How to support Saudi designers — wear their art on your sleeve

Spark is a design platform and online marketplace that allows artists to have their creations printed on everything from T-shirts and hoodies to bags and cushions.
Updated 19 February 2018
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How to support Saudi designers — wear their art on your sleeve

JEDDAH: Some art hangs on your wall. Some art sits on a plinth. Saudi entrepreneur Baha’a Gazzaz had a better idea — art you can wear.
The result of his brainwave is Spark, a design platform and online marketplace that allows artists to have their creations printed on everything from T-shirts and hoodies to bags and cushions, and then sold to fashion-conscious customers who value something just a little bit different.
“I was inspired in 2012 when I was at a life and style exhibition, I walked in and all I found was products made straight from designers,” Gazzaz, 34, told Arab News.
“I went to Hong Kong and did some research on design-related exhibitions and selling creative products, then I came home to Saudi Arabia and started to contact companies to market the products.
“But then I thought, I need to be more professional, so I built my own website. What I wanted was to bring these creative arts to Saudi Arabia by building a store with a diversity of products.”
Spark now has 24,000 items on sale — not to mention 50,000 followers on Instagram. “The majority of our artists are Saudi, including the calligrapher Shaker Kashgari, but we have artists from other GCC countries, Turkey, Sweden, Mexico and the US,” Gazzaz said.
All the products are made in Jeddah, and the Spark delivery team can then send them anywhere in the world.
The benefit to the artists is not only that they’re paid for each item sold, but their work reaches a worldwide audience.
The Spark website contains a biography of each artist, and web links to more of their work. “Artists have their own URL that enables them to share their art with others,” Gazzaz explained. “When we scan an item through our bar-code system and a customer pays for it, the artist is notified immediately.
“Whenever anyone buys a product, 15 percent goes to the artist who designed it. This is how we give credit to designers and bring them value.”


Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

Updated 2 min 59 sec ago
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Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

RIYADH: A joint press conference between the MBC Group, the General Entertainment Authority, and Cirque du Soleil was held at King Fahd Stadium on Thursday afternoon to answer media questions and give some details about Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming special performance, part of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day celebrations. The show is slated to be one of the biggest performed by the Cirque and their first in Saudi Arabia. It is a one-night-only, exclusive event, designed especially for this occasion.
Daniel Fortin, vice president of Creation at Cirque du Soleil, teased the audience with a few details of the upcoming show. “With a cast and crew of over 300, this is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Without giving too much of the plot away, the story is centered around the sun, and takes place from sunset to sunrise. Everything from the costumes to the stage props was created as a homage to Saudi culture. You’ll see a lot of Bedouin influences in the staging and in the music. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, such as traditional Bedouin tents, desert scenery, even the stadium itself.”
The show has been in development for six months, and the cast and crew have been preparing for the show at the King Fahd International Stadium since the beginning of August.
The show will contain new technology, and 16 unprecedented acrobatic acts. However, Fortin refused to share too many details. “You’ll just have to see what we have planned at the show.” He said. “But I think you will be impressed. We’re doing things we’ve never done before.”
Tickets to the show sold out in less than 48 hours after their release; an incredible feat as the show has allocated more than 27,000 seats for the performance. Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, spokesperson for the General Entertainment Authority, was pleased— but not entirely surprised— by the public’s reaction to news of the show. “We felt that variety in the types of events we brought to Saudi Arabia was important,” he said, “and we conducted a number of research workshops to determine what sort of events would be well-received by the public. Cirque du Soleil was mentioned frequently in our research, so we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to bring them here.”
MBC head of events Omar Al Radi also expects a big response to the televising of the show, which he estimates will break records. “We’re broadcasting the show live on both our local and international channels, such as those in Europe and in America.” he said.
“We’re expecting over 200 million views. Probably record-breaking numbers. MBC is proud to have been part of bringing this historic event to Saudi Arabia, and we can’t wait for you to see it.”