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Prince Khaled inaugurates Souk Okaz festival
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 10 - 08 - 2016

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TAIF – Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah and adviser to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, inaugurated the 10th edition of the annual Souk Okaz festival at Al-Arfa Historic Souk area in Taif on Tuesday night.
Several distinguished guests including renowned academics, writers, men of letters, intellectuals, poets, and cultural figures from within the Kingdom and abroad attended the opening session of the 10-day event, which is being held under the aegis of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.
More than 300,000 people are expected to visit the festival, which coincides with the annual summer vacation.
After arrival at the venue of the event, Prince Khaled, who is also chairman of the supervising committee of the festival, opened the Okaz Future exhibition. He then toured the pavilions of exhibitions, as well as stalls of handicrafts, traditional food stalls of productive families, cafes, antique shops, and other facilities.
The emir also watched performances of folklore troupes.
Prince Khaled will have an interactive session with scholars, men of letters, poets, academics and thinkers at InterContinental Hotel Taif on the sidelines of the festival. He will also attend an open dialogue with young men and women at Taif University. The dialogue aims at listening to the opinions of the youth and exchange of views and opinion with them.
A forum on the future of entrepreneurship in the light of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 will be the major highlight of the festival. The cognitive entrepreneurship forum will be held at Taif InterContinental Hotel from Wednesday. The forum will discuss three pivotal aspects of entrepreneurship –Strategies of cognitive entrepreneurship services, cognitive services for entrepreneurship and Vision 2030, and cognitive partnership and future of entrepreneurship. The forum aims at consolidating the concept of cognitive entrepreneurship industry in the Kingdom, identifying the difficulties and challenges facing it, drafting framework to support it, and introduce initiatives that boost cognitive entrepreneurship.
Minister of Culture and Information Adel Al-Turaifi, Minister of Education Ahmed Isa, Minister of Haj and Umrah Muhammad Saleh Bantan, Prince Turki Bin Saud Bin Muhammad, president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, are among the Saudi dignitaries attending the forum. Al-Turaifi will speak on the salient features of Vision 2030 and will underscore the need for their active participation in its success.
Various executive committees of Souk Okaz have completed all the preparations for wide varieties of programs and activities of the festival. These included forums, seminars, dialogues, poetic evenings, performance of folklore arts, staging of dramas, exhibitions, and display of handicrafts.
More than 30 thinkers and writers will present papers at seven cultural seminars, which will be held over three days as part of the festival. These include a seminar on "Arabic language in France." Several exhibitions are being held as part of the festival. These include exhibition on "History of Jeddah City and its unique place as gateway to the Two Holy Mosques, exhibition on Kaaba cover factory, exhibitions of several universities, and exhibition on the photos of King Salman organized by King Abdulaziz Public Library.
Around 24 poets from 10 Arab countries will present their poems at the poetic evenings. The functions include honoring of this year's Souk Okaz Poet and Okaz Young Poet prize. Prince Khaled announced recently that Muhammad Mahmoud Al-Azzam of Jordan has won this year's Souk Okaz Poet prize while Khulaif Bin Ghaleb Al-Shamri of Saudi Arabia bagged the Okaz Young Poet prize. The prize for fiction, which was introduced for the first time this year, goes to the famous Saudi novelist Maqbul Mousa Al-Alawi. Abdul Baqi Abu Bakr from Malaysia has won the first position in Arabic calligraphy while Abdurahman Ibrahim Al-Majed of Bahrain bagged the prize in digital photography. Luay Muhammad Naseeb of Saudi Arabia secured the prize in entrepreneurship, which was introduced for the first time, while Muhammad Basalama has won the prize in innovation. He said that the winners have been chosen from among 558 contestants from 20 countries, and that the value of prize money has been raised to SR1.7 million. The emir also announced the establishment of an integrated city for Souk Okaz.
Souk Okaz, which represents a unique and important tourism landmark in the Kingdom, was re-created on the same location where the ancient Souk Okaz used to be held historically. The festival was revived in 2006 by Prince Khaled during his first tenure as emir of Makkah.

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