UN recognition of Arabian Leopard Day a ‘major triumph for KSA,’ conservationist says

Special UN recognition of Arabian Leopard Day a ‘major triumph for KSA,’ conservationist says
1 / 4
Panthera and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in 2019 to protect the Arabian leopard, which is said to be "the most persecuted of all the big cats” in the world. (Photo courtesy of Arabian Leopard Breeding Center)
Special UN recognition of Arabian Leopard Day a ‘major triumph for KSA,’ conservationist says
2 / 4
The UN recognition of the Arabian leopard's importance will help boost the efforts of conservationists to save the animal, says Thomas S. Kaplan. (Panthera photo by Steve Winter)
Special UN recognition of Arabian Leopard Day a ‘major triumph for KSA,’ conservationist says
3 / 4
Panthera and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in 2019 to protect the Arabian leopard, which is said to be "the most persecuted of all the big cats” in the world. (Photo courtesy of Arabian Leopard Breeding Center)
Special UN recognition of Arabian Leopard Day a ‘major triumph for KSA,’ conservationist says
4 / 4
Panthera and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in 2019 to protect the Arabian leopard, which is said to be "the most persecuted of all the big cats” in the world. (Photo courtesy of Arabian Leopard Breeding Center)
Short Url
Updated 23 June 2023
Follow

UN recognition of Arabian Leopard Day a ‘major triumph for KSA,’ conservationist says

UN recognition of Arabian Leopard Day a ‘major triumph for KSA,’ conservationist says
  • Panthera co-founder Thomas Kaplan told Arab News the resolution will boost the work of wildlife champions worldwide, as well as those in the Kingdom
  • The Arabian Leopard has been etched into Saudi consciousness for thousands of years, he said, but is the most persecuted of all big cats and critically endangered

NEW YORK CITY: When the UN General Assembly voted this month to adopt a resolution designating Feb. 10 as International Day of the Arabian Leopard, Thomas S. Kaplan’s reaction was one of “absolute delight.”

The leopard has been etched into Saudi consciousness for thousands of years, he said, with the petroglyphs on AlUla’s ancient walls that depict the animal bearing witness to its significance to the Saudi people and their ancestors.
Having the importance of the Arabian Leopard now finally enshrined by the UN General Assembly is therefore “a major triumph for the Saudi people and for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself,” Kaplan added during an exclusive interview with Arab News.
As co-founder of Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, and founder and chairperson of the Global Alliance for Wild Cats, Kaplan in 2019 signed an agreement with Prince Badr bin Abdullah, the Saudi minister of culture and governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, to support regional and international conservation initiatives, at the heart of which is the Arabian Leopard Initiative to protect the critically endangered animal, which is indigenous to AlUla.




Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, Saudi minister of culture and governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, signing the cooperation agreement with Panthera Chairman Thomas Kaplan in AlUla in June 2019. (Supplied/File)


“The Arabian leopard is the most persecuted of all the big cats,” Kaplan said. “So having a champion like Saudi Arabia helping us to do the work that we do so passionately is really a gift from God.”

The UN resolution enshrining an International Day of the Arabian Leopard is “a clear win, both for the leopard and for the Kingdom,” he added.
“It is in many respects a beautiful affirmation of one of the most ambitious environmental and conservation initiatives in generations: The restoration of AlUla as a cultural center point for the new Saudi Arabia is complemented by one of the most significant environmental restoration programs in the world.”
Wild cats play a critical role in ecosystems. They are considered an “umbrella species” when making conservation-related decisions, because efforts to protect them also indirectly protect many other species. They represent “Apex Predator Strategy Opportunities.” What this means is that a thriving wild cat population can help ensure the survival of its entire habitat.
Even the human population can benefit when the animals thrive, because they help boost tourism and shine a light on local communities. In the case of Saudi Arabia, such communities can become important parts of the Kingdom’s broader development agenda, leading to better local amenities and opportunities.




The UN recognition of the animal’s importance will help boost the efforts of conservationists to save the leopard, says Panthera Chairman Thomas Kaplan. (Courtesy of Matthew Carasella Photography)

“In places where we have gone in to save leopards or jaguars or other animals that are part of the local tourist industry, we have always brought with (us) increased medical attention, building schools, building clinics, (showing) the local communities that not only do they have nothing to fear, but they have everything to gain by a thriving cat population, (and that) because of the leopard, there will be socioeconomic opportunities for their children,” said Kaplan.
“If in its own way the Arabian Leopard Initiative is something that not only gives people national pride, but gives those who live in the same habitat as the leopard even greater opportunities for their children, then this is a huge win.

“So the success of the Arabian Leopard Initiative becomes a signal to the Kingdom, and to the rest of the world, that Saudi Arabia has been successful in restoring the landscape. For these reasons, I believe that AlUla is one of the most transformational initiatives in the preservation of cultural and environmental heritage for future generations.”
None of this would have been possible, he said, without “the passion and commitment” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; Prince Badr; and Princess Reema bint Salman, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US.
“The revolution from above that has been implemented by the crown prince is the catalyst for all (the reforms that) followed, and the Arabian leopard is no exception,” said Kaplan.
“I have personal experience in engaging with the Crown Prince on the Arabian leopard and leopard conservation globally. He is truly committed not only to the Arabian leopard but also to advancing the cause of leopard conservation in other countries that are not necessarily playing catch-up like Saudi Arabia, but trying to stay ahead of the curve.
Regarding Prince Badr’s role, Kaplan said “everyone knows that (he is) the initiator of the Arabian leopard process. He is, in many respects, the father of the Arabian leopard program, for which I think he will go down in the history books.”
Kaplan also had nothing but praise of Princess Reema.




Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi ambassador to US, founded Catmosphere, a group dedicated to supporting big cat species worldwide. (AN file photo)


“Anyone who has come into contact with Princess Reema in Washington DC, or elsewhere, immediately is presented with the passion of what the Arabian leopard means for the Kingdom,” he said.
“It’s not simply because the Arabian leopard is, in my mind, to Saudi Arabia what the panda is to China, an instrument of soft power, it’s much more than that.
“The crown prince, Prince Badr and Princess Reema understand that the Arabian leopard is a symbol of national unity for Saudi Arabia. It is something that goes back thousands of years.”
The UN recognition of the animal’s importance will help boost the efforts of conservationists to save the leopard, Kaplan said.
“Being able to show the buy in of the international community allows us the freedom to show to environmental activists all over the world the significance of this initiative,” he added.
“It allows us to be able to evidence that the reintroduction of the Arabian leopard is real, that it has the full support of Saudi Arabia, that it is not some form of power exercise but it’s the product of passion.
“This in turn allows people such as myself on the international stage to be able to recruit the highest-quality experts to work with us in our field.”

Kaplan said the UN resolution will also aid the work of Saudi environmental and wildlife champions, including Catmosphere, a foundation established by Princess Reema to assist big-cat conservation efforts worldwide.


READ MORE: Saudi-led Catmosphere’s inaugural Catwalk raises awareness about wildlife conservation



“Catmosphere has the potential to be the most important cat-conservation awareness program ever undertaken, not simply in the Middle East, but globally, and that was originated by a Saudi, by Princess Reema,” he said.

“It’s an extraordinary story. The impact that it can have on cat conservation is very obvious but, at the same time, the impact that can have on our agenda, which is to get people to see the Arabian Leopard as being Saudi Arabia’s panda, as being a symbol of commitment to the best practices in wildlife conservation, this is absolutely enormous.”
“When you combine the work that Prince Badr is doing at the Royal Commission of AlUla with the work of Catmosphere, what you see is an organic, Saudi-generated initiative and campaign to save the Arabian leopard and, as the crown prince asked us to do, to be able to help countries around the world save their leopards, so that rather than playing catch-up, they’re getting ahead of the curve, and are not in the same situation.
“This is an act of generosity to the world, and it’s coming from Saudi Arabia.”

 

Rewilding Arabia
Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife

Enter


keywords

 


Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh

Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh
Updated 21 April 2024
Follow

Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh

Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh

RIYADH: Award winners were crowned on the final day of the fourth Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh on Saturday, at a ceremony attended by prominent artistic and cinematic names, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The winners were nominated by a jury headed by Ibrahim Al-Hasawi from Saudi Arabia, who was joined by Bassam Al-Thawadi from Bahrain, Rawda Al-Thani from Qatar, Khaled Amin from Kuwait, Nujoom Al-Ghanem from the UAE and Ibrahim Al-Zadjali from Oman.
“Hajjan,” a coming-of-age drama set in Saudi Arabia about two brothers who battle to save their favorite camel starring Omar Al-Atawi and Abdulmohsen Alnemr, won the award for best feature film.
It also picked up the best photography award, with Jerry Fassbender recognized for his work on the film. Al-Atawi won the best actor award for his role.
The best actress award went to Bahraini Maryam Zeman for her part in the movie “My Word.”
The award for best short film went to the heavily tipped “Clouds,” about a widower and war veteran who are forced to balance their own morals with societal expectations in southern Oman, directed by Muzna Almusafer.
The award for best documentary film went to Mansoor Al-Dhaheri’s climate change expose “Swimming 62.”
Ziad Al-Hussein took home two awards, including one for best director, for his film “Shiabni Hani.”
The award for best original soundtrack went to Khaled Al-Kammar for his music that featured in the movie “Hawjan,” a modern twist on the ancient Arab jinn mythology, which also opened the latest edition of the Red Sea Festival last year.
The Gulf Cinema Festival was held under the patronage of Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, who is also chairman of the board of directors of the Film Commission, which organized the event.
This year’s festival hosted screenings of 29 films, three training workshops and six cultural seminars.
Abdullah Al-Qahtani, CEO of the commission, said in a speech during the ceremony that the festival embodied a commitment to supporting the film sector in the region and building bridges for cinematic cooperation between the Gulf countries.
He thanked Prince Badr for his sponsorship and support of the festival and the film sector in Saudi Arabia, as well as the general secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council.


Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity
Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity
  • World’s largest music production studio is nurturing Saudi talent, streamlining local industry

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Merwas, considered the biggest art and entertainment factory globally, is proving to be one of Saudi Arabia’s greatest music industry assets.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, co-founder and CEO of Merwas, told Arab News that the facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, “is home to all artists.”

She added: “The methodology behind it is to create solutions through the subsidiaries, and invest in both talent and infrastructure.

“Alongside it being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.”

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The entertainment zone and audiovisual production studio, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

Some of the top musicians in the world have visited Merwas since it opened in 2022. These include DJ Khaled, the acclaimed Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer, and the Emirati singer Ahlam. Afrojack, a world-renowned Dutch DJ and producer, also led an electronic music boot camp to nurture local talent and inspire a new generation of Saudi artists.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Merwas, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

• The academy’s classes offer local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise.

• The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, the culture factory fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, while providing artists with access to top-tier services, facilities and industry expertise.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah, features state-of-the-art technology, such as the SSL console, which is used to create depth on music tracks and ensures the true soul of the artist’s voice is protected.

This live recording space is booked almost every day by various artists, and has been used by some of the Arab region’s biggest stars.

The facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, is home to all artists according to co-founder Nada Al-Tuwaijri. (Supplied)

One of the only five Neve consoles in the world can be found in the Neve Studio. The panel is known for its high-quality sound and warmth, and is ideal for music recording, vocal tracking, and mixing for exceptional audio quality.

Its live studio can accommodate over 120 orchestra members and their instruments to provide a unique recording experience.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Specifically designed for electronic music production, the EMP Suite is a DJ’s dream, with cutting edge synthesizers and digital audio workstations ensuring an artist leaves the room with a fully produced track.

Merwas is also home to three production suites, designed for content creators who require a comfortable and professional environment for music production, editing, and mixing. Each suite is equipped with industry-standard gear, software, and acoustics to support a wide range of projects.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

The studio also provides private rehearsal spaces to ensure Saudi talents are nourished to their full potential. The versatile space is designed for musicians, performers, and other artists to rehearse and refine their craft within a comfortable environment with access to instruments and equipment.

Part of the charm of recording studios is the live jam sessions that have given birth to some of the most iconic records to date. Merwas’ Band Live/Control Room also captures the spontaneity of live performance within its soundproof walls.

Alongside (Merwas) being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

Championing audiovisual pursuits, the studio has made space for high-quality podcasts and videos to come to life.

The podcast suite and FM radio recording spaces are tailored to immerse listeners with unbeatable audio clarity, while the 25-meter-long Green Screen room helps ideas come to life, whether commercial, film, or music video.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Material can then be edited at the color-grading suite, which is essentially a small theater with 4K projector. Producers, directors, writers, and engineers gather here to put the final visual touches on video projects through its DaVinci color grading software and hardware.

Academy Classes offers local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise. These feature advanced stations for sound production, engineering, and technical programs, with everything necessary for a basic understanding and training of music production.

The studio hosts workshops, networking sessions, and community events in an effort to flourish the music industry locally while making it a magnet for international talent. Anyone can be a part of this community by booking a suite or signing up for a workshop on their website merwas.sa.

Merwas has positioned itself at the the forefront of the entertainment industry being the first of its kind in the MENA region. In less than a year since its launch, it has already became a hotspot for musicians across the globe to visit and utilize its services, from rising talents to international A-listers.

Founded by Al-Tuwaijri and Chief Content Officer Rumian Al-Rumayyan in partnership with Sela, Merwas treasures Saudi creativity and is a vital part of building an ecosystem and community for local artists.

Their partnership with the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has set a new focus on preserving the rights of local creatives, pillared by the aim to enrich the culture of the Kingdom while empowering its citizens and their creativity in an environment of abundant knowledge, education in culture, art, entertainment and music.

 


15k held for labor, residency, border violations in KSA

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

15k held for labor, residency, border violations in KSA

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
  • The report showed that among the 996 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 64 percent were Ethiopian, 33 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested almost 15,000 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 9,479 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 3,763 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,430 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 996 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 64 percent were Ethiopian, 33 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 37 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.

 


Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia

Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia
Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia

Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia
  • The Saudi government urges anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number +966114208417, or to email [email protected]

RIYADH: Saudi authorities recently made several drug-related arrests and confiscations in operations across the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Border Guard land patrols in Al-Ardah governorate, Jazan region arrested a Yemeni national attempting to smuggle 60 kg of qat.

In the Saqam sector of Najran region, the land patrols thwarted the smuggling of 58 kg of hashish.

The General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested a Bangladeshi resident in the Hail region for attempting to sell methamphetamine, a narcotic substance commonly referred to as “shabu.”

The authorities also arrested a citizen in Jazan for selling amphetamines, highly addictive drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.

Preliminary legal procedures have been completed for all the individuals involved and all seized items have been handed over to the relevant authorities.

The Saudi government urges anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number +966114208417, or to email [email protected].

Tips received relating to smuggling and breaches of common customs law are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for valid tips.

 


Saudi deputy FM meets Colombian counterpart in Bogotá

Francisco Coy Granados receives Waleed Elkhereiji in Bogotá. (Supplied)
Francisco Coy Granados receives Waleed Elkhereiji in Bogotá. (Supplied)
Updated 21 April 2024
Follow

Saudi deputy FM meets Colombian counterpart in Bogotá

Francisco Coy Granados receives Waleed Elkhereiji in Bogotá. (Supplied)
  • The two reviewed bilateral relations and ways in which they could be strengthened, along with the latest developments and issues of mutual concern

BOGOTÁ: Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji recently met his Colombian counterpart, Francisco Coy Granados, the foreign ministry reported on X on Saturday.

During the meeting, the two reviewed bilateral relations and ways in which they could be strengthened, along with the latest developments and issues of mutual concern.

The meeting was also attended by Acting Charge d’Affairs of Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Colombia Mohammed Al-Shatri, and the director general of the deputy minister’s office, Mutashar Al-Enezi.