British Museum Names Nicholas Cullinan Its New Director as It Tries to Get over a Rocky Patch

Visitors walk outside the British Museum in Bloomsbury, London, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP)
Visitors walk outside the British Museum in Bloomsbury, London, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP)
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British Museum Names Nicholas Cullinan Its New Director as It Tries to Get over a Rocky Patch

Visitors walk outside the British Museum in Bloomsbury, London, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP)
Visitors walk outside the British Museum in Bloomsbury, London, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP)

The British Museum on Thursday appointed National Portrait Gallery chief Nicholas Cullinan as its new director, as the 265-year-old institution grapples with the apparent theft of hundreds of artifacts and growing international scrutiny of its collection.

Previous director Hartwig Fischer resigned in August after the museum disclosed that more than 1,800 items were missing in an apparent case of insider theft. Many of the items had been offered for sale online.

Mark Jones, former head of the Victoria and Albert Museum, has served as interim director since then. Cullinan will replace him in the summer.

Cullinan has been director of the National Portrait Gallery since 2015, overseeing a major refurbishment of the building beside London’s Trafalgar Square. He has previously worked at Tate Modern in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

His appointment was approved by the British Museum’s trustees and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Cullinan said it was an honor to become director of “one of the greatest museums in the world.”

He said he looked forward to leading the institution through “the most significant transformations, both architectural and intellectual, happening in any museum globally, to continue making the British Museum the most engaged and collaborative it can be.”

The museum fired a longstanding curator, Paul Higgs, over the missing items, and is suing him at the High Court. Lawyers for the museum say Higgs “abused his position of trust” to steal ancient gems, gold jewelry and other pieces from storerooms over the course of a decade.

Higgs, who worked in the museum’s Greece and Rome department for more than two decades, denies the allegations and intends to dispute the museum’s legal claim.

Police are also investigating, but no one has been charged.

The 18th-century museum in central London’s Bloomsbury district is one of Britain’s biggest tourist attractions, visited by 6 million people a year. They come to see a collection that ranges from Egyptian mummies and ancient Greek statues to Viking hoards, scrolls bearing 12th-century Chinese poetry and masks created by the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

The museum faces growing pressure over items taken from other countries during the period of the British Empire -– especially the Parthenon Marbles, 2,500-year-old sculptures that were taken from Athens in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin.

Greece has campaigned for decades for the marbles to be returned. The British Museum is banned by law from giving the sculptures back to Greece, but its leaders have held talks with Greek officials about a compromise, such as a long-term loan.

Those efforts suffered a setback in November, when a diplomatic spat erupted over the marbles, and Prime Minister Sunak abruptly canceled a planned meeting with his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

British Museum Chairman George Osborne said that with Cullinan’s appointment, the institution was entering “a new chapter in the long story of the British Museum with confidence, and back on the front foot.”



US Spelling Bee Reflects Economic Success, Cultural Impact of Immigrants from India

Dr. Balu Natarajan, right, from Hinsdale, Ill., poses for a photograph with his son Atman Balakrishnan, 12, at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP)
Dr. Balu Natarajan, right, from Hinsdale, Ill., poses for a photograph with his son Atman Balakrishnan, 12, at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP)
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US Spelling Bee Reflects Economic Success, Cultural Impact of Immigrants from India

Dr. Balu Natarajan, right, from Hinsdale, Ill., poses for a photograph with his son Atman Balakrishnan, 12, at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP)
Dr. Balu Natarajan, right, from Hinsdale, Ill., poses for a photograph with his son Atman Balakrishnan, 12, at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP)

When Balu Natarajan became the first Indian American champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1985, a headline on an Associated Press article read, “Immigrants’ son wins National Spelling Bee,” with the first paragraph noting the champion “speaks his parents’ native Indian language at home.”

Those details would hardly be newsworthy today after a quarter-century of Indian American spelling champs, most of them the offspring of parents who arrived in the United States on student or work visas.

This year's bee is scheduled to begin Tuesday at a convention center outside Washington and, as usual, many of the expected contenders are Indian American, including Shradha Rachamreddy, Aryan Khedkar, Bruhat Soma and Ishika Varipilli.

Nearly 70% of Indian-born US residents arrived after 2000, according to census data, and that dovetails with the surge in Indian American spelling bee champions. There were two Indian American Scripps winners before 1999. Of the 34 since, 28 have been Indian American, including three straight years of Indian American co-champions and one year (2019) when eight champions were declared, seven of Indian ancestry.

The experiences of first-generation Indian Americans and their spelling bee champion children illustrate the economic success and cultural impact of the nation's second-largest immigrant group.

As of 2022, there were 3.1 million Indian-born people living in the US, and Indian American households had a median income of $147,000, more than twice the median income of all US households, according to census data. Indian Americans also were more than twice as likely to have college degrees.

Indians received 74% of the H-1B visas for specialized occupations approved in fiscal 2021, and a record total of nearly 269,000 students from India were enrolled at US colleges and universities in 2022-23, according to the Institute of International Education.

Those numbers paint a picture of a high-achieving demographic that is well-suited for success in academic competitions.

Ganesh Dasari, whose daughter and son each made multiple appearances at the Scripps bee, holds a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Cambridge and was recruited to the US to work for ExxonMobil on an H-1B visa. He quickly obtained a green card.

“Me and my wife, we came from a similar background. We both benefited from having the education ... so we put a lot of emphasis on educating our kids,” Dasari said. “We basically introduced them to anything academic, and a couple of sports, but clearly there was a bias in our thinking that education is a higher priority than sports.”

In his 2016 address to Congress, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned “spelling bee champions” among his country's contributions to the US while that year's co-champs, Nihar Janga and Jairam Hathwar, watched from the gallery.

Even among Indian American spellers, a particular subgroup is overrepresented: families from the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where Telugu is the primary language. Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, is India's information-technology hub and the region supplies many H-1B visa recipients.

“Whenever we go to the spelling bee events, everybody speaks that language,” Dasari said. “We realized there are so many people from the same state.”

Deval Shah, the father of last year's champion, Dev Shah, grew up in the northwestern state of Gujarat and proudly noted Dev was the first spelling bee champion of Gujarati descent. The parents of the 2022 winner, Harini Logan, are from Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Shah is an engineer, his wife is a physician, and both of Harini's parents were trained as software engineers.

Indian-born parents of kids with an affinity for spelling have a network of similar families to provide guidance and support, as well as access to organizations like the North South Foundation, which offers academic competitions aimed at the Indian diaspora.

“The reason Indian American immigrants really dominate, the main reason is the North South Foundation,” Shah said.

When Harini won her first NSF spelling competition, Ganesh Dasari was one of the judges, and “he was literally chasing us down” to tell them “Harini has tremendous potential to be on the national stage,” said Rampriya Logan, Harini's mother.

Ishika, a 13-year-old from Spring, Texas, who will be competing at Scripps this year for the third time, woke her parents at 6 a.m. the day after she lost a third-grade classroom spelling bee, saying she wanted to participate in more bees. Her mother, an IT manager who immigrated to the US in 2006, then reached out to ask advice from other families from the Houston area whose children were high-level spellers.

The relative wealth and stability of Indian American households could lead observers to conclude their children are benefiting primarily from a privileged upbringing. The truth is more nuanced, said Devesh Kapur, a professor of South Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a co-author of “The Other One Percent: Indians in America.”

“It is important to note that the children participating in the spelling bee competition come from striving middle-class immigrant families, often in occupations like IT, and not from wealthier Indian American households in finance or tech start-ups or consulting,” Kapur said.

Natarajan, a Chicago-based physician and health care executive, now serves as the volunteer president of the NSF, and he experienced the spelling bee as a parent when his son, Atman Balakrishnan, competed. He said he sometimes feels out of place because he was born in the US and he admires the grit of Indian-born parents and their children.

“It’s hard to describe, but it’s a very specific mindset that just drives effort and in many ways drives outcomes and sustainable success,” Natarajan said.


King Saud University Signs Academic MoU with University of Tokyo

The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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King Saud University Signs Academic MoU with University of Tokyo

The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)

King Saud University and the University of Tokyo have signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen academic collaboration in physics, chemistry, and earth sciences.

The MoU was signed by the Acting Rector of King Saud University, Dr. Abdullah Al-Salman, and the President of the University of Tokyo, Dr. Teruo Fujii, in the presence of the Director of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Center for Future Science and Technology, Dr. Hiroaki Aihara, SPA reported.
This collaboration marks a major milestone in fostering future partnerships between the two universities.

The Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Center, based at the University of Tokyo, will play a crucial role in enhancing and advancing this cooperation.


Lebanon’s Tripoli Begins 2024 Celebrations as Arab Culture Capital

The flags of Arab countries flutter in Tripoli, Lebanon (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flags of Arab countries flutter in Tripoli, Lebanon (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Lebanon’s Tripoli Begins 2024 Celebrations as Arab Culture Capital

The flags of Arab countries flutter in Tripoli, Lebanon (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flags of Arab countries flutter in Tripoli, Lebanon (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Lebanon’s Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati kicked off the “Tripoli the Capital of Arab Culture” celebrations at a formal event held at the Rashid Karami International Fair in Tripoli.

Attendees included Mohamed Ould Amar, Director-General of ALECSO, and Mohammad Wissam Mortada, Minister of Culture.

Ministers, deputies, ambassadors, and other notable figures also were also present at the ceremony.

Mortada told Asharq Al-Awsat that he believes the celebrations to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Lebanon and Tripoli.

“This is our chance to uncover Tripoli’s treasures in terms of people and landmarks. I’m stunned by the human and natural potential here. You’ll witness what makes Tripoli unique, and we’re doing it all with no funding,” said the minister.

Despite no budget, workers are determined to succeed. Young volunteers are eager to overcome obstacles and make the event a hit. Some see the coming months as Tripoli’s big chance to shine, while others feel funding issues should have delayed the festivities.

“Tripoli has suffered, but now, with activities starting, people will see what they've missed out on for years,” Mortada affirmed.

This year promises a packed schedule of cultural activities, some already underway for months. Organizations are competing to host programs, but the highlight could be cultural weeks organized by several Arab countries.

Qatar, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Palestine, Morocco, Syria, and Oman have confirmed plans.

For Mortada, the aim is for more than just temporary celebrations; he wants to establish Tripoli as a permanent cultural capital of Lebanon.

The minister is not just dreaming; he's building on reality.

Tripoli boasts the Rashid Karami International Fair, a stunning architectural marvel. Spread across 70 hectares, it features unique conference halls, integrated buildings, and an experimental theater.

UNESCO recognizes its significance but also flags maintenance challenges and development threats.

Tripoli’s vibrant markets and river make it a unique destination. Its port is crucial for trade, with an economic zone stretching to Europe.

Mortada believes Tripoli could become Lebanon’s cultural tourism hub, generating revenue for the country.

“Tripoli is ready to play a vital role,” he asserted.


Berlin's Closed Pergamon Museum Maintains International Profile

24 May 2024, Berlin: Façade parts packed for transportation lie on the construction site in the Mschatta Hall in the Pergamon Museum. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/dpa
24 May 2024, Berlin: Façade parts packed for transportation lie on the construction site in the Mschatta Hall in the Pergamon Museum. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/dpa
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Berlin's Closed Pergamon Museum Maintains International Profile

24 May 2024, Berlin: Façade parts packed for transportation lie on the construction site in the Mschatta Hall in the Pergamon Museum. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/dpa
24 May 2024, Berlin: Façade parts packed for transportation lie on the construction site in the Mschatta Hall in the Pergamon Museum. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/dpa

Berlin's world-famous Pergamon Museum, which is closed for several years of renovation work, is seeking to maintain its presence through international collaborations, one of the museum's directors said on Friday during a tour of the construction site.

"We want to remain visible," said Barbara Helwing, director of the Near East Museum. Cooperation with other Berlin museums are already planned.

Discussions were also under way about loans to institutions such as the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the British Museum in London, the German News Agency (dpa) reported.

The Pergamon Museum is one of Germany's most popular museums. As one of the few institutions to combine a collection of classical antiquities, a Near East museum and a museum of Islamic art, it normally attracts more than 1 million visitors annually.

The museum will remain completely closed for at least another three years. Construction phase A, which includes the famous Pergamon Altar, is scheduled to reopen in 2027.

The basic renovation of the south wing is set to begin at the end of this year. This second renovation phase, B, will last until at least 2037. The total costs could amount to €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion).


Unknown Bust of the Architect Who Designed the Florence Cathedral Dome Found After 700 Years 

This image released by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore on Thursday, May 23, 2024, shows a terracotta portrait of Florence landmark cathedral's architect Filippo Brunelleschi dating back to the early Renaissance, which was recently found among the furnishings of an historic residence near the Tuscan capital. (Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore via AP, HO)
This image released by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore on Thursday, May 23, 2024, shows a terracotta portrait of Florence landmark cathedral's architect Filippo Brunelleschi dating back to the early Renaissance, which was recently found among the furnishings of an historic residence near the Tuscan capital. (Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore via AP, HO)
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Unknown Bust of the Architect Who Designed the Florence Cathedral Dome Found After 700 Years 

This image released by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore on Thursday, May 23, 2024, shows a terracotta portrait of Florence landmark cathedral's architect Filippo Brunelleschi dating back to the early Renaissance, which was recently found among the furnishings of an historic residence near the Tuscan capital. (Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore via AP, HO)
This image released by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore on Thursday, May 23, 2024, shows a terracotta portrait of Florence landmark cathedral's architect Filippo Brunelleschi dating back to the early Renaissance, which was recently found among the furnishings of an historic residence near the Tuscan capital. (Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore via AP, HO)

A previously unknown terracotta bust of the famed early Renaissance architect who designed the Florence Cathedral dome was unveiled Thursday in the Tuscan capital, where it will be displayed permanently following restoration.

The Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the entity charged with preserving the landmark cathedral and operating its museum, called the discovery after nearly 700 years of the terracotta bust depicting Filippo Brunelleschi “exceptional.” It cited both the artistic value as well as the rarity of depictions of the renowned architect around or after the time of his death in 1446.

Art historians Giancarlo Gentilini and Alfredo Bellandi identified the sculpture as a model by Andrea di Lazzaro Cavalcanti for the marble bust of Brunelleschi in the memorial monument in the Florence Cathedral.

Bellandi praised the work’s “expressive naturalism of great intensity.”

Cavalcanti, Brunelleschi’s adopted son and heir, sculpted the life-like bust from a nearly solid block of clay in early 1447, before completing the monument later that year, experts said.

The terracotta model was likely stored in the sculptor’s workshop for study for a period, while the state of preservation indicates it was long preserved before it “later fell into oblivion,” the cathedral’s custodian entity said.

The Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore purchased the terracotta bust for 300,000 euros (around $324,000). It will be exhibited in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo near the cathedral after restoration work on scratches and to remove a chalky residue and traces of paint.


Saudi Translation Movement Witnesses Surge in Publications

Translation has become an urgent necessity to keep pace with civilizational progress and exchange of knowledge (SPA)
Translation has become an urgent necessity to keep pace with civilizational progress and exchange of knowledge (SPA)
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Saudi Translation Movement Witnesses Surge in Publications

Translation has become an urgent necessity to keep pace with civilizational progress and exchange of knowledge (SPA)
Translation has become an urgent necessity to keep pace with civilizational progress and exchange of knowledge (SPA)

A Saudi initiative has translated ancient Arabic poems into Italian, making them accessible to a wider audience in an effort to showcase Arab literary heritage and culture on a global scale.

The translated book of odes presents the first complete Italian edition of these poems.

Supported by the “Tarjim” initiative by the Saudi Authority for Literature, Publishing, and Translation, this move highlights the Kingdom’s vibrant cultural scene since the launch of the National Culture Strategy in 2021.

The latest cultural report from Saudi Arabia’s Culture Ministry highlighted the success of the Tarjim initiative. This initiative aims to boost Saudi publishing and translation efforts.

In 2022, it translated 524 works into 12 languages, with English leading at 75.37%, followed by French at 10.26%.

The initiative translated 341 books from 26 publishers across 20 subjects, with male translators making up about 72% of the translations. The remaining 28% was done by female translators.

Novels ranked third in translated works at around 15%, after educational children’s books and philosophy.

In 2023, the initiative saw even more success, translating over a thousand editions between Arabic and other languages, involving about 22 global languages and engaging over 500 international translators.


Saadiyat Cultural District Abu Dhabi on Track for Completion in 2025

DCT Abu Dhabi reaffirmed that Saadiyat Cultural District, along with its cultural institutions, is on track for completion in 2025. WAM
DCT Abu Dhabi reaffirmed that Saadiyat Cultural District, along with its cultural institutions, is on track for completion in 2025. WAM
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Saadiyat Cultural District Abu Dhabi on Track for Completion in 2025

DCT Abu Dhabi reaffirmed that Saadiyat Cultural District, along with its cultural institutions, is on track for completion in 2025. WAM
DCT Abu Dhabi reaffirmed that Saadiyat Cultural District, along with its cultural institutions, is on track for completion in 2025. WAM

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has reaffirmed that Saadiyat Cultural District, along with its cultural institutions, is on track for completion in 2025, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Saadiyat Cultural District is a global platform, emanating from a rich cultural heritage, celebrating traditions, and advancing equitable culture. It is an embodiment of empowerment, showcasing museums, collections, and narratives that celebrate the region’s heritage while promoting a diverse global cultural landscape, WAM said Wednesday.

Once completed, the diversity of Saadiyat Cultural District’s institutions will make the district one of the most unique cultural platforms. It is already the home of Louvre Abu Dhabi – the first universal museum in the Arab world – showcasing artworks from different cultures side by side and telling a story of human connections. Since opening in 2017, Louvre Abu Dhabi has welcomed 5 million visitors and is recognized for its breathtaking architecture and its innovative narrative. Nearby, Berklee Abu Dhabi offers music, performing arts and educational programs throughout the year.

Additionally, Manarat Al Saadiyat serves as a center for creative artistic expression and is home to two significant initiatives in Abu Dhabi’s cultural calendar: Abu Dhabi Art and Culture Summit Abu Dhabi.

The current construction progress of the soon-to-open institutions in Saadiyat Cultural District stands at 76 percent. Zayed National Museum, the national museum of the United Arab Emirates, will celebrate the nation’s rich history and culture, as well as honor the legacy of the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Additionally, teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi invites visitors to an ever-changing exploration that will transcend the limits of their imagination.

It will be joined by the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, which will include a research and teaching institution that will take visitors on a 13.8 billion-year journey through the story of our universe and our planet, WAM said. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be a museum celebrating art from the 1960s to the present and the most important artistic achievements of our time.

Saadiyat Cultural District pays homage to the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed, who defined the cultural agenda and unveiled the history of the UAE to the world through archaeological excavations and findings. This legacy began with the establishment of Al Ain Museum, the first museum in the UAE, which opened in 1971. This was followed by the inauguration of the Cultural Foundation in 1981. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy continued to evolve under the guidance of the late Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Today, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, continue to build on that legacy.


Quality of Life Program CEO: ‘Cultural Houses’ Are Integrated Hubs for Advancing the Saudi Cultural Scene 

The Cultural House in Dammam. (SPA)
The Cultural House in Dammam. (SPA)
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Quality of Life Program CEO: ‘Cultural Houses’ Are Integrated Hubs for Advancing the Saudi Cultural Scene 

The Cultural House in Dammam. (SPA)
The Cultural House in Dammam. (SPA)

CEO of the Quality of Life Program Center Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Baker commended on Tuesday the Cultural Houses established by the Libraries Commission in Dammam city and the Ahad Rafidah province, describing them as integrated cultural hubs.

Al-Baker said these Cultural Houses represent interactive cultural platforms that will provide a comprehensive cultural experience to various segments of society, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

The inauguration of the Cultural Houses is part of an initiative to develop public libraries, one of the Quality of Life Program's initiatives aimed at boosting Saudi Arabia's contribution to arts and culture, he stated.

Al-Baker emphasized that the opening of the Cultural Houses marks a significant milestone in the Saudi cultural scene.

It signifies the birth of a modern and integrated cultural incubator that will contribute to the advancement of society and enable creators to discover their talents and develop their diverse skills, he went on to say.

He highlighted the objective of Vision 2030 to transform public libraries into vibrant cultural centers that reflect the diversity of creativity, art, and knowledge in the Kingdom.

"The Quality of Life Program, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and relevant entities, seeks to develop the cultural infrastructure," Al-Baker stated.

He also underlined the program's efforts to boost cultural sites and improve libraries as part of its initiatives to develop cultural facilities.


Saudi Minister of Culture Meets Japanese Counterpart in Tokyo 

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud. (SPA)
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Saudi Minister of Culture Meets Japanese Counterpart in Tokyo 

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud. (SPA)

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud held talks on Tuesday with Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Dr. Masahito Moriyama in Tokyo.

The officials discussed means to boost cultural cooperation between their countries in light of the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030, which represents a translation of a long history of close cooperation and strategic partnerships between Riyadh and Tokyo.

The Saudi Minister praised the cultural cooperation achieved between the two friendly countries, stressing the importance of strengthening it and expanding its horizons in line with the ambitions of the two countries.

Prince Badr praised the great interest being given to the Kingdom’s participation in Expo 2025 Osaka and wished all success to the friends in Japan in hosting it.

In turn, the Japanese Minister thanked his guest for efforts exerted by the Saudi Ministry of Culture to boost cultural exchange between their countries.

He also highlighted the fruitful partnership with the Kingdom in many cultural sectors, hoping to deepen the cultural cooperation.


'Perfumes of the East' Exhibition Opens at National Museum in Riyadh

The National Museum in Riyadh inaugurated on Tuesday the Arab World Institute "Perfumes of the East" exhibition. (SPA)
The National Museum in Riyadh inaugurated on Tuesday the Arab World Institute "Perfumes of the East" exhibition. (SPA)
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'Perfumes of the East' Exhibition Opens at National Museum in Riyadh

The National Museum in Riyadh inaugurated on Tuesday the Arab World Institute "Perfumes of the East" exhibition. (SPA)
The National Museum in Riyadh inaugurated on Tuesday the Arab World Institute "Perfumes of the East" exhibition. (SPA)

The National Museum in Riyadh inaugurated on Tuesday the Arab World Institute "Perfumes of the East" exhibition, held in its first international stop under the patronage of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan.

The institute invites visitors on an immersive journey, exploring the deep-rooted connection between the Arab world and perfume. Guests will embark on a sensory adventure, encountering the distinctive scents of the East and discovering the age-old traditions that imbued perfume with social significance in Arab culture, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

"Perfumes of the East" highlights the profound cultural and historical impact of perfume in the Arab world. The exhibition takes on to centuries-old rituals on the Arabian Peninsula, where precious aromatic materials were collected and traded with ancient civilizations. This old tradition fueled a passion for perfume that continues to permeate the entire Arab world.

Over 200 captivating artifacts and art works, both ancient and contemporary, are on display, weaving a captivating narrative of the enduring relationship between the Arab world and perfume.

The exhibition unfolds through distinct spaces: from the raw beauty of nature to bustling town streets and the intimate setting of a private home. The trajectory enables visitors to experience the evolution of perfume making through a blend of historical treasures and modern artistic expressions.

This exhibition aligns with the National Museum's commitment to celebrating Saudi Arabia's rich cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of Arab and Islamic civilization.

It offers a multi-faceted educational and cultural experience, enriched by accompanying workshops and seminars that delve into the composition of various perfumes, the intricate process of their creation, and the artistic design of perfume packaging.

The event runs through September 14.