Ithra Summer Program sees teens showcase their creative ideas

Ithra Summer Program sees teens showcase their creative ideas
Participants in the Youth Summer Program held at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). (SPA)
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Updated 22 August 2023
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Ithra Summer Program sees teens showcase their creative ideas

Ithra Summer Program sees teens showcase their creative ideas
  • Program seeks to enhance each participant’s ability to combine theoretical knowledge with technical know-how
  • Participants were introduced to different arts such as cinema, music, museums and libraries and took part in field trips

RIYADH: The second Youth Summer Program, held at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, concluded recently having seen talented teens showcase their creative ideas.

Of the 30 attendees, six were selected by an evaluation committee to contribute and engage with a whole year of projects across various cultural fields.

Nouf Al-Jamea, head of learning programs at Ithra, said that the four-week program provided the youth with in-depth insights and some hands-on experience working within a context related to their personal interests.

The program seeks to enhance each participant’s ability to combine theoretical knowledge with technical know-how to form future professional skills and give them experience networking within the framework of the creative and cultural industries.

Al-Jamea noted that the program included cultural trips to destinations that linked between aspects of creativity and the cultural thought industry. 

Participants were introduced to different arts such as cinema, music, museums and libraries and took part in field trips, visiting Al-Ahsa Oasis, Jabal Al-Qarah and the Princes’ School in coordination with the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts.

The participants presented their final outputs, after completing 150 hours of training and more than 55 educational experiences under the supervision of 20 experts.

The summer program concluded with a tour inside the exhibition held at Ithra Plaza, with the participation of the families of the participants.

The families stressed the importance of the program’s agenda as it contributes to advancing cultural mobility and developing the capabilities of young people in the creative fields.


Kingdom welcomes independent committee’s report on UNRWA’s performance

Kingdom welcomes independent committee’s report on UNRWA’s performance
Updated 8 sec ago
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Kingdom welcomes independent committee’s report on UNRWA’s performance

Kingdom welcomes independent committee’s report on UNRWA’s performance
  • Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses importance of the commitment of donor countries to the organization

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has welcomed an independent committee’s report on the performance of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Kingdom backed the report, which confirmed UNRWA’s main role in supporting the relief, humanitarian and developmental efforts of the Palestinian people.
The ministry further reiterated Saudi Arabia’s emphasis on the importance of the commitment of donor countries to UNRWA to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of all forms of support for refugees in a way that reduces their suffering, especially in light of the Israeli occupation’s continued violations of international law and international humanitarian law.


EU Embassy, Arab News honor makers of Saudi ‘Horizon’ documentary

EU Embassy, Arab News honor makers of Saudi ‘Horizon’ documentary
Updated 1 min 36 sec ago
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EU Embassy, Arab News honor makers of Saudi ‘Horizon’ documentary

EU Embassy, Arab News honor makers of Saudi ‘Horizon’ documentary
  • Princess Lamia: ‘Screening is a reminder of our shared responsibility to protect precious ecosystems’
  • Ambassador Farnaud: ‘The Saudi Green Initiative and the European Green Deal have shared goals’
  • Abbas: ‘We are delighted to partner with the EU envoy to showcase Saudi Arabian wildlife in a captivating manner’

RIYADH: The makers of a recently produced, highly acclaimed documentary on Saudi wildlife were honored at a special screening of the film “Horizon” at the residence of the EU ambassador in Riyadh.

The new documentary, produced by the Konoz Initiative, is part of a collaboration between the Saudi Ministry of Media’s Center for Government Communication and the National Center for Wildlife.

It explores the ecological treasures and unique habitats of the Kingdom.

Princess Lamia bint Majed Saud Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, was a guest of honor. Princess Lamia, through her work with Alwaleed Philanthropies, has recently announced an initiative called Atlai, an innovative artificial intelligence platform to support global efforts to combat deforestation.

The screening was followed by a presentation of an honorary certificate to Abdullah Alahmari, CEO of Konoz initiative, and Yazeed Albader, associate producer of “Horizon.” This was presented by EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Christophe Farnaud, Princess Lamia and Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas.

Farnaud said: “The ‘Horizon’ documentary captures the breathtaking beauty of Saudi Arabia’s diverse natural landscapes and wildlife.

“For centuries, much of the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, held a mysterious attraction for European explorers and travelers.”

The ambassador spoke of the significance of protecting the environment due to basic human needs such as food and water, and dependency on the health of our global environment.

“The Saudi Green Initiative and the European Green Deal have shared goals. We all depend on nature for our food, air, water, energy and raw materials. Nature and biodiversity make life possible, provide health, and drive our economy. Nature is also our best ally in tackling the climate crisis,” he said.

“Climate change, economic diversification and transitioning to renewables remain priority areas for both the EU with its policy of European Green Deal as well as for Saudi Arabia with its Vision 2030.”

Princess Lamia gave her thoughts on Saudi Arabia’s fascinating natural wonders that are featured in the film.

“Through ‘Horizon’ we are transported to the breathtaking beauty and rich biodiversity of Saudi Arabia. This documentary promises to immerse us in the heart of the Kingdom’s diverse wildlife and scenery,” she said.

“Tonight’s screening is not only a celebration of Saudi Arabia’s rich natural heritage but also a call to action — a reminder of our shared responsibility to protect and conserve the precious ecosystems that define our world.

“In a time where our forests and natural ecosystems are disappearing at an alarming rate, Atlai, created by Alwaleed Philanthropies, is a testament to the power of innovation and collaboration. It’s about igniting a passion for preservation, a fervor for conservation, and a commitment to safeguarding our planet for generations to come.”

Abbas expressed appreciation for the Saudi team behind the “Horizon” documentary, saying: “We are delighted to have partnered with the EU delegation to host a special screening of this remarkable documentary which showcases Saudi Arabian wildlife in a truly captivating manner.”

He added: “As part of Arab News Green and Blue initiative, which focuses on environment and sustainability, we are also proud to present the Saudi team behind the ‘Horizon’ documentary with a certificate of appreciation, and thank them for their contribution in preserving and showcasing the wonders our beloved Kingdom has to offer.”

Arab News has recently launched its Green And Blue, an initiative which discusses environmental subjects regarding climate change, desertification, wildlife preservation, sustainability, and green energy, with a close emphasis on the environment in Saudi Arabia.

The CEO of Konoz initiative expressed how thrilled he was to attend the screening of the movie.

“This documentary sheds light on the beauty of Saudi Arabia, its versatile terrain and highlights the wildlife we are blessed to have in the Kingdom,” Said Alahmari.

He expressed his appreciation to the Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dossary for his constant support in ensuring that the movie highlights the Kingdom and reaches a broader audience.

The associate producer of the work explained how the documentary took more than 260 days of shooting and more than 2,000 hours of recording because it covered all the regions.

“If you want to shoot some of the animals, you may not get luck on the spot. So, you have to do some scouting, you have to arrive a couple of days before, stay for weeks to spot a nice shot, or to get that perfect skyline with the clouds, sunset or sunrise,” said Albader.

“I was honored to be here, the screening was great. It is a pleasure to be here with the ambassadors, and to see how a lot of people care about nature and wildlife. This is just the beginning of many events to come.”

“Horizon” is now available on Netflix internationally.


Inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum focuses on innovative ways to enhance pilgrim experience

Inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum focuses on innovative ways to enhance pilgrim experience
Updated 32 min 22 sec ago
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Inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum focuses on innovative ways to enhance pilgrim experience

Inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum focuses on innovative ways to enhance pilgrim experience
  • The 3-day event, which concluded on Wednesday, included 6 discussion sessions and 24 workshops led by 29 experts

JEDDAH: The inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum concluded on Wednesday at the King Salman International Convention Center in Madinah. During the three-day event, participants discussed ways to foster collaborations, enhance the pilgrimage experience and improve the services provided for pilgrims.

The agenda for the forum, organized by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in partnership with the Pilgrim Experience Program, included six discussion sessions and 24 workshops led by 29 experts and specialists.

The topics they covered included services for pilgrims and other visitors, advancements in air travel services for pilgrims, financial systems in the Umrah and ziyarah sectors, and development opportunities in housing and hospitality services.

Other discussions focused on services at ports, the automation of operations, ways to improve the efficiency of workers, and the important role of services provided for visitors at holy sites and throughout their journeys in Makkah and Madinah.

One of the key topics was air travel services, with discussions about the growth in flight numbers and the need to provide a comprehensive range of services throughout pilgrims’ journeys beyond those purely focusing on their rituals. For example, participants highlighted plans for the expansion of Madinah Airport to better accommodate the increasing numbers of pilgrims and other visitors arriving there.

Another discussion examined financial services in the Umrah and ziyarah sector, and explored the options for international money transfers, ways to develop financial procedures, and innovative digital solutions for processing transactions.

Other topics included development opportunities in housing and hospitality services, during which speakers emphasized the importance of transparency and the need for full compliance by service providers with the terms of their contracts.

The final day of the event featured two panel discussions, one about the role of technology in finding solutions to the challenges in guest services, and the other on ways to carefully develop historical sites to enrich the historical and spiritual experiences for visitors to Makkah and Madinah.


Experts discuss Saudi Arabia’s latest anti-trafficking measure

Experts discuss Saudi Arabia’s latest anti-trafficking measure
Updated 24 April 2024
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Experts discuss Saudi Arabia’s latest anti-trafficking measure

Experts discuss Saudi Arabia’s latest anti-trafficking measure
  • Symposium raised awareness of common patterns and recent developments in human trafficking, along with effective means of protection and prevention
  • Human trafficking encompasses sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude, often involving women and children

RIYADH: Experts discussed Saudi Arabia’s latest efforts to combat human trafficking at an event in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The symposium, titled “Enhancing Cooperation in Combating Trafficking in Persons,” drew attendees from a variety of fields to review anti-human trafficking policies.

It also raised awareness of common patterns and recent developments in human trafficking, along with effective means of protection and prevention.

“At the Saudi National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, we aim to exchange experiences and foster coordination to combat human trafficking, prevent its occurrence, reduce its impact on victims and protect them,” said Hala Al-Tuwaijri, president of the Human Rights Commission.

During a panel discussion titled “Normative and International Framework to Combat Trafficking in Persons,” Al-Tuwaijri warned that crises and conflicts around the world create a fertile environment for traffickers to exploit the vulnerable.

Human trafficking encompasses sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude, often involving women and children.

Al-Tuwaijri said that human trafficking transcends borders. By working together across countries and regions, the international community can protect the vulnerable and uphold human rights, he added.

Per Saudi law, those found guilty of human trafficking in the Kingdom face up to 15 years’ imprisonment, fines of up to SR1 million ($266,000), or both.

Al-Tuwaijri highlighted the importance of bolstering international efforts to combat human trafficking through comprehensive legislation and enhanced case detection.

In 2023, anti-human trafficking organizations in the Kingdom conducted 41 training programs, aiming to raise awareness of vulnerabilities to trafficking within migrant communities. The training covered victim identification, best practices in screening vulnerable populations in detention centers, trauma-informed and victim-centered interviewing and assistance techniques, search procedures, evidence collection and criminal investigative processes during trafficking trials.

Abdullah Abu Thunin, vice minister of human resources and social development, said that significant efforts are being made in the Saudi labor market to combat human trafficking.

The ministry is activating a national plan to combat human trafficking, he added. The strategy is based on four main pillars: Prevention, protection and assistance, prosecution, and national, regional and international cooperation.

Abu Thunin said that the ministry has launched several programs to target human trafficking, including one scheme to improve contractual relationships.

“Through the authenticated contracts program and the wage protection program, more than 7 million contracts were signed by employees, obligating employers to pay workers’ wages,” he added.

The Friendly Settlement for Labor Disputes program also achieved a 77 percent reconciliation rate in labor disputes.

Abu Thunin said that compliance rates have increased in the Kingdom since the programs were launched.

Many government agencies, including the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, the Public Prosecution, the Human Rights Commission and the National Committee to Combat Trafficking, took part in the Riyadh symposium.

Numerous international organizations also attended, including the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Resident Coordinator Office.


AI heralds new era for art, music, Riyadh summit told

AI heralds new era for art, music, Riyadh summit told
Updated 24 April 2024
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AI heralds new era for art, music, Riyadh summit told

AI heralds new era for art, music, Riyadh summit told
  • Forum explored innovations linked with Web3, a new stage of the internet driven by the cryptocurrency-related technology blockchain
  • Web3 is expected to provide greater security, and give users more control over their data, opening new horizons for musicians and artists

RIYADH: Music has always been at the cutting edge when it comes to utilizing technological innovation, Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Saudi Music Commission, told a forum in Riyadh.

Experts discussed the impact of artificial intelligence on the creative industries during the Outer Edge summit held at The Garage in the Saudi capital on Tuesday.

The forum explored innovations linked with Web3, a new stage of the internet driven by the cryptocurrency-related technology blockchain.

Web3 is expected to provide greater security, and give users more control over their data, opening new horizons for musicians and artists, among others.

“Musicians have always experimented with every tool they could get their hands on,” Pacifico said during a panel titled “The Future of Creativity, including Music and Art.”

He cited the invention of the piano as an example, and said that artists would explore any medium or utilize any tool to convey their message.

“AI is everywhere, and is somewhat of a catch-all term for several technologies that converge around machines,” he said.

Pacifico encouraged artists to explore AI, adding that it is already integrated into many areas of their working life.

“We’ve already experienced AI in the creative space through algorithmic playlists on streaming platforms, backend processing, digital music production, and editing with software programs.”

The discussion also explored the intersection of technology and art, with speakers highlighting the potential for immersive experiences that merge the physical and digital worlds.  

Saudi artist Khaled Makshoush, who works with digital pixel designs, is optimistic about AI applications in the creative realm, saying that that he sometimes uses the technology as a source of inspiration and a tool to enhance his artistic processes.

He said that some people view AI negatively because it can generate art based on the work of other artists.

“I would generate an image with AI to be inspired by what elements or colors to incorporate into a painting.”

Makshoush said that because he is quite indecisive, “an AI assistant who can advise me based on my previous artworks would be very beneficial.”

Melissa Wiederrecht writes JavaScript code to generate her artwork, and uploads her creations on web3.

The algorithmic and generative artist said that one exciting aspect of Web3 is its potential to showcase artwork in new and innovative ways. Artists can use blockchain technology to create unique digital pieces, secure ownership rights, and sell their work to collectors.

“For example, I’ll have AI pick five random colors; then maybe I’ll say pick a random sample of points, then throw some color around, and choose a style of mine,” she said. 

Wiederrecht said that she can write an algorithm that generates infinitely different pieces of art from the same code.

“They all look similar, like they belong to the same collection, but they’re all completely unique,” she added.

Pacifico concluded by saying: “I want to see that bedrock that we’re putting in place enable generations after us to have much greater access to the freedom of expression and circular economy required to enable access for more expression for all.”