RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, head of the surgical team responsible for the separation of conjoined twins, has confirmed that the Syrian boy called Bassam is in a stable condition a week after his operation at King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital.
Al-Rabeeah, who is also an advisor at the Royal Court and supervisor-general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, said Bassam’s medical indicators are reassuring and the artificial respiration devices have been removed, adding that he recovered from the anaesthesia and began interacting with his parents regularly.
He added that Bassam will begin to breastfeed from the mouth soon, indicating that the medical team expects him to be discharged from the pediatric intensive care unit to the pediatric ward to begin rehabilitation.
According to Al-Rabeeah, the other twin, Ihsan, passed away on Wednesday due to congenital defects in the heart, in addition to the agenesis of the kidneys, the urinary and reproductive system, and a major deficiency in the intestines, all of which were known before the operation and were explained to the parents.
This operation comes under the directives of the Saudi leadership, becoming the 58th of the Kingdom’s program for separating conjoined twins. Since 1990, the program has supervised 130 cases from 23 countries.
Riyadh to host World Expo 2030 after defeating challenges from South Korea, Italy
Saudi capital was picked by majority of 119 out of 165 votes by member states of Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions
The secret ballot was carried out using electronic voting, and Riyadh was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025
Updated 29 November 2023
PARIS: Riyadh will host the World Expo 2030 after defeating challenges from South Korea and Italy for the prestigious event.
The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions.
The secret ballot was carried out using electronic voting, and Riyadh was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025.
During the BIE event in the French capital, candidates presented their final Expo progress reports to member states and government-appointed delegates in an 11th-hour attempt to win votes.
The event is expected to represent the culmination of Vision 2030 and showcase the Kingdom’s achievements, with a particular focus on hospitality, tourism, and culture.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used a visit to Paris in June to showcase the Kingdom’s bid for the Expo, attending an exhibition held by the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh that showcased Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and cultural depth.
The bid began to draw support from high-profile French backers, with influential French senator Natalie Goulet saying that holding the expo in the Saudi capital would be “the culmination of Vision 2030.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “I would like to thank the 130 countries that have already announced their support for the Kingdom’s bid. Distinguished dignitaries, you have all acted as indispensable partners providing insight, feedback, and support throughout the Kingdom’s campaign.”
He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s “unwavering commitment to collaborate with all nations to deliver an Expo built by the world for the world and to find new pathways for collective action and collaboration.”
The foreign minister said the Kingdom will “provide facilities packages of $348 million to a pool of 100 eligible countries.”
Arab News backed the Expo bid through a #WhyRiyadh campaign launched on Sept. 23 – the Saudi National Day.
The program also seeks to increase green coverage from 1.5 percent to 9.1 percent, enhancing quality of life by creating open areas to improve public health, reduce energy consumption, and ultimately make Riyadh one of the 100 best livable cities in the world.
Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under the age of 30, and with a qualified labor force across industries fueling the race to 2030, there is excitement, energy, and enthusiasm in the first Arab capital to host the world event.
“Diriyah will be very famous by 2030, the city of Riyadh will be unrecognizable,” Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Group, told Arab News during an event leading up to the Expo 2030 announcement.
“What Singapore did in 60 years, what the Emiratis did just in tourism in 30 years, the crown prince wants to accomplish that in 15 years,” he added.
In a symposium held in Paris earlier in November, the Royal Commission’s directors of landscape architecture, Lamia Al-Muhanna, and Nouf Al-Moneef, unveiled a color-coded map with planned pavilions, performance venues, support facilities, and an exhibition village.
Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of tourism, used the event to say: “Choosing Saudi, choosing Riyadh, is choosing the world.”
Delivering Expo 2030 will mean massive infrastructure developments in the Saudi capital, including an increase in hotel capacity by 70,000 new rooms.
The venue will be accessible via a newly developed metro linking Expo City to a reconstructed King Salman Airport, set to be one of the largest aviation hubs in the world at 57 million sq. meters.
The Kingdom’s new airline, Riyadh Air, will further increase the capital’s accessibility, with flights to 100 countries by 2025.
“As host, we will create a world-class site expo to enable you to build pavilions and experiences in a way that matches your national priorities and aspirations,” said Ghida Al-Shibl, a member of the Riyadh Expo 2030 team.
She said: “By Feb 2028, participant parcel and expo village will be open. We will fast-track all necessary requirements including imports, visas, and regulations.”
Al-Shibl said the Kingdom will launch a participant lab in 2025 that will run through 2030 as a 24/7 concierge service to support “your move, and a variety of housing options for teams and families, in addition to access to excellent healthcare and education and banking services.”
Noor Riyadh returns to transform city into glowing work of art
Top curators, artists get together to stage biggest light art festival in the world
Updated 29 November 2023
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: Following its first showcase in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the beauty of Noor Riyadh has been its ability to bring art to not only the city of Riyadh, its various districts and neighborhoods, but to the Saudi populace.
Large-scale art installations produced by artists from Saudi Arabia, the greater Middle East and across the world can be found throughout the city of Riyadh during the festival. Viewing these artworks at night when they are illuminated becomes a way to discover the Saudi capital, neighborhoods and monuments many were unaware even existed, as well as find new artists, ways of thinking and cultures.
Noor Riyadh’s power, according to its directors and curators, lies in its ability to unite everyone, from all walks of life within the city, through alluring specially commissioned artworks.
“One of the key components of the festival is to stage it everywhere in the city of Riyadh,” Miguel Blanco-Carrasco, adviser at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and Riyadh Art, told Arab News.
“Our audience is very diverse. We are targeting people who are museumgoers and who have a profound interest in art, and those who would not regularly go to an art exhibition.”
Speaking about the significance of the event, he added: “Noor Riyadh is part of the creative transformation that is taking place in the Kingdom.
“This year we concentrated all artworks in five main hubs to improve the visitor experience. We also have three works in other locations across Riyadh.”
Noor Riyadh will showcase artists from around the world working in diverse mediums, including performance art, architecture, engineering, graphic design, and even medicine.
The five main hubs are located throughout Riyadh, with the central hub situated in the King Abdullah Financial District, the Saudi capital’s preeminent destination for business and lifestyle, which recently witnessed the staging of the inaugural Riyadh Fashion Week.
The third Noor Riyadh begins on Nov. 30 and runs until Dec. 16 under the theme “The Bright Side of The Desert Moon,” and explores the desert as a place of reconnection.
It will include 120 artworks by more than 100 artists from around 35 countries, including a significant representation of Saudi talents who comprise one third of participating artists.
Artworks include prominent pieces by Ange Leccia, Carsten Holler, Chris Levine, Dana-Fiona Armour, Diana Thater, Janet Echelman, Ivan Argote, Laurent Grasso, and Philippe Parreno, among others.
Community engagement remains a cornerstone of our festival. Our focus is on making art accessible and educational through various initiatives like talks, workshops, and school programs.
Nouf Al-Moneef, Noor Riyadh project manager
While the artist lineup has expanded, there are also several returning artists this year. These include Muhannad Shono, Rashed Al-Shashai, Bruno Ribeiro, Christopher Bauder, Studio Drift, Ahaad Alamoudi, and Zahra Al-Ghamdi.
Noor Riyadh’s curatorial team is just as diverse and multinational as its artist lineup and comprises both local and internationally renowned names. It is led by Jerome Sans and supported by curators Pedro Alonzo, Fahad bin Naif, and Alaa Tarabzouni.
Running concurrently to the festival is Noor Riyadh’s exhibition “Refracted Identities, Shared Futures.” It is being staged by Neville Wakefield who returns as lead curator, working alongside Maya Al-Athel, who served as artistic director of the festival in 2022.
The show, which runs until March 2, will include work by artists such as Abdullah Al-Othman, Ahaad Alamoudi, Conrad Shawcross, Farah Al-Qasimi, Julian Charriere, Kim Farkas, Mariko Mori, Rashed Al-Shashai, Sarah Brahim, and Sophia Al-Maria.
Noor Riyadh aims to help the art community as well as making the city an even bigger attraction.
Nouf Al-Moneef, project manager of Noor Riyadh and architectural adviser at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, told Arab News: “Community engagement remains a cornerstone of our festival.
“Our focus is on making art accessible and educational through various initiatives like talks, workshops, and school programs.”
Among the noteworthy aspects of this year’s event is the diversity of its artistic representation, which, according to Al-Moneef, has increased this time.
She added: “Each year’s innovative theme has deeply resonated with the worldwide topical themes, fostering a dialogue that bridges local and global perspectives.
“A testament to the festival’s growing prominence is the record-breaking attendance in 2022, with 2.8 million attendees and six Guinness World Records (totaling eight over the years), highlighting the largest celebration of light art globally.”
The festival is also pushing various artistic mediums. “We are further exploring the intersection between art and technology,” explained Blanco-Carrasco. “We are seeing what we can do with drones that hasn’t been done before. How can we use this medium to attain new artistic abilities?”
Noor Riyadh is an initiative of Riyadh Art, dubbed one of the largest public art initiatives in the world, which was launched in March 2019 by King Salman, under the supervision of the Committee of Grand Projects chaired by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Riyadh Art was created “to foster local artistic talent and ignite Saudi Arabia’s cultural economy,” according to a statement.
The ambition and vision of Riyadh Art is to transform the Saudi capital into an inspiring “gallery without walls,” showcasing over 1,000 public artworks dispersed throughout the city through 10 programs and two annual events.
“Through Riyadh Art, we’re bringing art directly into the everyday lives of citizens and visitors by integrating public art installations throughout the city,” said Al-Moneef.
“This approach not only makes art more accessible to a wider audience but also embeds it into the very fabric of the city, transforming public spaces into areas of inspiration and conversation.”
Noor Riyadh’s editions have offered “unique moments of joy” for millions of residents and visitors to the Saudi capital. The festival gives visitors the chance to view Riyadh in a new light and appreciate its ever-evolving landscape and great history.
Red Sea Lodge Program aims to support emerging filmmakers in Kingdom, Arab region and Africa
Updated 29 November 2023
JEDDAH: The third Red Sea International Film Festival will be held in Jeddah from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9 under the “Your Story, Your Festival” theme.
A pivotal component of the Red Sea Film Foundation is the Red Sea Labs which runs the Lodge feature film development program, conducted in collaboration with TorinoFilmLab and sponsored by the Film AlUla.
After the resounding success of its previous outings, the fourth Red Sea Lodge Program returns under the umbrella of Red Sea Labs.
The Red Sea Lab is an initiative of the Red Sea Film Foundation, aimed at empowering filmmakers, writers and industry professionals to realize their creative visions.
Ryan Ashore, the head of Red Sea Labs, emphasized the significance of progress in bringing in new regions during a media dialogue session on Monday at Jeddah’s Ritz Carlton.
• The program aims to support emerging filmmakers in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world and Africa.
• Selected projects will benefit from opportunities such as access to a wide network of creative mentors and cinema professionals.
Ashore told Arab News: “This is the fourth year for the Lodge, and there has been significant progress in entering new regions, as two projects from Africa joined us, making a total of 12 projects, five Saudi projects and other five Arab projects.”
“The notable renaissance in African cinema is evident, but they need support for their talents. As a global foundation, we have learned that including them in regions that require development in the film industry is essential.
“We started the program in AlUla in various areas of the city because it is the main sponsor. After 10 months of training, participants will present their films at the Red Sea Film Souk to compete for prizes, as now they have scripts, pitch deck and ready for production.”
The program aims to support emerging filmmakers in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world and Africa. Selected projects will benefit from opportunities such as access to a wide network of creative mentors and cinema professionals.
The Lodge presents a total of $200,000 that is $50,000 for four projects.
Among the selected projects from the Kingdom are “In the Beginning it is the End” by Ghadeer Binabbas, “The Night Whisperer” by Lina Mahmoud, “Mecca, Berlin” by Mujtaba Saeed, “By Hasnaa’s Side” by Amaal Yousef, and “The Middle One” by Sarah Mohammed Almuneef.
The Arab region is represented by projects such as “An Endless Night” by Mohamed Kassaby, “The Girl and The Missing Bed” by Samer Battikhi, “Temporary Lives” by Wessam Hachicho, “The Sun Seens Everything” by Wissam Tanios, and “My Father Killed Bourguiba” by Fatma Riahi.
Meanwhile, African projects include “Black Snake” by Naishe Nyamubaya and “Fantastic Tale” by Vincho Nchogu.
Another program under Red Sea Labs is “Music for Film,” an intensive on-site training program conducted over the course of a week. This program is designed to develop the skills of musicians in film scoring and music composition.
“Music is an integral part of the story,” Ashore said.
The program offers a comprehensive curriculum rich in technical dimensions and tools encompassing the skills that a composer needs to create original music to the highest standards, as well as many masterclasses and workshops.
“We received 150 applicants, and only seven were selected. The first thing we highlighted is the distinction between songwriting and film music composition, a difference that is not small at all,” Ashore said.
He added: “It was a great success to have seven Saudi composers that we were not aware of their existence. The main goal of this program is to equip these talented individuals with a new set of skills that they can apply to larger projects. We are promoting them so that they can secure actual work for short films, a starting point for them. One of them has already begun composing for a TV series.”
The total prize pool for winners at the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival is an estimated SR33.6 million ($8.96m), which includes the Al-Melwah and Al-Mazayen competitions
Updated 29 November 2023
RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival kicked off on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Saudi Falcons Club in Malham, north of Riyadh.
Elite falcon owners from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and around the world will take part in the event, which runs until Dec.14.
The club’s official spokesman, Walid Al-Taweel, said the festival included the largest falconry competition in the world. This was within the framework of the Saudi leadership’s keenness to preserve the Kingdom’s cultural and civilizational heritage.
Al-Taweel said the club was constantly working to improve its activities as each year saw increased development and support for falconers. The total prize pool for winners at the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival is an estimated SR33.6 million ($8.96m), which includes the Al-Melwah and Al-Mazayen competitions. The festival will also feature a falcon beauty pageant.
The total prize pool for winners at the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival is an estimated SR33.6 million ($8.96m).
Al-Taweel said new categories had been added, such as 20 prizes in the Al-Melwah competition instead of the previous five, an international auction for falcon production farms, and 10 international competitor prizes instead of three. There will also be an additional round in the Al-Mazayen contest exclusively for Saudis, where the top three will receive SR300,000, SR200,000 and SR100,000 respectively.
The King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival has attracted exceptional numbers since its launch in 2019. Its first edition entered the Guinness World Records as the largest falconry competition in the world, attracting 1,723 participants. The second event, later the same year, did the same, with 2,350 falcons taking part.
Saudi Arabia’s ultra-luxury hospitality in spotlight
Boutique Group was established to support the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture to develop and promote the tourist industry in Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 November 2023
RIYADH: Boutique Group, described as the first ultra-luxury hospitality organization of its kind in Saudi Arabia, will showcase its range of luxury hotels at the International Luxury Travel Market Cannes from Dec. 4 to 7.
Owned by the Public Investment Fund, Boutique Group was established to support the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture to develop and promote the tourist industry in the Kingdom. It does this by developing and operating ultra-luxury boutique hotels within transformed historic and culturally important palaces, which previously served as royal residences or accommodation for VIP guests.
The company said it aims to set new benchmarks in the industry and redefine the luxury hospitality experience in the Kingdom by offering domestic and international travelers an opportunity to immerse themselves in a modern-day Saudi Arabia inspired by tradition.
Boutique Group’s portfolio of properties previously inaccessible to the public include the Red Palace in Riyadh, which was once home to King Saud and later used as the offices of the Council of Ministers for three decades; Al-Hamra Palace in Jeddah, which provided accommodation for many prominent international public figures; and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture-winning Tuwaiq Palace, considered one of Riyadh’s most significant architectural landmarks.
The company said that by completely renovating the three palaces to offer grandiose, all-encompassing hospitality experiences that honor local history and culture, it epitomizes the traditions of Saudi hospitality and generosity, with a focus on providing guest experiences of the highest standards.