Ancient Kingdoms Festival returns to AlUla

The Ancient Kingdoms Festival in AlUla was organized by AlUla Moments and is being held until Dec. 2. Below: Festival activities include a three-part experience at Jabal Ikmah that includes a workshop and light projection show. (Supplied)
The Ancient Kingdoms Festival in AlUla was organized by AlUla Moments and is being held until Dec. 2. Below: Festival activities include a three-part experience at Jabal Ikmah that includes a workshop and light projection show. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 November 2023
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Ancient Kingdoms Festival returns to AlUla

Ancient Kingdoms Festival returns to AlUla
  • The two-week event celebrates local history and heritage through a diverse range of activities by AlUla Moments

JEDDAH: The Ancient Kingdoms Festival has returned to AlUla in celebration of the region’s history and heritage.

Organized by AlUla Moments, the two-week festival is being held until Dec. 2 and offers a series of exciting experiences that transport visitors to the heart of AlUla's captivating past.

The festival’s program includes cultural celebrations, evening tours, historic culinary experiences, and trips to archaeological and historical sites.




The Ancient Kingdoms Festival in AlUla was organized by AlUla Moments and is being held until Dec. 2. Below: Festival activities include a three-part experience at Jabal Ikmah that includes a workshop and light projection show. (Supplied)

This year’s festivities mark the 15th anniversary of Hegra’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Nabataean city sprawls over 52 hectares, standing as a testament to Saudi Arabia’s rich history. Initially untouched for over 2,000 years, the city has revealed its treasures, allowing archaeologists and experts to delve into its ancient mysteries.

Ibn Battuta, the legendary Arab explorer, visited Hegra in the 14th century, noting in his memoirs that its tombs were also passed by travelers, traders, and pilgrims en route to Makkah over the centuries.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The two-week Ancient Kingdoms Festival in AlUla celebrates local history and heritage.

• This year’s festival marks the 15th anniversary of Hegra’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• The ‘Life in Al-Hijr Exhibition’ showcases 15 archaeological discoveries in the region.

• For more details about tours and cultural activities, visit experiencealula.com.

Another famous explorer who made the journey was Charles Montagu Doughty. Regarded to this day as one of the greatest of all Western travelers in Arabia, Doughty’s visit to Hegra was referenced in his 1888 book “Travels in Arabia Deserta.”

However, Hegra is now open to the world as one of Saudi Arabia’s iconic landmarks, welcoming tourists from all walks of life as they explore a distinctive, untouched part of the Kingdom.




The Ancient Kingdoms Festival in AlUla was organized by AlUla Moments and is being held until Dec. 2. Below: Festival activities include a three-part experience at Jabal Ikmah that includes a workshop and light projection show. (Supplied)

“The stories and secrets within Hegra have withstood … time and as we uncover them in the present, they only enforce that the city remains as significant as ever,” Phillip Jones, chief tourism officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla, told Arab News.

“Modern-day Saudi Arabia and its people are just as pioneering, innovative, and transactional with communities in near and distant lands as the ancient Nabataean and Roman civilizations that inhabited Hegra, whose legacies endure through our culture and heritage. This year’s Ancient Kingdoms Festival casts a unique spotlight on this legacy through a series of world-class activations,” Jones explained.

Its legacy interweaves the stories of the Nabataeans with those of the Dadanites and Lihyanites, all of whom left indelible marks within this historic locale — marks illustrating timeless cultural exchanges in architecture, decoration, language use, and the caravan trade.




Phillip Jones, Royal Commission for AlUla chief tourism officer

Visitors to the festival can uncover Hegra’s secrets through new and exciting points of access, allowing them to witness history through innovative, thoughtfully designed experiences.

“Hegra After Dark” is a history-inspired immersive experience in the shadow of some of the most spectacular tombs located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors start their journey on a Nabataean-inspired horse-drawn carriage to discover the “Secret Garden of Khuraymat,” a curatorially imagined sensorium where they can explore the history and culture of incense use across the ancient world. Meanwhile, “Theatre of Life” is an experience blending historic storytelling with entertainment.

The stories and secrets within Hegra have withstood ... time and as we uncover them in the present, they only enforce that the city remains as significant as ever.

Phillip Jones, Royal Commission for AlUla chief tourism officer

Jones added: “These activations promise to take visitors on the journey through time and present Hegra to the world in a way that hasn’t been experienced before.”

The “Evening of Stone” is inspired by the province’s history and takes visitors on a journey to its most important graveyards. It also features the “Life in Al-Hijr Exhibition” showcasing 15 archaeological discoveries in the region, in addition to the wildlife and nature life in the area.

During the opening weekend, the festival kicked off on Nov. 16 with the “Journey Through Time Parade,” illuminating the stories, legends, and legacies of the ancient incense road and the life and memories of AlUla.




Khaybar is where geological wonders and natural treasures take center stage. (Supplied)

Another experience is “Ikmah After Dark,”celebrating Jabal Ikmah’s recent recognition on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, where visitors encounter the spirit of this ancient place in an experience that blends Arabian hospitality and refreshments, hands-on carving activities, and a spectacular show — all inspired by the inscriptions left behind by historic civilizations.

Other activations launched are the “King Nabonidus Parade,” where visitors can celebrate all things Tayma in a dramatic show starring the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

Visitors will witness the intertwining of the past with the present while exploring the legendary landscapes and the linking of AlUla, Khaybar, and Tayma — three interconnected ancient oases of Northwest Arabia.




AlUla's second Ancient Kingdoms Festival celebrates the 15th anniversary of Hegra heritage site. (Supplied)

Khaybar is where geological wonders and natural treasures take center-stage. Engaging activations like “Khaybar Camp” invite visitors to explore traditional food, handicrafts, and family-oriented heritage performances. The “Oasis Soundscape” celebration combines music, nature, and landscape in a unique setting, while Takya Restaurant offers an opportunity to savor traditional Saudi Arabian dishes with scenic views of Khaybar forts and oasis.
Tayma, another significant locale, invites visitors to delve into history-inspired experiences, unveiling the richness and complexity of the kings, queens, and ancient communities that once flourished in the region.

Among these experiences, “Tayma Camp” provides a delightful blend of food, authentic handicrafts, cultural performances, camel riding, and falconry, whereas “Tayma Live” presents an enthralling re-enactment show, narrating the story of the “Land of the Kings” through music and performing arts.




AlUla is a place of extraordinary human and natural heritage Bir Hadaj. (Supplied)

The Ancient Kingdoms Festival introduces several new Oases Discovery activations. The “Memory Sanctuary,” crafted in collaboration with AlUla’s residents, pays homage to the oasis through a multisensory experience. Guests can create nostalgic desserts, enjoy liquid nitrogen slushies, and savor 3D-printed wafers in an experiential dessert laboratory.
Furthermore, two extraordinary picnic experiences, “Ancestral Hampers” and “Life and Memory Chest,” draw inspiration from memories of the harvest season in the Oasis. Visitors can opt for the portable, family-friendly picnic hampers to enjoy under the shade of trees or indulge in an elevated gastronomic feast served in a premium, cozy spot.
A series of cultural and artistic workshops will be held under the theme “Programs for Future Ancients.” Designed for young minds and their families, these activities were created through extensive consultation with archaeologists by the Academy of Ancient Inscriptions.

For more information, visit experiencealula.com.

 


Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh

Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh
Updated 59 min 57 sec ago
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Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh

Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh
  • Japan will pass baton to Kingdom after Osaka hosts global event in 2025
  • Saudi Arabia, Japan can learn from each other on green issues, Gov. Koike Yuriko says

DUBAI: The governor of Tokyo hopes World Expo 2030 in Riyadh will be an exciting and sustainable event with the potential to “surprise the world.”

Speaking to Arab News Japan on Saturday, Gov. Koike Yuriko offered her best wishes to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh this week won its bid to host the prestigious event.

“I’d like to congratulate the Kingdom,” she said. “And I hope the Expo … would be an exciting one (and) make the people of the world surprised.”

Japan will pass the Expo baton to the Kingdom after Osaka hosts the event in 2025. Speaking on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, Koike said she hoped the event in Riyadh would be a “sustainable one.”

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region and Japan should learn from one another and collaborate in order to achieve decarbonization and other green initiatives, the governor said.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are producing countries, while Japan is a buying one. Both regions already collaborate and can share knowledge and initiatives to seek the best ways to save the great climate,” she said.

Tokyo’s first female governor, Koike also spoke about the plans and initiatives in place to make the city greener.

“To tackle climate change in Tokyo is very challenging,” she said. “Our timeline is to curb CO2 emissions by 2030 and (achieve) net zero by 2050.”

As 70 percent of Tokyo’s CO2 emissions come from residential property, Koike said the city would implement a new policy in 2025 requiring all new buildings to install solar or renewable energy equipment.

“This is the very first regulation that requests people, or especially house-builders, to set solar panels or solar cells.”

Next year, Tokyo will host the SusHi Tech summit, which aims to make Tokyo a smart city and promote a digital economy. The event will also encourage startups to come up with new initiatives to help Tokyo achieve its green goals.

On the situation in the Gaza Strip, Koike said she was “anxious” for the Palestinian people.

“I have asked a Japanese company, which runs the sanitary goods products in that area, to send their products to children and women in Gaza,” she said. “The Japanese government previously supported building a school for deaf children. But that was bombed many years ago.”

Koike said she hoped the crisis could be resolved as soon as possible.


Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music

Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music
Updated 03 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music

Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music
  • Local band Immortal Pain fulfills growing appetite for genre among Saudi music lovers

JEDDAH: Saudi metal band Immortal Pain delivered a loud and lively concert at Comic Con Arabia in Jeddah, with a huge crowd of fans cheering and singing along with them.

Friday night marked the second performance of the band at the convention. They have been in the rock and metal scene since late 2005, starting with two members and later doubling.

In a previous interview with Arab News, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Emad Ashoor said the band started with only him and the lead guitarist Rasheed Attar. Later, drummer Moayad Al-Shammari and bassist Anan Al-Sabban joined the group, and just last year, they signed a contract with Saudi recording company Wall of Sound: Dark Mode.

The local band has been in the rock and metal scene since late 2005, gradually increasing their audience over the years. Instagram/immortal_pain_official. (Supplied)

The Jeddah-based band has been throwing mini-concerts across the Kingdom. They have also released original music and are working on releasing more to their Saudi, Arab, and international audiences.

While they previously spoke to Arab News about their origins, this time the members shared insight into the dynamic of the group and how they work together on making their songs and music videos.

It all begins with inspiration.

“The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt,” said the drummer Al-Shammari. “Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us.”

The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt. Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us. (Supplied)

On the unusual places or moments that can inspire, Al-Shammari said: “One day, I was passing by a construction site, and the sounds of wrecking and drilling inspired me somehow and I made a song based on the noise of the construction site.”

Ashoor, gifted with a poetic sense, takes over the next step of writing the lyrics.

So far, they have been writing lyrics in English, but they all agreed they were open to the challenge of writing in Arabic and were eager to experiment and evolve with their music.

The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt. Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us.

Moayad Al-Shammari, Immortal Pain drummer

Once the lyrics are in place, they decide upon a melody and arrange the song, deciding which riff goes first and which follows. The lyrics are recorded last.

When asked about the difficult times they have encountered throughout their career, the four agreed that starting was tough as metal music was considered a Western genre and was not popular locally. Although they have supportive families, they said it was hard for them to find an audience at the very beginning.

Their audience gradually increased from a few people to several dozen, and by the time they played at Comic Con last year and this year, they had amassed about 1,000 music fans.

“Rock and metal are both on the rise contrary to what Gene Simmons and the likes of KISS might think. They can go ahead and retire if it’s getting too loud,” bassist Al-Sabban joked when asked about the metal scene in the Kingdom.

“But the local and global scenes are growing,” he said, adding that Metallica would be playing in the Kingdom next week. “As we all know, when Saudi Arabia gets involved, it’s going to be bigger and better.”

When MDLBeast announced that Metallica would be performing in Saudi Arabia, fans from across the Middle East and North Africa bought tickets to see the legendary metal band.

Immortal Pain also told Arab News exclusively that after only releasing singles, they are officially going to record their first full album first thing next year. They also revealed that in 2024, they will hit the road on a tour across the MENA region, throwing concerts in the Kingdom, the UAE, and Egypt.

Al-Shammari proudly added that they have also received an invitation to perform in Germany, and while nothing is yet confirmed, they are hoping things will work and they will hold an international concert.

For updates about the band, follow their Instagram @immortal_pain_official.

 


Saudi Arabia showcases crafts, culture at Milan exhibition

Saudi Arabia has previously participated in Milan’s Artigiano in Fiera exhibition and offered cultural experience workshops.
Saudi Arabia has previously participated in Milan’s Artigiano in Fiera exhibition and offered cultural experience workshops.
Updated 02 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia showcases crafts, culture at Milan exhibition

Saudi Arabia has previously participated in Milan’s Artigiano in Fiera exhibition and offered cultural experience workshops.
  • The Saudi Company for Crafts and Handicrafts will display its most notable craftwork, while the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts will exhibit work from 12 of its students

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is participating in the Artigiano in Fiera exhibition in Milan, Italy, which runs from Dec. 2-10. The Saudi pavilion, overseen by the Ministry of Culture, will showcase various aspects of the country’s culture and rich national heritage.

According to a report by the Saudi Press Agency, participating organizations include the Saudi Heritage Commission, the Culinary Arts Commission, the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts, and the Saudi Handicrafts Company.

The pavilion will also highlight Arabic poetry’s relationship to Italian culture. A selection of Arabic verses will be translated into Italian and hung on murals at the entrance.

Saudi Arabia has previously participated in Milan’s Artigiano in Fiera exhibition and offered cultural experience workshops. (Ministry of Culture)

The Heritage Commission will showcase the creative ingenuity of 25 artisans and the traditional handicrafts and crafts that have long been a source of pride for the nation.

The Saudi Company for Crafts and Handicrafts will display its most notable craftwork, while the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts will exhibit work from 12 of its students.

Twelve chefs from the Culinary Arts Commission will be on hand to provide the public with a live cooking demonstration of popular delicacies from across Saudi Arabia. A traditional restaurant will offer coffee and traditional produce, too.  

FASTFACT

The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts will exhibit work from 12 of its students at Artigiano in Fiera exhibition in Milan, Italy, until Dec. 10.

The Theater and Performing Arts Commission, meanwhile, will present shows involving 13 traditional performing arts.

Saudi Arabia’s participation in Artigiano in Fiera is a component of the Ministry of Culture’s efforts, in cooperation with other cultural organizations, to represent the Kingdom in international forums in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s aims is to promote worldwide cultural exchange.

As part of the 2023 Year of Arabic Poetry project, the ministry is focusing on the Kingdom’s interest in “intangible cultural heritage,” such as the relationship between Arabic poetry and Italian culture.

 


Saudi king, crown prince congratulate UAE on 52nd National Day

Saudi king, crown prince congratulate UAE on 52nd National Day
Updated 02 December 2023
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Saudi king, crown prince congratulate UAE on 52nd National Day

Saudi king, crown prince congratulate UAE on 52nd National Day
  • Monarch wishes Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed ‘good health and happiness’
  • Annual event marks unification of 7 emirates into one nation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent a message of congratulations to UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to mark his country’s national day on Saturday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The king “wished the Emirati president continued good health and happiness, and the government and friendly people of UAE further progress and prosperity.”

He also lauded the fraternal relations that bind the two countries.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent a similar message to Sheikh Mohammed.

The UAE is celebrating its 52nd National Day anniversary, which falls on Dec. 2 each year and commemorates the unification of all seven emirates into one nation.

The UAE leader received congratulatory messages from around the world, as did Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, vice president, deputy prime minister and chairman of the Presidential Court.

The US congratulated the UAE and sent its best wishes for the country’s continued success.

“The United States and the UAE are bound together by more than five decades of friendship and partnership,” the State Department said, attributing the comments to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Our many successes stand as a testament to our leaders’ shared commitment to advance regional peace and stability, deter threats, de-escalate conflicts, and drive forward an affirmative agenda for prosperity and peaceful coexistence,” it said.

Blinken said the two countries shared a “vision of an interconnected region and world,” which was embodied in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, also known as the Abraham Accords, and the UAE’s hosting of COP28 in Dubai.

“In these and many other groundbreaking diplomatic efforts, the UAE’s leadership has been instrumental,” he said.


Saudi communications commission to join Green Digital Action initiative

ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. (Twitter @ITUSecGen)
ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. (Twitter @ITUSecGen)
Updated 02 December 2023
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Saudi communications commission to join Green Digital Action initiative

ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. (Twitter @ITUSecGen)
  • ITU scheme aims to fast-track commitments to tackling climate challenges
  • CST will lead ‘Foster a Circular ICT Industry’ track

RIYADH: The Saudi Communications, Space and Technology Commission has agreed to join the Green Digital Action initiative convened by the International Telecommunication Union.

An announcement was made on the sidelines of COP28, in the presence of ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin.

Green Digital Action aims to enhance collaboration, fast-track industry-wide commitments to addressing climate challenges, and put digital solutions at the forefront of climate action, by transforming into a digital infrastructure that enables environmental and sustainable solutions, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The initiative is supported by several international entities and agencies.

FASTFACT

The International Telecommunication Union scheme aims to fast-track commitments to tackling climate challenges.

The commission said it would be leading the “Foster a Circular ICT Industry” track as part of Green Digital Action, which covers reducing ICT sector emissions, advancing climate solutions through open environmental data and technologies, implementing green standards, facilitating a green transition across all industries through digital technology, and leveraging digital systems for disaster alerts and early warnings.

By joining the initiative, the commission will be helping to provide digital and sustainable solutions to address climate challenges and improve and implement regulations that enable a circular economy that contributes to reducing carbon emissions, the report said.

It also seeks to move to an eco-friendly digital infrastructure by collaborating with the public and private sectors and UN organizations.

The commission has also organized a panel discussion to be held on the sidelines of COP28 to highlight Saudi Arabia’s efforts in leading digital sustainability.

Titled “Circular Economy,” it will be attended by ITU Deputy Secretary-General Tomas Lamanauskas as well as representatives from countries that will apply the “E-Waste Management Regulations” launched by the Kingdom in partnership with the ITU.

The initiative aims to implement the regulations in Zambia, Rwanda and Paraguay as a way to tackle the challenges facing the treatment of e-waste around the world and raise awareness of the issue among policymakers and industry leaders.

Saudi Arabia has launched many initiatives that contribute to raising awareness and educating the public about the best practices for the use of technology to create a sustainable future for all.