Orchestra of Rome soloists delights Jeddah music lovers

Wed, 2018-04-18 04:52

JEDDAH: Rome Symphony Orchestra soloists performed for the first time for the public in Jeddah at the Italian cultural center on April 15. The performance was organized by Italian Business Group (IBG) in collaboration with Italian Cultural Center under the patronage of the Italian Consulate and sponsored by Alam Arrajol, Destination Jeddah, Arab News and Saudi Gazette.

In line with the artistic awakening that Saudi Arabia is experiencing, IBG has brought to a series of artistic shows to Jeddah audiences such as Omnia Vincit Amor contemporary dance ballet that took place on March 18. The performers were six string players from the Rome Symphony Orchestra, directed by Antonio Pellegrino, and soprano, Ilaria Bellomo, who also performed last year in the Italian embassy in Riyadh.

International musicians presented a classical repertoire including Vivaldi and arias from famous lyric Operas. IBG aims to foster links between aims to foster connections — business and cultural — between Italy and Saudi Arabia. Elisabetta Martini, consul general of Italy in Jeddah, told Arab News: “For everything cultural we are trying to work as a team. We are happy to see IBG as a group of Italian entrepreneurs who are taking the lead in this field of entertainment because we think the entertainment sector is the biggest industry now and is booming in Saudi Arabia.”


Maestro Antonio Pellegrino, who has been performing for the last 50 years, told Arab News: “I have been performing since I was four years old.” Next he will take his team on a 30-day tour of Japan with performances in more than 25 cities.
After the interval, soprano Ilaria Bellomo took part in Master classes with Elisabeth Norbberg-Schulz, winner of the International Opera Competition. Ilaria Bellomo  told Arab News: “The opera singer is just like an actress including different facial expressions during the show to match the lyrics of the song.”

Alessandra Serafini Jabban from IBG told Arab News that the event would raise the profile of Italian culture in the Kingdom, encouraging people to find out more about the country: “It is the time for Saudi Arabia to be opened up to many entertainment and artistic influences from abroad.” Abdulla Shaheen, a Saudi mechanical inspector from Khobar who was among the audience, told Arab News: “I used to attend many orchestra shows around the world, but it feels different when you have this fantastic and professional entertainment show in your country.”

He added: “Now we don’t really need to travel to see these shows, it will make us think twice before we travel.”

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KSA ranks 23rd in number of patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office

Tue, 2018-04-17 03:04

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has ranked 23rd among 92 countries in terms of patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2017. The vast majority of these patented inventions are scientific.
According to StatNano, which publishes at the beginning of each year a report on the status of nanoscience, technology and innovation in the previous year, Saudi Arabia was granted 664 patents last year, compared to 517 in 2016 and 409 in 2015. What’s more, the latest number is double that of all Arab countries combined during the same period.
This year, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) ranked seventh among the top 10 universities in the world in terms of the number of patents granted. “The university achieved 183 patents in 2017, surpassing Johns Hopkins University, Harvard College and California Institute of Technology,” said Dr. Khaled bin Saleh Al Sultan, president of the Dhahran-based university.
“The university has been granted more than 800 patents so far, and this number is over 60% of the total number of patents registered by all Arab countries’ universities, which number about 300,” he added.
Together with the university, Saudi Aramco — which was granted 233 new patents in 2017 — secured more than two-thirds of the total number of patents last year. In 2016, Aramco was awarded 175 new patents and filed for 285 new patents.
The latest news about patents comes at a time when Saudi Arabia has put focus on digital transformation and improvement of opportunities in diverse fields — from technology and tourism to arts and entrepreneurship.
Saudi Arabia has, for the first time, also claimed a spot among “Top Ten Countries in Nanotechnology Patents in 2017,” according to a StatNano report last month. The report says “the reason is the growth of 128% in the number of nanotechnology published patent applications of this country in 2017.
The number of nanotechnology published patent applications in USPTO in 2017 shows a growth of 3.2% in comparison with 2016.”
The significant rise in the number of patents is one indicator that Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan has already started to bear fruit.


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Arab Parliament speaker praises King Salman’s support for Palestinian cause

Mon, 2018-04-16 10:38

Arab Parliament Speaker Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami has supported King Salman’s political and financial support towards the Palestinian issue.

Al-Salami said in a statement on Monday: “We extend our sincere thanks to King Salman for naming the Arab Summit at its 29th session, “the Jerusalem Summit”, and for donating $150 million to support the Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem and $50 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).”

In his opening remarks, King Salman named the current Arab League Summit the “Jerusalem Summit” to express solidarity with the Palestinian people.

He also announced the commitment of $50 million to UNRWA and $150 million to the Islamic Endowment Support Program in Jerusalem, saying: “The Palestinian issue will remain our top issue until all Palestinians get their legal right to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

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King Salman renames Dharan Arab meet ‘Jerusalem Summit’ in solidarity with Palestine

Sun, 2018-04-15 14:28

DUBAI: King Abdullah II of Jordan opened the 29th Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahran on Sunday stressing the need for a two-state solution and condemning the US’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman also condemned the move, while emphasizing the need to have East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine and he said the summit be renamed the Jerusalem Summit in solidarity with the Palestinians.

He called on the international community to take a strong stance against Iran’s aggression in the region, as well as the militias that are cutting off aid to war-torn Yemen.

The Arab League’s Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that major threats facing Arabs are all equally important and dangerous.

“Current challenges call for dialogue on priorities of Arab national security,” Aboul Gheit said.

He also said that the Syrian regime bears a great responsibility in the “collapse of its homeland and loss of dignity.”

Saudi Arabia’s King received Arab leaders and heads of delegations participating in the 29th Arab League Summit at the King Abdulaziz International Cultural Center in Dhahran.

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Dhahran News: Eastern Province’s first newspaper

Sat, 2018-04-14 20:49

JEDDAH: Dhahran News was the first newspaper in the Eastern Province. Its first issue appeared on Dec. 26, 1954, and lasted for two and a half years, with the last issue published on April 29, 1957.
The publication aimed at spreading awareness among citizens and was sometimes critical of Saudi issues at the time, which led to it being monitored by a special supervisory authority. Two conflicting scenarios emerged about the reason behind the newspaper’s closure.
The first suggests that an article about colonization was the last straw that broke the camel’s back, while Abdul Karim Al-Juhaiman, then editor-in-chief, said an article calling for girls’ education, which was not well received, led to the weekly publication’s closure.
Al-Juhaiman published the first article calling for women to be educated like their male peers and was not fearful of the public opinion at a time where men monopolized the right to education.
Speaking of the controversial article about girls’ education, Al-Juhaiman said in a TV interview before he died in 2011: “One day I received an article by Mohammed bin Abdullah about girls’ education. I read the article and I found it moderate. He calls for the education of girls like their male peers. I was convinced and published it in the newspaper on my responsibility.
“When the officials read it, they were surprised it was published without their approval and they asked me about the writer. I said his name is Mohammed bin Abdullah and I do not know him personally, but this article came to me late and I published it without censorship,” Al-Juhaiman said.
The bold move later led to Al-Juhaiman’s detention in a 16 square meter room with one closed window.
“I stayed in this room for 20 days and then was released. I left everything behind … the company, the newspaper and left to Riyadh.”

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Khalid Al-Khudair: The Saudi diversity don

Alicia Buller
Fri, 2018-04-13 22:47

LONDON: One man who will be more thrilled than most at Saudi Arabia’s landmark ruling allowing women to drive is Khalid Al-Khudair.
He is an entrepreneur who has spent much of his professional life battling to get local women into the workplace — long before the Kingdom underwent its current transformation.
“The amount of jobs for women that will be created through this law is immense. From the car companies to policewomen and tow-truck drivers to mechanics — these are all industries now open to women,” said the founder of Glowork, the women’s recruitment and job support agency.
Al-Khudair, who is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, added: “It’s great to see that the Saudi leadership has embraced the educated youth and embraces what’s good for business and society. When the 2030 Vision was announced, we were pleased to see the focus on women and that has given us a bigger push to do what we do.”
Al-Khudair founded Glowork in 2011 with the aim of getting 50,000 women into work in his home country. At the time, women’s employment participation rates in Saudi Arabia were the lowest in the world at around 9 percent, so this target figure speaks of Al-Khudair’s tenacious nature. Seven years since its formation, Glowork has directly or indirectly placed 36,000 women in the Kingdom into work.
In the past year Saudi Arabia has unveiled a string of new opportunities for women, from the right to drive and run their own businesses to the freedom to attend sports events and exercise in gyms. Spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the new national policies are squarely aimed at bolstering Saudi Arabia’s economic and social clout and ending its reliance on oil revenues.
“A lot of things are happening in a short space of time,” said Al-Khudair. “Things are easier for us now but I see the need for getting women into employment will always continue. It’s a global issue; even if women are now in entry-level positions, they also need to be in senior positions.”
Al-Khudair has always been ambitious but now, buoyed by the will of the country’s rulers, he is more driven than ever. “Today I believe we can make women comprise 50 percent of the jobs market by 2030.”
The signs are looking good. In February, Tamadur bin Youssef Al-Ramah became deputy labor minister, a rare high-level job for a woman. Her appointment follows a spate of high-level female appointments throughout Saudi Arabia, including that of Sarah Al-Suhaimi as chairperson of the country’s stock exchange.
One of the main challenges in executing the Kingdom’s national drive for women’s employment is bridging the skills gap between education and labor, said Al-Khudair.
The entrepreneur said the impending relaxation of laws surrounding part-time and freelance work will also stimulate the employment market, particularly for women with family commitments. He also said the government was planning to introduce laws to allow younger people to start working.
“Over time, more people will get into work as they become independent and stop relying on their families. Now they will be given options to become independent and work,” said Al-Khudair, adding that 16 is an appropriate age to start working.
“Everything you do at an early age shapes your life, so it’s important they start early,” he said.
The entrepreneur, who has received many awards including the Chaillot Prize for Human Rights and the King Salman Award for Entrepreneurship, also welcomes the Kingdom’s recent move to allow women to hold their own business licenses.
“I believe that Saudi women will make great businesswomen. They can lead the field of entrepreneurship — they are very persistent and good at getting things done,” he said. “There are now a lot of incubators out there and support organizations for getting women into business. There are a lot of marketing campaigns. I also think within the national curriculum there should be chapters on entrepreneurship — for women and men.”
As well as directly placing women into jobs, Glowork hosts large careers fairs for women. The most recent event in September 2017 opened its doors to more than 40,000 women. The latest fair was held under the patronage of Princess Reema bin Bandar Al-Saud, the Kingdom’s eloquent and ambitious entrepreneur and philanthropist. As the new head of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports and the vice president for development and planning at the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority, Princess Reema teamed up with Glowork at the event to help promote the Kingdom’s fledgling sports industry.
“There will be a huge industry for women that springs out of the new sports investments. At our career fair, companies were hiring women in sports project management but there will soon be many jobs in ushering, ticketing, media and so on,” Al-Khudair said.
He also expects the wider fitness industry to offer more employment for women now that national gymnasium laws are relaxed. “There will be new jobs for nutritionists and personal trainers,” he predicted.
Al-Khudair said the growing Saudi events industry has attracted much interest from women since the country lifted its ban on live events and cinema this year. “We work with the General Authority for Entertainment. They are already hiring a lot of Saudi women in content management and documentation. The new laws have allowed people to open events management companies. There are now hundreds of events happening a month. It’s crazy and the number of events businesses that are run by women is extensive.”
The pace of change in the Kingdom has been very fast in the past few months, said Al-Khudair, but “there is still much more to be done.”
The entrepreneur’s passion for getting women into the workplace shows no sign of abating. His personal drive for national diversity began when he saw his female family members “growing up with education but without opportunities,” he said.
“You see women who are educated and women who are able to give back, so why not? Why can’t they? I knew the opportunity was there; I knew women wanted to work and there were jobs for them, so it was a matter of closing up the gap. It just made perfect sense.
“In the past, looking at it from a social perspective, other countries looked at Saudi negatively in terms of its treatment of women. I was fed up with that picture being painted of my country to the West.”
Al-Khudair wants global companies to feel assured when investing in or setting up offices in Saudi Arabia. He explained: “When firms come into the country, they want to be sure that there is diversity and that they will able to hire who they want. A lot of global companies have diversity rules strictly embedded in their policies. By opening up our workforce, this will encourage investment and allow companies to fulfil their mandate that they have on a global level.”

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Egypt condemns Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia

Fri, 2018-04-13 13:01

Egypt strongly condemned the Houthi ballistic missile attack on Saudi Arabia, an Egyptian foreign ministry statement said on Thursday.

Houthi militias fired several ballistic missiles towards several areas in Saudi Arabia from Yemen, including Riyadh. However, all missiles were intercepted and destroyed by the Saudi military.

Egypt’s foreign ministry said that the Egypt was standing in solidarity with Saudi Arabia, against all those attempting to destabilise it or threaten its peace and stability, state-owned daily Ahram Online reported.

The attack has made members of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition “more determined to restore legitimacy” in Yemen, the statement added, referring to the internationally recognised government of Yemen led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

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Swiss and Saudi fashion join forces

Noor Nugali
Fri, 2018-04-13 00:41

Riyadh: The Swiss Fashion Days Riyadh, a collaboration between Saudi and Swiss fashion designers, was launched on Wednesday.

“The beauty of art and fashion is what unites us today,” said Princess Joharah bint Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud at the event at the Swiss ambassador’s home, which showcased the collections of six designers.

Saudi designers Aram Designs by Arwa Al-Ammari, La’ Beso by Balqees Alqadeeb, Nuun Jewels by Nourah Al Faisal and Madawi Alissa were joined by two Swiss designers Gaia Schenk and Raphael Blechschmidt Haute Couture.

Saudi artist Khalid Al-Sudairy presented a collection of his latest photographs and the beauty of the Swiss locations of Lake Geneva, Lucerne, Ascona Locarno, Basel and Bern were displayed throughout the venue.

The Swiss ambassador Heinrich Schellenberg said: “The fashion show is a fantastic opportunity to inspire our guests by the beauty of Switzerland and at the same time to celebrate the close cooperation between Saudi and Swiss fashion designers.”

The Swiss ambassador’s wife Grisel Sandoval greeted guests. She told Arab News: “Our idea was to incorporate the Saudi designers with the Swiss designers, to make a team and give a new vision of Saudi society. We also wanted to highlight a very talented photographer. We are so pleased and honored to have all these guests here tonight with us.”

Most of the designs were high-end and for evening wear. Dresses were detailed; some had sequins while others featured patterned cloth.

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DiplomaticQuarter: Dutch Embassy to show 30 Saudi films at festival in Riyadh

Thu, 2018-04-12 05:26

RIYADH: The Dutch Embassy will show 30 Saudi films during the first Golden Falcon Film Festival at the embassy premises in the Diplomatic Quarter next Tuesday and Wednesday (April 17 and 18), during which it will host three-hour screenings on three different screens placed at separate sites on the premises.

The films will be screened into three categories, best script, best director, and best movie.

Speaking to Arab News on Wednesday, Joost Reintjes, the Dutch ambassador in Riyadh, said: “The film festival is an excellent opportunity to provide the young Saudi filmmakers a platform to show their work. “It gives young Saudis the possibility to grow their talent with local and international experts,” added the envoy.

“The film festival will be a great stimulus to promote the filmmaking industry in Saudi Arabia,” said the ambassador.

He said that of the films screened at the festival, three best ones in different categories and their producers will be awarded the Golden Falcon trophy and a trip to study film-making and related technology in the Netherlands, which is known for making high-quality films.

The Netherlands is known for being a home to creative industries and open to international cooperation by putting on high-standard film festivals in the country, including the international film festival in Rotterdam and the international documentary film festival in Amsterdam, the world’s largest documentary festival.

The visitors will attend seminars and workshops on filmmaking during their stay, the envoy said.

“The initiative to launch this film festival in Riyadh comes with a Dutch touch after the lifting of the ban on cinemas that lasted for 35 years in the Kingdom,” said Reintjes.

It will be in the King Abdullah Financial District in a building originally intended to be a symphony concert hall, and three more screens will be added by mid-summer.

Hans Treffers, head of the jury for the Golden Falcon Award, said: “I am pleasantly surprised by the overall high quality of the submissions.”

“The quality of films shortlisted to be screened at the festival are exceptional, they add to the popular Saudi film sector, which is widely appreciated and respected in international film festivals,” he added.

The Director of the Golden Falcon Film Festival Jeroen Gankema, who is the first secretary at the Netherlands embassy, said: “The Kingdom and the Netherlands can capitalize on opportunities in the film and entertainment industry.”

Films to be shown at the festival include “1991,” “Al Qatt,” “Bilal,” “Zeina’s Cake,” “Luba Colors,” and “Hudu Mountasaf El Layl.”

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Saudi Arabia joins hands with France on sustainable development of Al-Ula

Wed, 2018-04-11 11:14

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for Al-Ula signed an agreement of cooperation with France on Tuesday as part of an ambitious development project within the tourism and cultural sector.

The agreement reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to protect and promote world heritage, sustain the tourism and cultural sector with international partners, and reinforce cooperation through concrete actions and structured projects.

Home to dramatic desert landscapes, rock formations and some of the Middle East’s most significant ancient sites, including those built by Lihyanite and Nabataean civilisations of the first millennium BCE, Al-Ula is concidered a wonder of the ancient Arabian world. In northwest Saudi Arabia, Al-Ula has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. 

As one of the Kingdom’s primary cultural development projects, both nations will embark on a collaborative project to planning and articulating development the historical sites of Al-Ula and the necessary infrastructure for tourism in the context of a sensitive transformation of the region.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as the Al-Ula governor, the French special envoy to Al-Ula and France’s foreign minister.

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No new cases of avian flu recorded in Saudi Arabia, says ministry

Tue, 2018-04-10 00:02

RIYADH: The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced on Monday that no cases of H5N8 avian flu had been recorded in Saudi Arabia in the previous 24 hours.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the ministry said 13,553 samples had been collected from the Saudi regions since the beginning of the spread of the disease.
The results revealed that 177 of these samples tested positive. As many as 21,564 birds were culled in the previous 24 hours.
The ministry received two notifications and seven enquiries in the previous 24 hours, the ministry statement added.
According to an Arab News report published in January, the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) enforced a ban on the hunting of migratory birds to help prevent avian influenza.
The migratory birds include houbara bustards, passerines, flamingos, pelicans, cranes and turtle doves.
They temporarily stay, mainly in Al-Hair in Riyadh, Al-Asfar Lake, Jubail Marine Protected Area, Domat Al-Jandal in Al-Jouf, Farasan Islands and Wadi Aljizan. They will leave at the start of spring. AN

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Arab Women Forum to discuss reform challenges and opportunities at King Abdullah Economic City

Mon, 2018-04-09 23:37

JEDDAH: Women will take center stage on Tuesday at a high-profile gathering in Jeddah of top female executives, decision makers and professionals.
The inaugural Arab Women Forum at King Abdullah Economic City will focus on the empowerment of Arab women and their changing role in the Middle East.
The event, co-sponsored by Arab News and the Dubai publisher Mediaquest, is part of the eighth annual Top CEO Awards event. Among the speakers will be the MBC presenter and UNICEF ambassador Muna Abusulyman; Ambareen Musa, founder and CEO of; Allegra Salvadori of the UN Development Program; and Asil Attar of Alyasra Fashion.
Topics to be discussed include how to empower female entrepreneurs, such as improving access to credit needed to start businesses, and the representation of Arab women in regional politics and in corporate boardrooms. The launch of the event reflects the reforms seen in Saudi Arabia over the past year that have granted greater freedoms to Saudi women. Last September, women were given the right to drive, with the decree coming into force this June.
In January, women were allowed for the first time to attend football matches in Saudi Arabia.
The changes form part of a wider reform program spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the economy and drive growth. “Given the raft of reforms underway in Saudi Arabia, there could not be a more appropriate and meaningful time to host such an event,” said Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News.
“Arab News has been taking a leading role in both reporting on the changes underway in the Kingdom, and in pointing out the clear need for women to play key roles in Saudi society, and the many challenges ahead.
“This conference aims to take this conversation forward — for the benefit of both Saudi Arabia’s female workforce and the wider society as a whole.”
Julien Hawari, co-CEO of Mediaquest, said:  “The GCC and Saudi Arabia are going through a paradigm shift. The consequences of this fundamental transformation are many and are accelerating, resulting in profound economic change and the empowerment of women. This is transforming businesses and society.” 

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Paris hosts ‘Saudi Cultural Days’ exhibition

Mon, 2018-04-09 14:05

DUBA: Paris is set to host an exhibition titled the “Saudi Cultural Days” organized by France’s General Authority for Culture, which includes a three-day program highlighting the culture and arts scene in the Kingdom, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.
The event will run from April 9-11 at the Tokyo Palace of Art in Paris, coinciding with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s royal visit.
The event will offer a variety of artistic and cultural activities, including cinematic performances and discussions held in the presence of artists and directors.
It also includes art exhibitions dealing with heritage and modern art and panel discussions with the artists.

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Saudi Arabia begins investigating detainees who did not settle, newspaper reports

Sun, 2018-04-08 10:10

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has begun investigations and opening arguments in the corruption cases of princes, top officials and businessmen who were detained late last year, an official told pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat on Sunday.
Authorities rounded up dozens of people in November on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s orders, with many confined and interrogated at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Most of them, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government. But 56 people who had not reached settlements remained in custody and could face trial, the government said late in January.
Saud Al-Hamad, deputy attorney general for investigations, told Al Sharq Al Awsat that whoever is charged will be referred to court for prosecution in cases related to money laundering or terrorism. He provided no other details about the suspects.
Hamad said some of those under investigation had failed to respect confidential agreements while others committed further, unspecified, offenses.
The anti-corruption campaign is part of Crown Prince Mohammed’s push to transform an oil-dependent economy long plagued by graft but now contending with lower global crude prices. But it remains shrouded in secrecy with few specific allegations or details of financial settlements revealed.

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