‘Cultural wealth’ of Kingdom’s AlUla showcased in Rome exhibition

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AlUla is being showcased in a Rome art exhibition by world-famous Canadian-American photographer Robert Polidori. (Supplied)
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AlUla is being showcased in a Rome art exhibition by world-famous Canadian-American photographer Robert Polidori. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 April 2021
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‘Cultural wealth’ of Kingdom’s AlUla showcased in Rome exhibition

  • “AlUla: Journey Through Time” features 27 shots of the ancient city, including monuments carved in rock and imposing relics
  • AlUla is located deep within the vast desert of northwest Arabia, 1,100 kilometers from Riyadh

ROME: The historic Saudi city of AlUla is being showcased in a Rome art exhibition by world-famous Canadian-American photographer Robert Polidori.
Hosted in one of Rome’s famous squares, “AlUla: Journey Through Time” features 27 shots of the ancient city, including monuments carved in rock and imposing relics.
The square is nestled just 100 meters from the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, some of Rome’s most well-known landmarks after the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica.
The artistic shots retrace AlUla’s evolution over 200,000 years. They include shots of prehistoric relics, ancient graffiti found on rocks and evidence of the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms.


AlUla is located deep within the vast desert of northwest Arabia, 1,100 kilometers from Riyadh. The city has been termed as a “cultural oasis” and “living museum” after relics spanning several civilizations were discovered there.
The city is home to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, which contains relics dating back to the Nabataean Kingdom, as well as modern landmarks including Maraya, an award-winning, multi-purpose concert and entertainment venue that is the largest mirrored venue in the world.
Each of the photos featured in “AlUla: Journey Through Time” delve into the destination’s ancient mystique, including exceptional landscapes and contoured mountains, where inhabitants left traces of their language, culture and way of life.
Tombs carved into the outcrops of Hegra, nature-carved rock sculptures including Jabal Al-Fil (also known as Elephant Rock), and petroglyphs (rock art) showcasing animals that inhabited AlUla thousands of years ago are all showcased in the photos.
Captions for the images were written by archaeologist Romolo Loreto, a professor at the Orientale University of Naples, who has conducted many excavation missions in the region.
“The spectacular funerary architectures, the imposing urban areas of Dadan and AlUla, as well as the skill with which the ancients were able to devise different forms of control and the supply of water demonstrate how ancient people and their environment knew how to mold each other”, Loreto said Arab News.
He added that visitors “will not only be able to admire a panorama that is the result of a unique cultural feeling in the world, literally sculpted in the rock, but will also be able to immerse themselves in the context of an oasis that has perpetuated throughout the Islamic era.”
QR codes are also printed under each image, providing valuable audio guides to the exhibition, which runs until May 9.
Robert Polidori said that working in AlUla, which he had never visited before, was a “unique experience.”
He added: “The naturalistic context of AlUla is simply wonderful and incomparable, and I was fascinated by it. It is as if it had been sculpted by a divine power.
“I try to make what I call as an ‘emblematic image’ encapsulating the totality of a subject, often showing a detail of it to represent the whole, and vice versa. Even if every photograph comes from a precise moment fixed in time, I try to untie it from it by giving it infinite aspects. For me, these environments full of history are containers of memory.”
The photographer has twice won the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography and has published more than 12 books. He began his career in the mid-1980s when he documented renovations in the Palace of Versailles. Since then, he has photographed famous sites all over the world.
Saudi Ambassador to Italy Prince Faisal bin Sattam bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud said he was happy to support the exhibition, calling it “an enchanting look at the great cultural wealth of AlUla that will offer Italian friends the opportunity to learn about cultural heritage of the Kingdom, and to grasp a vivid image of a land that bears witness to cultural ties between the peoples of the Arabian and Italian peninsulas.”
Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing officer of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “Robert Polidori’s shots are an excellent way to get a first glimpse of the vast desert landscapes, and the geological and archaeological wonders of this region of Saudi Arabia.”


Hajj pilgrims innovate for comfort amid Saudi Arabia’s efforts to beat the heat

Updated 20 sec ago
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Hajj pilgrims innovate for comfort amid Saudi Arabia’s efforts to beat the heat

  • Portable fans, personal water sprinklers among useful aids in scorching conditions

ARAFAT: Pilgrims have remained inventive in their quest for comfort, despite Saudi Arabia’s diligent efforts to mitigate the sweltering heat at the holy sites.

Alongside the Kingdom’s measures — which include extensive cooling systems — pilgrims are using rechargeable and battery-powered neck and handheld fans in their determination to offset the challenging conditions brought by the summer.

A sprinkler system comprising more than 8,000  water posts has been installed at the holy sites to mitigate the high temperatures. (SPA)

The portable fans provide much-needed relief by offering personal cooling in crowded areas where air circulation may be limited. They allow pilgrims to maintain comfort and focus on their religious duties without being overly affected by the extreme temperatures, thereby enhancing their overall pilgrimage experience.

According to online retail websites, the hands-free fans range from $4 to $8, while neck fans are between $32 to $60. However, some portable waist clip fans may cost from $30 to more than $110.

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Managed by the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, the sprinkler system at the holy sites disperses 230,000 cubic meters of water through a pipe network spanning over 190,000 meters.

In accordance with the Health Ministry’s warnings and instructions, many pilgrims are also being observed using small water sprinklers to cool themselves amid the high temperatures.

A sprinkler system comprising more than 8,000  water posts has been installed at the holy sites to mitigate the high temperatures. (SPA)

A report by the National Center for Meteorology noted that temperatures reached 46 C in Arafat on Saturday. In anticipation of such conditions, a massive water sprinkler system had been installed to reduce heat and refresh the air for pilgrims.

Saleh Al-Sufiyani, a Saudi pilgrim from Taif, said that he was aware of the weather conditions in Makkah and purchased a cooling gadget for SR150 (approximately $40).

Pilgrims are using rechargeable and battery-powered neck and handheld fans in their determination to offset the challenging conditions brought by the summer. (SPA)

He added: “The device provides direct airflow to my neck and face, which are sensitive areas for cooling the body. It helps me feel more comfortable as it reduces the sensation of heat.”

Maryam Jadallah, an Egyptian pilgrim, said that she had bought her portable battery-powered fan from Jeddah after learning about the high temperatures in Makkah.

Water is sprayed on Muslim pilgrims at the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabi, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)

She added: “The fan operates quietly, allowing me to hear everything around me without disturbing my supplications.”

She stressed that cooling the body during hot weather can help prevent heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Volunteers spray water on Muslim pilgrims during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AN photo by Huda Bashattah)

She said that despite having her fan with her, she often kept it off as fans and water sprinklers were installed everywhere to help the pilgrims stay cool.  

According to Kidana Development Company, a substantial sprinkler system comprising more than 8,000 water posts has been installed at the holy sites to mitigate the high temperatures.

Despite Saudi Arabia's diligent efforts to mitigate the sweltering heat in the holy sites, pilgrims remained inventive in their quest for comfort. (AN photo by Huda Bashattah)

Managed by the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, the system disperses 230,000 cubic meters of water through a pipe network spanning over 190,000 meters. It will operate for 15 hours daily across a span of 13 days.

A recent study published by King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre revealed that heat-related deaths and strokes during Hajj have fallen by 47.6 and 74.6 percent respectively over a 40-year period because of the interventions by the Kingdom’s government.

 


Hajj — a profound journey connecting global Muslims

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals. (SPA)
Updated 57 sec ago
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Hajj — a profound journey connecting global Muslims

  • Pilgrimage unites languages and cultures, building a bridge to the world

MAKKAH: Each Hajj season, Muslims from all over the world, representing diverse languages, cultures and traditions, gather in the holy cities.

Beyond its religious significance, the pilgrimage offers a platform for cultural engagement among worshippers, displaying the rich cultural tapestry of the global Muslim community.

The cultural diversity is evident not only in the pilgrims’ traditional attire, but also in the variety of languages that can be heard throughout Makkah’s neighborhoods, in the Grand Mosque and the roads leading to it, as well as on public transportation.

Muslim pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic 'stoning of the devil' ritual as part of the hajj pilgrimage in Mina, near Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, on June 16, 2024. (AFP)

Fawaz Al-Dahas, a history professor at Umm Al-Qura University, emphasized the understanding and solidarity of Muslims who gather for one purpose: to perform Hajj.

Despite their different languages and cultural backgrounds, pilgrims strive for understanding, harmony and kindness with each other to ensure their pilgrimage is accepted and their efforts are not in vain, he said.

“The cultural exchange during Hajj is a unique and enriching opportunity. Pilgrims learn about the customs and traditions of other countries, opening new horizons and deepening knowledge,” Al-Dahas said, adding that this leads to greater respect and deeper understanding among people from different backgrounds.

Muslim pilgrims walk at Mount of Mercy on the plain of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 15, 2024. (REUTERS)

“Hajj promotes the concept of one nation, where all pilgrims are equal, regardless of race or nationality,” Al-Dahas said.

“Wearing the ihram, all pilgrims feel a sense of equality and belonging to a single community, fostering peaceful coexistence. This experience teaches patience, tolerance and cooperation during the performance of the rituals, further strengthening the spirit of understanding and coexistence among Muslims after they return home.”

Hajj also promotes collaboration among Islamic nations in areas such as health, security, and logistics, as governments work together to ensure pilgrims’ safety and comfort, he added. This cooperation promotes brotherly relations and solidarity.

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals. (SPA)

Through this annual event, Muslims bridge cultural and geographical divides. Hajj highlights the value of interaction between peoples and nations, demonstrating how diversity can be a strength in society.

Rania Shawdary, a mutawif (guide for the pilgrims), said: “Hajj is a significant annual event that reflects the Kingdom’s substantial efforts in serving pilgrims from around the world. Pilgrims witness firsthand the extensive services and facilities provided, which encourages them to cooperate and participate and observe everyone working together for the success of this great ritual for Muslims.”

She highlighted the generosity and hospitality, with pilgrims from different parts of the world receiving free services, such as water, food and housing.

Muslim pilgrims pray at dawn on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024. (AFP)

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals, thereby enhancing the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood, Shawdary said.

“The shared challenges and difficulties faced during their journey prompt pilgrims to assist each other and cooperate, helping them put aside their differences.”

Majid Al-Mufadhli, a Saudi journalist who has covered Hajj events for years, said that media plays a significant role in conveying the Hajj experience to the world.

“This helps promote understanding and communication between different cultures, as media coverage of Hajj events and pilgrim stories and experiences raises awareness of Hajj’s importance and its role in uniting Muslims,” he said.

Social media platforms also enhance communication among pilgrims, their families and friends, as well as between worshippers themselves, facilitating the exchange of experiences and cultures and promoting understanding, Al-Mufadhli added.

“Pilgrims face significant challenges related to crowd management, joint work and adhering to plans set by the responsible authorities, which drives them to cooperate and harmonize with each other to perform the rituals with comfort and ease,” he said.

The pilgrimage also represents an opportunity for innovation in areas such as crowd management, health and transportation technology, utilizing modern technologies to ensure safety and comfort. The atmosphere of cooperation shows the world that Muslims are an organized and compassionate community, capable of adapting to ensure the safety and comfort of all.

“Hajj is an opportunity and an extraordinary gathering that unites languages and cultures. Through participating in this great event, pilgrims learn the values of generosity, hospitality, love and brotherhood, returning home with a new spirit of unity and cooperation,” Al-Mufadhli said.

 


Saudi Arabia’s advanced measures ensured a successful season for pilgrims, says chairman of the Hajj Security Committee

Updated 1 min 3 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s advanced measures ensured a successful season for pilgrims, says chairman of the Hajj Security Committee

  • Address to military sectors emphasizes commitment to high-quality services

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s precise execution of security measures has been pivotal to the success of this year’s Hajj season, according to Lt. Gen. Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, director of Public Security and chairman of the Hajj Security Committee.

In an address to the military sectors involved in the Hajj season on Sunday, Al-Bassami emphasized the directives from the Kingdom’s leadership and the commitment to delivering high-quality services to the pilgrims as key elements of the success.

He highlighted the Kingdom’s concerted efforts in utilizing all available human and mechanical resources alongside modern technological advancements. This had streamlined Hajj operations, enhancing the services provided to pilgrims, saving time and effort and improving overall service quality.

Al-Bassami noted that Public Security had effectively implemented artificial intelligence for crowd management at the holy sites. The technology had been instrumental in ensuring the safety and security of pilgrims, supported by modern equipment and the dissemination of awareness messages.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received well-wishers on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha at Mina Palace on Sunday where he also praised the various organizations involved in the success of Hajj.
 


Saudi Arabia’s weqaa initiative continues in Eastern Province

Updated 7 min 23 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s weqaa initiative continues in Eastern Province

  • This initiative is being implemented at points of sale, slaughterhouses, barns, and public roads in the region.

DAMMAM: The Saudi National Center for the Prevention and Control of Plant Pests and Animal Diseases is continuing its campaign — called Weqaa Takes Care of Your Sacrifice — in the Eastern Province.

This initiative is being implemented at points of sale, slaughterhouses, barns, and public roads in the region.

Mubarak Al-Aridi, Weqaa’s director general in the region, said that animal health department field teams were serving citizens and residents who wished to visit points of sale and slaughterhouses.

Al-Aridi added: “Weqaa’s branch in the region has a crucial role in using the campaign to educate citizens and residents on the purpose of raising awareness of the importance of vaccinating livestock using the best health practices; conducting control and inspection of livestock to ensure their safety from any epidemic diseases; providing breeders with veterinary health guides; and educating citizens and residents on the most important health and legal requirements taken into account when choosing an animal to sacrifice.”

 

 


Saudi medical team performs brain surgery on Turkish pilgrim

Updated 31 min 17 sec ago
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Saudi medical team performs brain surgery on Turkish pilgrim

  • 70-year-old Turkish female Hajj pilgrim suffered a hemorrhage

RIYADH: A Saudi medical team from the neurosciences center at King Abdullah Medical City performed a complex brain operation on a 70-year-old Turkish female Hajj pilgrim who had suffered a hemorrhage, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The team acted quickly to relieve pressure on the woman’s brain, drilling a hole in the skull and inserting a drainage tube.

X-rays identified an arteriovenous malformation in a critical area of the brain, which was treated using advanced medical techniques. There were no complications.

When the patient regained consciousness she was able to be taken off the respirator.

Her health is gradually improving, and plans are being made to allow her to complete Hajj with full medical supervision.