First Saudi-Spanish concert mesmerizes crowd in capital

The first joint Saudi-Spanish concert brought a night of musical harmony and a taste of flamenco on Sunday at the Cultural Palace, Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Sulafa Alkhunaizi)
The first joint Saudi-Spanish concert brought a night of musical harmony and a taste of flamenco on Sunday at the Cultural Palace, Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Sulafa Alkhunaizi)
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Updated 23 October 2023
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First Saudi-Spanish concert mesmerizes crowd in capital

First Saudi-Spanish concert mesmerizes crowd in capital
  • The concert was brought to life by the Embassy of Spain’s collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s Music Commission and the Royal Commission of Riyadh

RIYADH: The first joint Saudi-Spanish concert brought a night of musical harmony and a taste of flamenco on Sunday at the Cultural Palace, Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh.

The concert was brought to life by the Embassy of Spain’s collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s Music Commission and the Royal Commission of Riyadh.

The first part of the concert featured Jose Hevia, a renowned Spanish bagpiper and inventor of the electronic bagpipe, accompanied by Maria Hevia, who played percussion, and Roberto Jonata on the piano.

Midway through the first showing, artists from the Saudi National Orchestra collaborated with the Spanish group to bring a multicultural music experience.

The orchestra team had Mohannad Talal on the maestro oud, Yazid Alfaidi on the qanoon, Fahad Kash’shaf on the nay, and singers Mohammed Awlia and Roza.

The second part of the show was a flamenco show with the Anabel Veloso group.

Veloso’s show brought a captivating fusion of music and dance from Andalusia, the Spanish region with a history of Arab influence.

She told Arab News that she has been dancing since she was seven years old, and was excited to bring flamenco to Saudi Arabia.

“It was unexpected because we didn’t know how the people would feel about flamenco. We can really feel that everyone liked it, the feedback was amazing,” she said.

Veloso said she sees the influence of Arab culture in Andalusian culture and music.

“We are almost like brothers and sisters and the instruments, you know, the guitar and oud. Everything is so similar,” she said.

Ambassador of Spain to Saudi Arabia Jorge Hevia told Arab News that the mission “wanted to do something big.”

Hevia had the idea to invite Jose to the Kingdom, after seeing him perform in his hometown, Colunga.

He said: “We both come from Asturias, and I know him very well I met him 31 years ago in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, my first post as a diplomat … I didn’t see him until recently in my little town in Colunga where he was performing, so I had the dream of bringing him to Riyadh.

“Finally with the help of the Music Commission, the Ministry of Culture, and the Royal Commission for Riyadh, we are happy to bring him here. And then flamenco, whenever we talk to our Saudi friends, they all say ‘oh, we want flamenco.’”

Roser Ponsa has been living in Riyadh for two years and said she can “see a huge change in the city.”

Ponsa said: “Now we attend events such as this one tonight that have been amazing. Today is my (first) day back after some holidays, that I was back in Spain (for), and arriving here and having tortilla de patatas, the Spanish omelet, and some churros and cheesecake, I mean, (I feel like) I never left. I feel welcome. I feel happy and at home.

“I think that there has been a very nice evolution. So, we started with Spanish music from the north of Spain, Asturias, and then the orchestra of Saudi musicians joined them, and you could see this transition, we ended up with flamenco, and you could actually hear the Arabic sounds and the Arabic rhythms within the music. So, it has been lovely.

Silvia Vincente, also from Spain, has lived in the Kingdom for over a year and says it is exciting for her to see a live show representing her culture.

“It was exciting for me to be able to see something live. When I was in the show, I felt like I was in Spain but the background (pictures) had photos of Diriyah, it was like Spain and Saudi. I saw all the people here enjoying my music.”


KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries

KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries
Updated 15 April 2024
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KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries

KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries

RIYADH: Saudi charity KSrelief distributed 1,930 food parcels on Saturday to displaced families in Sudan’s Blue Nile state. 
The initiative, part of the group’s food-security support project in Sudan, benefited 12,236 individuals, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The assistance comes within the framework of a series of relief and humanitarian projects implemented by Saudi Arabia through KSrelief to help conflict-hit areas, SPA added.
In Lebanon, KSrelief provided health care services to Syrian refugees and their host community in Arsal town of Baalbek Governorate. 
The Arsal Health Care Center received a total of 3,422 patients and offered 6,128 services from various health sections such as clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, nursing and the community and mental health program. 
In Yemen, KSrelief continues its implementation of the water supply and environmental sanitation projects across several districts. If February, KSrelief pumped 36,207,000 liters of usable water and 3,194,000 liters of potable water into Hajjah Governorate.
Additionally, the center carried out 237 transportation operations to remove waste from displaced camps.
In Saada Governorate, KSrelief pumped 290,000 liters of potable water and another 290,000 liters of usable water, benefiting 30,100 people.


Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke with the prime minister of Iraq on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During their phone call, Prince Mohammed and Mohammed Al-Sudani discussed developments in the region and increasing escalation against the backdrop of the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions.

They also dissussed the importance of making the necessary efforts to prevent the situation from worsening and ways to spare the region from the risks of escalation, SPA added.


Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday.

During the call, the officials discussed developments in the region and increasing escalation against the backdrop of the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions.


Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in the Middle East on Sunday with his US counterpart during a phone call.

The call comes after Iran launched a wave of missiles and attack drones against Israel overnight Saturday to Sunday.

Prince Khalid and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also discussed efforts to contain the crisis while upholding international peace and security.

The officials also reviewed their strategic defense partnership and explored ways to further enhance it, the Kingdom’s defense minister said in a post on X. 


Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
  • Ali Alhammadi has been passionate about visual arts since childhood

JEDDAH: Ali Alhammadi, a Saudi 32-year-old visual artist from Aldawadmi in Riyadh, has carved out a remarkable pathway in the world of art since his professional debut in 2017.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the “Saudi renaissance” in line with Vision 2030, prompting him to embark on a creative expedition to express his perceptions through the canvas.

Alhammadi told Arab News that his art philosophy is about breaking invisible limitations and transcending comfort zones, drawing inspiration from the evergreen landscapes he encountered during camping trips with his father in the Riyadh desert.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

“During every spring season, me and my father used to go camping in the outskirts of Riyadh, when the desert turns green for a couple of months, where all the magical inspiration happens.”

Through his landscapes and abstract pieces, Alhammadi delves into his feelings, insecurities and aspirations, painting a narrative that speaks volumes.

“I use my art to express both happiness and sadness, and sometimes I start a painting with an idea in mind, but then I end up with a new one,” he said.

Ali Alhammadi, Saudi artist

One of Alhammadi’s pioneering techniques, “Invisible Limitations,” challenges traditional conceptions and societal norms, symbolizing the potential within, and beyond self-imposed boundaries. He said that his work reflects a realization that limitations are merely illusions.

“Our comfort zone sometimes restricts our ability to be inspired and inspire others. That’s why I decided to paint the Invisible Limitations theme.

“As I matured, I realized that most of these limitations don’t exist ... our limitation is the sky.”

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

Alhammadi’s artistic evolution has been influenced by his participation in prestigious exhibitions such as The Stars Exhibition at the German Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the second Riyadh Season Exhibition.

These platforms not only showcased his talent but also provided a catalyst for his creative development, empowering him to delve deeper into his cultural roots while embracing global influences.

Navigating between diverse cultural landscapes, Alhammadi, based between Liverpool and Riyadh, seamlessly fuses vibrant hues and styles, blending Saudi heritage and international artistic trends.

His experiences abroad have expanded his artistic horizons, inspiring him to create artworks that resonate with a global audience while retaining a distinctive Saudi essence. “Now that I have found my theme and art style, I believe that this phase will take me to different phases in my professional art career,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Alhammadi envisions his artwork evolving to explore the intricacies of human and cultural relationships, going deeper into themes that resonate with universal emotions and experiences. “Human and cultural relationships is something I’m keen on expressing through art,” he said.

His participation in international and local events such as the Founding Day in Liverpool and the National Day in London has not only spotlighted his talent but also enriched his artistic narrative with a tapestry of diverse influences.

For aspiring visual artists embarking on their creative odyssey, Alhammadi offers this advice: “Stay true to your vision, embrace your unique style, and let your art tell your story.”