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Exhibition of ancient manuscripts opens in Riyadh’s King Faisal Center

A new exhibition displaying historical manuscripts, some as old as 2000 years, was opened in Riyadh by Prince Turki bin Faisal and Prince Mohammad bin Abdulrahman, the Deputy Governor of Riyadh region on Sunday.

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The Asfar exhibition located in the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS) is now open to the public, offering visitors the chance to peruse a range of religious and literary works.

‘Asfar’ is the Arabic plural noun of ‘sifr’ which translates to large book or tome.

“[Asfar] consists of 36 manuscripts and printed books, and six chapters starting from ‘The Journey of Knowledge’ and ending in ‘Gutenberg’s World,’” Rana al-Shaikh, KFCRIS’ Head of Events and Exhibitions told Al Arabiya English at the opening event.

“We tried to select the rarest and the most valuable manuscripts here at the center,” al-Shaikh explained, adding that many of the works were hand-written by the authors themselves.

The exhibition includes some extremely rare original manuscripts, the only copy of which is kept at the center.

Selected works were picked from the 178,500 manuscripts that are preserved in the center’s archives, where a team works to keep them in good condition.

Prince Turki and Prince Mohammad attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the exhibition on Sunday night. The royals were then given a tour of Asfar.

KFCRIS was founded in 1983 by Prince Turki, who has served as the Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate (GID) and was formerly the ambassador to the US, the UK, and Ireland.

The first section of the exhibition, entitled ‘The Journey of Knowledge,’ is dedicated to manuscripts from early explorers and travel writers.

It includes the second-oldest copy of the Kalila wa Dimnah by Ibn al-Muqaffah, a seminal collection of fables originally translated into Arabic in the eighth century.

In the second section, Millennium-Old Manuscripts, several examples of ancient literary works are displayed including the al-Bayan wa I-Tabyin, or Elegance of Expression and Clarity of Exposition, by the eight-century author al-Jahiz.

The third section, Women and the Endowment of Knowledge, recognizes female figures’ contributions to education in the Muslim world.

One of the works on display is a Mamluk-era Quran, notable for its size and artistic calligraphy.

In section four, By the Author’s Hand, original handwritten manuscripts are on display.

One of these is the the Kitab al-Ibar al-Mubtada wa I-Khabar, by the 14th-century historian Ibn Khaldun, which contains comments and handwritten sidenotes from the author.

Section five is dedicated to Rare Manuscripts, including a 2000-year-old tome by al-Imam Malik, written in 17AD in Granada, modern day Spain.

The sixth and final section, Gutenberg’s World displays printed works from after the advent of the Gutenberg Press.

Some notable examples include an Arabic-language bible printed by the Medici Printing House in 1591 Rome.

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Lindsay Lohan celebrates birthday as married woman to Dubai resident Bader Shammas

Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman.

The “Freaky Friday” star said she was the “luckiest woman in the world” in an Instagram post Friday that pictured her with financier Bader Shammas, who had been her fiance.

“I am stunned that you are my husband,” Lohan said in the post, adding that “every woman should feel like this everyday.”

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The couple had announced their engagement last November. People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed there had been a wedding, but no details were offered.

While still single a few years ago, Lohan told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for “a smart businessman” and someone who doesn’t like the spotlight. Shammas’ Instagram account is private.

The “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” actress and sometimes singer has worked through some sobriety issues in recent years, and has recently filmed a romantic comedy that is due to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Dutch university gets cyber ransom money back with interest

A Dutch university that fell victim to a massive ransomware attack has partly received back its stolen money, which in the meantime more than doubled in value, a news report said on Saturday.

The southern Maastricht University in 2019 was hit by a large cyberattack in which criminals used ransomware, a type of malicious software that locks valuable data and can only be accessed once the victim pays a ransom amount.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, library and mail,” the daily De Volkskrant said.

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The hackers demanded 200,000 euros ($208,000) in bitcoins.

“After a week the university decide to accede to the criminal gang’s demand,” the paper said.

“This was partly because personal data was in danger of being lost and students were unable to take an exam or work on their theses,” it said.

Dutch police traced part of the ransom paid to an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine.

Prosecutors in 2020 seized this man’s account, which contained a number of different crypto currencies including part of the ransom money paid by Maastricht.

“When, now after more than two years, it was finally possible to get that money to the Netherlands, the value had increased from 40,000 euros to half-a-million euros,” the paper said.

Maastricht University will now get the 500,000 euros ($521,000) back.

“This money will not go to a general fund, but into a fund to help financially strapped students,” Maastricht University ICT director Michiel Borgers said.

The investigation into the hackers responsible for the attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.

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Singer R. Kelly sues Brooklyn jail for putting him on suicide watch

R. Kelly on Friday sued the Brooklyn jail that has housed him since his racketeering and sex crimes conviction, saying it wrongly put him on suicide watch after he received a 30-year prison sentence despite knowing he was not suicidal.

In a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court, the 55-year-old multiplatinum R&B singer said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center ordered the watch after his June 29 sentencing “solely for punitive purposes” and because he was a “high-profile” inmate.

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Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail’s legal counsel had told her that “per the psychology department, is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing.” No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn’t satisfied with the explanation. “Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag,” she wrote.

Kelly said the “harsh conditions” he faced led to “severe mental distress,” and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, though the docket suggests Kelly is seeking $100 million.

The jail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly was convicted last September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors said Kelly exploited his stardom and wealth over two decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex, with the help of his entourage.

Kelly said he was also put on suicide watch after his conviction.

Ghislaine Maxwell, another inmate at the Brooklyn jail, was placed on suicide watch on June 24, four days before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls.

Maxwell’s lawyer said the British socialite had been given a “suicide smock” and deprived of clothing, toothpaste and soap though she too was not suicidal.

Friday’s filings did not say what specific conditions Kelly faced.

Kelly still faces an August trial in Chicago federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges, and various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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