Gargee’an brings communities together during Ramadan

Special Gargee’an brings communities together during Ramadan
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Gargee’an essentially means the giving of gifts, but has widely been used to refer to the festive day itself. (Supplied)
Special Gargee’an brings communities together during Ramadan
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Gargee’an essentially means the giving of gifts, but has widely been used to refer to the festive day itself. (Supplied)
Special Gargee’an brings communities together during Ramadan
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Gargee’an essentially means the giving of gifts, but has widely been used to refer to the festive day itself. (Supplied)
Special Gargee’an brings communities together during Ramadan
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Gargee’an essentially means the giving of gifts, but has widely been used to refer to the festive day itself. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 March 2024
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Gargee’an brings communities together during Ramadan

Gargee’an brings communities together during Ramadan
  • Gargee’an is held primarily in Gulf countries or the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, specifically Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
  • Gargee’an has two meanings in Arabic: “knocking on the door” or “a mixture of sweets and nuts”

RIYADH: During the holy month of Ramadan, children across the Kingdom dress up and prepare their baskets to celebrate Gargee’an, a festive day that brings the community together.

The celebration occurs twice in an Islamic year — on 15 Sha’ban and 15 Ramadan.

It is held primarily in Gulf countries or the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, specifically Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

The word Gargee’an has two meanings in Arabic: “knocking on the door” or “a mixture of sweets and nuts.” The word essentially refers to the giving of gifts or goods but has widely been used to refer to the day itself.

In Qatif, a city in the Eastern Province, Gargee’an is known as Nasfa, translating to “middle,” as it is celebrated in the middle of the holy month.

Children wear traditional attire and go knocking door to door to receive sweets and snacks.

Girls dress up in colorful and bedazzled dresses, eye-catching golden headpieces, and traditional shoes. Boys wear white or embroidered thobes with a cap or traditional Saudi headdress, popularly known as ghutra.

Physical therapist Leena Al-Sada told Arab News that her family had their special set of traditions during Nasfa: “A few days before the celebration, it was tradition for my family to collectively buy the nuts and sweets. The most important thing was to buy the peanuts. We used to put them into small bags and distribute them to the younger kids within the neighborhoods.

“We would wear traditional clothes and the house entrance would be decorated beautifully with lights and traditional cloth with colorful prints,” she added.

Al-Sada remembers her mother knitting Nasfa bags for all the siblings to collect candy: “As siblings, we would walk with our bags in the neighborhoods … we would knock on doors chanting a traditional tune. It was a beautiful feeling. The weather was warm and the energy was joyful.”

By the time she became a mother, things had changed, Al-Sada said: “Back then, Nasfa was during the day, but since we all have jobs now, it is better suited for the kids to celebrate in the evening.”

Where she and her children would once pay a visit to all the family houses, now that they are older, she prepares her own house to receive visits from nieces and nephews.

Al-Sada said that Nasfa was once celebrated in a more tight-knit way, with only neighbors paying visits to one another, but today it brings the whole community together.

“Previously, the celebration was more neighborhood-based, but now as the community has flourished, Nasfa is celebrated collectively, with adults celebrating with their friends. Every generation feels very connected to the tradition in their own way,” she explained.

Consultant Juan Towairit says her family has been celebrating Nasfa ever since she can remember. Speaking about its festive atmosphere, she said: “Beyond its religious significance, it embodies the spirit of community, happiness, and rich cultural heritage. It is a time when everyone wears their finest traditional attire and warmly welcomes neighbors into their homes, sharing treats and toys with open arms. The streets glow with the festive lights and children’s smiles as they walk from house to house collecting toys and candy.

“This is a day when the entire community joins hands to spread positivity.”

Towairit said that her younger siblings look forward to celebrating Nasfa every year: “They get their bags ready to collect candy and wear a new thobe or jalabiya. On the day, they can barely contain their excitement until sundown to go see their friends and family and walk together from house to house. It’s the event of the year at that age.”

Decoder

What is Gargee’an?

It is a celebration that is held twice in an Islamic year, on 15th day of the months of Sha’ban and Ramadan, primarily in Gulf countries or the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, specifically Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. During these festive days, children wear traditional attire and go knocking door to door to receive sweets and snacks.


Saudi crown prince and French president discuss bilateral relations during phone call

Saudi crown prince and French president discuss bilateral relations during phone call
Updated 13 sec ago
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Saudi crown prince and French president discuss bilateral relations during phone call

Saudi crown prince and French president discuss bilateral relations during phone call

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed bilateral relations between their countries and ways to develop existing cooperation during a phone call on Wednesday. 

Developing

 


Sync Summit returns with digital call to action

Sync Summit returns with digital call to action
Updated 22 May 2024
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Sync Summit returns with digital call to action

Sync Summit returns with digital call to action
  • US activist urges children’s online safety regulations in sobering discussion
  • Well-known Emirati interviewer and entrepreneur Anas Bukhash moderated a talk titled “Turning Tides: Recalling Humanity in a Digital World”

DHAHRAN: “We have become more concerned with burnt toast than frying our brains,” Abdullah Al-Rashid, director of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, told the attentive crowd at the opening of the Sync Summit, the two-day event which opened on Wednesday.
Sync Summit, first held in 2022, returned to Ithra with more sobering reminders of why now, more than ever, we need to reset our relationship with the digital world.
Well-known Emirati interviewer and entrepreneur Anas Bukhash returned to the Sync stage where he moderated a talk titled “Turning Tides: Recalling Humanity in a Digital World.” He offered insights as someone who owes his career to the power of the Internet but also recognizes many of its negative aspects.
“A knife can slice bread or stab someone,” Bukhash said, noting technology’s ability to be a tool to build or injure, depending on how one uses it.
His panel included Kristin Bride from the US, an activist focused on children’s safety regulations on social media, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
“Four years ago was the worst day of my life,” Bride told the stunned crowd. Her son, who was in high school, was seemingly thriving, having just landed a summer job at a pizza parlor.
Bride recalled telling her son how proud she was. Her son described how much he was looking forward to the future, but just hours later, he died by suicide during the night.
The activist later found out that her son had been severely bullied on Snapchat by anonymous users. The hundreds of messages she saw when she opened her late son’s account were every mother’s worst nightmare.
Bride fears that young people today lack the tools or the coping mechanisms to deal with online bullying. For the last three years, she has worked tirelessly to advocate for stronger regulations for young users, seeking stricter rules against anonymous users and asking for accountability from Snapchat and Meta.
“I feel sorry for my role,” said Wozniak, mentioning how he holds some guilt in building what has become a tangled World Wide Web.
Social media algorithms track a user’s activity to tailor content, which can sometimes limit the human or organic aspect of social interactions online.
“It’s not just a ‘like’ … you trigger a hundred advertisers,” Wozniak said.
Meanwhile, in a fireside chat, Arab News reporter Lama Alhamawi spoke to legendary football manager Jose Mourinho, who offered his philosophy on the social media usage of football players, describing the role that technology plays in the world of sport.
The summit also included a panel on utilizing technological advancements and finding ways to enhance the accuracy of fake news detection, along with other sessions dedicated to AI and wellness in the digital realm.
Ithra offered other events in the main plaza as well as programs curated for diverse audiences at the Ithra Theater and Ithra Cinema.
The Sync Summit is livestreamed and can be accessed on the Ithra website and social media channels.


Allam platform included in IBM’s watsonx

Allam platform included in IBM’s watsonx
Updated 22 May 2024
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Allam platform included in IBM’s watsonx

Allam platform included in IBM’s watsonx
  • Watsonx is IBM’s commercial generative AI and scientific data platform based on the cloud
  • The director of the National Information Center at the SDAIA commended the watsonx platform’s exceptional technical capabilities

RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority announced Wednesday that Allam, the AI generative platform serving Saudi Arabia and Arabic speakers around the world, was included in IBM’s watsonx data platform at the IBM Think 2024 conference in its pilot phase as one of the best generative models in Arabic in the world.
Watsonx is IBM’s commercial generative AI and scientific data platform based on the cloud.
In a speech at the annual conference, the director of the National Information Center at the SDAIA, Essam Al-Waqeet, commended the watsonx platform’s exceptional technical capabilities in enabling large language models and simplifying machine learning, as well as enhancing AI governance, compliance and hybrid cloud deployment flexibility, and praised the inclusion of Allam for global use, which significantly strengthens SDAIA’s position as a leader in the field of AI.
“It is acknowledged that large linguistic models trained on high-quality data are the basis for the successful implementation of generative AI, and Allam has been trained on more than 500 billion linguistic units in Arabic. We will seek to expand the addition of high-quality data and work to improve the accuracy of its models,” Al-Waqeet said.
He also reaffirmed the SDAIA’s commitment to make Allam the best generative AI model in the Arabic language in the world.
Al-Waqeet also invited the participants at the IBM Think 2024 to join the third Global Artificial Intelligence Summit, to be organized by the SDAIA in Riyadh from Sept. 10-12 later this year.


Speedy and secure, Haramain High Speed Railway enhances Hajj experience

Umrah pilgrims wearing ihram walk at a Haramain High Speed Railway station. (SPA)
Umrah pilgrims wearing ihram walk at a Haramain High Speed Railway station. (SPA)
Updated 22 May 2024
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Speedy and secure, Haramain High Speed Railway enhances Hajj experience

Umrah pilgrims wearing ihram walk at a Haramain High Speed Railway station. (SPA)
  • The Haramain High Speed Railway plays a crucial role in the Hajj season’s transportation system
  • Its operational plan incorporates more than 3,800 trips, offering more than 1.6 million seats to serve pilgrims and visitors in Madinah

RIYADH: The Haramain High Speed Railway offers pilgrims and travelers a safe and efficient way to navigate between holy sites.

The Saudi Press Agency recently witnessed the smooth operations at the Madinah station, the punctual arrivals and departures of trains carrying hundreds of pilgrims, Umrah performers, citizens and residents.

The train travels with regularity and is easy to use. At the station, SPA witnessed a streamlined process — travelers verify their reservations, head to the departure hall and board the train. The 13 rail cars offer ample seating. One car is dedicated to food and beverages.

Yahya Al-Sharqawi, from Egypt, expressed satisfaction with the ease and safety of the journey, highlighting the convenience of traveling directly from Jeddah airport to Madinah. He commended the Kingdom’s commitment to facilitating pilgrims’ movement.

Anwar Badr, another Egyptian visitor, was pleased with the many transportation options available, and the ease with which the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque can be reached, and expressed gratitude for the exceptional services provided to pilgrims.

Ali Rajabi, from Iran, echoed these sentiments, praising the comfort and convenience offered by the Haramain High Speed Railway. He said that the project serves pilgrims from all corners of the globe.

The Madinah station caters to travelers’ needs with a variety of amenities. Parking is available below the station, and self-service kiosks handle reservations and ticketing.

Information and assistance offices help to navigate the facilities. Multiple arrival and departure halls ensure smooth passenger flow, with seasonal halls specifically dedicated to serving pilgrims during peak periods.

For added convenience, the station boasts retail outlets selling food and beverages, as well as companies offering housing and car rental services. A permanent health center provides on-site medical care.

The Haramain High Speed Railway plays a crucial role in the Hajj season’s transportation system. Its operational plan incorporates more than 3,800 trips, offering more than 1.6 million seats to serve pilgrims and visitors in Madinah.

This efficient and modern railway system is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s dedication to ensuring a smooth and fulfilling Hajj experience for all, SPA reported.


Saudi Arabia showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

Saudi Arabia showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

Saudi Arabia showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum
  • The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information is participating in the annual Conference of the International Federation of Surveyors in Accra, Ghana, from May 19-24.

The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities, aiming for a flexible environment and sustainable management of natural resources.

Attendees will exchange expertise and learn best practices in the field.

The Saudi authority delivered a technical presentation, “Surveying and Geospatial Information in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present, and Future Aspirations,” during the event, attended by FIG President Diane Dumashie, vice presidents and experts.

Saudi ambassador to Ghana and Togo, Sultan Al-Dakhil, visited the authority’s booth, appreciating its efforts to strengthen partnerships with international organizations.

With more than 1,500 participants from 80 countries, the conference facilitates international collaborations among government bodies, the private sector, academia, and global expertise centers through 70 scientific sessions.