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Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: Saudi pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai celebrates founding of first Saudi state in Diriyah – Arab News

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Celebrations were held at the Saudi pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on Feb. 22 to mark the Kingdom’s first Founding Day, which commemorated the establishment of the first Saudi state in 1727 at its capital of Diriyah.
Saudi performers, musicians and dancers showcased a range of cultural presentations to demonstrate the Kingdom’s rich and diverse heritage. The program included the Ardeh, and the projection of a video onto the facade of the pavilion Nuzul’s video highlighted aspects of culture that were perpetuated in Diriyah during the 18th century. Mudbrick building, date preservation, traditional medicine, historical schooling and the crafting of the first Saudi flag featured in the footage.
Tour guides sent from Diriyah, also known as the Jewel of the Kingdom, engaged in cultural activities, educating people around the world about the founding of the country.
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority, responsible for Diriyah’s historic legacy, contributed to the troupe of tour guides at the Saudi pavilion.
Three guides, Manal Hathrah, Rahaf Al-Harbi and Maha Al-Fagir, each imparted their knowledge and understanding of the first Saudi state’s founding to the diverse international audience.
The trio highlighted that Diriyah has stood as a definitive starting point for the Saudi state, being a political, cultural and social capital, and a cradle of the civilization led by the early imams of the Al-Saud family.
DGDA is working to preserve Diriyah and its historical heritage. These efforts also aim to transform Diriyah into a leading global destination, alongside DGDA’s other development projects that work to preserve and modernize many historic sites, elevate its people’s quality of life and fulfill the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.
Founding Day complements the Saudi National Day, which celebrates the unification of Saudi Arabia in 1932 every Sept. 23, by recognizing the beginning of the Saudi state with a new event that commemorates the Kingdom’s historical roots.
The Saudi pavilion has so far welcomed more than 3 million visitors from all corners of the globe and will be at the expo until the event closes at the end of March.
RIYADH: Saudi-based blogger, influencer, and fashion designer Tamara Al-Gabbani said it was an exciting experience to celebrate the Kingdom’s first Founding Day.
“We get to celebrate this for the first time ever in a country that I love so much,” she told “The Mayman Show.”
Al-Gabbani worked with her stylist Wafa Nassir, and they thought about how they could create or do something that would be true to the country. Her two themes were heritage and history.
“Also (to) be really creative at the same time, we decided to do two looks. I think there’s like nine posts I did in one day, and it included a reel video with lots of pictures. So the first look was a janoub (southern) theme that we went for.
“We even included a very authentic burqa from that area and then we also, I don’t know if you know this, but they wear a yellow scarf. The yellow scarves are for women that are single or unmarried.”
She said that she had learned a lot of interesting information about Saudi culture through her research.
“I think what’s so amazing about it is that we really are now exposed to all the different types of traditional outfits that were worn across the different regions and the stories behind them because now we’re exposed to that.”
We get to celebrate this for the first time ever in a country that I love so much.
Tamara Al-Gabbani
The details about wearing a yellow scarf would not have been possible to know without celebrating Founding Day, she said.
Al-Gabbani said there was a lot of “incredible” talent in Saudi Arabia and that, under the Fashion Commission and the Ministry of Culture, great things could happen for the country’s fashion industry.
“There are 100 brands now, so there are like 100 designers that have been selected to be supported and helped, and I have seen the results of the first year. It’s just beautiful to see all this burgeoning talent really blossom.”
She was also invited to Saudi Arabia’s first fashion show and said it had exceeded her expectations.
“I mean, AlUla in general, it’s just such a beautiful experience in itself to go there and see this. It’s a wonder, I feel like it’s like a wonder of the world.”
Al-Gabbani is also a media personality. She is listed as one of the top 50 influential women in Saudi Arabia and was the face of DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana and was featured in Magrabi’s summer 2018 fashion campaign celebrating female empowerment in the Middle East. She started her career as a television presenter in Dubai and was the host of the Dubai International Film Festival’s TV show.
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RIYADH: In Saudi culture, a diwaniya is typically a place where men gather in a home or casual setting to engage in dialogue. While sitting on sofas, they dive into conversation and friendly exchanges to resolve the political and social issues affecting their community.
The diwaniya held on Friday night in an opulent residence a short drive away from Riyadh was different in that it was hosted by a man, but led by women.
Against a backdrop of beautiful art, the American Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia held its first Women in Business diwaniya.
Jamila El-Dajani, chairwoman of the AmCham WIB committee, began the night with a speech highlighting how far businesswomen living in Saudi Arabia had come, but where the Kingdom still needed to go.
She also offered her gratitude to the Saudi men who had made it a point to include women in the diwaniya-style space.
“I would like to start off today by thanking some important members of our community. Thank you to the Al-Muhaidib family and, more so, Musaab Al-Muhaidib, for graciously hosting us.
“It is with his generosity that we are able to bring this initiative to life and embed women into a deeply rooted tradition within Saudi culture,” El-Dajani said.
Al-Muhaidib, who was attending, allowed his family residence to be used as a gathering place for thoughts and ideas.
• Musaab Al-Muhaidib, who was attending, allowed his family residence to be used as a gathering place for thoughts and ideas. The sofas, positioned in a U-shape, created an inviting atmosphere in which people were encouraged to freely speak about their trials and triumphs in a safe space, this time highlighting women and not just men as leaders.
• During the night, two questions were displayed prominently on screens. The first was: “How can we, as a society, come together to empower women around us to excel in their careers and reshape the definition of more inclusive leadership?” The second was: “Seeing as taking care of family is one of the most predominant reasons for career breaks amongst women, how can we address this both within a social context and organizational one?”
The sofas, positioned in a U-shape, created an inviting atmosphere in which people were encouraged to freely speak about their trials and triumphs in a safe space, this time highlighting women and not just men as leaders.
During the night, two questions were displayed prominently on screens.
The first was: “How can we, as a society, come together to empower women around us to excel in their careers and reshape the definition of more inclusive leadership?”
The second was: “Seeing as taking care of family is one of the most predominant reasons for career breaks amongst women, how can we address this both within a social context and organizational one?”
The WIB program launched in January 2020 with the purpose of advancing women’s leadership and career development in Saudi Arabia.
The AmCham experience was created to help in the bilateral engagement on the inclusion and advancement of women as outlined in the Vision 2030 development goals.
“Exceeding the goal to have 30 percent of the workforce as women by 2030 is an incredible start. Now, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Hana Nemec, who is the AmChamKSA head of communications and WIB lead, told Arab News. “With all of these opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia, I am confident that we will continue to exceed expectations and grow into more leadership roles. After six years as an expatriate in the Kingdom, I have so much pride in how far women’s empowerment initiatives have come.”
Husam Al-Saleh, deputy CEO of Arabian Hala Group, was one of several Saudi men who sat and listened to the women speak that night.
“The discussion about women and career and empowerment, and seeing some of the successful ladies around the room, really gave me an insight on what are some of the challenges they face in developing themselves and making sure that they have a career,” Al-Saleh told Arab News. “I think my take-home value is that I need to sit down with my team members and understand if they know the difference between a job and a career—and that should be done from the interview process—and what are their aspirations, what drives them to do what they want to do.
“Do they want to make a change in this world or do they want to make a change for themselves or their life they are currently living in? And that is something I really took to heart and I need to develop myself more on being open and able to coach them to get what they deserve.”
One of the women in the room who opened up a lot of doors for Saudi women by walking through them herself was Dana Al-Ajlani, the head of public affairs for Sanofi in the Gulf Cooperation Council and AmCham co-chair.
Al-Ajlani grew up in a conservative Saudi family that stressed the importance of hard work and education, rising through the ranks to be in her prestigious position today.
She credited her father and grandfather’s guidance in helping her navigate male-dominated society, but also her grit and drive.
When she joined the workforce many decades ago, she was always the first woman to enter every position she was hired for. Now, she is happy to pass on the baton.
“To me, what I’m most proud of, yes, I was the first woman to ever be hired into each organization. But, by the time I left, I made sure I wasn’t the only one,” Al-Ajlani told Arab News.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will gift 50,060 copies of the Qur’an, in various sizes and translations, to Thailand, which will be delivered in a ceremony in the capital, Bangkok, on Saturday, in the presence of political and Islamic figures, scholars and preachers.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, represented by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an, will deliver the copies, as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to deliver the gift to Muslims around the world before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, the minister of Islamic affairs and the general supervisor of the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah, expressed his thanks and appreciation to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their efforts and their continuous support for all works related to printing, publishing and educating on the Islamic holy book.
He pointed out that this gift is the Kingdom’s lofty message that emanates from its leadership in the Islamic world, which also coincides with the development and distinction of relations between the two countries.
He said this gift was an extension of what Saudi Arabia has previously sent to Thailand in the past years, and coincides with the development of bilateral relations.
He said the Qur’an has been translated in more than 76 languages, and the complex had increased its production rate by more than 100 percent, from 7 million copies annually to 20 million copies annually in high quality.
Al-Alsheikh also said that production until the end of last year had exceeded 345 million copies, of which more than 320 million were distributed as a gift from the Kingdom to Muslims around the world.
RIYADH: Many eyes were on the thoroughbred racehorses as the annual Saudi Cup meeting began in Riyadh on Friday — but by no means all eyes.

The world’s most valuable horse-racing event is a magnet for royalty, fashion models, designers and lovers of haute couture, and visitors to the King Abdulaziz Equestrian Square came to see and be seen.

This year there was a twist, with many racegoers in traditional Saudi dress. “We are proud to represent our culture and the Saudi Cup is the biggest in the world. We are proud of who we are and that we are able to share our culture and traditions with the world,” said Abu Turki, from Riyadh, who was dressed in a traditional Saudi “sayah,” a long, intricately embroidered robe.


Abu Turki told Arab News his choice was inspired by the late King Abdulaziz, who often wore similar clothing to equestrian events, and he was proud to share and celebrate the Kingdom’s culture and history with the world.

Racehorse owners Sophie Murrell Regalado from Spain and Marta Kaja Pisarczyk from Germany traveled from Dubai for their first Saudi Cup. “It is my first time in Saudi Arabia and I wanted to wear something modest, so I am wearing this long maroon dress and my blossoming floral hat for the day,” Murrell Regalado said.

Royalty was represented by the French author Princess Sophie-Audouin Mamikonian, heir to the ancient medieval throne of the kingdom of Armenia, who wore Valentino. “I am thrilled to be here today I am filled with passion and emotion,” she said.

Saudi designer Najd Alqabbaa wore a unique abaya from her personal line, with the colors and designs of the region.

Another designer, Nouf bin Seaidan, dressed several visitors, including Saudi model Rakan Al-Shrimy. “My outfit is inspired by Al-Ahsa, the pearls are from there and the embroidery is inspired by the architecture of that region,” bin Seaidan said.

“We have readily good architecture and couture, it’s our identity, and it’s really nice that we have an occasion for it to stand out.”

This weekend’s event is the third Saudi Cup meeting. With a total prize purse of more than $35 million, it is the world’s most valuable horse-racing event. The $20 million Saudi Cup race itself takes place on Saturday.

JEDDAH: Children from the age of seven will be able to enter the Two Holy Mosques as long as they are fully vaccinated, after nearly 30 months of access restrictions on youngsters because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Hajj and Umrah Ministry tweeted that entry permits for children to enter the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah were available on the condition of the child being fully jabbed against COVID-19.
Saudi health authorities have already started administering the vaccine to children aged between five and 11.
In its daily report on the electronic permits issued for Umrah, prayers, and visits, the ministry said it had issued more than 29.4 million permits to enter the Grand Mosque over the last seven months. More than 3.7 million permits were granted to worshippers for access to the Prophet’s Mosque during the same period.
The Hajj and Umrah Ministry said it had issued more than 29.4 million permits to enter the Grand Mosque over the last seven months.
More than 3.7 million permits were granted to worshippers for access to the Prophet’s Mosque during the same period.
On Thursday, over 305,900 Grand Mosque entry permits were issued and more than 27,300 permits were issued for visiting the Prophet’s Mosque.
The ministry said the daily number of worshippers entering the Grand Mosque for prayers only was 82,571, while the daily average number of people performing Umrah was estimated to be 64,300.
Its figures showed that the Grand Mosque was witnessing high density during Asr, Maghrib and Isha compared to Fajr and Dhuhr prayers earlier in the day.
Most Umrah pilgrims appeared to prefer performing their rituals after dark. Those performing Umrah are given a three-hour permit to complete their pilgrimage, but nearly all of them are doing it in a maximum of two hours.
On Thursday, 11,060 permits were issued to people who had applied for permits to pray at Al-Rawdhah Al-Sharifah at the Prophet’s Mosque.
Also on Thursday, 16,249 permits were issued for those wanting to visit the Prophet’s tomb.

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