Islamic Development Bank Group says it’s ready to support Pakistan after devastating floods

Islamic Development Bank Group says it’s ready to support Pakistan after devastating floods
Vehicles move amid flood water along a road, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Nowshera, Pakistan. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 01 September 2022

Islamic Development Bank Group says it’s ready to support Pakistan after devastating floods

Islamic Development Bank Group says it’s ready to support Pakistan after devastating floods
  • Group commended Pakistani authorities and relief agencies for their efforts to bring relief to victims
  • Pakistan is a member country of the group

RIYADH: The Islamic Development Bank Group said it is ready to support the Pakistani government’s efforts to address the impact of devastating floods in the country on Wednesday.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountains have triggered floods that have killed at least 1,191 people, including 399 children, in the Asian country.

The group, of which Pakistan is a member country, commended the Pakistani authorities and relief agencies for their extraordinary efforts to bring relief to the victims and provide crucial humanitarian assistance.

It expressed its solidarity with the government and people of Pakistan, and called on the international development community, UN agencies, and international organizations to deliver lifesaving and livelihood assistance, such as health services, food, clean water, and shelter.

The IsDB Group said it reiterates its commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the government of Pakistan, along with other development partners, to mitigate the negative impact of the floods.

On Thursday, southern Pakistan braced for more flooding as a surge of water flowed down the Indus river.

The military said it had evacuated some 50,000 people, including 1,000 by air, since rescue efforts began.


Saudi Arabia launches Aquatic Animal Diseases Network in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia launches Aquatic Animal Diseases Network in the Middle East
Updated 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia launches Aquatic Animal Diseases Network in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia launches Aquatic Animal Diseases Network in the Middle East
  • Aim is to ensure sustainable growth of aquatic, marine species in food production
  • Members include countries bordering Red Sea, Arabian Gulf

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadhli launched the Aquatic Animal Diseases Network in the Middle East on Sunday in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The network aims to strengthen the aquaculture industry and the role of aquatic and marine species in food production, as well as control the spread of diseases to ensure sustainable growth in the region’s aquaculture production. 

It also aims to train veterinarians and aquatic health specialists, and to coordinate the efforts of international organizations providing aquatic health services. 

Members of the network include countries bordering the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, the UAE and Yemen.

The Fish Health and Safety Laboratory in Jeddah will serve as a reference laboratory for member states. 

The network was launched in the presence of Dr. Monique Eloit, director general of the World Organization for Animal Health. 

Saudi Arabia and the organization are collaborating on several projects, including the Kingdom’s rabies, foot-and-mouth disease and peste des petits ruminants programs. 

They are also working together on a project to evaluate veterinary services in the Kingdom, as well as a veterinary laboratory twinning program with reference laboratories in France and Italy.

 


Saudi deputy foreign minister meets with Chinese ambassador to Kingdom

Saudi deputy foreign minister meets with Chinese ambassador to Kingdom
Updated 15 min 20 sec ago

Saudi deputy foreign minister meets with Chinese ambassador to Kingdom

Saudi deputy foreign minister meets with Chinese ambassador to Kingdom
  • Officials reviewed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them to serve common interests

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s deputy foreign minister met with the Chinese ambassador to the Kingdom in Riyadh on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the meeting, Waleed Al-Khuraiji and Chen Weiqing reviewed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them to serve common interests. They also discussed issues of common interest.


University of Tabuk and Red Sea Global launch Saudi tourism program 

University of Tabuk and Red Sea Global launch Saudi tourism program 
Updated 27 min 19 sec ago

University of Tabuk and Red Sea Global launch Saudi tourism program 

University of Tabuk and Red Sea Global launch Saudi tourism program 
  • University of Tabuk and Red Sea Global have launched the tourism educational program Red Sea Hospitality Pioneers
  • Graduates of the program will be qualified for job opportunities at hotels, tourist resorts, restaurants, food and beverage departments, and event organizing companies

JEDDAH: The University of Tabuk and Red Sea Global signed a partnership to launch a tourism educational program for Saudi students, Red Sea Hospitality Pioneers.

The program will take place at the Tourism and Hospitality College of Al-Wajh governorate, located on the coast of the Red Sea.

The University of Tabuk tweeted: “The Red Sea Hospitality Pioneers Program, ending with employment will begin in the second semester of the academic year 1444 AH (2023 A.D.).”

The eight semester-program is divided into two tracks of intermediate diplomas, including the Food and Beverage Management Diploma, which will teach students operational skills including purchasing ingredients, developing menus, and preparing, presenting, and serving food and beverages.

The Hospitality Management Diploma, meanwhile, will see students learn skills that will enable them to succeed with careers in luxury hospitality services covering different aspects ranging from sales and customer services to policies and procedures used to ensure proper and smooth operations.

Graduates of the program will be qualified for job opportunities at hotels, tourist resorts, restaurants, food and beverage departments, and event organizing companies.

The Red Sea Hospitality Pioneers Program features monthly monetary rewards from RSG to be given to all enrolled students, internships at RSG-affiliated international hotels, and will see distinguished students receive internship programs at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

A similar program was launched previously between the same parties targeting students aged 18 and above to enhance and qualify local talents. RSG has launched many other programs over the years with the same goal, to enhance tourism quality in the region and to educate and qualify local talents, including the English For Tourism Program, the Red Sea Art Competition, as well as the Red Sea Ecotecture.


World premiere of ‘Nine Songs’ fills AlUla with excitement

World premiere of ‘Nine Songs’ fills AlUla with excitement
Updated 4 min 3 sec ago

World premiere of ‘Nine Songs’ fills AlUla with excitement

World premiere of ‘Nine Songs’ fills AlUla with excitement

ALULA: Every seat occupied beneath the vast AlUla sky at the outdoor Wadi AlFann was filled with anticipation and excitement to witness the world premiere of “Nine Songs” on Saturday night.

For two nights only, ending Nov. 27, the vision of artist Rui Fu, and co-artistic director and producer, Farooq Chaudhry, morphed from Mother Nature into life. The audience received a full sensory experience, surrounded by a carefully-curated, modern and inventive interpretation unfurling before them.

The title of the work was inspired by a collection of poems from the ancient Chinese “Songs of Chu,” dated to 300 B.C. The location for the theatrical music performance was fitting, as the ancient landscape of AlUla was incorporated into the visual elements of the show.

Chinese American singer-songwriter Rui Fu. (Huda Bashatah)

Fu blended the sounds of the wind with her own voice and instruments, such as the Chinese dulcimer, Japanese taiko drums, violins, and harps.

The Chinese American singer-songwriter specializes in improvisational singing and composing, and was inspired by traditional Chinese classical aesthetics as well as Chinese ethnic music traditions.

The audience on opening night was a mix of Saudis and non-Saudis, who filled the site, inspired by the natural landscape of AlUla and its geological structures, with light sky, and fairy-lit candles leading them along a steady pathway atop the sand.

Fu did not want the audience to be restricted by the lyrics, wishing to free people of linguistic hurdles that might arise.

Chinese American singer-songwriter Rui Fu. (Huda Bashatah)

Any speaker of any language could follow the story, with the sounds and movements their own form of communication, connecting the sky to the ground and to everything in between. Certain sections of the show blended ancient Chinese, recited in different dialects, in addition to Fu adding her own twist.

“The majority of our show is actually in my own improvised language, and I find that very helpful because it helps us to focus on the emotional essence of the melodies more, without being restricted by cultural barriers, and also language restrictions and limitations and having to figure out what it means and how to say it in order to interact with the musicians,” Fu told Arab News.

“I believe that will be a way to help us all present the music with more passion, with more intuition, and the audience will understand it as well, because it’s not supposed to be a language that you’re supposed to understand intellectually — it is supposed to be a language that you feel, along with the music,” she said.

“This is a humongous, interesting, and diverse blend of cultures. And it’s been a very rewarding challenge to see how we can bring together different perspectives — different ways of interpreting the same story from different angles — so that I believe all of us feel that we’ve expanded who we are as artists and as people as a result of this project,” Fu added.

Chinese American singer-songwriter Rui Fu. (Huda Bashatah)

Jocelyn Pook, the music director and co-composer of this project, told Arab News that it was a thrill to work on “Nine Songs” because of the eclectic group of musicians from all over the world that joined in, as well as the juxtaposition of ancient and modern, of different Chinese and Western instruments, and AlUla.

“We’ve been devising the music together as a group, and it's been a very unusual process and kind of challenging, actually,” Pook told Arab News.

“We’ve got a Chinese dulcimer and a guqin and (an) extraordinary sort of array of percussion taiko drums, and a double bass, (an) extraordinary virtuoso violinist, Preetha, and harps — two harps — (a) Celtic and a gothic harp. It’s created this incredible landscape in the music, and I think it’s quite varied. And of course, Rui, with her extraordinary singing and range of vocal singing, which is sometimes very playful, sometimes quite traditional,” Pook added.

Spearheaded by the Royal Commission for AlUla, Fu was able to invite musicians from around the world from different cultures. There are two Chinese instrumentalists and collaborators from Japan, the UK, India, and the US.

“Nine Songs” is the inaugural activity of the Wadi AlFann’s season-opening, with temporary exhibitions, artist residencies, and symposiums planned. Five new commissioned artworks are due for completion in 2024.

Visit the AlUla and Wadi AlFann websites for more details.


History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up

History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up
Updated 26 November 2022

History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up

History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up
  • Festival gave ancient landscapes a new lease of life

KHAYBAR: Past, present and future came together as the inaugural Ancient Kingdoms Festival drew to a close with a series of dramatic events showcasing three historic oases of the northwest — AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma — for a modern audience.

The festival, launched on Nov. 11, was the first of its kind to focus entirely on the sites, which were at the crossroads of culture in ancient times, and also centers of influence and wealth.

By focusing on a range of events, including cultural performances, workshops and sightseeing opportunities, the festival gave these ancient landscapes a new lease of life, with many of the activities expected to continue after the festival’s close.

A spectacular show lit up the night sky as 1,450 drones formed shapes while an orchestra played music by UK composer Matt Faddy. The show will continue until Dec. 15, 2023.

FASTFACT

A spectacular show lit up the night sky as 1,450 drones formed shapes while an orchestra played music by UK composer Matt Faddy. The show will continue until Dec. 15, 2023.

Visitors to Khaybar can still explore the mysterious prehistoric stone structures on foot, or by car or a 20-minute helicopter excursion, hovering over the old and new.

“We made this festival to reflect the stories behind all the ancient civilizations that lived around or in these three places,” Abdulrazzag Alanzi, a local storyteller and tour guide, told Arab News.

Alanzi used to visit his cousins in Khaybar as a child and still recalls hearing stories about the region going back centuries.

“I used to love reading a lot of fictional stories and also a lot of old stories, and when I heard about something that happened in this area many years ago, it always fascinated me. This is what pushed me into this line of work, tourism,” he said.

“AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma have a lot of historical stories and a lot of information that we need to show the world.”

Fahad Aljuhani, a storyteller who describes the area as the “greatest living museum,” also came to the area as a child to connect with his cousins — and to discover hidden treasures.

“I’m a ‘Rawi’ and ‘Rawi’ in English means a storyteller. Now we are on an island that floats on a sea of rock which is Khaybar. I used to come to Khaybar and visit my relatives, and they would tell us a story about the tombs and the oasis, and I didn’t have the chance to visit them until now,” he told Arab News.

Aljuhani said that 5 million years ago, hundreds of volcanic eruptions occurred simultaneously in the area.

“If you feel the rocks, they seem to generate heat from within, similar to those who choose to watch over the land today and tell its many-layered stories,” he said.

Tour guide Enass Al-Sherrif told Arab News that she is excited to see people, including those from around the Kingdom, taking the time to learn about their past.

Al-Sherrif describes her job as the best she could ever have.

“I am really proud and honored. And I want to show you and make you feel the experience, how we transformed this place into an amazing destination for others to come and visit us,” she said.

The festival and its extended program aims to shed light on the legends and legacies of ancient times in the Kingdom’s northwest region, allowing visitors to explore and learn about the “largest living museum in the world.”

It is two years since AlUla began reopening heritage sites to domestic and international tourists with its pioneering Winter at Tantora program, which lasts until March.

While the Ancient Kingdoms Festival wrapped up on a chilly day on Nov. 27, many of the visitor experiences will continue well beyond the festival period, with some available year-round.

“The northwest Arabian Peninsula is the jewel in the heritage crown of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a source of fascination for a global community of archaeologists and researchers. Their discoveries shed new light on the societies that endowed the region with such relics of the ancients, preserved in wonders of prehistoric geology, art, and historical architecture that reveal important truths,” the Royal Commission for AlUla, which hosted the event, said in a statement.

The commission plans to host the Ancient Kingdoms Festival annually. Further details are available on its website.