Event promotes Saudi Arabia’s historical identity with graffiti

A Saudi graffiti artist paints the wall which reflects the Kingdom’s heritage. (SPA)
Updated 11 November 2017

Event promotes Saudi Arabia’s historical identity with graffiti

RIYADH: In an event held in Al-Bujairi neighborhood in Diriyah accompanying the first Saudi Antiquities Forum, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) set up a special place to draw Saudi antiquities in 3D, with the help of a sketch artist.
The events included four sections of graffiti, under the supervision of Saudi visual artists, reflecting the Kingdom’s heritage and antiquities, and introducing visitors to the Kingdom’s cultural heritage embedded in history.
Majed Al-Hayzan, manager of the touristic events and projects at the SCTH, considered the forum’s accompanying events an important factor to raise awareness and strengthen national sentiment among citizens on the Kingdom’s cultural heritage.
The events also included a studio for children, represented in an awareness-raising corner, to introduce them to the Kingdom’s archaeological and historical sites through coloring and drawing, under the title “Our Talents Are in The Hands of Our Children.”
Recently, the courtyards of the King Abdul Aziz Historic Center in Riyadh turned into a theater for events and activities in conjunction with the launch of the first Saudi Antiquities Forum.
These events helped introduce the Kingdom’s non-materialistic culture, and were attended by large audiences which were eager to enjoy the events and shows.
The events included education and awareness-raising plays representing everyday life stories about discoveries and excavations, as well as folk shows including the Saudi Ardah, and models representing major Saudi archaeological and heritage sites (Madain Saleh, Salwa Palace, Historical Jeddah, Al-Okhdood, and Al-Rajajeel) on the grounds of the National Museum in Riyadh.
A number of artisans participated in these events that also included handicraft shows, popular food parlors, men’s costume shows, stories told by famous writers and many others.
Visitors also watched a live show of excavations and discoveries of antiquities, by a specialized team. This show was accompanied by a “Colors” exhibition which showcased a collection of pictures featuring the Kingdom’s archaeological and heritage sites.

Meet Cherine Magrabi, a talented businesswoman and inspiration to young designers

Updated 19 July 2018

Meet Cherine Magrabi, a talented businesswoman and inspiration to young designers

  • Born and brought up in Saudi Arabia, Cherine Magrabi is also the curator and founder of House of Today in Beirut, a non-profit organization that helps to launch Lebanese designers onto the global scene
  • She says she is "happy to witness my country taking real steps toward long-overdue social reform"

JEDDAH: Cherine Magrabi began as a store manager and worked her way up to become creative and communications director at Magrabi Optical, a well-known family brand in the Middle East.

Born and brought up in Saudi Arabia, Magrabi is also the curator and founder of House of Today in Beirut, a non-profit organization that helps to launch Lebanese designers onto the global scene.

“I was born in Jeddah and moved at the age of 16 to Switzerland for schooling with four of my best friends. I keep having fine memories related to my life in Jeddah ... my father used to take me fishing in the Red Sea.”

She said: “Moving to Switzerland was a good preparation for life.” While there, she felt it was important to reflect a good image as a Saudi, while adjusting to her new environment and learning to do things by herself for the first time.

“It was also a good preparation for college, and I don’t think I would’ve done it any other way,” she added.

Magrabi went to study at Chelsea College of Art in London, where she met her future husband. After they married they moved to Beirut in 2002 and she started working for Magrabi Optical.

“We were just opening our first store in the Lebanese market and my brother asked me to help set it up and manage it.”

She worked as a store manager, which helped her to understand the family business and learn about their customers’ needs. “It gave me the opportunity to learn from the store level, understanding our weaknesses and opportunities directly from the market,” she said. “Today, as creative and communications director at Magrabi, I relate to what’s really happening on the ground.” 

She made a significant stamp on the firm when it came to rebranding the company, changing its logo, and reworking the display and merchandising. The rebranding stressed how the company’s products marry fashion and medical expertise. The company’s marketing campaign focuses on empowering women, a move which was led by her vision.

The eyewear business inspired her to found House of Today in 2012. She said: “I was always in the search for great designers in Beirut and faced difficulties in reaching out to them. I saw great potential in Lebanon, but there was no supporting system to introduce them to the world. It happened quite organically that I decided to showcase their work as an active member of the art scene.” 

She works closely with designers. House of Today identifies, nurtures, mentors, curates and showcases local Lebanese designers and to help them raise their profile. It also gives promising young designers — between the ages of 17 and 34 — a chance to study product design at a university in Lebanon or abroad under its scholarship program.

She said: “We are helping designers to develop their own business plan, connecting them to galleries and in creating sustainable images for themselves while supporting the next generation of designers through our scholarship program.” 

Every two years, HoT curates an exhibition showcasing the collaboration between experts and emerging designers. So far four exhibitions have been organized, including at Athr Gallery, the Jeddah art gallery, in 2015. Exhibitions aim to present a stellar collection highlighting the best work of young Lebanese designers. 

Commenting on the reform in Saudi Arabia, she said: “I’m happy to witness my country taking real steps toward long-overdue social reform. I think there would be a grace period with people waiting to see the true results of the ongoing changes.”