Signs of Intra-Sunni Crisis in Iraq’s Western Provinces

Iraqi demonstrators stand outside the parliament building in the Green Zone in the capital, Baghdad (AFP)
Iraqi demonstrators stand outside the parliament building in the Green Zone in the capital, Baghdad (AFP)
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Signs of Intra-Sunni Crisis in Iraq’s Western Provinces

Iraqi demonstrators stand outside the parliament building in the Green Zone in the capital, Baghdad (AFP)
Iraqi demonstrators stand outside the parliament building in the Green Zone in the capital, Baghdad (AFP)

Amid internal disputes between Shiite forces, represented by the Sadrist Movement and the Coordination Framework, and disagreements between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a new intra-Sunni crisis is looming in Iraq’s western provinces.

While the Shiites are fighting over the eligibility of any of the two majority forces to form a new government, the crisis between the two Kurdish parties revolves around the right of either of them to take over the presidency. But the matter for the western regions of Iraq with a Sunni majority seems different this time, even if it involves the monopoly of Sunni representation.

The Sunni Arabs chose the leader of the Takadum Party, Muhammad al-Halbousi, as head of parliament. He was re-elected with a large majority of 200 votes. In order to resolve the issue of Sunni representation, Halbousi made an alliance with the leader of the Azm Movement, businessman Khamis al-Khanjar. The two formed the Sovereignty Alliance, with 65 deputies in the Iraqi parliament.

Subsequently, a number of deputies from the Azm Alliance broke away due to their differences with Halbousi, forming a political group called the Azm Alliance, led by MP Muthanna al-Samarrai.

In the context of the political alliances that followed the early elections in late 2021, the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance led by Muhammad al-Halbousi and Khamis al-Khanjar became part of the “Saving the Homeland” coalition, formed by the leader of the Sadrist movement Muqtada al-Sadr and which included the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Massoud Barzani.

On the other hand, the Azm Alliance joined the Coordination Framework and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

However, this alliance was unable to pass its candidate for the presidency to pave the way for the formation of the government, while the Coordination Framework, along with their Kurdish and Sunni allies, formed the vetoing third that forced al-Sadr to withdraw his deputies from Parliament.

In this context, the Sunni representation or its monopoly by one party comes back to the fore. Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that preparations were underway to hold a gathering in the province that would include about a thousand political and clan figures, to announce a new political group in Anbar.

“The leadership of this alliance is yet to be determined… but the most prominent figures who attended the preliminary meeting are Qassem Al-Fahdawi, the former Minister of Electricity, Suhaib Al-Rawi, the former Governor of Anbar, Salman Al-Jumaili and Nuri Al-Dulaimi, the former ministers of planning, the leader of the Al-Hal (Solution) Party Jamal Al-Karbouli and the head of the National Project, Jamal Al-Dhari,” the sources said.

In this regard, Sunni politician Yazan al-Jubouri told Asharq Al-Awsat that the formation of such a gathering was a natural consequence of the political reality in the liberated western provinces.

He noted that it was not normal for the Sunni representation to be limited to two camps, either al-Halbousi or the Sunni framework.

“The upcoming elections will likely witness the emergence of a fourth, civilian Sunni front, in addition to the return of the Iraqi Islamic Party,” he remarked.



Iran Ramps up Crackdown as Regional Tensions Rage

Iranians walk past shops in the capital Tehran on April 21, 2024. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)
Iranians walk past shops in the capital Tehran on April 21, 2024. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)
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Iran Ramps up Crackdown as Regional Tensions Rage

Iranians walk past shops in the capital Tehran on April 21, 2024. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)
Iranians walk past shops in the capital Tehran on April 21, 2024. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Executions of convicts, arrests of dissidents and a resurgence in patrols enforcing the obligatory wearing of hijabs: Iran is stepping up repression at home as tensions flare with its arch-foe Israel, activists say.

Iranians have endured increased repression since nationwide protests were sparked from September 2022 by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly flouting the mandatory dress rules for women.

But the crackdown has entered a new phase as fears of a regional conflict surge, with Israel launching an apparent strike on Iran on Friday, Agence France Presse reported.

Activists have reported that the dreaded white vans of the "morality police" have returned to city squares across Iran, picking up women deemed to have violated the rule of obligatory hijab.

Tehran police chief Abbas Ali Mohammadian openly announced the latest crackdown on April 13, with local media saying it was codenamed "Nour" ("light" in Persian).

Multiple videos posted on social media -- under the hashtag "jang aliyeh zanan" ("war against women") -- have shown women being bundled into vans by male police in body armor accompanied by female police agents.

Iran “has turned the streets into a battlefield against women and youth," 2023 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and jailed rights activist Narges Mohammadi wrote in a message from Tehran's Evin prison and published by her supporters on social media.

In one video filmed close to the Tajrish metro station in northern Tehran, a woman collapses on the ground after being apprehended by the police, telling bystanders who then seek to revive her that her phone was confiscated.

Another includes what appears to be the sound of police using electric shock against women who had been rounded up and put into a van, AFP said.

"Amid increasing dissent at home and international attention focused on regional tensions, the Islamic republic is grabbing the opportunity to intensify its campaign of repression against dissent," said the director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi.

"Without a firm international response, the Islamic Republic will be emboldened to intensify its violence against women and its egregious violations of human rights," said Ghaemi.

Hundreds were killed, according to rights groups, and thousands arrested, according to the United Nations, in the crackdown on the 2022 protests that represented one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic republic.

Among those arrested in recent days was Aida Shahkarami, the sister of Nika Shahkarami, 16, who died during the 2022 crackdown, her mother Nasrin wrote on social media.

Aida was detained "for not wearing the mandatory hijab," Nasrin Shahkarami wrote on social media.

Nika Shahkarami was found dead during the protests, with some family members accusing the security forces of killing her.

Dina Ghalibaf, a journalist and student at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University, was arrested after accusing security forces on social media of putting her in handcuffs and sexually assaulting her during a previous arrest at a metro station, according to the Norway-based Hengaw rights group.

Executions, which activists say are used by Tehran as a means to instil fear into society, have also continued apace, with at least 110 people executed this year alone according to the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group.

Among those executed in recent days were a married couple, Esmail Hassaniani, 29, and his wife Marjan Hajizadeh, 19, who were sentenced to death for drug-related charges in a joint case and hanged in Zanjan central prison on 11 April, according to IHR.

"The regime will without any doubt use this opportunity to tighten the grip inside the country," said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

"They still haven't managed to take the control that they had before September 2022. They may have the opportunity to do so now, if all the international attention goes to the escalating tension with Israel."


Bodies Found at Gaza Hospital, Israel Wows to 'Increase Pressure' on Hamas

Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Bodies Found at Gaza Hospital, Israel Wows to 'Increase Pressure' on Hamas

Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Gaza's civil defense said Sunday dozens of bodies had been found buried at a Gaza hospital complex previously raided by Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ramp up military pressure on Hamas.

Netanyahu, who threatened action "in the coming days" but did not specify, has repeatedly said the Israeli army will launch a ground assault on Rafah despite international concern for civilians who have taken refuge in the southern city.

Gaza's civil defense agency said its teams had discovered 50 bodies since Saturday buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza's main southern city of Khan Yunis.

"We are continuing the search operation today and are waiting for all graves to be exhumed in order to give a final number of martyrs," Mahmud Bassal, spokesman for the civil defence agency, told AFP.

"There were no clothes on some bodies, which certainly indicates (the victims) faced torture and abuse," Bassal said.

Israel's military said it was checking the reports.

Hamas in a statement said the 50 bodies were exhumed from what it called a "mass grave of those executed in cold blood and buried with military bulldozers in the hospital's courtyard".

Israel pulled its ground forces from Khan Yunis on April 7 after carrying out what it called a "precise and limited operation" at the hospital, one of Gaza's biggest.

Hospitals in Gaza have faced the brunt of the Israeli assault, with the military accusing Hamas of using the facilities as command centers and to hold hostages abducted in the October 7 attack, claims denied by the Palestinian militants.

On Sunday, an AFP photographer saw civil defense crews exhuming human remains from the courtyard, while grieving relatives collected bodies wrapped in white.

Netanyahu, in a video statement on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, said Israel "will deliver additional and painful blows" to Hamas.

"In the coming days we will increase the military and political pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages," he said.

Israel estimates 129 captives remain in Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attack, including 34 who the military says are dead.

The army has said at least some of the hostages are held in Rafah, so far been spared an Israeli invasion and where most of Gaza's 2.4 million people have sought shelter.


Saudi Fund for Development Signs Agreement to Support SMEs in Oman

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD)
The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD)
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Saudi Fund for Development Signs Agreement to Support SMEs in Oman

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD)
The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD)

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) in Oman has signed a development financing agreement worth $67 million with the Oman Development Bank (ODB). The agreement is part of the $150-million support program provided by the Saudi government to Oman through the fund.

The co-chairs of the Saudi-Omani joint committee for the management of the program to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) signed the agreement at a ceremony at the ODB headquarters in Oman.

Director of Financial Operations and Chairman of the Saudi side of the joint committee Saeed Al-Qahtani and Director General of Treasury at the Ministry of Finance and Chair of the Omani side of the joint committee Zahir Al-Abri represented the two sides in the agreement, while ODB CEO Hussain Al-Lawati signed the agreement on behalf of the bank.

The agreement aims to support the ODB's initiatives in financing SMEs' activities, enhance social and economic growth, and create jobs in various states and governorates of Oman.

The ODB is one of Oman's most prominent government entities concerned with providing financing facilities for micro, small, and medium enterprises in the Sultanate.


Netanyahu Says Will Fight Any Sanctions on Army Battalions

Israeli soldiers operate during a raid, at Nour Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta
Israeli soldiers operate during a raid, at Nour Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta
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Netanyahu Says Will Fight Any Sanctions on Army Battalions

Israeli soldiers operate during a raid, at Nour Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta
Israeli soldiers operate during a raid, at Nour Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he would fight against sanctions being imposed on any Israeli military units after media reported that Washington was planning such a step against a battalion for alleged rights violations.
The military said that its "Netzah Yehuda" battalion is an active combat unit that operates according to the principles of international law.
Following publications about sanctions against the battalion, the military “is not aware of the issue. If a decision is made on the matter it will be reviewed,” it said.
The military “works and will continue to work to investigate any unusual event in a practical manner and according to law," it added.
"If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) - I will fight it with all my strength," Netanyahu said in a statement.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday that the US was also considering similar moves against other police and military units.
The sanctions, which would be imposed under the 1997 Leahy law, would prohibit the transfer of US military aid to the unit and prevent soldiers and officers participating in training either with the US military or in programs that receive US funding.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said he had made “determinations” over the claim that Israel had violated the Leahy law, which prohibits the provision of military assistance to police or security units that commit gross violations of human rights.
 


Khamenei Says Iran Demonstrated its Power Against Israel

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with the commanders of the Iranian armed forces in Tehran, Iran April 21, 2024. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with the commanders of the Iranian armed forces in Tehran, Iran April 21, 2024. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS
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Khamenei Says Iran Demonstrated its Power Against Israel

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with the commanders of the Iranian armed forces in Tehran, Iran April 21, 2024. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with the commanders of the Iranian armed forces in Tehran, Iran April 21, 2024. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Sunday thanked the country's armed forces for their attack this month on Israel, saying the country had demonstrated its power regardless of how many targets were hit, a tacit acknowledgment that despite launching a massive assault, few projectiles actually made through to their targets.

In its first ever direct attack on Israel, Iran sent a barrage of more than 300 missiles and drones on April 13 in what it said was retaliation for Israel's suspected deadly strike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1.

Most of the missiles and drones were shot down by Israel and its allies and the attack caused modest damage in Israel.

"How many missiles were launched and how many of them hit their target is not the primary question, what really matters is that Iran demonstrated its power during that operation," Khamenei said on Sunday.

Early on Friday, explosions echoed over the Iranian city of Isfahan in what sources said was an Israeli attack. Tehran played down the incident and said it had no plans for retaliation - a response that appeared gauged towards averting region-wide war.

"In the recent operation, the armed forces managed to minimize costs and maximize gains," Khamenei added, urging military officials to "ceaselessly pursue military innovation and learn the enemy's tactics.”

Khamenei, 85, made the comments in a meeting attended by the top ranks of Iran's regular military, police and the Revolutionary Guard.

Satellite images analyzed Saturday by The Associated Press showed the Iranian attack caused only minor damage at the Nevatim air base in southern Israel, including taking a chunk out of a taxiway that Israel quickly repaired.


Rybakina Beats Kostyuk to Win Porsche Grand Prix

21 April 2024, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Kazakhstani tennis player Elena Rybakina celebrates with the trophy during the award ceremony after defeating Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk during their Women's singles final tennis match at the Stuttgart Open Tennis tournament. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa
21 April 2024, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Kazakhstani tennis player Elena Rybakina celebrates with the trophy during the award ceremony after defeating Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk during their Women's singles final tennis match at the Stuttgart Open Tennis tournament. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa
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Rybakina Beats Kostyuk to Win Porsche Grand Prix

21 April 2024, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Kazakhstani tennis player Elena Rybakina celebrates with the trophy during the award ceremony after defeating Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk during their Women's singles final tennis match at the Stuttgart Open Tennis tournament. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa
21 April 2024, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Kazakhstani tennis player Elena Rybakina celebrates with the trophy during the award ceremony after defeating Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk during their Women's singles final tennis match at the Stuttgart Open Tennis tournament. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa

Elena Rybakina eased to her third title of the season on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix.
Rybakina, the world No. 4-ranked player who defeated top-ranked Iga Świątek in the semifinals, saved the three break points she faced and took four from six opportunities to win in 1 hour, 9 minutes, The Associated Press reported.
It’s Rybakina’s tour-leading 26th win of the year. The Stuttgart title comes after wins in Adelaide and Abu Dhabi this season. The Kazakh player’s previous clay-court wins were in Rome in 2023 and Bucharest in 2019.
The 27th-ranked Kostyuk was under pressure from the start as Rybakina broke her serve and sealed the first set in just 30 minutes.
Kostyuk had surprised herself with her run to the final, including three consecutive wins over top-10 players Zheng Qinwen, Coco Gauff and Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova. Kostyuk saved five match points against Zheng in the round of 16.
It was Kostyuk’s third final. She won her maiden title in Austin last year, and was runner-up in San Diego last month.


Israel Launches Fund to Entice Institutional Investment in Tech Firms

A man rides a bike next to a message in support of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A man rides a bike next to a message in support of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Israel Launches Fund to Entice Institutional Investment in Tech Firms

A man rides a bike next to a message in support of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A man rides a bike next to a message in support of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Israel's government has launched a new fund to encourage institutional investors to boost investments in high-tech companies, the Israel Innovation Authority said on Sunday.
The tech sector is a key driver of Israel's economy, accounting for close to 20% of output, 12% of jobs, more than 50% of exports and 25% of tax income.
"The high-tech sector is a central and significant pillar of the Israeli economy, and we must ensure diversity in its sources of funding," Reuters quoted Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich as saying.
"We are in a period where we need to plan a strategy for transitioning from war to growth, and smart investment in Israeli high-tech is one of the first steps we are advancing," he said, referring to Israel's six-month-old war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Traditionally most investment has come from venture capital funds rather than institutional investors. The new Yozma 2.0 fund aims to change that, offering insurance companies, pension funds and other institutional investors a mechanism to enhance returns on their investments in tech-focused Israeli venture capital funds over the next 20 months.
The fund is being launched by both the innovation authority and finance ministry and will direct $160 million in public money to venture capital funds supporting Israeli tech companies.
The Israel Innovation Authority said it would contribute 30 cents for every dollar of institutional investment as part of the program. It will also waive its relative share of returns from these investments, either fully or partially, with the aim of enhancing returns for the institutions involved.
Alon Stopel, chairman of the authority, said the move is designed to support early-stage Israeli tech companies, particularly those in deep technology sectors, and ensure a "robust funding environment" for Israeli startups in the coming years.


Mutiso Munyao Gives Kenya Another London Marathon Win after Tribute to Kiptum

Mutiso Munyao Gives Kenya Another London Marathon Win after Tribute to Kiptum
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Mutiso Munyao Gives Kenya Another London Marathon Win after Tribute to Kiptum

Mutiso Munyao Gives Kenya Another London Marathon Win after Tribute to Kiptum

Alexander Mutiso Munyao delivered another win for Kenya on a day the London Marathon remembered last year's champion Kelvin Kiptum, The Associated Press reported Sunday.
A race that started with a period of applause for Kiptum, who was killed in a car crash in Kenya in February, ended with his countryman and friend running alone down the final straight in front of Buckinhgam Palace to earn an impressive victory in his first major marathon.
Mutiso Munyao said he spoke to Kiptum after his win in London last year and that the world-record holder is always on his mind when he's competing.
“He’s in my thoughts every time, because he was my great friend,” Mutiso Munyao said. “It was a good day for me.”
It was a Kenyan double on the day, with Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir pulling away late to win the women’s race and cement her status as the favorite to defend her gold in Paris.

Mutiso Munyao denied 41-year-old Kenenisa Bekele a first London Marathon victory by pulling away from the Ethiopian great with about 3 kilometers to go Sunday for his biggest career win.
Mutiso Munyao and Bekele were in a two-way fight for the win until the Kenyan made his move as they ran along the River Thames, quickly building a six-second gap that only grew as he ran toward the finish.
“At 40 kilometers, when my friend Bekele was left (behind), I had confidence that I can win this race,” the 27-year-old Mutiso Munyao said.
He finished in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 1 second, with Bekele finishing 14 seconds behind. Emile Cairess of Britain was third, 2:45 back.
Bekele, the Ethiopian former Olympic 10,000 and 5,000-meter champion, was also the runner-up in London in 2017 but has never won the race.
Mutiso Munyao is relatively unknown in marathon circles and said he wasn't sure whether this win would be enough to make Kenya's Olympic team for Paris.
“I hope for the best,” he said. “If they select me I will go and work for it.”


GCC: Forum on Security, Regional Cooperation is an Opportunity to Promote Dialogue with EU

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Al Budaiwi
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Al Budaiwi
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GCC: Forum on Security, Regional Cooperation is an Opportunity to Promote Dialogue with EU

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Al Budaiwi
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Al Budaiwi

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Al Budaiwi said that the High-Level Forum on Security and Regional Cooperation between the EU and the GCC, to be held on Monday in Luxembourg, is an opportunity to enhance dialogue, and to strengthen coordination on issues related to regional and global stability, and security.

The forum will be chaired by Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Chairman of the current session of the Ministerial Council Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell.

Senior officials and the foreign ministers of the GCC and EU states will attend.

Al Budaiwi stressed that by working to strengthen bilateral relations and develop new cooperation mechanisms, the two parties will reach common viewpoints on many issues.


Design Space AlUla Attends Milan Design Week as Part of Initiative to Celebrate Cultural Heritage

Design Space AlUla has showcased modern design at Milan Design Week. SPA
Design Space AlUla has showcased modern design at Milan Design Week. SPA
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Design Space AlUla Attends Milan Design Week as Part of Initiative to Celebrate Cultural Heritage

Design Space AlUla has showcased modern design at Milan Design Week. SPA
Design Space AlUla has showcased modern design at Milan Design Week. SPA

Design Space AlUla, a regional center dedicated to celebrating the works of local and international designers, has showcased modern design at Milan Design Week, that concludes Sunday 21.
The exhibition features, among others, projects from the thriving design center that has ambitious plans for the creative industries.
Among the exhibited works are recent projects from the first Arts and Design Center, Madrasat Addeera.
Participating artists from around the world contribute to the diverse collection. Saudi artist Dr. Zahrah Alghamdi's piece titled "Gharameel" draws inspiration from AlUla's distinctive rock formations. Argentine artist Cristian Mohaded's work, named "AlWaha", captures the essence of the desert dunes and palm-filled oases. The Spanish duo "TAKK's Duna" presents the Seating Dune, a versatile relaxation space inspired by the enchanting AlUla desert. TECHNOCrafts, a Spanish design studio, showcases "Alwadiya: The Living Pots", a self-sustaining system that mirrors the natural cycles of AlUla's lush oasis.
Additionally, the exhibition showcases designs from the AlUla Design Residency program. Highlights include "Peculiar Erosions" by artist Leo Orta, inspired by AlUla's mud-brick architecture and unique geology. "From Debris", by Raw Materials, reimagines local historical instruments with materials from the oasis. Architect Leen Ajlan presents "Takki", a modern reinterpretation of traditional recreational spaces. Hall Haus introduces "Haus Dari", a contemporary take on traditional cushions and diwans. "Surface", by Bahraini-Danish architecture firm, is a flexible steel divider facilitating interaction or serving as a screen or curtain.
Executive Director of Arts and Creative Industries at the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) Nora Aldabal highlighted the significance of the design initiatives at AlUla.
"Our growing design initiatives reflect the ongoing development of AlUla as a hub for traditional design, arts, and innovation,” she said.

“These initiatives celebrate the region's cultural heritage, local materials, and natural history. The exhibited works represent the evolving aesthetics of design in AlUla, capturing the inspiration and continuous dialogue nurtured by our destination, embracing diverse cultures and artistic disciplines."