JEDDAH: During the Hajj, pilgrims from around the globe come to Makkah and Madinah bringing not only their faith but also their diverse culture and traditions.
Men are limited to only wearing the Ihram — a two-piece unstitched plain white cloth wrapped around the body —during Hajj and Umrah, while women can wear normal, loose, modest clothes.
Lailah Saleh Al-Bassam, professor at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, is the first Saudi academic to study the history of traditional Arab clothes and textiles in Saudi Arabia.
• The Sudanese thawb is a long two-piece outer covering — that comes in different colors and designs — worn over a plain dress.
• In Indonesia, it’s a tradition to wear the batik for Hajj and for other celebrations.
Al-Bassam explained to Arab News the history of what women, from various parts of the Kingdom, wore during the Hajj. “In the past, women of the central, eastern, and northern regions used to wear cotton dresses or two pieces of cloth called ‘kurta’ and ‘maqtaa’ in green and black colors. However, those who are from the western region (wore) similar pieces but in white for both Ihram and funerals.”
She added: “Nowadays, women also wear what looks like a ‘jalabiya’ and there are many types that are (now) customized and designed to be suitable for Ihram, and some women buy the cloth and tailor it.”
During a visit to Madinah in June, Arab News interviewed Uthe, 43, who was one of the first pilgrims to arrive from Indonesia.
Uthe will perform Hajj for the first time this year. “I feel so lucky, I have been waiting for this opportunity for 10 years and it has finally come,” she said teary eyed.
She prepared five dresses and most importantly her “batik,” an Indonesian traditional dress, which she even wore on her journey to the Kingdom. “I wore batik on my first flight to perform Hajj and I will be wearing it again on my way back. Both my mother and grandmother used to wear the batik during their Hajj trips as well.”
She said it was a tradition to wear the batik for Hajj, but it is also worn for celebrations.
Uthe said wearing the clothes was important, but it was vital to prepare physically, mentally and spiritually for the pilgrimage.
Daniah Al-Khaldi, a 35-year-old mother and architectural engineer from Baghdad, said that Iraqi females have a specific Hajj tradition. “We dress in all white, from socks to hijab and abaya, the white color must be included in all the details, as it is a sign of purification from sins.”
To prepare for the day of Arafat on July 8, Al-Khaldi said she has a list of prayers ready. “Bringing a pocket Quran, subha, and a small, light sling bag for when moving between different areas in Hajj is really important. Also, a comfortable walking pair of shoes and odorless personal hygiene items are crucial,” Al-Khaldi added.
Asia Ahmed, 55, from Sudan said: “Old and married women usually wear our traditional Sudanese attire during Hajj trips, it is known as thawb, and comes in many colors, while those who are not married wear regular abayas.”
The Sudanese thawb is a long two-piece outer covering — that comes in different colors and designs — worn over a plain dress.
Ahmed also said that pilgrims should get portable chargers, skincare items, umbrellas, first aid kits, and common medicines to help other pilgrims if required.
KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen
This comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to support Yemen and its people
Updated 02 October 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) provided health services to displaced people in Yemen, as well as Coronavirus vaccines in the country, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.
KSRelief has been providing support to Yemen’s national vaccination campaign, implemented by the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population, in 12 governorates.
KSRelief worked with the ministry from Sept. 24 to 28 as part of efforts to vaccinate a wider group of the population against the virus, according to SPA.
Through the campaign, 446,966 people were vaccinated and 2,242 members of the Yemeni vaccination team were trained.
KSRelief also deployed 320 volunteer teams and 180 mobile teams to vaccinate the targeted population, SPA reported.
The organization also set up mobile medical centers at Waalan Camp in the Haradh District to provide treatment to displaced people, according to SPA.
From Sept. 14 to 20, the clinics received 56 beneficiaries with various health conditions in different clinics and departments and provided them with necessary medical services.
The KSRelief clinics also provided 162 individuals with medication.
The vaccination campaign and health services all come within the framework of the Kingdom’s goal to continue to provide support to Yemen and its people, SPA said.
Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan
Updated 02 October 2022
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) is continuing its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to flood-hit Pakistan, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.
The team distributed 2,095 food baskets, 40 tents, and 400 mosquito nets in various provinces to 14,665 people on Friday, according to SPA.
The aid comes within the Saudi Relief Land Bridge, directed by King Salman, to support Pakistan and its people following the disastrous floods that struck the country.
The torrential rains and flooding, which began in mid-June and lasted for weeks, has killed over 1,600 people and affected nearly 33 million people Pakistan.
Global experts discuss economic, social impact of Saudi coffee in Jazan forum
Experts gather to discuss industry’s economic, social and environmental impact
Culture Ministry launches grant to support research into coffee sector
Updated 02 October 2022
JAZAN: Experts from around the world have gathered in Jazan for the Saudi Coffee Sustainability Forum, which got underway on Saturday.
Organized by the Ministry of Culture and held at the Grand Millennium Jazan, the two-day event will discuss the value chain of Saudi coffee and its economic, social and environmental impact.
Among the speakers and guests are Dr. Bandar Al-Rabiah, who heads the development impact department at the Agricultural Development Fund, Dhafer bin Ayedh Al-Fahad, director of the Jazan Mountain Development Authority, and Keren Kellard, a consultant at the National Center for Social Studies in Riyadh.
Al-Rabiah said at the opening session: “The idea isn’t just to increase productivity, we want to help the farmer to benefit from his plantation and to allow tourists to visit the farm and in effect generate a larger income for them.”
One of the highlights of the opening day was the launch by the Ministry of Culture of the Saudi Coffee Research Grant. Organized in partnership with Saudi Coffee Co. and the Public Investment Fund it aims to encourage local researchers to produce scientific papers related to Saudi coffee in three areas.
The first is the history of coffee in the Arabian Peninsula, covering everything from ancient trade routes to the events that led to its spread in Saudi Arabia.
The second relates to coffee culture, including the social practices, rituals and festive traditions within the Kingdom.
The third relates to cultural research into developing Saudi coffee through government procurement in order to promote a sustainable economy and preserve its heritage.
Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission, said: “The Ministry of Culture aims to strengthen the position of Saudi coffee. It aims to guide the community to the culture associated with coffee, to be proud of its distinctive identity, and to thank farmers and community members for preserving our culture.”
During the forum’s first session, Al-Fahad highlighted the efforts his team have made in cultivating the coffee industry in the Kingdom over the past 40 years, most notably with the establishment of an experimental facility that seeks to find the best agricultural crops for growing in the mountainous ranges in Jazan. He added that 900,000 coffee seedlings would be distributed for research use in the coming years.
Al-Fahad concluded his speech by saying the Culinary Arts Commission intended to establish the Saudi Coffee Museum in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and that the Kingdom had joined the World Coffee Organization.
The second session of the day discussed investment opportunities in coffee production and looked at sustainable methods of economic growth.
Karl Weinhold, a researcher in rural development and the coffee economy, said: “Most of my work revolves around how these people (farmers) can wrestle around with the institutions that they have been subjected to in order to achieve some sense of prosperity.”
Hassan Hajooj, a professor of economics at the College of Business Administration at King Faisal University, said that the coffee sector accounted for about 0.86 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product in 2020 and that that figure was set to rise to 6.18 percent over the next five years.
The Kingdom, which had 22,000 coffee shops in 2021, produces about 300 tons of high-quality Saudi Khawlani coffee a year, which is consumed locally and exported to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
The final session on the first day focused on the history and cultural influence of coffee.
Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks
State-of-the-art installations are offering visitors a unique immersive experience
Updated 02 October 2022
RIYADH: Creative artworks and state-of-the-art installations by Saudi artists at Artorama are offering visitors a unique immersive experience.
Artorama, Nowaar Entertainment’s latest event, will run until Oct. 21 in Riyadh’s Laysen Valley.
The first zone features distinctive designs from five Saudi artists. The visitor must physically touch the designs to view the artworks in their full, colorful glory.
“Eternal Light” by Ameera Sheikh was originally executed as the cover for the yet-to-be-published novel by Sara Al-Hussain. It tells the story of a young girl who sets off on a journey to uncover a mysterious power as she faces unknown evils ahead.
“I wanted to show the magical and mysterious environment but with an ominous and an unsettling feeling that makes you feel a little anxious as you are drawn into the piece, just like our heroine,” Sheikh told Arab News.
The artist was told in the past to leave Saudi Arabia in pursuit of job opportunities abroad, but she saw the great potential for a better future at the time, which has now proven to be the case for aspiring artists.
“I feel very grateful for being patient. We had a little community of artists here where we helped each other improve by hosting small galleries and gatherings to keep it active and help it grow,” she said. “Now our community has a very powerful impact both globally and locally, and this has been strengthened by the current growing embrace of art and artists in the country.”
In illustrator Ethar Balkhair’s piece, the visitor’s touch brings two figures to life in an explosion of color, highlighting the cultural and social aspects of Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historical area. “Jeddah is all about color. I really wanted to reflect the spirit of Al-Balad in this art. At the same time, I wanted to tell the story of Hijazi people,” she told Arab News.
Balkhair was born into a family with a passion for art; one of their household activities was to sit down and draw together. Her collaboration with Artorama was the first opportunity for her to showcase her illustrations in a local setting, but her work has reached far beyond Riyadh, with big names such as Vogue and Bobbi Brown featuring her art.
“Recently, with the initiatives from the Ministry of Culture and others, people have a chance to release the art that’s inside of them. Now, everyone has a space. In Saudi Arabia, the art scene is only growing,” Balkhair said.
“Artwork doesn’t just have to center around beauty. There’s a story behind it. Now, they’re shedding light on the artist behind the art, and that supports us even more, makes us more confident, and allows us to explore more without fear,” she said.
Mahmoud Zaini’s “Human Sustainability” takes a deep dive into the ethics and future of modern technology. The eccentric piece, drawn in 2017, raises awareness of the tech industry’s impact on humanity. “I was extremely disgusted by our trajectory as a race. Eventually, technology will turn us into cogs in its machine. I decided, therefore, to illustrate that concept with this contraption that recycles everything coming in and out of this ‘consumer’ to grant him a more sustainable existence,” Zaini told Arab News.
• The first zone features distinctive designs from five Saudi artists. The visitor must physically touch the designs to view the artworks in their full, colorful glory. Zone 1 also has an infinity room and a photo booth station, where visitors can engage with dynamic backgrounds.
• Zone 2 features a variety of attractions including a ball pit with interactive games, a projection drawing station, 3D printing, immersive swings and a volcano sandbox, where both children and adults can learn more about the science of volcanoes.
• Anamorphic projection mapping technologies in Zone 3 utilize high-power projectors to give visitors the illusion of seeing the building’s interior while standing outside of it.
The artist expressed his delight with the General Entertainment Authority’s interest in highlighting the topic. “I am extremely happy with the trajectory we’re headed in as citizens of the Kingdom, where art pieces are appreciated and dialogue around them is fostered. What an incredible time to be in as a Saudi artist interested in big questions,” he said.
Zone 1 also has an infinity room and a photo booth station, where visitors can engage with dynamic backgrounds. Exhibition-goers can color and design their own race car, which is then scanned and projected as if racing through the streets of Riyadh.
Zone 2 features a variety of attractions including a ball pit with interactive games, a projection drawing station, 3D printing, immersive swings and a volcano sandbox, where both children and adults can learn more about the science of volcanoes as they build their own. Anamorphic projection mapping technologies in Zone 3 utilize high-power projectors to give visitors the illusion of seeing the building’s interior while standing outside of it.
“This event releases the inner kid inside of us. We all like to play, we all like to experiment, and this is a good place to test that out,” Khalid Sonbol, one of the project managers at Nowaar Entertainment, told Arab News.
Artorama was one of the winning pitches under the General Entertainment Authority’s “Ideas for Entertainment” initiative in 2021, which aimed to empower 20 Saudi projects centering around entertainment activities and preserving Saudi heritage for future generations. Nowaar Entertainment seeks to amplify Saudi voices, showcasing exclusive works by Saudi artists and creators around the Kingdom — even in their product gift shop. “We’re interested in showing what we have in the Kingdom,” Sonbol said. “We believe entertainment is necessary. Most people used to travel to have an actual entertaining experience. They would go to museums, parks. Now, we don’t need that. We have that here,” he said.
Saudi Arabia launches cybersecurity awareness campaign to ward off threats
The campaign offers an introduction to the importance of cybersecurity
Updated 02 October 2022
RIYADH: The National Cybersecurity Authority launched the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign which aims to promote the values of preserving national security and raise awareness of cybersecurity.
The campaign, launched to coincide with Cybersecurity Awareness Month, aims to achieve comprehensive cyber integration between national authorities.
The NCA noted that the campaign includes physical and digital events to raise awareness about cybersecurity, including 12 sessions for national authorities, a mobile exhibition for awareness on cybersecurity in four authorities’ headquarters, and an awareness-raising campaign called “La Taftah Majalan.”
The campaign offers an introduction to the importance of cybersecurity and its role in mitigating changing online threats, social engineering and catfishing methods, and the importance of security updates.
In addition, the campaign will address the need for using strong passwords to secure social media accounts, along with other topics which aim to develop a high-level cyber education to combat challenges and risks.
The authority noted that it is necessary to keep raising awareness on cybersecurity in order to have a safe, reliable Saudi cyberspace.