Saudi embassies worldwide join Catwalk initiative for ‘big cat’ conservation

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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 February 2024
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Saudi embassies worldwide join Catwalk initiative for ‘big cat’ conservation

  • The Catwalk initiative is an annual celebration in honor of the declaration last year by the UN designating Feb. 10 as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard

RIYADH: The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation.

Saudi embassies worldwide responded by participating in the initiative for a 7 km walk, featuring a host of engaging activities along the route.

The Catwalk initiative is an annual celebration in honor of the declaration last year by the UN designating Feb. 10 as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard.

 

 

Through various social activities, Catmosphere, a non-profit founded by Princess Reema bint Bandar, works to prevent the Arabian leopard from becoming extinct, educates participants about the animal, and connects people with their environment.

“I was elated that the UN recognized the International Day of the Arabian Leopard last year — an initiative by the Kingdom, supported by over 30 member states,” said Princess Reema, who also serves as Saudi ambassador to the US.

“This announcement is significant as it marks the first time the UN has designated an international day of recognition for a mammal, big cat or subspecies.

“And it is the first time that an international day established by the UN was led by Saudi Arabia. I am particularly proud that this day is for conservation.”

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The designation emerged from the collaborative efforts of Catmosphere, the Royal Commission for AlUla, the Arabian Leopard Fund, and the Saudi Mission to the UN.

In Riyadh, a Catwalk event was organized with a walk at Bujairi in historic Diriyah, where people from diverse backgrounds, including families and children, participated in various activities to raise awareness about the importance of efforts to protect wild cats facing the threat of extinction.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry also participated, with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji tweeting: “Pleased to participate in the #Catwalk2024 initiative in conjunction with the UN adoption of Feb. 10 as International Day of Arabian Leopard, in assurance of the Kingdom’s efforts the preserve the seven big cats to protect wildlife.”

 

 

The seven big cats include jaguars, lions, snow leopards and pumas.

The Saudi Embassy in Egypt organized the Catwalk, with Osama Nugali, Saudi ambassador to Egypt, and several officials from the embassy and the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports participating in a march.

“The Kingdom’s celebration of the International Day of the Arabian Leopard serves its lofty goals aimed at introducing the values of environmental conservation and instilling the principles of protecting the Arabian leopard from extinction and its return to its natural environment,” Nugali told Arab News.




Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt, Osama Nugali, led the mission's staff along with officials of the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports in the Cairo Catwalk on Saturday. (X: @KSAembassyEG)

“The Kingdom translated this interest by submitting a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly that was adopted in June 2023,” he added.

“The embassy was honored to organize a march on the occasion in which the embassy employees and members of the Saudi community in Egypt participated enthusiastically, in addition to our Egyptian brothers, of all age groups without exception.”

The embassy also organized various activities for children.

The Saudi Embassy in Ireland participated in the Catwalk, with Deputy Ambassador Abdulsalam Al-Mushaiti and the acting head of the cultural attache office, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Fahd Al-Fuhaid, joining the walk along with their children and staff.

 

 

The walk started from the famous Samuel Beckett Bridge in the Irish capital, Al-Mushaiti wrote on X.

The Saudi Embassy in Italy shared pictures of Catwalk 2024 on X with the caption: “Highlights of the first-ever celebration of the #InternationalArabianLeopardDay in Rome @catmospherenow.”

 

 

The Saudi Embassy in New Delhi also took part, writing on X: “On this occasion, the embassy organized #Catwalk2024, an initiative launched by @catmospherenow to raise awareness about efforts to preserve the Arabian leopard.”

 

 

The Saudi Embassy in Switzerland also joined the event, writing on X: “It’s time for the catwalk! The embassy in Bern participates in #Catwalk2024, walking 7 km to raise awareness about the importance of efforts to protect 7 species of wild cats facing the threat of extinction. We walk to protect the Arabian leopard.”

 

 

The RCU marked the occasion with a new “Leap of Hope” campaign, aiming to enhance global awareness and encourage action for the conservation of critically endangered big cat species.

The Catwalk initiative received support from various government entities, including the ministries of interior; municipal, rural affairs and housing; foreign affairs; environment, water and agriculture; education; and sport.


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.