Wadi AlFann, ‘Valley of the Arts’, launches pre-opening arts and culture programme in AlUla with world premiere of Nine Songs

Rui Fu performs in the world premiere of Nine Songs, presented by Wadi AlFann

Rui Fu performs in the world premiere of Nine Songs, presented by Wadi AlFann (Image courtesy of Royal Commission for AlUla, photography by Alto Piano Studio)

AlUla, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Wadi AlFann, an awe-inspiring new global cultural destination spanning 65 sq km in the desert of AlUla, north-west Saudi Arabia, presents the world premiere of Nine Songs, taking place Saturday 26 – Sunday 27 November 2022. This site-responsive, open-air, theatrical performance of music takes place amidst the extraordinary landscape of a region steeped in thousands of years of natural, historical and cultural heritage.

Commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and created by Chinese musician, vocalist and artistic director Rui Fu, Nine Songs brings together a world-class ensemble of performers from across the globe. Working with artistic co-director Farooq Chaudhry and musical director Jocelyn Pook, Fu’s new work is inspired by the Chu Ci (Songs of Chu), an ancient anthology of romantic Chinese poetry from the 1st century BC, while responding to the dramatic topography, undulating vistas, remarkable geological structures of AlUla.

Nine Songs draws from the Jiu Ge collection, one of the seventeen sections of the Songs of Chu, whose poems act as prayers to clouds, mountains and rivers. The ritualistic performance is set against the backdrop of AlUla’s stunning sandstone cliffs and canyons, re-imagining the sublime, delicate and ancestral bond between art, landscape and humankind while connecting music and movement with the surrounding terrain.

Rui Fu performs in the world premiere of Nine Songs, presented by Wadi AlFann

Rui Fu performs in the world premiere of Nine Songs, presented by Wadi AlFann (Image courtesy of Royal Commission for AlUla, photography by Alto Piano Studio)

Rui Fu specialises in the improvisational and impressionistic interpretation of Chinese ethnic musical traditions. Strongly influenced by the temporal, timbral and rhythmic flexibilities of such traditions, she collaborates with musicians from minority tribes in China to explore indigenous practices and rare instruments and is known for singing in her own invented, non-lexical language that cuts across cultural barriers.

Nine Songs sees Fu’s vocal performance accompanied by new compositions played on violin, harp, Chinese dulcimer, double bass, guqin and taiko drums, with costumes and scenery designed by Marie Cantenys and Margaux Lalanne. Nine Songs also features lighting and set design by ARP Theatre’s Fabiana Piccioli and Sander Loonen. Taking place on a circular stage in the desert at sunset, the performance seeks commonality with rituals and practices from different cultures, with nature acting as the unifying force between them. Following its world premiere in AlUla, Nine Songs will go on to be seen at the most prestigious arts festivals across the globe in some of its greatest cities, including London, New York, Edinburgh, Shanghai, Berlin and Athens.

Rui Fu performs in the world premiere of Nine Songs, presented by Wadi AlFann

Rui Fu performs in the world premiere of Nine Songs, presented by Wadi AlFann (Image courtesy of Royal Commission for AlUla, photography by Alto Piano Studio)

Wadi AlFann, meaning ‘Valley of the Arts’, offers a profound opportunity to experience art in dialogue with nature. This unique site will see era-defining, large-scale, site-specific works by some of the world’s most compelling artists permanently placed in the monumental landscape. The first five works, by Manal AlDowayanAgnes DenesMichael HeizerAhmed Mater and James Turrell, will be completed in 2024, marking the start of an ongoing programme of commissions.

Co-produced by the Royal Commission for AlUla and Skye Blue Productions, the performance of Nine Songs marks the start of Wadi AlFann’s pre-opening programme, which will also include temporary exhibitions, artist residencies and public symposia. The unveiling of the first five artworks in 2024 will also be accompanied by a public programme offering educational opportunities, skills-based engagement, sessions with art professionals, masterclasses for local creatives and more.

AlUla is a majestic region of natural and creative heritage steeped in a legacy of cross-cultural exchange. Home to the ancient Nabataean city of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the region has been at the crossroads of cultural exchange for millennia, historically lying on the incense trade route and once capital to the ancient Kingdom of Dadan. Today, it is a living museum of heritage, arts and nature, rekindling its legacy as a vital cultural destination.

Rui Fu, artistic director of Nine Songs, says:

“I am often fascinated by the story of our ancestors who, upon seeing the vast earth and the sky, voiced their first call. Returning to that state of wonder and bewilderment has long been my point of departure. I have strived to construct a musical space in which I can, through the voice, reconnect with the rituals of reverence and the primal sensibilities that allow us to carry essential memories forward in time. The ancient land of AlUla is therefore a very fitting place to present Nine Songs for the first time.

“My childhood experiences in China, the UK and the U.S. and my travels through over 30 countries led me to shift to a spontaneously invented language in my lyrics, in order to adapt to instrumentation from different localities. These scattered memories are now the backbone of our interpretation of the 2,600-year-old Nine Songs, illustrating the layers of our being as we progress from birth to death.”

Nora Aldabal, executive director of arts and creative industries at the Royal Commission for AlUla, says:

“Nine Songs is an homage to age-old artistic tradition, which is why the ancient land of AlUla is a powerful place for its premiere. The Royal Commission for AlUla commissioned this work for the spectacular location of Wadi AlFann as a tribute to the profound link between art and nature that can be found in this unique valley. Touching on themes of ancestry, civilisation and humanity, Rui Fu’s work resonates deeply with people from across the world, regardless of culture, language or background. Nine Songs is a spectacular way to launch Wadi AlFann’s programme of public activities, through which local communities and visitors can experience arts and culture as a source of education and enrichment.”

Media Contact: michelle@pelhamcommunications.com

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:

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A video accompanying this announcement is available at:

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Uganda Closes Schools to Fight Ebola, New Cases Fall

Uganda closed schools nationwide on Friday to curb the spread of Ebola, despite the health minister insisting to AFP that new cases had declined.
The directive to close schools two weeks before the end of term was announced earlier this month following the deaths of eight children from the highly contagious disease.
But in recent weeks, the number of new infections registered in the capital, Kampala, and the epicenters of Mubende and Kassanda has declined, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng told AFP.
“The major breakthrough in this fight against Ebola for Uganda is that the communities have realized that Ebola is deadly and it kills,” she said.

“We encourage the population to remain alert and cooperate with the health teams if we are to win this battle and there are signs Uganda is winning,” she added.
Uganda’s WHO office said Thursday that as of November 22, no case had been declared for nine days in Kamapala, 10 days in Mubende and 12 days in Kassanda.
The outbreak has claimed 55 lives out of 141 known cases, according to Ugandan authorities, who have imposed lockdowns in Mubende and Kassanda.
The measures include a dusk-to-dawn curfew, a ban on personal travel and the closure of markets, bars and churches.
At a school in Kampala, one parent told AFP he was relieved to take his child home.
“I think this early closure was really necessary, because of the situation, the Ebola situation in the country,” said banker Joab Baryayaka. “We trust they are safer with us than staying at school, where we cannot guarantee the situation.”
Since the outbreak was declared in Mubende on September 20, the disease has spread across the East African nation.
President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly ruled out imposing nationwide COVID-like restrictions.
According to WHO criteria, an outbreak of the disease ends when there are no new cases for 42 consecutive days — twice the incubation period of the disease.
The strain now circulating is known as the Sudan Ebola virus, for which there is no vaccine, although several would-be jabs are heading toward clinical trials.
Ebola is spread through bodily fluids. Common symptoms are fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea.
Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

Source: Voice Of America

Global Wildlife Summit Approves Shark Protections

Delegates at a global summit on trade in endangered species on Friday approved a plan to protect 54 more shark species, a move that could drastically reduce the lucrative and cruel shark fin trade.
Members of the requiem shark and the hammerhead shark families will now have their trade tightly controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The binding resolutions were adopted by consensus on the final day of the two-week meeting by delegates from 183 countries and the European Union.
“Proposal 37 approved,” Shirley Binder, Panamanian delegate and head of the plenary, said of the requiem shark proposal, after Japan failed to get the blue shark removed from the measure.
The proposal regarding the hammerhead shark passed without debate.
Binder earlier told AFP the “historic decision” would mean up to 90 percent of sharks in the market would now be protected.
The insatiable appetite in Asia for shark fins, which make their way onto dinner tables in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, has spurred their trade.
Despite being described as almost tasteless and gelatinous, shark fin soup is viewed as a delicacy and is enjoyed by the very wealthy, often at weddings and expensive banquets.
Shark fins, representing a market of about $500 million per year, can sell for about $1,000 a kilogram (2.2 pounds).
“This will be remembered as the day we turned the tide to prevent the extinction of the world’s sharks and rays,” said Luke Warwick, director of shark protection for the NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The shark species will now be listed on what is known as CITES Appendix II, which is for species that may not yet be threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade in them is closely controlled.
“The crucial next step will be to implement these listings and ensure they result in stronger fisheries management and trade measures as soon as possible,” Warwick said.
From villain to darling
Sharks have long been seen as the villain of the seas they have occupied for more than 400 million years, drawing horror with their depiction in films such as “Jaws” and occasional attacks on humans.
However, these ancient predators have undergone an image makeover in recent years as conservationists have highlighted the crucial role they play in regulating the ocean ecosystem.
Joaquin de la Torre of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) told AFP that more than 100 million sharks are killed every year.
“Sharks and rays are the most threatened species, more even than elephants and big cats,” he said.
With many shark species taking more than 10 years to reach sexual maturity, and having a low fertility rate, the constant hunting of the species has decimated their numbers.
In many parts of the world, fishermen lop the shark’s fins off at sea, tossing the shark back into the ocean for a cruel death by suffocation or blood loss.
The efforts by conservationists led to a turning point in 2013, when CITES imposed the first trade restrictions on some shark species.
Exploitation
Delegates have been considering 52 proposals to change the protection levels of more than 600 species.
They also approved new protections for the guitarfish ray, crocodiles, frogs and some turtle species.
“Many of the proposals adopted here reflect there is ongoing overexploitation and unsustainable trade, and escalating illegal trade, and some are due to complex interactions of other threats reducing species populations in the wild, including climate change, disease, infrastructure development and habitat loss,” said Susan Liberman of WCS.
CITES, which came into force in 1975, has set international trade rules for more than 36,000 wild species. Its signatories include 183 countries and the European Union.

Source: Voice Of America

Laos, Australia launch BEQUAL Phase 2

Vice-Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Sisouk Vongvichith, and Ambassador of Australia to the Lao PDR, Mr Paul Kelly announced the official launch of the Basic Education Quality and Access in the Lao PDR Program (BEQUAL) Phase 2 on 16 November 2022 in Vientiane.
The Ministry of Education and Sports, with the support of the Australian Government, will shift the focus to teacher professional development during the BEQUAL Phase 2 of BEQUAL, including a key focus on inclusive education. This focus on inclusive education is vital for ensuring that all children, including those experiencing disadvantage, are able to successfully learn and develop during their years of primary education.
“The Lao PDR and Australia share a mutual interest in ensuring all young children, especially those experiencing disadvantage, receive quality primary education,” said Vice-Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Sisouk Vongvichith.
“Since 2015, Australia has been supporting the Ministry of Education and sports, through the Phase 1 of BEQUAL program, with the development and nationwide implementation of the new primary curriculum and the design and implementation of teacher training and professional development activities. The new primary curriculum and improvements in the quality of primary teaching are top priorities of the 9th ESSDP 2021-2025,” she said.
“I would like to thank the other partners who joined the Australian Government to support the Ministry during the Phase 1 of BEQUAL, the European Union and the United States Government,” she added.
“Australia is proud to continue the partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports for the second phase of the BEQUAL program, to ensure all young Lao children regardless of their circumstances and their gender receive a quality primary education,” said Australia Ambassador Paul Kelly.
“Australia’s support for BEQUAL Phase 2 will amount to AUD 28 million over four years – from 2022 through to 2026. Phase 2 will focus on modernising the national primary curriculum and teacher professional development including building gender and disability-inclusive education,” he explained.
“Australia has committed to supporting the government of Lao PDR to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. We believe that Education changes lives and contributes to stronger communities and greater prosperity,” Ambassador added.

Source: Lao News Agency

EU-ASEAN workshop to focus on sustainable food

The third workshop of the EU-funded “Farm to Fork” project will take place via videoconference on Nov 24-25, with the participation of experts, policy makers as well as public stakeholders from EU and ASEAN countries.
Issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the degradation of lands and oceans are threats to humans and the life on Earth in general, according to organisers.
In response to these threats and as part of the Green Deal, in 2020 the European Commission proposed ambitious EU actions and commitments to transform food systems (the Farm to Fork Strategy) into global standards for competitive sustainability, the protection of human and planetary health, as well as the livelihoods of all actors in the food value chain.
The main purpose of this technical workshop is to provide a platform to experts from the EU and ASEAN countries to discuss and identify where and how EU-ASEAN cooperation could be reinforced and coordinated, targeting sustainability and resilience of food systems.
Themed “Dialogues on Sustainable Food Systems: from production to consumption”, discussions will cover the following main topics: Dialogue on Soil health and innovation; Dialogue on sustainable use of pesticides; and Dialogue on food loss and waste.
All three topics should allow looking into strategies, policies and practices, harnessing the multiple stakeholders of the food systems and the different levels of changes that would be desirable. Presentations from speakers will be followed by discussions on existing collaboration, the way for future collaboration that could support the transition at global level
This series of workshops are funded by the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) under the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), which is the EU plan to contribute to solving food challenges, and, to this end, proposes pathways for change towards sustainability that provides environmental, health, social and economic benefits.

Source: Lao News Agency

‫شركة الذكاء الاصطناعي التطبيقي (أيه أيه آي سي أو) تؤمن تمويلاً بقيمة 42 مليون دولار أميركي

برلين, 24 نوفمبر / تشرين ثاني 2022 /PRNewswire/ — حصلت شركة الذكاء الاصطناعي التطبيقي (أيه أيه آي سي أو)  على تمويل بقيمة 42 مليون دولار أميركي لتعزيز نموها في الولايات المتحدة وأوروبا.  ومن بين المستثمرين في الشركة شركة جي 42 و آيه آر أم هولدنغ ومجموعة الاستثمار بلاغ أند بلاي بالإضافة إلى استثمارات من عائلات متميزة في أوروبا ومنطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا.

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“إننا نشعر بالتواضع بسبب دعم مستثمرينا في ظروف السوق الحالية.  ونحن نأخذ مع هذه المسؤولية على محمل الجد، ولدينا نظرة واضحة على أن زيادة رأس المال ليست مؤشرًا على النجاح.  وما زلنا نحتفظ بتواضعنا، ونبني منتجات رائعة للولايات المتحدة. والعملاء المقيمين في المملكة المتحدة، كما قال آريا بولورفروشان، المؤسس والرئيس التنفيذي لشركة أيه أيه آي سي أو.

وإذ تأسست في أيلول/سبتمبر 2021، فإن من بين المستثمرين الأساسيين في أيه أيه آي سي أو، ستيفان فون ليختنشتاين، وغاري كاسباروف، ودينيس ماهوني، وفالنون القابضة، وفرويد هولدنغز، وأتش سي أس جي أم بي أتش، ومجموعة بلاغ آند بلاي للاستثمار، وشركة بولور، وأيه آر أم  هولدنغ، من بين شركات أخرى.

تتمثل مهمة أيه أيه آي سي أو في تطوير منتجات موجهة تعتمد على التعلم الآلي تعمل على أتمتة عمليات الأعمال الحرجة التي تنطوي على عمل يدوي أو متكرر”،  كما قال السيد بولورفروشان.

يقع مقر فريق أيه أيه آي سي أو الهندسي في سان فرانسيسكو وبرلين والإمارات العربية المتحدة – وهو فريق يستمد المواهب من شركات أمازون، غوغل، مكنسي، غولدمان ساكس، آلتا فيستا، وإي بي، ومايكروسوفت، وجي بي مورغان وأيربي أن بي.

شركة الذكاء الاصطناعي التطبيقي (أيه أيه آي سي أو)

تقوم شركة الذكاء الاصطناعي التطبيقي (أيه أيه آي سي أو) ببناء منتجات للمساعدة في أتمتة العمليات البشرية الحرجة في قطاعات التأمين والأدوية والرعاية الصحية والسلامة والحكومة.  تقلل منتجات أيه أيه آي سي أو من الأخطاء البشرية والعمليات اليدوية وترقية الإنتاجية.

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