Page 1

Issue no: 1199


FOCUS ON THE SYNOD SCANDAL The firing of a bishop divides the faithful



In this week’s issue... Ambrolauri Mayor Who Is “Against Gambling” Wins Car at Bookmakers POLITICS PAGE 4

Ex-President Saakashvili Claims Billionaire Ivanishvili Wants to "Seize" Tskaltubo Resort POLITICS PAGE 4

Stoltenberg Reaffirms the Alliance’s Support for Ukraine POLITICS PAGE 6

The Wicked, Wicked, World POLITICS PAGE 6

Georgian Cheese & Culinary Festival in Gurjaani BUSINESS PAGE 7



n Tuesday, October 29, in an overwhelming vote of 405 members in favor of the resolution versus 11 opposing it, the US House recognized the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. Turkey’s past and current steps were in focus in the US House. Prior to voting to recognize the “Armenian issue”, as the Turkish like to call this part of history, the House voted “403 to 16 to impose sanctions on Turkey, in a striking rebuke of Donald Trump after he pulled American forces from northern Syria following a phone call with the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, paving the way for Turkey’s assault on Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria,” the Guardian reports. Yerevan, Armenia. People taking part in a torch-lit procession to mark the 104th anniversary of the Continued on page 6 Armenian Genocide - the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces. Source: The Guardian

Ren Zhengfei's Northern European Media Roundtable, Part 1 BUSINESS PAGE 8

Georgian National Film Center to Fund ‘And Then We Danced’ Actors’ Trip to Oscars Ceremony CULTURE PAGE 9

Renowned Saudi Visual Artist’s Works to Be Exhibited in Georgia


Special Offer for readers of Georgia Today -15% off all Diet Plans!





NOVEMBER 1 - 4, 2019




Morocco-UK Sign Post-Brexit Association Agreement

O www.whitehouse.gov issued on: August1, 2017


The new issue of WHERE.ge is out!

n October 26 in London, Morocco and the United Kingdom signed an Association Agreement that replicates the effects of the existing EU-Morocco Association Agree-

ment. Signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Nasser Bourita, and the UK Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Andrew Murrison, the agreement will ensure continuity in the trading and wider bilateral relations between Morocco and the UK when the UK ceases to be bound by the EU-Morocco Association Agreement. Speaking to reporters following the signing ceremony of the Morocco-UK Association Agreement, Bourita said Morocco exports about 8 billion dirhams to the UK, making it the 7th customer of Morocco and its 11th supplier in the framework of the free trade agreement with the European Union. "Bilateral trade between Morocco and the United Kingdom is worth more than 18.3 billion dirhams, or just under 4% of all trade exchange with the European Union in 2018," said Minister Bourita. "By the end of March 2019, Moroccan imports from the United Kingdom amounted to 2.43 million dirhams while exports to Morocco reached

1.87 million dirhams, which corresponds to a coverage rate of around 77%," he said, adding that British direct investments in Morocco have reached 2.23 billion dirhams in 2018, against 2.04 billion in 2017. The sectors concerned by these investments are trade, industry and real estate, investments which represent 1% of British FDI across the world. Regarding remittances from Moroccans living in the United Kingdom, they are worth 5.1 billion dirhams, or 9% of the total transfers of Moroccans living abroad. Of tourism, the Minister said that the number of British tourists who visited Morocco in 2018 reached 683,362, or 6% of the total number of tourists, up by 4%, adding that the United Kingdom ranks 4th in terms of European tourists visiting Morocco. There are now 74 weekly flights between the two countries and 13 direct shipping links between Tangiers and British ports, he said. With this agreement, the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union will not create any break in the bilateral relationship between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Morocco. The agreement ensures a smooth transition, which maintains the fluidity of exchanges and guarantees their security.




NOVEMBER 1 - 4, 2019

Holy Synod Dismisses Metropolitan of Chkondidi from Position of Bishop Holy Synod’s decision to mediate and ask the Georgian President to pardon Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze. "The Holy Synod will mediate and ask President Zurabishvili to pardon Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze," the former Metropolitan of Chkondidi told reporters after he left the meeting, adding that the Holy Synod took a unanimous decision on this issue. “The Holy Synod unanimously shared the request of Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze and decided to mediate with the President, asking for a pardon for the Archpriest,“ he said. Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze was detained in September 2017 for allegedly plotting the murder of a high-ranking clergy member of the Georgian Ortho-


meeting of the Holy Synod held on October 31 at the Patriarchate of Georgia ended with scandalous results - the Metropolitan of Chkondidi, Petre Tsaava, has been fired from the position of Bishop by the Synod because he submitted incriminating evidence against Patriarch Ilia II. The former Metropolitan of Chkondidi made a statement after leaving the meeting held at the Patriarchate, saying it was "an unfair decision." "Regarding my attitude, and for those of you wondering about the punishment, I would say that if today's session of the

Synod has turned into a Pilate court, anything is possible," he said on leaving the Synod, referring to the cruel fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea, during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. Reverend Grigol has been appointed the new Metropolitan of the Chkondidi Eparchy, the Archbishop Nicholas of Akhalkalaki told journalists. “Reverend Petre was not cut off completely. The final judgment will be made at the Holy Synod assembly. Petre has to abandon his current duties and give way to the appointment of the new chief priest,” he noted. A group of clergymen gathered in sup-

port of the now-dismissed Metropolitan in his former diocese in Martvili, also claiming that the Synod's decision to fire Petre Tsaava is unfair. "Reverend Petre has been punished for telling the truth… For me, he still is and always will be a great Metropolitan," one of the demonstrators said. The head of the St. Nino Church in Martvili, nun Tamar Gamkrelidze, noted that there is unanimity among the clergymen of the Diocese of Chkondidi, all of whom disagree with the resignation of Petre Tsaava as bishop and oppose the Patriarchate. Yet another important result of today’s session was the announcement of the

If today's Synod session has turned into a Pilate court, anything is possible dox Church and was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment upon being found guilty by the Tbilisi City Court.

Yet another important result of today’s session was the announcement of the Holy Synod’s decision to mediate and ask the Georgian President to pardon Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze

Ambrolauri Mayor Who Is “Against Gambling” Wins Car at Bookmakers BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


mbrolauri Mayor David Mkheidze, who won a bookmaker’s Porsche Cayman 2019, says he is against the promotion of gambling. “I am neither that busy nor obsessed and I do not spend much time gambling so that it affects my work performance,” the Mayor told Netgazeti. He explained that his account at the bookmakers was made by his cousins who were betting themselves. “Sometimes they [cousins] bet through my profile there... I love football. I went there one evening and bought a ticket just for fun. We are all humans,” he added.

Mkheidze says that youngsters and schoolchildren should not be involved in gambling, but he says that the relatively elderly population can certainly play, if they want to. The Mayor explains that he agrees with the initiative of a number of parliamentarians who oppose the promotion of gambling and initiated a corresponding bill that proposes changes to the Law on Advertising in this field. MP Levan Gogichaishvili, one of the authors of a bill which says that gambling advertising should be restricted by relevant amendments to the Law on Advertising, said at the Parliament Session this week that the Mayor of Ambrolauri winning an expensive car through gambling is shameful. “I would like to take this opportunity

and congratulate the Mayor of Ambrolauri on his winning a Porsche in gambling. But this is a shameful fact… We should target this deadly industry, my colleagues. As long as this space, this industry, exists, such shameful things will happen in our country,” Gogichaishvili said at the plenary session. The draft law prepared by lawmakers of the ruling party Georgian Dream, reads that gambling advertising in Georgia will be significantly restricted and advertising gambling through television, radio, internet and other means of communication will be prohibited. The exception applies to sponsorship, however, and only the name of the game organizer and the distribution of the logo will be permitted. The same document reads that adver-

tising of gambling will be forbidden in religious, children's, educational and medical institutions, culture and sports organizations (except for ads on sports outfits), as well as within a 200-meter radius of such institutions. It will be also forbidden to post any information on a gambling organization building that expands over more than 10 square meters of area. The explanatory note states that the reason for the drafting of such a bill is the heavy social background of gambling and the reduction of risks that is attached to such games. According to the draft law, violation of the rules for the distribution of gambling and lucrative games will result in the advertiser and gambling company receiving a fine of 10,000 GEL each. In addition, if the

offending advertisements are not removed, the fine will be doubled each month. Online payments to foreign gambling and profitable games using Georgian bankcards may also be banned. The changes will prohibit all payment service providers, including commercial banks and microfinance organizations, from establishing relations with foreign gambling companies to make payments in their favor or allowing payment to a foreign gambling company with cards issued by them. The authors of the initiative are MPs: Levan Gogichaishvili, Irakli Beraia, Irakli Abuseridze, Goga Gulordava, Bidzina Gegidze and Tsotne Zurabiani. It is not yet known when the draft will be submitted to Parliament.

Ex-President Saakashvili Claims Ivanishvili Wants to "Seize" Tskaltubo Resort BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


x-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is in exile due to various charges against him in Georgia, says that the announcement from ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party founder and ex-PM, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, that he can buy and restore Tskaltubo resort, is an attempt to "seize state property." Two days ago, Ivanishvili said that as the state does not have the resources to develop Tskaltubo, a spa resort in westcentral Georgia, Imereti region, he has decided to completely redeem all 22 hotels and 9 baths of the resort and rehabilitate them. “Since the state does not have the resources to invest the required several hundred million for the full-scale reha-

bilitation of Tskaltubo, and there is no development plan for the resort, I have decided to manage the Tskaltubo rehabilitation project personally. I will redeem all 22 hotels, 9 baths and rehabilitate them fully,” the statement reads. He highlighted that Tskaltubo has the potential to become the health and tourism capital of the region in the coming years. “I will not seek any profit: the maximum price will be the prime cost of the facilities. At the same time, I am ready to give these projects to interested businesses at a significant discount,” he said. Saakashvili claims that the Tskaltubo development project was launched by him in 2009, when he was still President, but that it was halted by the Georgian Dream government. He claims that Bidzina Ivanishvili plans to seize $700 million worth of property for free. The ex-President released a video on his Facebook page, saying that “there

has never been such a large-scale robbery in the history of Georgia by any of its invaders.” “We had a project on virtually all other tourist sites in Tskaltubo. The major part was to be completed by the end of 2013 and the rest within two years. Ivanishvili came and stopped everything,” said Saakashvili, adding the ruling party Chair wants to get the Tskaltubo property for free. In addition to Saakashvili, Mamuka Khazaradze, co-founder of Georgia’s largest bank, TBC Bank, and a founder of the movement Lelo, says that Ivanishvili’s statement “contains signs of racketeering.” Khazaradze says that Ivanishvili is the “informal ruler” of Georgia and his statement is the continuation of a “misappropriation process.” "This is a continuation of the country's misappropriation process, which Ivanishvili has already carried out at the

Prosecutor's Office, court, state institutions, and now, with money of uncertain origin which he gained in Russia and money coming from the Panama Offshore Company, he continues to destroy and put into his pocket state property,” Saakashvili stressed. Minister of Economy Natia Turnava names Ivanishvili's announcement a "charity initiative" and says it "is not a profitable business," adding that the expenses needed to rehabilitate the town amount to hundreds of million dollars. The Minister also said that "under the unprecedented initiative announced by Bidzina Ivanishvili, Tskaltubo will not only restore its former glory but will become one of the most famous tourist attractions in Eastern Europe because of its unique nature, waters and architecture." To note, of the 22 sanatoriums in Tskaltubo which Ivanishvili plans to buy, 15 are in the balance of the National

Property Agency of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. The town of Tskaltubo is situated in the central part of Western Georgia, only 7km from the city of Kutaisi, 140km from the Black Sea and 245 km from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. In this picturesque place, the resort of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union was located on 16 hectares with a beautiful forest and historical buildings. This was where Stalin would spend his vacations. Another significant factor in Tskaltubo is its architecture, which is a synthesis of Stalinist period classical style and Georgian ethnic decor with Gothic and Roman features. Currently, the spa receives some 700 visitors a year, and since 1993 many of the sanatorium complexes have been devoted to housing around 9000 refugees, displaced from their homes after the conflict in breakaway Abkhazia in the 1990s.




NOVEMBER 1 - 4, 2019

The Wicked, Wicked, World OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hat kind of a man or woman should one be to, like more than half the world, feel good, pleased and content at his or her death? The other day, the most talked about breaking global news was the death of Abu Bakr alBaghdadi. This doctor for Islamic studies and education-turned terrorist, once a shy young man, an unimpressive religious scholar and a bleak mosque cleric, became a self-designated Caliph of ISIS, an Islamic revolutionary who happened to be directly involved in atrocities and human rights violations on a grand scale and who went through internment in the United States, and when at large again, wanted to go for the genocide of Yazidis in Iraq, extensive sex slavery, organized rape, floggings, broad executions, massacres, mass crucifixions, and the putting to death of people via hacking, stoning and burning. No exaggeration! This is all written in books, and

claims to be corroborated by numerous recorded occasions. Al-Baghdadi was declared a leader of the Islamic State of Iraq almost ten years ago. ISIS is known as al-Qaeda in Iraq although the contradictions between these two notorious terrorist organizations have been known for quite a while now. It was said that Al-Baghdadi departed this life by self-detonating a suicide vest, taking with him three young children. This happened on October 26 as a result of the American Delta Force blitz military operation, using the air space currently controlled by Russia and Turkey. The name of the spot used by the American fighters is the Idlib province of Syria on the border with Turkey, where he was cornered in a tunnel after having been hunted by dogs trained in military chase operations. The bounty designated by the relevant American powers for AlBaghdadi’s head, was as high as 25 million dollars for the supply of information on the culprit’s whereabouts. Well, the capture was certainly enabled but nobody knows if the fees were paid out or not. I am unsure whether this coin has two sides or not, but the fact is that certain

circumstances, which have yet to be recognized by the happier part of the world, turned a man as quiet as a church mouse not very long ago into a ferocious killer of international caliber. The official worldwide information has it that AlBaghdadi and his bunch were recognized as a terrorist organization by the UN, EU and a certain amount of countries. Meanwhile the newly-killed Baghdadi was elevated to the rank of a Designated

Global Terrorist. This taken for granted, it was considered fully legal to hunt him down and get him dead or alive. And who would have done this better than the Joint Special Operations Command's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta of the United States of America! The fun in all this is that the whole operation was electronically carried out from the basement of the West Wing of

the White house, within the confines of which the so called Situation Room is located: a 500-square-meter strongly secured space used by the American Administration for handling crises at home and beyond. The Situation Room is equipped with the most sophisticated communications gear and software for America’s Chief Executive to control the actions of his highly-trained military forces around the world. The main players of the American military game were sitting comfortably in the room in each other’s fun company to watch on a big screen the happy moment of taking out one of America’s biggest sworn enemies, the world to hear at the end of the show from the President himself that the bad guy died like a dog and coward. Totally rejecting the impression that the world has become a better and safer place to live, Man is still poised and ready to kill and then to revenge the committed murder. Nothing has changed in the human behavioral model since the bloodiest times of our shameful past – it remains as wicked as it has been for millennia. And for our spiritual comfort, we call it God’s Will.

Stoltenberg Reaffirms the Alliance’s Support for Ukraine BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI


ATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has affirmed that the Alliance welcomes the news that Ukrainian forces are to be pulled out of war-torn hotspots. The move encompasses an agreement, according to which the militaries of both sides (Ukrainian National Guard and the occupational/separatist militias)

should retreat from the Donbas and Lugansk regions. "We welcome all efforts to reduce tensions," Stoltenberg said during a visit to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa on October 30, adding that "There is a long way to go because there are still ceasefire violations." "NATO states very clearly that Russia has a special responsibility to... withdraw all its troops and officers from eastern Ukraine and stop destabilizing eastern Ukraine,” he added. "The visit today sends a clear message

that NATO stands in solidarity with Ukraine," Stoltenberg said. Moscow has strongly opposed Ukraine's pro-Western path. As a reminder, on October 1, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced the withdrawal of the Ukrainian Army from villages in Donbas, specifically Petrivske and Zolote. The decision has been criticized by a large portion of the Ukrainian populace, as they perceive this action as capitulation from the Ukrainian administration.

EUMM Releases Info on New Instances of Borderization BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI


he EUMM reacted to the recent media reports and information distributed on social media and provided the following information: “The EUMM did carry out a regular, scheduled patrol near the village of Atotsi in the early hours of 30 October. The EUMM is monitoring the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) to South

Ossetia intensively both day and night and the presence of EUMM monitors was not a response to any specific incident as alleged by some sources. Rather, it was scheduled in advance according to the Mission’s patrolling plans,” reads the tweet from the EUMM team. The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) has informed that they have observed “new fencing being installed” in the village of Atotsi, Kareli municipality, by occupation forces, ‘creating additional barriers to the freedom of movement for the conflict-affected

population.’ The fieldworkers of EUMM have not observed any notable difference in stance or patrolling patterns of security actors from the Russian-controlled Tskhinvali, on the ground, compared to the recent past. “We evaluate the security situation on that specific section of the administrative boundary line (ABL) to be relatively stable presently,” the EUMM said. Georgian PM Giorgi Gakharia stated on October 20 that the actions of the occupying forces are “unacceptable.”

US House Votes to Recognize Armenian Genocide Continued from page 1 The overwhelming voting against Turkey in both cases will most likely damage the image of the US in the eyes of the Turkish people. In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavusoglu, called the act “an attempt to rewrite history” while also touching upon the possible shift of relations between the two countries. “Undoubtedly, this resolution will negatively affect the image of the US before the public opinion of Turkey as it also brings the dignity of the US House of Representatives into disrepute,” reads the Turkish statement. The House members, while defending the resolution, pressed the issue quite

strongly. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went on to connect the past of Turkey to the country’s present actions. “If we ignore history, then we are destined to witness the mistakes of the past be repeated,” said Pelosi, demanding support for the resolution. “Recent attacks by the Turkish military against the Kurdish people are a stark reminder of the danger in our own time.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday addressed the US resolution on recognizing the Armenian genocide said to have been committed by the Ottoman Empire, naming the decree which passed in the House of Representatives ‘worthless’ and ‘insulting’. “I am addressing US public opinion

and the entire world: this step is worthless and we do not recognize it,” Erdogan said in a televised speech. “In our faith, genocide is forbidden,” he said. “We consider such an accusation to be the highest insult to our people.” Erdogan believes that the resolution was politically motivated, in response to the Turkish aggression against the Kurds in northeastern Syria. He also put forward the idea of Turkish Parliament passing a ‘counter resolution’ and further underlined that ‘recognition’ of genocide seriously harms Turkish relations with various actors. Responding to the House’s decision, President Erdogan said: “We do not recognize this step, this decision you have taken. […] The countries who have

stains of genocide, slavery, colonialism in their history have no right to give lessons to Turkey.” The “Armenian Genocide” has been a fraught debate in history, with the Turkish refusing to recognize it as such and the Armenians demanding the identification of the genocide as a historical fact. Ahmet Davutoglu, the former Prime Minister of Turkey, in his article published in 2014, talked about the impossibility of the ‘just memory’ concept, implying that different nations have different narratives. He suggested the nations move past it, as it is impossible to objectively decide what happened in the past, and to establish diplomatic relations in the present. The Armenians on their side, with the

strong voice of Gerard Libaridian, an Armenian-American historian and politician, responded to the article, calling it an attempt to justify the politics of one’s country and manifesting their inability to see things from the opponent’s perspective. International politics has taken different standings on what happened in 1915 on the territory of the Ottoman Empire, however, the US House’s Tuesday vote was the first official recognition of the event as a genocide. “The Armenian issue,” or “Armenian Genocide” has been an interesting and controversial issue for researchers and academics alike, while a painful reality for those connected to the events themselves.



Georgian Cheese & Culinary Festival in Gurjaani


he city of winemaking and festivals hosted guests at Akhtala Park. For the first time this year, the Cheese and Culinary Festival was held in Gurjaani. Within the framework of the festival, various events were organized for the local population and visitors of the city to promote Georgian traditional cuisine. One of the most important events was the exhibition of cheese and other agro products, seeing chefs cooking cheese dishes. The event was opened by Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture Khatia Tsilosani and the Majority MP of Gurjaani Municipality Davit Songulashvili. “Promoting Georgian agro products and establishing them on the market is one of the priorities of this Ministry,” Tsilosani said. “The Gurjaani Cheese and Culinary Festival is a good opportunity both for farmers to introduce their products to the wider audience and for the development of the region, enhancing local economic conditions.” MP Songulashvili noted that the Festival aims to popularize cooking as a field in the region, which itself will significantly contribute to the development of tourism. The event was attended by representatives of local authorities, restaurateurs, chefs, sommeliers and tourists. The festival featured over 50 varieties of both traditional and ancient Georgian cheese recipes, as well as European branded cheese analogues produced in Georgia. The guests of the festival had the opportunity to taste and buy Georgian cheese and cheese products, different types of Georgian wine, sweets and other local products. As part of the festival, cheese producers, Georgian and foreign chefs conducted master classes, introducing guests to the technologies of cooking and cheese making. A contest in making traditional

Georgian dish Khinkali was also held, with the participation of the culinary competition Bocuse d'Or finalists. An ethno cultural space was also arranged, where the chefs from different regions introduced the technology of preparing traditional dishes characteristic to each region. Within the frames of the event, various entertainment activities for children, as well as an exhibition of thematic photos and handicrafts, were also arranged. Local folk ensembles and singers added to the festive mood for the audience. The final part of the festival featured a culinary show by the finalists of Bocuse d'Or, each of them offering creatively prepared khinkali to the guests. The Gurjaani Cheese and Culinary Festival was organized and supported by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia and Gurjaani City Hall within the program "Promotion of Georgian Agro Products".





NOVEMBER 1 - 4, 2019

Ren Zhengfei's Northern European Media Roundtable, Part 1


en Zhengfei, Huawei CEO, welcomed media from northern Europe to a roundtable and invited them to ask whatever they wished, however challenging the question. GEORGIA TODAY will be publishing those questions and answers in the present and following issues of GEORGIA TODAY newspaper.

HUAWEI IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF TWO BIG INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLES. ONE IS THE TRADE CONFLICT BETWEEN CHINA AND THE US WHICH ALSO SPILLS OVER INTO EUROPE. THE OTHER HAS TO DO WITH THE ALLEGATIONS THAT HUAWEI CAN BE A TOOL FOR ESPIONAGE. WHAT IS YOUR STRAIGHT ANSWER ON HUAWEI'S POSITION? First, I want to make it clear that the conflict between China and the US has nothing to do with Huawei. Huawei has virtually no business presence in the US, so whatever the result of the China-US trade talk ends up being, it won't have an impact on us. Second, though the US has put us on its Entity List, we have now used our own chips in the vast majority of our products. In the past, we limited the use of our own chips and used more chips from the US. We did this so that we could keep good ties with US companies, which have maintained strong

I fully support the EU's new strategy about digital sovereignty

relationships with us over the past three decades. Why did we stop using their chips all of a sudden? When the US suspends our supply, we have to start using our own chips on a larger scale. We have been preparing this for years. It didn't happen all of a sudden. The US government thinks cutting supply to Huawei will give them a leg up in its trade war with China, but really, it fails to hit its target. The sales of its own companies have been weakened instead. Third, in terms of cyber security, Huawei has been faced with accusations from the US. But as you know, these accusations are groundless. Our sound track record has proven that Huawei is a reliable company. Over the past 30 years, we have served three billion people in more than 170 countries and regions. Even today, there hasn't been a single incident of data theft. An article published by the Lithuanian newspaper Lrytas UAB implied that the leaked information of the African Union was allegedly related to Huawei. The Lithuanian court has obliged Lrytas UAB to publish a statement to retract its false statements and apologize to Huawei. Our 30 years of sound track record is a testimony to people in Northern Europe that we are credible.

WHAT WILL THINGS BE LIKE IN THE NEXT 30 YEARS? Mr. Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, made a statement at the Munich Security Conference that China has no law requiring companies to install backdoors. Premier Li Keqiang reiterated this point at a press conference following a recent session of the National People's Congress. So, from simply a policy perspective, we would never install backdoors in our equipment. And from the perspective of our best interests, the backlash of a wrongdoing like this would spread

around world, and our business credibility earned through 30 years of hard work would be damaged. With all our employees running away, I would need to repay tens of billions in bank loans for the company. So I have no motivation to do something like this. I can promise people in Northern Europe that we respect their digital sovereignty and would never do anything that would violate it. Fourth, let me give a quick example. When a truck manufacturer sells a truck, the driver decides what the truck will carry, not the truck manufacturer. So, when our telecom equipment is sold to a carrier, it is the carrier and the local government that control and govern the data, we don't. So it is impossible for us to steal anything. We are a firm supporter of digital sovereignty. That's why the US' accusations are groundless and they haven't presented any solid evidence to support them. These are purely speculative and not the truth.

NORWAY IS AN ALLY OF THE US AND A MEMBER OF NATO. IT'S UNDER PRESSURE FROM THE US, AND JUST RECENTLY, TELIA, WHO IS ITS SECOND BIGGEST CARRIER, DECIDED THAT THEY WOULD USE ERICSSON FOR THEIR 5G TECHNOLOGY. DO YOU THINK THAT DECISION WAS MADE BASED ON NETWORK SPEED AND QUALITY OR DID POLITICAL FACTORS COME INTO PLAY? We respect whatever decisions our customers make, which is basically the same as buying clothes at the mall. Everyone has different tastes, so our customers are going to buy whatever they want. There are countless carriers around the world, and it's impossible to make every single one of them like us. We were not able do this in the past, and it is even less likely for us to do so given the current situation we find ourselves in.

ARE YOU EXCLUDING THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE POLITICAL CLIMATE INFLUENCED TELIA'S DECISION? I'm not a decision-maker at Telia, so I could not tell you if their decision was politically influenced or not. As of now, we have signed 60 contracts for 5G and have shipped 400,000 5G base stations. And these numbers are still going up. Decisions made by one or two customers do not represent how the majority of our customers feel about Huawei.

YOU MENTIONED SHORTLY THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BECOME SELFRELIANT. WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IT WELL AND WHERE DO YOU FEEL THE DIFFICULTIES OF BEING ON THE ENTITY LIST? To be frank, we have not seen a substantial impact from the US attack on our communications domain. The attack is primarily against 5G and core networks. I can tell you that our revenue from the communications domain, including 5G and core networks, will not decline this year; in fact, it is estimated to grow by 0.1%. We will see growth with our communications domain, especially with 5G. There is little impact in this domain. Our consumer business however will be affected. If the US does not allow us to participate in the Google ecosystem, we will see it play out in overseas markets. We also find ourselves slightly behind US companies in intelligent computing and need to double our efforts to catch up.

The US' accusations are groundless and they haven't presented any solid evidence to support them WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE INDUSTRY AS THIS DIVIDE SEEMS TO GROW? IF IT CONTINUES, DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BE ABLE TO BUILD ANOTHER ECOSYSTEM BESIDES GOOGLE? We have a good working relationship with Google. Even if we develop our own ecosystem, that ecosystem will not be used to compete with them. I think if the world has ecosystems by Apple, Google, as well as Huawei, it will help advance our societies. We have never considered anyone as an adversary.

YOU'VE SAID VERY CLEARLY THAT IF BEIJING EVER ASKED HUAWEI TO SPY ON THEIR BEHALF, YOU WOULD CLOSE THIS COMPANY. HOW WOULD YOU IN PRACTICE CLOSE HUAWEI AND MAKE SURE THAT IT WAS NOT A STATE TAKEOVER? The Chinese government has never asked Huawei to spy on their behalf. In the past, they didn't even know networks could have backdoors. Since the US started making baseless accusations against Huawei, the Chinese government started to take cyber security seriously. It has taken some time for China to come to this level of awareness. We have been subject to the strictest evaluations in the UK, performed by world-class technical experts. According to their findings, Huawei has no malicious cyber security issues, but the quality of our software has room for improvement. The UK has placed trust in Huawei, and our business has developed very quickly there over the past decade. We also place huge trust in the UK and have established our own cyber security evaluation center there.

EVEN AS POWERFUL AS YOU ARE, CAN YOU SAY NO TO BEIJING, SAY NO TO THE CHINESE PRESIDENT AND LEADERSHIP? At the Munich Security Conference, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, made it very clear that China has no law requiring companies to install backdoors in their equipment. During a press conference held after a recent session of the National People's Congress, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reiterated this point. These are all directives from top government officials. Read more from Ren Zhengfei in the next issue of GEORGIA TODAY.



Georgian National Film Center to Fund ‘And Then We Danced’ Actors’ Trip to Oscars Ceremony BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI


he Georgian National Film Center welcomed the presentation of Levan Akin's film ‘And Then We Danced,’ a Swedish-Georgian-French co-production, in the category of International Film at the Oscars and has pledged support by planning to fund the Los Angeles trip to the Oscars ceremony for the film’s two main actors - Levan Gelbakhian and Bachi Valishvili. The Film Center believes that the cast of actors is of great value to the film, especially as Levan Gelbakhian has garnered numerous international accolades for being a top male actor. The National Film Center paid GEL 12,500.00 in May this year to allow six members of the creative team (Gelbakhiani, Valishvili, Keti Danelia, Nino Jincharadze, Ana Javakhishvili, and Giorgi Tsereteli) to participate in the Cannes Film Festival's program “Directors' Fortnightly”. The premiere of ‘And Then We Danced’

was held at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The film took seventh place among the 10 best films of the festival. The film, set in Georgia, tells the story of a young male dancer in Tbilisi who is training to join the National Georgian Ballet. He

develops feelings for his fellow male dancer, who is his rival for a spot in the ballet. More than 20 countries have already purchased the film’s showcase. Georgians will be able to watch the movie in Georgian cinemas from November 8.

UK/GE: Heritage Award Ceremony



he UK/Georgia 2019 Season and National Trust of Georgia presented the Heritage Award Ceremony in the Silk Museum on the evening of October 30. The 2019 season of UK/Georgia included the Heritage Awards for the first time – but the celebration is expected to become a tradition from here on in, encouraging Georgians to keep their unique heritage for the sake of the country and the world. Within the frames of the UK-Georgia Season, the ‘My Heritage’ Awards rewarded those who show sensitivity and intelligence in saving their own personal heritage, usually in their own homes. Photos of all eight winners’ achievements were on display at the event in the hope that others will be inspired to follow their example. A unique presentation was given by Lela Ninoshvili, a wall-painting restorer who won first

prize. She had also worked in the home of one of the runners up and could readily be described as a new ‘saviour’ of Georgian heritage. “Our objective was to encourage the people who made particular efforts to save Georgian cultural heritage,” Marine Mizandari, the Co-chair of the National Trust of Georgia, told GEORGIA TODAY, noting that while Georgia faces some challenges in the awareness of the country’s heritage preservation, the Awards have had a positive impact on society, and will “hopefully include more and more people as the years go by.” The five main prizes and three highly commended ones were presented by HE Justin McKenzie Smith, British Ambassador to Georgia, who reviewed the importance of such an awards ceremony for Georgia today. “We are very pleased to support this exciting new initiative as a part of the UK Season in Georgia 2019. We have seen some incredible projects of restoration and renovation from all across Georgia – from Racha to Kakheti, while Tbilisi was included, of course,” the

British Ambassador said. He also revealed what he had found most exciting about the ‘My Heritage’ Award. “What I found most incredible about the project is that it has been carried out by the younger generation and that says to me that Georgia’s priceless cultural and architectural heritage is in very good hands for the future.” This is the first ever Heritage Awards project ‘My Heritage,’ launched by the National Trust of Georgia, in association with the British Embassy Georgia. The National Trust of Georgia is a new organization linked to the large and highly successful National Trust of Great Britain. Its aim is to connect Georgians with the growing trend of preserving cultural and natural heritage. The competition will be repeated annually, encouraging all Georgian generations to preserve the country’s heritage. This Awards, above all, shows the strong ties of friendship between the two countries; Britain’s support of Georgia, and the respect the United Kingdom has for the country’s rich culture and traditions.





NOVEMBER 1 - 4, 2019


GIFT FESTIVAL PROGRAM 2019 November 2 DIARY OF A MADMAN A STORY BY NIKOLAI GOGOL Directed and Designed by Soso Nemsadze Venue: Giga Lortkipanidze Rustavi State Drama Theater Start time: 20:00 November 3 GOOD MORNING HUNDRED BUCKS! Directed by Keti Dolidze Set design by Mamuka Tkeshelashvili Venue: Giga Lortkipanidze Rustavi State Drama Theater Start time: 20:00 November 4 GIFT- Georgian International Festival of Arts in Tbilisi and IRA KOKHREIDZE'S INCLUSIVE THEATER Presents Philosophical inclusive theater performance CONTACT With English subtitles Stage director: Ira Kokhreidze Scenography / CoordinatorGeorge Mikaberidze Music: Bachi Tomadze (FOREST) Scenario: Ira Kokhreidze, George Mikaberidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 8-12 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater November 5 Valery Kharyutchenko, with the support of the Griboedovi Theater and Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film Georgia State University, presents Homeric Art Mystery TURBULENCE AREA, OR IN SEARCH FOR A LOST PARADISE The stage version of the play by E. Albee “What happened at the zoo” Venue: Griboedovi Theater Start time: 20:00 November 7 CAÍDA DEL CIELO (Fallen from Heaven) A show by Rocío Molina Venue: Griboedovi Theater Start time: 20:00 SILK FACTORY STUDIO 59 Kostava Sve. November 2, 3 VOYAGER Modern dance performance Based Scott Fitzgerald’s ''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'' Artistic director and choreographer: Giorgi Ghongadze

Designer: Anina Lebanidze Music Editing: Jino Dollini Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. November 1, 2 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL November 3 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL November 5 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL November 6, 7 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. November 1 LUARSAB Based on Ilia Chavchavadze’s story “Man is the man?!” Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. November 2 SILENT, REHEARSAL! Directed by Kakha Bakuradze One-act spectacle that is behind the scenes. Performance consists of various short novels: "Good Morning", "Cinemat", "Welcome-Host", "Shirley Beis", "Painter", "Bohemian Rhapsody.” Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL November 7 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Kakha Bakuradze

Music: Sandro Nikoladze, Davit Kakulia Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL MUSIC & DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. November 5 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until December 15 The first-ever exhibition of A REMARKABLE COIN FROM THE TIME OF KING DAVID THE BUILDER Until November 30 Exhibition ‘WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD' Supported by the EU With ancient archaeological finds, the exhibition presents for the first time gold jewelry of Late Antiquity (2nd-4th century AD), goldsmiths' tools from the Museum's ethnographic collection, and items made from gold and precious metals. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until November 12 NASASJÓN The exhibition consists of works by six Icelandic artists: Ingólfur Arnarsson, Ívar Valgardsson, Kristinn G. Hardarson, Sólveig Adalsteinsdóttir, Rádhildur

Ingadóttir and Tumi Magnússon. All the artists were born between 1954 and 1959. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. THE BOOK MUSEUM 5 Gudiashvili Str., National Parlamentary Library +995 32 297 16 40 The Book Museum holds a unique collection of items, including the private libraries of Ilia Chavchavadze, Dimitri Bakradze, Giorgi Chubinashvili, the recently recovered book collections of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich Romanov and Brothers Zubalashvili, as well as books with the signatures of Ilia Chavchavadze, Ivane Machabeli, Victor Hugo, Dmitri Mendeleev and AntoineAugustin Renouard. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Until November 20 Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition "THE FORM OF COLOR FROM TINTORETTO TO CANALETTO" from Trieste's National Gallery of Ancient Art. TBILISI DIGITAL SPACE Tbilisi Mall The first museum of digital art in Tbilisi, where you will meet three different spaces: Vazha-Pshavela's "Dried beech", the world of torches, and a digital space decorated with various graphic and visuals effects. In the main hall is decorated with video projections and mirrors, demonstrating there is no boundary between man and nature. Ticket: 10-30 GEL MUSIC

RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave. November 4 Artists Union ConceptArt presents the project NOSTALGIE- Georgian composer Enri Lolashvili’s soundtracks for movies and selected compositions, created in France while the composer lived there. Participants: Nino Katamadze, Liza Bagrationi, Nikoloz Rachveli, Giorgi Zagareli, Sandro Nebieridze, David Malazonia, Papuna Sharikadze, David Japaridze, Levan Deisadze, Zaza Tsertsvadze, Rezo Kiknadze, Levan Kemularia, Trinity Cathedral Choir, conductor-

Svimon Jangulashvili, Abkhazian State Choir, conductorZviad Bolkvadze, Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor- Paata Tsetskhladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-45 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8/10 Griboedovi Str. November 1 Veriko Chumburidze, Levan Tskhadadze TBILISI STATE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA “GEORGIAN SINFONIETTA” The program: Opuses by Haydn, Mozart Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL November 5 VERIKO CHUMBURIDZE- Violin Georgia, Turkey, Germany MAMIKON NAKHAPETOV- Piano Georgia, Germany The program: Opuses by Beethoven, Sibelius, Dvorák, Saint-Saëns Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a Agmashenebeli Ave. November 2 THE CONCERT OF TBILISI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA with pianist- Mamikon Nakhapetov Program: piano concerto of J.S. Bach No.3 and piano concerto of C. Saint-Saens No.2. The orchestra will play W.A.Mozart- symphony No.31 and F.Liszt- symphonic poem “Les Preludes” Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15-30 GEL BEER TIME 12b Kazbegi Ave. November 5 JC SMITH: BLUES TIME IN BEER TIME Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30-50 GEL WAREHOUSE 7 / VII PAVILION 30/32 Akhalkalaki Str. November 2 Fall Set Part 2– Boris Brejcha Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-90 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. November 5 JAM SESSION- Improv played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL SOUNDS OF GEORGIA November 1, 2, 6, 7 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: November 1- 10 Erekle II Square, Tekla Palace Hotel November 2- New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, November 6- Corner of 2 Turgenev Str., and 37 Javakhishvili Str., deep yard, November 7- Europe Square, 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel “Nata”




Renowned Saudi Visual Artist’s Works to be Exhibited in Georgia BY ANA DUMBADZE

Arabia developing and what are the challenges of being an artist there? Let’s find out.



eet Award-winning Saudi visual artist Halla bint Khalid, practicing for over 30 years in classical figurative painting and illustration, whose artworks soon will be exhibited in Georgia at the Museum of Modern Art, Tbilisi. ‘Tasleemah’ is the name of the exhibition, one which was conceived in an almost retrospective manner and that will introduce elements from the artist’s entire body of work. “Tasleemah” is an Arabic expression for greeting and is also a female personal name, rich with connotations: submission, peace and resignation. By means of an introduction, or “salutation” into the work of bint Khalid, ‘Tasleemah’ serves as a testimony to her ability, almost uncanny, to steer with art through uncertainty and discontent, revealing in the end the forceful strength of a vital language. Similarly, the conceptual unity of the artist's work, presented in ‘Tasleemah’ even after decades of constant transformation, bears witness to her perennial commitment to formal expression. The exhibition is supported by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), and a catalog will be produced for the occasion of the exhibition with texts by curator Basak Senova and art critic Arie Amaya-Akkermans. As the first presentation of a Saudi artist in a museum of the region, “Tasleemah” represents also a new generation of exchanges and conversations between the Middle East and its borderlines, dislocating the notion of culture from national identities and embedding it in larger questions about the role of artistic production in times of global crisis. The exhibition attempts also to shed light on a more intimate and informed portrayal of the life of women in the Middle East, and therefore, will be shaped as well by the reception on the part of the audience. Halla started her career as a fine artist. Today, she is a successful children's author and illustrator. Each work, regardless of the purpose for which it was created, is executed with sensitivity and tenderness. What are the artist’s expectations towards the exhibition scheduled in Tbilisi? How is the artistic world of Saudi

The statehood of Saudi Arabia is only 86 years old, built on a tribal system in which girls are expected to become dutiful wives and mothers. A girl who chooses a career over marriage is considered a dangerous rebel. If you look at women in Europe and America in the 1940s and 50s, their duties were similar. However, roles and expectations are quickly changing in Saudi Arabia today as it competes with the 21st century. I was born in 1971, and during my childhood and teen years there were no Saudi female teachers, and I had the opportunity to meet only one Saudi female doctor, who was a dentist. I didn’t really want to be looking at teeth for the rest of my life. I think a number of factors turned me into an artist. Firstly, both my parents have an eye for design and color, so I was privileged to grow up surrounded by beautiful things. They also loved to travel to Europe and America, and being their only child, the only way they could think to entertain me was to send me off with my nanny to museums and bookshops by day, and to plays and the ballet by night. Furthermore, during my childhood, self-expression was not encouraged - in art I could speak, and sing, and dance almost as much as I liked.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ART? WHAT ARE THE MAIN THEMES YOU HAVE WORKED ON ALL YOUR LIFE? WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE YOU SERVE THROUGH IT? Hmmm…I don’t really know how define my art, because I am always moving and changing. I like to find beauty and inspiration in unexpected places. If you study the tones and hews of something as simple as an onion skin, you will experience a sense of wonder. I hope to give viewers and readers something that sparks their interest, or makes them feel like they have been caressed, or even tickled.

draft, I was horrified to see that in the entire story, there were only two females; a submissive, subservient little girl and a helpless old woman. In another situation, I had created 13 camels to represent my country’s 13 governorates. Again, all the camels were males. I had to look in the mirror and ask myself why I did this and if I wanted to continue this pattern.

IN 2019, YOU CREATED A WIDE-RANGING CONTEMPORARY WORK, THE ONGOING SERIES “A WIFE IS... A HUSBAND IS”, DEPICTING EVERYDAY OBJECTS FROM THE LIFE OF MODERN MEN AND WOMEN. WHAT WERE THE MAIN MESSAGES AND GOAL OF THESE WORKS? There has been a great shift in both the country and my life. I now feel at liberty to express what I have always felt; that too often, marriage is a sort of business deal and not the union of two people who respect and love each other. Notice, I put 'respect' first. In so many marriages, the relationship is built on a set of duties and chores which each partner expects of the other. It’s almost as if compassion is counterproductive in this situation.

Artist Halla bint Khalid

WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES OF BEING AN ARTIST IN SAUDI ARABIA? TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE ART MOVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN SAUDI ARABIA TODAY. When I was growing up, the very idea of art was considered frivolous and even improper. Much to the delight and relief of most members of Saudi society, this has changed due to the timely 2030 vision put out by our current crown prince. However, we still have a great shortage of museums, art supplies, live models, art education in schools, and a serious art academy.

CHILDREN'S ILLUSTRATION AND THE WORLD OF CHILDREN OCCUPIES A BIG PLACE IN YOUR ARTISTIC WORK. WHAT DREW YOU TO IT AND WHAT IS THE MAIN MOTIVATION FOR YOU WHILE WORKING ON ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS? If you take away my paintbrushes, you take away my wings. After the birth of my children, I was no longer able to spend hours and hours in the seclusion of my studio. Motherhood is a 24/7 job.

I wanted to continue expressing through art with messages to my own children. In other words, having children simply changed the direction of my imagination. I could be developing a new story for my son whilst washing his hair, and illustrating pictures for my daughter while helping her solve a math problem.

WE KNOW THAT VIOLATIONS OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS REMAIN AS AN ISSUE IN YOUR COUNTRY. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A SAUDI WOMAN TODAY AND HOW DO YOU, ALONG WITH LIKE-MINDED WOMEN, CHALLENGE THE MENTALITY? Here are some facts: The first school for girls in Saudi Arabia was established in 1955. In 2012, Saudi girls entered the Olympics. In 2013 women were given seats in the Shura council, allowed for the first time to work as sales girls and cashiers, issued national IDs and a law was passed that criminalized domestic violence. In 2014, we saw Saudi’s first female lawyer. In 2018, women were finally allowed to drive and in 2019 women above the age of 21 no longer need the consent of a male guardian to travel and have the right to register births, marriages and divorces and to be guardians to minors. In short, there IS progress. I am lucky to be alive during this period of great progress, and enormously blessed to have an exceptionally supportive and loving father, who is a great visionary and made substantial contributions to Saudi Arabia in his own right.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE ROLE OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN YOUR WORK? In the Saudi Arabia I grew up in, women were not supposed to be seen or heard. As a result, I sometimes find myself inadvertently complying with the patriarchal stamp in my brain. In 2009, I wrote my yet unpublished story “Qismah wa Naseeb”. After I finished the first



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YOU MUST HAVE QUITE A BUSY SCHEDULE, ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF ARTWORKS YOU CREATED IN VARIOUS DIRECTIONS. TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR LIFE BEHIND WORK, YOUR ASPIRATIONS AND HOBBIES. For me, art is neither my hobby nor my work, it’s how I breathe. My work was to get through school and university, get married, have five children, take care of my children and my parents, and still breathe. Art is what defines me.

YOUR ARTWORKS ARE COMING TO GEORGIA. YOU WILL PERSONALLY ATTEND THE OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION. WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS AND EXPECTATIONS? I think I am the first Saudi artist to be given this opportunity. I am grateful that the Zurab Tsereteli MOMA has enabled me to showcase my work. I hope that the people of Georgia will find their visit to the exhibition an enjoyable and enriching one. I am looking forwards to meeting them, and hearing their comments and impressions.

TELL US ABOUT THE EXHIBITION AND ARTWORKS. The exhibition is a retrospective of my life’s work. It displays aspects of Saudi culture and heritage, a selection of the books I made for children and my recent artistic commentary on gender roles.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS? Mainly to find new challenges, explore new ways of artistic expression, and meet people that will expand my vision. The exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art Tbilisi will last from November 4 to January 12. Photographer: Abdullah Al Musharraf


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1199  

November 1 - 4, 2019

Issue #1199  

November 1 - 4, 2019