Alkhobar’s Bohemia brings music to Saudi Arabia’s capital

Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)
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Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)
Alkhobar’s Bohemia brings music to Saudi Arabia’s capital
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Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)
Alkhobar’s Bohemia brings music to Saudi Arabia’s capital
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Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 March 2024
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Alkhobar’s Bohemia brings music to Saudi Arabia’s capital

Alkhobar’s Bohemia brings music to Saudi Arabia’s capital
  • Music cafe has carved out a new space for creative Saudi voices to be heard

RIYADH: Alkhobar-based Bohemia Art Cafe and Records has opened a new branch at The Warehouse in the Kingdom’s capital where visitors can enjoy coffee, buy vinyl records and vibe with live music.

Overlooking the picturesque rocky hills that showcase the beauty of historic Diriyah, the standalone vinyl shop and cultural music hub is situated at the end of a trail of warehouses. Approaching on foot, you’ll see the neon sign drawing you into the space. The cafe is smaller than the Alkhobar branch and has the same cohesive energy with a vibe that is all its own.

Co-founders Fawaz Alsulaim and Mansour Alhmaid met at university in the UK, where they studied mechanical engineering. They each had different tastes but both loved music. They opened Bohemia Art Cafe in Alkhobar in 2018 and it has become a sonic refuge for them and their clients.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

Alhmaid, who is from Riyadh, told Arab News about the significance of the new location: “We are very proud that this (Riyadh location) attracts the right clients. The client base in Riyadh is way bigger than Alkhobar; they enjoy different genres of music here — it’s all types, a bit of everything.

“We don’t have many walk-in clients, most follow us on our social media channels,” he said. As if on cue, several people arrived — all were enthusiasts from the Alkhobar branch.

The second branch was a long time coming. The Bohemia Art Cafe name has become synonymous with creatives in Alkhobar, a place for like-minded people to congregate and a space to amplify the Saudi talent brewing within.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

Building on the creative community, pulling from the nostalgic, retro vinyl culture was something the founders strived for.

Before COVID-19 put the world on hold, they had tried to open up a second branch in Riyadh.

“The plans were there since before COVID. Unfortunately, with COVID, the financial situation became tough. We had to delay it. And then when things settled, it became a good time to go there,” Alsulaim told Arab News.




Co-founders Fawaz Alsulaim and Mansour Alhmaid met at university in the UK. (Supplied)

Carving out a space for creative Saudi voices to be heard is the goal that unites the two branches. Open-mic events are one way to do it.

Alsulaim, who greets people at open mics in the Alkhobar branch, is always welcoming.

“We just had (one of) our last open mic in Alkhobar before Ramadan; we were very excited about it. First time for The Pineapple Jam Project, led by Sawsan, who has always been opening for people, so it was amazing to see her finally be a headliner in a show,” he said.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

Sawsan, who performed a medley of melodies at a recent show in the Alkhobar branch, said that she was elated that the cafe had blossomed recently.

“I can’t describe my feelings because it (had) been a year since my last gig. It feels amazing. These are my friends,” she told Arab News after her performance.

As a child, Sawsan would sing using a bottle of perfume as a mic in her bedroom and would belt songs out in the shower. Now, Bohemia Art Cafe is letting her voice flourish on a bigger stage.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

“The vibe at Bohemia is so good. I mean, I was so scared. Everyone here came to support me — half of the people here are my friends, the other half got to hear me sing so they might be my future friends — or something like that,” she said.

Both branches aim to foster local talent such as Sawsan’s and to serve as a hybrid space to collectively promote local voices.

“We have a great strategic partnership with The Warehouse. It works great for us and great for them. The shows are on the weekend so our work is done for us, in terms of shows,” Alsulaim said.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

“I’m surprised that records have been selling in Riyadh more than coffee — which is the opposite of what’s happening here in Alkhobar. People have been coming for the first weeks just for our records.”

Both branches have a “pre-loved” section in which clients can sell their records, something the founders are proud of.

Alsulaim plans to go back and forth between both locations. No matter what, he insists that the Alkhobar branch, which he calls “the OG” (or original), will remain.

During the month of Ramadan, Bohemia will be open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m in both Riyadh and Alkhobar. Artistic types in the Jax district will be able to step into Bohemia and enjoy their late night coffee and study, chill or listen to music — or all of the above.

“We plan to open a branch in Jeddah in the future,” Alhmaid said. “At Bohemia, we sell happiness.”

 


Egypt’s president prays in the Prophet’s Mosque ahead of Hajj

Egypt’s president prays in the Prophet’s Mosque ahead of Hajj
Updated 9 sec ago
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Egypt’s president prays in the Prophet’s Mosque ahead of Hajj

Egypt’s president prays in the Prophet’s Mosque ahead of Hajj

RIYADH: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi arrived in the Saudi city of Madinah on Thursday and prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

El-Sisi was received by Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the governor of the Madinah region, and a number of local officials on his arrival at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport.

The annual pilgrimage starts on Friday and El-Sisi will be taking part this year. 


King Salman Arabic Language Academy signs deal with Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies

King Salman Arabic Language Academy signs deal with Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies
Updated 14 min 43 sec ago
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King Salman Arabic Language Academy signs deal with Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies

King Salman Arabic Language Academy signs deal with Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies

RIYADH: King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language on Thursday signed an agreement with Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies in Tashkent.

The agreement aims to enhance cooperation in promoting the Arabic language, teaching it, preserving its integrity and supporting its use in alignment with the objectives of the human capability development program, one of the initiatives of Saudi Vision 2030.

The academy aims to fulfill its mission of caring for the Arabic language, fostering pride in it, and enabling its civilizational, scientific and cultural contributions.

The academy implemented Arabic language month in Uzbekistan as part of a series of scientific programs undertaken in various countries.
 


Saudi inventor develops digital solution for lost pilgrims

Saudi inventor develops digital solution for lost pilgrims
Updated 28 min 53 sec ago
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Saudi inventor develops digital solution for lost pilgrims

Saudi inventor develops digital solution for lost pilgrims
  • Suliman Saleh Al-Dhalea launches Murshid app to enhance pilgrim safety during Hajj

JEDDAH: With more than two million Muslims expected in Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year, the annual pilgrimage is becoming increasingly hi-tech, with apps to help the faithful navigate Islam’s holiest sites.

In a landmark step to address the issue of Hajj pilgrims who go missing, especially the elderly and those with special needs, Saudi inventor Suliman Saleh Al-Dhalea recently launched a mobile application that offers hope to the thousands of pilgrims who get lost during the Hajj period.

The app, named “Murshid,” which means guidance, connects pilgrims and Umrah performers with guides, Hajj and Umrah companies, volunteers and scouts. Moreover, it promptly deals with requests from people with disabilities and the elderly.

The app has two features — the ability to report lost pilgrims, as well as being able to detect the location and movement of pilgrims to ease the search process if they get lost or separated from their group.

Al-Dhalea, who invented the app, told Arab News that overcrowding often leads to lost pilgrims at Hajj sites, meaning pilgrims get separated from their groups and are unable to rejoin them.

“This project was designed as a result of the difficulty of dealing with the different communities within the holy sites, such as Makkah, Mina, Arafa and Madinah,” he said.

“Our main aim is to know where the missing pilgrim is,” Al-Dhalea said.

He affirmed that with the Murshid app, no one will get lost during Hajj.

“This is to ensure providing the pilgrims who come to Saudi Arabia with distinguished services so that they perform the duty of the fifth pillar of Islam and all its rituals correctly in the best conditions,” he said.

“Though we have many volunteers and scouts helping missing pilgrims find their way, most fail to effectively explain where they are, making it difficult for officials to find them. This new app will help us overcome logistical problems encountered during this busy season,” Al-Dhalea said.

He said the app will be operational this year and that they have already teamed up with five of the largest Hajj and Umrah companies.

“To date we are working with these companies and, additionally, men, women, taxi drivers and other locals can also work with us as guides.”

Al-Dhalea, who is from Qassim, said the invention of the app is not a commercial project, and that he is not concerned with how much money it will make.

“Saudi Arabia’s great efforts toward serving the pilgrims of the House of Allah led me to think of something to stand by my country and also think of a project which could solve some of the problems pilgrims face,” he said.

After helping an Iranian pilgrim and his wife this week, Al-Dhalea told Arab News that his contribution to serving this pilgrim has added a lot to him both personally and practically.

"It was my first case this Hajj; his name is Hossein Almasi from Iran. He got lost in Makkah before the Hajj season started, and it was reported to us through our app. We immediately started searching and found him.

"As soon as we found him, we guided him along with his wife to the Iranian campaign headquarters, and the man was very happy. When he got there, he asked us how much money to pay for this service. We told him it is a free service. He hugged me and said thank you," said Al-Dhalea.

Unsurprisingly, Al-Dhalea’s app for finding missing people during Hajj saw off the challenges of 450 local and international projects for sustainable solutions for pilgrims organized by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah during the Hajj Expo.


Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites

Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites
Updated 39 min 49 sec ago
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Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites

Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites
  • Some 250 employees and health practitioners made available, including 50 doctors specialized in different fields
  • Facilities include 26 inpatient beds, ICU beds, isolation rooms

MAKKAH: The Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs has prepared five clinics and a medical center for heat exhaustion and sunstroke at Mina and Arafat to serve pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.
The Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday that the ministry had concluded its preparations and made available 250 employees and health practitioners, including 50 doctors specialized in intensive care, cardiology, emergency, internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, family and community medicine, and fighting infections.
Dr. Jabr Al-Subaie, the chief operating officer in the health affairs section of the ministry in the Western Region, said that five clinics had been set up for men and women suffering with respiratory diseases, along with 26 inpatient beds, ICU beds, and isolation rooms.
He added that a room for minor operations, a dental clinic, a pharmacy and a laboratory will also be made available, along with radiology services.
The health affairs section is also present for a second year in Arafat, with a heat exhaustion and sunstroke center boasting 20 beds with the latest equipment.
The center has an air and water spray distribution system. There are also clinics for men and women and an outpatient pharmacy.
Dr. Majid Al-Thaqafi, the medical supervisor at the field hospital in Mina, said all rescue teams were equipped with the latest emergency and support equipment at the Jamarat sites at Mina and Jabal Al-Rahma (Mount Arafat).


How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj

How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj
Updated 13 June 2024
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How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj

How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj
  • By monitoring congestion with AI-controlled drones, the Kingdom offers pilgrims a seamless transport experience
  • To bypass Makkah’s heavy congested streets, hospitals will use drones to transport blood and laboratory samples

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is using artificial intelligence technologies to enhance traffic management and alleviate congestion in Makkah during the annual Hajj season, ultimately providing a more secure and seamless pilgrimage experience.

Having hosted 1,845,045 pilgrims in the 2023 season, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Statistics, efficient traffic control measures are more important than ever.

By implementing AI-powered solutions, such as real-time traffic monitoring and adaptive signal control systems, Saudi Arabia aims to streamline the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, reducing bottlenecks and ensuring smoother movement throughout the city.

Col. Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, security spokesperson at the Ministry of Interior, told Arab News there are several new AI applications for this Hajj season, including new algorithms for surveillance cameras to analyze the number of vehicles on the city’s streets.

“We have supplied advanced digital equipment for data, artificial intelligence, and cutting-edge technology to assist field officials and incorporate AI into operational systems,” Al-Shalhoub said.

“We are utilizing AI technologies to enhance traffic control in Makkah by leveraging the collaboration between the Civil Defense and the Saudi Data and AI Authority.”

This partnership will offer digital solutions to assist security personnel in monitoring and analyzing data during Hajj operations.

“The cooperation between these authorities allowed us to establish an integrated advanced technology system during this year’s Hajj season, where operations centers are equipped with smart platforms built with national artificial intelligence algorithms to serve the pilgrims during their performance of Hajj rituals,” Al-Shalhoub added.

Saleh Al-Jasser, the Kingdom’s minister of transport and logistics, recently announced the rollout of new technologies designed to manage traffic during Hajj this year, including the use of drones for road network inspection and evaluation using thermal scanning.

Meanwhile, the Virtual Glasses Initiative is revolutionizing transport monitoring by equipping field monitors with augmented reality glasses to supervise activities and ensure compliance.

With a target to cut inspection times by 600 percent, from 60 seconds to just 10 seconds, it is hoped that this innovative technology will streamline operations and significantly improve efficiency.

“Cameras, intelligent systems, and sophisticated data dashboards, like the Sawaher platform, offer advanced services for identifying and analyzing the flow of vehicles and pilgrims, as well as for detecting violations in different areas,” Al-Shalhoub said.

By improving monitoring quality and easing congestion, the initiative is providing a more seamless transport experience for passengers.

The initiative is currently being tested on a fleet of 100 buses to assess its effectiveness.

The Ministry of Health will also be using drones to quickly and efficiently transport blood and laboratory samples between hospitals around the holy sites to help cut waiting times for transfusions and test results.

Compared with the existing system of making deliveries by road, drones will reduce the time needed to transport blood from an average of two and a half hours to just two minutes.

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The Public Transport Authority has also launched the “Enseeyab” initiative, first introduced during Hajj season 2023, using drones connected to an AI program to measure the real-time movement of pilgrims to the holy sites by bus.

The authority aims to provide safe means of travel using new technologies, including AI, to measure their effectiveness. These technologies will ensure pilgrims can perform rituals in comfort and with ease.

Another way authorities will be managing traffic congestion during Hajj is through micro-mobility options, such as electric scooters, which will be available at the holy sites to facilitate movement.

By providing designated paths for these electric scooters, planners have allowed pilgrims to travel more efficiently and reduce the overall congestion in high-traffic areas.

Some of the key routes that could benefit from the use of electric scooters include Route No.1 from Arafat to Muzdalifah border, which is 4,000 meters in length, and the 1,200m pedestrian road bridge entering and exiting Jamarat.

These technology-driven solutions reflect the country’s commitment to use innovations to optimize the Hajj experience for all participants.

Through the integration of AI into traffic management systems, Saudi Arabia can adapt to changing conditions and address issues quickly.

This proactive stance helps to alleviate congestion and enhance the overall efficiency of transport networks during Hajj.