RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Monday condemned a “terrorist attack” by Al-Shabab militants on vehicles in the central Somali region of Hiran, killing at least 19 people and wounding several others.
The Kingdom’s foreign ministry said the country affirmed its full support for Somalia in combating all terrorist acts that threaten its security and stability, reiterating its rejection of all forms of violence, extremism and terrorism.
The ministry also expressed its condolences to the families of the victims and to the Somali government and people, and wished the injured a speedy recovery and for security and stability to prevail in the Horn of Africa country.
Local officials said at least eight vehicles were traveling on a road between the towns of Beledweyne and Maxaas when the insurgents intercepted and burned them and killed the passengers overnight Friday to Saturday by Afar-Irdood village.
Al-Shabab in a statement said they targeted fighters from a local sub-clan that recently helped government forces and that they killed 20 “militiamen and those who were transporting material for them,” destroying nine of their vehicles.
The attack comes two weeks after an attack by Al-Shabab on a hotel in the capital Mogadishu that lasted for 30 hours, killing 21 people and wounding 117.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) have been ramping up aid efforts in Lebanon and Somalia.
Funded by KSrelief, the Ambulance Service of Subul Al-Salam Social Society in Miniyeh Region, Northern Lebanon, carried out 63 emergency missions in the past week, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The missions included the transfer of patients to and from hospitals and ambulance services to those injured in traffic accidents in the city of Miniyeh. These are part of the center’s efforts to support health services and ambulance transports in the refugee areas, SPA added.
In Somalia, the organization distributed 4,000 food baskets to 24,000 displaced people and those affected by drought in Jubaland State.
Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated $7 million to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for aid that will help more than one million vulnerable women and girls in Yemen in the coming 12 months, the Yemen News Agency (SABA) reported.
The aid is intended to improve reproductive health services in eight hospitals, four portable clinics, as well as six safe areas for women and girls.
The UNFPA said that there are approximately 6.5 million Yemeni women and girls that lack preventive and treatment services from gender-based violence, SABA reported.
AMSTERDAM: It all started with a yellow cow and a leap of faith.
In 2008, Aarnout Helb, a young Dutch lawyer who studied at Leiden University, was reading the Holy Qur’an while trying to piece together a larger global narrative from a legal and artistic perspective.
While poring over the various passages in the holy book, he came across the story of the yellow cow from Surat Al-Baqarah.
It ignited something within him. After a quick internet search, a piece of art by a Saudi artist popped up — about that very same yellow cow mentioned in the Qur’an. He couldn’t believe his luck. He sent a message to the artist right away.
The artist wrote back. And that was how Helb serendipitously started his long relationship with Saudi artists which resulted in him creating the Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Holland.
The artist who made the Yellow Cow piece was none other than world-renowned Saudi artist Dr. Ahmed Mater, who has since become his friend. Today, the book by Mater — with the yellow cow on the cover — sits proudly on the main table upon entering the museum space. Pieces from the yellow cow project have been acquired by Helb — and then some.
• In 2008, Aarnout Helb, a young Dutch lawyer who studied at Leiden University, was reading the Holy Qur’an while trying to piece together a larger global narrative from a legal and artistic perspective. While poring over the various passages in the holy book, he came across the story of the yellow cow from Surat Al- Baqarah.
• It ignited something within him. After a quick internet search, a piece of art by a Saudi artist popped up — about that very same yellow cow mentioned in the Qur’an. He couldn’t believe his luck. He sent a message to the artist right away.
• The artist wrote back. And that was how Helb serendipitously started his long relationship with Saudi artists which resulted in him creating the Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Holland.
Helb is an unlikely connector to Saudi Arabia’s art scene. Today, at 58 years old, he’s a bit of an introvert, mostly working alone around his space, which he likes to refer to as his “cabinet of curiosities.”
He started to piece together the collection based on what captivated his imagination and fascinated his sensibilities.
After the constant misrepresentation in the news following the tragic events of 9/11, where several of the hijackers were Saudi-born, Helb kept that fascination tucked away until 2008 when he started to really see a shift in the world.
He refers to that time as a global “mental prison,” where Islam and the West seemingly couldn’t cooperate and he wanted to try and get to the bottom of things.
“I started this in a very complex way — it’s always difficult to explain, but it was influenced very much by 9/11. And the period after that, because I didn’t start right away. I started in 2008, which is much, much later but the world was in some kind of mental prison after that.
“You know, these ideas that Islam and the West — or whatever you call it — can’t work together. And to my mind, it made no sense for Holland within the NATO structure as friends of the US to try and reorganize Afghanistan into our vision of how a country should work,” he told Arab News.
“My knowledge about Saudi Arabia prior to this museum was very much influenced by the fact that I have Indonesian roots, and Indonesia is one of the largest Islamic countries in terms of population. And there has always been a very strong relationship between Holland from its Indonesian colonizing context — specifically the Hijaz region because of Makkah and Madinah — so we’ve been involved with making money and taking care of pilgrims at the same time,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia culturally is extremely important for the world — not because you have oil in Dhahran, not because in Riyadh you have a nice royal family; it’s important because people from all over the world travel to Makkah and Madinah,” Helb said.
His first visit to Saudi Arabia was in 2013 after many years of surrounding himself with the Kingdom’s art.
The reason the trip was delayed was because he was, and is, adamant at remaining independent. Every single piece in the collection was curated carefully and thoughtfully by him and not influenced by anyone else.
It’s hard to gauge how many pieces he has in the collection, because some are part of a series, but he estimates that he has over 100 works.
“Although the museum started in dead center Amsterdam, at some point, the space was not big enough for me. It was a rented space and I went looking to buy something within the budget I have, and this is a small warehouse, where the collection — which is not my private collection, I finance it privately — but it’s a public space for people to visit.
“It has statutes about what it should do. And the art, although owned by me, is bought with the statutes in mind. And it’s given into use to the foundation for public viewing and research. I take that seriously.”
According to Helb, three types of visitors typically came through the doors.
“The Dutch visitors come because I’m here; the international visitors who somehow find me and usually have some interest in the Middle East — they don’t come completely out of the blue — which happened more when I was still in the center because that was easy to come; and Saudis actually visiting … those I find most interesting because I learn about the art from them,” he said.
He has been to the kingdom several times since but his home base is in Holland.
Last year, Helb moved his museum to a remote location in Hoofddorp, where he took his own time unwrapping each piece and putting it in its new place — something he realized was a blessing.
Helb is still deciding on the exact shade he wants to paint the museum and isn’t sure if he wants to replicate the old wall’s tint, deliberating over the exact green hue that might grace the walls of the new Greenbox.
Ironically, and perhaps fittingly, the color green in the museum’s name was not chosen as a patriotic nod to the Saudi flag but rather due to a personal connection to Helb, who admired a painting in his home with a green tone which relaxed him.
The new location brought in a slew of unexpected visitors: Taxi drivers with origins in North Africa, many of whom reside on the outskirts of Amsterdam because it is more affordable.
Those Dutch nationals with strong pride in their Arab or Muslim roots usually don’t bike or use local public transport, so they come with their cars, park and just wander in.
The space is just a 15-minute drive from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, which is a five-hour flight from the closest Saudi city.
To schedule a visit or to find out more about the Saudi artists showcased in the museum, contact Helb via www.greenboxmuseum.com or on Instagram (@greenbox_museum).
RIYADH: Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Alsubayel, chairman of the board of trustees of the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue and secretary general of the King Faisal International Prize, has won the cultural pioneer award during the Ministry of Culture’s second session of the “National Cultural Awards.”
He received the prize in recognition of his distinguished literary and cultural career, as well as his roles in cultural administration, where he held a number of leadership and academic positions while serving Saudi culture, intellectuals and literature.
The event was held under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A global prize, called the “international cultural excellence award,” will be launched in the next session of the event, organizers announced. The award will recognize and celebrate global and regional cultural personalities and institutions that enrich the cultural landscape, and reaffirms the Kingdom’s determination to open new avenues for cultural creativity and expression and encourage cultural dialogue with the world.
Meet the winners of this year’s #NationalCulturalAwards, who have each made outstanding contributions to the Kingdom’s cultural sector.
Congratulations to you all! #SaudiMinistryOfCulture pic.twitter.com/jWUweSJsxz
Deputy Culture Minister Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez said in a speech delivered on behalf of Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan: “I am delighted to welcome you to the Capital of Culture, the Beacon of Knowledge, and the Oasis of Art in a cultural event in which we celebrate the creative personalities, with the support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the patronage of His Highness the Crown Prince, who is supportive of our culture and the champion supporter of it.
“The historical depth and civilization of our homeland and the creativity of our people have put the Kingdom in an advanced cultural place, which enabled the Ministry of Culture to highlight our creative treasures as per the Vision 2030,” he said.
Fayez said: “The National Cultural Awards initiative was an inspiration for creators and an essential pillar for further advancement of cultural and cognitive development.”
Cultural sector award recipients were also recognized.
Badr Al-Hamoud, a writer and filmmaker, received the “youth cultural” award for his efforts in the film industry, publishing initiatives, translation and technical projects. He founded the Center Menaverse for Innovation and Development, the world’s first center to interactively disseminate cultural products, and has established a platform called “Meaning” to spread knowledge, artistic and philosophical content. He managed the translation projects of 30 books in philosophy and humanities.
The 2023 #NationalCulturalAwards will include a new international category to celebrate the achievements of global cultural pioneers, reaffirming our commitment to cultural exchange between #SaudiArabia and the world. #SaudiMinistryOfCulture https://t.co/scWdqW1MC0
Kifah Bu Ali won first place in the literature prize while Jarir Bookstore won the publishing award. Shareef Bogona, a translator and poet, won the translation award while Samira Alotaibi won the fashion award. Ahmed Alneghaither, a researcher in drawings and engravings, won the national heritage award and Abdulsamad Alhawsawi won the culinary art award.
Artist Muhannad Shonu won the visual arts award while Ali Khobrani won the theater and performing arts award. Bandar Bin-Obaid won the music award while Faisal Battoyoor won the film award and Muhammed Shafea won the architecture and design award.
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority won the cultural institutions award in the state sector while the Misk Institute of Art won the cultural institutions award in the non-profit sector. The Music Home School of Art won the cultural institutions award in the private sector.
Ahmed Qirran Al-Zahrani, deputy dean of communications and information for graduate studies and academic research at King Abdulaziz University, told Arab News that nations founded on cultural legacy were able to elevate their homelands to the forefront of the cultural landscape around the world.
Cultural symbols deserved to be honored and acknowledged for their contributions to the nation, as well as to preserve cultural memory and encourage future generations to follow in their footsteps, he said.
Al-Zahrani said that the Ministry of Culture had a significant obligation to revitalize heritage, assist the cultural movement and financially and morally encourage intellectuals.
The cultural movement was evident in domestic cultural activities such as organizing book fairs, holding cultural festivals, holding conferences, supporting cultural institutions, honoring intellectuals, participating in outdoor cultural events and supporting intellectuals individually participating in festivals, meetings and outdoor exhibitions to represent and communicate local culture beyond geographical boundaries.
Abdulaziz Al-Kheshaiban, chairman of the board of the Media and Public Relations Society in Onaizah, said that recognizing local cultural symbols was connected with recognizing cultural pioneers, creators and achievers.
He said that the cultural movement was witnessing a diversity of platforms, and that official literary clubs, private literary meeting places and cultural cafes were the most important of these.
Al-Kheshaiban said that education and knowledge were important in the evolution and progress of cultures.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday condemned the cyberattacks on Albania which targeted its digital infrastructure.
The Kingdom stressed its support and solidarity with Albania for the measures it has taken to protect its cybersecurity, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
In this context, the Kingdom emphasized the importance of promoting and coordinating international efforts to keep peace in cyberspace and develop specialized capabilities to ensure that efforts continue in the face of cybersecurity threats, as well as take strict measures to combat these threats.
The Kingdom emphasized the importance of promoting and coordinating international efforts to keep peace in cyberspace and develop specialized capabilities to ensure that efforts continue in the face of cybersecurity threats, as well as take strict measures to combat these threats.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Wednesday accused Iran of directing a cyberattack against Albanian institutions on July 15 in a bid to “”paralyze public services and hack data and electronic communications from the government systems.”
According to the AFP news agency, Iran rejected the accusation it was behind the cyberattack as “baseless” and called Albania’s decision to sever diplomatic ties “an ill-considered and short-sighted action.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has reiterated its firm stance condemning terrorism in all its forms.
This came in Saudi Arabia’s speech before the UN’s first Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism which was recently held at the headquarters of the organization in New York.
The director of the Saudi Arabia Counseling and Care Center, Maj. Gen. Wenyan Al-Subaie, said the Kingdom welcomed efforts being exerted by the UN, represented by the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, in the fight against the global scourge.
Al-Subaie underlined the unwavering support of the Kingdom for the efforts exerted by the UN in remembrance and recognition of the victims of terrorism. Saudi Arabia commemorates along with the UN the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism observed on Aug. 21 of each year. “This day aims to make the voices of the victims of terrorism heard by the local and international communities and to make this day inspiring, so as to strengthen efforts aimed at repairing the damage done to them on the medium and long term and to sustainably promote the anti-terrorist discourse,” Al-Subaie said.
He noted that the concept of victimhood of the crime of terrorism is not limited to the victim alone. “It is more like a circle that expands to include direct and indirect victims, since the damage could be material (physical and economic) or moral (psychological and social). This circle includes the families of the perpetrators, women and children, who did not commit any fault but who have found themselves in the painful circle of victims and who need support like the other victims.”
Al-Subaie added: “In accordance with this perspective, the Kingdom has adopted a comprehensive and broad concept to define victims of terrorism and has enacted regulations on compensating damages sustained by the victims, including what is contained in article 85 of the Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing and article 25 of its Executive Regulations, in accordance with resolution 825/60 of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The Kingdom has also developed mechanisms and programs to implement this through its official institutions.”
He said that, within the framework of international efforts, the Kingdom has long provided assistance, services, and facilities to victims of terrorism and their families so that they can fully recover. “(Saudi Arabia) has allocated a large part of the aid to refugees in areas that have suffered and continue to suffer from conflicts and wars.”
He stressed that in confronting terrorism, the Kingdom had placed victims at the forefront of its efforts and measures aimed at addressing its effects, noting that commemorating victims of terrorism, preserving their rights, and providing them with support and care is a cornerstone in the comprehensive fight against it.
At the end of his speech, Al-Subaie said there is a need for concerted international efforts to exchange experiences and best practices through holding periodic local and regional meetings, directly and virtually.
He also called for the building and adopting of a media strategy to remind communities of the victims of terrorism in a way that contributes to countering extremist discourse, enhances the rights of victims within their communities, and compensates them for the damage done to them.
RIYADH: Qatari Transport Minister Jassim bin Saif bin Ahmed Al-Sulaiti recently took a field tour of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. He was accompanied by Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser.
The Qatari minister learned about modern technologies in the airport’s facilities and the mechanisms used to expedite travel procedures, passenger service and services in the Al-Fursan Lounge, which accommodates 10,000 passengers a day.
Al-Sulaiti also boarded the internal train at the airport, which contributes to accelerating the movement of passengers to the internal gates according to the highest international standards.
He praised the new services and modern equipment at the airport, hailing the precise future planning of the airport facilities and its growing services for the next 20 years.
Al-Sulaiti said that these services were built in line with the modern scientific foundations that were keeping pace with the renaissance happening in Saudi Arabia, as well as accommodating the increasing numbers of visitors that will allow the Kingdom to receive 90 million passengers annually.
The Qatari minister also praised the flow of movement at the airport and the efficiency of the Saudi workforce, commending the success of localization policies in the transport and logistics sector.
Earlier, the Qatari and Saudi ministers held a meeting in which they discussed a number of topics of common interest aimed at developing the transport and logistics sector in the two countries.