Ambassador sees Germans coming soon to Saudi Arabia ‘in large numbers’ as Kingdom opens doors to world tourists

German Ambassador Jörg Ranau and his wife Heike Ranau hosted the opening reception of a contemporary art exhibition showcasing the works of seven Saudi artists in their residence last February. (German Embassy photo))
Updated 03 October 2019
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Ambassador sees Germans coming soon to Saudi Arabia ‘in large numbers’ as Kingdom opens doors to world tourists

  • ‘We have a lot to gain by strengthening our cooperation in all fields to forge a renewed and stronger partnership’
  • Says Saudi Arabia and Germany share a common interest in preserving stability




Jörg Ranau

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Germany share longstanding political ties underpinned by a deep friendship between Saudis and Germans. Our relations are diverse and strong. The manifold forms of cooperation and the common outlook on many of today’s challenges are a testimony to our strong ties.

Ninety years ago, Germany and the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nadj concluded a treaty of friendship. A consulate was established in Jeddah to promote bilateral ties and 65 years ago, in 1954, Germany and Saudi Arabia established diplomatic relations. Today, shared interests regarding security, stability and a common perception of the challenges of the 21st century — be it in the fields of health, education, or sustainable economic growth — are pillars of an intense political partnership.

People-to-people ties have also reached an unprecedented level. A large number of Saudis spend their summer vacations in Germany. Businessmen and ever more businesswomen travel back and forth. In fact, Saudi Arabia came fifth in the global ranking for visas to Germany in recent years.

As the Kingdom has opened its doors to tourists from all over the world, I am confident that Germans will soon be coming to Saudi Arabia in large numbers. Being a nation of keen travelers, we are eager to explore destinations away from the well-trodden paths and to be among the first to see the unique landscapes and authentic cultural heritage Saudi Arabia has to offer.

In the face of the rising tensions in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Germany share a common interest in preserving stability. Germany has condemned in the strongest terms the Sept. 14 attacks on oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this. There is no other plausible explanation.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ninety years ago, Germany and the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nadj concluded a treaty of friendship.
  • A consulate was established in Jeddah to promote bilateral ties and 65 years ago.
  • Today, shared interests regarding security, stability and a common perception of the challenges of the 21st century.

In view of these attacks, a collective effort toward regional stability and security becomes all the more important. Germany remains committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and we urge Iran to return to full compliance with this. At the same time, Iran needs to agree to negotiations on a long-term framework for its nuclear program, as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery. We are also committed to finding a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Germany remains a committed partner in the fight against Daesh. Here, our focus is to ensure sustainable development by stabilizing liberated areas, facilitating the return of internally displaced persons and tackling the root causes of Daesh. German contributions to stabilization support, development cooperation and humanitarian aid since 2014 add up to a total of €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) in Iraq and €1.23 billion in Syria. This year alone, Germany will provide €130 million for humanitarian aid in Yemen.

In the economic domain, the implementation of the Saudi Vision 2030 offers the opportunity to develop our trade-based relationship into a much broader partnership fostering investment, localization and qualification of the Saudi workforce.

About 200 German companies have a local presence in Saudi Arabia. Many of them are small- and medium-sized enterprises — often world-beaters in their respective fields. Germany and her companies have particular strengths in research and training. Both of these are essential for achieving a successful transformation to a knowledge-based society.

Be it in the field of digitalization, renewable energy, healthcare or manufacturing and artificial intelligence, Germany has a lot to offer and we stand ready to contribute in these and other fields for the realization of Vision 2030.

In the fields of education and research, cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Germany has a long history. Outstanding examples include the partnership between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the German Archaeological Institute for excavations in Tayma, and the joint Attosecond Science Lab at King Saud University with the Max Planck Society and the University of Munich. The new film by Haifa Al-Mansour, “The Perfect Candidate,” which is a Saudi-German coproduction, is just one example of our increasingly dynamic cultural cooperation.

We look back on a long and stable friendship. Looking ahead, we have a lot to gain by strengthening our cooperation in all fields — politically, economically and culturally — to forge a renewed and stronger partnership. Together with our Saudi Arabian partners, we will seize this opportunity.

 

Jörg Ranau is the German ambassador to Saudi Arabia


New scheme to promote Saudi comedians

Updated 15 sec ago
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New scheme to promote Saudi comedians

RIYADH: A new initiative to uncover and promote emerging Saudi comedy and theater talents has been launched in the Kingdom.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said the body would be backing the Comedy Factory project, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The authority aims to create a supportive environment in which up-and-coming young comics can develop content reflecting the Saudi identity and community issues, with guidance from industry experts.

The Comedy Factory is part of a series of initiatives organized by the authority to boost the country’s entertainment sector and will include workshops, training courses, and competitive events.

To register for the chance to join the scheme visit https://sauditheaters.com/ar.


Saudi Arabia distributes 10,000 Qur’an copies at Muscat book fair

Updated 9 min 6 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia distributes 10,000 Qur’an copies at Muscat book fair

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance distributed 10,000 copies of the Qur’an in various sizes from the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an at the 28th Muscat International Book Fair.

The fair, held from Feb. 21 to March 2 at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center in Muscat, highlighted the importance of literature and knowledge exchange, showcasing a diverse array of works from both within and beyond Oman.

The ministry’s pavilion saw a significant turnout from visitors who expressed admiration for the exhibition and the ministry's efforts in serving Islam.

The visitors also praised the Kingdom’s role in promoting Islam and disseminating the values of tolerance and moderation.

On display at the ministry’s pavilion were various copies of the Qur’an, along with translations into 77 foreign languages.

This year’s fair featured works from 847 publishing houses across 34 countries for a total of 622,000 titles, including 19,000 Omani books.


AlUla’s shannah dates nurture, preserve heritage

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2024
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AlUla’s shannah dates nurture, preserve heritage

  • In alignment with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Royal Commission for AlUla is supporting tourism development in the governorate

JEDDAH: In AlUla and the wider Arabian Peninsula, an ancient method of storing and preserving dates, known as shannah, stands as testament to people’s commitment to the preservation of their cultural and culinary heritage.

Shannah not only showcases the ingenuity of the past but also plays a significant role in the region’s economic and agricultural landscape.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

Harvested dates are cleaned, dried, and stuffed into the animal skin, which is then sewn together with palm fronds. The shannah is then left outside to soak up the sun for a period ranging from a few months to five years. The meticulous shannah process ensures the dates’ high quality is maintained throughout.

The demonstration of the shannah process is a highlight of the annual AlUla Dates Festival, providing visitors with firsthand experience of preserving dates in this unique manner.

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$400

Their unique taste and cultural significance make these dates highly sought after, and a single shannah of dates can fetch up to SR1,500 ($400).

In alignment with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Royal Commission for AlUla is supporting tourism development in the governorate. This includes the revival of ancient industries such as the shannah, involving the local community in achieving the commission’s goals.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

Abdulhadi Suqeer, a Saudi expert in the cultivation and preservation of dates and date palms, told Arab News: “Shannah has a rich history dating back approximately 400 years. This ancient method served as a means for the residents of AlUla to ensure food security throughout the year.

“In recent times, recognizing its cultural significance, the Royal Commission for AlUla has taken steps to revive this heritage, introducing the new generation to the ancient ways of preserving dates,” he added.

FASTFACTS

• Harvested dates are cleaned, dried, and stuffed into the animal skin, which is then sewn together with palm fronds.

• Shannah is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra.

Shannah is intricately linked to the geography and culture of AlUla.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

“Crafted from goat or sheep skins, the shannah undergoes a meticulous process of cleaning, tanning, and preparation, using materials like lime to maintain flexibility,” Saqeer explained.

In the past, the people of AlUla stored their harvest in a variety of containers, including Al-Jassah — made from lime or gypsum — and Al-Majlad, which is made from green palm fronds.

However, Saqeer said, “The ‘shannah’ method imparts a unique taste and flavor to the dates, avoiding any unnatural substances. Some even add flavors like mint, orange leaves, or basil to enhance the aromatic experience.”

The 'Shannah' is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra, which translates to sweet red dates. (Supplied)

The shannah is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra, (sweet red dates), which have a low molasses and sugar content, giving the dates their distinct red color. The natural storage process ensures that shannah dates maintain their original taste, flavor, and fragrant smell, particularly when consumed with natural sheep butter or ghee.

Their unique taste and cultural significance make these dates highly sought after, and a single shannah of dates can fetch up to SR1,500 ($400).

“There are individual efforts by some farmers in AlUla to promote the shannah throughout the year, but we need to have a marketing platform adopted by the commission or any of the entities interested in this type of food,” Suqeer concluded.

 

 

Decoder

What is Shannah?

Shannah is an ancient method of storing and preserving dates in AlUla and elsewhere inthe Arabian Peninsula. Using sheep or goat skin, the meticulous shannah process ensures the quality of dates is maintained throughout, an ingenuity of the past that will be highlighted in the next annual AlUla Dates Festival.


Saudi artist reimagines Kingdom’s capital in vibrant pixels

Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi artist reimagines Kingdom’s capital in vibrant pixels

  • Khaled Makshoush’s creativity is sparked by Saudi Arabia’s era of transformation

RIYADH: Saudi artist Khaled Makshoush has mastered pixel designs to reimagine Saudi Arabian scenes in a form of art that is personal, soothing and contemporary.

Indie and retro-style video games use pixel designs to create a colorful and visual design, but with his tablet and stylus the Riyadh-based artist captures a variety of sights, from construction sites with cranes to the iconic streets of the capital and the serene terracotta-coloured desert.

Makshoush told Arab News that he is energized by the transformation of the Kingdom and its complexity: “I’m inspired by the urban landscapes of Riyadh and the industrial scape and the desert scenery of Saudi Arabia in general.”

Saudi artist Khaled Makshoush captures a variety of sights from the Kingdom’s capital, from construction sites with cranes to the iconic streets of the capital and the serene terracotta-coloured desert. (Pixel Art by Khaled Makshoush)

There is a transportive power in his art that emerges from his creative process. He explained: “In my art I explore the atmosphere of place. For example, if a place makes me feel something, I ask myself what is it about that place that makes me feel these emotions and ways. And I create an imaginary place that expresses these feelings.”

Colors are a big subject in Makshoush’s art; he mixes a vibrant palette, resulting in a bold and eye-catching drawing.   

“Usually, I start with just a few colors that indicate the feel or the atmosphere of the painting, and after that I try to find relationships with other colors that add on or complement that feeling.”

Khaled Makshoush, Saudi artist

Makshoush’s art is inspired by the rapid development of Riyadh, showcasing the bustling city life of the Kingdom’s capital. “I try to let my life and my culture come out organically through chasing my personal sense of the world,” he said.

His forays into the city’s urban landscape spark his creative imagination and the scenes and moments he comes across become the subjects of his work: “Walking and driving in Riyadh always gives me inspiration and an idea for my artwork. It’s interesting to see how the city is changing very fast and also still has its own unique feel that I always like to express.

When everything is moving and changing so fast, it’s important to see and understand what people felt like during a specific time.

Khaled Makshoush, Saudi artist

“My first art Riyadh artwork, ‘Early Evening,’ is about seeing the last phase of sunset in the city and my last Riyadh artwork, ‘Cranes,’ is inspired by the huge and tall cranes I see in Riyadh and how they almost glow during nighttime. Very different subject matters but one city and that’s what I like about it.”

Saudi artist Khaled Makshoush captures a variety of sights from the Kingdom’s capital, from construction sites with cranes to the iconic streets of the capital and the serene terracotta-coloured desert. (Pixel Art by Khaled Makshoush)

Makshoush creates new worlds of his own, inspired by existing ones. His artwork does not simply replicate what he sees in Riyadh — he adds layers of his own interpretation to it while capturing its Saudi essence: “Most of these paintings are imaginary. All these Saudi Arabian scenes don’t really exist but it makes me happy that people still find familiarity with them.”

He says that he has received encouraging feedback from the local community: “I’d say it’s always amusing when I draw a scene of Riyadh and get some people telling me they almost recognize the location, but they don’t (know) where exactly.”

According to Makshoush, art is important for society because it teaches us about ourselves: “Especially now when everything is moving and changing so fast, it’s important to see and understand what people felt like during a specific time. What things looked like, what people felt like, what was the mood, how people saw things … art is the best way to answer these questions.”

 


Tabuk visual arts forum highlights Arab creativity

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)
Updated 02 March 2024
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Tabuk visual arts forum highlights Arab creativity

  • The forum’s primary objective was to highlight the talents of Arab artists, and foster a “dynamic exchange of ideas and skills between international participants and local artists in Tabuk”

RIYADH: The inaugural Tabuk International Forum for Visual Arts, hosted by the Colors of Art club, a division of the national hobby portal, Hawi, presented a diverse array of creative endeavors from 30 artists from across the Arab world.

The two-day event, which ended March 2, showcased more than 100 artworks in genres ranging from realism to abstraction and contemporary expressionism, and attracted participants from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq, Oman, and the UAE.

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)

The forum’s primary objective, according to the organizers, was to highlight the talents of Arab artists, and foster a “dynamic exchange of ideas and skills between international participants and local artists in Tabuk.”

Additionally, the forum, which includes workshops and discussions, was intended to “bolster the status of the arts within the GCC and wider Arab region.”

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)

Club president Thanawa Al-Qurani underscored the forum’s emphasis on fostering cross-cultural exchange and praised the engagement among attendees and participants, positioning the event as a pivotal moment in shaping public appreciation for visual arts in Tabuk.

“The exhibition stands as a testament to the evolving artistic landscape, reflecting the burgeoning cultural dynamism in the realm of visual arts,” Al-Qurani said, according to a report from the Saudi Press Agency.

The two-day event featured over 100 artworks ranging from realism to abstraction to contemporary expressionism. (SPA)

“Featuring a diverse array of works spanning realism, impressionism, and abstraction, it bears witness to the artistic renaissance underway … underscoring the region’s vibrant and cohesive artistic vision,” she added.

Meanwhile, Omani artist Jamal Al-Jassasi, the SPA said, expressed his enthusiasm for the forum’s overarching goal of “promoting and elevating visual arts while nurturing cultural ties” in the Arab world.