Jeddah’s fifth book fair sees 1,000 publishers participate

Jeddah’s fifth book fair sees 1,000 publishers participate
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French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ludovic Pouille during his tour on the inaugural day of the fifth Jeddah book fair. (AN photo/Nada Hameed)
Jeddah’s fifth book fair sees 1,000 publishers participate
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A group photo of the French delegation during their visit to the French pavilion at Jeddah book Fair. (AN photo/Nada Hameed)
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Updated 08 December 2023
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Jeddah’s fifth book fair sees 1,000 publishers participate

Jeddah’s fifth book fair sees 1,000 publishers participate
  • Features seminars, poetry readings, workshops on Japanese manga
  • France’s first participation an ‘honor,’ says ambassador Ludovic Pouille

JEDDAH: More than 1,000 local, Arab and international publishing houses are displaying their products at the fifth Jeddah Book Fair launched on Thursday by the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission under the slogan “Ports of Culture.”
The event, being held at Jeddah Superdome until Dec. 16, includes seminars, panel discussions, poetry readings, and workshops on the publication of comics and Japanese manga.
The inaugural day commenced with the attendance of France’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ludovic Pouille, who is leading a delegation from his country.
Pouille told Arab News: “It is a momentous occasion as the French pavilion is taking part for the first time at the Jeddah fair, and France is the exclusive participant with a dedicated pavilion, making it a tremendous honor and source of immense pleasure for me.”
According to Pouille, the French pavilion will have 15,000 titles from the nation’s biggest publishing houses.
During his visit, Pouille had the chance to engage with 12 Saudi students from King Abdulaziz University’s French language department.
France’s pavilion offers daily language courses for free.
Larry Lamartiniere, the director of Alliance Francaise in Jeddah, told Arab News: “France is very famous for its book culture. We at the Jeddah book fair offer daily courses for kids, teenagers, and adults from 5 to 7 p.m. at the pavilion. It is a chance to learn and explore more about the culture and the language.”
Pouille added: “People will learn French, read French because, at the end of the day, I’m a true believer in the dialogue of culture, and in the diversity, and what better symbol to diversity than the French pavilion here in the heart of the Jeddah book fair.”
Commenting on the role of reading in society, Pouille said: “I think that books today are more important than ever. Everybody is on the screen. Everybody is on the phone, taking a book, taking the time to read, either a kid or an adult. It’s absolutely essential. It brings you wisdom. It brings you knowledge, brings you openness. You need to read. That’s my message today to everybody.”
Leading French author Olivier Rolin is scheduled to have a book signing on Dec. 10.
To support independent, self-published writers, the commission has set up a corner called “Saudi Author,” which provides an opportunity to explore over 100 titles.
ROSHN, a PIF-owned giga-project and real estate developer, is a sponsor of this year’s edition of the fair.
ROSHN’s Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ghada Alrumayan told Arab News: “The exhibition represents one of the ongoing efforts of ROSHN to enhance the quality of life for individuals and families through various means, including increasing knowledge, transferring cultures, opening avenues for research and innovation for society, and contributing to achieving the targets of Vision 2030.”
Children are offered edutainment activities through shows, theater, puppet workshops, and a writing and sensory play area.
Workshops on fashion, cooking, music, comic book creation, stop-motion and animation are also scheduled with local and international experts.
The manga and anime area at the fair has numerous interactive activities with several publishing houses selling books and collectibles.
Mohammed AlGasimi, organizer of the section, said 26 manga publishing houses, primarily from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Britain, are participating. The manga section features statues of iconic anime figures including Satoru Gojo from Jujutsu Kaisen and Naruto Uzumaki.
The Heritage Commission offers visitors a micro exhibition to explore the nation’s history. The “Year of Arab Poetry 2023” initiative is also present at the fair through various platforms.
The Jeddah Book Fair is the third such gathering organized by the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission this year, following Madinah in June and Riyadh in September.
The fair is open from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, except on Fridays, when it opens from 2 p.m. until midnight.


Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week
Updated 10 sec ago
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Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 14,955 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 9,080 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 3,088 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,787 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 849 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 42 percent were Yemeni, 56 percent Ethiopian, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 99 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and six were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression

OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression
Updated 8 min 42 sec ago
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OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression

OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression
  • The session will be held at the headquarters of the OIC in Jeddah on Tuesday

Jeddah: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold an extraordinary meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

The session will be held at the headquarters of the OIC in Jeddah on Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha is expected to address the opening session, which will be preceded by a preparatory senior officials’ meeting on March 4 to discuss and adopt the draft agenda and work program, and consider the draft resolution before submitting it to the Council of Foreign Ministers the following day.

On Oct. 11, 2023, Saudi Arabia hosted the extraordinary Joint Arab and Islamic Summit in Riyadh, organized by the OIC and the Arab League. The conference adopted several decisions, in particular assigning a committee of foreign ministers of member states to tour world capitals and international organizations in an effort to stop the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

As part of its continued efforts to stop the brutal Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people since Oct. 7, the OIC held an open-ended executive committee extraordinary meeting at the level of foreign ministers at its headquarters on Oct. 18.

The OIC has also renewed its urgent call for the international community to intervene urgently to stop the crimes of genocide committed by the Israeli occupation, provide international protection for Palestinian civilians, and ensure the arrival of basic supplies and permanent urgent humanitarian relief.


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.