Saudi minister signs Road to Makkah agreement in Pakistan

Saudi minister signs Road to Makkah agreement in Pakistan
Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Dr. Nasser Al-Dawood meets Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan in Islamabad. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 May 2023

Saudi minister signs Road to Makkah agreement in Pakistan

Saudi minister signs Road to Makkah agreement in Pakistan
  • Approximately 26,000 Pakistanis traveling through Islamabad airport to benefit from the initiative
  • Pakistan says it is ‘striving’ to expand the facility to other cities of the country in the coming years

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Dr. Nasser Al-Dawood signed an agreement on the Road to Makkah project at the Pakistani prime minister’s house on Wednesday, paving the way for Pakistanis to benefit from an initiative aimed at facilitating Hajj for pilgrims from across the Muslim world.

The Road to Makkah initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s Guests of God Service Program, which King Salman inaugurated in 2019 under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify the economy. Under the scheme, Hajj pilgrims go through immigration facilities at their respective countries’ airports.

“Approximately 26,000 Pakistanis will benefit from this project through Islamabad airport. The Saudi immigration and customs will be done at Islamabad airport, allowing the travelers to reach their accommodations in Saudi Arabia in a short time,” Religious Affairs Ministry spokesperson Mohammed Umer Butt told Arab News.

The ministry is “striving” to expand this facility to other cities of Pakistan in the coming years, Butt said.

Al-Dawood is on a two-day visit to Pakistan and met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as well as the interior minister, the federal minister for narcotics control and the army chief.

The Saudi official arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday and held detailed discussions about Hajj arrangements with Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Sen. Talha Mahmood.

“They exchanged views on various matters of mutual interest, including the (Road to Makkah) project, arrangements for Hajj, and other areas of cooperation,” a statement issued after their meeting said.

Saudi Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki also hosted a dinner reception at the embassy on Tuesday night where Al-Dawood and members of his delegation interacted with the Pakistani interior minister, Rana Sanaullah Khan, and other cabinet members.

Saudi Arabia restored Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims earlier this year and eliminated the age restriction of 65.

Authorities estimate approximately 80,000 Pakistani pilgrims will participate in Hajj this year under the government scheme, while over 91,000 will use private tour operators.

As per the Pakistani Religious Affairs Ministry, Hajj flights from the country will commence on May 21, with the final flight departing for Saudi Arabia on June 21.

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Saudi climate envoy meets Panama deputy environment minister

Saudi climate envoy meets Panama deputy environment minister
Updated 28 May 2023

Saudi climate envoy meets Panama deputy environment minister

Saudi climate envoy meets Panama deputy environment minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s envoy for climate affairs met Panama’s deputy environment minister, the Saudi foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Saudi Minister of State Adel Al-Jubeir held discussion with Domilluis Dominguez on Saturday. 
They discussed environmental and climate change cooperation and ways to enhance them. The minister outlined the Saudi efforts in this regard, including  plans such as the Saudi and Middle East green initiatives.
The meeting was attended by the non-resident Saudi ambassador to Panama, Dr. Hassan Al-Ansari, and the Director General of the Office of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs ambassador Khalid bin Musaed Al-Anqari.
Al-Jubeir met senior Panamanian ministers on Friday as he continued his South American tour.
 


Saudi Arabia, US urge Sudan’s warring parties to discuss truce extension

Saudi Arabia, US urge Sudan’s warring parties to discuss truce extension
Updated 28 May 2023

Saudi Arabia, US urge Sudan’s warring parties to discuss truce extension

Saudi Arabia, US urge Sudan’s warring parties to discuss truce extension
  • The truce is set to expire on May 29
  • Protection of humanitarian assistance urged

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the US are urging Sudan’s warring sides to work to work on extending a short-term truce currently in force in the country.

“Saudi Arabia and the US call on the Sudanese Armed Forces & the Rapid Support Forces to continue discussions to reach an agreement on extending the ceasefire that is set to expire on May 29,” the Saudi foreign affairs ministry said in a statement early on Sunday. 

The statements said while imperfect an extension would allow for humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese people. 

Saudi Arabia and the US, who brokered the current ceasefire, urged the sides to continue to adhere to their obligations even if an extension deal isn’t reach before May 29. The parties signed a Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan agreement in Jeddah, safeguarding humanitarian assistance and access.

Hundreds of people have died after intense urban warfare and thousands have either been injured or have fled for safety since the conflict began in April as the army faced off against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. 
 


Japanese calligrapher teaches her art one stroke at a time

Japanese calligrapher teaches her art one stroke at a time
Updated 27 May 2023

Japanese calligrapher teaches her art one stroke at a time

Japanese calligrapher teaches her art one stroke at a time
  • She told Arab News: “Seeing how Saudis love anime and manga, I wanted to show them that we have more art forms to offer, such as calligraphy”
  • Fans of Japanese culture get the chance to learn traditional art forms at City Walk

JEDDAH: Japanese calligrapher Yoshimi Fujii is conducting workshops at the Anime Village in City Walk Jeddah, offering participants the chance to learn more about different Japanese art forms.

Fujii, who has achieved the highest level in the Japanese form of calligraphy known as suihou, is based in Dubai and is making her second trip to the Kingdom.

“I’m thrilled to receive an invitation to come here (Saudi Arabia) and teach people of Jeddah the Japanese calligraphy and art of manga (Japanese comic),” she said.

Japanese calligraphy artist Yoshimi Fujii, who has achieved the highest level in the Japanese form of calligraphy known as suihou, is hosting workshops at City Walk. (Instagram/animevillage_sa)

Fujii conducted similar calligraphy workshops and a live show during the Riyadh Season on her first trip.

With a warm smile on her face, she explained to participants how to write in Japanese using traditional calligraphy brushes and special Japanese ink.

“Each line is made with one stroke only,” she said, adding: “Don’t redo it or try to fill the gaps.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Yoshimi Fujii, a Japanese calligrapher, is conducting workshops at the Anime Village in City Walk.

• Fujii’s calligraphy workshop is conducted three times a day to allow a large number of visitors to take part.

• This week, Fujii will conduct another workshop about traditional Japanese origami, the art of making different shapes out of paper.

She told Arab News: “Seeing how Saudis love anime and manga, I wanted to show them that we have more art forms to offer, such as calligraphy.”

Fujii said she is enjoying the reactions of the participants, even when they get confused about which direction to start writing in Japanese, which is from top to bottom, unlike Arabic, which is written from right to left.

The workshop is conducted three times a day to allow a large number of visitors to take part.

Japanese calligraphy artist Yoshimi Fujii, who has achieved the highest level in the Japanese form of calligraphy known as suihou, is hosting workshops at City Walk. (Instagram/animevillage_sa)

Rana Alnemari, 21, said that she loved Japanese culture and wanted to learn to write her name in Japanese characters.

“The new characters of the Japanese alphabet really caught my interest and I really had fun learning something new today,” she said. “I might even take professional courses for Japanese calligraphy in the future.”

Wejdan Alomari, 22, said that she joined the calligraphy workshop because she was intrigued by the Japanese writing style.

Seeing how Saudis love anime and manga, I wanted to show them that we have more art forms to offer, such as calligraphy.

Yoshimi Fujii, Japanese calligrapher

“It feels more like a drawing than simple writing,” she said.

Rana Alsaimi, 22, told Arab News that these types of workshops give her an opportunity to try new things like “using traditional Japanese brush to write instead of a calligraphy pen.”

Next week, Fujii will conduct another workshop about traditional Japanese origami, the art of making different shapes out of paper.

A Pokemon origami workshop will be held at City Walk in Jeddah. (Supplied)

Participants will learn how to make Pokemon shapes using origami techniques.

 

 


Who’s Who: Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation

Aya Al-Bakree
Aya Al-Bakree
Updated 27 May 2023

Who’s Who: Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation

Aya Al-Bakree

Aya Al-Bakree is the CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, a nonprofit cultural organization chaired by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan.

The foundation is mandated to stage two world-class biennales in Saudi Arabia, alternating between contemporary and Islamic arts.

At the heart of the foundation’s strategy is a mission to foster artistic cross-fertilization by connecting Saudi Arabian and international cultural discourse. It aims to elevate artistic practices and provide educational public programs for participants of all ages and backgrounds.

As a passionate advocate for the arts and the adaptive reuse of public spaces into cultural venues, Al-Bakree has overseen the launch of inaugural biennale editions in two cities: the JAX district in Diriyah and the Hajj Terminal in Jeddah. These editions showcased the works of diverse local and international artists.

The Contemporary Art Biennale in 2021 was recognized as the first dedicated biennale in Saudi Arabia, while the Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah was the first of its kind in world history, showcasing contemporary and ancient works of unprecedented breadth and scale.

Prior to her appointment as CEO at the organization, Al-Bakree earned her global communications degree at the American University of Paris in 2011, where she also completed a year-long exchange program at Parsons.

After graduating, she began her career at a world-renowned French art gallery, where she immersed herself in the world of international contemporary art and learned about the commercial and business sides.

When she returned to Saudi Arabia, she gained further professional experience in the art sector with a cultural organization working across the Middle East, collaborating with locally acclaimed institutions and galleries in the Kingdom.

Bringing over a decade of experience in the arts, she continues to forge opportunities to promote local artistic expression on international platforms and collaborate with local artists, galleries, and collectors across the country.

 

 


Saudi talents taking the stage at PNU for ‘An Akoun’ dance show

Maha Abanumay and her young sister Shehana Abanumay. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Maha Abanumay and her young sister Shehana Abanumay. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 27 May 2023

Saudi talents taking the stage at PNU for ‘An Akoun’ dance show

Maha Abanumay and her young sister Shehana Abanumay. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
  • Aya Albakoush, a managing partner at Kinetico Dance Company, said: “I started dancing when I was about 11 years old. I have done it for almost 10 years until I started to become (involved) behind the scenes”

RIYADH: Around 400 Saudis took to the stage at Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh on Friday for “An Akoun” dance performance.

Kinetico Dance Company organized its annual recital with a variety of routines, leaving the audience captivated and entertained for two hours.  

The show included ballet, musical theater, contemporary, hip-hop, and gymnastics, which were all choreographed and performed by talented Saudi dancers aged 4 to 26.

An Akoun Banner for the show. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Haifa Alrashid, one of the young stars in Kinetico, who performed on Friday, talked about her experience since joining the dancing academy.

“I joined Kinetico when I was five, or six years old. Now, I am 10. My experience was good. I learned to dance better, and I mostly do hip-hop because it is my favorite.”

Kinetico Dance Company was established in 2009 — the first, and the, biggest dance company in Saudi Arabia.

FASTFACTS

• The ‘An Akoun’ show included ballet, musical theater, contemporary, hip-hop, and gymnastics, which were all choreographed and performed by talented Saudi dancers aged four to 26.

• Kinetico Dance Company was established in 2009 and it is the first and biggest dance company in Saudi Arabia.

Aya Albakoush, a managing partner at Kinetico Dance Company, said: “I started dancing when I was about 11 years old. I have done it for almost 10 years until I started to become (involved) behind the scenes.”

She explained how the company usually hosts a full season of dance lessons, which includes everything from choreography to technique. Finally, they develop an art piece through an annual show at the end of each year.

“This show follows a theme we are trying to portray, and this year was about finding your inner feminine essence, slowing down, and coming back to yourself as a woman,” explained Albakoush.

“Through what we do, and promoting artistic expression is a big part of Vision 2030, trying to really hone-in on our arts and culture in the country, and showcasing our Saudi talents … hopefully, one day, exporting it to the world to understand that Saudi Arabia has a lot to offer.”

The company has done other shows in the past such as “The Outcome,” which was themed around the dancers’ experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.