Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 

Special Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
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Graffiti is removed using laser technology. (Supplied)
Special Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
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Restored pottery pieces. (Supplied)
Special Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
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Pottery prior to restoration. (Supplied)
Special Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
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Graffiti targeted for removal. (Supplied)
Special Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
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Graffiti targeted for removal. (Supplied)
Special Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
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A restored archaeological site. (Supplied)
Special Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
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An archaeological site being restored. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 July 2023
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Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 

Saudi Heritage Commission’s project aims at cleaning historic sites, artifacts 
  • Bader Al-Shammari: The commission is in the process of launching a project to remove writings and graffiti in all regions … after locating the damaged sites
  • Al-Shammari praised the efforts of the Heritage Commission in preserving cultural and heritage sites by using the best scientific methods

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission is launching a project to clean the country’s historic sites after the problem was documented and archived by specialized teams.

Bader Al-Shammari, the official responsible for the restoration of archaeological sites at the Heritage Commission, told Arab News that the task involved working at various locations on sites and artifacts, pottery, minerals, and coins, and also removing graffiti and writings.

He said: “The commission is in the process of launching a project to remove writings and graffiti in all regions … after locating the damaged sites.”

He praised the efforts of the Heritage Commission in preserving cultural and heritage sites by using the best scientific methods, noting that the restoration work complemented excavation activity.

He added: “After excavating, discovering, exploring sites and extracting artifacts, we must preserve them from damage and extinction, using safe materials, to keep them for future generations.

“We do not aim to renew and enhance the artifact, but the main goal is to preserve it in its originality, prolong its life as much as possible and preserve its archaeological character.”

He said that the artifacts are to be taken to laboratories, where each is dealt with separately.

He added: “A treatment plan is developed for each artifact, where the necessary materials are used to treat it.

“Each artifact has a special chemical for it, and we use devices specializing in restoration, such as electrolysis devices, to remove layers of rust on the body of metallic objects.”

The restoration of pottery pieces involves removing dust and residues, while broken pieces can be repaired.

Removing graffiti is done in several stages, including documentation and then preparing the chemicals to be used in the process.

Al-Shammari said: “The writings on the archaeological rocks and on the engravings and inscriptions are dealt with accurately, using some chemicals such as ammonia.

“The team (has) also experimented using laser techniques to remove graffiti from engravings, sites and monuments, as well as ultraviolet rays to remove the colors on the archaeological engravings in different areas.”

He added that the commission’s use of advanced laser devices will help preserve the inscriptions and engravings without damaging them.


Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn

Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn
Updated 20 February 2024
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Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn

Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn

RIYADH: In his 2016 memoir, “A Life in Questions,” Jeremy Paxman, the prominent British journalist and presenter, outlines how he has been inquisitive his entire life.

The autobiography uncovers Paxman’s early years, interviews with prominent figures, insights into journalistic integrity, political engagement, and the power of asking the right questions.

Paxman takes a humorous approach in recounting past experiences, notably an incident involving Marks & Spencer underwear. He described an occasion when he put his leg through his briefs, causing the elastic to detach from the cotton.

Paxman asked the other people in the gym: “Any of you blokes had any trouble with pants?" His concerns about the quality sparked a media frenzy, resulting in an abundance of underwear being sent to him, even from strangers.

The book showcases Paxman’s recollections over four decades of journalism. However, when considering his interviews, I hoped for more insights into his technique and style. Renowned for his unconventional approach, his interviews often left interviewees feeling unsettled or nervous, as if they were “quaking in their boots.”

At times, the narrative becomes monotonous, particularly in sections where Paxman delves into less compelling aspects of his career, making the reading experience somewhat laborious.

However, Paxman’s recounting of iconic interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes kept me from looking away. A notable interview showing his commitment to getting answers, which was widely praised, took place in May 1997, where Paxman questioned former Home Secretary Michael Howard a total of 12 times about his potential overruling of the head of the Prison Service, Derek Lewis.

The writing style can feel a bit disconnected, shifting between different times in Paxman’s life with abrupt transitions. This might make it a little harder to follow his story. Paxman’s memoir might be more relatable to those familiar with the UK’s political and cultural scene, as it assumes a certain level of knowledge about the figures and events discussed.

Learning from Paxman’s methods can help journalists develop their own style and ensure that they can engage with and extract valuable information from interviewees.

Overall, “A Life in Questions” is recommended for those fascinated by unconventional interviewing styles. It not only tells stories but also acts as a guide for journalists seeking to enhance their interviewing skills.


Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot

Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot
Updated 20 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot

Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla is adding a music recording studio to its production lot in June.

Film AlUla’s current production facility includes a 30,000-square-foot soundstage, backlot, production support buildings, workshops, warehouses, recording studio and training and rehearsal space.

AlUla is also home to the mirrored Maraya concert hall, a multi-purpose venue that plays host to international concerts.

The film commission will inaugurate a recording studio with audio and recording equipment comprising a control room and two soundproof booths that can be used by individual artists, choirs, rehearsals for film score production, music videos and orchestral work, Variety magazine reported.

Film AlUla’s Executive Director Charlene Deleon-Jones commented on the upcoming opening, saying: “Following the successful launch of our film studios last year, we are continuing to strategically expand the complex and become a one-stop destination for creatives, with the recording studio being a natural next step in this vision.

“We are delighted to welcome artists starting from June whom we have no doubt will be inspired by the magnificent surroundings and heritage that AlUla has to offer while making the most of our cutting-edge facilities to create magic,” she added, according to Variety magazine.

Previous Hollywood productions shot in AlUla include the Gerard Butler-led action-thriller “Kandahar,” directed by Ric Roman Waugh, and “Cherry,” starring Tom Holland and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

The news comes after December’s Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah saw global media company Stampede Ventures announce further films in its 10-movie partnership with Film AlUla.

Hollywood movies “Fourth Wall” and “Chasing Red” are set to be filmed in AlUla in 2024 as part of a 10-project deal between Film AlUla and Stampede Ventures, in addition to the previously announced feature “K-Pops!”

There will be emphasis on using Saudi talent during the production process, Deleon-Jones told Arab News at the time, adding: “One of the most significant parts of what we’re doing is the training and development, because this gives us an opportunity to really develop below-the-line crew in somewhere like AlUla, where traditionally the main careers open to you would have been agriculture. We have a young working population who are vibrant and digitally engaged somewhere which is seen as one of the more remote places, (and now) you have this whole new exciting career path.”


First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 

First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 
Updated 20 February 2024
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First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 

First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 

DUBAI: Egyptian actress Mona Zaki is set to star in a film portraying the life of legendary singer Umm Kulthum, which is the first film in a slate of productions as Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority announced the launch of a film fund named Big Time Investment, aimed at fostering the production of Arabic cinema.

The inaugural project under this initiative will be a biopic celebrating the life of Egyptian legend Umm Kulthum, who was referred to as “The fourth pyramid” by Arabs, as well as “The star of the East,” “Mother of the Arabs” and “Lady of Arabic Song.” 

Egyptian filmmaker Marwan Hamed has been tapped to direct the film titled “El Set,” with acclaimed Egyptian actress Mona Zaki set to portray Umm Kulthum.

The announcement regarding the fund took place in Cairo, where Turki Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the GEA, disclosed that the authority would serve as the main sponsor of the approximately $130 million fund. 

The Ministry of Culture will act as a co-sponsor, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency. Several  Saudi companies will also contribute to the fund, including Sela Studio, SMC Company, Rotana Audio Visual Co., and Benchmark Company.

The fund aims to germinate roughly 20 Arabic titles a year.


Hans Zimmer to return to Dubai on May 31

Hans Zimmer to return to Dubai on May 31
Updated 20 February 2024
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Hans Zimmer to return to Dubai on May 31

Hans Zimmer to return to Dubai on May 31

DUBAI: Following the success of “Hans Zimmer Live” in Dubai last year, the multiple Academy Award-winning composer will return to the emirate on May 31 at the Coca-Cola Arena.

Zimmer’s musical legacy, marked by the creation of memorable movie scores, secured him two Academy Awards and four Grammy Awards, along with nominations for three Emmys and a Tony.

With an impressive repertoire, he composed the music for movies like “Interstellar,” “The Dark Knight,” “Gladiator,” “Top Gun Maverick,” “The Lion King,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and most recently “Dune” and “Dune: Part 2” — as well as more iconic movies.

“I am immensely grateful for the warm embrace Dubai gave to my music during our first performance in the city. I firmly believe that music has the power to transcend language and resonate with the deepest emotions within us,” Zimmer said in a statement.

 


Artistic experiences enchant Balad Al-Fann visitors

Artistic experiences enchant Balad Al-Fann visitors
Updated 19 February 2024
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Artistic experiences enchant Balad Al-Fann visitors

Artistic experiences enchant Balad Al-Fann visitors
  • Artisans from around the world are sharing the beauty and intricacy of their works through workshops, displays

JEDDAH: The Artisan’s Lane at Al-Balad is a museum of Saudi arts and crafts that has been instrumental in promoting local craftspeople involved in traditional textiles, pottery and woodwork.

Organized by Zawiya 97, the initiative not only preserves ancient crafts by international and local artisans, but also provides a platform for visitors to engage in hands-on workshops, interactive craft sessions, talks, studio sessions and master classes.

The increased influx of visitors in Al-Balad has provided artisans with a greater market presence and demand for their goods and services. (AN photos by Saleh Fareed)

Zawiya 97, a hub for the Saudi creative and traditional arts scene, brings creative endeavors of all sizes near Jeddah’s iconic Nassif House. The hub’s CEO, Ahmed Angawi, told Arab News: “This dynamic hub goes beyond commerce, fostering creativity, skill-sharing and community bonds.”

The increased influx of visitors in Al-Balad has provided artisans with a greater market presence and demand for their goods and services, pushing their businesses to new heights of success and sustainability.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The theme for Balad Al-Fann, which runs until March 9, is ‘Past Forward.’

• The Artisan’s Lane not only preserves ancient crafts by international and local artisans, but also provides a platform for visitors to engage in hands-on workshops and sessions.

• Eighteen artisans from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Iraq, Kurdistan and Uzbekistan recently took over Artisan’s Lane.

Eighteen artisans from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Iraq, Kurdistan and Uzbekistan recently took over Artisan’s Lane with carpet weaving, soap, ceramic and rug making demonstrations, as well as a showcase of Arabic calligraphy.

Angawi noted that he and his team have always encouraged talented artisans in Saudi Arabia and abroad to monetize their crafts. This inspired Zawiya 97 to be part of Balad Al-Fann festival, which features interactive events that connect local artisans to international markets.

The increased influx of visitors in Al-Balad has provided artisans with a greater market presence and demand for their goods and services. (Supplied)

The CEO, who has an interest in local heritage, told Arab News that the initiative was created in Jeddah’s historic area under the name “Common Ground.”

He added: “The Common Ground program is inspired by our cultural heritage and architecture as a universal language of civilization ... it is for artisans and creative craftsmen to express their culture in one space.”

The increased influx of visitors in Al-Balad has provided artisans with a greater market presence and demand for their goods and services. (Supplied)

Among them is Shorsh Saleh, a Kurdish mixed media artist, carpet designer and weaver. His works focus on the subject of migration, border and identity. Based in the UK, he has exhibited both nationally and internationally.

He said: “I am here for six weeks to present my craft work. To get locals engaged, we are offering courses to share our experience and also enlighten those who are interested in carpet weaving.”

The increased influx of visitors in Al-Balad has provided artisans with a greater market presence and demand for their goods and services. (AN photos by Saleh Fareed)

The studio of Hashim Al-Shawi, a Saudi business development expert in Jeddah with British accreditation in the hand soap industry, is one of the popular spots in Artisan’s Lane.

Al-Shawi said: “I am really glad to be part of this artisan gathering in Al-Balad to show people that soap making is a unique experience. We draw our inspiration from the history of Jeddah and reflect it in our products characterized by authentic craftmanship and traditional methods with local ingredients, such as Bab Mecca oils and herbs of Al-Attarin.”

Inside his studio, surrounded by visitors watching his creative Arabic calligraphy, Ayoob Abdul Hameed from Makkah told Arab News that the art form conveys “harmony, grace and beauty.”

He added: “Our duty is to serve you all with our talent. Arabic calligraphy is in the form of print; some is done by oil painting, and very often it is done by engraving. There is a difference between the art of Arabic calligraphy and regular writing.”

The theme for Balad Al-Fann, which runs until March 9, is “Past Forward,” and the historical district is brimming with projects that combine light and sound, music, theatrical performances, exhibitions, and a number of local eateries and cafes.