Spanish experience inspires Saudi researcher to preserve local heritage

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Rana Al-Kadi highlights the Arab influence on Spanish architecture in a lecture at Politecnica Universidad de Madrid. AN photos
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Al-Kadi at Acazaba of Almeria in Spain.
Updated 18 April 2018
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Spanish experience inspires Saudi researcher to preserve local heritage

  • Our historical sites are of profound importance not only to the peninsula, but to the region as well,” said Al-Kadi
  • Saudi vision is a turning point for many students abroad to come back and help the Kingdom achieve its goals

JEDDAH: Conservation projects are getting a major overhaul in many historical sites in the Kingdom. Expertise from local conservationists and those from abroad is sought to help restore, renovate and maintain these sites.
Dr. Rana Al-Kadi, a Saudi Ph.D. graduate majoring in Conservation and Restoration of Architectural Heritage from the Technical University of Madrid, said her fieldwork experiences at the Spanish university gained her unique experience to push for the preservation of historical heritage sites in the region and in the Kingdom.
She diverted her career and educational path, as she was impressed by the Islamic architecture of Andalusia. This prompted her to live in Spain, where she journeyed into the world of historical architecture for eight years.
“I learned a great deal from the Spanish. I learned how to investigate, research and understand how to broaden my horizons,” said Al-Kadi. “History plays a major role in every society and to understand its important impact on the evolution of its architecture drew me to want to know more. I, like many others, have a duty to preserve our country’s heritage.”
Her knowledge of Saudi Arabia was of high interest to the Spanish. Given the strong bilateral relations between the two countries, students and teachers often sought her help in informing the students of various Saudi aspects with regard to their majors and more.
“When the high-speed Haramain train project was first introduced to the public, a professor sought my help for a thorough background on the importance of it,” said Al-Kadi.
“I gave lectures at several universities, to help students understand the topography and the Islamic significance of the two cities.
“The students were able to understand their projects and design their own high-speed trains in a competition that was announced in their respective universities.”
The region in which Saudi Arabia is situation has a rich past. It is a fertile land for heritage projects and with the announcement of Vision 2030, Al-Kadi returned to Saudi Arabia a few years ago. She believes the vision is a turning point for many students abroad to come back and help the Kingdom achieve its goals.
From her perspective, Saudi Arabia’s historical presence in the region was undermined and unknown. But with the new projects being discussed, she believes we’re putting a major spotlight on the prominent cultures in the region, and the projects are key to an expansion of Vision 2030.
“The preservation projects I have had the privilege to work on in Spain gave me insight as to what to hope can be implemented in my country as well. We can’t have our sites renovated incorrectly.
“ I’m trying to advocate the importance of our heritage in my social media sites, which have gained a lot of recognition. Our historical sites are of profound importance not only to the peninsula, but to the region as well,” said Al-Kadi.
The Saudi researcher understands the magnitude of the preservation projects and firmly believes that with proper training, lectures and fieldwork, the success of the conservation and preservation projects is guaranteed.


First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

Updated 27 June 2019
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First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

  • The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah
  • Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetched SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction

JEDDAH: Art for Al Balad, the first charity auction of contemporary art in the Kingdom, achieved sales of SR 4.8 million ($1.3 million) on Wednesday.

The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, all of which sold, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah, on Wednesday. It was organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with auction house Christie’s.

“It was much above our expectations; we are very happy,” said Michael Jeha, chairman of Christie's Middle East.

About 200 Saudi art collectors joined artists and other members of the Saudi and international cultural communities at the event. Bidding was highly competitive, with “Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetching SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Nassif House was built in 1872. Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, was received at this house upon his entry to the city in 1925.

• The Saudi government is keen to restore and preserve buildings with historic and cultural significance, and carries out regular renovation work.

• Al-Balad, or Jeddah historic district, is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom. It contains about 600 buildings that date back to the 19th century.

 

“Where to” by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen was the second-most expensive work, selling for SR 500,000, while “Witness in the Desert” by Abdullah Al-Sahikh attracted a winning bid of SR 380,000.

“It was extremely pleasing, very encouraging,” said Jeha. “The energy in the room was fantastic. The enthusiasm was very strong. I think for the very first auction, we can all be extremely pleased.”

Jeha described the growth of the art scene and culture in general in Saudi Arabia as very impressive, and said that the Ministry of Culture has developed a strong platform and program for the coming years, which will help to establish art and culture in the hearts and minds of people in the Kingdom.

The profits from the auction will help to establish a new heritage museum in Jeddah’s historic district and support The Help Center, a non-profit organization that provides customized support to children in the city with special educational needs.

The auction received donations and funding from galleries, cultural foundations, private collectors, and artists across the Arab World, the assistance of which was acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture.

“This would not be possible without the generous support of both the donors and the talented artists,” said Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, deputy minister of culture, in his opening speech.

The ministry aspires to create and develop a cultural environment in which artists and other creatives can access a platform that celebrates a shared identity and builds understanding between people.

Speaking of the Ministry’s three main objectives in its cultural vision for 2019, Fayez said that it aims to support the nation’s cultural transformation by promoting culture as a way of life, enable the sector to contribute to the economy, and encourage international cultural exchanges.

Before the auction, the works on sale were on display to the public in an exhibition on June 23 and 24.