Jameel Health Lab presents link between art, health and climate crisis at COP28

Mikey Muhanna, Nadia Christidi, Stephen Stapleton, Uns Kattan and Clea Daridan at the Jameel Arts Center as part of a series aimed at fostering more inclusive and informed discussions. (Supplied)
Mikey Muhanna, Nadia Christidi, Stephen Stapleton, Uns Kattan and Clea Daridan at the Jameel Arts Center as part of a series aimed at fostering more inclusive and informed discussions. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 December 2023
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Jameel Health Lab presents link between art, health and climate crisis at COP28

Jameel Health Lab presents link between art, health and climate crisis at COP28
  • Art can be a ‘powerful ally in our quest to improve health for all,’ states WHO director general

RIYADH: In February the Jameel Arts & Health Lab was established to show how the arts have the power to help tackle climate change and the global health crisis.

From Dec. 1-3, the lab presented COP28 Healing Arts Week, a platform to promote the role of the arts at the intersection of health and climate. Included was a high-level panel in the COP28 Green Zone titled “Arts, Health and Climate” moderated by Princess Mashael Saud Al-Shalan, co-founder of Aeon Collective.




The lab aims to show more evidence regarding the relationship between arts, health and climate change, especially in displaced populations. (Supplied)

A panel on “Safeguarding Our Planet: Biodiversity, Climate and One Health” was held at the Saudi Pavilion in the Blue Zone featuring Princess Mashael; Prince Sultan bin Fahad, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation; Princess Hala bint Khaled, president of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; Raquel Peixoto, associate professor of microbiology at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; Richard Bush, chief environment officer at NEOM; Christopher Bailey, founding Co-Director of Jameel Arts & Health Lab; and Catherine Cone environment and sustainability director at the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“The climate crisis is a health crisis,” stated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director  general of the World Health Organization. “The arts can be a powerful ally in our quest to improve health for all.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jameel Arts & Health Lab is the first major arts and health initiative in World Health Organization’s history.

• It was established as a result of agreements between the WHO, the Steinhardt School at New York University, Community Jameel and Culturunners.

• For more information about the lab’s work, check jameelartshealthlab.org. 

“I have seen the impact of the arts on community well-being, and I’m very pleased that this collaboration (with the Jameel Arts & Health Lab) will help us understand the science of that impact in order to improve the lives of people from all backgrounds.”

The Jameel Arts & Health Lab is the first major arts and health initiative in the WHO’s history.




Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization director general

“We are interested in connecting the arts and health with climate change because obviously the climate crisis is a health crisis. There’s no doubt that now the question is to understand whether or not the arts might be able to offer answers to these crises,” Clea Daridan, senior curator and culture lead at Community Jameel, told Arab News. “At COP28 we were trying to explore how the intersection between arts, health and climate change from a research and a policy perspective because it is through the implementation of policy that change can happen.”

I have seen the impact of the arts on community well-being ... this collaboration (with the Jameel Arts & Health Lab) will help us understand the science of that impact in order to improve the lives of people from all backgrounds.

Tedros Adhanom, Ghebreyesus World Health Organization director general

The lab focuses on overlooked and underserved communities. It was established as a result of agreements between the WHO, the Steinhardt School at New York University, Community Jameel and Culturunners.

According to its website, the lab “will coordinate and amplify scientific research into the effectiveness of the arts in improving health and wellbeing” by “leveraging data, artist-led advocacy and a global ‘Healing Arts’ campaign that aims to drive policy implementation across 193 UN member states.”




Clea Daridan, Community Jameel senior curator and culture lead

Stephen Stapleton, co-director of the lab and CEO of Culturunners, told Arab News: “The Jameel Arts & Health Lab has been at COP advocating for the important role of the arts in telling the story of the climate crisis as a health crisis.

There’s no doubt that now the question is to understand whether or not the arts might be able to offer answers to these crises.

Clea Daridan, Community Jameel senior curator and culture lead

“In so doing to inspire the behavioral change, on both a personal and societal level, which is so urgently needed … through arts therapies and self-expression, the arts can also help those most vulnerable to cope with the psychological impact of the perceived and real changes which are already affecting millions of people around the world.”

Through the lab’s COP28 Healing Arts Week, Bailey and Stapleton participated in various events at the Jameel Art Center, the Saudi Pavilion, and in the Green Zone.




Stephen Stapleton, Culturunners CEO

The week culminated in an evening with Ghebreyesus, hosted by Community Jameel and the WHO Foundation.

The arts represent a relatively new area in modern healthcare and one that has grown rapidly since the late 1990s. Recent research shows strong evidence for the positive impact of the arts on our health and well-being.

The arts can also help those most vulnerable to cope with the psychological impact of the perceived and real changes which are already affecting millions of people around the world.

Stephen Stapleton, Culturunners CEO

In 2019 the WHO Regional Office for Europe reported how engaging in the arts and creative arts therapies can have wide-ranging positive impacts and health outcomes, including mental and physical health promotion, ill health prevention, and the management and treatment of health conditions and symptoms.

Other research has demonstrated the benefits of general as well as targeted arts-based interventions for different populations, including community-based museum programs for people living with dementia, community dance classes for those living with Parkinson’s disease, music therapy to reduce stress and drama therapy to support the social and emotional skills of children and young people, among other examples.




The lab aims to show more evidence regarding the relationship between arts, health and climate change, especially in displaced populations. (Supplied)

Additionally, a 2022 report by the CultureForHealth project demonstrated how the arts can help to address specific public health challenges, including the need to support the health and well-being of young people, health disparities, and the mental health challenges faced by forcibly displaced people.

“Through the Jameel Arts & Health Lab we are generating data and rigorous studies to prove the effectiveness of the arts on health and well-being,” added Daridan. “It is by leveraging this data that we will be able to drive policy implementation across the 193 UN member countries. Now, when it comes specifically to the link between arts, health and climate change, this is also a specific area of research that the lab is currently conducting.”

This year, the lab partnered with the Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, one of the oldest of its kind, to lead a global series on the health benefits of the arts with a focus on non-communicable diseases, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. The outcomes will be published in early 2025.  

Daridan added that the lab was working on a report, likely published in the first quarter of 2024, to show more evidence regarding the relationship between arts, health and climate change, especially when it comes to displaced populations.

For more information about the lab’s work, check jameelartshealthlab.org.

 


Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
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Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
  • This year’s event celebrates decision by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to designate 2024 as International Year of Camelids
  • Saudi representatives will highlight role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol associated with Saudi society since ancient times

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will take part in a special Camel Parade in France on Saturday, in celebration of the UN’s decision to designate 2024 as International Year of Camelids.

The event in Paris has been organized by the French Federation for the Development of Camelids in France and Europe, under the umbrella of the International Camel Organization, and is sponsored by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the Kingdom’s Camel Club.

This is the third year in a row in which the event has taken place. The participants in the parade of camels, llamas, alpacas and other members of the camelid family of creatures are expected to include more than 50 representatives of camel-related organizations from more than 30 countries, along with camel breeders, government officials, others with an interest in the animals, and entertainers from various branches of the performing arts.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the countries that will be represented include the US, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Canada, India, Morocco, Tanzania, Peru, Algeria, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, Tunisia, Austria, Spain, Burundi, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, France, Sudan, Chad, Angola, the UK and Uganda.

Saudi representatives will highlight the role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol that has been associated with Saudi society since ancient times and “still enjoys great prestige,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

On Friday, the eve of the parade, public discussions took place at the Chateau de Janvry’s historical center about cultural heritage associated with camels around the world and the specific contributions by participating countries to the annual event in Paris.

The parade will be followed by a reception for invited guests, including representatives of the participating countries, international organizations, academia, research centers and the private sector, the SPA reported.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization named 2024 as International Year of Camelids to honor and promote the sector and highlight the important role it plays in efforts to achieve food security and economic growth in many countries.

 

 


Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan Army chiefs in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan Army chiefs in Islamabad
Updated 20 April 2024
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Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan Army chiefs in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan Army chiefs in Islamabad

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister of defense, Talal Al-Otaibi, on Friday held talks with top officials from the Pakistan Army during an official visit to Islamabad.

He reviewed relations between the two countries during meetings with the commander of the army, Gen. Syed Asim Munir, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, and the chief of the general staff, Gen. Muhammad Avais Dastgir.

The Saudi-Pakistani Committee also met during Al-Otaibi’s visit. Its members discussed cooperation between the nations in the field of defense, including research and development, and the transfer and localization of technology, in line with the goals of Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification plan.


How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
Updated 19 April 2024
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How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
  • Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund wants to produce half a million electric vehicles by 2030
  • The Kingdom has installed charging outlets in public areas in Diriyah to encourage EV ownership

RIYADH: Around the world, electric vehicles are already revolutionizing leisure, public transportation and logistics, shrinking the carbon footprint of travel, improving air quality and reducing pollution in the air, on land and in the sea.

As Saudi Arabia embarks on a range of environmental initiatives designed to address the challenges posed by climate change and foster sustainable economic development, EVs have become an important focus area.

The shift from traditional combustion engine vehicles to new electric models has accelerated worldwide as companies and consumers opt for greener modes of transport. Saudi Arabia is no exception.

Saudia, the Kingdom's national flag carrier, has signed an arrangement to acquire 100 electric-powered jets from Lilium, developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) jet. (Supplied)

The transition from regular cars to electric vehicles in the Kingdom is flourishing. The EV trend has gone beyond personal vehicle ownership, with the proliferation of everything from e-scooters to electric buses.

There are even discussions around whether EV technology will soon be applied to aircraft and perhaps space travel.

Stephen Crolius, former climate adviser at the Clinton Foundation and current president of Carbon-Neutral Consulting, supports the idea of EV ownership due to its environmental benefits.

Although it might still be a challenge to educate the public in some societies about the benefits of transitioning to EVs, Crolius says the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

“For mass transition to occur on any front, there has to be a set of circumstances that cause it to happen,” he told Arab News.

“Through government encouragement, we can continue to build volume (and) cause industries to mature, like, for example, the battery industry, which has done a lot of maturing over the last 15 years … the cost of batteries and the prices of batteries have come down to an extraordinary degree.

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“We are developing renewable generation for electricity. Are we developing fast enough to head off the climate crisis? I don’t know. But compared to new generations of technology getting rolled out, we are deploying a lot of renewable electricity generation, in historical terms, really fast.”

Companies such as CEER and Lucid, which are heavily funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, are at the forefront of driving growth in Saudi Arabia’s electric vehicle industry.

US electric car manufacturer Lucid signed a contract with the PIF two years ago to build a factory in the King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea. Today, PIF shares a little over half of the ownership of the group in the Kingdom, and aims to produce almost half a million EVs by 2030.

Since last year, the use of electric vehicles in the Kingdom has expanded to include electric buses as a sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Electric buses have zero emissions and therefore significantly reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases in urban areas, especially during the Hajj season, when pilgrims flock to the Kingdom and make use of its mass transit network.

An electric bus service connecting the airport to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah was launched by the region’s governor Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz during the last Hajj season.

DID YOUKNOW

• The Kingdom has invested at least $10 billion in US electric car manufacturer Lucid Motors.

• With 61% of shares, Saudi Arabia is the majority owner of Lucid Group through its Public Investment Fund.

• PIF aims to produce 500,000 EVs annually by 2030.

• In Riyadh, the EV share is targeted to increase by 30% in 2030.

The route connecting the two locations enabled high operational efficiency, with a bus able to travel 250 km on just a single charge.

Electric buses offer a variety of benefits, including reduced noise, improved energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs. In addition, they have a smaller carbon footprint, which is a crucial step toward sustainability.

Saudis committed to protecting the environment have also included EVs in their daily commute, with e-scooters now found in Riyadh and other cities. E-scooters provide an eco-friendly solution to local transport by cutting toxic emissions and lowering noise pollution.

Offering e-scooter services in various locations in Riyadh is a clear sign of the Kingdom’s eagerness to not only set regulations and promote electric vehicles, but also lead society in adopting a positive attitude toward sustainable living.

Gazal's e-scooter services have become a popular option for those traveling specially in crowded places in Riyadh. (Photo courtesy of Gazal)

Furthermore, with advancements in battery technology and the development of charging infrastructure, electric vehicles are becoming a viable option for companies aiming to decarbonize their operations.

For example, in public areas in Diriyah such as Albujairi and At-Turaif, standard wall outlets are available for EV owners to charge their vehicles while enjoying a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

As the aviation industry is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, the concept of electric aircraft may offer a promising solution to global decarbonization.

Three years ago, British automobile maker Rolls-Royce broke records when its “Spirit of Innovation” aircraft reached 628 km per hour, making it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

At the time, Warren East, the company’s then-CEO, said that electric aircraft could make “jet zero” a reality and help decarbonize all forms of transport.

Compared to existing commercial aircraft, which rely on petroleum and synthetic fuel blends, electric planes produce less noise, have lower operating costs and emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases.

However, there are still several obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric aircraft — in particular the sheer expense of adapting the existing infrastructure needed to support their use.

Though governments and private companies worldwide could collaborate and build a comprehensive network of charging stations to meet growing demand, this may burden the economies of some countries.

Nevertheless, the growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future.

The growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future. (Shutterstock photo)

Utilizing alternative sources of energy in these areas can change the carbon emissions game for the better, fight air pollution, and pave the way for sustainable transport systems in the Kingdom and around the world.

To realize the full potential of electric vehicles, however, governments and businesses will first have to address challenges such as the provision of sufficient charging infrastructure as well as range limitations in battery technology.

Through continued innovation and investment, electric vehicles will play a key role in creating a greener and more sustainable future.
 

 


Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
Updated 19 April 2024
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Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
  • Jawad Al-Omair has established himself as a painter, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him

RIYADH: While his classmates took part in sports activities, Saudi teenage artist Jawad Al-Omair daydreamed about the next time he would pick up a paintbrush or pencil to draw again.

At only 16 years of age, Al-Omair has established himself as an artist, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

He told Arab News that his breakthrough moment came when he discovered his artistic abilities in the third grade.

“All the kids used to go to play. I always found myself opening my notebook and just drawing. I remember one day, I drew something at school, and when I got home, I showed it to everyone. I told myself, ‘I should do this more often.’”

HIGHLIGHT

Jawad Al-Omair views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks.

He uses acrylic paint to portray his vivid ideas on canvas.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

“With every painting I do, I usually have a vision of what the color palette is going to be and the composition, and most importantly what message and feeling I am trying to deliver through the painting.”

The young artist views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks. “If I wanted to paint something that conveys the feeling of being lost, I would usually use cool toned colors like greys and blues.”

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

Al-Omair said that he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks.

“Dana Almasoud is one of my best friends who has helped me so much. Three years ago, I used to be a completely different artist. I used to be unable to draw small portraits, but she taught me how to. I can’t picture how my life would be if I had not met them,” he said.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

In a recent artwork, Al-Omair painted a large-scale self-portrait inspired by the style of John Singer Sargent, an American artist renowned for his portrait paintings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He described Sargent as one of his favorite artists. “If you see his self-portrait, It is similar to mine. I was looking at his artwork while I was painting so I could capture that same vibe.”

It took Al-Omair about 12 hours to complete the self-portrait, which emphasizes his prominent features.

“I get commented on my nose a lot, so I painted it in the center. I wanted to immortalize my 16-year-old self, because who knows what I will look like five years from now?”

The young artist aims to turn all sorts of experiences — even those of friends or family members — into art.

“How would life be if we did not have music or anything beautiful to look at? When you think of an artist, people usually imagine someone with a brush, but it is much bigger than that.

“Art is translating feelings with a certain skill. Movies taught humanity so much because you get to learn about people. Writing, songs and music are emotional things that we share. Art is one of the most important parts of life. Everyone has an artistic side to them that they may have not found yet,” he said.

 


Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Updated 19 April 2024
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Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Funding will help rebuild and repair facilities damaged by natural disasters in the Caribbean island nation

RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development signed a $50 million loan agreement with St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday to assist communities affected by natural disasters, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The deal was signed by SFD CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad and Camillo Gonsalves, finance minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, during the 2024 spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

According to the World Bank, the southern Caribbean nation faces a host of natural threats, including floods, hurricanes, droughts, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

The agreement will fund a project to rebuild and repair buildings and facilities damaged by natural disasters in the island nation.

This initiative includes the restoration and construction of essential infrastructure, such as housing, healthcare, educational, and sports facilities, aimed at boosting their durability and resilience against future disasters and climate change impacts.

The project will also include establishing four healthcare centers, building primary and secondary schools, renovating government buildings, and restoring homes damaged by volcanic activity.

The loan is in line with the SFD’s commitment to supporting vulnerable communities around the globe.

Since its inception in 1975, the Saudi fund has financed over 800 development projects and programs worldwide, with total funding exceeding $20 billion.