Saudi Arabia releases cultural report

Time: 16 June, 2020

The comprehensive report aims to be an official quantitative and qualitative source of the development of cultural sectors and activities in Saudi Arabia. AN (Huda Bashatah)
  • Cultural Status Report is the first of an annual series documenting the Kingdom’s achievements

ONTARIO: The Saudi Ministry of Culture has released its first Cultural Status Report, documenting the Kingdom’s achievements in various sectors.

“We achieved many initiatives so far, and we have high hopes and ambitions for the future. Last year, intellectuals and artists have shared with us many creative achievements in all 16 sectors,” Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan said in the report.

Titled “Cultural Status Report 2019: Features and Statistics”, the report will be released annually by the ministry to monitor prominent achievements and activities, as well as to record community participation related to all 16 cultural sectors.

In its report, the ministry drew on information provided by Saudi experts and institutions from various cultural sectors, along with references, data and reports provided by government and private bodies.

The report also featured a cultural participation survey based on a research sample of more than 3,000 individuals from around the country.

The scope of its research will be limited to the year in which it is published, with the exception of this first report, which contains a historical account covering each cultural sector from the establishment of the Kingdom until the end of 2019.

The report contains 16 chapters, with each chapter focusing on one sub-sector, documenting the main cultural activities and products of the year in question.

Each chapter ends with a brief section assessing the support the broader system offers the sector in question, such as in education, investment, infrastructure and regulatory frameworks.

The comprehensive report aims to be an official quantitative and qualitative source of the development of cultural sectors and activities in Saudi Arabia, and to identify the future threats to the Kingdom’s cultural identity, as well as the attitude of the Saudi society towards culture.

As part of the Quality of Life Program initiatives under Vision 2030, this report will be beneficial to many private and public institutions in the field of culture in developing all sectors and promoting culture in the Kingdom as a lifestyle.

The Cultural Status Report of 2019 showcases a number of initiatives that support a vibrant Saudi culture and talents across various sectors, namely museums, libraries, fashion, music, heritage, literature, theater and performance arts, visual arts, architecture and design, culinary arts, cultural festivals and events, language and translation, film, natural heritage, books and publications and archaeological and cultural landscapes.

According to the report, in 2019 there were more than 5,463 books translated into Arabic, 161 published Saudi novels, 11 Saudi universities providing programs in fashion designs, 101 Saudi feature films, 950 members of traditional music bands, 255 art exhibitions, 54 scholarship students learning culinary arts, 16 natural reserves and 2,329 libraries of all kinds in the Kingdom.

Saudis have earned international recognition in numerous cultural fields. Saudi theatrical performances participating around the world won 300 international awards, eight projects in the Kingdom won the international Aga Khan Award for Architecture, seven cultural items were registered on UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and five sites in Saudi Arabia are currently on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, among other internationally recognized achievements.

Despite financial and technical difficulties, there is a growing interest in theatrical performances, film production, public and private museums, Saudi publishing, young music bands and festivals, where 55 percent of citizens and residents have attended at least one festival or event last year.

This article was first published in Arab News

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ThePlace: National Museum, a cultural landmark of Saudi Arabia

Time: October 19, 2019  

Photo/Saudi Tourism
  • The museum aims to reinforce its educational message via the collection, registration, restoration and preservation of antiquities

It is a cultural landmark highlighting Saudi Arabia’s heritage and reflecting the history of its people through its expansive displays. It also plays a major role in promoting tourism in the Kingdom.
The building is divided into eight halls showcasing the natural, human, cultural, political and religious development of the Arabian Peninsula and the Saudi state through 3,700 antiquities, 45 models, 900 figurative works, and 45 films.
Located on the eastern side of the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center, in Al-Murabba district of Riyadh, the museum provides a modern educational environment for the local community and visitors including children, families, researchers, and specialists.
The museum aims to reinforce its educational message via the collection, registration, restoration and preservation of antiquities. It also organizes educational exhibitions of relics and traditions of the Arabian Peninsula during different eras.

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Jeddah’s new airport terminal: Saudi Arabia’s latest landmark

25/09/19

  • King Abdul Aziz International Airport Terminal 1 is located 19 kilometers from heart of Jeddah
  • The long-term goal is for the airport to handle over 80 million passengers per year by 2035

JEDDAH: A day after Saudis celebrated their National Day, King Salman officially inaugurated the new King Abdul Aziz International Airport Terminal 1 (KAIA Terminal 1) in Jeddah, one of the biggest infrastructure projects undertaken in the Kingdom.

After the national anthem was played during Tuesday’s opening ceremony, King Salman toured the airport, which lies 19 kilometers from the heart of the city that is considered the gateway to the holy sites in Makkah.

KAIA Terminal 1 has a total area of 810,000 square meters and a capacity for handling 30 million passengers a year. It will be able to accommodate up to 70 aircraft simultaneously, including the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet.

KAIA Terminal 1 is estimated to be one of the largest terminals in the world. The long-term goal is to handle more than 80 million passengers per year by 2035 to keep pace with the growing demand on air travel and plans for attracting more tourists.

Upon his arrival at the new airport, King Salman was received by Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal; Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed; Minister for Transport and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi; and the president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdul-Hadi bin Ahmed Al-Mansouri.

“The civil aviation sector in the Kingdom has recently achieved qualitative leaps and creative developments, which contributed to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicators,” Dr. Al-Amoudi said in his speech.

The number of people using KAIA hit a new record in 2018 by passing the 41.2 million mark.

King Salman leads the official inauguration of the new KAIA Terminal 1, which has the tallest air traffic control tower in the world. (SPA)

Prince Mishaal pointed out that the KAIA Terminal 1 project was designed contribute to the construction of a logistics platform in the Kingdom linking the three main continents of the world.

“The new airport will be able to work pivotally linking East and West. It will also serve as an intensive collection point for the movement of passengers and goods, to become an influential position among international airports in the world, and will compete to get a fair share of the region’s air transport market,” he said.

The 136 meter-high air traffic control (ATC) tower with its 9-meter antenna is the tallest in the world. It is 4.8 meters higher than that of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand. From such heights, air traffic controllers can get a 360-degree view of the entire expanse of the airport.

KAIA TERMINAL I HIGHLIGHTS

  • 220 boarding counters and 80 self-service kiosks for passengers
  • 120 shops are spread over almost 28,000 square meters

GACA, in cooperation with the Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS), has equipped the tower with the full gamut of modern equipment to ensure safe navigation: Advanced Surface Movement Guidance & Control System (A-SMGCS);  advanced electronic flight planning system (EFPS); and arrival and departure management system (AMAN/ DMAN).

The tower also boasts advanced emergency communication systems; a voice communication control system (VCCS); communication recording and playback system (RAPS); and an instrument landing system (ILS), in addition to meteorological devices to be used in any weather conditions.

KAIA Terminal 1 contains the latest technical systems, including a baggage-handling system with 16 luggage belts and a total length of 1,700 meters.

Passengers can complete their travel procedures through 220 boarding counters, in addition to 80 self-service machines. The airport also includes 299 lifts.

Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi Saudi Minister of Transport. (SPA)
Transit travelers can stay in one of the 120 rooms of the three-level, 5-star hotel. Passengers can also enjoy shopping at 120 shops spread over a space of 27,987 square meters.

Moreover, an estimated 3,732 passengers can perform their prayers at the same time in a mosque, which was built over an area of 2,450 square meters, or in 81 praying rooms inside the lounges.

The train station built at the new airport aims to improve transport for visitors and pilgrims to the two Holy Cities, in accordance with the Kingdom’s aim to welcome up to 30 million pilgrims for Hajj and Umrah by 2030.

The pilgrims will be welcomed by a specially designed, tent-shaped complex made up of five main tents (A, B, C, D and E) with fiberglass roofs.

The Haramain high-speed rail network will allow arriving passengers to make fast connections to Makkah, Madinah, and King Abdullah Economic City.

The new airport has 46 gates through which passengers can proceed to 70 aircraft through 94 transferable pedestrian tunnels. Another 28 airplanes can wait for passengers on the other side of the ramp.

Terminal 1 has a terminal control center that contains 44 control units that connect all government agencies and airport operators to the airport network. The center can manage all safety, security, fire and rescue operations in the terminal.

Interestingly, KAIA Terminal 1 is home to one of the biggest airport aquariums, 10 meters in diameter and 14 meters in height with a capacity of a million liters of water.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi crown prince orders Princess Nourah palace renovation

Time: September 13, 2019  

Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman Palace. (SPA)
  • The palace located on the western bank of the Al-Batha’ Valley near Riyadh’s Al-Murabbah neighborhood

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ordered the restoration of Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman Palace — also known as Al-Shamsiyyah Palace — at his own expense. The planned restoration is part of the crown prince’s ongoing support for and historical landmarks in the Kingdom.
Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan expressed his gratitude to the crown prince for his latest gesture of support for the Kingdom’s culture and heritage.
The palace, located on the western bank of the Al-Batha’ Valley near Riyadh’s Al-Murabbah neighborhood, has unique inscriptions that reflect the prevalent local style of architecture from the 1950s, he said.

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Al-Ahsa: Home to the most prominent archaeological and historical sites in Saudi Arabia

Time: June 20, 2019  

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Al-Ahsa contains the most prominent archaeological and historical sites in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied photo)
  • City became the first in the Gulf to be included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the fields of crafts and folk art
  • It is also home to the largest oasis in the Kingdom, which has had human settlements from the Neolithic times

AL-AHSA: Al-Ahsa is an oasis rich with green spaces and water springs, and was home to many ancient civilizations, some that existed as far back as 6,000 BC.

It contains the most prominent archaeological and historical sites in Saudi Arabia, and has achieved three Arab and international accolades in the last four years.

In 2015, it became the first Gulf city to be included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the fields of crafts and folk art.

The network brings together 180 cities from 72 countries to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level, and to cooperate actively at the international level.

FASTFACT

• In 2015, Al-Ahsa became the first Gulf city to be included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the fields of crafts and folk art.

• In 2018, Al-Ahsa became the fifth Saudi site on the World Heritage List following Madain Saleh, Al-Turaif district in Ad-Diriyah, Historic Jeddah, and Rock Art in the Hail region.

• Al-Ahsa was chosen as the Arab Tourism Capital for 2019.

The second achievement was UNESCO’s designation of Al-Ahsa as a World Heritage Site in 2018, becoming the fifth such Saudi site. Moreover, Al-Ahsa was chosen as the Arab Tourism Capital for 2019 by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism.

These achievements would not have been possible without the Saudi government’s support, and Al-Ahsa residents’ relentless efforts to maintain their cultural heritage.

Al-Ahsa is also home to the largest oasis in the Kingdom, which has had human settlements from the Neolithic times.

Al-Ahsa Oasis includes the Jawatha archaeological site including Jawatha Mosque dating back to the Qarmatain state in the 9th century and Al-Hazm Palace.

Musicians perform at an historical site in Al-Ahsa, (Supplied photo)

Tombs can be seen in several parts of the oasis dating back to ancient civilizations.

It also features a picturesque beach, more than 30 natural springs irrigating the green oasis, and unique urban-style buildings.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 13th annual conference of the Creative Cities Network on June 2, Al-Ahsa Mayor Adel bin Mohammed Al-Mulhem said the city has strived to maintain creativity in folk arts and crafts across many projects and programs.

He underscored the importance of culture in shaping future cities, and its role in sustainable urban development.

Al-Ahsa province is considered the greenest and most fertile land in the eastern region of the Kingdom.

Al-Ahsa gets its name from the nature of its land; in Arabic, Al-Ahsa is a plural word of “Al-Hisa” which refers to the accumulated sand with a solid base underneath. When it rains, the sand prevents the sun from drying up the water.

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Riyadh’s Masmak Museum proves big hit during Eid holidays

Time: June 11, 2019  

Masmak Fort is a must-visit destination in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
  • More than 7,000 visited the Masmak Museum during the Eid Al-Fitr holidays
  • •Many of the Kingdom’s most important historical artifacts are found in the museum

RIYADH: Masmak’s Museum attracted more than 7,000 visitors during last week’s Eid Al-Fitr holidays, according to its officials.

Nasser Al-Oraifi, the museum’s director, had earlier invited people to visit the museum after Ramadan to learn more about the Kingdom’s history.

Al-Oraifi said the museum’s preparations started early this year and that guides had been assigned to receive visitors as well as those who were attending celebrations at Riyadh’s Al-Hakam Palace.

The museum houses photographs, maps, models, displays, old weapons, heritage objects, and exhibition and audiovisual halls. It was open from 4 p.m. until midnight during Eid Al-Fitr and offered visitors a range of programs, events and activities.

It is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important historical sites and captures the feel of old Arabia and the struggle that led to the modern Saudi state. The museum emerged from a fort that was stormed by the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz bin Saud, in 1902.

“Masmak” in Arabic means high, fortified, thick and huge — important qualities for a fort that witnessed King Abdul Aziz’s initiatives in consolidating the Kingdom.

Masmak Fort is a tourist favorite and a must-visit destination in the Saudi capital. Many of the Kingdom’s most important historical artifacts are found here.

The fort has become virtually an official symbol of the rise of the Saudi nation, capturing the feel of old Arabia and the struggle that led to the modern Saudi state.

Visitors can find traditional dresses and crafts, a diwan with an open courtyard, functioning well, and a mosque as well as several other attractions.

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Masmak: Majestic fort in Riyadh opens a door on Saudi Arabia’s past

Time: June 05, 2019  

The museum will be open from 4 p.m. until midnight. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
  • ‘Masmak’ in Arabic means high, fortified, thick and huge — important qualities for a fort that witnessed King Abdul Aziz’s initiatives in consolidating Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s most important historical sites, Masmak Fort in Riyadh, will open its doors to visitors during Eid Al-Fitr.

The fort became a focal point in the history of the Arabian peninsula when it was stormed by the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz bin Saud, in 1902.

Now the magnificent citadel is home to a museum that has become an important historical destination.

“Masmak” in Arabic means high, fortified, thick and huge — important qualities for a fort that witnessed King Abdul Aziz’s initiatives in consolidating the Kingdom.

Nasser Al-Arifi, the museum’s director, invited residents to visit “this important milestone in the history of Saudi Arabia, depicting the struggles and efforts exerted by King Abdul Aziz to unite this great entity.”

The museum contains photographs, maps, models, display cabinets, old weapons, heritage objects, and exhibition and audiovisual halls. It will be open from 4 p.m. until midnight during Eid Al-Fitr, with a wide range of programs, events and activities aimed at visitors.

Masmak Fort is a tourist favorite and a must-visit destination in the Saudi capital. Many of the Kingdom’s most important historical artifacts are found here.

The fort has become virtually an official symbol of the rise of the Saudi nation, capturing the feel of old Arabia and the struggle that led to the modern Saudi state.

Visitors can find traditional dresses and crafts, a diwan with an open courtyard, functioning well, and a mosque as well as several other attractions.

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Culture Ministry keen to preserve Makkah’s heritage

Time: June 01, 2019

The Saudi leadership is focusing on boosting the Kingdom’s heritage. (SPA)
  • Al-Zaher Palace was built in 1946 following King Abdul Aziz’s return from his visit to Egypt, and became one of the official palaces of the state

MAKKAH: Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan visited three palaces in Makkah on Wednesday: King Faisal’s Palace, Al-Saqqaf Palace and Al-Zaher Palace.
This visit is part of the minister’s program to visit cultural sites throughout the Kingdom, aimed at inspecting the infrastructure, listening to the people in charge, and considering the support needed to maintain preservation.
The prince signed a memorandum of understanding with the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ahmad Al-Khatib, on April 24 to prepare for the transfer of the national heritage and archaeology sector to the Culture Ministry. Royal directives were issued to renovate King Faisal’s Palace and turn it into a national museum. Al-Saqqaf Palace has been important for Saudis since the late King Abdul Aziz came to Makkah. The palace became a center for government, and King Abdul Aziz received prominent guests there, including Arab ambassadors and heads of Hajj missions. Al-Zaher Palace was built in 1946 following King Abdul Aziz’s return from his visit to Egypt, and became one of the official palaces of the state.
Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi authorities are focusing on boosting the Kingdom’s culture and heritage, in accordance with Vision 2030.
The Kingdom recently announced that for the first time international artists will be offered the chance to take up residency in Saudi Arabia. The move is among a raft of initiatives announced at an event in Riyadh to launch the Ministry of Culture’s vision and strategy for the future. They include arts prizes, scholarship programs and a culture fund to support artists.
“Today marks a turning point in the history of our nation,” said the Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. “It is rare that a nation undertakes such a massive revival of its culture.
“The transformation of arts and culture will benefit all Saudis, young and old, from every corner of our country.  It will help build bridges of understanding.  And for our children, we will build a Saudi Arabia where their creative spirits can flourish.” On the ministry’s Twitter account, the minister said a priority was to support Saudi talent.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Al-Saqqaf Palace has been important for Saudis since the late King Abdul Aziz came to Makkah.

• Royal directives have been issued to renovate King Faisal’s Palace and turn it into a national museum.

“The ministry will work to enable creatives and intellectuals and harness their potential,” Prince Badr said. “We will work to promote culture as an enabler of coexistence and peaceful dialogue, and we are marching confidently toward a promising future.”  During the ceremony, the new Culture Ministry logo, focused on Saudi Arabia’s traditional colors, was displayed on screens as Saudi performers including Mohammed Abdo and Rashid Al-Faris took center stage.
Earlier this month, Prince Badr signed up for a personal account on Weibo, one of China’s most popular social networking websites, becoming the first Arab culture minister on the Twitter-like platform.
Weibo connects more than 445 million active users per month, and includes a number of politicians from around the world, including Indian Premier Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Prince Badr’s Weibo account aims to promote communication between Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries on the one hand, and China on the other, as well as promote Saudi and Arab culture.

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