Souq Okaz to introduce ‘Narrator’s Tent’

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RIYADH: The Souq Okaz festival will this year introduce a new event, the “Narrator’s Tent,” under the supervision of the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah).
The 11th edition of the week-long cultural and heritage festival will open July 12 under the patronage of King Salman. Located on the outskirts of the resort city of Taif, the Souq is held every year during the summer break.
“The upcoming session of the Souq will launch a new event, the Narrator’s Tent,” said the media department at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the organizer of the event. It further said that the event will take place on a daily basis in a dedicated tent.
The Narrator’s Tent will include Mohammed bin Rabih Al-Ghamdi and Fayez bin Musa Al-Harbi from the Kingdom; Saeed bin Mohammed Al-Gilani from the Sultanate of Oman; Nawaf Abdul Aziz Al-Jahma from Kuwait; Joma Mohammed Al-Kabi from Bahrain; and Hamad Mohammed bin Sari from the UAE. They will recount historical stories on the most important historical events that have taken place on the Arabian Peninsula.
Besides the Narrator’s Tent, a Souq cultural library, which will include books on the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to an audiovisual library on the Souq, and an Okaz exhibition of ancient Islamic writings and inscriptions will be organized under the supervision of Darah.
This year, the Souq will include Arabic and early Islamic poetry recitations, theater performances, market presentations, language challenges, sports shows, horse and camel convoys, handicraft, and light and sound presentations.
The SCTH will also organize 50 journeys under the “Live Saudi Arabia” program where 2,500 students from all regions will benefit with the participation of 65 tourist guides and 10 journey organizers.


Source  :  Arab News

Serving pilgrims Kingdom’s top priority: Shoura speaker

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RIYADH: Shoura Council Speaker Abdullah Al-Asheikh said the Kingdom has placed serving pilgrims among its top priorities.
In remarks on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Al-Asheikh said serving the guests of Allah rests on the Kingdom’s deep belief that it is an honor and responsibility it has pledged to bear in the quest for reward from Allah Almighty.
In this context, the Shoura speaker congratulated the leadership on the success of the Umrah season during the holy month of Ramadan thanks to construction work carried out in the two holy mosques with a view to raising their capacities and facilitating services to the guests of Allah.
Meanwhile, Umrah performers condemned the attempted terror act targeting the Grand Mosque, saying this heinous act is nothing to do with the true Islamic religion and its tolerant principles.
Speaking to local press, Mohammed Abbad, a Tunisian, said Allah has given the Kingdom wise leadership and vigilant security men in a manner that has allowed Umrah performers to peacefully conduct their rituals. He said this group of terrorists has lost their humanity in their attempt to target the sacred house of Allah.


Source  :  Arab News

Japan’s youngest shogi prodigy sets new record with 29th straight win

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Japan’s youngest professional shogi player, 14-year-old Sota Fujii, set the all-time record for most consecutive wins on Monday, continuing a winning streak that has reignited public interest in the traditional board game.

Fujii, a junior high school student, defeated fellow fourth-dan player Yasuhiro Masuda, 19, in first round of the prestigious Ryuo Championship finals at the Shogi Kaikan hall in Tokyo, staying unbeaten in 29 official matches since his pro debut match in December. His first win of the streak came against the oldest top-ranked player, Hifumi Kato.

“I cannot believe (this accomplishment) myself. I was very lucky,” Fujii said, retaining his calm demeanor after Monday’s historic game that lasted over 11 hours while shogi fans and others followed every move online, on TV and elsewhere. “I somehow held out,” he also said.

Fujii, who holds the fourth “dan,” or rank, broke the record of 28 consecutive wins set in 1987 by Hiroshi Kamiya, a 56-year-old eighth-dan player. Professionals are ranked between fourth dan, the lowest, and ninth dan, the highest.

Fujii just last Wednesday registered his 28th win against 25-year-old Shingo Sawada, a sixth dan, to tie the previous all-time winning streak.

Masuda, who went pro in 2014, is regarded as having had exceptional skills from his early days.

With the record on the line in Monday’s match, Fujii and Masuda faced off in hopes of going on to challenge Ryuo title holder Akira Watanabe, 33.

The Ryuo title is one of the eight contested by professional shogi players. The winner of the Ryuo tournament final takes home the largest prize purse of the year, around 43.2 million yen ($390,000) plus anything earned from winning previous matches.

The current level of interest in shogi has not been seen since 1996 when Yoshiharu Habu made a clean sweep to hold all seven top shogi titles at once. Habu, 46, a ninth dan, retains three of the titles and remains one of the most famous shogi players.

The Eio championship was elevated this year to make a total of eight top tournaments.

Last October, Fujii became the youngest professional player ever at the age of 14 years and 2 months. Two months later, he beat 77-year-old Kato, a ninth-dan player, in his professional debut.

Kato, meanwhile, retired last Tuesday after he lost to 23-year-old fourth-dan Satoshi Takano, putting an end to a career spanning 63 years.

Fujii’s rise to prominence has inspired brisk sales of books about shogi catered to children, and inspired more young people to play the board game.

Fujii began playing shogi at age 5 after his grandmother gave him a children’s version of the game. After his late grandfather became no match for him, the boy started attending shogi classes in his neighborhood.

Shogi can be more complicated than chess as players, given 20 pieces each, can reuse the pieces captured from their opponent and introduce them back into the game as their own. The game, in which players attempt to capture their opponent’s king piece, is thought to have originated from the ancient Indian game of chaturanga.

Fujii’s success is also seen as a positive turn for the shogi world which was rocked in 2016 by allegations that one of its top players, Hiroyuki Miura, cheated with software assistance. Miura was later cleared.

The shogi world is highly competitive. An aspiring shogi player typically enters “shorei-kai,” a society under the Japan Shogi Association aimed at training young aspiring players under the age of 26.

Only four new players per year can enter the professional ranks through attainment of fourth dan. In order to do so, they must finish first or second in the twice-yearly third-dan tournament.

There are currently around 160 active professional shogi players. Including retired players, the number is around 200.

Under the Japan Shogi Association, no women have ever attained fourth dan. Females play as professionals in a separate women’s only category.

The players get their income from playing in competitions. On top of fees for competing in matches and prize money, they can also earn money through giving talks, teaching the game and TV appearances.

Top players can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.


Source  :  Japan Today

Takata bankruptcy raises concern among suppliers, employees

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Takata Corp. suppliers and employees voiced concern Monday following the embattled Japanese air bag maker’s decision to file for bankruptcy protection amid a global recall of its defective air bag inflators.

“We just received delivery orders two days ago, but I’m worried if we will really be paid,” an employee at a car component company in the city of Takashima in Shiga Prefecture said, adding, “Even if the amount of transactions is small, it will hurt smaller firms like us.” Takata started business as a fabric firm in the prefecture in 1933.

According to credit research agency Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd, around 40% of Takata’s more than 130 tier 1 suppliers are based in the Kinki region, mainly in Shiga, western Japan.

A worker at a factory that makes parts for Takata’s unit Takata Kyushu Corp in Saga Prefecture, southwestern Japan, was also confused about the decision.

“I’m afraid that this plant may go bust in the future,” the worker said.

A man in his 40s working at Takata’s seat belt manufacturing plant in Shiga was upset, saying the company had not given any explanation regarding the bankruptcy filing.

“Workers are also talking about what will happen now that the company will be owned by a Chinese firm,” he said.

Takata has decided to sell its business to U.S. auto parts maker Key Safety Systems Inc, owned by Chinese company Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.

An official of the Shiga prefectural government said it will closely watch for any impact from Takata’s bankruptcy filing on local firms.

Hiroshige Seko, minister of economy, trade and industry, told reporters Monday he had instructed ministry officials to set up a “safety net” for small and medium-sized companies that could be affected by Takata’s decision.

The Japanese government is seeking to avoid a chain reaction of bankruptcies following Takata’s decision by providing financial support through a scheme to aid small and medium-sized companies struggling due to changes in economic conditions or disasters.

The system was applied when Japanese semiconductor maker Elpida Memory Inc. went bankrupt in 2012.

Seko said he viewed the situation as “unavoidable given the harsh business climate” due to the global recall. The minister also expressed hope that Key Safety Systems will fix Takata’s finances and he “expects a quick turnaround.”



Source  :  Japan Today