Grand Mosque employs ‘guidance robot’ for fatwa inquiries
The guidance robot is equipped with support for 11 languages, including Arabic, English, French, Russian, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Urdu, Chinese, Bengali, and Hausa
Updated 13 August 2023
RIYADH: The Presidency of Religious Affairs at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has deployed artificial intelligence to provide answers to inquiries from visitors seeking fatwas at the Grand Mosque.
A “guidance robot” has been developed to assist pilgrims and Umrah performers in understanding the rituals and fatwas, with the added feature of simultaneous translation into multiple languages.
Additionally, the robot is capable of connecting with religious leaders who can remotely participate in answering questions from the visitors.
The guidance robot is equipped with support for 11 languages, including Arabic, English, French, Russian, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Urdu, Chinese, Bengali, and Hausa.
Furthermore, it features a convenient 21-inch touch screen that offers various services tailored to the needs and interests of the visitors of the Grand Mosque.
The robot is designed with four wheels, each equipped with a smart stop system, enabling it to move smoothly and flexibly. It also incorporates front and bottom cameras that transmit high-resolution and clear images.
Additionally, the robot is equipped with high-clarity speakers and a high-quality microphone, ensuring the transmission of clear and crisp sound. Operating on a 5 GHz wireless network system, the robot enables fast and efficient data transmission.
The Presidency of Religious Affairs at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque was recently established as an independent body that is linked to King Salman.
The body will be responsible for supervising the affairs of imams and muezzins of the Two Holy Mosques and all matters related to their religious affairs including seminars and Islamic lessons.
Saudi deputy minister meets Organization of African, Caribbean, & Pacific States chief
Updated 28 February 2024
Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji on Wednesday received Secretary-General of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States Georges Chikoti, in Riyadh.
During the meeting, they discussed issues of mutual concern and ways to further boost cooperation between the Kingdom and member countries of the OACPS.
In a separate meeting, Saudi Deputy Minister for Consular Affairs Ambassador Ali Al-Yousef held talks with the Mexican envoy to Saudi Arabia, Anibal Gomez Toledo, and reviewed relations between the two nations.
Aloula’s bazaar unites Jeddah for a charitable cause
Visitors explored a range of offerings, including Ramadan item shops, a Saudi coffee corner, a dining area and shopping booths containing unique goods from different cultures
Updated 28 February 2024
JEDDAH: The Women’s Charitable Society in Jeddah, known as Aloula, held its eighth annual charitable event on Feb. 27, celebrating tea and coffee cultures from around the world.
The event, titled “A Cup for a Good Cause,” brought Jeddah residents from a variety of countries together to take part in fundraising activities supporting underprivileged families.
The bazaar, a central feature of the event, featured six zones with more than 100 local participants and representatives from countries such as India, South Africa, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Egypt.
Visitors explored a range of offerings, including Ramadan item shops, a Saudi coffee corner, a dining area and shopping booths containing unique goods from different cultures.
The event also showcased a variety of performing arts from around the world.
Visitors were treated to folklore shows from Indonesia, Colombia, Kazakhstan and India, as well as performances of Saudi Ardah, Egyptian folklore and Saudi folklore. Acclaimed artist Abdallah Rashad held a musical performance, adding to the cultural tapestry of the event.
Dania Al-Maeena, Aloula CEO, expressed her gratitude for the support of Jeddah residents, as well as local and international brands.
In comments to Arab News, she highlighted the importance of community collaboration in achieving Aloula’s mission of supporting underprivileged families in Jeddah.
Founded in 1964, the nonprofit, which supports thousands of people, focuses on the holistic development of children’s intellectual and physical skills to help them realize their full potential.
Ahmed Al-Safahi, director of the community development department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said he was “proud and delighted by Aloula’s efforts and dedication for this charity event.”
During the opening day of the event, sponsors including Haji Hussein Ali Reza, Arabian Tires, Aqua Power, Best Events, 3 Arts Entertainment and Success Makers were honored for their contributions.
US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion
Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings
Updated 28 February 2024
RIYADH: US singer China Moses wowed the audience when she took to the stage in Riyadh.
The musician’s performance was the third of cultural and creative hub Fenaa Alawwal’s Safar Nights concert series.
She was joined by band members Jerome Cornelis on guitar, bassist and musical director Lawrence Insula, Tom Lartigue on keyboards, and Ebow “Lox” Mensah on drums.
After the show Moses told Arab News: “The crowd was lovely and so warm and welcoming. You just never know how the music is going to connect, and I really felt at the end that it was a choir — we were a family at the end.
“That makes me very happy. I’m overjoyed actually right now,” she added.
The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments.
Raised in France, she sang several of her most popular tracks including “Etre la-bas” and had fans grooving to improvised tunes such as one she described as having a barbecue tempo.
Introducing “Disconnected,” she told the audience: “This song is about getting together just like we are and just feeling the vibe, just feeling alright. So, if your feet are moving, and if your head is grooving, then that means we’re doing our job.
“We want to take a moment to celebrate our roots. With this song we’re going to celebrate Tina Turner and Al Green,” she said, before performing a cover of “Let’s Stay Together.”
She also paid tribute to other Black musicians with renditions of Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You,” written by Prince, and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.
Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings.
Quoting the late American singer Nina Simone, she said: “It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times.” She then sang “Sirens,” a song that she noted helped to purge the feelings of disbelief and pain after the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, and the Colorado Springs’ Club Q bar shootings in 2022.
A storyteller by nature, she uses her voice to platform both tribulations and celebrations of the African American experience.
The daughter of American jazz singer and actress Dee Dee Bridgewater, Moses blends several genres into her repertoire including blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk.
“There are so many different kinds of jazz, and so many different layers. Some of the stuff I did tonight was not planned. It’s a music of freedom. It is the music of my Black American heritage but, more importantly, a music that was a gift from such a horrible period in humanity,” Moses added.
She pointed out that she always aimed to send her audiences home with joy and hope in their hearts.
Jazz emerged in New Orleans, influenced by spirituals and the slave experience of the African Americans in the US, the sounds of which were also rooted in ragtime and blues incorporating improvisation and syncopated rhythms. It led to various subgenres such as bebop, cool jazz, and fusion.
Moses said: “Who separated the jazz and the blues? Because that’s the same people who made both, and all those people would go to church. And if you don’t explain it that way, you don’t understand Black American society.
“You can’t understand why Black American church is so important. You can’t understand why jazz can sound so warm and round and rugged and raw, like the blues. And you don’t understand why the blue sounds so simple.”
Saudi Arabia has recently hosted top artists including R and B and soul singer Alicia Keys, rapper Lauryn Hill in AlUla during Saudi Founding Day celebrations, and queen of funk Chaka Khan (a close friend of Moses’ mother) who performed at Riyadh’s first International Jazz Festival earlier this month.
“I’ve played in a lot of places in the world I never thought I would play because I do Black American music. I think that that’s a testament to the power and universality of it.
“Alicia Keys is a universal person. We have the same message, we just express it in different ways because we’re different people,” Moses added.
Starting her career at the age of 16, Moses said she had never imagined performing around the world, hosting two radio shows, and becoming a co-founder and artistic director to both the Tahiti Soul Jazz festival, and Paris Soul Fest.
On her advice to the rising talents on the Saudi music scene, Moses said: “Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to explain. The music is enough, of course. But don’t be afraid to talk to the audience.
“Whether you choose to express yourself through spoken word, sung word, or no words with your voice, you’re communicating. For me, the most important thing is to do the best with what you have. There’s beauty in all of us,” she added.