What I’ve been up to – August

Just like July, August was still a quiet month. Not many events took place in the city, and I sometimes struggled to find topics to write about. The few events I attended and the interviews I did carry out were exciting though. Here is an overview of my published articles of last month.

Art & Culture

"Formation" by Abdulhalim Radwi

“Formation” by Abdulhalim Radwi

Ayyam Gallery Jeddah opened a very interesting exhibition on the beginnings of fine art in Saudi Arabia. In fact, they already launched the show, which will run until October 16, in July, but I did not have the chance to attend the opening, so I did an interview with the gallery representative in Saudi Arabia that came out in the Saudi Gazette on August 9. (See also the cover picture, “The Sea 1” by Taha Sabban.)

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Visitors trying one of the activities at iThra Knowledge Riyadh

Saudi Aramco’s initiative to organize exhibitions that combine knowledge, science, and culture under the name ithra Knowledge also opened in Riyadh during the Eid holidays. Unfortunately, I could not attend the opening myself, but the organizers sent me all the information needed and asked me to write about it. Read the article here.

Smoke art photography in Gaza

Smoke art photography in Gaza

As there were not many art shows in the Kingdom, I looked abroad for inspiring art and found this Palestinian “Smoke Art” that made headlines all over the world. You may disagree whether this is real art or not, but it did make a statement. Read the article here.

Anas Arabi improvising a rap for the audience.

Run Junxion’s Anas Arabi improvising a rap for the audience.

Last, but definitely not least, there was the exciting launch of Saudi hip-hop band Run Junxion’s latest album, “Shock “N” Awe”.  I wrote about Saudi hip-hop before, when several artists made an amazing song together with German hip-hopper Max Herre and performed their creation at the German Consulate. Run Junxion was present there as well, but stood in the shadow of Qusai aka Don Legend the Kamelion. This evening, they were the stars of the show, and their new cd did not disappoint the fans who had come. Read my article here.

Health

Healthy salad at Rosewood Corniche Jeddah

Healthy salad at Rosewood Corniche Jeddah

Of course, I also had several health articles for the Wholesome Living page in store. One of the things I wrote about is how to recover from the Ramadan ‘Jet Lag’. You see, most people here live at night and sleep during the day in Ramadan. During the Eid festivities, people even stay up until after sunrise, go to bed around 9 or 10 a.m., and wake up at 6 p.m. If that’s your rhythm it is not easy to get back to normal when work and school start again, but with these tips it shouldn’t be too hard.

7-minute workout by Ben Wiseman, published on the New York Times website on May 9, 2013

7-minute workout by Ben Wiseman, published on the New York Times website on May 9, 2013

Something I’ve been trying to incorporate in my own fitness routine is the 7-minute workout. Although this came out more than a year ago in the New York Times, I found it so inspirational I wanted to write about it. So I did. There is even a website that helps you time your exercises. (Note to self: I should really start doing this highly effective and efficient workout, but I’ve been struggling to stay motivated.)

Grand Hyatt’s Damai spa in Singapore

Grand Hyatt’s Damai spa in Singapore

Remember I went on a media trip to Singapore several months ago? One of the things I did there was a spa review. Not a bad job do I have, right? If you’re curious about my experience, read the review here.

And, perhaps not that wholesome, but I wrote about the ‘good ole’ burger. I’ve been noticing a trend here that sees traditional burger places (e.g. McDonald’s, Burger King) losing business to the benefit of fancy and gourmet burger joints that offer higher quality beef, more customized burgers, and a cosier sitting area. Apparently, this trend is not unique to Saudi Arabia, but happens in the States as well. Read my article here.

Local news

Interviewing Mr. Todd Holmstrom, the new US consul general in Jeddah

Interviewing Mr Todd Holmstrom, the new US consul general in Jeddah (Picture by Jason Raskin)

A nice opportunity I got this month was to interview the new US consul general in Jeddah, who had arrived only a few weeks prior to our meeting. All I can say is that it was interesting to meet him, and that the interview can be found here.

Other local news I reported on: Saudi Arabia blocking a deal on a threatening greenhouse gas (which made it to the front page) and how many residents here shiver in their offices despite the sweltering summer heat.

About the former I can say that I wish I could have interviewed the Saudi negotiator, Taha Zatari, prior to sending the article to the editor. Unfortunately, he called me on the day the story came out in the paper, and although his arguments were quite legitimate, he repeatedly told me not to quote him because he was not authorized to speak to the press. He proposed to get me in touch with someone who was authorized to speak, but he never got back to me. Which I think is a missed chance, because I would have liked to also tell the other (i.e. Saudi Arabia’s) side of the story and create more awareness on the issue. Unfortunately, I could not convince him that I was unbiased because of my European roots.

Regarding the story on shivering residents, I remember freezing in the office during previous jobs and even in my current office whenever I go there. I just can’t understand why some people put the A/C on such a low temperature when it is extremely hot outside. It is such a waste of energy and not healthy at all. I may write more about this in the future.

Misscelaneous

Arab Vines - the latest social media hype

Arab Vines – the latest social media hype

One of the editors asked me to write about technology, and while I am not really a tech geek I think it is quite nice to do some research on things I am not so familiar with. For our LogIn page I wrote this report on Arab Vines, a funny social media hype. Read the story here.

To conclude, I wrote an opinion article on the TV anchor that had appeared without headscarf on the Saudi TV. According to Western media, this had led to an “outrage” in the country on social media. According to my own research, the Western media heavily exaggerated the issue. Read my opinion here.

So that is it! How was August for you? What did you do? Enjoying summer vacation or working hard in the office for all other colleagues that were on leave?

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