Rabia Al-Akhras: The man behind Jeddah’s waterfront sculptures

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Modern horse sculptors at the Jeddah waterfront. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Modern horse sculptors at the Jeddah waterfront. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Jeddah waterfront. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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childhood sea sculptors at the Jeddah waterfront by artist Abeer Ahmed Alfatni. (AN photo by Huda Bashtah)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Rabia Al-Akhras: The man behind Jeddah’s waterfront sculptures

JEDDAH: The development of Jeddah’s waterfront has offered new opportunities for artists to display their work. One of them is the world-renowned Syrian sculptor Rabia Al-Akhras.
Al-Akhras was born in Homs and graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus. He has gone on to become one of the most famous sculptors in the world, his work sought-after by museums and private collectors alike. But he gifted his sculptures to the city of Jeddah.
He told Arab News, “I spent most of my life in the city of Jeddah; I am indebted to this city and all that it has given me, and in return I gave it sculptures of three horses, which honors me tremendously. The horses represent an extension of 20 other sculptures I’ve made throughout my life.
“These sculptures were not made with Jeddah specifically in mind, but they suit the city and the waterfront; the ambience of horse tracks is timeless and reflects a kind of passion, heritage and history,” he continued.
“In addition, 80 percent of the designs displayed at the corniche were made by female sculptors, whose work I’ve supervised closely as their mentor. Most of them are my students, many of whom are senior sculptors and university teachers who have many works of their own.”
“It is not the job of the artist to search for a school to belong to,” Al-Akhras said. “An honest designer reflects his innermost self in his work.” The sculptors’ main objective, he explained, was to ensure their designs were compatible with the waterfront.
Al-Akhras said that the majority of his ideas, and his sculptures, have “a strong relationship” with Jeddah, citing the sea, “the city’s crevices and the clear sky” as inspirations.
“All the works displayed at the waterfront will carry this — the inspiration and the internal accumulation of the innermost mind; that is the basis of the sculptures,” he said. “The works are not archaeological but possess a sense of heritage. Archaeological work is that which has lived long, but imitating antiquities is not in itself archaeological, but inspired by it.”
“I love to leave pieces of them missing because it has to do with the concept that we are not complete and are imperfect; this is from an intellectual aspect,” he explained. “But with regard to technicality, my sculptures aim to stimulate the imagination of the recipient so they will fill in the blanks in their own way. That way, it is up to the recipient to imagine the remainder of the sculpture on their own.
“It’s very nice. When we see, for example, the horses’ roundabout in the city of Jeddah, we see the design of horses through the fragmentation of the first horse in the second horse and then back,” he continued. “This beautiful interference triggers movement and the ability to see the unrealized vision, but it exists within the sculpture to create harmony between two blocks and two spaces.”
View more photos of the waterfront's sculptors here.


Saudi Aramco recognized as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Updated 22 January 2019
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Saudi Aramco recognized as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

JEDDAH: Saudi Aramco’s Uthmaniyah Gas Plant (UGP) has been recognized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a “Lighthouse” manufacturing facility and a leader in technology applications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 
Saudi Aramco is the first energy company globally to be included in this select group of manufacturing sites. The plant is also the only facility in the Middle East to be recognized by WEF. 
The announcement was made ahead of WEFs annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
The gas plant is one of the world’s largest gas processing plants and was commissioned in 1981 as part of Saudi Aramco’s Master Gas System to process associated gas from oil wells. 
The use of drones and wearable technologies to inspect pipelines and machinery has helped cut inspection time by 90% in this industrial facility.
“The recognition of the Uthmaniyah Gas Plant demonstrates Saudi Aramco’s shift to transform and adapt in the rapidly changing global energy landscape. Uthmaniyah is only one part of our large integrated energy value chain where IR 4.0 technologies are playing a critical role to enable significant capital and operational efficiencies,” said Amin H. Nasser, Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco.
The seven new facilities join nine other “Manufacturing Lighthouses” which WEF unveiled in September 2018. The 16 factories were selected from an initial list of 1,000 manufacturers based on their successful implementation of cutting-edge technologies of the future that drive financial and operational impact.
The “Lighthouse” program was conducted by WEF in collaboration with McKinsey during a year-long study. A study team visited UGP in Saudi Arabia and performed a thorough audit.