Switched on: Artist explores global beauty through light in Riyadh

The front entrance of the Cultural Palace displays the red hot LED light beams of Amoros’ ‘Amplexus’ showing various cultural elements. (Supplied)
The front entrance of the Cultural Palace displays the red hot LED light beams of Amoros’ ‘Amplexus’ showing various cultural elements. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 December 2022

Switched on: Artist explores global beauty through light in Riyadh

  • Noor Riyadh festival installation ‘bridges past and future,’ says Grimanesa Amoros

RIYADH: Peruvian-American artist Grimanesa Amoros reveals the unseen beauty of everyday spaces and objects through that most ephemeral and fleeting of mediums — light.

Her “Golden Waters” installation in Scottsdale, Arizona, explored the human response to bodies of water, while “Golden Array” in India focused on cable lines in Mumbai’s upmarket retail district.

Now Amoros has brought her light touch to the Kingdom through the Noor Riyadh festival, the world’s largest annual light exhibition, which runs until Feb. 4, 2023.




At the center of Amoros’ ‘Amplexus’ is a nucleus, an embodiment of the escalation of Islamic Art in the era of digital boom.

Positioned at the front entrance of the Cultural Palace, “Amplexus” mixes cultural motifs in a fiery red tangle of LED light.

“I feel that you must know your past to embrace the future. You have to be aware of your own history. History is storytelling to teach future generations why they are who they are and how the past has affected their present,” Amoros told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Grimanesa Amoros ‘Golden Waters’ installation in Scottsdale, Arizona, explored the human response to bodies of water.

• In India, Amoros’ ‘Golden Array’ focused on cable lines in Mumbai’s upmarket retail district.

The artist is visiting Saudi Arabia at a time of rapid cultural and social change, and said that she sees light “as a means of connection.”

She added: “I was quite excited to work with the Noor Riyadh festival because it was an opportunity to bridge the gap between people and light.”  

The artist’s creative journey began with a map. As a child she dreamt of becoming a traveler, and memorized the location of countries and their capitals.  

A formative moment came when she received a postcard from her mother. “Grimanesa, I wish you could be here and see all these beautiful lights in New York City,” it read.

Amoros has kept the postcard to this day as a reminder of the spark that lit the flame.

Light is ephemeral. The light activates a city and makes its residents aware of their environment.

Grimanesa Amoros, Peruvian American artist

After moving to New York City in 1994, she began joining programs such as the Art Students League and received several grants.

The city’s lights were an inspiration. “You are constantly surrounded by this light from above, almost to the clouds. Light is also conducted — there is this electric feeling,” she said.

Amoros often gets ideas from nature, and the sight of Iceland’s northern lights left her mesmerized and determined to share her experiences with others.

And she has. After appearing at the 54th Venice Biennale and the Christmas display in Times Square, her work has traveled across the globe, settling into the multicultural Diplomatic Quarter of the Saudi capital.

The location is a metaphor for how she lives her life, the artist said.

“Through all my travels, you face new challenges and opportunities, and (they) allow you to see new architecture, which I love. I enjoy making parallels — seeing how cultural landscapes and history interconnect. That, to me, is very interesting and never ceases to fascinate me. That’s why I always say, ‘my life is a romance with the unknown’.”

Riyadh has rarely seen public art presented in common spaces. Commissioning an international artist to display their work in a multicultural neighborhood highlights the Kingdom’s embrace of different perspectives.

In the age of digital media, Amoros emphasizes the importance of being well-informed. “For younger artists, I think it’s essential to try to know yourself, and that’s a journey that never ends.

“You always have to consider how your work will affect the state of mind of the person looking at it. For me, it’s essential for my viewers to look at not only the scale and monumentality of the piece but also to consider their personal relationship with the light of my piece.”

After witnessing sunrises and sunsets in the Saudi desert, she now hopes to spotlight the natural beauty of Riyadh and its surrounds.

“Light is ephemeral. The light activates a city and makes its residents aware of their environment. At the end, I think we are light ourselves — we are all associated with the energy that radiates from light.”

 


Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark

Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark
Updated 29 January 2023

Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark

Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday strongly condemned the burning of copies of the Qur’an by extremists in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, “in a new provocative step to the sentiment of millions of Muslims around the world.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated the Kingdom’s position, which “strongly rejects all these blatant acts that have unfortunately been repeated in several European capitals recently, under the pretext of freedom of expression, without a clear reaction toward stopping these practices.”

The Kingdom called on all European governments in which these extremist violations occurred, to urgently address all these practices that contribute to fueling hatred and conflict between followers of religions, the ministry said in a statement.

Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, already infuriated the Muslim world by staging a Qur’an-burning protest in Sweden on January 21. On Friday, Paludan replicated the stunt in front of a mosque as well as the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen and vowed to continue every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO.

Several regional and international organizations, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Muslim World League, Arab Parliament and Gulf Cooperation Council, also issued statements strongly denouncing the incident, along with Pakistan, Jordan, Turkiye and Oman.


Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation

Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation
Updated 29 January 2023

Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation

Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation
  • They also discussed opportunities in renewable energy, clean hydrogen, and electrical interconnection

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman held a meeting on Saturday with French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty Bruno Le Maire in the capital, Riyadh, the state-run SPA news agency reported.

The two ministers praised the relations between their two countries and discussed prospects for cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

They also discussed future opportunities in various energy fields, including areas of cooperation in renewable energy, clean hydrogen, and electrical interconnection.


Body of Saudi student killed in US to be flown home

Al-Waleed Abdullah Al-Gheraibi
Al-Waleed Abdullah Al-Gheraibi
Updated 29 January 2023

Body of Saudi student killed in US to be flown home

Al-Waleed Abdullah Al-Gheraibi
  • The victim’s uncle, Mohammed Al-Gheraibi, told Saudi media outlet Sabq that the accused lived in the same building as his nephew and fled the scene after the attack

RIYADH: The body of a 25-year-old Saudi student stabbed to death in Philadelphia in the US will be returned home to his family, the Saudi Embassy in Washington has said.

Al-Waleed Al-Gheraibi died after an attack alleged carried out by 19-year-old US citizen Nicole Marie Rodgers on Jan. 23 in a shared property in Germantown, Philadelphia.

Police said that the student’s valuables were stolen along with his mobile phone.

Rodgers faces charges of theft, murder and possession of a weapon, police said.

HIGHLIGHT

Al-Waleed Abdullah Al-Gheraibi died after an attack allegedly carried out by 19-year-old US citizen Nicole Marie Rodgers on Jan. 23 in a shared property in Germantown, Philadelphia.

The victim’s uncle, Mohammed Al-Gheraibi, told Saudi media outlet Sabq that the accused lived in the same building as his nephew and fled the scene after the attack.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, extended her condolences to Al-Gheraibi’s family and offered “full assistance to them during this painful time.”

In a statement on Friday, the Washington embassy said that it “has followed with great sadness and sorrow, from the first day, in coordination with the Kingdom’s Consulate General in New York, the circumstances of the killing of citizen Al-Waleed Abdullah Al-Gheraibi.”

The embassy said that the accused is under investigation, and expressed its appreciation for US security authorities’ help since the incident.

 

 


Sri Lankan foreign minister’s trip to Saudi Arabia yields ‘positive vibes’

Sri Lankan Minister Ali Sabry met with several Saudi officials and ministers during his recent visit to the Kingdom. (AN photo b
Updated 28 January 2023

Sri Lankan foreign minister’s trip to Saudi Arabia yields ‘positive vibes’

Sri Lankan Minister Ali Sabry met with several Saudi officials and ministers during his recent visit to the Kingdom. (AN photo b
  • Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia sign double tax avoidance deal to boost trade, investment
  • Framework agreement with GCC in the works

RIYADH: Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry has held talks with ministers and senior officials in Saudi Arabia, as the crisis-hit island nation seeks to boost cooperation with the Kingdom and other Gulf countries.

Sabry met with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Secretary-General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf, and CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development Sultan Al-Marshad, as well as officials from the Islamic Development Bank.

Sabry said that his visit to the Kingdom was “successful and that it will further cement and strengthen the bilateral relationship between our two countries as we see a lot of positive vibes that have been infused into our relations.”

Talks between the two foreign ministers covered enhancement of bilateral relations, increased investment with Sri Lanka as a gateway to South Asia, and employment for Sri Lankans in the Kingdom.

HIGHLIGHT

Ali Sabry, the Sri Lankan minister of Foreign Affairs, signed the double tax avoidance deal with the Kingdom’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority to boost trade and investment. Sri Lanka is said to be facing the worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948.

“Saudis have identified Sri Lanka as a very important geographical location, so (there are) investment opportunities in renewable energy, petroleum and hospitality industries,” Sabry said.

“We are interested in getting Saudi investment into the renewable energy sector for development, energy security and making Sri Lanka a regional energy hub.”

Discussions also took place around resuming airline services between Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka following their suspension during the global pandemic.

In a bid to enhance trade and investment relations between both countries, the visiting minister “signed a double tax avoidance agreement with the Zakat and Income Tax Authority here” to prevent fiscal evasion on income.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, with the government battling a shortage of foreign earnings, runaway inflation and recession.

The Sri Lankan minister thanked the Kingdom for its help with debt restructuring at the International Monetary Fund and Paris Club.

The Paris Club of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s currency crisis.

Sri Lanka is also in discussions with the IMF to secure a $2.9 billion bailout seen as vital to getting its economy back on track.

Sabry highlighted Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka’s long-standing relations and the former’s support in international forums.

“Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia have been traditional friends for a long period of time. To strengthen bilateral relationship, particularly in the multilateral fora — the UN and other agencies — we have to support each other,” he said.  

“They (Saudis) have been supporting us when we have been cornered unfairly by some powers for no reason. They have stood by us time and again. So we need to strengthen that relationship.”

Sabry and Al-Marshad discussed development issues of common interest, and the Sri Lankan minister praised the Kingdom’s efforts in developing infrastructure in Sri Lanka through SFD projects.

The minister’s meeting with Al-Hajraf focused on ties between Sri Lanka and the GCC.

“GCC is very important. We are looking at signing a framework agreement with the GCC, we want to expedite it as soon as possible,” Sabry said.

On his discussions with Taha and OIC observer status, Sabry said: “They are exploring the possibility of observer status, but we haven’t made the decision yet. Traditionally, we have had good relationships.”

Sabry also reassured Taha about the conditions of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

 


Sensational Pakistani singer delights Jeddah audience with hit songs

Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 29 January 2023

Sensational Pakistani singer delights Jeddah audience with hit songs

Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Speaking to Arab News, Khalil said: “My excitement hit the roof when I first learned that I will be performing in Saudi Arabia. I cannot describe this moment and the love I have received from the time I stepped into the country”

JEDDAH: Rising Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil captivated audience members at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah.

The singer enjoyed a rapid rise to fame thanks to his mesmerizing vocals and soulful music. During the concert, he performed recent release “Kahani Suno 2.0” — which hit global world charts last year — along with other desi, folk and Sufi songs.

Speaking to Arab News, Khalil said the amount of love and warmth shown from the audience in Jeddah at his first international concert was “spectacular,” adding: “I had promised myself to fill the evening with a rendition of all my songs and tried my best to make sure every single person had a good time.”

Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)

He said: “My excitement hit the roof when I first learned that I will be performing in Saudi Arabia. I cannot describe this moment and the love I have received from the time I stepped into the country.”

Although he has performed many times back in Pakistan, Khalil was overwhelmed to see the response from an international audience, which has inspired him to return to the Kingdom.

The constant cheering from the crowd was pure magic. When the performance was coming to an end, it dawned on me that everything that I felt was so precious that I will cherish it forever.

Kaifi Khalil

“The constant cheering from the crowd was pure magic. When the performance was coming to an end, it dawned on me that everything that I felt was so precious that I will cherish it forever,” he said.

After Khalil’s music went viral last year, the singer became an inspiration to many, with children, teenagers and adults attending in the Jeddah concert.

One concertgoer described the event as a “magical night,” adding: “I don’t know how many times I have listened to Kaifi Khalil’s songs. To watch him perform live was a dream come true moment. He has such a soulful voice that made the entire hall sing along with him.”

Mohammed Abdullah, another fan, said: “I was so excited to experience the vibe and music of Kaifi Khalil. He is totally a gem in the music industry. Besides, I would like to extend gratitude to the organizers for the very well executed event as we could watch him clearly from our seats.”

Alongside Khalil, the event also included versatile singers Abida Hussain and Saleem Rifiq.

Nosheen Waseem, founder of Nosheen Arts Culture Center, which oversaw the concert, said that the center aim to take the entertainment industry in the Kingdom to the “next level.” The event was organized to mark the successful completion of the first year of NACC, which involved organizing a range of nonprofit events.

Salman Lodhi and Talha Abdul Ghafoor, who organized the event, said: “The turnout was incredible — around 300 people attended the musical night. The atmosphere was electric. Everyone had a great time and the audience was on their feet for the entire performance.”