Sudan seeks return of treasures looted by British

Sudan seeks return of treasures looted by British
The Charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman, by Richard Caton Woodville, Jr. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 20 June 2022

Sudan seeks return of treasures looted by British

Sudan seeks return of treasures looted by British
  • Items including human skulls, armor among collections of numerous UK institutions
  • A banner taken from the battlefield at Omdurman, currently at Durham University’s Palace Green Library, is among the items Sudan wants returned

LONDON: Sudan is seeking the return of numerous historical items from the UK, including antiques, artefacts, and human remains, taken during the colonial period after the British Empire invaded the region in 1898.

The list includes two skulls belonging to Sudanese soldiers taken from the battlefield at Omdurman that year, as part of a wider pattern of trophy-hunting and looting by British soldiers, which was seen as revenge for the death of Maj. Gen. Charles Gordon at the siege of Khartoum in 1885.

The skulls were passed to the Edinburgh Anatomical Museum by the businessman Henry Wellcome, where they joined a collection of human remains from throughout Africa used to promote racist scientific theories popular in 19th-century Europe and North America.

Authorities in Khartoum are keen for the remains of the two Sudanese soldiers to be returned.

Dr. Eglal El-Malik, director of conservation at the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, said: “We have to have a big campaign. These people are our brothers, our heroes. They unified and defended our country. It is a very special story of resistance to imperialism. Their descendants should see this all here.”

A banner taken from Omdurman, currently at Durham University’s Palace Green Library, and a suit of armor held at the Royal Armories collection, are also among the items Sudan wants returned, with the aim of displaying them at a specialist museum in Omdurman, recently restored with money from the British Council dedicated to the battle and the legacy of British colonial rule, which ended in 1956.

Ahmed Mohammed, a curator at the museum, told The Guardian: “I want to show the real detail of the battle of Omdurman, and I cannot do that without all the items. It is very important for the Sudanese people to know.”

Some items have already been repatriated, including a robe worn by a Sudanese warrior returned by a British family whose ancestor took it from the battlefield.

Despite this, many practical challenges remain, including legal and security issues.

“There are lots of Sudanese (people) who want these items back now (but) they need to be aware of the legal issues. The reality is we have so many difficulties (in Sudan). It would be great if we had all these things back now but (they are) in a good situation where it is and so many people see it. So, we have to be reasonable,” El-Malik added.

Not all Sudanese experts even agree that the country’s treasures should be returned yet, given that the nation has been ravaged by war for decades, hampering its ability to recover and safeguard its looted heritage.

As well as British investment in the museum at Omdurman, the country’s National Museum in Khartoum is being refurbished with a $1 million donation from the Italian government.

Ghalia Gharelnabi, acting director of the National Museum, said: “The situation here is not suitable. For the moment they (the items) should stay where they are, but of course eventually we would like to have them in our museum.”

El-Malik noted that academics and officials at UK institutions holding Sudanese items had been “very helpful on the whole” about the issue of repatriation.

A spokesperson for Durham University said: “We work closely with the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums in Sudan, including currently on loan requests for several items from the Sudan Archive to be displayed in Sudan. They and we recognize this is not without difficulties.”

Prof. Tom Gillingwater, of the Edinburgh Anatomical Museum, said his institution had not received a formal request for the return of the Sudanese skulls.

“Anatomical remains are now utilized for research into the history of genetics, diets, and the movement of people. We take our colonial legacy, and its contemporary impact, very seriously, and are continuing to examine ways to address these important issues,” he added.

Britain’s vast number of historical artefacts taken from overseas during the age of its empire has been a source of controversy for some time, including other items from Sudan dating back to the ancient Roman and Egyptian eras.

Other European countries have also grappled with the issue: In 2021 Germany became the first country to return famous statues looted from West Africa in the 19th century known as the Benin bronzes — a number of which still reside in the British Museum.


Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World
Updated 28 November 2022

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World
  • The beauty of the Moroccan subzone comes from the country’s traditional architecture, cultural and geographical influences

RIYADH: Riyadh Season’s Boulevard World, which opened last week, brings together the cultures of 10 countries in a single location on the largest artificial lake in the world.

The Morocco subzone is one of them. Due to its location between Europe and Africa and its border with the Sahara in the south, Morocco has a lot of different cultural and geographical influences. This makes the Morocco subzone one of the best examples of physical and symbolic heritage in Riyadh Season.

The subzone shows a beautiful and fantastic image that reflects the traditions of the Moroccan people in their unique clothing, music, and food, thanks to the variety of options and elements based on a range of different colors, designs, and patterns in creating spaces.

Walking into the subzone, you will see beautiful Moroccan women wearing the traditional kaftan dress. They greet you with their Moroccan accents, and you see the decorations in a mix of different Moroccan cities. Visitors can shop for kaftan dresses and different Moroccan products and authentic food.

Riyadh Season shows how the Arab, Amazigh, African, and Mediterranean civilizations influenced each other. Many opulent facades have beautiful designs based on unusual blending and harmony.

The streets of the Morocco subzone in Boulevard World, which is the season's crown jewel, smell just like those of old Fes, Tangier, rich Oujda, and charming red Marrakech.

This makes it a delight for the soul and a civilization that dwells in the hearts of visitors in Riyadh’s winter while educating them about numerous Moroccan cities and cultures that subtly keep pace with different eras.

The beauty of the Moroccan subzone comes from the country’s traditional architecture, which has many curved entrances and round arches, as well as wool-based rugs and warm, classic velvet furniture in the rooms.

Mosaic tiles and pieces of pottery are used to decorate the walls and ceilings of Moroccan cafes and restaurants in Boulevard World.

The area has a strong cultural feel because it has a lot of high-quality sculptures, visual arts, cinema, and music. There are also a lot of fountains and sidewalks in the area.

Visitors of Boulevard World can also learn about different cultures across the world through several subzones inspired by China, Italy, France, India, Spain, America, Japan, Greece and Mexico.

For both families and individuals, Boulevard World is a premier entertainment destination, featuring a host of experiences, including rides in hot air balloons, submarines and boats.

It has the largest man-made lake in the world, where boats can travel between cities through 11 stations.
It also offers the Area 15 experience from Las Vegas; The Sphere, the biggest spherical theater in the world; a city for game fans; comic book and anime-themed activities; and plenty of family-friendly entertainment options.

Visitors can enjoy a ride in a Venetian gondola, taste American cuisine, stroll through live Hollywood shows, shop for the best Spanish products, and watch flamenco shows.

The third Riyadh Season kicked off on Oct. 21 with more than 8,500 activities. This year’s event offers people a wide range of entertainment options, combining exclusivity and modernity to promote the capital as a major incubator and popular destination for tourism. It also promotes the Saudi entertainment sector and consolidates the Kingdom’s position as a prominent regional and global entertainment destination.

The new season include 15 zones: Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland, Al-Murabaa, Sky Riyadh, Via Riyadh, Riyadh Zoo, Little Riyadh, The Groves, Imagination Park, Al-Suwaidi Park, Souq Al-Zel, Qariat Zaman, Fan Festival and Riyadh Front.

 


The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize

The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize
Desiree Bollier in the Chair and Global Chief Merchant of The Bicester Collection. (Getty Images)
Updated 29 November 2022

The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize

The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize

DUBAI: An international retail firm has launched the MENA edition of a prize for first-time women entrepreneurs that would allow them to set up or develop their startup businesses.

The Middle East and North Africa edition of The Bicester Collection’s “Unlock her Future Prize” was announced for enterprises that drive positive environmental, social and economic change, according to the company.

The Bicester Collection is a group of 11 open-air shopping destinations across Europe and China, which includes Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, UK. They launched the initiative in 2021 as part of their DO GOOD platform and have now expanded to the Middle East. 

“We’re delighted that in its inaugural year, the Unlock Her Future Prize will launch in MENA with the support of our partner Ashoka Arab World,” Chantal Khoueiry, chief culture officer for The Bicester Village, told Arab News.

“As an Arab woman, I believe I can speak for all when I say how committed we are to driving women’s empowerment and cultural progress. We recognize that if you have diverse voices, you can transcend anything. This is the essence of what we hope the Unlock Her Future Prize MENA edition 2023 will provide on behalf of Arab Women — the voice and support to build a progressive and sustainable future for people and the planet.”

Khoueiry added that applicants with an innovative idea, and those who have been operating for under five years, are invited to apply between Dec. 5 and Jan. 31, 2023.

An international committee of experts will review the applications and shortlist eight finalists who will be invited to pitch their ideas in Bicester Village, UK, to a panel of judges from the MENA region. Three winners will be announced on International Women’s Day next year.

“The winners will each receive a financial grant of up to $100,000 plus human capital support from a fantastic assembly of global experts.” They will also have access to an education and knowledge program with the prize’s regional academic partner, New York University Abu Dhabi, said Khoueiry.

  


Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh
Updated 27 November 2022

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh
  • RUSH event allows video-game aficionados to experience latest tech

RIYADH: The RUSH festival, the largest event for virtual sports and games, opened at the Riyadh Front on Saturday as part of the Riyadh Season of activities.

Over five days, it will provide gamers with the best-known games and real-life experiences.

They will get the chance to play real games such as “Fortnite,” “FIFA,” and “Valorant.” The event will also bring together the best international teams so that the biggest tournaments and direct qualifiers can be held on the e-sports stage.

Representatives of the 25 E-Sport organization greeted fans at the event’s meet-and-greet booth.

Aoun, the organization’s director of operations, told Arab News: “We have content makers and professional players in all games, and we came to meet the audience here.”

HIGHLIGHT

Over five days, the RUSH festival will provide gamers with the best-known games and real-life experiences. They will get the chance to play real games such as ‘Fortnite,’ ‘FIFA,’ and ‘Valorant.’

The festival aims to provide fun video games, competitions, and challenges through direct tournaments with prizes, and includes live entertainment shows, DJ performances, an augmented reality experience, and a cosplay competition.

The Valar Club booth was promoting e-sports for women.

Malak Al-Qahtani, founder of Valar Club, told Arab News: “Valar Club is the first licensed women’s club from the federation’s electronic sports, and our goal is to help female Saudi players, as they aspire to the world, and help with their training.”

Saudi YouTuber Pika Loli travelled from Jeddah to attend the event.

“This event brings together most of the YouTubers and gamers, and it is a good opportunity to get to know each other, and it will increase our followers and grow the channel on YouTube.”

Some of the cosplayers were dressed as video game characters.

Abdulelah Al-Qahtani said: “Today we are dressed as characters from the ‘Genshin Impact’ game, and I think this is so good that Saudi Arabia brought up a hidden community, like cosplayers and gamers.”

With a focus on the whole of the gaming industry, from console and PC gaming to mobile and e-sports, the RUSH festival aims to give gaming aficionados the opportunity to access and experience the latest tech and the chance to interact with each other in real life, and online.

Tickets for the event are available via https://riyadhseason.sa/event-details-en.html?id=599/en_RUSH.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Souk unveils three programs for aspiring filmmakers

Photo (@RedSeaFilm)
Photo (@RedSeaFilm)
Updated 27 November 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Souk unveils three programs for aspiring filmmakers

Photo (@RedSeaFilm)
  • The Red Sea 360 offers four days of talks on production, finance and innovation in the entertainment industry

JEDDAH: The Red Sea Souk has unveiled three programs to help aspiring movie-makers during a film festival in Jeddah next month.

Talent Days, the Red Sea 360 industry talks, and the Networking Sessions during the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah between Dec. 1 and Dec 10.

Taking place Dec. 7-8, Talent Days is a series of meetings, workshops and events aimed at nurturing a new generation of filmmakers.

“It is an initiation into the cinema industry for aspiring filmmakers through inspiring talks and individual meetings to help the ideas in their heads take a more tangible form," according to the festival's website.

This year, the Talent Days program has been redesigned to focus entirely on a new generation of filmmakers. Those attending will receive insight from industry professionals.

Participants will also have access to five dedicated mentors from within the cinema industry.

The Red Sea 360 offers four days of talks on production, finance and innovation in the entertainment industry.

Participants can join up to 13 sessions on subjects including sales and distribution, co-productions, investment opportunities in the Arab region, incentives and tax rebates, funding, streaming, music, storytelling, episodic content and the Metaverse.

More than 50 film industry professionals will share their knowledge and expertise during the program between Dec. 3 and Dec 6.

The Networking Sessions will take place across three days from Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 to provide opportunities for new entrants and emerging filmmakers to connect with key industry players during informal 15-minute speed meetings.

They will include more than 80 selective industry guests, spread over three sessions focusing on development, production and distribution.

Myriam Arab, lead consultant for the Red Sea Souk, said: “We warmly welcome all participants to hear from some of the best industry key players, and to make the most of these mentoring and matchmaking opportunities.

“Knowledge-sharing, support and networking are deeply important to talent development. We are delighted to have such fantastic cinema professionals on board sharing their expertise so generously.”

 


Artist Amira Nazer celebrates Jeddah women through mermaid-inspired exhibition

Artist Amira Nazer celebrates Jeddah women through mermaid-inspired exhibition
Updated 27 November 2022

Artist Amira Nazer celebrates Jeddah women through mermaid-inspired exhibition

Artist Amira Nazer celebrates Jeddah women through mermaid-inspired exhibition
  • Home city of Jeddah provides inspiration for Amira Nazer showcase
  • Artist hopes to inspire conversation about physicality and experience through artwork

JEDDAH: Artist Amira Nazer is showcasing her first solo exhibition at Hafez Gallery in Jeddah until Dec. 24.

“Huriyyat Jeddah,” which is curated by Basma Harasani, presents a series of photo sculptures that explores the tension, freedom, and beauty present in women’s lives through the use of fabric and the metaphor of the mermaid.

Nazer, who was born and raised in the historic port city, says she is proud of her roots.

She told Arab News: “It’s the biggest influence on how I conceive the world. Everything I experience is coming through the eyes of a Saudi woman.”

Nazer’s artistic journey began while she was a student at Columbia University in New York. Her passion for art prompted her to pursue a double major in political science and the visual arts.

She became aware of the stereotypes that surround Arab women while photographing friends.

(Supplied/Yassir Alhaidari)

She said: “It was always associated very negatively, like there was this imposition of coverage.

“I’ve always been drawn to material, and growing up while expressing myself in clothes was how I chose to differentiate myself and be creative.

“It was weird for a white man to tell me I’m oppressed. No, this is my choice. And it got me thinking of fabric.”

Nazer’s dream of a beautiful mermaid emerging from the sea, the debate over freedom or restriction and its parallels with Arab women and their garments, heavily influenced her work.

And the 23-year-old draws on this visual concept to communicate the individual’s experience of being comfortable in one’s physicality in relation to the environment felt by her subjects in her photographs.

It was important to the artist not to dictate the experience of the girls, all of whom lived in Jeddah but came from diverse cultural backgrounds. 

One of Nazer's photo sculptures made of shalki cotton. (Supplied/Yassir Alhaidari)

Encouraging them to choose how they wanted to cover their body, Nazer captures various physical narratives while, working with stylist and childhood friend Latifa Bint Saad, she chose fabrics that represented her youth and the Saudi home, such as shalki and gingham. 

The earthy tones emphasize the natural environment, which is central to the series, while the use of pink introduces femininity.

The images were printed onto the fabrics in which the women were photographed to reinforce the message.

Nazer experiments with the use and meaning of “material” to represent the composition of existence and the idea of materializing photographs into reality.

(Supplied/Yassir Alhaidari)

“Hurriyat Jeddah,” which means “The Mermaids of Jeddah,” is an exhibition that reflects Nazer’s journey as a Saudi woman, and those of many around the world who are subjected to others dictating their reality.

Nazer said: “What I hope to evoke is a conversation, exactly like I had with myself when I had the dream.

“This is what this piece is about: the voices of the women of Jeddah and the beauty of the experience in all its complexity.

“Diversity within the framework is what unifies it. There’s no one way; there’s no wrong way or right way. The differences in the experience are what unites it.”