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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Culture has concluded the Imru Al-Qais Festival, which was organized as part of the Year of Arabic Poetry 2023 initiatives. Supported by the Quality of Life Program, one of the programs aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, the festival aimed to provide a cultural experience and introduce the local community to the renowned poet Imru Al-Qais.
The legendary pre-Islamic poet Imru Al-Qais was born in the Najd region in 501 A.D. and died in Turkiye in 544 A.D.
Spanning 11 consecutive days, the festival took visitors on an interactive cultural journey, shedding light on the life and works of Imru Al-Qais through a diverse range of activities.
The “Poet’s Exhibition” stood out as a prominent feature, showcasing artwork, creative expressions and visual documentation related to the Mu’allaqat, a group of seven long Arabic poems, also known as “The Suspended Odes.” The exhibition provided insights into the seven poets, their poetry and the environment of that era through captivating visual materials.
An area for children offered engaging activities, including storytelling, coloring, an interactive mural and calligraphy. Additionally, there were puppet theater performances, a photography corner, and poetry recitation workshops aimed at boosting children’s confidence and linguistic fluency.
A market area showcased the craftsmanship of talented artisans, featuring stalls dedicated to papermaking, weaving, pottery and jewelry-making. This recreated the ambiance of traditional markets during Imru Al-Qais’s time, blending poetry with the enchantment of commerce to create a culturally rich and historically inspired experience.
Interactive activities were also organized to entertain and inspire guests. Notable events included “Poetry between Hearing and Seeing” and “Describing a Camel and a Horse,” where visitors competed to vividly describe these animals, as poets did in the past.
The festival also hosted Arabic calligraphers who demonstrated their skills in the “Verses and Names Through Lines” event. Another event, “Who Am I,” invited visitors to gather around an actor who portrayed one of the seven poets of the Mu’allaqat, sparking lively discussions.
Live musical performances by Saudi bands showcased traditional singing styles from the central region, fostering intergenerational connections through the power of music. The “Poet’s Theater” organized poetry evenings featuring acclaimed poets delivering ancient Arabic poetry, particularly the works of Imru Al-Qais. A poetry competition was also held.
Seminars covering topics such as Imru Al-Qais’ biography, his poetry, and the cultural and creative aspects of investing in ancient Arabic poetry and poets from the Arabian Peninsula, were also conducted.
Throughout the festival, workshops were held to provide opportunities for learning and artistic exploration. The poetry recitation workshop, led by an expert in the field, focused on Imru Al-Qais’s poetry.
In another workshop, participants analyzed Imru Al-Qais’s poems and writing style. “The Poet in the Eyes of Painters” featured local artists’ works inspired by Imru Al-Qais.
The festival is part of the culture ministry’s broader efforts to celebrate the icons of Arabic poetry. By emphasizing the significance of poetry and poets in the cultural history of the Kingdom, the ministry aims to preserve and present ancient cultural heritage in contemporary and creative forms, leveraging modern technology and exceptional talent to contribute to the strengthening of national identity.
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