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 Electricity Company services resume after bad weather

Updated 4 min ago
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Saudi Electricity Company services resume after bad weather

RIYADH: The Saudi Electricity Company confirmed Friday that electricity has been restored to all customers who were affected by a power outage in northern Saudi Arabia on Thursday due to adverse weather conditions.
The company said that it worked to restore its electricity services to customers within half an hour after the outage and continued to work through the night until services were restored. It also said that power lines that had been struck by lightening had been tested for safety purposes.
The Saudi Electricity Company added that teams on the ground will remain on call and ready to respond to any emergencies during any changes of weather in the Kingdom in order to maintain a high level of service, and reduce the length of any further power cuts.
The company also apologized for the power outage.
Meanwhile, the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection forecasted thunder, rain, and sand storms in the region of Najran.
Najran’s Directorate General of Civil Defense called on citizens and residents to exercise caution and to avoid valleys, bodies of water, areas close to trees, open spaces, and elevated areas.