MAKKAH: Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, governor of the Makkah Region and president of the Central Hajj Committee, has hailed Saudi Hajj preparations during a press conference.
He confirmed the success of awareness campaigns against Hajj regulation violators, stressing that volunteers around the holy sites have high levels of experience and performance in serving pilgrims.
Prince Khalid said that the Kingdom did not pause Hajj over the past two years despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and that he is honored to serve pilgrims “anytime and anywhere.”
After a field tour to inspect the services provided to pilgrims, Prince Khalid said that there were no cases of COVID-19 recorded during the day of Al-Tarwiyah (Day of perfusion).
He added that 19 individuals responsible for violating Hajj restrictions by transporting unauthorized people were arrested, as were 79 individuals behind fake campaigns. He hailed new projects that launched this Hajj, including 18 hospitals in Makkah and the holy sites with a combined capacity of more than 3,700 beds.
Prince Khalid said that 111,000 violators and 68,000 unauthorized vehicles were prevented from entering Makkah. In total, there are about 150,000 security, health and hospitality workers serving pilgrims during Hajj, he added.
The governor said that 2,500 violators of residency regulations and border security were also arrested in Makkah.
He added that Makkah’s water and electrical infrastructure is easily handling the influx of pilgrims.
About 20 million cubic meters of water will be pumped during the month of Dhul Hijjah, Prince Khalid said.
Culture can open the door to a ‘green’ future, says Saudi minister
Prince Badr met with a number of his counterparts on the sidelines of the forum
A number of agreements were signed during bilateral meetings to enhance cultural cooperation
Updated 12 sec ago
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization, on Wednesday organized the 23rd Conference of Arab Culture Ministers in the capital, Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The event, which was held under the patronage of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture, and chairman of the National Committee for Education, Culture and Science, was attended by ministers and officials from 20 Arab countries, as well as representatives of the Arab League, and regional and international organizations.
The minister of culture, who is also president of the 23rd session, said: “This year’s session, whose main theme is: ‘Culture and the green future,’ aims to make the cultural sector more sustainable, as we seek to make it the starting point of international efforts involving the cultural sector with its various branches, extending to cover all elements of its value chain.”
He added: “The utilization of culture toward the green future contributes to instilling culture in the global development debate, which receives the full attention of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, through the Kingdom’s participation in global cultural platforms, where the ‘Culture and the green future’ theme conforms to the goals of the Kingdom Vision 2030.”
He said that this, in return, highlights the Kingdom’s support of collective efforts to enhance knowledge, skills and practices related to making the cultural sector more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
During the conference, ministers focused on the role of culture in achieving sustainable development, while working to develop effective sectorial policies that bring added value to collective efforts to move toward a more creative and sustainable future.
Meanwhile, Prince Badr met with his Egyptian counterpart Nevin Al-Kilany on the sidelines of the forum, where the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in the cultural field.
The memorandum included cultural fields, such as heritage, visual arts, performing arts, literature, books and publishing, Islamic decoration and other creative tracks.
It also included work to enhance the participation of Saudi and Egyptian intellectuals in festivals and cultural events held in the two countries, in addition to joint cooperation in training and qualifying local artistic cadres, and benefiting from experiences in the two countries in the fields of museums, urban heritage and handicraft industries.
Prince Badr praised the strong strategic relations that link the Kingdom with Egypt in all cultural fields. The two parties also discussed cooperation in the field of registering intangible heritage files with UNESCO, and cooperation in the field of exchanging expertise through cultural scholarship programs.
Prince Badr met with the Moroccan Minister of Youth, Culture and Communication Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid where another agreement was signed to enhance cultural cooperation in various fields, including literature, publishing and translation, heritage, architecture and design, museums, theater and performing arts.
The memorandum also included enhancing the participation of Saudi and Moroccan intellectuals in festivals and cultural events held in the two countries, in addition to exchanging expertise in organizations and cultural policies.
He also held similar meetings with the Director-General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Salem Al-Malik, and the Director-General of ALECSO, Mohamed Ould Amar, where they discussed the most prominent current cooperation programs between the organizations and the Kingdom, and memoranda of understanding were signed.
He also met with his Tunisian and Djiboutian counterparts, and the president of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.
Saudi Arabia, ALECSO sign cultural cooperation agreement
Updated 59 min 21 sec ago
Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan met Director General of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization Mohamed Ould Amar in Riyadh on Wednesday.
The meeting was part of the Saudi minister’s bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the 23rd session of the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers, which was held in the Saudi capital and organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with ALECSO.
During the meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the ministry and ALECSO to enhance cultural cooperation through a range of items, including registering natural sites and heritage elements in UNESCO lists.
Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit
Updated 07 December 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Wednesday participated in the work of the 154th session of the preparatory ministerial council for the 43rd session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which was held at the headquarters of the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh.
The meeting was chaired by Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, who is also president of the council’s current session, with the participation of Gulf foreign ministers, and GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf.
During the meeting, the ministers discussed ways of enhancing the process of joint cooperation and coordination between the GCC countries, and the developments of the situation in the region.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments, and the schedule of the work of the Chinese-Gulf Summit for Cooperation and Development that will be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and GCC leaders.
RIYADH: Sweden’s envoy to Saudi Arabia recently met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for talks on ways to further strengthen cooperation links.
During their meeting in Jeddah, ambassador Petra Menander and OIC chief Hissein Brahim Taha also discussed other issues of mutual concern.
In a tweet, Menander said: “Excellent discussion with Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of @OIC_OCI on topics of common interest — need to increase global levels of humanitarian support, women, and youth empowerment, and more. Looking forward to continued dialogue.”
While visiting the Red Sea port city, the Swedish envoy also met with Saudi doctors trained in Sweden and now working in the Kingdom.
In a separate tweet, she said: “In Jeddah, catching up with Saudi doctors with specialist training from top university hospitals (in Skane/SUS, Sahlgrenska), now all leaders in healthcare.
“Great discussion on primary healthcare, workplace conditions, and other topics of common interest. Great to see you all — greetings to absent friends,” she added.
The new Swedish ambassador submitted her credentials to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September.
On behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, deputy minister for protocol affairs, Khalid Al-Sehli, received a copy of Menander’s credentials.
In October, Menander held a meeting with Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim to discuss topics of common interest and areas to develop cooperation.
The Saudi-Swedish Business Council was launched in October 2021 and inaugurated in Sweden’s capital Stockholm by Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi and Swedish Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg.
Al-Qasabi said the council acted as a mainstay in stimulating and encouraging the private sectors of both countries while helping in the development of bilateral relations, exchange of expertise and knowledge, and the coordination of investment planning and related partnerships.
He added that Saudi Arabia was, “keen to enhance trade cooperation, facilitate exports to Sweden and Scandinavian countries, and exchange expertise and knowledge.”
Saudi Arabia is Sweden’s most significant economic partner in the Middle East and the No. 1 trade partner among Scandinavian countries, with the volume of trade exchange in the past five years reaching more than $6 billion.
Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’
Updated 07 December 2022
RIYADH: Since its first event in December last year, Freaks of Nature has created a community of EDM/dance-music lovers as part of the Kingdom’s growing music scene.
The multi-stage concept is unlike any other community-based offering in the Kingdom.
Freaks of Nature, organized by Saudi creative agency Disrupt, is a series of boutique festivals hosted two or three times a year with 1,000 to 5,000 “freak” attendees per day, trumping most local events, which average about 1,000.
The boutique event series promotes new talent as well as creative culture in the region. As competition increases, event organizers strive to find new ways to offer innovative experiences.
The “sub-genre” concept was born out of the unusual culture associated with variations of EDM and house music.
Instead of accepting the resistance of some Saudi communities to the music, Yazeed Alhashim, founder of Disrupt Group and DJ Sound of Yaz, embraced the genre, dubbing their attendees “freaks.”
On the anniversary of its first full-capacity warehouse performance one year ago at XP Music Festival, the precursor to the largest regional music festival MDL Beast, the group celebrated with a timely return to showcase its vision.
“Events and music festivals (are) always the output of a music industry. And what we’re doing in Disruptors is we’re trying to build that infrastructure, which is supporting artists, developing talent and doing all the services that make the music industry happen,” Alhashim told Arab News.
Last month, the group held its third edition of the “Freaks of Nature” series titled “Freaks of ARAVEIA,” bringing several emerging DJs from Europe, including Mesto, Seth Hills, Kaaze and Toby Romeo, to headline two nights of music, art and entertainment.
The “episodes” usually host multiple stages, each presenting a different sub-genre of EDM and dance music, in order to appeal to a wider audience compared with niche concept events.
“We find things in between to entertain more people and have a much more friendly community that will understand each other,” DJ Rash, who performed at the first edition of the festival, told Arab News.
“As the underground party scene in Saudi grew, more people were refining their taste in music, preferring sub-genres, such as minimal house over dark techno, or vice versa. Regardless of taste, there’s a place for you at Freaks of Nature,” he said.
“If you put it in a box, and then you bring our community, the traditional Saudi community, they would call us freaks. So we’re already freaks, but we don’t care.”
Alhashim said: “We’re at the phase where all the DJs are understanding music, they’re widening their minds to music tastes. They experiment with different sub-genres.
“House music has its own rhythm, style, and beat using more euphoric tones and certain rhythms, and we don’t have to change that, we just have to kind of enjoy it, as well as add our own fingerprints to it.”
According to DJ Rash: “We started thinking about adapting and bringing in international artists for each event. If you bring in an artist, the artist will bring crowds. And yet again, he will introduce himself and teach us something. That’s the idea of bringing international artists because they reached a really high level of competition (globally). When you bring them here, we’re like, you know what, we are competing.”
Dutch DJ WeDamnz performed at this year’s Freaks of Nature XP showcase and also headlined their first episode alongside “mashup-king” English DJ James Hype, who was one of the top streaming dance artists of the year.
When WeDamz first received the invitation to perform on a Saudi stage, he was nervous, having performed only in Europe and parts of Canada.
“I didn’t know what to expect and what people listened to over here,” he told Arab News. “I didn’t even know EDM or dance music was a thing. During 15 minutes, I was like, ‘Wow, people really like it.’ I was surprised how many songs got recognized.”.
The artist said that music in the Arab region may well be next on the global charts.
“I think Saudi Arabia is doing such a good job in just managing (to bridge cultures), so I want to say they’re really doing everything to get everybody together.
“At the gig I’ve had (at XP), you can see the appreciation of people that really enjoy the difference (in genres). And it’s really cool to bring that as a Dutchy to Saudi.”