In London, a contemporary art exhibition is giving voice to a ‘new generation’ of Saudi talent

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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (AN Photo)
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A traditional Saudi music band performing at the opening of the show. (AN Photo)
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The event runs from March 7-9 from 10am to 6pm in the Phillips building in Berkeley Square, London. (AN Photo)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (AN Photo)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (AN Photo)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (AN Photo)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (AN Photo)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)
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The program features art exhibitions, film screenings and music performances. (Ziyad Alarfaj/Arab News)
Updated 08 March 2018
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In London, a contemporary art exhibition is giving voice to a ‘new generation’ of Saudi talent

LONDON: A new generation of creative talent transforming Saudi Arabia’s art scene unveiled its work in London yesterday.
Short films and photography by some of the Kingdom’s most promising artists went on display at a major new exhibition in Berkeley Square, in Mayfair, which runs until March 9.
One of the event’s organizers, Ahmed Al-Maziad, hailed the exhibition as the “beginning of an international era” for Saudi creativity. “There is so much talent that hasn’t been shown,” he said.
Some of the biggest names in contemporary Saudi art are represented through exhibits on two floors of the Phillips gallery and salerooms. Their works are featured alongside traditional pieces that convey the breadth of creativity in the Kingdom.
“What better way to give people a true sense of the real Saudi Arabia than through its artists?” said Raneem Z. Farsi, one of the exhibition curators. Speaking to Arab News, she said the display is one of the first in a series to promote Saudi culture in Europe.

 “People are looking at our contemporary arts scene like it’s a new trend, but we have a deep-rooted culture of creativity, and art is a very important part of that. 
 “We have so much talent, so much to offer, and this is just the beginning.”
The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until March 9, is organized by Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority (GCA) in cooperation with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation. 
 A large section of the exhibition is given over to examples of Alqatt Alasiri art, one of Saudi Arabia’s most distinctive handicrafts. Used by the women of the southern Assir region to decorate the walls of their homes, this historical art form, which dates back several hundred years, was added to the UNESCO list for intangible cultural heritage in 2017.
 Ali Moghani, whose wife runs a small Alqatt Alasiri museum in their hometown of Rijal Almaa, said: “We have been working for 20 years to show the world this kind of art and now, with the GCA’s support, we hope it will become a school of art in its own right.”
 The exhibition’s three-day program features music performances by Saudi bands in a variety of genres, as well as film screenings that include the award-winning Saudi movie “The Bliss of Being No One” as well as “A Colorful Life,” a documentary produced by the GCA exploring female empowerment, which will be shown on March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day. 
 With new tourist visas opening the Kingdom up to visitors, the exhibition also offers insights into some of the country’s most extraordinary attractions via virtual reality tours of famous Saudi sites, including Makkah, Mada’in Saleh and the historic village of Al Diri’yah.
 Other highlights include a photo exhibition chronicling a visit to Saudi Arabia in 1938 by Princess Alice, the youngest granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the first member of the British royal family to visit the Kingdom.


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.