Thirty prominent Arab intellectuals and men of letters will participate in seven cultural seminars to be held on the sidelines of Souk Okaz Festival, which has become a major tourist attraction in the Kingdom.
The seminars will start on Aug. 11, two days after the festival’s opening.
The seminars will focus on critical studies on pre-Islamic poetry of Urwat Bin Al-Ward and Abdullah Bin Khamees, translation movement in France, migrated manuscripts, cultural identity in the digital world, writing and art experiments, and protection of privacy on social media.
Hamad Al-Qadi, a former member of the cultural and media committee at the Shoura Council and secretary-general of Hamad Al-Jasser Cultural Foundation’s board of trustees, has highlighted the significance of Souk Okaz, saying it has become an internationally renowned cultural festival.
He said the festival, which this year marks its 10th anniversary after relaunch in new form, has become an Arab festival thanks to its huge heritage content and participation of several Arab poets and intellectuals.
“The festival not only revives the past heritage and culture but also promotes modernity and accelerates future progress,” Al-Qadi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
He commended the remarkable role being played by Makkah Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal in showcasing Souk Okaz as an international cultural festival.
“It has achieved most of its goals,” Al-Qadi said, adding that Souk Okaz has become an icon of Saudi culture and heritage. He urged young Saudis and GCC citizens to visit the festival in order to see its facilities, monuments and activities including poetical recitations.
Intellectuals participating in the seminar on “Writing and Art Experiments” to be held at the Inter.Continental Hotel on Aug. 11 are Moroccan painter Benyunus Omairush, Saudi novelist Maqboul Al-Alawi (winner of Souk Okaz Prize for Novel), literary critics Ali Al-Shadwi and Ammar Ali Hassan. Dr. Ahmed Al-Tihani will preside over the event.
On the same day, another seminar will be held in the evening at the Cultural Tent on “Protection of Privacy at Social Media Networks” with the participation of Awad Al-Asmari, Abdul Rahman Al-Mohsini, Jihad Al-Amri and Faris Al-Hamzani. Miteb Al-Harthi will be the moderator.
Other seminars at the Cultural Tent are as follows:
“Poet Abdullah Bin Khamees, a Critical View” on Aug. 11 evening with the participation of Mohammed Al-Rabie, Saud Al-Yousuf, Abdullah Al-Haidery and Haya Al-Samhary. Saleh Bin Ziyad will be the moderator.
“Arabic Language in France” on Aug. 12 after the Asr prayer: The participants include Edrian Litz, Mohammed Al-Bashrawi, Ali Ateeq and a prominent French translator. Ibrahim Abu Nami will be the moderator.
“Cultural Identity in the Digital World” after on Aug. 12 evening: Khaled Al-Ghazi, Ahmed Al-Murie, Khaled Al-Ghamdi and Saleh bin Salim will participate and the moderator will be Saeed Al-Soraihy.
“Critical literary studies of poet Urwat Bin Al-Ward” on Aug. 13: Abdullah Al-Zahrani, Ayman Maidan, Saleh Al-Dosh and Mohammed Atallah will participate. Abdul Mohsen Al-Qahtani will moderate.
“Migratory Manuscripts” on Aug. 13: Mohammed Hadi Mubaraki, Ali Mohammed Amran, Mohammed Aziz Shamsul Haq and Mohammed Khair Al-Baqaee will present papers. The moderator will be Fahd Al-Johani.
The programs for cultural events at Souk Okaz were prepared by a group of 50 Saudi intellectuals and men of letters.
Souk Okaz serves as a meeting point for not only poets but for artists and historians. It is a destination for people with a fascination for literature and culture, who appreciate the cognitive and cultural value offered by the souk via seminars, lectures and other events.
“The festival revives the glory and authentic heritage of Arabs. It celebrates and honors poets, further emphasizing the relativity of heritage to the present,” said one of the organizers.
Souk Okaz a major rendezvous for poets in pre-historic Arabia with prominent poets like Imrul Qais, Zuhair Bin Abi Salma, Nabigha Al-Dubyani and Khansa presenting their poems in the presence of fans some 15 centuries ago.
It was a commercial market and a social forum, inclusive of all types of activities. It was an annual meeting place for Arab tribes.
“Poets used to recite poems praising their tribes, and treaties were made and broken at the souk, which was also a venue for equestrian races and duels. Merchant caravans from as far as Rome, Syria, Persia and Yemen visited the souq. It was a forum for awarding titles to poets as well as honoring chivalry,” said an official of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.