MADINAH: Almost 261,000 pilgrims of various nationalities have arrived in Madinah after performing Hajj rituals in Makkah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah statistics showed that the Madinah immigration center received almost 249,417 worshippers who arrived by bus.
More than 11,055 made their way overland to the Land Pilgrim Reception Center, and nearly 4,166 traveled on the Haramain high-speed railway.
Ministry figures also revealed that thousands of pilgrims left Madinah for their respective countries, while more than 81,102 remained in the holy city.
The ministry also held 399 field visits to evaluate the performance of service providers to pilgrims.
During their stay, many of the pilgrims visited the International Exhibition and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization, in Madinah, located adjacent to the southern squares of the Prophet’s Mosque.
The museum, which is open 24 hours a day, offers an introduction to the Prophet Muhammad through displays and interactive screens available in a variety of languages. One hall includes rare items and ancient artifacts from the Two Holy Mosques.
This year, the Kingdom allowed up to 1 million people to perform Hajj. Authorities welcomed foreign pilgrims for the first time in two years following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions that had forced the annual pilgrimage to be limited to residents of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, ALECSO sign cultural cooperation agreement
Updated 6 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 27 min 5 sec ago
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.”
Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands
Updated 07 December 2022
RIYADH: The Saudi Jewelry Show opened its doors on Tuesday in Riyadh featuring more than 100 luxury brands from around the world.
Under the title “Be’Jeweled,” the event, that runs until Dec. 10, has attracted collectors, designers, enthusiasts, and industry professionals, and includes workshops, panel discussions, a gem laboratory, and experiential events.
The exhibition was opened by Fahd Al-Rasheed, the chief executive officer of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and chairman of the show’s organizing body the Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions General Authority.
Luxury brands from countries including the UAE, Bahrain, India, Switzerland, France, Turkey, Italy, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and the US, are exhibiting at the show alongside unique collections from Switzerland’s Jahan Jewellery, and the UK’s Yoko London.
North-Carolina-based BFT Gems was displaying its dazzling $53 million Paraiba Tourmaline suite created by the company’s owner Peter Delisi in partnership with the designer from Port Royal Jewelry Inc. based in Naples, Florida.
Delisi told Arab News: “The stones are basically invaluable. There are seven match pairs on the necklace made of paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique, Africa; they were only found in two places in the world.
“The set was built in platinum with 5,000 melee, or really small, diamonds at a total carat weight of around 100 carats, all set in platinum.
“It has three different looks. It has a drop pendant with a chain as a ring. And the earrings are convertible. So, you can wear the tops and the studs or just the pendants. So, you have three pendants, two earrings, a choker collar, and the ring,” he said.
He noted that what made a paraiba tourmaline gemstone different was the presence of copper and manganese, which gave it a glowing look. “It will sparkle without any natural light. And it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon,” Delisi added.
SCEGA’s acting CEO, Amjad Shacker, said the show was an important platform that brought together luxury jewelry companies, traders, and brands under one roof to share knowledge and expertise.
The show aims to support Saudi designers, entrepreneurs, and startup brands, with 15 local jewelers featured, including Rutile Jewellery, Joory Diamonds, Al-Nukhba, and Renad Al-Amoudi’s one-piece-made watch inspired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Jewels of Arabia booth houses a collection crafted by nine local designers and is a collaboration between Nuun Jewels, founded by Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, and Yasmeen Marzouq Jewelry.
Each designer has presented a piece of jewelry representing the reviving of the archeological treasures of the Arabian Peninsula and inspired by the Dadan civilization.