Houthi negotiator says Red Sea attacks won’t deter Yemeni peace, praises Saudi ‘brothers’

Mohammed Abdulsalam, above, the chief negotiator and spokesperson of the Houthis, has called Saudi Arabia officials his ‘brothers’. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 09 February 2024
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Houthi negotiator says Red Sea attacks won’t deter Yemeni peace, praises Saudi ‘brothers’

  • Talks with Saudi officials via Oman ‘going well,’ said Mohammed Abdulsalam
  • Attacks in Red Sea will stop if Israel’s assault on Gaza ends, he added

LONDON: Mohammed Abdulsalam, chief negotiator and spokesperson of the Houthis, says that the recent meeting of the Sanaa delegation with Saudi Arabia officials has “resulted in overcoming the most important obstacles facing the roadmap” to peace.

These solutions were in line with those championed by the UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said Abdulsalam in a wide-ranging interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday.

Abdulsalam had previously called Saudi Arabia officials his “brothers” in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat in January. He did so again on Thursday, and answered questions about peace initiatives, attacks in the Red Sea and regional and international relations.

Abdulsalam said the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea would only stop if Tel Aviv ended their assault on the Palestinian people.




Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber shakes hands with the political leader of the Houthis, Mahdi Al-Mashat in Sanaa. (X: @mohdsalj)

Abdulsalam believes that efforts at finding peace in Yemen “is going well, both since the start of the UN truce in April 2022, corresponding to the month of Ramadan at that time, and also through discussions with the Saudi side under Omani sponsorship, which are going well so far.”

Asked about the extent of the Houthis’ willingness to begin political negotiations that include power sharing, elections, and a new constitution, Abdulsalam said “the roadmap included everyone’s concerns, and highlighted the urgent humanitarian situation that the Yemeni people are suffering from.”

In a previous statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdulsalam said that the Houthis’ Red Sea operations would not impact the peace initiatives. He said it was “necessary to respond to the urgent situation in Palestine, which represents a risk for regional, Arab and Islamic security.




Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Minister of Defense, meets with a delegation from Sanaa during their visit in Riyadh in September 2023. (SPA)

“It will affect us in Yemen if Israel dominates, eliminates or weakens the Palestinian people and its resistance. This will reflect negatively on everyone, aside from the religious and moral position towards this issue. Therefore, we consider that it is separate from the peace process so far and think that the statements of the West come as part of an attempt to pressure us to back down.”

Abdulsalam added: “The military operations in the Red Sea, which target Israeli ships as well as ships heading towards Israel, will continue until the aggression against the Gaza Strip ends and the siege is lifted by bringing food assistance into the north and south of the strip.

He said the Houthis were open to talks with Western powers on the Red Sea situation, under the “auspices of our brothers in the Sultanate of Oman.”

• This article originally appeared in Arabic on Asharq Al-Awsat


Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh exhibition

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Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh exhibition

  • Series of ink drawings by veteran Abdulrahman Al-Soliman is a highlight of Art Biennale in Riyadh

RIYADH: Series of ink drawings by veteran Abdulrahman Al-Soliman is a highlight of Art Biennale in Riyadh

Work by several of the best artists from the Kingdom’s Eastern Province is on show at the international Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale in Riyadh.

Among them is Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, who has been a force in the Saudi art world for decades. His series of ink drawings, titled “Palm, Bow and Fragments” (1990-91) is on show for the first time.

Born in 1954 in Al-Ahsa, Al-Soliman told Arab News he created the collection during the Gulf War more than 30 years ago. “I lived with the side effects of the Kuwaiti conflict and its liberation. I started organically, I didn’t know it would become a series,” he said.

“Since 1970, I have been making art. And this series on display at the biennale — some in color, some not — I rolled them up and put them aside. This is the first time anyone has seen them displayed.”

Another Eastern Province artist whose work is on show is Nabila Al-Bassam, who founded the Arab Heritage Gallery in Alkhobar in 1979. Al-Bassam is a mixed-media artist who uses traditional textile-making processes to produce and create multilayered collages. She is delighted to be among the artists on show.

“What stood out to me at the biennale was the works of Saudi women artists, I really was surprised,” she said.

“I’ve seen many beautiful works. The installations, the hangings — very, very interesting, made out of metal and things like this. There’s a lot to be excited about. They were large works and they were new works, completely new, modern and a new way of thinking.”

The younger generation is also exhibiting in Riyadh. Tara Aldugaither, 34, grew up in Dhahran and in 2020 founded Sawtasura — “voice of the image” — a community-based platform that collects and reimagines the musical histories of Arab women.

The biennale is taking place in the city’s JAX district and continues until May 24.


Saudi Cabinet calls for an end to escalation of military operations in Gaza

Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet held a meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 22 min 26 sec ago
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Saudi Cabinet calls for an end to escalation of military operations in Gaza

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet called for an end to the escalation in military operations in Gaza and the dire humanitarian crisis that it is causing, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The Cabinet also reviewed the outcomes of the Kingdom’s participation in a two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro and its vision regarding the group’s role in dealing with existing international tensions and restructuring global governance.

The Cabinet also reiterated the Kingdom’s support for regional and international efforts to ban all types of weapons of mass destruction as was expressed during its participation in the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

The Cabinet also praised the outcomes of a recent Arab Interior Ministers’ Council held in Tunisia and stressed the Kingdom’s constant keenness to support and enhance joint Arab action in all fields in a way that contributes to establishing the foundations of security, stability, and prosperity in the region.


Saudi artist, 78, presents solo exhibition in Riyadh

Updated 52 min 47 sec ago
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Saudi artist, 78, presents solo exhibition in Riyadh

  • For 50 years, Sami Almarzoogi quietly pursued his love for art alongside his medical practice

RIYADH: Saudi artist Dr. Sami Almarzoogi’s solo exhibition at L’Art Pur Foundation in Riyadh “Is This a Gold Bar?” demonstrates the benefits of never giving up on your passion.

Presented in collaboration with Hafez Gallery, the showcase presents Almarzoogi’s diverse body of work, encompassing paintings, drawings and mixed-media pieces, which delve deep into his exploration of materials, techniques and themes. He invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions he seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush.

‘Is This A Gold Bar?’ by Sami Almarzoogi (Inset, right) invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

“The exhibition’s title, arrangement, and presentation serve as windows into my inner world, where shadows give way to the unveiling of my creations in the light of day, beckoning viewers to embark on a captivating artistic odyssey,” the artist explained.

His art — drawing inspiration from nature, human figures, personal experiences, and decorative objects — defies categorization, encouraging viewers to ponder the emotional depth conveyed through color and form.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Sami Almarzoogi’s art draws inspiration from nature, human figures, personal experiences, and objects.

● ‘Is This A Gold Bar?’ is being showcased at L’Art Pur in collaboration with Hafez Gallery in Riyadh.

● Curated by Ayman Yossri Daydban, the exhibition signifies a pivotal moment in Almarzoogi’s artistic journey.

Curated by Ayman Yossri Daydban, the exhibition signifies a pivotal moment in Almarzoogi’s artistic journey. Daydban is a celebrated visual artist based in Saudi Arabia who brings a unique perspective shaped over three decades of artistic practice, ensuring a nuanced and stimulating presentation of the artist’s work.

Sami Almarzoogi invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

Almarzoogi was born in 1945 and spent over three decades unraveling the transformative potential of color and line. Through an intuitive exploration of motifs straddling the realms of figuration and abstraction, his work radiates with sensitivity, drawing prowess, and a profound understanding of color theory.

Almarzoogi said: “Drawing transcends mere equations of form, color, and ideas, or even complex formulations including feelings. It is, in fact, a sentiment taking shape in form, anchoring itself through colors, and blooming into a tapestry of ideas.”

Qaswra Hafez, Hafez Gallery founder

His creative process, he added, “is a reflection of diverse experiences and emotions, unfolding freely on blank canvases, unbound by symbols and interpretations. This natural approach to artistry transcends the confines of studios, beckoning an existential exploration enriched by observation, travel, and a universal spirit.”

Speaking about the journey captured in his works, he said: “In my artistic journey, the transition from darkness to doubt and ultimately light mirrors my personal growth, culminating in the radiant beauty of radiance.”

Sami Almarzoogi invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

His creative journey, initially interwoven with a distinguished career in anesthesiology, found its full expression upon his return to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1980s, following an enriching decade-long sojourn in Germany.

Qaswra Hafez, founder of Hafez Gallery, said: “In my 35 years involved in the arts one way or another, producing this exhibition gave me the most confidence measure. It’s not every day that you find a 78-year-old artist who has been working in silence for over 50 years and never had a solo. It was such a joy for me to watch (and) see the exhibition the first time.”

It’s not every day that you find a 78-year-old artist who has been working in silence for over 50 years and never had a solo. It was such a joy for me to watch (and) see the exhibition the first time.

Qaswra Hafez, Hafez Gallery founder

Kenza Zouari, communication manager at Hafez Projects, said: “Sami Almarzoogi’s life is a testament to the courage to embark on new journeys. After years in the medical field, he made the bold decision to pursue his lifelong passion for art and his relentless quest for exploration led him to dive into the world of colors, shapes and forms with the same dedication and precision he once had in the operating room.”

She added: “With brushes replacing medical tools, Dr. Almarzoogi kept on trying new styles and techniques with this insatiable hunger for experimentation. His transition from doctor to artist was not just a career change; it was a profound transformation that allowed him to fully explore and express himself.

Sami Almarzoogi invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

“Today, as we stand witness to his incredible body of work, we are reminded of the possibility within each of us to pursue our passions. Dr. Almarzoogi’s story is a powerful reminder that it is never too late to chase our dreams.”

Echoing this sentiment, Rania Rizk, director of the arts program at L’Art Pur Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to present the second solo exhibition, offering the Riyadh audience a glimpse into his extensive artistic journey and captivating narrative. Dr. Almarzoogi’s dedication to painting and drawing, quietly and authentically, alongside his medical profession, reflects his unwavering passion for art.

“His close friend, artist Ayman Yossri, as the curator, (ensues) the spiritual essence of the artwork shines through, enriching the exhibition with a deep sense of warmth and meaning.”

The exhibition at L’Art Pur is open to the public until Feb. 29 at 8 p.m.

 


Ardah performer finds strength in traditional Saudi dance

Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is a prominent performer of Saudi ardah who notes that the folk dance requires great physical effort.
Updated 55 min 39 sec ago
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Ardah performer finds strength in traditional Saudi dance

  • Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi told Arab News: “I used to attend ardah performances and was obsessed with it, its rhythms, its fast pace. I participated for the first time when I was young, in my uncles’ village, Qarn Dhabi”

MAKKAH: Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is one of the most prominent performers of the southern Saudi ardah, a dance he described as showcasing strength while uniting communities.

Performed on special occasions such as Saudi Founding Day, the ardah highlights the Kingdom’s heritage through poetry and dance.

Al-Ghamdi had to undergo surgery after tearing a tendon in his foot while dancing at an Al-Janadriyah festival in Riyadh and feared being unable to perform again.

Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is a prominent performer of Saudi ardah who notes that the folk dance requires great physical effort. (Supplied)

He told Arab News: “I used to attend ardah performances and was obsessed with it, its rhythms, its fast pace. I participated for the first time when I was young, in my uncles’ village, Qarn Dhabi.”

While each region has its own distinct style of the folk art, the ardah performances share heritage, culture, and the spirit of heroism. The dance combines poetry to tell the stories of battles, wars, and courage passed down from one generation to another.

On how the ardah had changed over time, Al-Ghamdi said: “In the past, ardah was performed when a tribe felt it was being attacked by another. Whenever they heard the sound of the zir (a type of drum), they gathered and performed the war-related ardah.

FASTFACT

Performed on special occasions such as Saudi Founding Day, the ardah highlights the Kingdom’s heritage through poetry and dance.

“Their steps are synchronized as they raise their right and left arms together. Their movements are synchronized.

“It makes you feel like you are actually on the battlefield. Now it is a performance with a smile on the face and a symbol of manhood,” he added.

Al-Ghamdi, a physical education teacher in the Baha region, noted that the folk performance required great physical effort.

He said: “Thanks to God, I still maintain my fitness. I teach those who want to learn folk arts the Saudi ardah and the southern ardah.

“I still remember very well when I participated in one of Al-Janadriyah festivals in Riyadh and one of the attendees told me that I was fitter than the (Swedish) footballer (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic and that I should leave the show and join one of the big clubs. It was hilarious.”

Al-Ghamdi pointed out that no matter where he was, if he heard instruments, he felt compelled to join in. “It is as if my body and the instrument are in harmony and in a state of communication.”

He highlighted a performance where an elderly man from the audience, who appeared to have physical constraints, got up and joined in. “When he saw me, he stood up, danced, and interacted with me, leaving everyone blown away. I wondered what ardah could have done to him to move his body?”

 


Who’s Who: Wesam Al-Ghamdi, CEO at NEOM Green Hydrogen Co.

Wesam Al-Ghamdi
Updated 27 February 2024
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Who’s Who: Wesam Al-Ghamdi, CEO at NEOM Green Hydrogen Co.

Wesam Al-Ghamdi is CEO at NEOM Green Hydrogen Co., spearheading the growth and execution of the world’s largest green hydrogen plant, which is set to commence in 2026.

Once fully operational, the plant will also be managed under his leadership. Under his direction, the company will progress from its construction phase to full functionality for the supply of green hydrogen to the local and global markets for the heavy industry and transportation sectors.

Al-Ghamdi has also developed an environmental, social and governance factors strategy for the company to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

He brings over two decades of cross-functional senior leadership experience within diverse industry sectors in the Middle East region and globally, including in engineering, operations, and project management with companies like the Saudi Arabian Mining Co., or Ma’aden, SABIC and Shell.

During his tenure at Ma’aden, where he began working in 1998, he held several positions, each making a significant impact in the region. Most recently, he served as vice president of strategy and business development in the aluminum strategic business unit. In this role, he was responsible for long-term strategy development and divesture opportunities.

Al-Ghamdi is a graduate of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. He also has several technical certifications, including foundations of directorship from the Board Directors Institute, INSEAD/Ma’aden’s executive leadership development, GE’s executive leadership development, and Alcoa’s leadership development training.