Saudi artists on show at German art festival for first time

Lina Gazzaz impressed visitors — adults and children alike — with a presentation based around her grand installation ‘Throne.’ (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 October 2018
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Saudi artists on show at German art festival for first time

  • Friends of the Uckermark created the biennial UM Festival
  • Bricklab, brothers Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz, contributed an installation titled “Temporal Growth,”

Picture an idyllic landscape in the Uckermark region, a pristine Brandenburg lake district an hour north of the bustling metropolis of Berlin. 

Adjacent to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, created to protect an area rich in natural beauty, a group of like-minded artists, art enthusiasts and nature lovers have banded together to foster an exchange between town and country, art and nature.

Nonprofit association Friends of the Uckermark created the biennial UM Festival, which is held on the first weekend in September to showcase contemporary art, literature and music in several villages and natural sites.

Initially, the participants came from Berlin and Brandenburg but this year the sixth edition of the festival attracted an international crowd. Along with creators from Germany, Switzerland and Japan, Jeddah artists Lina Gazzaz and Bricklab were among the 22 selected contributors. Following on from the first German participation at Jeddah’s 21,39 art festival this year, this Saudi presence at UM18 is another milestone in the cultural exchange between the two countries.

Bricklab, brothers Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz, contributed an installation titled “Temporal Growth,” which recalls the artist/architect duo’s acclaimed work at this year’s Architecture Biennale in Venice. For the Kingdom’s first participation at the renowned architecture show, Bricklab designed and created the Saudi pavilion, which highlighted the rapid urban development the country has experienced over the past half-century.

Their Uckermark work — a three-sided structure made of cornstalks — invites the spectator to enter, sit and ponder the effects of modern agricultural practices on society in the region; development has many sides to it and needs careful curating.

Lina Gazzaz impressed viewers — adults and children alike — with a presentation based around her grand installation “Throne” on the borders of the serene lake Oberuckersee. Draped inside, leading up to a magnificent old tree, Gazzaz chose a long, red carpet to adorn a dramatic setting that could have been taken from a fairy tale. The tree not only remained alive after being split open by a lightning strike years ago, but it was transformed into what appears to be a natural throne.

Alluding to iconic red drapery featured in medieval art by using it to adorn this site of natural beauty, which has its own dramatic story to tell, the artist brilliantly fulfilled this festival’s Land Art objective in a most aesthetic way.


The Color Run debuts in KSA’s Eastern Province

Updated 18 March 2019
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The Color Run debuts in KSA’s Eastern Province

  • ‘The Happiest 5k on the Planet’ combines ‘fun, exercise and charitable giving’ during the Sharqiah Season
  • The Sharqiah project aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom

JEDDAH: For the first time in Saudi Arabia, The Color Run is coming to Sharqiah Season, which features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, and is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned throughout the Kingdom in 2019. 

Sharqiah Season is a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority.

The countdown is on for The Color Run, which takes place at the South Alkhobar Corniche on Saturday.

In this untimed 5-km event, runners — who start in white — are doused with various colors at every 1-km checkpoint.

Since its inception in 2012, The Color Run has seen more than 7 million participants in 40 countries, while donating more than $5 million to charities. 

Organized in line with the GEA’s efforts to attract top entertainment offerings to Saudi Arabia, “The Happiest 5k on the Planet” will make its mark on the Kingdom as part of this year’s worldwide “Color Run Hero Tour,” with 15,000 participants expected in each city.

The non-competitive run is not only an opportunity to create picture-perfect memories, but serves as a celebration of health, happiness and individuality. 

The GEA is supporting the event as part of its continued efforts to enrich the lifestyle of residents and citizens in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and the Quality of Life Program 2020.

The Color Run was hosted in the UAE twice in 2018, with massive crowds attending and cheering the runners. 

This year, the main theme is celebrating the hero in you, where nothing is impossible. Once the run is over, the fun will continue at the Finish Festival, a larger-than-life celebration with music, photo ops, activity booths, vendors, and more massive color throws.

“We are thrilled to be bringing The Color Run to Saudi Arabia. Its vibrancy matches the aims of the GEA and the Quality of Life Program 2020 objective to support and create new options that boost participation across cultural, entertainment and sports activities,” said the GEA’s Chief Operating Officer Sultan Al-Faqir.

“The Color Run, being held in our three biggest cities, will provide an exciting opportunity for thousands of families to engage in a healthy activity that combines fun, exercise and charitable giving.”

The Sharqiah project aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

"The Happiest 5k on the Planet" will make its mark on the Kingdom as part of this year’s worldwide ‘Color Run Hero Tour,’ with 15,000 participants expected in each city. (Photo Supplied)

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

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Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.