DiplomaticQuarter: Norwegian ambassador hails ‘very solid relationship’ with Saudi Arabia

DiplomaticQuarter: Norwegian ambassador hails ‘very solid relationship’ with Saudi Arabia
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Norway Ambassador Thomas Lid Ball cuts cake with deputy governor of Riyadh Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman. (Supplied)
DiplomaticQuarter: Norwegian ambassador hails ‘very solid relationship’ with Saudi Arabia
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Norway Ambassador Thomas Lid Ball with deputy governor of Riyadh Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 May 2023

DiplomaticQuarter: Norwegian ambassador hails ‘very solid relationship’ with Saudi Arabia

DiplomaticQuarter: Norwegian ambassador hails ‘very solid relationship’ with Saudi Arabia
  • Ties will only strengthen in years to come, diplomat Thomas Lid Ball says
  • Envoy also praises Kingdom for its help in evacuating Norwegians from Sudan

RIYADH: Norway’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia said his country’s relationship with the Kingdom was “very solid,” as the Scandinavian country celebrated its national day on Wednesday.

Thomas Lid Ball told Arab News said that the long-established bonds between the two countries in various sectors would only strengthen over the coming years.

“I think we have had a very solid relationship between Saudi Arabia and Norway for many years. We have several things in common, notably that we are nations that have been dependent on oil and gas,” he said.

“Our shared ambition is a green transition, in which we are producing oil and gas in a cleaner way and are shifting toward renewable energy. And in this, we have a lot in common and a lot of things to gain, I think from cooperating more closely.

“We have many new ways from companies within oil and gas supply that are working here and I think more are coming, with great opportunities in the Kingdom undergoing transformation.”

Norway has enjoyed good diplomatic relations with the Kingdom since they were established in 1961.

Norway’s National Day celebration at the embassy in Riyadh. (Supplied) 

“To all Saudi brothers and sisters who are here tonight, I would like to say that we greatly appreciate our long-standing bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia,” Ball told guests at an event at the Norwegian Embassy to mark his country’s national day.

“As a Norway ambassador, I would like to further those relations in the years to come.”

Among the guests at the event were Deputy Governor of Riyadh Region Prince Muhammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, government officials, diplomats and business leaders.

Ball told Arab News there were many industries in which Norway and Saudi Arabia were cooperating, including fisheries and construction.

“We have a long coastline in both countries. So we have shipping, we have fisheries, we have all sorts of companies that are interested in Saudi Arabia these days,” he said.

“At the national day reception here, we have some seafood from Norway. There are many companies now. I am joining five, six of them in Jeddah next week, where we are going to look at aquaculture opportunities in Saudi Arabia, so we actually can produce the seafood inside the Kingdom. Some of it will be land based, so there are exciting opportunities.”

Norway has a thriving aquaculture industry, producing more than half of the world’s farmed Atlantic salmon and exporting to more than 100 countries. Sales of Norwegian salmon to Saudi Arabia totaled $27 million in 2019.

Ball also thanked the Kingdom for its support in evacuating Norwegian and other citizens from Sudan.

“I used this opportunity to thank the deputy governor for what I think was outstanding assistance by Saudi Arabia during the big crisis in Sudan,” he said.

“There was first the evacuation out of Khartoum and other cities, but then it was out of Port Sudan through Jeddah and onto the capitals in our countries.

“We could not have made it without Saudi Arabia. We have evacuated 133 Norwegians from Sudan.”

Saudi leadership keen to ‘promote, protect human rights’

Saudi leadership keen to ‘promote, protect human rights’
Updated 30 September 2023

Saudi leadership keen to ‘promote, protect human rights’

Saudi leadership keen to ‘promote, protect human rights’
  • Hala Al-Tuwaijri delivers lecture in the UK, highlights Kingdom’s reforms

RIYADH: Hala Al-Tuwaijri, the president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, praised the Kingdom’s comprehensive reforms and advancements in all areas, particularly in human rights, during a visit to the UK.

She highlighted the significant attention and commitment given to human rights by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Al-Tuwaijri emphasized that these developments have further strengthened Saudi Arabia’s efforts to safeguard human rights across various aspects of life.

These remarks were made during her official visit to the UK, where she met with Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK minister for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and the UN.

Al-Tuwaijri led a delegation from the Human Rights Commission, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

During the meeting with Lord Ahmad, Al-Tuwaijri discussed the significant legislative reforms and advancements in human rights that have taken place in the Kingdom since the adoption of Saudi Vision 2030.

She also emphasized the leadership’s strong interest and dedication to promoting and protecting human rights in all aspects.

The two sides discussed several topics of common interest and ways to promote cooperation in the field of human rights.

The visit also included discussions with other government officials in the UK and covered bilateral relations in all fields, especially in the field of human rights.

Furthermore, the commission’s delegation reviewed topics of common interest in security, stability and peace. They discussed joint bilateral cooperation and exchange of ideas, in addition to both sides’ experiences in protecting human rights and combating human trafficking.

Al-Tuwaijri also gave a speech at the UK Foreign Office. Officials and specialists from a number of government agencies and local organizations in the UK attended the lecture in which she highlighted the most notable future direction in the Human Rights Commission’s performance.

She noted the objectives the commission is seeking to achieve at the national and international level and highlighted its tools for protecting human rights and the Kingdom’s development in this area.

Saudi Falcons Club’s exhibition launches on Thursday

Saudi Falcons Club’s exhibition launches on Thursday
Updated 30 September 2023

Saudi Falcons Club’s exhibition launches on Thursday

Saudi Falcons Club’s exhibition launches on Thursday
  • The exhibition, which is held over 10 days from Oct. 5-14 at the club’s headquarters at Malham, north of Riyadh

JEDDAH: The Saudi Falcons Club is preparing to host the fifth Saudi International Falcons and Hunting Exhibition, a cultural and entertainment event showcasing the ancient sport.

The exhibition, which is held over 10 days from Oct. 5-14 at the club’s headquarters at Malham, north of Riyadh, highlights the organization’s dedication to preserving and enriching the traditions of falconry.

It strives to offer the best collection of falcons, hunting equipment and firearms.

The exhibition aims to meet the diverse needs of enthusiasts interested in weapons and ammunition, while pushing the boundaries of development and creativity in the field of falconry.

The Saudi Falcons Club is committed to leading the way, particularly in the breeding and care of birds. It also aims to promote environmental awareness while contributing to the cultural and economic landscape.

The club aims to encourage interest in the culture of falconry at the exhibition while showcasing methods for its preservation, thereby reviving associated hobbies in the Kingdom.

The event also aims to educate visitors about the intricacies of falconry, ensuring the preservation and transmission of its rich heritage to both current and future generations.

Kingdom’s libraries showcase book restoration at Riyadh fair

Kingdom’s libraries showcase book restoration at Riyadh fair
Updated 30 September 2023

Kingdom’s libraries showcase book restoration at Riyadh fair

Kingdom’s libraries showcase book restoration at Riyadh fair

RIYADH: Two national libraries are showing visitors how to restore decades and centuries-old books and manuscripts at Riyadh International Book Fair 2023.

The 10-day book fair — which opened on Sept. 28 and will continue until Oct. 7 — is being held at King Saud University under the slogan “An Inspiring Destination.” Hundreds of publishing companies and libraries from around the world are showcasing their expansive collections of books of all genres.

This year, King Fahd National Library is introducing people to methods to restore old books. Some of the books they have worked on are centuries old.

“Over the years, some manuscripts are subject to poor preservation and storage, as they are exposed to high temperature, acidity, or insect corrosion. When we pick up manuscripts, there are always insects or fungi on them,” said Tahani Al-Saghami, deputy director of the restoration and sterilization laboratory department at King Fahd National Library.

She explained to Arab News how the process of restoring old books is carried out until the desired results are achieved.

She said: “First, we put it in the sterilizer, where it is sterilized for 18 to 24 hours. Then, the restorer receives it. We try to clean the manuscript and treat it chemically so that we neutralize the acidity and stabilize the ink before handing it over to the restorer so that he can carry out the manual restoration process efficiently … the process of covering and removing the cracks and breaks in the manuscript without distortion.”

Al-Saghami also said that natural fibers that are close to the nature of the manuscript’s paper to repair damaged parts of manuscripts are used.

Another national library that is showing visitors how the preservation of manuscripts is done is the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives.

“There is mechanical restoration and manual restoration, and the process goes through stages, the first of which is sterilizing documents and manuscripts with ozone gas, which kills bacteria and insects present in the manuscript,” said Anas Al-Shamlan, document restorer at King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives.

He added: “After that the papers are treated with alkaline and restored manually … the final stage is mechanical restoration.”

He also stressed the importance of preserving manuscripts in suitable environments after the restoration process.

Al-Shamlan said: “The place must be prepared to store manuscripts so that the humidity rate is between 25 and 30 C, in addition to placing them above the ground, away from leaks, sunlight, and air conditioner.”

Al-Shamlan has repaired several manuscripts, some as much as 250 years old. The time spent to restore a manuscript depends on the age of the manuscript itself, he says, but generally speaking, it may take from six months to a year to complete one item.

Riyadh International Book Fair is one of the most prominent exhibitions in Saudi Arabia. Around 1 million people attended the book fair last year, and organizers are hoping to reach a similar total in 2023.

Kingdom takes bold steps to safeguard architectural heritage

Kingdom takes bold steps to safeguard architectural heritage
Updated 30 September 2023

Kingdom takes bold steps to safeguard architectural heritage

Kingdom takes bold steps to safeguard architectural heritage

MAKKAH: The preservation of cultural heritage is of the utmost importance in the Kingdom, and the Saudi Heritage Commission is taking significant steps to protect and promote the country’s architectural treasures.

With the recent nomination of 50,000 urban heritage assets for registration, these sites will be added to the Architectural Heritage Register, joining the already registered 3,400 sites.

This collaborative effort, in accordance with the antiquities and urban heritage system, aims to utilize modern technologies to register, categorize, and encode these assets. This initiative not only preserves architectural heritage but also fosters community involvement and paves the way for future development plans.

Salma Hawsawi, a professor of ancient history at King Saud University, said that the Saudi Heritage Commission is currently implementing projects aimed at preserving architectural heritage.

One of these projects is focused on registering urban sites found in all 13 administrative regions of the Kingdom in the Architectural Heritage Register.

Hawsawi said: “This endeavor involves active participation from local communities and encompasses a wide range of structures, including villages, neighborhoods, towers, fortresses, ancient temples, castles, walls, and mosques. These sites possess a rich historical and cultural significance, reflecting the unique aesthetic value created by humanity since ancient times.

Salma Hawsawi, a professor of ancient history at King Saud University. (Supplied)

“Each region of the Kingdom possesses its own distinct architectural heritage, setting it apart from others. This diversity can be attributed to the varied terrains found throughout the country, which influenced the choice of construction materials. The embellishments adorning the facades, doors, and windows of buildings were inspired by the local environment.

“The coastal communities, for instance, incorporated gypsum and wood into their architecture and decorations. Mountain communities, known for their physical strength, utilized their abilities to carve houses and graves into the mountains. Numerous pieces of evidence support this notion, as caves scattered across the Kingdom are adorned with drawings and inscriptions that depict the rich history of these communities.”

He added: “Due to the significance of architectural heritage and its close connection to culture, heritage, and identity, the Saudi Heritage Commission initiated a project with the objective of gradually registering 50,000 sites into the Architectural Heritage Register.

“The process consists of several stages. First, an extensive search and discovery of sites takes place. This is followed by the nomination phase, where all relevant information about the sites is collected.

"The third stage involves the registration of the sites, during which the data is carefully examined and validated. Subsequently, the fourth stage focuses on classifying the sites according to the standards set by the commission. Finally, in the fifth and final stage, a code is assigned to each site and plaques are installed to validate their authenticity and historical significance.”

Hawsawi highlighted the project’s aim of preserving cultural heritage and having it listed in the national register as a step toward potential inclusion in UNESCO's World Heritage List.

He added: “This registration holds political, economic, and social dimensions, as it strengthens international relations, diversifies the national economy, reduces unemployment, and enhances the overall standard of living.”

My book, the first in Arabic, is a step forward in deepening Saudi-Japan relations

My book, the first in Arabic, is a step forward in deepening Saudi-Japan relations
Updated 30 September 2023

My book, the first in Arabic, is a step forward in deepening Saudi-Japan relations

My book, the first in Arabic, is a step forward in deepening Saudi-Japan relations
  • Khalid Alrashoud lived in Japan for 13 years and studied the historic ties between the two countries
  • Japanese envoy attends author’s signing event at Riyadh International Book Fair

RIYADH: The history of Saudi-Japan relations can be traced back to the early 20th century, but it was not well documented, and the few books written on the subject were available only in Japanese and English.

This prompted Khalid Alrashoud, who pursued a Ph.D in transformation management and development engineering in Japan, to write a book on the growing relationship between the two countries — the first publication to appear in Arabic.

While signing copies of his book, “Saudi Japanese Relations,” at the Riyadh International Book Fair, Alrashoud spoke exclusively to Arab News, sharing the story of his connection to Japan, and what readers can expect from the publication.

Iwai Fumio, Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, also attended the book signing on Friday.

“It’s all about the Saudi-Japanese diplomatic relations. The book covers the relations between Japan and Saudi Arabia from the beginning, even before the establishment of the modern Kingdom in 1932, from 1920 all the way to 2022,” Alrashoud said.

“The first chapter touches on the early connections between Japanese and Muslims, which took place in China, and how this relationship developed over time to where it is today.

“What’s really special about this book is that it covers not only the political and diplomatic aspects, but also all the prominent engagements, whether social, cultural or trade relations,” he added.

Alrashoud began writing the book during his studies in Japan. He lived there for 13 years while completing an undergraduate program, and pursuing a master’s and Ph.D. He also has the highest-level qualification in Japanese language proficiency, the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test, which covers language knowledge, and reading and listening ability.

“This helped me dig deep in literature written in Japanese,” he said.

“When I first started writing about the subject, I was shocked at how little was available. When it comes to looking for literature on bilateral relations, it was available only in English or Japanese, and wasn’t quite accurate. So, I took on this mission to write the book in Arabic, the first and only book in Arabic documenting Saudi-Japan relations. It took me about three years,” Alrashoud told Arab News.

Referring to his connection with Japan, Alrashoud said: “I worked there as a university professor and as a consultant in international relations. I also worked there for a number of years as a project manager for a Japanese company that is basically focusing on development partnerships with Middle Eastern countries.”

On what readers can expect from the book, especially on Saudi-Japan relations, he said: “If you are looking for a well-documented and well-written book that provides all the resources, whether in Arabic, Japanese or English, this is the book to read. And all the names mentioned are in Japanese and in English for researchers who want to take a step further and search even more on this topic.

“I worked very hard to make it easily understandable for anyone who is reading this book to be enlightened about the numbers and data. I remember when I first reached out to the Ministry of Economy and Planning in Saudi Arabia and asked for the data on bilateral trade. All this information they had was from around the 1980s. Then I reached out to the Japanese government and they had information documented from the 1970 and 1960s.

“So, I combined the two and I made graphs. In this book you will find information that you will not find in another book.”

Alrashoud also bought rare historic photos of Japanese officials who visited Saudi Arabia in the 1950s and earlier, and incorporated these in the book.

The book also deals with Saudi students studying in Japan.

“Yes, I was one of them. I was honored to be a part of the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program, and that’s where I completed my bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. It covers the numbers of students studying in Japan, and how the numbers increase and decrease.”

Alrashoud completed his Ph.D in transformation management and development engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech).