Cuban-Khaleeji Project keeps Dhahran clapping

Cuban-Khaleeji Project keeps Dhahran clapping
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On a cool, breezy Dhahran night, the Cuban-Khaleeji Project brought its fusion of musical cultures to Ithra on Thanksgiving. (Supplied)
Cuban-Khaleeji Project keeps Dhahran clapping
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On a cool, breezy Dhahran night, the Cuban-Khaleeji Project brought its fusion of musical cultures to Ithra on Thanksgiving. (Supplied)
Cuban-Khaleeji Project keeps Dhahran clapping
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The final performance at the Ithra Theater will take place on Nov. 25. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 November 2023
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Cuban-Khaleeji Project keeps Dhahran clapping

Cuban-Khaleeji Project keeps Dhahran clapping
  • The musical fusion is playing for three nights only, Nov. 23-25
  • This marks the first time the ensemble has performed outside of NYC and the UAE

DHAHRAN: On a cool, breezy Dhahran night, the Cuban-Khaleeji Project brought its fusion of musical cultures to Ithra on Thanksgiving.
Originally commissioned by The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi in early 2019, this is the first time an audience has heard the ensemble play live outside of New York and the UAE. The final performance at the Ithra Theater will take place on Nov. 25.
“The show is a rediscovery of friendships, roots, and relationships that have their source in ancient realities — and in the future. And I can prove this because when I first met Ghazi Al-Mulaifi, I could have sworn I’d known him my whole life,” Grammy-winning jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill told the crowd on opening night.
O’Farrill was referring to the Kuwaiti-American professor of music and his all-male jazz band Boom.Diwan — named after ‘The Boom,’ an important Kuwaiti ship used for pearl diving — who helped him bring some of the sounds of the sea to life on the Ithra stage.
O’Farrill, born in Mexico and raised in NYC, brought a flair and consistency to the sounds throughout the evening. He has been a fierce advocate for the preservation of Afro-Cuban culture for decades — following in the footsteps of his Havana-born father. Together with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, the younger O’Farrill has worked to push the boundaries of the sounds of Cuba to bring them to the world.
The show, which lasted almost two hours, was followed by a Q&A session hosted by Energy Radio. Bill Bragin, who is the first artistic director of The Arts Center at NYUAD was on the panel.

Bragin told the crowd how the project originated. While in NYC some time ago, he said, he was immersed in the music of the region and was introduced to Al-Mulaifi’s music.
“A few years later, I went to Kuwait to see the group and, right around the same time, I was going to Cuba for the first time and I was reading a book by an author named Ned Sublette, called ‘Cuba and its Music.’ And, usually, you think a book like that is going to start in Africa, but actually it started talking about Arabic music and poetry and the influence around Andalusia, and then into Africa,” he explained. “And I started thinking, ‘There’s something here.’”
Bragin recognized that the music from various areas — including Cuba and Kuwait — were, in essence, sounds that were extracted from nature, especially the sea. He then started to assemble a way to create a unique sound through which he could channel the sonic connections which have been there for centuries. His challenge was to bring them to a contemporary audience in a cohesive way.
The Ithra performance included Yazz Ahmed, the Bahraini trumpeter and composer, who was clearly at ease on stage, nodding to her fellow musicians, part-conductor part-player. Her graceful movements and slick sounds could not be ignored.
But the undoubted star was Emirati oud player Ali Obaid, from Fujairah. His elegant performance captivated the crowd, and was complemented beautifully by the other musicians, who elevated his playing, but never competed with it.
The award-winning Moroccan ‘enchantress’ Malika Zarra completely shifted the show’s energy, the audience instantly became livelier and more spirited in response to her wild hair, infectious smile, dainty dance and powerful voice. The clapping was constant as her singing turned to scat and she seamlessly transitioned from faster to slower melodies.
The grand finale was when the show’s Cuban sounds were fully highlighted. All of the performers returned to the stage for the final song, “Desert,” which expertly showcased the talents and strengths of each of them and left the audience thirsty for more.
Tickets for the show start at SR100 ($26) and can be purchased on the Ithra website or app.


KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries

KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries
Updated 55 min 1 sec ago
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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.”