Ithra’s Learning Beyond Conference highlights role of storytelling, design thinking in education

Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
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Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
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Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
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Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
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Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
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Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 January 2024
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Ithra’s Learning Beyond Conference highlights role of storytelling, design thinking in education

Ithra transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend. (Supplied)
  • Ithra has been at the forefront of merging old and new, consistently pivoting innovative technology while honoring the past

DHAHRAN: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Ithra, transformed into a massive learning hub for the Learning Beyond Conference in Dhahran at the weekend.

The two-day event featured 22 interactive talks, 50 speakers, four book signings, and 15 workshops, inviting educators, parents, content developers, intellectuals, lifelong learners, and education entrepreneurs to explore the theme of “storytelling.”

Since its inception, Ithra has been at the forefront of merging old and new, consistently pivoting innovative technology while honoring the past. The goal is to amplify Saudi narratives across various mediums. At the Learning Beyond Conference, diverse interactive spaces, including picture books, photography, traditional methods, and ChatGPT, catered to every learning style.

Many sessions were conducted in both English and Arabic, exploring topics such as sensory storytelling, designing intellectually stimulating learning environments, immersive storytelling, songwriting, and utilizing technologies like artificial intelligence for storytelling, among other topics.

A dedicated space showcased the art of Hasawi bisht, a decorative garment from Al-Ahsa worn during special occasions. Local Hasawi experts were invited to weave the symbolic golden thread, while musicians adorned the space, telling stories through oud strumming or piano keys, each piece conveying a unique tale.

Arab News attended a session called SPAN, which alluded to how our day is split into various spans of time and how each competes for our attention. Hosted by Benjamin Jacobs, a 30-year veteran educator, creative manager Yasmeen Fekak, and marketing professional Muhannad Alhammadeh.

These seasoned professionals engaged 20 participants in a workshop. After a brief presentation, educators were divided into four groups to brainstorm innovative ways to teach complex topics in the classroom.

“What is design thinking? This might be the hardest and easiest question,” Alhammadeh told Arab News. “If you think about design thinking, it’s the way that we were trying to deliver a mindset for educators to be able to build a solution every time they face a problem — while delivering information or content for students or trainees.

“It is just an introduction to unlock whatever skills, whatever tools that you might have. Design thinking is this method that will give you shortcuts to solutions and an enhancement to whatever you're doing in a very, very simple and broken-down way.“

The SPAN session took place in a classroom filled with colorful sticky notes for scribbling ideas and ample opportunities to discuss the most effective teaching or learning methods and their reasons.

“Tonight, it was a drop-in; we were hoping for 16, and we had 20. I would say it was a good problem to have,” Jacobs told Arab News after the successful session.

Fekak shared with Arab News her perspective on the dual roles of learning and teaching. She said: “Sometimes you are the receiver of the information; sometimes, you’re the one handing it out. Sometimes, you are the educator, sometimes you are the student; so it’s all about going back to design thinking and learning.

“What did I learn today? I learned that for us all … we were able to recall our previous experiences as students and able to recall what worked for us and what didn’t and that helped us in trying to come up with solutions that we could actually transfer later,” she added.


Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season

Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season
Updated 5 sec ago
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Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season

Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior has announced visit visa holders will not be allowed to enter or remain in Makkah during the Hajj season.

Between May 23 and June 21, only pilgrims with Hajj permits may do so, with penalties imposed on anyone violating the rules.

The ministry emphasized that visit visas did not give the holder permission to perform Hajj. It also urged visitors currently in Saudi Arabia to avoid travel to Makkah during the specified period.

“Violators will be subject to penalties according to the Kingdom’s regulations,” said a statement from the ministry.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior said it would start imposing fines amounting to $2,666 on anyone, including Saudi citizens, caught entering Makkah without a Hajj permit between June 2-20.


Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact

Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact
Updated 55 min 17 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact

Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact
  • The pact was inked at the ninth session of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Committee in Vienna
  • The parties aim to encourage cooperation in trade, industry, research and development, tourism, and small and medium enterprises

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s Ministry of Economy and Planning has signed a cooperation agreement with its Austria counterpart, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pact was inked at the ninth session of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Committee in Vienna between the Kingdom’s Economy and Planning Minister Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim and Austria’s Labor and Economy Minister Martin Kocher.

The parties aim to encourage cooperation in trade, industry, research and development, tourism, and small and medium enterprises.

The countries will also organize conferences and seminars featuring experts in their fields.

The parties are committed to protecting mutual intellectual property rights, the SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia and Austria first signed economic, commercial, industrial and technology agreements in 2004.


Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership

Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership

Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership
  • The governing board voted unanimously to reelect Vice Chairman Munir bin Mahmoud Eldesouki at the body’s 12th annual meeting

RIYADH: The Kingdom has retained its leadership position in the Global Research Council, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The governing board voted unanimously to reelect Vice Chairman Munir bin Mahmoud Eldesouki at the body’s 12th annual meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland this week.

The reelection to this position, for the second time since the body’s establishment in 2012, confirms the council’s confidence in Saudi Arabia, the SPA reported.

The council highlighted Saudi Arabia’s efforts in promoting research, development and innovation in the Middle East North Africa region, the report added.

The council comprises heads of research institutions that fund projects globally.


King Salman issues royal order to host 1,000 family members of Palestinian victims for Hajj

King Salman issues royal order to host 1,000 family members of Palestinian victims for Hajj
Updated 29 May 2024
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King Salman issues royal order to host 1,000 family members of Palestinian victims for Hajj

King Salman issues royal order to host 1,000 family members of Palestinian victims for Hajj
  • The gesture is part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah
  • Since its inception 26 years ago, more than 60,000 pilgrims have been hosted under the program

RIYADH: King Salman ordered the hosting of 2,322 Hajj pilgrims on Tuesday, including 1,000 family members of Palestinians killed or wounded by Israel or held in Israeli prisons.

1,300 people from over 88 countries and 22 family members of conjoined twins who were separated in the Kingdom will also be hosted for the pilgrimage, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The gesture is part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah, which is supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance.

Since its inception 26 years ago, more than 60,000 pilgrims have been hosted under the program.

Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikhb said the order reflects the Saudi leadership’s constant care for Muslims around the world and its efforts to strengthen unity and brotherhood among Muslims by bringing them together for Hajj at the expense of the king.

The minister said preparations to host these pilgrims have begun and a strategic plan has been developed.


Saudi Arabia condemns Israel’s continued acts of genocide in Rafah 

Saudi Arabia condemns Israel’s continued acts of genocide in Rafah 
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia condemns Israel’s continued acts of genocide in Rafah 

Saudi Arabia condemns Israel’s continued acts of genocide in Rafah 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia condemned on Tuesday the Israeli forces’ continued “genocidal massacres against the Palestinian people without deterrence” by targeting the tents of defenseless Palestinian refugees in Rafah.

The Kingdom holds the Israeli authorities fully responsible for what is happening in Rafah and all the occupied Palestinian territories, a foreign ministry statement read.

Israel’s military denied striking a tent camp west of the city of Rafah on Tuesday after Gaza health authorities said Israeli tank shelling had killed at least 21 people there, in what Israel has designated a civilian evacuation zone.

Earlier, defying an appeal from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israeli tanks advanced to the heart of Rafah for the first time after a night of heavy bombardment, while Spain, Ireland and Norway officially recognized a Palestinian state, a move that further deepened Israel’s international isolation.

Saudi Arabia reiterated that the Israeli forces’ blatant violation of all international and humanitarian laws and norms, amid the silence of the international community, exacerbates the unprecedented Palestinian humanitarian catastrophe, and puts the credibility of international legitimacy institution at stake.

“The Kingdom stresses the need for the international community to assume its responsibilities to stop the massacres against the Palestinian people and hold those responsible accountable,” the statement concluded.

- With Reuters.