Live debut of all-female Saudi band Seera showcases the electrifying power of women

Live debut of all-female Saudi band Seera showcases the electrifying power of women
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The rock fusion band Seera (left to right): Meesh, Nora, Haya, and THING. (AN/Huda Bashatah)
Live debut of all-female Saudi band Seera showcases the electrifying power of women
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Bassist for the band Seera, Meesh, on stage at their debut show in The Warehouse on May 4. (AN/Huda Bashatah)
Live debut of all-female Saudi band Seera showcases the electrifying power of women
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Lead singer and pianist, Nora, on stage at Seera’s debut show in The Warehouse on May 4. (AN/Huda Bashatah)
Live debut of all-female Saudi band Seera showcases the electrifying power of women
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Seera’s lead guitarist, Haya, on stage at their debut show in The Warehouse on May 4. (AN/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 09 May 2023
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Live debut of all-female Saudi band Seera showcases the electrifying power of women

Live debut of all-female Saudi band Seera showcases the electrifying power of women
  • The 4-piece Saudi band delivered a captivating performance to a delighted audience of more than 200 people at The Warehouse in Riyadh on Thursday night
  • Guitarist Haya said: ‘It’s still kind of a male-dominated field … (as) an all-woman band, we really want to support women to be more out there and to take up space’

RIYADH: As the profile of women continues to rise in the contemporary music industry in Saudi Arabia, and the wider Middle East, all-female rock-fusion band Seera is boldly pioneering a largely untapped psychedelic sound on the Kingdom’s local scene.
After a warm-up by DJ Haffs, the Saudi band delivered a captivating performance to an audience of more than 200 people at The Warehouse in Riyadh on Thursday night in their debut live show. The venue echoed to the unique sounds of the four-piece band: guitarist Haya, bassist Meesh, THING on drums, and Nora on lead vocals and keyboard. The audience was duly impressed.
“Throughout the whole performance, my phone was always in my pocket; I never took it out, and I never took any pictures or any videos,” Nadir Al-Fassam, lead guitarist of Saudi psychedelic punk band Sound of Ruby, told Arab News.
“I was just concentrating on the performance. The truth is that doesn’t happen a lot.”
Beyond their music, however, Seera’s greatest impact might lie in the influence they have on other Saudi women.
Meesh said: “We haven’t even launched yet and I’ve already had women come up to me and (say), ‘I’ve been picking up an instrument but I haven’t felt like I could really put myself out there until seeing you guys,’ or, ‘You guys inspired me.’”
The band hopes their live debut will encourage others to take to the stage.
“It’s still kind of a male-dominated field globally, and here, too… (as) an all-woman band, we really want to support women to be more out there and to take up space,” said Haya.
The story of the band began a year ago, when Haya met sisters Meesh and Nora through Instagram and they got together for a jam session.
“Within a minute, we had written a song, and when Nora also came and met up with us we were just going and going,” Haya told Arab News.
Nora added: “Me and Meesh started playing music a long time ago. Since we’re sisters, we’ve always felt there was a missing piece. We were looking for a band and people to connect with through our music. We were on the hunt.
“When Haya reached out to Meesh, it was the perfect opportunity to form a band, especially since our music tastes are very similar. We like uniqueness in music and we love diversity in sound.”
Drummer THING was the missing link, she said, and they met her at a music event later that summer.
Meesh said: “I’ve played with a lot of people before but when I played with the girls, I expressed myself freely in a way that I’m not used to. I felt myself progress … Playing together really helped us all develop ourselves as musicians, as people, as a band.”
The group’s sound, which combines their interests in jazz, funk, soul and Turkish psychedelic rock, is reminiscent of performers from the 1970s such as Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin, but they add their own spin by infusing it with Arabic and English influences.
“When I started writing lyrics, I used to always write in English but I wanted to get more in touch with my culture,” said Nora.
“So, I really looked into the writing process and I ended up loving it. Arabic Fus’ha (classical Arabic) is beautiful, and I wanted to incorporate that more into the music. That’s when we mixed both languages together.”
Some of their lyrics also feature Ammiya, or colloquial Arabic, in an effort to modernize the sound while remaining true to their roots and upbringing.
“We really wanted to represent an original sound,” said THING. “It was really important for us to focus on our culture, on local Arabic sounds mostly, and then mixing it together because we’re influenced by a lot of things.”
As they performed original tracks on Thursday night, including “Woman,” “Junoon Almal” (“Money Craze or Greed”) and “Khaleek Ba’eed” (“Stay Away”), the band really played to the crowd, complete with free-flowing moves and headbanging, often inviting the audience to clap along. “We’re about to take you guys to dreamland,” Nora told them between songs.
The crowd went wild when Seera concluded their set with the track “Slapping,” calling out for more.
“We were so overwhelmed by the audience and their energy and how they felt the music,” said Nora.
“I could see in their faces that they were connecting with it and that just meant the world to me. This doesn’t stop here and it’s just fueling our fire for the future.”

Decoder

Seera

It's the name of an all-female Saudi rock-fusion band that's beginning to make waves across the Kingdom. Some of their lyrics also feature Ammiya, or colloquial Arabic, in an effort to modernize the sound while remaining true to their roots and upbringing.


Saudi deputy FM attends Antalya Diplomacy Forum, holds meetings on behalf of crown prince

Saudi deputy FM attends Antalya Diplomacy Forum, holds meetings on behalf of crown prince
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Saudi deputy FM attends Antalya Diplomacy Forum, holds meetings on behalf of crown prince

Saudi deputy FM attends Antalya Diplomacy Forum, holds meetings on behalf of crown prince
  • Waleed Elkhereiji met with officials from EU, UN, Vietnam and Panama at the forum

RIYADH: Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji attended the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkiye this weekend.

The deputy minister was at the event on Friday on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Elkhereiji met with Foreign Minister of Panama Janaina Tewaney Mencomo.

During their meeting, they reviewed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields, in addition to discussing issues of common interest, SPA added.

Elkhereiji also met separately with the EU Special Representative for the Gulf Region Luigi Di Maio; with Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Hang; and with the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Moratinos.

The meetings were also attended by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Turkiye Fahad Abulnaser and the director general of the deputy minister’s office Mutashar Al-Enezi.

Heads of state and government and ministers from more than 100 countries were in attendance at the third edition of the ADF.

The forum was held with the slogan “Prominent Diplomacy in Preventing Crises,” and discussed current global challenges and ways to improve multilateral cooperation to find the necessary solutions to ongoing crises.

Discussions also explored ways countries can contribute to international peace and security and achieve sustainable development for countries and their populations.


Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week
Updated 02 March 2024
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Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 14,955 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 9,080 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 3,088 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,787 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 849 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 42 percent were Yemeni, 56 percent Ethiopian, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 99 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and six were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression

OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression
Updated 02 March 2024
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OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression

OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression
  • The session will be held at the headquarters of the OIC in Jeddah on Tuesday

Jeddah: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold an extraordinary meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

The session will be held at the headquarters of the OIC in Jeddah on Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha is expected to address the opening session, which will be preceded by a preparatory senior officials’ meeting on March 4 to discuss and adopt the draft agenda and work program, and consider the draft resolution before submitting it to the Council of Foreign Ministers the following day.

On Oct. 11, 2023, Saudi Arabia hosted the extraordinary Joint Arab and Islamic Summit in Riyadh, organized by the OIC and the Arab League. The conference adopted several decisions, in particular assigning a committee of foreign ministers of member states to tour world capitals and international organizations in an effort to stop the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

As part of its continued efforts to stop the brutal Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people since Oct. 7, the OIC held an open-ended executive committee extraordinary meeting at the level of foreign ministers at its headquarters on Oct. 18.

The OIC has also renewed its urgent call for the international community to intervene urgently to stop the crimes of genocide committed by the Israeli occupation, provide international protection for Palestinian civilians, and ensure the arrival of basic supplies and permanent urgent humanitarian relief.


Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation

Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation
Updated 02 March 2024
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Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation

Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation
  • Agreement was signed as part of the Human Capability Initiative Conferenc

Riyadh: The King Salman Global Academy for the Arabic Language signed a memorandum of understanding in Riyadh with Prince of Songkla University, Thailand, “to enhance mutual cooperation in dissemination of the Arabic language.”

The agreement was signed as part of the Human Capability Initiative Conference, which began on Wednesday under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

KSGAAL was represented by its Secretary-General, Abdullah Al-Washmi, while Prince Songkla University was represented by its President, Niwat Keawpradub.

The MoU is also aimed at strengthening “teaching, preservation, and fostering scientific and practical relations to mutually benefit and achieve strategic objectives.”

Collaboration will also take place in: Arabic language and its sciences, Arabic language computing, building digital dictionaries, linguistic blogs, developing assistive digital solutions, cooperation in curricula and tools related to teaching Arabic to non-native speakers, administering proficiency tests in Arabic for non-native speakers, and sharing linguistic services and consultations in areas of mutual interest.

The agreement comes within the strategic objectives of the KSGAAL in spreading the Arabic language at the local and international levels, said Al-Washmi.

He told Arab News that Thailand is one of the targeted countries to open Arabic language education centers in coming years as part of KSGAAL’s strategy, which includes establishing a number of centers in countries around the world.

A high-level delegation from the KSGAAL recently visited Thailand and conducted a program that included seminars and discussion sessions to study the status of the Arabic language in the country, he added.

The MoU falls within the initiatives of the KSGAAL, its strategic partnerships with entities concerned with local and international Arabic linguistic development.

These initiatives aim to enhance the level of usage of the Arabic language, strengthen its presence, and preserve it in line with the Human Capability Development Program, one of the programs realizing Saudi Vision 2030.

KSGAAL was established by a decision of the Council of Ministers and is one of the initiatives of the Ministry of Culture aimed at enhancing the role of the Arabic language regionally and globally.

It was established in September 2020 to highlight the status of the Arabic language and activate its role regionally and globally, as well as to enhance its value as an expression of the linguistic depth of Arab and Islamic culture.

KSGAAL works on spreading the Arabic language and ensuring the integrity of its usage in various fields, revitalizing its heritage through study, research, and dissemination, in addition to unifying scientific reference internally regarding the Arabic language and its sciences, and working to achieve this externally.


Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era

Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era
Updated 01 March 2024
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Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era

Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era
  • Launched by the Historic District Program, the restored houses fuse region’s rich history with contemporary comforts

JEDDAH: Nestled in the heart of Jeddah’s historic district are heritage hotels launched by the Jeddah Historic District Program under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and in partnership with Al-Balad Development Co.

These hotels, including Beit Jokhdar, Beit Al-Rayess and Beit Kedwan, have been meticulously restored while preserving their architectural features to provide guests with an authentic glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

The restoration and rehabilitation of these heritage hotels was carried out in alignment with the highest international standards and the guidelines set out by UNESCO, which designated Jeddah Historic District as a World Heritage Site in 2014.

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage. (Instagram/jeddahalbalad.sa)

Tariq Omar Al-Saggaf, the project manager, told Arab News about the extensive work involved in reviving about 600 heritage buildings in the area. “These buildings are not only being restored but also repurposed for various functions ranging from hotels to residential, administrative, commercial and cultural purposes,” he said.

Through a harmonious blend of historical restoration and modern hospitality, these hotels offer guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich history and architecture of one of Saudi Arabia’s most iconic districts.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The recent agreement between the Jeddah Historic District Program and Al-Balad Development Co. signals a new chapter in the operation of the heritage hotels. • Beit Jokhdar has one of the largest wooden facades in Al-Balad and distinctive elements such as stained glass. • Beit Kedwan, facing Beit Nassif, stands out for its wooden rawasheen and mashrabiyyas.

During an exclusive tour at Beit Jokhdar, Milica Markovic, the general manager of Al-Balad Historic Hotels, told Arab News that the restoration process aimed to maintain the original charm of the buildings: “80 percent of the building has been restored to how it originally was. This building has the biggest roshan window in Jeddah. It has nine rooms and suites and it’s the biggest out of the three that we have.”

She added: “So, that’s why the architecture is actually very unique. It is very important for us to reflect for the guests, although these are hotels (they have) a very homey, elegant vibe.”

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage. (Instagram/jeddahalbalad.sa)

The attention to detail in preserving elements such as the roshan window, wooden ornaments and oil lamp hooks gives guests an insight into the heritage of the region. Local craftsmanship and artistry are also integral to the interior design and ambiance of the hotels, reflecting the cultural richness of Saudi Arabia.

“The ceilings are also original with wood ornament carving that is handmade. We even preserved the old hooks, where they used to put the oil lamps to lighten up the room. Most of the art and furniture you see … most of it has been done locally, so we really try to showcase fully not just the interior design and architecture of Saudi Arabia but also ... the work of the artists,” Markovic said.

Each of the three heritage hotels showcases a different architectural design that highlights the historical and aesthetic value of the buildings.

Beit Jokhdar, for instance, has one of the largest wooden facades in Al-Balad and features distinctive elements such as plaster decorations, arches, stained glass and ornate wooden interiors.

Beit Kedwan, facing Beit Nassif, stands out for its wooden rawasheen and mashrabiyyas, while Beit Al-Rayess is celebrated for its location and architectural features both internally and externally.

Markovic said: “The whole renovation process, I believe, took a little bit more than two years. But to set it up at the hotel and the hotel operation … it’s been only actually three months so we’ve been hardcore working to set everything up for the year.

“The most beautiful thing about these hotels is we don’t have to come up with a fancy marketing strategy or anything, we can just embrace them and share this beautiful history story,” Markovic said.

“Prices go usually from SR5,000 ($1,333) and more per night, but depending on the seasonality event in Jeddah, it can go a certain percentage lower or higher depending on the occupancy.”

Hospitality and dining in all hotels is inspired by an authentic Saudi flavor, “We have hired fantastic young chefs that are basically developing dishes that are inspired by Saudi cuisine, but with a bit of a more modern fine dining and elegant twist,” Markovic said.

The recent agreement between the Jeddah Historic District Program and Al-Balad Development Co. signals a new chapter in the operation of the heritage hotels.

With 34 heritage houses set to be managed under this partnership, Al-Balad Hospitality aims to offer authentic hospitality experiences that celebrate the culture of the region.

The commitment to preserving the history and providing enriching experiences positions Jeddah Historic District as a sought-after destination for visitors worldwide.

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage.