ATHENS: The Royal Saudi Air Force has been taking part in military exercises in Greece alongside several other countries.
The Iniochos 2023 drills got underway on Monday at Andravida Air Base — a military airport operated by the Hellenic Air Force — and involved the RSAF’s F-15SA fighter aircraft.
Lt. Col. Essam bin Mohammed Khawaji, commander of the RSAF group participating in the maneuvers, said that the exercise had been carried out to high levels of professionalism and safety, adding that the Kingdom’s involvement reflected the global status of its armed forces.
He pointed out that the exercise aimed to raise the level of combat readiness of the RSAF in support of its working relationship with the other participating air forces.
Saudi source denies reports that commerce minister met Israeli counterpart
Updated 27 February 2024
RIYADH: An official Saudi source denied on Monday allegations circulating on social media platforms regarding a meeting between Majid Al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce, and an Israeli occupation official, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The same source said in a statement carried by SPA that the video circulated was while Al-Qasabi was standing with his Nigerian counterpart, prior to the opening of the thirteenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Abu Dhabi.
“The individual shook (the Saudi minister’s) hand and then was introduced, without (Al-Qasabi’s) prior knowledge,” the source told SPA.
This was followed by Israeli media reports claiming that the two discussed peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel, with one Israeli outlet running a picture of the two under the heading: “Israeli minister and Saudi counterpart shake hands and discuss ‘making history together.’”
The source also affirmed to SPA Saudi Arabia’s firm position on the Palestinian issue and its steadfast support for the Palestinian people against Israeli aggression.
King Salman given award for services to Arab security
The award was received by the Kingdom’s Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud
Interior minister said the council is keen to achieve stability and development in the Arab world
Updated 26 February 2024
RIYADH: King Salman was given the Prince Naif Award for Arab Security on Monday for his services to the security of the Arab community, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Arab Interior Ministers Council conferred the award and it was received by the Kingdom’s Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud in Tunis during a council meeting.
The minister said the meeting was being held at a time when the Palestinian people are experiencing an unstable security situation which has caused the suffering of thousands of children, women, and the elderly.
He said that the council, since its inception, is keen to achieve security for Arabs and bring about stability and development.
Prince Abdulaziz said the world is witnessing developments in cyber crime, the misuse of artificial intelligence, and advanced drug trafficking methods.
These developments have “created fertile ground for the spread of multiple types of organized crime,” armed organizations, and terrorist groups which requires developing plans to invest in infrastructure and support development, education, and capacity building to confront these threats.
He added that Arab coordination to deal with these threats is important in order to mitigate the possible negative repercussions from such threats.
Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival
French-Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany pays tribute to Fayrouz, Dalida and Farid Al-Atrash
Month-long event will have events organized by French-speaking nations
Updated 26 February 2024
JEDDAH: French-Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany opened the Francophonie Festival on Sunday here with soulful tributes to Arab legends including Fayrouz, Dalida and Farid Al-Atrash.
Dressed in white and gold attire, reminiscent of the clothing of the ancient Egyptians, El-Dibany, accompanied by Mina Barsoum on piano, Ahmed Boustaji on oud, and Aymen Attitallah on percussion, took the audience on a musical journey transcending borders and cultures.
El-Dibany’s repertoire included iconic French tunes such as “Je suis malade” and Arabic classics.
El-Dibany said: “I am so thankful for being here in Jeddah for the first time,” encapsulating the spirit of cultural exchange and collaboration that defines the Francophonie Festival.
Prior to the performance, the French consul-general in Jeddah, Mohammed Nehad, spoke about the festival’s significance.
● The Francophonie Festival’s aim is to promote French and foster education, cultural and business ties with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.
● For the opening performance, Farrah El-Dibany was accompanied by Mina Barsoum on piano, Ahmed Boustaji on oud, and Aymen Attitallah on percussion.
● The launch event was attended by diplomats, French expatriates, and cultural enthusiasts, as well as Saudi Arabian officials and citizens.
He said the aim was to promote French and foster education, cultural and business ties with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.
“Through this festival, we aim to bring people together … francophone itself is a great example for cultural exchange,” he told Arab News.
The launch event was attended by diplomats, French expatriates, and cultural enthusiasts, as well as Saudi Arabia officials and citizens.
Among those in attendance was Larry Lamartiniere, the director of Alliance Francaise in Jeddah, who lauded El-Dibany’s performance as a fitting inauguration of the month-long Mois de la Francophonie 2024 in Saudi Arabia.
He told Arab News: “During March, the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise Saudi Arabia alongside other French-speaking countries and partners will organize events celebrating the rich diversity of francophone cultures.”
Established in 1970, the month is aimed at promoting cultural ties and human development across French-speaking nations worldwide. In Saudi Arabia, the festival acts as a platform for cultural exchange and education.
Several upcoming events include Benjamin Piat performing at NougCafe on Feb. 28, and the French University Graduates’ Night on March 27.
The Alliance Francaise will host a children’s workshop on Feb. 29, featuring culinary and visual arts programs. This will take place alongside a screening of the 2022 French film “Divertimento” that is the story of twin teenage sisters who dream of forming their own orchestra and making classical music available to everyone.
Senegal’s consulate will have discussions and cultural exchanges, the Francophonie Village will have a celebration of food, clothing and folk dance; and there will also be films shown at various schools, consulates and French clubs.
Raghad Al-Hogail’s jewelry creations are inspired by Saudi heritage, Arab identity
Updated 27 February 2024
RIYADH: Los Angeles-based Saudi jewelry designer Raghad Al-Hogail brought showstopping looks to the Saudi Cup, accentuating her style statement with select pieces of jewelry she designed.
The founder of Ragail Jewelry spoke to Arab News about the thought that went into the pieces she was wearing: “I chose the most relatable piece — the Sun Orchid flower — because this flower when planted anywhere, it helps the other plants around them to grow and this is how I feel about Saudi people, they help each other grow.”
Ragail Jewelry, a Saudi brand founded in 2014, features collections that emphasize the Saudi and Arab identities. Al-Hogail is proud of her identity and heritage, which is why she incorporates motifs such as Arabic lettering, camels, and Saudi coffee dallah in her designs.
The brand’s origin began when Al Hogail was asked to participate in an exhibition in 2007. It was her first time designing and presenting a collection, and she was surprised when every piece sold.
“In high school, my pieces were just brass, ribbon, and plastic and when my entire inventory was sold, I realized I had something special when it came to jewelry.
● Ragail Jewelry was founded by Saudi designer Raghad Al-Hogail in 2014.
● The designs incorporate motifs such as Arabic lettering, camels, and Saudi coffee dallah.
● The designer hopes to create an art gallery in Saudi Arabia where people can engage and create art pieces.
“I participated in galleries and exhibits inside and outside the Kingdom and went to 40 shows around the world, including Paris Fashion Week, the Doha Jewelry Show, and more. I also started using materials like diamond, silver, and gold,” she said.
She exhibited her collections in Personage concept store from 2018 to 2020 and recalls it as a “a good experience.”
Al-Hogail relocated to California in 2014, attended a jewelry design school, and launched her own business in the downtown district of Los Angeles.
Speaking about her process and what inspires her collections, she added: “We don’t create collections for the summer or winter, but I do artwork whenever I get inspired. Stories served as inspiration for the pieces we created. It can occur at any moment, just like when writing a poem.”
According to Al-Hogail, each piece has a story, and the main reason for this is that she wants people to be able to relate to the story— when they wear the jewelry, they experience and become a part of it.
The pieces are made in Los Angeles and start at $400. She has also designed a piece that sold for $400,000, her most expensive creation.
I believe that when creative people come together … they flourish, and I want Saudi Arabia to have such an environ-ment.
Raghad Al-Hogail, Saudi jewelry designer
Al-Hogail said that her most sentimental collection is the Organic line, which she designed during a period of homelessness. The collection was inspired by the silver frame around the Black Stone located in the corner of the Kaaba in Makkah.
Despite being based in Los Angeles, the designer hopes to create an art gallery in Saudi Arabia where people can engage and create art pieces. She also hopes to take part in additional exhibitions within the Kingdom.
Speaking about why this dream is important to her, she said: “I enjoy being in creative environments because I believe that everyone is creative in some capacity. I believe that when creative people come together, whether they be authors, musicians, designers, or something else entirely, they flourish, and I want Saudi Arabia to have such an environment. A gathering place for all artists.”