Hand-woven Japanese silk fabric artisans turn attention to Saudi Arabia

Nishijin Okamoto is one of the few remaining weaving companies carrying on the historic culture of Nishijin and Kyoto, and the company is offering innovative silk fabrics that will impress the wearer. (Supplied photo)
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Updated 28 August 2022
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Hand-woven Japanese silk fabric artisans turn attention to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Kyoto-based Okamoto Orimono Co., Ltd. (branded as Nishijin Okamoto) has worked to provide rare silk fabrics since the Meiji era, and have carried on the techniques and traditions of Nishijin textiles for over 100 years, across four generations.

Nishijin Okamoto is one of the few remaining weaving companies carrying on the historic culture of Nishijin and Kyoto, and the company is offering innovative silk fabrics that will impress the wearer.

Ema Okamoto, textile designer and managing director of Nishijin Okamoto, spoke to Arab News Japan, saying, “I grew up as a child amid the sounds of the machines, the winding threads, and the bustle of the craftsmen in the house and workshop. This atmosphere of the Nishijin workshop is my origin and my life.”

“The people of Saudi Arabia, like us, cherish their roots and as they live their lives. I got a lot of inspi- ration from the regional symbols they showed us wherever we went,” Okamoto said, expressing interest in creating “a traditional collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Japan.”


Saleh Al-Shaibi, senior caretaker of the Kaaba, dies

Updated 22 June 2024
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Saleh Al-Shaibi, senior caretaker of the Kaaba, dies

  • Funeral prayers held after Fajr on Saturday at the Grand Mosque
  • His responsibilities included opening and closing the Kaaba, cleaning, washing, repairing its Kiswa (covering), and welcoming visitors

MAKKAH: Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi, the senior caretaker of the Kaaba, died in Makkah on Friday evening. Funeral prayers were held after Fajr on Saturday at the Grand Mosque.
Al-Shaibi, who held a doctorate in Islamic studies, was a university professor and an author of several works on creed and history. He was the 77th key holder of the Kaaba since the conquest of Makkah.
His responsibilities included opening and closing the Kaaba, cleaning, washing, repairing its Kiswa (covering), and welcoming visitors. He took over the guardianship after the death of his uncle, Abdulqader Taha Al-Shaibi, in 2013.
His son, Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Shaibi, told Arab News that saying farewell to his father was one of the hardest and saddest moments of his life. He added that the family accepted Allah’s will for a man who was always close to everyone and dedicated his life to serving the family.
He went on to say that his father had been suffering from illness recently but had remained patient and steadfast. The entire community shared in the family’s grief and expressed their sorrow and pain for the loss of the Al-Shaibi family’s pillar.
Al-Shaibi chaired the Department of Creed at Umm Al-Qura University for over two decades. Known for his scholarly approach and love for knowledge, he explored religious and doctrinal issues deeply. An academic at heart, he left a significant and lasting impact.
King Fahd bin Abdulaziz appointed him to the Saudi Shoura Council, and Al-Shaibi served as the deputy to his uncle in the guardianship of the Kaaba until becoming senior caretaker.
His son Abdulrahman added that he had served as his father’s deputy in the guardianship of the Kaaba for five years, after which his cousin Abdulmalik Al-Shaibi had taken over.
He said that his father had wished him to hold the guardianship and the key to the Kaaba after him. However, if this wish is not honored, the guardianship and the key will be handed over to his uncle Abdulwahab Al-Shaibi.
Nizar Al-Shaibi, the cousin of the deceased, told Arab News that it was a sad day for the family. However, the outpouring of love, solidarity, and support from all segments of society, who had rushed to offer their condolences, had helped to ease the burden of their grief.
They had expressed their gratitude for the life of the deceased, who had dedicated his life to the guardianship of the Kaaba and enhancing its reverence.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque mourned the death of Sheikh Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi.
It said in a statement: “With hearts content with God’s decree, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and all its employees extend their deepest condolences to the family of the deceased, Sheikh Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi, the senior caretaker of the Holy Kaaba.”
Khaled Al-Husseini, a writer and expert on Makkah’s affairs, expressed his deep sorrow over the death.
Al-Husseini described Al-Shaibi as a man of knowledge and learning, who, alongside his honored role in the guardianship of the Kaaba, was a scholar, academic, and lecturer at Umm Al-Qura University. He had generously shared his knowledge with successive generations which had benefited from his expertise over 20 years.


10th International Yoga Day celebrated in Saudi Arabia

Updated 22 June 2024
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10th International Yoga Day celebrated in Saudi Arabia

  • A celebration was held at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahad Olympic Complex in collaboration with the Saudi Yoga Committee and the Ministry of Sports
  • A Yogasana (a sport focusing on the physical side of yoga) session was led by the renowned SYC instructor Alhanouf Saad

JEDDAH: June 21 was the International Day of Yoga. This year’s edition, the 10th, was held under the theme “Yoga for Self and Society,” emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
To mark the occasion in Riyadh, a celebration was held at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahad Olympic Complex in collaboration with the Saudi Yoga Committee and the Ministry of Sports of Saudi Arabia. India’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Dr. Suhel Ajaz Khan; Nouf Al-Marwaai, president of the Saudi Yoga Committee and Padma Shri Awardee; and Rajashree Choudhary, president of the International Yoga Sports Federation, were among those in attendance.
A Yogasana (a sport focusing on the physical side of yoga) session was led by the renowned SYC instructor Alhanouf Saad.
Al-Marwaai said: “It is with great joy and pride that we welcome all to the 10th International Yoga Day celebration here in Saudi Arabia. Today marks a significant milestone in our journey of promoting health, harmony and peace through yoga.
“Yoga has grown in Saudi Arabia and it is becoming a phenomenon embraced by thousands for its profound benefits to the mind, body and spirit,” she added.
Emphasizing the importance of the inclusion of yoga in daily life in Saudi Arabia, Choudhary — who is visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time — told Arab News that she feels happy that, over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has witnessed a surge in the popularity of yoga.
“I was following Saudis’ acceptance of yoga because Nouf Al-Marwaai’s contribution to yoga in Saudi Arabia is well-known. We were following each other because we had the same dreams and difficulties. She took the initiative to bring me to Saudi Arabia and I am here as a guest of the Ministry of Sports. I participated in the 10th International Day of Yoga and experienced an enormous love of yoga. This year’s theme, ‘Yoga for Self and Society’ perfectly exemplifies the growth of yoga today in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
She added: “I am glad that I am here and I will stand for women’s and children’s empowerment. I am sure that Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia will bring more positive change and will empower the younger generation.”
Regarding the IYSF’s upcoming cooperation with the SYC, she said: “IYSF is working with several yoga federations around the world to develop Yogasana into an official Olympic sport. Increased awareness will encourage existing practitioners to sharpen their skills through training, dedication, and devotion, and will inspire new practitioners.
“The IYSF aims to govern this organization with the sole mission of promoting, unifying, and increasing interest in Yogasana globally. The SYC is definitely a member of our federation and active in our programs,” she added.
As part of the International Day of Yoga celebrations, the Indian Embassy in Riyadh also organized a seminar on June 20, in collaboration with the SYC and the Ministry of Sports.
The event featured screenings of documentaries on the history of yoga and the International Day of Yoga.
In December 2014, the UN designated June 21 as the International Day of Yoga to promote global awareness of the benefits of yoga practice.


Saudi Arabia shines at Beijing book fair

Updated 22 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia shines at Beijing book fair

  • The award aims to foster cultural cooperation and exchange between the two nations
  • A cultural seminar introducing the award was held on the sidelines of the five-day fair

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has taken center stage as guest of honor at the Beijing International Book Fair, with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Award for Cultural Cooperation between the Kingdom and China a highlight of the event.
The award, launched in March by the Saudi Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Farhan, aims to foster cultural cooperation and exchange between the two nations. It is divided into two categories: the cultural elite and the youth, and covers various cultural and creative fields.
A cultural seminar introducing the award was held on the sidelines of the five-day fair, which ends on Sunday. Abdul Mohsen bin Salem Al-Aqeeli, secretary-general of the award, and Fu Ji Min, dean of the faculty of languages at Peking University, took part in the seminar.
According to a statement, the award is founded on the values of openness, cultural exchange, diversity, and conscious understanding of human commonalities, and aims to invest in the rich human, symbolic, and material heritage that both countries possess.
The nomination process for the award has begun, and candidates are encouraged to apply.
The Saudi pavilion at the book fair featured a five-day cultural program, including seminars, panel discussions, displays of books, manuscripts, and archaeological artifacts, live traditional performances, and a special Saudi dinner night.
More than 1,600 exhibitors from 71 countries and regions took part in the fair, which showcased 220,000 Chinese and foreign publications.
The Beijing International Book Fair, launched in 1986, and organized by the China National Publications Import and Export Corporation, is believed to be the second-largest book fair globally, behind Frankfurt.


Saudi Arabia marks World Camel Day

Updated 22 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia marks World Camel Day

  • Camels in the Kingdom are among the country’s most important symbols of heritage
  • The region is known for organizing seasonal races and official camel celebrations

TABUK: Saudi Arabia celebrated World Camel Day on Saturday. The occasion falls on June 22 and is recognized by the UN among its global observances.
Camels in the Kingdom are among the country’s most important symbols of heritage. The Saudi government has given the animal attention and care by dedicating resources to its preservation.
The day focuses on highlighting the animal and historically significant activities associated with it, along with spotlighting medical care, food security, developing camel products, and raising awareness.
Reaffirming the Kingdom’s interest and care in its cultural heritage and ancient traditions, the country has designated 2024 as the Year of the Camel, reinforcing the country’s civilizational, historical, and cultural identity.
The Tabuk region, along with the rest of the Kingdom, participates in caring for and preserving camels. The region is known for organizing seasonal races and official camel celebrations.
It features four tracks: 8 km, 4 km, 2 km, and 1,500 meters in length.


Beehives of Saudi Arabia’s Maysan believed to be over 1,000 years old

Updated 22 June 2024
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Beehives of Saudi Arabia’s Maysan believed to be over 1,000 years old

  • Located between the Sarawat and Tihamah mountains, the apiaries feature beautiful engineering with remarkable design specifications for honey production

TAIF: Maysan governorate, located in western Saudi Arabia's Sarawat mountain range, showcases stunning archaeological scenes of some of the most important and impressive environmental engineering formations. These include approximately 1,200 beehives that were a major source of daily sustenance for the early inhabitants of the place.

The apiaries in Maysan have become a primary source for the production and sale of Saudi honey, which is deeply embedded in the Kingdom’s culture and trade. These sites date back to ancient history, highlighting the community’s longstanding interest in honey in Maysan.

Abdul Wahab Al-Khudaidi, a history enthusiast, confirmed that the Al-Kharafi apiaries are situated between the Sarawat and Tihamah mountains and are believed to be over 1,000 years old.

The beehives of Maysan are paved with stones in intricate geometric patterns, spanning up to four levels. (SPA)

These apiaries feature beautiful engineering with remarkable design specifications for honey production. The structures are paved with stones in intricate geometric patterns, spanning up to four levels.

The site is difficult to access, requiring navigation through a designated path by an experienced individual. The honeycombs are reinforced with solid stones and columns to support the floors, which are constructed from large, closely positioned stones in balanced shapes.

Al-Khudaidi noted that the ancient beehives in the villages of Maysan and Bani Al-Harith, which are part of Makkah province, are intricately designed with multiple levels and floors nestled between steep, solid mountains.

The hives, dating back over 10 centuries, serve as evidence of the place’s authenticity and deep-rooted history. The famous mountains are a summer resort for visitors and locals, a historical legacy celebrated in their poems, and home to towering forts and castles that highlight the importance of the villages' history.

An ancient tower overlooks the Sarawat mountains in Maysan governorate of Makkah province. (SPA)

The structures testify to the rare profession practiced by the ancestors in beekeeping and honey extraction, producing various types of honey such as Acacia, Summer, and Seyal.

Al-Khudaidi pointed out that the initial apiaries were carefully located between mountain peaks to benefit from the diverse array of local aromatic plants.

These mountains host more than 50 species, including Rue, Basil, Marjoram, Lavender, among other wildflowers.