Explore the enduring power of myth and legend at Saudi National Museum event

The Saudi National Museum in Riyadh will this week host a two-day event in celebration of the art of storytelling and the enduring power of myths. (@SaudiMuseum)
The Saudi National Museum in Riyadh will this week host a two-day event in celebration of the art of storytelling and the enduring power of myths. (@SaudiMuseum)
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Updated 23 October 2023
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Explore the enduring power of myth and legend at Saudi National Museum event

The Saudi National Museum in Riyadh will this week host a two-day event in celebration of the art of storytelling.
  • The two-day event this week will explore narratives, migration stories and other timeless tales passed down through the generations
  • It includes an interactive workshop that will offer a special opportunity for those with a passion for the art of storytelling to enhance their skills

RIYADH: The Saudi National Museum in Riyadh will this week host a two-day event in celebration of the art of storytelling and the enduring power of myths.

During “Exploring Legends and Myths” on Oct. 26, Layan Abdul Shakoor, the founder and creative director of writing studio and publishing house Mauzoun, and Malak Lateef, its head of content, will lead participants on what is described as a captivating journey as they explore narratives, migration stories and other timeless tales passed down through the generations.

The session will also delve into the world of vintage literature, examining stories from the renowned “Myths in Our World and Around It” series, a contemporary initiative that aims to revitalize 11 prominent stories and legends cherished by diverse Arab cultures, including notable gems such as “Tamya and Qatan” and “Sahloul.”

These stories explore profound themes such as love, courage and the fascinating world of illusions, all presented in a captivating narrative style and brought to life through vibrant illustrations, organizers said. This session will also feature a book-signing event for series.

The following day, an interactive workshop will provide a special opportunity for those with a passion for the art of storytelling. Moderated by Shakoor, the creative force behind Mauzoun, it has been designed to help equip participants with the cognitive and artistic skills needed to master their craft.

This week’s event is part of a series of talks, meetings and workshops organized by the Saudi National Museum throughout October with the goal of enriching the cultural landscape and shedding light on historical narratives and the deep-rooted cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia, organizers said, and to create a profoundly enriching museum experience for a wide range of participants, including visitors from other countries.


Saudi pavilion showcases ancient heritage at Doha expo

Saudi pavilion showcases ancient heritage at Doha expo
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Saudi pavilion showcases ancient heritage at Doha expo

Saudi pavilion showcases ancient heritage at Doha expo

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at the International Horticultural Expo in Doha participated in celebrations for the Kingdom’s Founding Day.

The pavilion showcased Saudi national heritage, and visitors could explore the Kingdom’s ancient history.

The celebrations included various events to reflect the unique Saudi identity and heritage. Among these were folk arts and traditional music performances, the Saudi ardah, traditional fashion shows, and events showcasing plastic arts.

Also displayed were handicrafts that combined nostalgia with the creativity of the present.

Many visitors were a part of the special occasion, and it was praised for highlighting the diversity and cultural richness of Saudi Arabia.

The event was part of the Kingdom’s efforts to enhance cultural communication and introduce the world to its rich heritage. It was also an opportunity to showcase Saudi history while strengthening cultural ties and communication.

The expo, which boasts the title “Green Desert, Better Environment,” began on Oct. 2 last year and continues until March 28.

The Saudi pavilion is also showcasing the Kingdom’s “natural richness,” drawing visitors from around the world.


From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition

From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition
Updated 24 February 2024
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From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition

From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition
  • The princess joined an expedition in November to the remotest parts of Antarctica led by Australian NGO Homeward Bound
  • She joined the expedition to raise awareness about climate action, sustainability, and the need for ‘a peace pact with nature’

RIYADH: Princess Abeer bint Saud bin Farhan Al-Saud recently became the first person from Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region to go on a research expedition to the remotest parts of the Antarctic continent.

In November, the princess was among 80 people selected from a pool of 1,800 applicants from 45 nations who joined the expedition led by Homeward Bound, an Australian organization that promotes women’s leadership in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine).

Princess Abeer told Arab News: “The whole purpose of me joining this expedition was to raise awareness about climate action, environmental sustainability, and making a peace pact with nature and biodiversity.”

The women on The Island Sky 2023, from 18 countries, set sail on Nov. 12, 2023, from Puerto Madryn, Argentina, for a 19-night voyage. (Photo courtesy of Homeward Bound)

Also on the expedition were astronomers, oceanographers, glaciologists, mathematicians, marine biologists, and renewable energy engineers, who collaborated on various projects some of which were part of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), held in Dubai in November and December.

The princess said: “As a group, a few of us collaborated on multiple projects combining science, art, and policy and advocating at the UN by drafting reports and preparing our talks and findings for our participation at COP28.”

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• In November, Princess Abeer joined an expedition to the remotest parts of Antarctica, led by Homeward Bound, an Australian organization that holds leadership programs for women in STEMM, becoming the first person from the Gulf region to do so.

Princess Abeer is an international development professional with culture and heritage, peacebuilding, multilateralism, and NGO expertise, who has worked for several UN agencies.

She currently chairs the Sustainable Development Association (Talga) which aims to localize the UN Sustainable Development Goals in alignment with Vision 2030.

The princess noted that she was passionate about dedicating her life to projects that helped preserve endangered species, land, and the planet.

She is also an artist, inspired by her surroundings and what she described as her “cosmic desert” adventures in Saudi Arabia, where she produces works on canvas utilizing natural materials.

Before setting off for Antarctica, Princess Abeer pointed out that she would channel her ancestral heritage.

“I will draw on my roots as a woman from the desert and as a sailor, looking to the heavens to guide me.

“The Southern Cross has led me to many answers and many more questions, just like the North Star has led wanderers through the desert for countless generations,” she added.

The Bedouin who traversed Arabia’s vast deserts over the millennia relied on the stars.

November’s expedition was not all plain sailing. An unexpected storm struck the team’s ship as it navigated the Drake Passage, one of the world’s choppiest sea routes located between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.

Navigating through icebergs amid stormy waters could be a truly frightening experience. (Photo by Maya Beano)

The princess said: “We had a very challenging 48 hours on the Drake Passage. My expedition mates lay on their bunks. Others used dark humor to console their anxiety by playing the ‘Titanic’ soundtrack on the old piano on board in the open area lounge.

“A few others were brave and calm, enjoying their time knowing that the storm would pass.”

While the experience was no doubt frightening, she added that she felt humbled, both by the power of nature and the skill of the ship’s crew who brought them safely through the towering waves to calmer seas.

“Witnessing and experiencing the majesty of nature’s fury is the art of humble exploration. I think it requires so much mental agility, gentle wisdom, and humor to overcome any storm, rogue waves, or any hardship in your life,” she added.

When the team arrived in Antarctica, Princess Abeer noted that it felt like she had been transported to another world, similar to “Alice in Wonderland.”

She said: “It felt like being in an immersive and multi-sensory natural museum of raw and untouched beauty. You can hear the sound of silence. Antarctica is the icebergs and glaciers gazing at you.”

Although the expedition took place during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season, it was vital that participants wore the appropriate gear to withstand the cold, plus polarized sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays.

But to work in such inhospitable conditions, the princess pointed out that participants required inner strength.

Humpback whales gracefully surface in the Gerlache Strait during sunset. (Photo by Maya Beano)

“In isolated polar regions, just like hibernating animals live off their fat, as polar explorers we sought to ignite our spirits — with sea crafts like bunting,” she added.

Princess Abeer and the rest of the team slept aboard their ship, anchored off the Antarctic coast, but each day used Zodiacs — heavy-duty inflatable boats — to commute to their research stations and to conduct field research.

While studying the impact of climate change on the Antarctic’s weather, wildlife, and geography, the princess was shocked to see the massive icebergs breaking into the ocean and the record number of invasive species drawn to the continent by its warming climate.

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In particular, she was stunned to see rainfall in a part of the world where water in the atmosphere should be falling as snow.

She said: “It was raining occasionally instead of snowing. That is defying nature by all measures. It can’t and shouldn’t be raining in Antarctica at all.”

Out on the Antarctic ice, Princess Abeer was a long way from the vast sandy deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. However, she found some unexpected similarities in the contrasting environments.

“When you’re in a desert of ice, as opposed to a desert of sand, you’re living with people who are on the very edge of human tolerance. I think the upshot of that is the incredible hospitality you get,” she added.

View of Antarctica on a sunny day. (Photo by Maya Beano)

It highlighted to her how the world’s most distinct ecosystems — from polar regions and subtropical rainforests to vast interior deserts and coastal habitats — were interconnected by the global climate system.

Princess Abeer said: “Safeguarding the cryosphere is not a matter for polar regions alone but all countries alike. Glaciers and icebergs melting at faster rates will cause rising sea levels, affecting all coastlines in the world.

“The polar and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) regions — in fact the entire globe — are linked. If we want to save one, then we have to save the other.

“The importance lies in understanding these reciprocal relationships for effective climate management, ensuring global climate stability, and safeguarding ecosystems in both polar and desert regions alike, and henceforth contributing to safeguarding the global climate system,” she added.

Another major concern for polar researchers was the impact of a warming climate on seabird habitats. The breakup of sea ice has disrupted colonies, while the arrival of invasive species from further north has brought with it the spread of avian flu.

The Snowy Sheatbell, the only land bird native to the Antarctic. (Photo by Princess Abeer Al-Farhan) 

“Antarctica is like a haven paradise of wildlife. On a daily basis we had awe-inducing surprise encounters with humpback whales flashing their flukes against the water.

“There were also colonies of Weddell seals that I think can only be found in ice-free islands in Antarctica,” the princess said.

Antarctica is home to one especially iconic species — penguins. Of the world’s 18 different penguin species, seven of them are only found on the southernmost continent.

“We were so lucky to have seen them all in their natural habitat during our last expedition.

Adelie penguins colony on the iceberg Antarctica. (Shutterstock)

“The species found in Antarctica and the Subantarctic region are the emperor penguin, Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni, rockhopper, and king penguin,” she added.

For Princess Abeer, the biggest takeaway from her time in Antarctica was the need for the world and individuals to take a cross-sectoral approach in their efforts to halt climate change and prevent global temperatures from rising any further. Failure to do so, she highlighted, would lead to further ice melt and a rise in global sea levels.

“I believe that it’s time to make a peace pact with nature. We must not let our faith for a regenerative future for this planet melt away. What happens in Antarctica doesn’t stay in Antarctica,” she said.

 


Culture Ministry launches ‘1727’ competition to mark Saudi Founding Day

Competition begins on Thursday and runs until Saturday; it is open to the general public. (Twitter @SAFoundingDay)
Competition begins on Thursday and runs until Saturday; it is open to the general public. (Twitter @SAFoundingDay)
Updated 24 February 2024
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Culture Ministry launches ‘1727’ competition to mark Saudi Founding Day

Competition begins on Thursday and runs until Saturday; it is open to the general public. (Twitter @SAFoundingDay)
  • The competition is part of numerous activities and events presented by the Ministry of Culture to commemorate Founding Day, a source of immense pride for all Saudis

RIYADH: The Ministry of Culture announced the launch of the "1727" competition, featuring a prize pool of SR100,000, in honor of the Saudi Founding Day.

The competition, open to the general public, commences on Thursday and will run through Saturday. It entails a series of questions related to the establishment of the Saudi state by Imam Muhammad bin Saud in 1727 AD.

Participants will encounter eight diverse questions divided into four phases, with two questions per phase, focusing on the cultural and historical aspects of Founding Day.

Participants who correctly answer all questions, progressing through all phases, will qualify for a prize draw. Randomly, 100 winners will be chosen, each receiving SR1,000.

The competition is part of numerous activities and events presented by the Ministry of Culture to commemorate Founding Day, a source of immense pride for all Saudis. These events aim to engage all segments of society throughout the Kingdom.

 


Saudi Fund for Development, Tunisia sign $55m loan agreement to support transport sector

Saudi Fund for Development, Tunisia sign $55m loan agreement to support transport sector
Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi Fund for Development, Tunisia sign $55m loan agreement to support transport sector

Saudi Fund for Development, Tunisia sign $55m loan agreement to support transport sector
  • The financing aims to renew about 190 km of the railway network, enhancing the capacity for phosphate transportation and contributing to Tunisia’s economic growth

RIYADH: Saudi Fund for Development CEO Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Marshad signed a soft loan agreement worth $55 million with Tunisian Minister of Economy and Planning Feryel Ouerghi. The loan will finance the renewal and development of the railway network for phosphate transportation in Tunisia.

Tunisian Minister of Transport Rabie El-Majidi, Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Abdulaziz bin Ali Al-Saqr, and officials from both sides attended the signing ceremony.

The financing aims to renew about 190 km of the railway network, enhancing the capacity for phosphate transportation and contributing to Tunisia’s economic growth.

The agreement will also create direct and indirect job opportunities while reducing traffic congestion.

Ouerghi expressed appreciation for the SFD’s efforts in monitoring the development projects it funds, which facilitates their completion and helps remove obstacles.

She also commended the SFD’s role in achieving the projects’ desired results and opening promising prospects for cooperation for new initiatives.

Al-Marshad, for his part, emphasized the importance of the transportation sector in the development of countries aspiring to a prosperous future for their people.

“This sector contributes to the growth of vital opportunities toward sustainable development, leading to societal well-being and progress,” he noted.

He underscored the SDF’s belief that the transportation sector in Tunisia is key in supporting social and economic development in the country, expressing hope that this agreement would serve as an additional contribution to this end.

Since 1975, the SFD has provided financing to Tunisia, supporting the implementation of 35 development projects and programs through soft loans and generous grants totaling over $1.3 billion.

These funds have been allocated to sectors including social infrastructure, transportation, energy, and rural development.

 


Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh

Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh
Updated 23 February 2024
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Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh

Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh
  • The Asprey bags redesigned by Princess Nourah pay homage to Kingdom’s five regions with distinct motifs, colors

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Jewellery Salon, which wraps up on Friday, brought together international and local jewelry houses to meet Saudi clientele before the fair heads to Jeddah from Feb. 27 to March 1.

One of those firms was British luxury label Asprey, which collaborated with Saudi brand Nuun Jewel’s founder Princess Noura Al-Faisal to produce a capsule collection that features five clutches, each of which represents a distinct region of Saudi Arabia.

The Pochette 1781, as interpreted by Princess Nourah in five styles is part of a capsule collection that is on showcase at Jewellery Salon this year. (Supplied)

“Asprey are very well known for their jewelry but also for their bags. They are known for the Asprey Pochette 1781 iconic clutch, and I was trying to spread my wings as a designer and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to portray Saudi heritage in a way that’s not really thought of?’” Princess Noura told Arab News.  

The designer thought it would “be wonderful to be able to use traditional patterns from different areas (and) put them within the bag design so you have the leather on the outside and then the precious hand embroidery on the inside and that felt very Saudi as well somehow. The colors and the patterns — each one is truly representing that region,” Princess Noura added.

I was trying to spread my wings as a designer and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to portray Saudi heritage in a way that’s not really thought of?’

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, Nuun Jewels founder

Powered by the desire to transform the jewelry scene in Saudi Arabia, Haya Al-Sunaida launched the Jewellery Salon in 2009 to invite international designers to an industry that was previously dominated by a few elites. Her aim was to curate an exhibition that could unite local and international jewelers in a single platform and serve exclusive clientele in the country.

While perusing exquisite jewels at the exhibition, which took place at the Al-Faisaliah Hotel, guests were drawn to a rainforest green pop-up that featured the distinctive designs of London’s Glenn Spiro jewelry house.

A selection of pieces from Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum featuring both Indian and Arabian jewelry styles was also on display.

“We are a family-run business that purchases rare gems. We’re not aiming to sell the pieces or grow it into a massive business; we are actual jewelers, dealers. Every year, we produce a specific number of pieces. We purchase materials, stones, and gems that we adore. In addition, we don’t promote anywhere while having a great client of private customers,” founder Spiro told Arab News.  

A selection of pieces from Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum, which is well-known in Bahrain and Dubai and boasts both Indian and Arabian jewelry styles, was also on display.

The greatest pieces from the Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum, which is well-known in Bahrain and Dubai and has an Indian and Arabian jewelry style, are also on display. (AN photo by Rahaf Jambi)

The fourth-generation owner of the brand Dev Devji attended personally to meet visitors.

“We are born and raised in Bahrain. So, we have been coming to the Saudi market for quite some time now. We have a huge clientele from Saudi Arabia that visits our boutiques in Bahrain and Dubai, so we’re quite excited to be part of the exhibition this year,” Devji said.  

Saudi jewelry label Sulaiman Al-Mudhiyan, known for their diamonds, brought glittering pieces to the Jewellery Salon exhibition and even offered competitive prices at the event.

“We are returning to this exhibition. We have a large selection of rings, earrings, and other items, and we are offering our guests incredible prices,” Nasser Ahmed, a sales executive at Sulaiman Al-Mudhiyan, said.