the month of Ramadan in 1025 A.H. The text was rewritten by the scholar Mullah Ali Al-Qari, who used black ink within red and blue tables.

The collection includes more than Arabic-decorated Qur’ans. There are also Indian texts with floral decorations, as well as samples of Chinese and Kashmiri Qur’ans, and some Mamluk versions.

Different fonts, such as Kufic, Naskh, Thuluth, Timbuktu and late Sudanese scripts, as well as scripts from the Levant, Iraq, Egypt, and Yemen, Najd and Hijazi were used to write Qur’ans, demonstrating the diversity of Islamic arts and the integration of each culture’s artistic vision in transcribing the Holy Book.

Al-Mobarak said: “This exhibition is an extension of the interest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the Qur’an and an extension of the celebration of World Heritage Day on April 18, as well as a celebration of Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an.”

The library also houses manuscript written with gold water. There are 30 sheets with two pages each that constitute a complete part of the Holy Qur’an.

The first page was decorated with vegetal motifs using bright colors and gold water, while the rest of the pages were rounded and completely gilded. The side frames used colored and gilded floral motifs and copies in the Naskh script in 1240 A.H.

More than 8,000 manuscripts covering the Qur’an and its sciences, the origins of religion, hadith, jurisprudence and its origins, the Prophet’s biography, preaching and guidance, Arabic language, history and philosophy, among others, are housed in the library.

It also ties with the library’s specialized exhibitions, which cover rare Islamic coins and Arabic calligraphy, as a contribution to Arab and Islamic history.

The general supervisor said that the library is working on a virtual version of the exhibition, which can be viewed online around the world.

“We invite people to learn more about Saudi Arabia and its role in serving Islamic civilization and serving the Holy Qur’an,” he added.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, since its unification, has taken many steps to publish the Holy Qur’an in many languages, translate and print it.”


My stories tell the story of every Saudi woman: Elham Dawsari

Subabat, women who serve coffee at all-female events, have become the subject of Dawsari’s most popular work. (Supplied)
Subabat, women who serve coffee at all-female events, have become the subject of Dawsari’s most popular work. (Supplied)
Updated 09 August 2022

My stories tell the story of every Saudi woman: Elham Dawsari

Subabat, women who serve coffee at all-female events, have become the subject of Dawsari’s most popular work. (Supplied)
  • The artist works to explore Riyadh in the 1980s and 1990s through the portraits of middle- and lower-class women

RIYADH: As interdisciplinary Saudi artist and writer Elham Dawsari sits with an iced Spanish latte in hand, a sweet combat to the heat outside, she recalls one of her first sketches: a younger version of herself sits on the front stoop of her house watching barefoot boys her age play around in the grass, free of social decorum. She holds a walkman in hand, her own personal bubble at the press of a button.

“I drew that because I wanted to not only answer questions, but to articulate the questions first: What is this about spaces? About women? About gender?” she told Arab News.

As she was simultaneously the subject of the sketch and the background to the playing boys, she made a visceral connection to the space around her and where women fit into it.

Two miniature figures, one dusting the patio and the other applying body cream and lemon, as part of artist Elham Dawsari's artwork "Nfas" showcased at Jax Arts Festival in Riyadh. (Photo by photographer Moat Alyahya)

Subliminally, she bagan to make the forgotten women the center of her work.

Dawsari works to explore a pre-Internet Riyadh in the 1980s and 1990s through centering middle- and lower-class women, investigating how it influenced their behavior and how they were shaped by the spaces around them.

“I think this is my way of coming to terms with a lot of things that happened in my life, including the stories of women because I still carried questions for the longest time, trying to understand it,” she said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Dawsari wanted her work to represent the women, and help view them in the simplest of forms: As humans.

• The work hopes to appreciate where they are now and ‘hopefully have them more included’ in our fast-paced and youth-focused lives, she says.

• The sculptures are a personal embodiment of memories and people, designed on a smaller scale to physically and emotionally pull the viewer in.

While Saudi culture has been slowly loosening its control on the societal expectations of women, some find it is still difficult to think critically of the past.

She has found that artistic pursuits are a more palatable way to honestly pursue without the societal backlash.

“Art is a way for me to clash, but indirectly,” Dawsari said.

Subabat, women who serve coffee and desserts at all-female events, have become the subject of her most popular work.

Dawsari's sculpture fanning herself in the patio's summer heat, and one of the five pieces in her sculpted artwork titled "Nfas."

The figures evoked mystery and curiosity for viewers, which is what inspired the pursuit, she said.

While she grew up in the US until high school, she still went to Saudi weddings and recalls seeing her first Subabat at an early age.

“Around 12-years-old, I began associating Subabat with muted beauty,” she wrote in her essay, titled “Documenting Subabat: A Tribute to Sisterhood.”

While they had a certain status and prestige at weddings, their presence was evidently invisible to the attendees. Their job was to serve and never chat.

“Classism was apparent, but they still looked similar to the grandmothers (at the weddings), the way they dress. Eventually 25 years later, I learned through research that they took that style from the women they worked for,” Dawsari said.

Subaba, a woman who serves coffee and desserts at special all-women events, offering tea as part of artist Elham Dawsari's photo series titled "Subabat."

That contrast stuck with her and her determination to document these women and their process, despite their prominent evasion, culminated in her photo series, essays, and docu short under the title “Subabat.”

While the notions of lamenting and nostalgia are prominent in many Saudi artworks, she chose to stray away from them.

“What joy does that give to anybody?” she thought. Instead of highlighting the problems of the current age, she decided to uplift the stories of the past.

In her artwork “Nfah,” Dawsari has created a series of five miniature sculptures showcasing how women utilized their time at home. In the secluded nature of their lives, either in their own home or in someone else’s, they sculpted who they are and searched for open spaces.

The work, most recently showcased at Jax Arts Festival in Riyadh, aims to analyze the relationship between urban landscaping and specific behavior of 1990s Saudi households.

The two sculptures that showed the voluptuous houseworking women, one cleaning the yard and the other squatting as she does laundry, reflect how they maintained their physical strength in rural Saudi Arabia.

Dawsari told Arab News that she hoped to start a conversation where she, and her audience, can look at these anchors as more than just houseworkers and parents, “to rewire ourselves and really think about all the other things that were in their lives, and the heavy burden of responsibility that society imposed on them.”

She wanted her work to represent the women, and help view them in the simplest of forms: as humans. The work hopes to appreciate where they are now and “hopefully have them more included” in our fast-paced and youth-focused lives, she said.

The sculptures are a personal embodiment of memories and people, designed on a smaller scale to physically and emotionally pull the viewer in.

“‘Nfah’ is more of these collective stories of people that I get to listen to, that I get to share, that fall into the essence of the artwork … it’s about breaking these barriers through these women,” she said.

Dawsari explores the theme of urban landscaping by tracing women’s movement inside these traditional households. In her work, she often wonders what these box-like spaces are meant to protect us from.

“It’s more like an emotional kind of fort you are in that protects you, another barrier in this society… Why is it so revolting? Why is it so depressing?” she said.

She connects the effects of these spaces we have built and how we impose ourselves on our architecture in return. What would happen to the next generation when they live in this so-called “utopian” home of their ancestors?

“How did it affect those women who, today, are also living in a different renaissance?” she questioned.

In a time where hustling and striving for the future defines our daily lives, it is easy to disconnect with our seniors who might not be running at the same pace.

“Everybody who came and interacted was affected, which means that we share the same story despite our differences,” said Dawsari.

Everyone has a similar memory of a mother figure applying lemon juice on their knees or making the afternoon coffee.

An Indian onlooker came to Dawsari once expressing how her work reminded her of her aunts and her family. The universality of her work is what speaks to the audience.

“Every passing day, we are losing stories that are undocumented…the thing is (to create more of a) habit, have people interact with more and more artworks about this generation,” added Dawsari.

 


Saudi artist turns her farming passion into creative work

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi artist turns her farming passion into creative work

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
  • Al-Obaid makes these hand-painted pot bags from scratch, sewing the bags according to pot size, and then she selecting a drawing to apply to the fabric, usually flowery

JEDDAH: Hadeel Al-Obaid, a Saudi artist from Eastern Province, with over 20 years of farming experience, took a leap of faith when she turned her childhood hobby into a unique business idea.

Offering hand-painted pot bags, Al-Obaid was creative enough to mix between art, farming, and gifting.

She told Arab News: “I inherited the love of farming from my late father — he taught me a lot of gardening skills since I was 13. So, at first, I used to share on social media tips and tricks on how to take care of plants and a few posts of my paintings.”

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)

Al-Obaid has gained extensive knowledge about plants. “I have a good relationship with my plants, I want everyone to benefit from my experience — and I am glad that my art-related business is also related to farming,” she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Al-Obaid had the time to practice painting styles inspired by Korean and Japanese art, and also by her indoor home garden and flowers. That was when the idea of her project, “Lavender touches,” was sparked.

FASTFACTS

• Offering hand-painted pot bags, Hadeel Al-Obaid was creative enough to mix between art, farming, and gifting.

• Al-Obaid says the main aim of her project, next to offering a fusion between painting and plants, is to change the gifting concept of flower bouquets.

“As a self-taught artist, in the beginning, I started with painting on the table serving mats, dinner table linens, and coasters, which (was) admired by many. Then, due to the number of indoor and outdoor plants I am surrounded by, I thought of adding a touch of art to these pots by covering them with hand-painted fabric bags to make them look more vibrant.”

Al-Obaid makes these hand-painted pot bags from scratch, sewing the bags according to pot size, and then she selecting a drawing to apply to the fabric, usually flowery. Then she colors it using paints, and finally, she applies an interesting Arabic phrase or a quote.

“I draw only flowers on the canvas bags after I sew them, most of which are inspired by my home garden (plants) such as peace lily, tulip, French hydrangea, common zinnia, Arabian jasmine, lavender, and pansy,” she said.

The name of her project, “Lavender,” is also inspired by her favorite color and flower.

Al-Obaid said that the main aim of her project, next to offering a fusion between painting and plants, is to change the gifting concept of flower bouquets.

“I personally think that the idea of gifting a flower bouquet to anyone on different occasions is respected, however, it is over-consumed and it really lacks the element of surprise, and if replaced with a well-decorated plant of any type, it will be more valued,” she said.

Al-Obaid also offers custom-made pot bags with customers’ selection of colors, shapes, types of flowers painted, English or Arabic names, or phrases about different occasions, as well as different types of indoor home plants and flowers.

“Each painting takes from an hour to three hours depending on the flower type,” she said.

The fabric pot bags also feature a water resistant color of a velvety texture, to maintain the beauty of the paintings once the plant is splashed with water, and can be found on Instagram @lavender_touches.


Riyadh’s acting governor receives South African ambassador

Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman receives South Africa’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mogobo David Magabe. (Supplied)
Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman receives South Africa’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mogobo David Magabe. (Supplied)
Updated 08 August 2022

Riyadh’s acting governor receives South African ambassador

Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman receives South Africa’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mogobo David Magabe. (Supplied)
  • They exchanged friendly conversations during the reception

RIYADH: Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman, acting governor of the Riyadh region, on Monday received South Africa’s ambassador to the Kingdom Mogobo David Magabe.
They exchanged friendly conversation during the reception.The two countries are aiming for stronger bilateral ties. In June, Saudi Royal Court Adviser Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Kattan visited South Africa and met President Cyril Ramaphosa in the capital, Cape Town.
Kattan conveyed the greetings and good wishes of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the government and people of South Africa.

 


Saudi aid agency completes voluntary medical campaign in Yemen

The project falls within the framework of support provided by Saudi Arabia  through KSrelief. (SPA)
The project falls within the framework of support provided by Saudi Arabia through KSrelief. (SPA)
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi aid agency completes voluntary medical campaign in Yemen

The project falls within the framework of support provided by Saudi Arabia  through KSrelief. (SPA)
  • KSrelief launched the second phase of its project to provide free eye surgeries, part of the Noor Saudi program, which will be implemented in Yemen’s governorates of Aden and Mukalla

HADRAMOUT: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center completed a voluntary plastic surgery medical campaign for burns and deformities at Seiyun General Hospital in Hadramout governorate, Yemen, with the participation of Saudi volunteers from various medical fields.
The campaign was held from July 30 to Aug. 6. Over the course of the scheme, the center’s volunteer medical team examined 250 patients and conducted 50 surgeries, all of which were successful.
The project falls within the framework of support provided by the Kingdom through KSrelief, for the medical sector in Yemen, and to consolidate the culture of volunteer work in Saudi society in accordance with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Earlier, the center launched the second phase of its project to provide free eye surgeries, part of the Noor Saudi program, which will be implemented in Yemen’s governorates of Aden and Mukalla. Saleh Al-Thibani, director of the center’s office in Aden, said that the campaign aims to combat blindness and assist patients who cannot afford the costs of treatment.

The program aims to perform 6,000 specialized eye surgeries over the course of the year, which will be implemented following a series of projects to cover as many patients in need of eye operations as possible.

 


Saudi ministry to offer health services via advanced systems

The 937 Call Center has received 8,794,473 phone calls in the first half of 2022. (SPA)
The 937 Call Center has received 8,794,473 phone calls in the first half of 2022. (SPA)
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi ministry to offer health services via advanced systems

The 937 Call Center has received 8,794,473 phone calls in the first half of 2022. (SPA)
  • The ministry has been forging ahead with the introduction of multi-cloud solutions, built on VMware Cloud Foundation, to boost provision to the country’s growing population of more than 35 million people

RIYADH: The 937 Call Center has received 8,794,473 phone calls in the first half of 2022, including 2,515,502 calls for medical consultation.
The Saudi Ministry of Health said the number of reports that were referred reached 354,755, while the percentage of beneficiary evaluations reached 86.33 percent, with a satisfaction average after closing reports standing at 89.56 percent.
The ministry said that the center will continue to offer health services and would focus on providing channels for general inquiries and instant medical consultations to boost efficiency.
It added that the center has resumed its WhatsApp service, which allows users to seek all health services through instant chat via the number 92005937, in addition to the @SaudiMOH937 Twitter account, while people can follow up on inquiries and inbound applications through the email [email protected] around the clock, seven days a week.
The ministry has been forging ahead with the introduction of multi-cloud solutions, built on VMware Cloud Foundation, to boost provision to the country’s growing population of more than 35 million people.
The ministry can now offer secure, cloud-based services to a range of public healthcare providers including hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies, significantly boosting their efficiency, and enabling them to grow and innovate.
Health officials have simplified the ministry’s information technology infrastructure by deploying VMware Cloud Foundation as the unifying platform for its cloud environment, spreading workloads across the clouds of service providers including STC and Mobily.