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 academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation

Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation
Updated 02 March 2024
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Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation

Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation
  • Agreement was signed as part of the Human Capability Initiative Conferenc

Riyadh: The King Salman Global Academy for the Arabic Language signed a memorandum of understanding in Riyadh with Prince of Songkla University, Thailand, “to enhance mutual cooperation in dissemination of the Arabic language.”

The agreement was signed as part of the Human Capability Initiative Conference, which began on Wednesday under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

KSGAAL was represented by its Secretary-General, Abdullah Al-Washmi, while Prince Songkla University was represented by its President, Niwat Keawpradub.

The MoU is also aimed at strengthening “teaching, preservation, and fostering scientific and practical relations to mutually benefit and achieve strategic objectives.”

Collaboration will also take place in: Arabic language and its sciences, Arabic language computing, building digital dictionaries, linguistic blogs, developing assistive digital solutions, cooperation in curricula and tools related to teaching Arabic to non-native speakers, administering proficiency tests in Arabic for non-native speakers, and sharing linguistic services and consultations in areas of mutual interest.

The agreement comes within the strategic objectives of the KSGAAL in spreading the Arabic language at the local and international levels, said Al-Washmi.

He told Arab News that Thailand is one of the targeted countries to open Arabic language education centers in coming years as part of KSGAAL’s strategy, which includes establishing a number of centers in countries around the world.

A high-level delegation from the KSGAAL recently visited Thailand and conducted a program that included seminars and discussion sessions to study the status of the Arabic language in the country, he added.

The MoU falls within the initiatives of the KSGAAL, its strategic partnerships with entities concerned with local and international Arabic linguistic development.

These initiatives aim to enhance the level of usage of the Arabic language, strengthen its presence, and preserve it in line with the Human Capability Development Program, one of the programs realizing Saudi Vision 2030.

KSGAAL was established by a decision of the Council of Ministers and is one of the initiatives of the Ministry of Culture aimed at enhancing the role of the Arabic language regionally and globally.

It was established in September 2020 to highlight the status of the Arabic language and activate its role regionally and globally, as well as to enhance its value as an expression of the linguistic depth of Arab and Islamic culture.

KSGAAL works on spreading the Arabic language and ensuring the integrity of its usage in various fields, revitalizing its heritage through study, research, and dissemination, in addition to unifying scientific reference internally regarding the Arabic language and its sciences, and working to achieve this externally.


Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era

Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era
Updated 01 March 2024
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Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era

Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era
  • Launched by the Historic District Program, the restored houses fuse region’s rich history with contemporary comforts

JEDDAH: Nestled in the heart of Jeddah’s historic district are heritage hotels launched by the Jeddah Historic District Program under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and in partnership with Al-Balad Development Co.

These hotels, including Beit Jokhdar, Beit Al-Rayess and Beit Kedwan, have been meticulously restored while preserving their architectural features to provide guests with an authentic glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

The restoration and rehabilitation of these heritage hotels was carried out in alignment with the highest international standards and the guidelines set out by UNESCO, which designated Jeddah Historic District as a World Heritage Site in 2014.

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage. (Instagram/jeddahalbalad.sa)

Tariq Omar Al-Saggaf, the project manager, told Arab News about the extensive work involved in reviving about 600 heritage buildings in the area. “These buildings are not only being restored but also repurposed for various functions ranging from hotels to residential, administrative, commercial and cultural purposes,” he said.

Through a harmonious blend of historical restoration and modern hospitality, these hotels offer guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich history and architecture of one of Saudi Arabia’s most iconic districts.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The recent agreement between the Jeddah Historic District Program and Al-Balad Development Co. signals a new chapter in the operation of the heritage hotels. • Beit Jokhdar has one of the largest wooden facades in Al-Balad and distinctive elements such as stained glass. • Beit Kedwan, facing Beit Nassif, stands out for its wooden rawasheen and mashrabiyyas.

During an exclusive tour at Beit Jokhdar, Milica Markovic, the general manager of Al-Balad Historic Hotels, told Arab News that the restoration process aimed to maintain the original charm of the buildings: “80 percent of the building has been restored to how it originally was. This building has the biggest roshan window in Jeddah. It has nine rooms and suites and it’s the biggest out of the three that we have.”

She added: “So, that’s why the architecture is actually very unique. It is very important for us to reflect for the guests, although these are hotels (they have) a very homey, elegant vibe.”

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage. (Instagram/jeddahalbalad.sa)

The attention to detail in preserving elements such as the roshan window, wooden ornaments and oil lamp hooks gives guests an insight into the heritage of the region. Local craftsmanship and artistry are also integral to the interior design and ambiance of the hotels, reflecting the cultural richness of Saudi Arabia.

“The ceilings are also original with wood ornament carving that is handmade. We even preserved the old hooks, where they used to put the oil lamps to lighten up the room. Most of the art and furniture you see … most of it has been done locally, so we really try to showcase fully not just the interior design and architecture of Saudi Arabia but also ... the work of the artists,” Markovic said.

Each of the three heritage hotels showcases a different architectural design that highlights the historical and aesthetic value of the buildings.

Beit Jokhdar, for instance, has one of the largest wooden facades in Al-Balad and features distinctive elements such as plaster decorations, arches, stained glass and ornate wooden interiors.

Beit Kedwan, facing Beit Nassif, stands out for its wooden rawasheen and mashrabiyyas, while Beit Al-Rayess is celebrated for its location and architectural features both internally and externally.

Markovic said: “The whole renovation process, I believe, took a little bit more than two years. But to set it up at the hotel and the hotel operation … it’s been only actually three months so we’ve been hardcore working to set everything up for the year.

“The most beautiful thing about these hotels is we don’t have to come up with a fancy marketing strategy or anything, we can just embrace them and share this beautiful history story,” Markovic said.

“Prices go usually from SR5,000 ($1,333) and more per night, but depending on the seasonality event in Jeddah, it can go a certain percentage lower or higher depending on the occupancy.”

Hospitality and dining in all hotels is inspired by an authentic Saudi flavor, “We have hired fantastic young chefs that are basically developing dishes that are inspired by Saudi cuisine, but with a bit of a more modern fine dining and elegant twist,” Markovic said.

The recent agreement between the Jeddah Historic District Program and Al-Balad Development Co. signals a new chapter in the operation of the heritage hotels.

With 34 heritage houses set to be managed under this partnership, Al-Balad Hospitality aims to offer authentic hospitality experiences that celebrate the culture of the region.

The commitment to preserving the history and providing enriching experiences positions Jeddah Historic District as a sought-after destination for visitors worldwide.

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage.

 


King Saud University pioneers in metaverse technology

The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)
The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)
Updated 01 March 2024
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King Saud University pioneers in metaverse technology

The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)
  • Unveiled on the inaugural day of the “Fomex” exhibition at the third Saudi Media Forum which was conducted earlier this month, the virtual space meticulously mirrors the intricate details and units in the media department

JEDDAH: In a transformative leap towards technological integration, the Department of Mass Communication at the King Saud University has harnessed the power of metaverse technology and artificial intelligence tools to create a groundbreaking virtual space that encapsulates the essence of the university’s communication landscape.

The genesis of this project traces back to a collaborative effort by Majedah Alsewaiah and Khadeja Moraished, both from the Department of Mass Communication.

The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)

Inspired by their training in AI journalism and the metaverse, the duo conceptualized a virtual environment that would serve as a dynamic showcase of the department’s achievements and milestones.

Unveiled on the inaugural day of the “Fomex” exhibition at the third Saudi Media Forum which was conducted earlier this month, the virtual space meticulously mirrors the intricate details and units in the media department.

HIGHLIGHT

The metaverse’s virtual space enhances immersive learning by enabling students to actively engage in their education, such as participating in historical simulations or real-time language practice with avatars.

From the head of the department’s office to the various cutting-edge studios and centers, such as the digital and visual media lab, electronic journalism lab, and the university’s newspaper headquarters, every facet is intricately woven into this digital tapestry.

Moraished, who is a Ph.D candidate in digital media at the Mass Communication Department at KSU, told Arab News: “After earning our diploma in AI journalism and the metaverse, Dr. Majedah Alsewaiah, an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication, and I developed a project for our final submission, showcasing the accomplishments of the media department. This led to the conception of utilizing metaverse technology to craft a virtual environment.

“We proposed the idea using metaverse technology for a virtual space to Dr. Faisal Al-Oqail, head of the media department, and the project was refined to mirror the department’s various units and key university landmarks, including the iconic book roundabout, emblematic of the KSU,” she said.

Moraished said that the metaverse’s virtual space enhances immersive learning by enabling students to actively engage in their education, such as participating in historical simulations or real-time language practice with avatars.

“Virtual reality allows for hands-on interaction with complex concepts. It facilitates global collaboration by removing geographical barriers, connecting students and educators worldwide for joint projects and exchanging teaching methods. This fosters cross-cultural learning and prepares students for a future where global cooperation is crucial.”

Alsewaiah credits the media department of the KSU with pioneering innovation in the metaverse sphere.

Embracing Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse as “the future of the internet,” she said that “the university’s virtual space supports its commitment to digital advancement and knowledge dissemination.”

Central to the project’s success is the seamless integration of AI tools in editing, designing, and production.

Looking ahead, Alsewaiah envisions further expansion and enhancement of the metaverse project, propelling educational excellence and fostering creativity in communication and media realms.

“The transition to the metaverse will spark competition and primarily enhance education by facilitating knowledge transfer and interaction between professors and students. Utilizing the metaverse and AI for creative outputs will also advance communication, and media, and elevate Saudi media’s effectiveness and distinction,” said Alsewaiah.

 


‘Asayel’ equestrian theater show wins hearts in Diriyah

‘Asayel’ follows Fahad, a man from Diriyah, and his strong bond with his horse. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
‘Asayel’ follows Fahad, a man from Diriyah, and his strong bond with his horse. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 01 March 2024
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‘Asayel’ equestrian theater show wins hearts in Diriyah

‘Asayel’ follows Fahad, a man from Diriyah, and his strong bond with his horse. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
  • “Asayel” is part of the collective events of Diriyah Season, which aims to promote the cultural and historical heritage of the city

RIYADH: The story of Fahad and his beloved horse Asayel are at the heart of a new theatrical equestrian show in Diriyah that is captivating visitors.

The show follows Fahad, a man from Diriyah, and his strong bond with Asayel. The horse is later passed to Fahad’s son, Faris, who experiences hardship before navigating the modern city of Diriyah with his animal companion, eventually leading the community to unity and determination.

“Asayel,” which runs from Feb. 28 to March 8 at Mayadeen Theater, is presented by Z7 Show Horses, a company of 40 performers and 40 horses bringing sophistication and passion to Diriyah.

‘Asayel’ follows Fahad, a man from Diriyah, and his strong bond with his horse. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

The team’s director, Laura Arkle, said: “Z7 Show Horses and the team are extremely excited to be performing in Saudi Arabia. Being able to tell the Diriyah story whilst incorporating the rich culture through the art of equestrian entertainment is a dream come true for all of us.”

“Asayel” has been met with high praise from audience members, including Saudi model and content creator Reyouf Madkhali, who said: “This is my first time attending a show with this high-quality performance.”

FASTFACT

‘Asayel’ runs until March 8 at Mayadeen Theater in Diriyah.

She added: “It was very professional, clean cut … honestly, it was very well organized.”

Events like “Asayel” in Diriyah, which celebrate the ancient city’s heritage, have reached a new level of professionalism and showmanship, Madkhali said.

Nada Abdul Hakim, a young Saudi singer and actress who plays the role of Nourah in the show, told Arab News: “It is a beautiful experience … my role is Nourah in the story, Faris’ friend. Nourah taught Faris how to ride a horse because he loved horses.”

“Asayel” is part of the collective events of Diriyah Season, which aims to promote the cultural and historical heritage of the city.

 


New Murabba partners with Tourism Development Fund to bring Riyadh’s downtown to life

The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri.
The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri.
Updated 01 March 2024
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New Murabba partners with Tourism Development Fund to bring Riyadh’s downtown to life

The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri.
  • The agreement aims to unlock New Murabba’s potential, placing Riyadh at the forefront of global destinations

RIYADH: New Murabba Development Company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tourism Development Fund to spearhead the transformation of Riyadh.

The agreement will see the two entities work together to create New Murabba, for what they envisage will be the world’s largest modern downtown, serving as a model for future urban development and contributing toward Riyadh city’s evolution, in line with Vision 2030.

NMDC’s strategic partnership with TFD is pivotal in realizing New Murabba’s ambition to create the most advanced, transformative, downtown experience in the world. It aims to fulfil Saudi Arabia’s potential as a leading investment destination — for what the entities involved foresee as a place where people live, work and play; a tourism and hospitality hotspot distinguished by a thriving technology ecosystem; an enabling business environment; and a diverse and welcoming society.

The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri. As part of the agreement, TDF will provide direct financing opportunities in collaboration with its network of partners and contracted investors, solidifying NMDC’s access to TDF’s expertise, networks and investment capabilities.

The agreement aims to unlock New Murabba’s potential, placing Riyadh at the forefront of global destinations and showcasing the Kingdom’s commitment to innovative, sustainable urban development, cultural richness and international visitor experiences.