Dooma in AlUla — crafting a connection to the Earth

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Dooma’s immersive experiences provide visitors with a hands-on approach to learning about the mud houses and building techniques of AlUla. (AN photos by Nada Hameed)
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Mud bricks made by visitors during the heritage restoration experience by Dooma Daimumah in AlUla. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Dooma’s immersive experiences provide visitors with a hands-on approach to learning about the mud houses and building techniques of AlUla. (AN photos by Nada Hameed)
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Yahya Allawati, the Co-Founder of Dooma while explaining about the traditional raw mud materials used for the heritage resturation experience. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Reviving Nature Experience. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Dooma’s immersive experiences provide visitors with a hands-on approach to learning about the mud houses and building techniques of AlUla. (AN photos by Nada Hameed)
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Reviving Nature Experience. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Reviving Nature Experience. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Reviving Nature Experience. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Reviving Nature Experience. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Reviving Nature Experience. (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)
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Updated 07 November 2023
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Dooma in AlUla — crafting a connection to the Earth

  • Heritage-driven sustainability activities tap into ancient wisdom

ALULA: In the heart of AlUla’s Oasis, Daimumah — a name derived from the Arabic word for sustainability — is the site of an attraction for visitors looking for an experience that combines local heritage, art and nature.

Dooma, a subsidiary of Noma Hub that crafts “inclusive sustainability experiences,” offers the chance to participate in restoration work in the belief that “the best kind of travel is travel with a purpose.”




Dooma’s immersive experiences provide visitors with a hands-on approach to learning about the mud houses and building techniques of AlUla. (AN photos by Nada Hameed)

The word “dooma” is derived from the Nabatean language and refers to anyone who works with mud. Yahya Allawati, the cofounder of Dooma, said during a recent visit to AlUla that the mission was deeply tied to preserving the region’s deep-rooted and rich heritage.

Dooma’s immersive experiences provide visitors with a hands-on approach to learning about the mud houses and building techniques of AlUla, focusing on the raw materials, their origins, and fermentation processing techniques.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Dooma offers tourists, visitors the chance to participate in restoration and sustainability activities.

• The experiences, available until the end of November, combine AlUla’s local heritage, art and nature.

Visitors not only learn about these processes but also actively participate in making mud bricks and renovating heritage sites. On arrival, visitors are given aprons and straw hats to prepapre for a mud-full experience.

Allawati stressed the dual benefit of this heritage restoration: “The restoration not only allows preserving the stories and values of the diverse societies that once thrived in AlUla, but it also allows us to tap into their timeless wisdom and intellect that led to their prosperity.”




Yahya Allawati, Dooma cofounder

One of the core attractions at Dooma is the opportunity to explore the ancient mud house building process, including making mud bricks, which differs significantly from the modern approach of using cement and blocks.

The mud used in this experience is made from pure AlUla oasis mud, mixed with water and straw by participants, offering an authentic connection to heritage. The process involves mud-mixing, texture assessment, brick-making using a wooden mold, then drying the fresh bricks in sunlight for two weeks.

Heritage is more than tangible materials that we can see or touch — it represents the ideas and sentiments that a people embodied.

Yahya Allawati, Dooma cofounder

“The mud used for heritage sites requires a minimum of 14 days of fermentation,” Allawati said. “In the visitor’s experience, the mud is not fermented to allow for hands-on mixing and a tangible connection to the Earth’s materials, making it unsuitable for heritage sites.”

The experiences at Dooma extend beyond the physical processes of heritage restoration; they delve into the core cultural values of communities that lived in simplicity and security, highlighting the worth of social amity and the willingness to help and be helped.

As Allawati aptly put it: “Heritage is more than tangible materials that we can see or touch — it represents the ideas and sentiments that a people embodied.”




‘Reviving Nature’ tackles palm frond waste by contributing repurposed frond petals to the dome sculpture called ‘Tanafaas.’ (Supplied)

As the immersive mud experience comes to a close, visitors are invited to take part in the ultimate indulgence — a soothing mud bath pool where they can play and relax.

‘Reviving Nature’

Another experience offered by Dooma is “Reviving Nature,” an innovative project that invites visitors to tackle palm frond waste by contributing repurposed frond petals to the dome sculpture called “Tanafaas,” meaning “breathing” in Arabic. It is a living artwork that allows air and light to pass through its petals, creating a stunning visual and sensory experience.

Visitors are invited to participate in weaving sessions with local experts, learning how to work with palm fronds to create boards that will form the sustainable dome placed within Daimumah. The dome’s exterior has 700 petals, expertly shaped to resemble the elegant trunks of palm trees.




‘Reviving Nature’ tackles palm frond waste by contributing repurposed frond petals to the dome sculpture called ‘Tanafaas.’ (AN Photo by Nada Hameed)

Made using recycled palm fronds, each panel is adorned with personal stories written by participants. The exterior of the half-dome structure is crafted using locally sourced palm fronds from AlUla’s palm trees. Inside, the seating is made of wood, while the natural dirt floor adds a grounding element, allowing visitors to connect with the earth beneath their feet and feel a sense of belonging.

Najla Bokhari, one of the participants, said: “The experience helped me to explore more about the significance of how sustainability promotes environmental awareness and fosters a connection to nature.”

Allawati added: “Tanafaas is a testament to sustainability and the power of green buildings. It conveys a profound message about the importance of environmental consciousness and the creative use of recycled materials sourced locally.”

Both Dooma experiences are available to visitors until the end of November.

 


Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition

Updated 14 sec ago
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Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition

  • Sara Al-Abdali explores life, death and transformation in her solo show at Hafez Gallery
  • The exhibition explores her personal experiences of loss, drawing inspiration from the plant as a symbol of renewal

JEDDAH: Contemporary Saudi artist Sara Al-Abdali is presenting her second solo exhibition, “Growing Vines of Sodom,” at Hafez Gallery in Jeddah, marking a significant milestone in her artistic career.
In her second solo show, Al-Abdali delves into the intricate relationship between life and death, skilfully using artistic juxtaposition as a medium to explore this profound interplay. The collection showcases a series of paintings and multidisciplinary artworks that prompt viewers to reflect on the delicate balance between existence and departure.
Speaking to Arab News about the inspiration behind her works, Al-Abdali said: “The main inspiration was driven from a personal encounter with a plant that suddenly grew in front of my house, symbolizing resilience and life. The Apple of Sodom plant became a powerful symbol for loss and rebirth, encapsulating the transformative journey I wanted to convey.”
Al-Abdali’s choice to focus on the plant and incorporate motifs like the moth, symbolic of death and transformation, reflects her deep exploration of life’s complexities.
“The exhibition works around metaphors and symbolism surrounding life, death, and transformation, with mediums like hand-prepared pigments emphasizing the theme of new life emerging from death,” she said.
The exhibition explores her personal experiences of loss, drawing inspiration from the plant as a symbol of renewal. Transitioning into a deeply introspective body of work, the collection centers on her three-year exploration of self-portraiture, capturing emotions of loss and despair following her father’s battle with cancer.
Reflecting on her hopes for the audience, she added: “I hope viewers will see the raw and daring nature of my work, delving into themes of mourning and loss often overlooked in society. By normalizing discussions around pain and suffering, I aim to provide a space for contemplation on both life and death.”
Regarding her artistic evolution since her first solo exhibition, Al-Abdali discussed the shift from traditional techniques to experimental approaches in “Growing Vines of Sodom”: “I challenged myself to break from tradition, experimenting with scale and medium, such as charcoal and oil, alongside gouache paintings. This departure from traditional techniques allowed me to delve deeper into personal concepts and work on a larger scale, symbolizing growth and rebirth.”
Her unique perspective continues to shape her creative vision, pushing boundaries and exploring new artistic territories, while staying true to her personal truths as a painter.
“Looking ahead, I am excited for future projects, aiming to expand on the themes explored in my current exhibition. I envision my work evolving into series and larger works, emphasizing the power of painting as a medium of artistic expression,” she said.
Contemplating on art as a full-time career, the Saudi artist added: “Despite the challenges of pursuing art as a full-time career, I remain dedicated to my craft, finding motivation in building a supportive community of fellow painters and maintaining a dedicated studio space. Perseverance and trust in the artistic process are key, and I find the journey of overcoming challenges and painting my truth to be truly rewarding.”
Qaswra Hafez, founder of Hafez Gallery, said: “We’re very happy to host Sara’s second solo. Sara is an exceptional visual instigator and no one captures the soul of this region of Saudi quite like she does.”
The exhibition is open to visitors until the end of Ramadan.


Mawhiba prepares 35 young innovators for global science fair

Updated 24 February 2024
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Mawhiba prepares 35 young innovators for global science fair

  • Mawhiba said that the selected students will join more than 1,800 peers worldwide specializing in science and engineering
  • Mawhiba said that the selected students will join more than 1,800 peers worldwide specializing in science and engineering

JEDDAH: In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) has inaugurated the qualifying program for the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2024.
The program, held at the Mishkat Interactive Center in King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Riyadh, seeks to identify and prepare 35 outstanding individuals from a pool of 45 talented participants. The selected students are poised to represent the Kingdom at the prestigious Regeneron ISEF 2024 in Los Angeles in May.
Mawhiba said that the selected students will join more than 1,800 peers worldwide specializing in science and engineering. They will not only compete for ISEF awards, but also participate in international innovation exhibitions, such as ITEX in Malaysia and TISF in Taiwan.
As part of the program, mentors will review the students’ projects, developing work plans to strengthen and enhance each project before the final submission deadline to ISEF.
Workshops on presentation skills, project display, and understanding the judging mechanism at ISEF are also included in the agenda for participants.
Additionally, the Scientific Ethics Committee will have a crucial role in reviewing specific forms related to scientific ethics followed during experiments for each project. Statistical analysis of selected projects will be conducted to ensure accuracy, with specialists overseeing the development plans for each student.
Toward the end of the workshop, an independent judging committee will make the crucial decision of selecting candidates to join the Saudi science and engineering team. These chosen individuals will then proudly represent the Kingdom at ISEF 2024, competing for its coveted awards.
Mawhiba emphasized the success of previous efforts in fostering a culture of scientific research and innovation in education. This has led to the Kingdom achieving commendable global positions in international participation.
Earlier this month, Mawhiba hosted the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity, Ibdaa 2024, to select students for the Regeneron ISEF 2024 event.
Mawhiba said that the number of students participated in this year’s Ibdaa 2024 has surged by 40 percent, reaching 210,000 compared to 146,000 students last year, who submitted projects in 21 scientific fields.
The foundation selected 180 projects from a pool of 210,000 submissions
The projects included 30 in the energy sector, 26 in materials science, 24 in chemistry, 17 in environmental engineering, 11 in biomedicine and health sciences, and nine in plant sciences.
The Ibdaa 2024 Olympiad aims to discover and support Saudi Arabia’s talented students, fostering their skills and advancing scientific projects.
The annual event provides an innovative environment for collaboration between educational supervisors, education departments and researchers, with a goal to support students.


Kingdom launches heritage metaverse initiative

Updated 24 February 2024
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Kingdom launches heritage metaverse initiative

  • Users can discover cultural attractions in simulated environment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture has launched an initiative in the Metaverse, supported by an artificial intelligence system for Generative Media Intelligence, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The dynamic digital environment allows users to discover the Kingdom’s heritage by taking part in simulated activities.

The collaboration with droppGroup utilizes Hyperledger Fabric 2.5 blockchain technology.

The Saudi heritage Metaverse platform offers a blend of cultural shows, performances and digital innovation.

It includes cultural attractions like the History Walk, dedicated sectors for music, art, history, culinary arts and crafts, as well as mini-video games.

The platform is a fully immersive, web-based experience accessible from a range of devices. (Supplied)

Events will also be streamed on the ministry’s Metaverse platform, such as a symphony concert for Saudi Founding Day.

The platform is a fully immersive, web-based experience accessible from a range of devices, including mobile phones, VR headsets and desktop computers.

The Ministry of Culture scheme aims to encourage global audience to explore Saudi Arabia’s heritage and culture.

Millions of people within the Kingdom will be able to take part in Metaverse events remotely.

Those interested in participating in this unique virtual experience can register via the following link: https://cup.moc.gov.sa/.


Kingdom arrests 19,431 illegals in one week

Updated 24 February 2024
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Kingdom arrests 19,431 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 19,431 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 11,897 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 4,254 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 3,280 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 971 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 39 percent were Yemeni, 57 percent Ethiopian, and 4 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 36 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 15 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


Saudi pavilion showcases ancient heritage at Doha expo

Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi pavilion showcases ancient heritage at Doha expo

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at the International Horticultural Expo in Doha participated in celebrations for the Kingdom’s Founding Day.

The pavilion showcased Saudi national heritage, and visitors could explore the Kingdom’s ancient history.

The celebrations included various events to reflect the unique Saudi identity and heritage. Among these were folk arts and traditional music performances, the Saudi ardah, traditional fashion shows, and events showcasing plastic arts.

Also displayed were handicrafts that combined nostalgia with the creativity of the present.

Many visitors were a part of the special occasion, and it was praised for highlighting the diversity and cultural richness of Saudi Arabia.

The event was part of the Kingdom’s efforts to enhance cultural communication and introduce the world to its rich heritage. It was also an opportunity to showcase Saudi history while strengthening cultural ties and communication.

The expo, which boasts the title “Green Desert, Better Environment,” began on Oct. 2 last year and continues until March 28.

The Saudi pavilion is also showcasing the Kingdom’s “natural richness,” drawing visitors from around the world.