Morocco's Malhun on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)
A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)
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Morocco's Malhun on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)
A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)

UNESCO will be including Malhun, a popular poetic and musical art, on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, announced Morocco's Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication.
Malhun originated in the Tafilalet region in southeastern Morocco, dating back to at least the tenth century. It may have emerged in zawiyas, religious orders, and places for those of faith before spreading to society.
The listing is an international recognition of the authentic Moroccan heritage and a reference to the ancient Moroccan identity and cultural component.
The international recognition is a confirmation of Moroccan efforts under the leadership of King Mohammed VI to conserve the cultural heritage.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture Samira Malizi thanked the evaluation committee and the secretariat of the 2003 agreement for including Malhun on the list.
Malhun is a popular form of poetic expression in Morocco. The verses are sung in dialectical Arabic and sometimes Hebrew.
They are accompanied by music played on traditional instruments, notably the lute, the violin, the rebab, and small drums.
Including Malhun on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is an acknowledgment of its humanitarian significance and of Morocco's efforts to preserve its intangible cultural heritage.
It also rewards the great collective work the Ministry of Youth, Culture, and Communication carried out in cooperation with the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco and Morocco's Permanent Mission to UNESCO.
According to the file submitted by the UNESCO Nominations Commission, Malhun is a popular form of poetic expression directly drawn from daily life, developed according to a specific type of poetic meter. The poems are sung in a melody that gives the words and the narration their full importance.
According to specialists, the term's etymology has two possible explanations. It could refer to the use of a language without observing grammatical restrictions or the Arabic word "lahen" (melody), meaning "musical composition."

 

 



Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale Opens Under Theme ‘After Rain’

The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)
The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)
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Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale Opens Under Theme ‘After Rain’

The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)
The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation inaugurated on Monday the second edition of Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, held under the theme “After Rain”, showcasing the works of Saudi and international artists, SPA said.
Held until May 24 in the JAX district, in Diriyah, the exhibition is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, artistic director of the biennale. Some 100 artists, including 30 from the Gulf countries, exhibit 177 artworks in six indoor and outdoor halls and courtyards spread over 12,900 square meters.

Photo by Alessandro Brasile

 

The works are based on artistic research inspired by the curatorial team trips throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which culminated in a creative artistic dialogue between different generations.
This edition of the biennale gathers artists from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and environments who contemplate the relationship between humans and nature, interact with the surrounding nature, and focus their works on primary human needs such as water, food, and medical care.
They also narrate history, in a country undergoing rapid developments and changes, and offer a rich multi-sensory experience.
For the second edition of the biennale, the Diriyah Biennale Foundation supported 47 new artists, including Jumana Emil Abboud, Sara Abdu, Mohammad AlFaraj, Azra Akšamija, Tarek Atoui, Rachaporn Chochoy, Vikram Divesha, Christine Fenzl, Anne Holtrop, Armin Linke and Ahmed Mater in an artistic collaboration, Njokobok, and Camille Zakharia.
Artist Tania Mouraud displays on a roundabout in the JAX district, and Mariah Lookman’s work is displayed in Shamalat Diriyah, the artistic cultural center located on the outskirts of old Diriyah.


Besides the art exhibition, there will also be a series of meetings and dialogues among artists, workshops, 10 film screenings in the Black Box Theater, an area for research-based artworks, and displays of research projects and artistic talks, which began last April, under the title Biennale Meetings Series.
These last activities will continue over the course of a full year, in conjunction with the interactive “Learning Garden” online platform, which continues to showcase the ideas presented at the biennale even after the conclusion of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale.


Diriyah Biennale Foundation CEO Aya Al-Bakree said the second edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale “synchronizes with the great renaissance and the civilizational and developmental transformation that the Kingdom is experiencing, especially in the arts sector”.
She said that this edition of the event is a cultural experience that calls for contemplation and reflection, and resonates with visitors of all cultures and ages.
The depth of research conducted by Meta Bauer adds creativity and vitality to the event, Al-Bakree said.


Aswan Hosts 11th Edition of International Festival of Art and Culture

The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)
The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)
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Aswan Hosts 11th Edition of International Festival of Art and Culture

The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)
The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)

The city of Aswan has launched the 11th edition of the Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture, in a morning event that hosted 15 folkloric Egyptian, Arab and international ensembles, on Sunday.

Co-organized by the ministry of culture and the Aswan governorate, the festival is aimed at promoting folkloric arts and emphasizing the cultural heritage of several countries, as well as highlighting the natural charm of Aswan, said the Aswan governorate in a statement on Facebook.

“The festival is special because it is held on the Nile,” Doha Assy, Egyptian author, parliament member and member of the parliament’s culture committee, said in the opening ceremony. “This incredible launch on the Nile underscores the significance of the river in the popular culture,” she told “Asharq Al-Awsat”.

“The festival combines two things: folklore and popular art. Each country brings its own culture and folklore in special art performances, shedding lights on the diversity of identities and the harmony that it creates,” she added.

The festival runs until February 22, coinciding with a special astronomical event, the alignment of the sun with the King Ramses II temple in Abu Simbel. The phenomenon occurs twice a year, on February 22, on which started the cultivation season in Ancient Egypt, and on October 22, the birthday of King Ramses II and the anniversary of his crowning.

The Egyptian MP said they watched “amazing shows from Mexico, Sudan and Palestine during the opening.

During the event, Aswan is set to embrace a number of artistic and cultural events, including the Aswan Sculpture Symposium, which hosts Egyptian and international artists.

Assy noted that “the festival of art and culture has all the potentials to become a major tourism event,” describing the foreign ensembles as “ambassadors of their countries to Egypt.”


Minister of Media Launches 'Saudipedia Platform' at Saudi Media Forum

A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
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Minister of Media Launches 'Saudipedia Platform' at Saudi Media Forum

A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)

Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari launched in Riyadh on Monday the digital platform for the Saudi encyclopedia (saudipedia.com).

The launch was held at the Future of Media Exhibition (FOMEX) during the Saudi Media Forum.

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Alswaha and several other officials from Arab and international media outlets attended the event.

The Saudi encyclopedia is one of the initiatives of the Human Capability Development Program, one of the programs of Saudi Vision 2030.

Saudipedia will be a comprehensive platform that offers encyclopedic content covering various aspects of the Kingdom, including culture, society, economy, politics, geography, and history. It will serve as an authentic source of knowledge for regional, Arab, and international media, and as a knowledge platform with accurate information about Saudi affairs.

The platform is expected to become the primary reference on Saudi information and will be available in multiple languages.

Al-Dosari said work was started to create Saudipedia, an initiative that aligns with Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister’s vision to establish a thriving society that takes pride in its rich history, heritage, and distinctive cultural identity.

He said: “Saudipedia aims to become the primary source of information about the leadership, people, history, geography, and culture of Saudi Arabia. We will achieve this by providing a platform in multiple languages, starting with Arabic.”

The Saudi encyclopedia will combine multimedia elements to enhance its textual content and will undergo regular updates to reflect the cultural, civilizational, historical, and natural geographical wealth of the Kingdom.


Strike at the Eiffel Tower Closes One of the World’s Most Popular Monuments to Visitors

A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)
A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)
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Strike at the Eiffel Tower Closes One of the World’s Most Popular Monuments to Visitors

A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)
A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)

Visitors to the Eiffel Tower were turned away on Monday because of a strike over poor financial management at one of the world’s most-visited sites.

A sign was posted at the entrance in English, saying: “Due to a strike, the Eiffel Tower is closed. We apologize.”

The hugely popular 330-meter (1083-foot) landmark in central Paris has seen soaring visitor numbers in the lead-up to the Summer Olympics in the French capital.

Tourists planning to visit the Eiffel Tower on Monday were warned of disruptions in multiple languages on its website. Visitors were advised to check the website before heading to the monument or to postpone their trip. Electronic ticket owners were told to check their inboxes beforehand.

The landmark's operator also said on its website that visits to the Eiffel Tower will be disrupted on Tuesday.

“We’re a little disappointed but we understand that people deserve a fair wage and they deserve proper working conditions,” said Marisa Solis, an American tourist, visiting Paris from New York City.

The Eiffel Tower is typically open 365 days a year. Monday’s closure is the second in two months due to strikes. In December, it was closed to visitors for an entire day during Christmas and New Year’s holidays because of a strike over contract negotiations.

Morgan McKenny, an American living in Germany, has come to Paris to celebrate her birthday and decided to enter the landmark Monday after surveying it from all sides over the weekend.

“Knowing that I can’t come to the tower today is very, very disappointing,” McKenny said. She added: “I appreciate the workers wanting to keep the tower going for the next few hundred years.”

Stephane Dieu of the CGT union, which represents a large number of the Eiffel Tower’s employees, said Monday's strike is aimed at a salary increase in proportion to the incoming revenue from ticket sales and improved maintenance of the monument, which is owned by the Paris municipality.

Union leaders have criticized the Eiffel Tower operator's business model, saying it's based on an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, maintenance cost expenses and employees' work compensation.

“They are giving priority to short-term benefits over long-term conservation of the monument and the well-being of the company we are working for,” Dieu said in an interview with The Associated Press at the Eiffel Tower picket line on Monday.


AlUla Summit to Discuss Future of Global Culture Next Week

“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)
“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)
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AlUla Summit to Discuss Future of Global Culture Next Week

“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)
“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)

“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27, SPA said on Sunday.
The FCS aims to address key issues in the cultural sector and explore ways to strengthen it as a catalyst for social progress and positive transformation in the future.
The FCS, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, comprises a range of discussions, workshops, and interactive presentations. Its objective is to explore innovative approaches to fostering widespread involvement and making a significant impact through art, culture, and related industries.
The FCS program comprises three primary sessions. The initial session, referred to as "The Rich Foundation," is designed to promote innovation and rejuvenation in culture. Its goal is to delve into the essence and requirements of culture, establishing a harmonious connection with the environment.
The second session, titled "The Creative Land," aims to facilitate the shift towards global creativity and cross-cultural dialogue. This session will explore cultural economic development policies, and provide support for creative entrepreneurship. The last session, named "Harvest of Impact," will focus on fostering comprehensive culture and community empowerment, examining global cultural production and its influence on local cultures.
In addition to exploring the natural and cultural beauty of AlUla, participants in this cultural event will also have the opportunity to enjoy various artistic performances. The lineup includes renowned Saudi artist Balqees Alrashed, the Spanish theater group La Fura dels Baus, and the talented Nigerian-British poet and writer Inua Ellams.


Cairo Citadel Opens Another Wing to Public to Attract More Visitors

 A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)
A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)
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Cairo Citadel Opens Another Wing to Public to Attract More Visitors

 A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)
A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)

Cairo's citadel, one of the Egyptian capital's most prominent landmarks, opened another wing housing two semi-circular towers to the public on Sunday, to expand the country's tourist attractions.

One of the world's biggest mediaeval citadels, the Citadel of Cairo dates back to about 1176 A.D. when construction began under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, who later went on to capture Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187 A.D.

The fortress, also known as the Saladin Citadel and which towers over Cairo, was the base of Egypt's government for over 700 years.

The newly opened section was used until recently as a private events space and to house army and police barracks.

It includes the Ramla and Haddad (blacksmith) towers, built in the decades following Salah al-Din's death by his successors Sultan Al-Adil Al-Ayyubi and Sultan Al-Nasser Saladin Al-Ayyubi.

Tourism minister Ahmed Eissa said opening the additional section to the public was part of a broad plan to improve tourism in Egypt that will be formally announced next month.

"I'm being told by travel agencies that the citadel visit doesn't last more than an hour. Our plan in the coming months is to extend the time in which visitors tour the citadel from one hour to at least three," he told reporters.

"This is the first effort we're making to relaunch Cairo as a new cultural product which we will call 'Cairo City Break', with the details to be unveiled in the coming months," Eissa added.


Saudi Ministry of Culture, Britain's Science Museum Sign Executive Program

Saudi flag (AAWSAT AR)
Saudi flag (AAWSAT AR)
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Saudi Ministry of Culture, Britain's Science Museum Sign Executive Program

Saudi flag (AAWSAT AR)
Saudi flag (AAWSAT AR)

Saudi Assistant Minister of Culture Rakan bin Ibrahim Al-Tawq and Britain's Science Museum Group Director and Chief Executive Ian Blatchford signed a deal to implement an executive program between the ministry and the group, SPA said on Thursday.
The agreement came as part of the official visit of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan to the United Kingdom (UK) to enhance the Saudi-British cultural relations and cooperation.
The executive program includes enhancing cooperation and cultural exchange, developing and training capabilities, and transferring knowledge in the field of museums.


Saudi Museums Commission Opens ‘In the Night’ Exhibition in Diriyah

The exhibition runs until May 20. SPA
The exhibition runs until May 20. SPA
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Saudi Museums Commission Opens ‘In the Night’ Exhibition in Diriyah

The exhibition runs until May 20. SPA
The exhibition runs until May 20. SPA

The Museums Commission has opened the 'In the Night' exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Diriyah's Jax District.

The exhibition, which runs until May 20, features unique and creative artworks by about 30 artists from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, India, Japan, Argentina, Croatia, Pakistan, Australia, Mexico, France and Britain.

The artworks on display varied between paintings, installations, and sculptures that expressed the artists' perspective of the mystery, beauty, and dimensions of the night.

On the sidelines of the exhibition, the commission will hold various cultural events, including seminars, poetry nights and art workshops to create an enjoyable experience for the visitors.


Saudi Arabia, UK Discuss Cultural Cooperation

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan met on Thursday with British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer. SPA
Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan met on Thursday with British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer. SPA
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Saudi Arabia, UK Discuss Cultural Cooperation

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan met on Thursday with British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer. SPA
Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan met on Thursday with British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer. SPA

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, on an official visit to the United Kingdom, met on Thursday with British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer.

They reviewed aspects of the ongoing cultural cooperation between the two countries and ways of enhancing them to further develop the cultural field.


Saudi Ambassador Inaugurates New Headquarters for Cultural Attaché in Rabat

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
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Saudi Ambassador Inaugurates New Headquarters for Cultural Attaché in Rabat

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Ambassador to Morocco Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Saleh has inaugurated the new headquarters of the Saudi Cultural Attaché in Rabat, in the presence of Cultural Attaché Nizar bin Saleh Abdulhafiz.

Dr. Al-Saleh praised on Wednesday the role played by the Cultural Attaché in supporting educational and cultural cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

He also highlighted its role in providing services to Saudi scholarship students, wishing success to its staff in their duties.