Balad Al-Fann program emphasizes sonic forms of memory recall and resistance

Balad Al-Fann program emphasizes sonic forms of memory recall and resistance
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Balad Al-Fann program emphasizes sonic forms of memory recall and resistance
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Updated 28 January 2024
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Balad Al-Fann program emphasizes sonic forms of memory recall and resistance

Balad Al-Fann program emphasizes sonic forms of memory recall and resistance
  • The program aims to revive ancestral forms of wisdom and knowledge transference through sound, music, and silence
  • The program is divided into several thematic periods, each offering unique experiences and opportunities for visitors

Jeddah: Jeddah’s historic district is currently hosting the Samaa program as a part of the Balad Al-Fann initiative, which focuses on early developmental learning through communal listening, music and storytelling.

The program aims to revive ancestral forms of wisdom and knowledge transference through sound, music, and silence. With a series of events and workshops, the Samaa program highlights the significance of sonic forms of memory recall, personal growth and resistance. Its ultimate aim is to create a vibrant and inclusive cultural space within the community.

Tara Al-Dughaither, curator of the Samaa program and founder of the artistic research, documentation and production platform Sawtasura, spoke about the program’s significance and its focus on diverse voices and perspectives.

She said: “We provide a space where the public mostly decides what to do in it. We simply offer some tools such as instruments and books, or devices to play music, while the messaging encourages ‘Learn and Play.’ We believe playfulness and organic expression contribute to the development of people’s creativity, which is the essence of a healthy and diverse culture.”

Al-Dughaither further emphasized the importance of deep listening and the program’s departure from market-driven expectations: “The main goal of this program is enhancing deep listening as a way to tap into the creative process and focus on that rather than final and complete works, which is almost opposite of what the market demands. But I think that’s significant.”

The program is divided into several thematic periods, each offering unique experiences and opportunities for visitors. The program first started with “Electronic Sounds,” exploring the inclusive nature of synthesized and electronic music as a mode of sonic transference. This segment ran until Jan. 2, with artists sharing their music and conducting workshops on sound production techniques for creating synthesized, recorded, and looped forms of memory and storytelling.

From Feb. 1- 14, the focus will shift to “Alternative Arab Narratives,” providing a platform for artists to share their musical expressions and exchange ideas with local artists, representing the ethnic and cultural diversity of Jeddah and the region. This exchange aims to foster a sense of allyship and remembrance.

The period from Feb. 15- 21 will be dedicated to “Folk Remembrance,” emphasizing traditional local culture and prioritizing women and children’s circles. Activities during this period will revolve around rhythm and Arabic poetry as forms of timekeeping and memory transference.

Finally, from Feb. 22 to March 9, the program explores “Listening and Presence” as a means of inner reflection and self-empowerment. Artists and musicians will engage with sound and music academically, delving into deep listening as a gateway to transformation and collective empowerment.

Regarding challenges, Al-Dughaither added: “When approaching an open-ended project like this, it’s always a matter of working with hopes rather than clear expectations. We can only manage and control a select number of pre-planned events while the rest is up to the people and how they respond to the space.”

Sawtasura, the curator-led platform behind the program, aims to organize, collect, and archive musical histories in the Arab and Gulf region, offering alternative and sonic ways of knowing. As with all Sawtasura’s initiatives, the emphasis of sound or voice is integral and central. This particular program marks their first interactive engagement with the public.

Al-Dughaither concluded: “We’re especially excited to host some musicians from our neighboring countries performing in an alternative style. This program is a unique opportunity to engage with sound and music as a form of intellectual and emotional rigor, self-determination, and collective empowerment. Sound here plays the deeper role that it can play, becoming a psycho-emotional gateway to transformation.”

Ahmed Nawaf, a music enthusiast said: “I was blown away by the range of experiences offered in this program. The exploration of electronic sounds allowed me to uncover profound layers of meaning within the music. This program has undeniably transformed my perspective on music and creativity, leaving a lasting impact. I eagerly anticipate the upcoming engagements in the coming months.”


Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry

Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry
Updated 12 sec ago
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Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry

Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry
  • Between May 23 and June 21, only pilgrims with Hajj permits can enter Makkah
  • Interior ministry says penalties to be imposed on anyone violating the rules

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.


First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj

First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj
Updated 8 min 48 sec ago
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First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj

First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj

RIYADH: The first Yemeni pilgrims to the Kingdom to perform Hajj this year arrived through Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport.

The Saudi government simplified the Yemeni visitors’ travel with immigration officers ensuring entry procedures were carried out smoothly, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kingdom’s General Directorate of Passports “has exerted every effort to ensure that the entry of pilgrims is facilitated, equipping all international border crossings with advanced technology and trained staff proficient in different languages spoken by pilgrims,” the report added.

Saudi Arabia in 2019 launched the Makkah Route Initiative to help Hajj pilgrims from seven countries — Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkiye and Ivory Coast — with their visa, customs and passport requirements.

The government program issues visas electronically and collects biometric data, carrying out all travel procedures at the airports of the countries of departure, including ensuring that pilgrims have a clean bill of health. Baggage is coded and sorted to meet the transport and accommodation arrangements while pilgrims are in the Kingdom.

King Salman earlier ordered the hosting of 2,322 Hajj pilgrims, a group that includes 1,000 family members of Palestinians killed or wounded by Israel or held in Israeli prisons.


Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season

Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season
Updated 29 May 2024
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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 29 May 2024
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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.