Archaeological discoveries in Kingdom highlighted
Archaeological discoveries in Kingdom highlighted
The symposium was held on the sideline of the ongoing “Saudi Archaeological Masterpieces through the Ages” exhibition that is taking place in the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The symposium was held three days after the official opening of the exhibition, which witnessed an intensive participation by the Washington public.
The event was attended by a number of professors and archaeologists from various international universities, who expressed their opinion on the showcased archaeology exhibits, stressing that relics are reshaping the previously held concepts about the history of the Arabian Peninsula.
At the outset of the symposium, Dr. Julian Raby, director of the National Museum of Asian Art in the Smithsonian Institution, said, “The exhibition’s relics, which are presented in the United Stated for the first time, give a different picture about Saudi Arabia, which was otherwise portrayed as just a land of oil wells and vast desert; instead it has proved it to be a land of ancient civilizations and history. The first lecture was entitled, “Who were the prehistoric people of Arabia”. The lecture was delivered by Dr. James Phillips, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. He stated that, the migration of the first man from Africa had taken two routes: first through the Bab el Mandeb, and the second through the Nile Valley through the Sinai, heading to the Bekaa Valley.
Dr. Ricardo Eichmann, the German Archaeology Institute, delivered a working paper entitled, “Taema in the Context of Interregional Networks “.
Dr. Lilly Naemi, French National Institute for Scientific Research, discussed her experiences in the excavations at the Madain Saleh (Al Hijr), the first ever registered archaeology site of Saudi Arabia in the ENESCO’s World Heritage List.
Dr. Daniel Potts, professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney, presented a working paper entitled, “Hellenistic Theory and South Arabian Reality: Foundation Myths of Thaj. The symposium was concluded by Dr. Ali Al Ghabban, vice-president of SCTA for antiquities and museums, where he gave a lecture under the theme “Saudi Arabia: Crossroads of civilizations” in which he referred to the importance of the geographical location of Saudi Arabia, and supported his claims with many archaeological evidences, and indicated that ancient man had moved first from the Arabian Peninsula to the rest of the world. Dr. Al Ghabban further stated that, the Arabian Peninsula before its desertification was an ideal place for human settlement, mentioning in this context, the advanced civilization in the Neolithic Age, the so-called “Al Magar Civilization”, which confirms that the domestication of the Arabian Horse had taken place in the Arabian Peninsula 9000 years ago, according to the latest discoveries in Al Magar site.
Why everyone’s talking about Generation
- As the high street fashion brand makes a difference by highlighting difference, we talk to creative director Khadija Rahman about her inspirational campaigns.
- The campaign was followed up by another mould-breaker — a model well into her fifties dressed for a second wedding.
ISLAMABAD: “I wouldn’t say we are tackling skin colorism. I think we are just challenging norms of beauty and want the debate to become wider and more inclusive in every way,” said Khadija Rahman.
Spring — when winter’s dreary grey days make way for bright skies and vibrant, diverse flora — inspired the Generation creative director as the time came to drew to put together its spring campaign.
What she came up with was a game-changing series of adverts including models with a diverse range of skin color as well as an albino model and another with vitiligo, a condition where loss of pigmentation results in white patches of skin.
“The inspiration behind the campaign was spring and what comes with it, which is a celebration of color, with Basant, Holi and all these festivals. We had started talking about real women, with all of their eccentricities, their variety and that they’re all beautiful [resulting in] our Greater Than Fear campaign where we featured women in their 60s and their tweens, dark skin, light skin, mixed ethnicities, transgenders, pregnant women, short women, large sized — everyone.”
The campaign was followed up by another mould-breaker — a model well into her fifties dressed for a second wedding, a rarely seen depiction.
Rahman explained that in December, in shahdi (wedding) season, they decided to shoot a model in her fifties, who had beautiful white hair, as a dulhan (second time bride).
She added: “The response we got was quite unbelievable. We thought we really had hit a vein and it was too early to sort of let [that] go, so we thought spring would be a good idea to touch upon another aspect. As spring is a celebration of color, we thought we’d take that on with skin color.”
Yet, when it came to finding a model with vitiligo for the shoot, it proved to be more difficult than the team at Generation had anticipated.
‘It was super hard. We tried everything, even thought about flying in people from London or Karachi, we really turned over every rock.”
In the process they first found albino Rabia Dasti instead, before later also finding Zainab Zahid Ali.
“Since we wanted to feature both of them, we thought we’d develop the idea more and feature different types of women of color —someone who is darker, someone with medium skin, someone who’s fair — that’s how the idea developed.”
The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“When we were shooting, Rabia said that she doesn’t like to be photographed. But she was brave enough to say ‘yes, I want to challenge these notions of beauty and what is means to be albino.’ She’s really thrilled, she’s gotten so much love, it’s really something that someone who doesn’t like to be photographed ends up being a part of this big fashion campaign that everyone is seeing, that’s big for her.
“It’s really had to find people with vitiligo. They’re uncomfortable with it, so they don’t want to be modelling it or exposing it. Zainab was one of the few people who says she never was ashamed of it and this campaign has been great in that [she] can tell people she finds it beautiful and refreshing, and doesn’t see why people would pass negative comments about it.”
The campaign, shot by Abdullah Haris, got rave reviews both for the concept and the way it was shot. The models who took part were lauded for taking a stand, as well as for their own style.
“The girls are all obviously beautiful, Abdullah did a beautiful job in shooting them. So many people have been in touch ... I don’t know if I have ever had so many people from the press contact me, that’s been really wonderful. The responses that have affected me most, are those saying things like ‘I am albino myself and seeing your campaign makes me accept myself.’ I thought that was very powerful.
“I feel fashion has a huge responsibility in crafting notions of beauty and how women see themselves. Walking around in urban centers in Pakistan, [the industry is] bombarding you with images of beautiful girls wearing the latest lawn jorah. The textile industry is huge in Pakistan — it’s everywhere, so as a fashion brand that garners so much attention, I think it’s fair to be responsible in how one advertises, one has a voice and should use it intelligently and wisely.
“It’s been heart-warming and so easy, I met someone the other day who said I was such a risk taker for making campaigns like this, but I think people have been waiting for a concept like this.”
The fashion landscape may not be thoroughly shaken up, but Generation and Rahman hope that the impact will prove to be a lasting one, resulting in a more inclusive industry.
“I’m not saying we are transforming the fashion landscape, but every little thing makes a difference.
“Even if we are not transforming notions of beauty for our customers or people who see our ads, I feel ever since we introduced our Greater Than Fear campaign I can count three really big fashion brands in Pakistan who have become more inclusive in their [own] campaigns and that’s so wonderful to see.
“In fact, it’s exactly what we want to see, we want to be copied because that’s how there can be real change! We would love it if more people do it, and we can create a more thought-provoking society.”