MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has launched its “Mosque’s Servants: Ambassadors of Humanity” program to mark the UN’s World Humanitarian Day, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.
The program is aimed at honoring those who help the elderly and people with disabilities to perform their rituals at the two holy mosques and other sites in Makkah and Madinah.
Volunteers push wheelchairs for free for pilgrims, distribute Iftar every Monday and Thursday, and during the three holy days every month known as the White Days.
Sheikh Khalid bin Fahad Al-Shalawi, undersecretary general for social, voluntary and humanitarian services, said that qualified volunteers provide services to pilgrims at the two holy mosques.
Earlier this month, the presidency had also launched the “Umbrella of Mu’tamer” initiative to provide pilgrims with umbrellas to shield themselves from rain while performing their rituals.
Al-Shalawi said Saudi Arabia marks World Humanitarian Day to pay homage to those workers and volunteers who risk their lives providing aid to needy people around the world. It also raises awareness and motivates young people to participate in relief work, he said.
Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said that the Kingdom remains committed to supporting global causes through KSrelief, or the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.
Saudi foreign minister urges developing cooperation with BRICS to achieve prosperity
Updated 03 June 2023
CAPE TOWN: Saudi Arabia is keen to develop future cooperation with the BRICS group to achieve collective prosperity, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah said on Friday.
The BRICS group consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The Saudi foreign minister participated on Friday in the ministerial meeting of Friends of BRICS in Cape Town, South Africa, held under the theme, “Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism.”
In his speech at the meeting, Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that the Kingdom was keen to advance its future cooperation with BRICS by benefiting from the potential and capabilities possessed by both sides.
This aimed to fulfill joint interests and achieve prosperity for all, the foreign minister said.
Saudi Arabia was the BRICS group’s largest commercial partner in the Middle East, Prince Faisal said, affirming that trade relations with the BRICS countries had witnessed great growth.
“This reflects the growing and developed relations with the countries of the group,” he said.
The total value of bilateral trade with the countries of the BRICS group increased from $81 billion in 2017 and $128 billion in 2021 to surpass $160 billion last year, the foreign minister said.
The Kingdom shared basic values with the BRICS countries, represented in the belief that relations between countries were based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, non-interference and adherence to international law, Prince Faisal said.
These principles also included the existence of multilateral frameworks and collective action as reference points in the face of mutual challenges.
Saudi Arabia, along with BRICS countries, also believed in the importance of peace, security and stability in order to refocus efforts toward national development and common prosperity, Prince Faisal said.
The Kingdom maintained its commitment to working with international partners to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, he said.
He added that Saudi Arabia also worked on intensifying global efforts to enhance food and energy security amid recurring crises and supply-chain issues.
The Kingdom was a pioneering country worldwide in humanitarian and development aid and was among the top 10 donors to low- and middle-income countries, Prince Faisal said.
Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Rassi, undersecretary of the foreign affairs ministry for international multilateral affairs, and Saudi Ambassador to South Africa Sultan Al-Liwiahan Al-Anqary were also part of the Saudi delegation at the meeting.
International artists explore Saudi landscape in new exhibition
Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose
Updated 03 June 2023
RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose projects explore tradition in the context of social development.
The fifth cycle of the three-month cross-cultural program brought together an international cohort of artists to develop fresh, research-driven art projects. Through architecture, music, and culture, several artists discovered traces of their own homes in the Saudi landscape.
Fahdah Althonayan, director of the education department at Misk, told Arab News: “Each cycle has its own uniqueness. Within this one, we had the opportunity to experiment with dual artists … it is a new thing that we tried with (them) to work together on their artwork, which surprised us as well.
“The variety of Saudi, khaleeji, and foreigners from different continents was amazing. It is an enriching experience.”
Ilyas Hajji, a photographer, and Nastya Indrikova, a researcher, are a Russian duo who worked on reconstructing the Hajj pilgrimage route, which was often dangerous.
Although it was modernized, many still struggled to make the trip from Russia, including the Muslim population in Dagestan during and after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The pair used items brought back from Hajj to highlight the effect on millions who were free to travel after the union’s dissolution.
Palestinian artist Areej Kaoud, who lives and works in London, took to the marketplaces of Riyadh to find a sense of belonging in her piece “Still Hungry.”
“In all these spaces, they pick things. You think that the owner is just trying to sell you things but he’s also trying to heal his own uprootedness,” Kaoud told Arab News.
Kaoud’s studio is the backdrop for a video documenting the offerings of a market staffed by diaspora from other countries, who preserve and share the traditions of back home.
The studio wall is covered with phrases including “Can one heal uprootedness with food?,” “Is being home a state of ‘non-hunger’?” and “Insatiable in diaspora.”
Liao Lihong, a Chinese artist living in Paris, merged an abacus with the shapes of a qanun and an oud to create a unique musical instrument.
“When I studied in China in elementary school, we had a class using the abacus, but now we do not use it anymore because we have calculators,” she said. “But the sound (they make) was always in my mind. The idea is when people use the abacus to calculate numbers, it also plays music."
Aleena Khan bolsters Saudi Arabia’s historical first — a female astronaut and her colleague reaching the International Space Station last month.
Her artwork “A Calling from the Moon” toys with a popular myth in Pakistan that the Adhan, the call to prayer, was heard by Neil Armstrong on the moon.
Her work draws comparisons between the moon’s landscape and an Arabian desert.
She said: “I started to draw what the material on the moon looks like and then I sourced anything that looks similar to it and took it to the desert and shot it.
“What if these landscapes were one?”
In the fragments of Riyadh’s demolished architecture, artist Dia Mrad found hope for their new beginning in his studio. The Lebanese photographer spent months researching and photographing changes in the city’s neighborhoods to create the work “Traditions of Change.”
In line with his practice, which looks to extract narratives from a built environment, he screen-printed fallen pieces of debris with photos of homes that are scheduled for demolition in Riyadh.
“The Kingdom goes through cycles of change — every 30 or 40 years, a big change happens. The latest change that’s happening is Vision 2030, and it’s such a massive change that it’s affecting everything and it’s manifesting largely within the built environment. The history of a city is embedded within its materiality,” Mrad explained.
The exhibition, which spans various mediums including installation, textile, silkscreen and Arabic writing among others, can be viewed at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh until June 10.
Saudi speech-language pathologist colors her world with crochet
Al-Sunbul said: “Amigurumi is a more complex method than crocheting a shawl because it requires a lot more tugging and calls for a particular type of yarn
Updated 03 June 2023
RIYADH: A Saudi speech-language pathologist with a passion for the arts has made a name for herself creating dolls for children with special hearing needs.
Marya Al-Sunbul’s interest in art began at a young age when she started drawing and painting as a hobby but initially her career path took a different route.
She said: “I did not get encouragement ... because it was during a time when most artists either became art teachers or had trouble finding a job.
“So, I decided to take the medical route and studied to become a speech-language pathologist and completely stopped drawing and painting.”
Al-Sunbul had a moment of epiphany five years ago when her father passed away. She described it as being “in a state of shock,” and she asked herself, “why wait? Why don’t I go back to doing what I adore and fulfil my dreams?”
She returned to painting and joined a workshop with Saudi artist Zaman Jassim, but it was no longer the same for her. “I felt as if painting wasn’t my passion,” she added.
Her admiration for handmade crafts and love of “color and creating things by hand” sparked her interest in learning how to crochet.
She said: “After scrolling through a website with the most beautiful, crocheted shawls decorated with flowers and bursting with color, I decided not to purchase anything, but instead create them myself.”
The world of crocheting became an “ocean of lessons” for her.
“Every time I learned something new, before I could even finish learning it, I was anticipating the next thing,” Al-Sunbul added.
At the peak of her fascination with crochet she was learning six or seven techniques at a time.
“It took me to another dimension and all the colors were so joyful. Whenever I looked at crochet shawls, I would be amazed.”
She discovered amigurumi, a Japanese method of crocheting that is used to create stuffed dolls and animals.
Al-Sunbul said: “Amigurumi is a more complex method than crocheting a shawl because it requires a lot more tugging and calls for a particular type of yarn.
“My hands hurt for an entire week due to the intricate work, stitching, and manual strength needed, but I really enjoy making them.”
She also took an online course to improve her skills and to learn how to make specific styles of amigurumi with detail that gives the impression the dolls are drawn.
In her work as a speech pathologist, Al-Sunbul often makes dolls for her young patients.
“My focus is on children’s hearing rehabilitation using cochlear implants, so I made a doll that is wearing a cochlear implant to represent a child with hearing impairment. It made me really happy to have done that,” she added.
Al-Sunbul makes custom-made dolls for customers throughout the Kingdom, along with pieces using macrame, a type of crocheting technique that involves knotting instead of weaving.
She is currently working on expanding her collection of crocheted items and dolls for a future exhibition.
“Creating handcrafted art made me calmer and more focused. It offers a great sense of relaxation and I absolutely adore that,” she said.
For more information on her work visit Instagram at @crochetmarya20.
Saudi Arabia’s development program hosts Yemeni scholarship students
The ceremony in Riyadh, held at the university’s headquarters, also showcased the development efforts launched in Yemen through the SDRPY, including in the education sector
Updated 02 June 2023
RIYADH: The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen hosted Yemeni scholarship students at King Saud University in Riyadh to support their studies and scientific research, the SPA reported on Friday.
Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber, general supervisor of SDRPY, said that the Kingdom is keen to improve the lives of the Yemeni people with the leadership of the country’s government by providing education and learning opportunities.
The university provides programs that develops students’ skills and enhances their knowledge and skill capabilities.
The ceremony in Riyadh, held at the university’s headquarters, also showcased the development efforts launched in Yemen through the SDRPY, including in the education sector.
Of SDRPY’s 229 development projects, 52 have been education initiatives, targeting improved teaching and learning opportunities, and promoting inclusive environments.
SDRPY’s projects and initiatives have distributed more than 500,000 textbooks, constructed and equipped 31 new model schools, secured buses to transport school and university students, and provided about 13,000 pieces of furniture to model schools.
The University of Aden has also been supported through several projects, including a scheme for the Faculty of Pharmacy to equip 18 scientific laboratories. The university’s Faculty of Law also had its criminal laboratory equipped with new technology, and an SDRPY initiative was launched to provide safe transportation for male and female students.
Other SDRPY projects in the education sector include a project to rehabilitate and equip universities and develop the University of Sheba Region in Marib Governorate. This project has increased the university’s capacity and improved access to tertiary education.
Education ministers call for nominations for ‘Gifted Arabs’ initiative
Saudi-led scheme invests in young gifted, creative people
Initiative set up in 2021 ‘has been very successful,’ its chief says
Updated 02 June 2023
RABAT: Arab countries have been asked to nominate students to take part in the Saudi-led “Gifted Arabs” initiative, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
The call was made during the Arab education ministers’ 13th conference, which was held recently in Rabat under the auspices of King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
The initiative is organized by the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity in collaboration with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization.
“The Kingdom’s initiative has been very successful and focuses on investing in young … gifted and creative people,” said Dr. Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazzaa, secretary-general of the foundation, known as Mawhiba.
Such investment was nurturing for gifted Arabs and empowered them to lead change and create the future, she added.
Meanwhile, Dr. Khaled Al-Sharif, director general of Mawhiba’s Center of Excellence, thanked the Arab ministers and the conference organizers in Morocco for their interest in the initiative, which was launched in 2021.
He stressed the need to invest in education in general and specific programs for gifted and creative individuals.
The ministers’ conference was organized by Morocco’s Ministry of National Education, Preschool and Sports in cooperation with the National Committee for Education, Science and Culture, and in partnership with ALECSO. Its title was: “Future of Education in the Arab World in the Digital Transformation Era.”