Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh

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Updated 01 March 2024
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Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh

  • Canadian performer advises people to follow their dreams despite setbacks
  • Stand-up veteran recalls earning $50 for gigs, being booed off stage and learning on the job

RIYADH: Award-winning Canadian comedian Russell Peters has revealed the secret behind his successful career.

“Identify your dream and actively chase it,” Peters said during a recent interview on Arab News’ podcast, The Mayman Show. “It’s far more rewarding to have pursued your dream, even if you fail, than to passively wonder about it.”

Peters found his own path in 1989 when he began performing stand-up comedy at amateur shows. Despite not being allotted more than five minutes with the mic, he was determined to pursue his passion.

“If I got one laugh, I think that’s all I needed: Let’s figure this out, let’s try to figure out how to get more of those people,” he said on learning from his first performances.

Discussing his early career, he talked about being booed off stage in Toronto in 1993 while opening for The Pharcyde, a hip-hop group from the US. With hindsight, he laughs at his own arrogance then, viewing the experience as a well-deserved lesson.

Peters recounted how he would drive hours to perform, earning $50 plus complimentary chicken wings, a tank of gas, and a soda. During those days, he thought: “If I stayed, I’d be in the exact same financial position I would have been had I gone. So I wasn’t losing anything and I’d stay there and I’d be talking to people for free,” he said. “I just remember all the hard gigs, those were the fun ones.”

Fast-forward to 2024, and Peters has been hailed as one of the greatest comedians of all time by Rolling Stone, and has held the record for being the longest-standing comedian since 2007. He was also the first comedian to sell out Toronto’s Air Canada Center in 2007, and has performed in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, London’s O2 Arena, and more. As part of his “Act Your Age” tour, which he has been doing since 2021, Peters recently took to the stage in Riyadh, performing at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University on Feb. 24.

This is his third visit to the Kingdom, and Peters admires the generosity of the Saudi people: “I remember at the hotel, they said, how did you sleep? And I said, it was honestly like the best, the most comfortable bed I’d ever felt in my life, and when I came back to my hotel room, they had packed up all the stuff that I complimented and shipped it to me in America.”

Peters also cherishes the memory of his performance at the Maraya building in AlUla in 2016, renowned as the world’s largest mirrored concert venue. “The acoustics are great in there because it’s built for that. And they put the sound dampeners in there. The same can’t be said for when I just performed in Egypt,” he said.

During his one-night performance in the country, American comedian Adam Hunter opened his show. Hunter is known for his popular Instagram channel, MMA Roasted, in which he humorously critiques fighters, and has been traveling with Peters for some time.

His latest show in the current tour is scheduled for March 3 in Bangalore, India, a place he regards as his true home. Beyond the stage, Peters also feels at home in the DJ booth. He said that his DJ career was purely for enjoyment, focusing mostly on old-school music. Peters said that his go-to song is “Black Trump” by Smif-N-Wessun and Raekwon.

Peters is currently practicing jujitsu, a form of martial art. His enduring passion for combat disciplines began at the age of 16 with boxing, because of bullying at school. Boxing became more than just a sport; it was a coping mechanism, especially after he was kicked out of school.

Later on, as his career developed in comedy, it also became a way of dealing with challenges.

“I would do it all the time growing up,” Peters said, “to try and get out of situations, dealt with a lot of racism growing up. So you just kind of figure out a way of getting out of situations by being funny.”


Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise

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Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise

  • The Royal Saudi Air Force sent six Typhoon aircraft along with air, technical and support crews to the exercise
  • INIOCHOS is one of Europe’s largest military exercises

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Air Force took part in multinational air exercise INIOCHOS 2024, held at the Air Tactics Center in Greece, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Over the course of two weeks, air forces from several countries carried out a variety of simulated combat air operations, involving planning cells, command of air missions and campaigns, intelligence missions and forward air control tasks during close air support operations.

The commanding pilot of the Saudi contingent in the exercise, Lt. Col. Abdulaziz Al-Harbi, said that months of preparation led to achieving planned objectives at all levels.

He praised the efforts of the Saudi air, technical and support crews, who “demonstrated professionalism and high readiness.”

INIOCHOS is one of Europe’s largest military exercises. Deployment began on April 1 and continued until April 7, while the secondary execution phase started on April 8 and ended on April 18. The third phase of the drill, force redeployment, took place from April 19-21.

The Royal Saudi Air Force sent six Typhoon aircraft along with air, technical and support crews to the exercise, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said.

The RSAF members aimed to enhance readiness, exchange expertise, simulate a real war environment and plan complex air operations in an environment involving multinational forces, the ministry added.

Participating countries included Cyprus, France, Montenegro, Qatar, Romania, Spain, the UK and the US.


Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo

Updated 9 min 18 sec ago
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Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo

  • Between them, the 26 Saudi universities that entered displayed 113 inventions in the Kingdom’s pavilion
  • The Geneva exhibition is a major global event, drawing inventors, researchers, and innovators from around the world

JEDDAH: King Abdulaziz University won 17 awards and medals for its innovations at the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions.

The 26 Saudi universities that entered — 19 public, two independent, and five private institutions — between them displayed 113 inventions in the Kingdom’s pavilion, with applications in various scientific, theoretical, medical and other fields.

Mosab bin Faleh Al-Harbi, spokesperson and director of the KAU media center, said that the competition boosts the importance of scientific research and innovation in academia.

He highlighted the university’s commitment to fostering innovation and research among students, and said that the university’s contributions came from the colleges of computer science, information technology, medicine, and engineering.

Among the awards won by KAU were the National Research Society of Thailand Prize for a date classification application, and the Malaysian Organization for Research Scientists Prize for a continuous monitoring invention.

Jeddah University also took part in the exhibition, winning two bronze awards. These were for a computer-vision-based smart building health inspection system, and a tool for detecting and preventing distributed denial of service attacks (malicious attacks on a network or server).

Qassim University won a silver medal for its system for desalinating water using halophytic plants, developed by a research team from the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences. The university also received a bronze medal for a project to use date palm waste in the production of pharmaceutical excipients in nano-sized tablets, presented by another research team.

Jazan University was awarded two gold medals. Asim Najmi from the College of Pharmacy received a medal for his work on derivatives of benzylidene 4, 2 thiazolidinones, and their use in diabetes treatment. Mohammed Mashiki from the College of Dentistry, meanwhile, won gold for his modification of a dental crown used in endodontic retreatment.

The university’s acting president, Mohammed Abu Rasin, said these achievements show the institution’s dedication to fostering innovation and promoting a culture of invention through consistent support for inventors.

The Geneva exhibition is a major global event, drawing inventors, researchers, and innovators from around the world. It was held from April 17 to 21, and attracted more than 1,000 innovations from over 50 countries.


Experts to discuss advances in Web3, AI, gaming ecosystem growth in Saudi Arabia

The summit aims to showcase advances in Web3 and gaming ecosystem development in Saudi Arabia. (@NFTLAlive)
Updated 21 April 2024
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Experts to discuss advances in Web3, AI, gaming ecosystem growth in Saudi Arabia

  • Big names set to assemble in Saudi capital

RIYADH: Outer Edge Riyadh, the Web3 innovation forum, is set to bring together some of the biggest names in the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and gaming ecosystems from around the world at The Garage in the Saudi capital on Tuesday.

The summit, in partnership with Animoca Brands and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, aims to showcase advances in Web3 and gaming ecosystem development in Saudi Arabia.

The Los Angeles-based company Outer Edge is renowned for hosting events that offer invaluable networking opportunities for founders, builders, and venture capitalists in emerging technologies.

Mohammad Hadhrawi, general manager at the Gaming and Immersive Technologies Institute at KACST, said: “We are dedicated to advancing the frontiers of R&D (research and development) in gaming and immersive technologies.

"Our efforts are aligned with the national vision and strategies, aiming to foster an innovative ecosystem that nurtures creativity, technological advancement, and economic diversification.

“By spearheading projects that leverage Web3, AI, and immersive experiences, we aim to impact the global technology landscape and equip our nation with the skills and opportunities to excel in these fields.

“Our commitment is to deliver tangible outcomes that contribute to the Kingdom’s position as a leader in the future economies — a key priority area for the Kingdom — ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for all.”

Joshua Kriger, Outer Edge co-founder and co-host of the “Edge of NFT” and “Edge of AI” podcasts, said that when launching Outer Edge in Los Angeles, the intention was always to catalyze innovation globally.

He said: “We are thrilled to bring the concept of co-creation, connection, and community to Saudi Arabia and unite regional and global leaders in Web3, AI, and gaming. Our unique format fosters long-term collaboration opportunities at the intersection of culture, entertainment, and technology.”

Yat Siu, the co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, said: “Through our partnership with Outer Edge Riyadh, we are honored to help support the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region’s progress toward fully harnessing the power of Web3 and blockchain.

“Global leaders at Outer Edge Riyadh will gather to engage in spirited discussions, forge valuable partnerships, create new opportunities, and mobilize on various topics ranging from revolutionizing smart cities to redefining finance and entertainment.”

Topics at the summit will include smart cities, gaming, esports, art, culture, and more. For more information about the Outer Edge Innovation Summit in Riyadh, visit https://www.outeredge.live/riyadh.


Riyadh meeting focuses on modern Shariah issues

Updated 21 April 2024
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Riyadh meeting focuses on modern Shariah issues

  • Leaders from Islamic nations gather to discuss jurisprudence and challenges facing the Islamic world

Riyadh: The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, and senior scholars of the Islamic world are in Riyadh for the Islamic Fiqh Council’s 23rd session to discuss contemporary jurisprudence challenges.

Scholars and researchers from Islamic and Muslim-minority countries are attending the session, which runs from April 20 to 22.

The Islamic Fiqh Council sets out to clarify Shariah rulings for Muslims on a range of issues, show the adaptability of Islamic jurisprudence, and promote its heritage. The council also seeks to explain its terminology in contemporary language.

Al-Asheikh emphasized that Islamic jurisprudence, with its general principles, comprehensive rules, array of jurisprudential branches, fatwas, and diverse research on various topics provides flexibility and broad perspectives for contemporary scholars.

He also expressed appreciation to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their efforts in serving the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors, as well as for the support provided to scholars.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, said in his speech that the session would review Shariah issues, based on in-depth academic research surveys conducted by distinguished scholars.

Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the session was taking place during a critical period for the Islamic world, filled with significant intellectual and political challenges.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa (C), secretary-general of the Muslim World League, said in his speech that the session would review Shariah issues, based on in-depth academic research surveys conducted by distinguished scholars. (SPA)

The president of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Dr. Saleh bin Abdullah bin Humaid, mentioned that the topics discussed by the academy’s committees and councils encompass Shariah, family, medical, economic, financial, and intellectual policies, all of which are of interest to the Islamic nation.

The secretary-general of the academy, Dr. Koutoub Moustapha Sano, said: “We are all required to work to unify rulings in Islamic countries in all matters of life, in accordance with the provisions of Islamic Shariah. That is the only way to accomplish Islamic unity among Islamic peoples.”

The session will have several scientific sessions devoted to contemporary jurisprudential issues and challenges.


Saudi Arabia’s Asir magpie faces conservation challenges

Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Asir magpie faces conservation challenges

RIYADH: Spring paints a vibrant picture across Saudi Arabia, creating ideal nesting conditions for its feathered residents. The abundant food, comfortable temperatures, and increased rainfall from March to July provide a breeding haven. Yet, amid this avian activity, one particular bird faces an uphill battle for survival: the Asir magpie.

This stunning bird, scientifically known as Pica asirensis, holds a precarious position on the global endangered species list. Restricted to a small pocket in the juniper forests of the Asir region, fewer than 100 breeding pairs remain.

Initially thought to be a subspecies of the Eurasian magpie, the Asir magpie was recognized as a distinct species in 2016. Its geographical isolation — over 1,200 km from its closest Eurasian relative — along with unique physical and genetic characteristics, confirmed its separate classification.

The Asir magpie has darker feathers, with a tail adorned in richer greens and purples. Compared to its Eurasian cousin, it has shorter wings and tail, larger feet, and a noticeably bigger beak. Its call is also distinct, with unique sounds used during foraging.

Ants, bees, and locusts are staples in the Asir magpie’s diet, along with plant seeds and fruits. It also consumes fallen berries and leftover rice found in picnic areas.

During the breeding season, females lay five to seven eggs, with an incubation period of 16 to 22 days. However, chick survival rates are generally low — typically, only two to four chicks survive — due to food scarcity, nest predation, and other hazards.

Recognizing the Asir magpie’s critical status, government agencies have increased conservation efforts. In 2018, Saudi Aramco conducted a vital study, deploying advanced tracking devices to understand the bird’s population density, habitat preferences, and movement patterns. This data is crucial for implementing effective protection measures.

Saudi Arabia boasts remarkable avian diversity, with the National Center for Wildlife documenting an impressive 499 bird species. Of these, 401 are resident or migratory, while 11 are rare species that regularly visit the country. Additionally, 87 vagrant species also grace Saudi skies.

The Asir magpie exemplifies Saudi Arabia’s rich biodiversity. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure the survival of this unique species and to protect the Kingdom’s natural heritage for future generations.