Coalition to release 163 Houthi prisoners in ‘humanitarian initiative’

Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said 163 Houthi prisoners would be released. (AFP/File Photo)
Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said 163 Houthi prisoners would be released. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 28 April 2022

Coalition to release 163 Houthi prisoners in ‘humanitarian initiative’

Coalition to release 163 Houthi prisoners in ‘humanitarian initiative’
  • Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said move aims to strengthen efforts to maintain April 2 truce
  • Tuce in Yemen which began on first day of Ramadan has held for the most part

RIYADH: The Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen announced on Thursday that it would release 163 Houthi prisoners who participated in combat operations against the Kingdom in a “humanitarian initiative,” Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The release falls within the context of the Kingdom’s previous humanitarian initiatives and aims to support efforts that seek to end the crisis in Yemen and achieve peace, coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said.

He added that the move also aims to strengthen UN efforts to maintain a truce, which went into effect on April 2, as well as to create a means of dialogue among the parties involved in the Yemen conflict and facilitate finalizing the prisoners’ and detainees’ issue in line with Muslim values and international principles.

“The Arab Coalition began finalizing the procedure to release all 163 prisoners in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross to transfer them to Sanaa,” Al-Maliki said.

He added that the Kingdom was keen on addressing and finalizing the issue of prisoners and detainees on a humanitarian basis “away from political and military gains and calculations.”

The truce which began on the first day of Ramadan has held for the most part.

 


Saudi digital artist merges famous figures with KSA’s landscapes

Titan from Japanese anime ‘Attack on Titan’ behind mountains of Al-Shafa road, Taif. (Supplied)
Titan from Japanese anime ‘Attack on Titan’ behind mountains of Al-Shafa road, Taif. (Supplied)
Updated 17 sec ago

Saudi digital artist merges famous figures with KSA’s landscapes

Titan from Japanese anime ‘Attack on Titan’ behind mountains of Al-Shafa road, Taif. (Supplied)
  • One of his preferred locations is Jeddah’s historical quarter, but the graphic designer said that he can let his imagination run wild in any location he explores

JEDDAH: Imagine seeing Disney’s Princess Aurora in historic Jeddah, one of the titans from the Japanese anime “Attack on Titan” lurking behind the mountains of Taif’s famous Al-Shafa road, or international figures appearing in old alleyways. These are just some of the products of Hazem Al-Ahdal’s wild imagination.

The 26-year-old photographer and graphic designer draws inspiration from both visual art and cinematography, merging images of global figures and cartoon characters into landscape photographs and then using his graphic design skills to create realistic artworks.

HIGHLIGHT

Historic Jeddah, the Jeddah waterfront, and cities such as Madinah, Taif, NEOM and Tabuk have all been used by Al-Ahdal as locations for his images, while natural landscapes, abandoned places and random streets also feature in the final works.

Historic Jeddah, the Jeddah waterfront, and cities such as Madinah, Taif, NEOM and Tabuk have all been used by Al-Ahdal as locations for his images, while natural landscapes, abandoned places and random streets also feature in the final works.

Al-Ahdal said that he has been interested in the visual arts since childhood.

“Because of this passion, I decided to start my own art world and realize it,” he told Arab News.

His personal favorite artwork imagines Countess Anastasia Mikhailovna de Torby, elder daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia, in an old market in Tabuk.

“This is my favorite because of the integration of Western and Arab civilization in one work. Because of this work, other ideas began to come,” said Al-Ahdal.

“I love anything vintage or related to history. I loved her classical attire and thought it would suit the vision I had for the photograph,” he said, referring to the 20th-century Russian countess.

Al-Ahdal said that he chooses characters from a host of international figures or cartoons based on the site of the photograph, “and so the integration process begins.”

One of his preferred locations is Jeddah’s historical quarter, but the graphic designer said that he can let his imagination run wild in any location he explores.

“Of course, there are stories with many works of art, including when I was drinking coffee in one of the cafes and I was in front of an empty chair. My fantasies began with characters who may be sitting in front of me,” he said.

“I took a picture of the view in front of me, and merged characters and turned them into reality.”

Al-Ahdal converts his digital art into posters and even fashion items.

“I have no limits in art. I participated in many exhibitions with realistic works and paintings, I even participated in the field of fashion and I’m planning on participating in more projects,” he said

Al-Ahdal said that he loves ’90s movies for their content. “The best old classic works from the ’90s and before — these films contain stories and lessons in life,” he said.

“One of my favorite TV shows is the sitcom ‘Friends’ and one of my favorite distinctive films is the Italian film La vita e bella (Life is Beautiful),” he added.


International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh

International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh
The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative aim to plant 10 billion trees. (SPA)
Updated 1 min 42 sec ago

International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh

International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh
  • Last October, the crown prince announced two initiatives worth SR39 billion ($10.39 billion) to combat climate change, to which Saudi Arabia will contribute about 15 percent of the entire cost

RIYADH: The International Exhibition and Forum on Afforestation Technologies begins in Riyadh on Sunday under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It is organized by the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification and being held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley said the National Environment Strategy was a roadmap to realizing the aspirations of the Saudi Vision 2030 regarding the protection and development of the environment.

He highlighted the crown prince’s efforts to promote vegetation cover locally, regionally, and internationally through ambitious plans including the Saudi Green Initiative, the Middle East Green Initiative, the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation, and the International Coral Reef Initiative.

The last two initiatives were included in the declaration of environment ministers during Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 in 2020.

Last October, the crown prince announced two initiatives worth SR39 billion ($10.39 billion) to combat climate change, to which Saudi Arabia will contribute about 15 percent of the entire cost.

The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative aim to plant 10 billion trees.

Nearly 150 different activities will be offered at the International Exhibition and Forum on Afforestation Technologies, with participation from international and local agencies, the government, the commercial sector, and environmental nonprofit groups.

Around 90 experts on environmental, climate, sustainability and investment issues from around 20 countries and global organizations will also attend.

There will be 19 dialogue sessions, workshops, over 50 scientific papers, and approximately 80 exhibitors showcasing their goods, ideas, and innovations.

These represent the most recent technological successes in combating desertification and minimizing its impact, developing and protecting vegetation cover, and the most recent advances in experimentation, research, and scientific studies.

The exhibition covers topics such as nurseries, seeds, afforestation and technologies, land rehabilitation and desertification, irrigation technologies, forest management and development, water sources and technologies, environmental solutions in plant carbon storage, pest control, and agricultural waste management.

The National Center for the Development of Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification works to protect and control vegetation cover sites throughout the Kingdom, rehabilitate degraded ones, detect encroachment, combat deforestation, and supervise the management and investment of pasture lands, forests, and national parks, which promotes sustainable environmental development and contributes to achieving the objectives of the Saudi Green Initiative.

Experts told Arab News that these investments were critical for meeting global targets for environmental protection, climate change control, and mitigating the effects of greenhouse emissions.

Dr. Amal Aldaej, an international relations and strategic partnership adviser, said the Saudi Green Initiative was considered to be the biggest initiative for accelerating the Kingdom’s path toward a healthy, clean and green future.

“The initiative will also help in reducing carbon emissions and sandstorms, combating desertification and land degradation, as well as lowering the temperature (it) will also help in restoring the degraded ecosystems across the country and improve the natural capital,” she said.

She added that the Saudi Green Initiative would connect communities to a higher-level policy and technical and financial assistance that would have a great impact socially and economically.

She stressed that regional alliances would play a crucial role in coping with climate change and global warming challenges. Through regional alliances and joint efforts to redress climate change, adaptation and mitigation could play a vital role in investing and ensuring sustainability.

Aldaej pointed out that there was a strong link between climate change and sustainable development through regional alliances. Poor and developing countries, particularly least-developed countries, would be among those most adversely affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks to their social, economic, and natural systems which would lead to cross-border climatic issues.

“Climate change and global warming issues can affect the countries of the region and can lead toward other regions as well. The sustainable goals can only be achieved through regional alliances by investing and ensuring sustainability through joint efforts.”

Environmental activist Talal S. Al-Rasheed emphasized the “importance of activating the role of community organizations” in achieving this.

Al-Rasheed, a consultant at Gulf Energy for Environmental Consultations, said the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative highlighted the importance of land conservation and the Kingdom’s leadership position in contributing to global goals.

Saudi Arabia faces numerous environmental issues, including high temperatures of 52 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country and a lack of rain, which threatens water security and increases sandstorms and their detrimental economic impact.

Al-Rasheed said the ministry prioritized community participation in cultivating local plants to raise environmental awareness.

 


Saudi Misk Art Institute celebrates work of Fahad Hajailan, Amina Agueznay

Fahad Hajailan was known for his embodiment of women in most of his works, and he is known for his abstract art. (Supplied)
Fahad Hajailan was known for his embodiment of women in most of his works, and he is known for his abstract art. (Supplied)
Updated 1 min 57 sec ago

Saudi Misk Art Institute celebrates work of Fahad Hajailan, Amina Agueznay

Fahad Hajailan was known for his embodiment of women in most of his works, and he is known for his abstract art. (Supplied)
  • The Misk institute invited Agueznay to have her first exhibition in Riyadh, where visitors enjoyed the distinctive shapes created from wool and other elements

RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute celebrated the launch of its fifth and sixth Art Library book series, highlighting the work of the late Saudi artist Fahad Hajailan and Moroccan artist Amina Agueznay.

It featured a selection of their influential and seminal works alongside articles from local and international art critics and curators.

Accompanying the launch were two exhibitions of artists’ works discussed in the Art Library books.

Hajailan's book “Poetry in Color" carries a group of paintings that embody his figurative and abstract style and his poetic use of color.

He was known for his embodiment of women and abstract art, geometric shapes, and colored spaces.

The Misk institute invited Agueznay to have her first exhibition in Riyadh, where visitors enjoyed the distinctive shapes created from wool and other elements.

Agueznay is an artist, jewelry designer, and architect based in Casablanca.  

“I've been into art since I was a child since my mother has been an artist as well,” she told Arab News. “I worked as an architect in the US, and I returned to Morocco to design jewelry and collaborate with other artists to make jewelry. I liked the synergy and exchange I learned from them. Likewise, they learn from me.

“Then I started working on company projects to accompany artisans for different kinds of crafts to modernize their products for commercial purposes. I loved it because it enabled me to discover more of the areas of Morocco, where they have many different crafts and wool art.”

Agueznay's agency said she started working with female artisans and became interested in wool as an artistic element through rug weavers, which is how her inspiration for using threads began.

She had a workshop at the exhibition where she taught visitors to work with wool to create special pieces of art.

“What's cool about the workshop is that the theme was weaving, but it's about how you write stories with the wool. So, I brought the wool from Morrocco, and now the visitors are doing incredible things with it,” she said.

Her book “Unmuted Narratives” explores her artwork, which combines modern construction techniques and traditional weaving to break down the barriers between art and crafts.

“The book that was written about my art enabled me to see a large body of my work and my progress, which is great for an artist. And I'm ready to move on and evolve more in the art world, so I'm grateful for Misk Art Institute for this,” Agueznay said.

The Art Library series, which ends on Aug. 15, was launched to enrich local creative content. The event constitutes the core of the institute's goals and represents its focus on instilling a culture of awareness and encouraging more documentation in the Saudi art and culture sector.


‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary

‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary
Updated 27 May 2022

‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary

‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary
  • Two senior US officials visited Saudi Arabia for talks this week

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said two senior US officials visited Saudi Arabia this week to “review engagement” on “energy security,” and not to ask for an increase in oil exports.

“Asking for oil is simply wrong. That’s the way that we see it and a misunderstanding of both the complexity of that issue as well as our multi-faceted discussions with the Saudis,” Jean-Pierre said on Thursday. 

The press secretary also said OPEC+ will make its own decision as it relates to oil and added, “We are in consultation with all relevant producers about market conditions including Saudi Arabia.”

 

Meeting senior Saudi officials in Riyadh were Brett McGurk, Biden’s top White House adviser on the Middle East, and Amos Hochstein, the State Department's energy envoy.

McGurk and Hochstein were in the region to follow up on conversations that include Iran’s destabilizing activities, and other regional issues, Jean-Pierre told reporters.


Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News

Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News
Updated 27 May 2022

Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News

Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News
  • Census 2022 will affect public services, goods made available to Kingdom’s residents, he says during interview in Davos
  • Saudi delegation of ministers shares knowledge and experience of past 7 years with top policymakers, investors, private sector, industry leaders

DAVOS: Surplus revenues from oil production will go into investing in “resilience,” the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim has said, referring to paying off debt, replenishing reserves, and accelerating transformational projects throughout the Kingdom.

“It’s ultimately going to help the private sector or help our investments that will open the door in front of the private sector to increase its activity,” he told Arab News at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

With a surplus of $15 billion, some of the Public Investment Fund’s owned and led projects will be given support so that they “are delivered either sooner or more effective,” he said.

Al-Ibrahim also noted the Kingdom’s census plans and urged all residents of Saudi Arabia to register.

“It’s very important, it will affect our planning and then it will affect the services and public goods that will be made available to all residents of the Kingdom, citizens, and expats,” he added.

The census had been set to launch in 2020 but was delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic and the strict lockdown measures introduced by the Saudi government to help stop the spread of the virus.

While the last census was in 2010, the minister was confident that technological advancements since then would ensure that the new data collected would be “sustainable.”

He said: “We don’t want to say in nine years from now, ‘this data is nine years old, and I can’t trust it.’ No, we did many more surveys, we did more projects, components that got you refreshed data.”

Al-Ibrahim was part of a delegation of seven Saudi ministers who participated in key forum events including panel discussions.

The delegation was headed by Minister of State Ibrahim Al-Assaf, and included Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha, and Assistant Minister of Tourism Princess Haifa Al-Saud.

“I think our ambition from this meeting as a delegation is to deepen our conversations into the agenda-setting process, and we’ve achieved this with what might be a smaller number of ministers. But in the number of engagements, the top-tier engagements, it’s probably one of the highest.

“It’s an opportunity for us to rub shoulders with policymakers, investors, private sector and industry leaders because we have a wealth of knowledge, we have a lot of lessons learned from the last seven years that we can share.

Al-Ibrahim added: “But also, we have so many challenges that we’re still tackling that we can partner up and everybody’s interested, everybody’s looking at it.”