RIYADH: The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia condemned on Sunday the burning of the Holy Qur’an by far-right protesters in Stockholm, Sweden over the weekend.
Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh described the incident as an “absurd and disgraceful act” in remarks carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
“This is a provocative act against one and a half billion Muslims around the world. It fuels strife and serves the advocates of extremism,” Al-Sheikh said.
He praised a statement issued by the Saudi Foreign Ministry that condemned and denunciated Swedish authorities for allowing the Qur’an burning outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry reiterated the Kingdom’s position in “calling for the importance of spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence, and rejecting hatred and extremism,” the SPA said.
Many Muslim countries condemned the Qur’an burning.
Morocco said it was “astonished” that authorities had allowed the incident to take place “in front of the Swedish forces of order.”
Indonesia, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE also issued condemnatory statements, as did the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Muslim World League.
The Arab Parliament also strongly condemned the incident and stressed its “total rejection of such disgraceful acts, which are considered a violation of all international laws and covenants on the need to respect people’s sanctities, beliefs and religions.”
It called on the international community to assume its responsibilities and enact laws and legislation that criminalizes insulting religious sanctities and provides the necessary protection for Muslims in practicing their religious rites on an equal basis with all other religions.
Saudi doctor wins first Great Arab Minds award in medicine
Dr. Najm: Award is ‘culmination of a long journey and diligent work in the field of heart surgery’
Doctor attributes success to ‘great education’ he received in Saudi Arabia
Updated 7 sec ago
MAKKAH: Saudi surgeon Dr. Hani Najm has been named the first winner of the Great Arab Minds award in medicine, which was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, and ruler of Dubai, in January 2023.
The award, which celebrates the most brilliant minds in the Arab world and their positive impacts on society, acknowledges accomplishments across six categories: engineering and technology, medicine, economics, architecture and design, natural sciences, and literature and arts.
It was presented to the Saudi surgeon in recognition of his outstanding contributions to pediatric and adult cardiac surgery, as well as his innovations in surgery to treat congenital heart diseases.
The doctor is credited with the design and development of a flexible, growth-compatible heart valve to be used inside a child’s body. It can be implanted in the heart and adjusts according to a child’s growth over the years, sparing infants and children the risks of multiple surgical procedures.
Najm participated in over 10,000 surgical operations in newborns, children, and adults with heart diseases, managing complex and critical cases.
Born in Riyadh, Najm graduated from the College of Medicine, King Saud University in 1985. He was trained in general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, and pediatric congenital heart surgery in Canada.
For 17 years, he headed the Children’s Heart Center at the King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh and was a pioneer in performing critical heart surgeries for patients in the Kingdom, sparing them the need to travel abroad for treatment. He was also one of the first surgeons to perform an artificial heart transplant in Saudi Arabia.
He headed the Saudi Heart Association, served as editor in chief of the Journal of Saudi Heart Association, and was an associate professor at King Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh. He is also an international lecturer in the field of congenital heart surgery.
He joined Cleveland Clinic in 2016 as the chair of pediatric and congenital heart surgery and is currently a member of many national and international professional organizations, including the Gulf Heart Association, the Board of Trustees of the American College of Cardiology, and the European Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery.
Speaking to Arab News, Najm said: “This award is the culmination of a long journey and diligent work in the field of heart surgery. I did not expect this much success in the beginning.
“This award will reflect greatly on my work and on the work of eminent Arab scholars, who in turn will aspire and work hard to obtain the award … a source of pride for all Arabs.
“When I came to the US, one of my most important goals was to be an ambassador for my country. I was striving to gain the trust of the team, the hospital, and the community. Everyone knew that I was coming from a different society, so I worked hard to prove myself and (show) that my recruitment was the right move,” he said.
Najm dedicated this award to his homeland, which he said opened the doors for him to the best centers in the world for training.
He underlined that the excellence he has achieved is the result of the great education he received in Saudi Arabia.
He also thanked his wife and children for supporting him during this journey and the many long hours he spent in the hospital for surgeries.
In a message to Saudi doctors, Najm said: “You have a high level of professionalism, just like all the doctors in the world. The root of my distinction is the education I got from King Saud University, on which I built my scientific and practical experiences. You are the seeds of success, and you can get global recognition, especially in light of the great support provided by our country.”
‘A chance to bring the world to Riyadh’: Saudi officials, delegates react to Expo 2030 win
Riyadh wins vote by a convincing margin, securing 119 out of 165 votes from the member states of the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris
Updated 29 November 2023
PARIS: There were celebrations all round on Tuesday evening following the news that Saudi Arabia will host World Expo 2030.
Riyadh won the vote by a convincing margin, securing 119 out of 165 votes from the member states of the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris.
As the majority was more than two-thirds, it meant a second round of voting was unnecessary.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and climate envoy Adel Al-Jubeir told Arab News he was “elated, satisfied, happy, pleased” by the result.
“We now have a chance to bring the world to Riyadh and show Riyadh to the world,” he said, adding the Expo would be “something the world has not seen before.”
“It will be transformative, and it will be a model for exhibitions after Riyadh to emulate.”
Confirming the votes, BIE Secretary-General Dimitri Kerkentzes said: “Saudi Arabia was able to get more than two-thirds of the votes that were submitted. I think that shows there is a very, very strong commitment from the global community to not only go to Riyadh, but to really make it something special for the world, something innovative and something that we will work on together.”
Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf, the mayor of Riyadh Region, said: “We’re very proud, it’s a historic day for all of us. We’re very glad about the accomplishment today, but I think the work just started. We’re ready to welcome the world in Riyadh.”
Ghadir Al-Hassan, director of Riyadh 2030 Bid Book, told Arab News that work had already begun on several initiatives, including the investment lab and procurement hub. There are also plans to expedite the registration process.
The Saudi bid for Expo 2030 received high-profile public backing from French President Emmanuel Macron, who declared his country’s support last year.
A video presented before Tuesday’s vote showed an endorsement from international football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved to Riyadh with his family to play for Al-Nassr.
Saudi delegates have also expressed their congratulations over the win.
Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin, delegate to the BIE and UNESCO, told Arab News: “Congratulations to Saudi Arabia, congratulations to the region, and congratulations to the world.
“The world has chosen Riyadh. Why Riyadh? Riyadh offers a platform for sustainable partnership. It is not a business fair. It is not a show. It is something that will have a sustainable result. This is what Riyadh aims for,” she said.
Princess Haifa also cited the country’s work ethic and commitment and noted that the next phase of preparing for Expo 2030 would begin on Tuesday night — the same evening of the vote.
Riyadh’s designated Expo 2030 team has pledged the event will be the most accessible Expo yet and the first to have a positive impact on the environment.
The Expo is expected to take place in Riyadh between October 2030 and March 2031.
Japan relaxes visa requirements for Saudi nationals
The scheme will come into effect on Dec. 4
Updated 29 November 2023
Arab News Japan
Japan on Wednesday announced the relaxation of visa requirements for Saudi nationals, introducing multiple-entry visa schemes for Saudis who meet certain financial requirements.
According to the Japanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia, the new visa was introduced for short-term stays for the purpose of tourism, business, and visiting relatives or friends. It will be granted for a period of 90 days with a validity of three years.
The scheme will come into effect on Dec. 4, and will require applicants to visit the embassy or consulate-general in order to submit their application.
“We hope the several visa relaxation measures the Government of Japan has taken will make the relationship between the people of Japan and Saudi Arabia closer and deeper,” the embassy said in a statement.
Riyadh to host World Expo 2030 after defeating challenges from South Korea, Italy
Saudi capital was picked by majority of 119 out of 165 votes by member states of Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions
The secret ballot was carried out using electronic voting, and Riyadh was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025
Updated 29 November 2023
PARIS: Riyadh will host the World Expo 2030 after defeating challenges from South Korea and Italy for the prestigious event.
The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions.
The secret ballot was carried out using electronic voting, and Riyadh was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025.
During the BIE event in the French capital, candidates presented their final Expo progress reports to member states and government-appointed delegates in an 11th-hour attempt to win votes.
The event is expected to represent the culmination of Vision 2030 and showcase the Kingdom’s achievements, with a particular focus on hospitality, tourism, and culture.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used a visit to Paris in June to showcase the Kingdom’s bid for the Expo, attending an exhibition held by the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh that showcased Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and cultural depth.
The bid began to draw support from high-profile French backers, with influential French senator Natalie Goulet saying that holding the expo in the Saudi capital would be “the culmination of Vision 2030.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “I would like to thank the 130 countries that have already announced their support for the Kingdom’s bid. Distinguished dignitaries, you have all acted as indispensable partners providing insight, feedback, and support throughout the Kingdom’s campaign.”
He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s “unwavering commitment to collaborate with all nations to deliver an Expo built by the world for the world and to find new pathways for collective action and collaboration.”
The foreign minister said the Kingdom will “provide facilities packages of $348 million to a pool of 100 eligible countries.”
Arab News backed the Expo bid through a #WhyRiyadh campaign launched on Sept. 23 – the Saudi National Day.
The program also seeks to increase green coverage from 1.5 percent to 9.1 percent, enhancing quality of life by creating open areas to improve public health, reduce energy consumption, and ultimately make Riyadh one of the 100 best livable cities in the world.
Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under the age of 30, and with a qualified labor force across industries fueling the race to 2030, there is excitement, energy, and enthusiasm in the first Arab capital to host the world event.
“Diriyah will be very famous by 2030, the city of Riyadh will be unrecognizable,” Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Group, told Arab News during an event leading up to the Expo 2030 announcement.
“What Singapore did in 60 years, what the Emiratis did just in tourism in 30 years, the crown prince wants to accomplish that in 15 years,” he added.
In a symposium held in Paris earlier in November, the Royal Commission’s directors of landscape architecture, Lamia Al-Muhanna, and Nouf Al-Moneef, unveiled a color-coded map with planned pavilions, performance venues, support facilities, and an exhibition village.
Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of tourism, used the event to say: “Choosing Saudi, choosing Riyadh, is choosing the world.”
Delivering Expo 2030 will mean massive infrastructure developments in the Saudi capital, including an increase in hotel capacity by 70,000 new rooms.
The venue will be accessible via a newly developed metro linking Expo City to a reconstructed King Salman Airport, set to be one of the largest aviation hubs in the world at 57 million sq. meters.
The Kingdom’s new airline, Riyadh Air, will further increase the capital’s accessibility, with flights to 100 countries by 2025.
“As host, we will create a world-class site expo to enable you to build pavilions and experiences in a way that matches your national priorities and aspirations,” said Ghida Al-Shibl, a member of the Riyadh Expo 2030 team.
She said: “By Feb 2028, participant parcel and expo village will be open. We will fast-track all necessary requirements including imports, visas, and regulations.”
Al-Shibl said the Kingdom will launch a participant lab in 2025 that will run through 2030 as a 24/7 concierge service to support “your move, and a variety of housing options for teams and families, in addition to access to excellent healthcare and education and banking services.”
Noor Riyadh returns to transform city into glowing work of art
Top curators, artists get together to stage biggest light art festival in the world
Updated 29 November 2023
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: Following its first showcase in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the beauty of Noor Riyadh has been its ability to bring art to not only the city of Riyadh, its various districts and neighborhoods, but to the Saudi populace.
Large-scale art installations produced by artists from Saudi Arabia, the greater Middle East and across the world can be found throughout the city of Riyadh during the festival. Viewing these artworks at night when they are illuminated becomes a way to discover the Saudi capital, neighborhoods and monuments many were unaware even existed, as well as find new artists, ways of thinking and cultures.
Noor Riyadh’s power, according to its directors and curators, lies in its ability to unite everyone, from all walks of life within the city, through alluring specially commissioned artworks.
“One of the key components of the festival is to stage it everywhere in the city of Riyadh,” Miguel Blanco-Carrasco, adviser at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and Riyadh Art, told Arab News.
“Our audience is very diverse. We are targeting people who are museumgoers and who have a profound interest in art, and those who would not regularly go to an art exhibition.”
Speaking about the significance of the event, he added: “Noor Riyadh is part of the creative transformation that is taking place in the Kingdom.
“This year we concentrated all artworks in five main hubs to improve the visitor experience. We also have three works in other locations across Riyadh.”
Noor Riyadh will showcase artists from around the world working in diverse mediums, including performance art, architecture, engineering, graphic design, and even medicine.
The five main hubs are located throughout Riyadh, with the central hub situated in the King Abdullah Financial District, the Saudi capital’s preeminent destination for business and lifestyle, which recently witnessed the staging of the inaugural Riyadh Fashion Week.
The third Noor Riyadh begins on Nov. 30 and runs until Dec. 16 under the theme “The Bright Side of The Desert Moon,” and explores the desert as a place of reconnection.
It will include 120 artworks by more than 100 artists from around 35 countries, including a significant representation of Saudi talents who comprise one third of participating artists.
Artworks include prominent pieces by Ange Leccia, Carsten Holler, Chris Levine, Dana-Fiona Armour, Diana Thater, Janet Echelman, Ivan Argote, Laurent Grasso, and Philippe Parreno, among others.
Community engagement remains a cornerstone of our festival. Our focus is on making art accessible and educational through various initiatives like talks, workshops, and school programs.
Nouf Al-Moneef, Noor Riyadh project manager
While the artist lineup has expanded, there are also several returning artists this year. These include Muhannad Shono, Rashed Al-Shashai, Bruno Ribeiro, Christopher Bauder, Studio Drift, Ahaad Alamoudi, and Zahra Al-Ghamdi.
Noor Riyadh’s curatorial team is just as diverse and multinational as its artist lineup and comprises both local and internationally renowned names. It is led by Jerome Sans and supported by curators Pedro Alonzo, Fahad bin Naif, and Alaa Tarabzouni.
Running concurrently to the festival is Noor Riyadh’s exhibition “Refracted Identities, Shared Futures.” It is being staged by Neville Wakefield who returns as lead curator, working alongside Maya Al-Athel, who served as artistic director of the festival in 2022.
The show, which runs until March 2, will include work by artists such as Abdullah Al-Othman, Ahaad Alamoudi, Conrad Shawcross, Farah Al-Qasimi, Julian Charriere, Kim Farkas, Mariko Mori, Rashed Al-Shashai, Sarah Brahim, and Sophia Al-Maria.
Noor Riyadh aims to help the art community as well as making the city an even bigger attraction.
Nouf Al-Moneef, project manager of Noor Riyadh and architectural adviser at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, told Arab News: “Community engagement remains a cornerstone of our festival.
“Our focus is on making art accessible and educational through various initiatives like talks, workshops, and school programs.”
Among the noteworthy aspects of this year’s event is the diversity of its artistic representation, which, according to Al-Moneef, has increased this time.
She added: “Each year’s innovative theme has deeply resonated with the worldwide topical themes, fostering a dialogue that bridges local and global perspectives.
“A testament to the festival’s growing prominence is the record-breaking attendance in 2022, with 2.8 million attendees and six Guinness World Records (totaling eight over the years), highlighting the largest celebration of light art globally.”
The festival is also pushing various artistic mediums. “We are further exploring the intersection between art and technology,” explained Blanco-Carrasco. “We are seeing what we can do with drones that hasn’t been done before. How can we use this medium to attain new artistic abilities?”
Noor Riyadh is an initiative of Riyadh Art, dubbed one of the largest public art initiatives in the world, which was launched in March 2019 by King Salman, under the supervision of the Committee of Grand Projects chaired by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Riyadh Art was created “to foster local artistic talent and ignite Saudi Arabia’s cultural economy,” according to a statement.
The ambition and vision of Riyadh Art is to transform the Saudi capital into an inspiring “gallery without walls,” showcasing over 1,000 public artworks dispersed throughout the city through 10 programs and two annual events.
“Through Riyadh Art, we’re bringing art directly into the everyday lives of citizens and visitors by integrating public art installations throughout the city,” said Al-Moneef.
“This approach not only makes art more accessible to a wider audience but also embeds it into the very fabric of the city, transforming public spaces into areas of inspiration and conversation.”
Noor Riyadh’s editions have offered “unique moments of joy” for millions of residents and visitors to the Saudi capital. The festival gives visitors the chance to view Riyadh in a new light and appreciate its ever-evolving landscape and great history.