Hijrah: Walking the path of Prophet Muhammad on the migration’s 1,400-year anniversary

To mark the occasion, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (ithra) in Dhahran is celebrating the Islamic New Year in the Hijrah Exhibition. (Photos/Ahmed Al-Thani)
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To mark the occasion, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (ithra) in Dhahran is celebrating the Islamic New Year in the Hijrah Exhibition. (Photos/Ahmed Al-Thani)
Hijrah: Walking the path of Prophet Muhammad on the migration’s 1,400-year anniversary
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To mark the occasion, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (ithra) in Dhahran is celebrating the Islamic New Year in the Hijrah Exhibition. (Photos/Ahmed Al-Thani)
Hijrah: Walking the path of Prophet Muhammad on the migration’s 1,400-year anniversary
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To mark the occasion, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (ithra) in Dhahran is celebrating the Islamic New Year in the Hijrah Exhibition. (Photos/Ahmed Al-Thani)
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Updated 07 August 2022

Hijrah: Walking the path of Prophet Muhammad on the migration’s 1,400-year anniversary

Hijrah: Walking the path of Prophet Muhammad on the migration’s 1,400-year anniversary
  • The story of the great event has been one of the region’s most continuous narratives

DHAHRAN: For the last 1,400 years, the story of the great migration that Prophet Muhammad undertook has been one of the region’s most continuous narratives, a tale that has been fondly repeated by Muslims for centuries.

To mark the occasion, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran is celebrating the Islamic new year with a new exhibition called Hijrah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet.

While the actual Hijrah is arguably the most important historical event in Islam, this journey from the past remains relevant to this day because of migration and forcible movement.

Many people have had to move from one land to another to escape conflict or find greater freedom. Many have settled in a land that was not their own and establish a new community.

The journey the prophet took between Makkah and Madinah shaped the beginning of Islam and was the launch of a civilization that now includes 1.5 billion Muslims globally.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The journey the Prophet took between Makkah and Madinah shaped the beginning of Islam and was the launch of a civilization that now includes 1.5 billion Muslims globally.

• The 400-kilometer distance between the two holy cities in those eight days has created an immeasurable impact on the social, political, and economic landscape of the Arab Peninsula.

• The significance of the Hijrah can be defined as the transition from the practice of Islam as an act of worship to a way of life, and the Ithra exhibition presents that journey to modern audiences.

The 400-kilometer distance between the two holy cities in those eight days has created an immeasurable impact on the social, political, and economic landscape of the Arab Peninsula.

The significance of the Hijrah can be defined as the transition from the practice of Islam as an act of worship to a way of life, and the Ithra exhibition presents that journey to modern audiences.

On the exhibition’s opening night last month, curator Dr. Idries Trevathan offered tours with tidbits and anecdotes to bring the story of the prophet’s journey to life.

He was particularly excited to share insights with non-Muslim visitors to educate and inform them of what the experience was like.

A nasheed that the Ansar chanted for the prophet upon his entrance into Madinah was recited by vocalists in Arabic, English, Urdu, and Indonesian.

Trevathan has been with Ithra over the last eight years and is its expert on Islamic art history. He studied at the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts and built the center’s Islamic art collection from the ground up.

Historical artifacts and contemporary pieces help to breathe life into an event that took place centuries ago.

Featuring about 70 academics and artists from 20 countries, the inclusive and immersive experience celebrates the journey itself and also commemorates the occasion of the 1444 Hijri New Year.

“This is a very special exhibition because it's three years in the making—we started just before the COVID-19 pandemic. What's been extraordinary about this journey for us is that we were able to bring extraordinary minds together,” Trevathan told Arab News.

This exhibition exemplifies Ithra’s wider mission to tell the world’s defining stories through art, heritage, culture, and research.

Abdullah Al-Rashid, Ithra director

“We started by working closely with Dr. Abdullah Alkadi, who's considered the authority on the Hijrah route, the exact Hijrah route that they took. What's amazing about his work is that he's corrected all previous narrations or previous research on the Hijrah route. When we did some background research, we realized that, despite its importance, no one has ever attempted to do an exhibition on the Hijrah.”

Among the must-see installations are a recreation of the spiderweb, the caves, and even a life-sized replica of the camel upon which the prophet rode into Madinah.

Documentaries and videos are spread throughout the exhibition, with accompanying Arabic and English audio, recounting the route based on narrations.

Using language, poetry, and recordings of the call to prayer, the exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to be transported to the holy lands. Many things on display are being shown publicly for the first time.

“The Hijrah route is inaccessible by car. You literally have to walk it. It goes through meandering little valleys, and it's very rocky. I think a lot of you when you think of Hijrah abroad, people outside Saudi Arabia think of the sand dunes. It's not. It's mountainous and it's a really difficult terrain,” added Trevathan.

Dr. Abdullah Hussein Alkadi, professor of urban and regional planning at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, is considered an expert for his groundbreaking research on the travel routes that the prophet and his companions took.

The Hijrah route is inaccessible by car. You literally have to walk it. It goes through meandering little valleys, and it’s very rocky.

Dr. Idries Trevathan, Curator

His books are among the most valued in the field, and Trevathan was adamant about including the works of his academic hero. He was thrilled when Alkadi agreed to be part of the project.

“My life has been determined by my quest to study and experience not only the exact route the prophet and his companions took across the desert but also the wider story, life, and legacy of this journey,” Alkadi said.

“It has been a journey that has occupied me for some 40 years and, with this exhibition, we are presenting new research, methodologies, and findings based on extensive fieldwork that will redefine perspectives on this historic migration. The relevance of this story is just as strong today; it serves to demonstrate and remind us of the reasons why people choose to move from one place to another and asserts the right to practice your beliefs.”

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, the House of Islamic Arts in Jeddah, the King Abdulaziz Complex for Endowment Libraries in Madinah, and Turquoise Mountain, a Prince of Wales charity supporting arts and heritage in the Middle East.

Contributors to the exhibition include internationally renowned Saudi artists, well-known photographers, scholars, academics, such as the president of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, which is the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the US, and the Turquoise Mountain Institute of Afghan Arts and Architecture in Kabul.

“As one of the most detailed studies ever of the history and topography of the Hijrah, this exhibition exemplifies Ithra’s wider mission to tell the world’s defining stories through art, heritage, culture, and research,” said Ithra director Abdullah Al-Rashid.

“This exhibition represents significant advances in academic research around the history of Islam while its focus on the human story surrounding the journey and our shared human values will also promote greater understanding, empathy, and tolerance.”

The exhibition will run at Ithra for nine months. It will then move on to other parts of the Kingdom. It will also head overseas.


KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen

KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen
Updated 02 October 2022

KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen

KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen
  • This comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to support Yemen and its people

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 

Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan 
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan 

Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan 

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

Global experts discuss economic, social impact of Saudi coffee in Jazan forum
Updated 02 October 2022

Global experts discuss economic, social impact of Saudi coffee in Jazan forum

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

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

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks
  • State-of-the-art installations are offering visitors a unique immersive experience

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.” 

‘Eternal Light’ by Ameera Sheikh tells the story of a young girl who sets off on a journey to uncover a mysterious power as she faces unknown evils ahead. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

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. 

The event allows visitors to indulge in their senses and experience art in immersive and innovative ways. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“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. 

HIGHLIGHTS

• 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. 

The event allows visitors to indulge in their senses and experience art in immersive and innovative ways. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“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

Saudi Arabia launches cybersecurity awareness campaign to ward off threats
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi Arabia launches cybersecurity awareness campaign to ward off threats

Saudi Arabia launches cybersecurity awareness campaign to ward off threats
  • The campaign offers an introduction to the importance of cybersecurity

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.