Fri. Jun 9th, 2023
MAKKAH/JEDDAH: Madinah’s Quba Mosque, the first place of worship built by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), will increase tenfold in size, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced. 
In 2018, the crown prince ordered the restoration of 130 historical mosques, which forms part of the government’s national revitalization program.
The crown prince believes in the importance of these ancient mosques, for their rich religious, social, cultural and architectural significance.
The structure will undergo the largest development in its history, expanding to 50,000 square meters.
Named after King Salman, the project aims to increase the mosque’s capacity to 66,000 worshipers.
Its current praying area is 5,000 square meters, with the building and facilities taking up 13,500 square meters. It has a total capacity for 20,000 worshipers.
The crown prince said the plan would ensure the mosque can cater for large numbers of worshipers during peak seasons.
It will preserve the architectural style of the mosque and other monuments close to it.
Shaded courtyards will be constructed on four sides, which will connect to prayer areas that are not structurally attached to the current building.
The crown prince said the revitalization would heighten the devotional and cultural experience for visitors.
It would further solve overcrowding and enhance the safety of worshipers. In addition, the road system would be revamped to provide easier access to the mosque.
As many as 57 sites, including wells, farms and orchards, are to be developed or rehabilitated as part of the project.
The crown prince praised King Salman for his commitment to these preservation initiatives, which forms part of the goals and objectives of Vision 2030.
During his visit to Madinah, the crown prince prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque, including at the Rawdah, an area between the Sacred Chamber (known as the Prophet’s house), and the Prophet’s minbar (or pulpit).
He was accompanied by Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah, and several senior officials.
He also visited and prayed at Quba Mosque.
At Taiba Palace in Madinah later, the crown prince met with prominent scholars and leaders, and a group of citizens who came to greet him.
Quba Mosque is located 5 kilometers south of the Prophet’s Mosque. It was the first place of worship in the history of Islam, and constructed in 1 A.H. (622 A.D).
It is believed that Prophet Mohammed used to frequently pray in Quba Mosque, especially on Saturdays. He also urged his companions to do so.
There is a Hadith about the mosque, with the Prophet reported to have said: “Whoever makes ablutions in this house and offers one prayer therein, will be rewarded the equivalent of one Umrah.” This is why the mosque remains of considerable religious and historical importance to Muslims.
The mosque was renovated during the eras of both caliphs Othman bin Affan and Omar ibn Al-Khattab. The latter was the first to add a minaret to the structure.
A number of benefactors over the years have renovated the mosque, including in 1057, 1177, 1293, 1355, 1462 and 1503. This includes several times during the Ottoman era, the last of which was during the reign of Sultan Abdul Majid.
During the Saudi era, Quba Mosque, along with other houses of worship, were regularly revitalized. In 1968, its northern side was expanded, and then in 1985 King Fahd ordered several enlargements, while maintaining the building’s historically significant architectural features.
Abdul Haq Al-Uqbi, an architect who specializes in mosque architecture in Madinah, welcomed the King Salman development project, which he said would not only increase the capacity for worshipers but also ensure that its cultural and religious significance would be enhanced.
An additional positive element was that the entire Quba complex and surrounding area would be revitalized. This forms part of the “exceptional” urban regeneration program that the government has embarked on throughout the country. Many visitors would now be able to learn more about the 57 historically significant locations around the mosque, he said.
Dr. Hamza Al-Muzaini, a writer and academic, agreed that the expansion was of considerable social and cultural importance, and was fitting for the city of Madinah, which is a center of such symbolism and history for Muslims around the globe.
He added that residents of Madinah would be able to comfortably attend prayers in the mosque during Hajj and Eid Al-Fitr, when there is normally an increase in the number of pilgrims visiting the city.
RIYADH: Saudi ambassadors-designate to a number of countries took the oath of office at Al-Yamamah Palace before King Salman on Tuesday.
The newly-appointed envoys who took the oath were as follows:
– Ambassador to Cameroon Dr. Faisal bin Saud Al-Mejfel;
– Ambassador to Indonesia Faisal bin Abdullah Al-Amudi;
– Ambassador to Kazakhstan Faisal bin Hanif Al-Qahtani;

– Ambassador to Ghana Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Dakhil;
– Ambassador to Zambia Ali bin Saad Al-Qahtani;
– Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire Saad bin Bakhit Al-Quthami;

– Ambassador to Gabon Farraj Nader Farraj bin Nader;
– Ambassador to Australia Sultan bin Fahd bin Khazim;
– Ambassador to Finland Nisreen bint Hamad Al-Shibel;

– Ambassador to Guinea Dr. Fahad bin Eid Al-Rashidi; 
– Ambassador and Head of Saudi Arabia’s Mission to the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) Haifa bint Abdulrahman Al-Jedia.
During their swearing-in ceremony, all ambassadors-designate said: “I swear by Allah Almighty to be loyal to my religion, King, and homeland, not to divulge a secret of State’s secrets, to maintain its interests and regulations at home and abroad, and to perform my duties with honesty, integrity and sincerity.”
The oath-taking ceremony was attended by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Walid bin Abdulkareem Al-Khariji, and assistant special secretary to King Salman, Tamim bin Abdulaziz Al-Salem.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for international efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis in a way that preserves regional and international stability.
King Salman presided over the Cabinet meeting held at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.
During the meeting, the Cabinet reviewed talks that took place between the Kingdom and friendly countries over the past few days to consolidate and advance cooperation.
Dr. Issam bin Saad bin Saeed, state minister and Cabinet member for the Shoura Council affairs, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency that the council discussed several regional and international matters.
The Cabinet issued a number of decisions, including authorizing the minister of sports, or a deputy, to hold talks with the Maldives regarding a draft memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Ministry of Sports and the Maldivian Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment for cooperation.
The Cabinet also authorized the minister of culture and chairman of the board of trustees of the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts, or a deputy, to hold talks with Italy regarding a draft MoU between the institute and the Polytechnic University of Milan in the field of traditional arts. It also authorized the minister of communications and information technology, or a deputy, to hold talks with the UN Development Program regarding a draft MoU for cooperation in digital transformation.
It also authorized the minister of human resources and social development and chairman of the Institute of Public Administration, or a deputy, to hold talks with the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council regarding a draft MoU in the field of training and administrative development.
The Cabinet also approved a transit agreement among Arab countries and a memorandum of cooperation in intellectual property between the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.
It took a decision to amend the number of members of the board of directors of the National Water Co. to 10 members, who shall be chaired by the minister of environment, water and agriculture, and include representatives from several government agencies and the private sector. It also accredited the final account of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority for a previous fiscal year.
RIYADH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime on Monday signed the second phase of an agreement to implement activities to strengthen national capabilities in preventing and punishing human trafficking.
The agreement contributes to achieving a sustainable impact by meeting the objectives of the National Action Plan of the Committee for Combating Trafficking in Persons.
HRC President Hala Al-Tuwaijri said that human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes that violate human rights and deprive individuals of freedom and dignity.
She stressed that the Kingdom, through the regulations and international agreements it has enacted and joined, has worked to build a legal and institutional framework that guarantees the protection of all persons, without discrimination, from these crimes and assists the victims.
Al-Tuwaijri added that the renewal of the agreement comes within the framework of the Kingdom’s continued efforts to follow up on projects and initiatives related to combating and preventing these crimes and developing national capabilities to counter them.
Judge Hatem Ali, the regional representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, welcomed the partnership and stressed that the agreement aims to build on the existing collaboration in combating and preventing these crimes nationally, regionally and internationally.
JEDDAH: Mawadah Muhtasib, an emerging Saudi artist who reversed the typeface of the Arabic language, is well on her way to becoming a prominent name in the global art scene.
From learning her mother’s technique of writing backward at age 13 to exhibiting in London and New York City, Muhtasib has generated international intrigue in the art of Arabic by creating the first reversed Arabic calligraphy, or calligraffiti, typeface.
Her messages are not only meant to be read, but are also designed to be deciphered. Engaging her audience with the challenge of decoding letters is a large part of experiencing the artwork itself.
“It’s about expanding your human capabilities into creating the impossible. And this is exactly what I have been trying to do,” she told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
The Arabic language is one of the richest art forms, the artist says, but in modernity, it is difficult to appreciate the depths of something that has become so ordinary.
Born out of a quest to layer the heritage of Arabic letters with innovative graffiti art methods, her work dares to be the first of its kind, granting her Dubai’s Art Bus competition award and a chance to show her work at exclusive showcases.
As graffiti art surged in popularity in 2013, Muhtasib experimented with mural painting alongside a novel group, hoping to develop a boundaryless form of art.
With a vision to modernize the traditional, she created a decorative typeface that mixed Arabic and Latin, written from left to right.
It’s about expanding your human capabilities into creating the impossible.
Mawadah Muhtasib
Muhtasib said: “We are so used to Arabic calligraphy when it comes to Thuluth calligraphy, Al-Kufi, Al-Naskh, and so on, and we just read that way and pass it on.
“When I’m doing my Arabic calligraphy, people sit and stare at my work for hours trying to figure out what these letters are, and the moment they realize it’s Arabic, they start to analyze and see all these letters in a different form that we as Arabic speakers are not used to.”
The Arabic language is one of the richest art forms, the artist says, but in modernity, it is difficult to appreciate the depths of something that has become so ordinary.
The goal is not only to get the viewer to read but to actively reflect on the beauty and form of each stroke and letter within the alphabet.
Muhtasib now passes on her craft through community workshops exclusively for women, most recently at Saudi’s largest light-based festival, Noor Riyadh.
“In my workshops, I do not teach people to write in reverse … I’m basically giving you the key of how to use the tools of starting to practice in the form of Latin calligraphy,” she said.
As soon as students understand the anatomy of the font family, Muhtasib introduces slanted brushes, layering techniques and stroke pressure. From the first session, students are sent home with a new creative form of expression. “The soul of a person is laid out on a page,” she said.
Writing in reverse is not new; the artist’s mother passed down the habit after having to write backward to maintain privacy at work. Alongside that, she passed down her passion for creative innovation.
While most calligraphers in the Kingdom were mimicking Western methods, Muhtasib, at 16 years old, was inspired and encouraged by Tunisian artist eL Seed and Saudi Moroccan artist Shaker Kashgari.
“I took that trick that my mom taught me years ago on how to write and then I changed it into a decorative typeface,” she said.
The concept was designed to preserve the rich heritage of the Arabic language. For foreigners, it offers a chance to engage in the language and learn its history.
“This is Arabic calligraphy in reverse that I took, improved, adjusted and made into a different form. But viewers will also wonder how it actually looked like (originally) and this will make a lot of people go in-depth and learn more about Arabic calligraphy,” Muhtasib said.
The philosophy behind the Typeform has gained interest from international luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Carolina Herrera, Montblanc, Sephora and more, resulting in several collaborations.
Muhtasib urges creators to push the boundaries of art and culture.
With calligraphy, “your sky’s the limit,” she said.
RIYADH: More than 10 million regional and international visitors have attended Riyadh Season events since its launch on Oct. 21.
Staged under the title “Beyond Imagination,” the entertainment festival has offered at least 8,500 activity days and experiences in 15 diverse zones.
In a tweet, Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said: “Imagination has become a reality with Riyadh Season — 10 million visitors so far.”
He added that each festival zone had its own special character.
Now in its third season, this year’s event has been the biggest and most dynamic to date, including the largest artificial lake in the world, cable car transportation, cloud-embracing lounges, and the international Cirque du Soleil.
Imagination has become a reality with Riyadh Season — 10 million visitors so far.
Turki Al-Sheikh Chairman, General Entertainment Authority
It includes 252 restaurants and cafes, 240 stores, eight international shows, more than 150 concerts, 108 interactive experiences, seven global exhibitions, two international football matches, 17 Saudi and Arab plays, and WWE wrestling events.
The range of entertainment options available for visitors has included games, heritage, culture, fashion, perfumes, exhibitions, and music.
It also featured a Riyadh Season Cup, bringing together the Paris Saint-Germain team with stars from Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr football clubs.
As well as Saudi and Arab plays and concerts, organizers have put on local and international anime, perfumes, and games exhibitions along with numerous other events for families, adults, and children.
The zones are Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland, Al-Murabaa, Sky Riyadh, Via Riyadh, Riyadh Zoo, Little Riyadh, The Groves, Imagination Park, Al-Suwaidi Park, Souq Al-Zel, Qariat Zaman, Fan Festival, and Riyadh Front.
Meanwhile, visitors to the season are being offered the chance to use the latest technology to gain entry to entertainment zones.
Non-fungible tokens in the form of an access card will enable holders to take part in activities and events including electronic games, Saudi and Arab festivals and plays, concerts, and local and international exhibitions.
NFTs are unique digital identifiers that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided. The first project was launched in 2015 via the Ethereum blockchain platform.
NFTs are used in many sectors, including games, selling songs, digital arts, clothing, cars, and for proving ownership of photos and videos. The technology is also used in medical records and health data, and for event ticketing.
The Riyadh Season access card grants visitors a set of privileges, including season-long entry to Boulevard Riyadh City and Boulevard World, the festival’s distinctive entertainment zones.
The access card can be obtained via


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