JEDDAH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia said that they were implementing “emergency plans to confront the rain” in the holy city of Makkah, amid early preparations to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims visiting the Grand Mosque during the last ten days of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, represented by the Environmental Protection Services and Achievement Agency, in cooperation with other government agencies working in the Grand Mosque, recruited more than 200 supervisors and observers, 4,000 workers, and used more than 500 pieces of equipment to deal with the rain that swept the Grand Mosque on Monday.
The General President for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, directed the Agency for Security, Safety, Confrontation of Emergencies and Risks to prepare and activate field plans to confront the rain in preparation for the rainy situation that had been forecast by the National Center of Meteorology.
The center warned of thunderstorms accompanied by active winds and dust, with hail showers that could lead to torrential rains in several parts of the Kingdom, including Al-Baha, Makkah, Madinah, Tabuk, Al-Jawf, the Northern Borders region, Hail, Najran, Jazan, Asir, Al-Qassim, Riyadh and the southern parts of the Eastern Province.
It also warned of the need for caution, particularly due to the high numbers of pilgrims and worshippers visiting the holy capital during Ramadan, the number of which has exceeded 950,000 since the start of the month, according to the Saudi Press Agency on Monday.
Al-Sudais stressed the importance of exerting maximum efforts, harnessing all capabilities and adhering to alertness and readiness to ensure the safety of pilgrims and worshipers, efficient cooperation with all relevant authorities, and intensifying the efforts of the presidential agencies operating in the Grand mosque.
The National Center of Meteorology later on Monday issued an “advanced alert” for the continuing dust situation over a number of governorates in the Makkah region, accompanied by active surface winds, almost zero visibility, and high waves over the coastal areas.
The center said that those areas affected included the holy capital, Jeddah, Jamoum, and Bahra, in addition to open areas and highways, adding that it would begin from 9:00 a.m on Tuesday and continue until 3:00 p.m..
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques also announced that it had implemented its plan for the last 10 days of Ramadan, which are considered to be among the holiest as Muslims believe that during one of those nights the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
Saudi civil defense joins search and rescue exercise in Tunisia
Updated 6 sec ago
RIYADH: The Saudi General Directorate of Civil Defense is taking part in a collaborative mission with the Kingdom’s search and rescue team in Tunisia.
The White Operation Hypothesis exercise is being held until March 7, reported the Saudi Press Agency, and underlines the ongoing cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Tunisia in civil protection and defense.
It aims to use hands-on experience to bolster the capabilities and knowledge base of the international search and rescue team.
The exercise features various simulated scenarios involving rubble and water, providing an opportunity for valuable practical training.
Dhahran Art Group presents diverse works at 70th show
Themed ‘Araaqa: Deep Rootedness,’ the artists presented works in various media inspired by their culture, heritage
Updated 03 March 2024
DHAHRAN: For four days this week, the lavender carpet was rolled out in front of the iconic Ad Diwan Hall in the Aramco compound leading into the 70th annual Dhahran Art Group show which concluded on March 2.
During the show, the Aramco community came together to listen to live piano, enjoy tasty hors d’oeuvres and mingle with local artists showcasing. This year’s theme was “Araaqa: Deep Rootedness.”
Among the participants was Jordanian artist Suad Sami, a familiar face in the local art scene. Armed with a degree in interior design and an insatiable desire to further her creative passions in every form and medium, she completed a jewelry design course 13 years ago, which inspired her to create a small collection of carefully-curated and thoughtfully sourced stones.
After teaching art classes locally for a time and realizing she would rather make art than teach it, Sami took a leap of faith and invested in herself by become an entrepreneur.
Arab News spoke to Sami a decade ago when she was only a few years into her jewelry business. At that time, she was known for her horoscope pieces.
As an artist, you always want to sprinkle in a bit of your essence into your pieces, something that is distinctly you.
Suad Sami, Jordanian artist
“I design pieces that can be worn on an everyday basis which is simple yet extravagant, casual yet fancy, simple yet extravagant enough to complement women’s beauty and enhance their style,” she told Arab News in 2014.
Fast-forward to 2024, she feels she has evolved and improved on her craft — but her inclination to design elegant bespoke pieces in a sort of curated capsule collection remains. She unveiled two necklaces at the Dhahran Art Group’s annual fine art show.
Discussing one of her jewelry designs on display, she told Arab News: “The sword has been a well-known tangible symbol of strength for Arabs. I designed this one specifically for Founding Day and wanted to bring in something new to the table — not something already available in any shop.
“I always strive to design something timeless and unique, not something the eye has seen. As you know, the gold market in Saudi Arabia is huge so I needed to make something to stand out. As an artist, you always want to sprinkle in a bit of your essence into your pieces, something that is distinctly you.”
Also, in an artful symbol of solidarity, Sami showcased a series of paintings she crafted showcasing tatreez, the Palestinian-style stitch. She also showcased paintings of birds perched on a bench.
The Dhahran Art Group show is a cornerstone of the local art community, and to Sami it is about more than just showcasing her works. “I love art in all its forms. My daughter is also a designer and used to display her work alongside me at this show in the past. She moved to Dubai now and became a mother and couldn’t be here today — but I’ll keep the tradition going,” she said.
Because of my heritage — I’m from Afghanistan — I wanted to make art that would reach people and would give meaning and change the way people think.
Serene Rana, Artist
Serene Rana, a towering eighth-grader, found out about the show through her mother, who bought her a small set of acrylic paints and a fresh white canvas a few summers ago. Rana found it to be a fun way to pass the time and to express herself.
At 13-years-old, this was her first big show. She told Arab News: “I think I’m the youngest one here, so it’s kind of intimidating, but at the same time, it feels like I belong here.”
The self-taught artist proudly displayed multiple paintings as people stopped by to ask her about her process and what each piece meant.
“I had a dream and it kind of looked like this — it was in the galaxy so I painted that,” she said of one of her paintings.
Her early works were mostly void of people but soon after, she started to insert more of her emotions into the pictures.
“I first painted a landscape; it was like a fairytale almost. But as I kept progressing in my art, I realized that because of my heritage — I’m from Afghanistan — I wanted to make art that would reach people and would give meaning and change the way people think,” she explained.
Her pieces, inspired by pop art and surrealism, represent her journey navigating the delicate and dramatic space balancing teen angst with female empowerment and everything in between.
“I was influenced a lot by the pop art style. I feel every color has a certain emotion, so when I want to convey sadness and when I want to convey anger, I use a different color,” she added.
It took Rana about a year to paint the canvases on display, and she is already planning for the next show.
“I think a lot of these pieces hanging here were influenced by my culture — the cultural richness — but I want to go back to solidifying that one idea. I think in my next painting, I would want to go to my heritage more,” she added.
There were also a wide variety of artists on display of both genders, some seasoned figures like Sami and others new-time artists, like Rana. The diverse works ranged from paintings, large and small sculptures to accessories and mixed-media pieces.
As in the previous 69 iterations, the group show was curated locally by the Dhahran Art Group and each participating artist had the option to include a for-sale sticker on their displayed work.
Saudi Arabia’s antiques museum in Tarout unlocks bygone eras
Mahdie Maylw told Arab News: “At the age of 15, I started collecting paper currency and amassed notes from up to 190 countries around the world
Updated 03 March 2024
RIYADH: Visitors to Al-Dirah Asalah Museum on Tarout Island, Eastern Province, can travel back in time and admire Saudi Arabia’s rich history and cultural legacy.
Mahdie Maylw, the museum’s owner, took a chance when he built it, as the space once used to be his grandfather’s house on the verge of collapse.
Today, the museum is licensed by the Ministry of Culture and stands tall as a renovated building designed in a traditional Saudi style.
Maylw says he grew up with a love for vintage items that reflect his heritage. He told Arab News: “At the age of 15, I started collecting paper currency and amassed notes from up to 190 countries around the world. I continued this hobby for 15 years, before shifting my focus to collecting traditional artifacts that delve into the lives of our ancestors. I have acquired some rare pieces, such as manuscripts and ancient items used by sailors.”
His museum has a range of documents from manuscripts of the Holy Qur’an to vintage newspapers and notes.
I present heritage for educational purposes, to teach generations to preserve the heritage ... I haven’t even started yet, and the best is yet to come.
Mahdie Maylw, Museum owner
Maylw buys his collection of antiques through auctions across the Kingdom, including Dhahran, Al-Ahsa, and Riyadh. He also exchanges valuable items with collectors, and sometimes he even buys from eBay.
The museum is divided into several areas, including a pottery corner, an electronics room, a book and text corner, a vintage watch corner, and a toy room, among others.
The “Bride’s Room” is one of the museum’s most popular sections, displaying various items used in preparing a bride prior to her wedding. The room contains Indian-made furniture as well as a collection of cosmetics ranging in age from 50 to 100 years.
The “Divers Room,” or tawashin in Arabic, is dedicated to the ancient method of pearl extraction. The area contains vintage instruments such as a rope box and a compass which were once used to dive for pearls. The tools are about 70-150 years old.
“The tawashin are pearl traders who, after a journey that may last up to three months, return and open the shells to extract the pearls. They then gather in gatherings to exchange buying and selling,” the museum owner explained.
To preserve the museum’s antique items, Maylw ensures that they are stored properly in climate-controlled and secure facilities, “We make sure to preserve the pieces and do some maintenance on them, and I myself do a complete cleaning of the museum,” he said.
Visitors can also explore a collection of rare and valuable items, such as traditional pottery, manuscripts artworks and household items that provide insights into past civilizations and cultures.
Maylw added that the museum has seen visitors from all over the world such as Spain, Azerbaijan, South Africa, and more. “Within a year, the number of visitors reached 6,000. I receive visitors from all over the world. This is an achievement for myself and for the people of the region.”
Speaking about his future plans, he added: “My ambition is greater than this work that I have done. I present heritage for educational purposes, to teach generations to preserve the heritage ... I haven’t even started yet, and the best is yet to come.”