Art or music? Jeddah duo finds freedom in both

Abdulmalik Zubailah. ( (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 25 December 2018
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Art or music? Jeddah duo finds freedom in both

  • Statues of Sinking Men celebrate release of debut album with rooftop launch party
  • “I never thought this would be happening here in my hometown,” said Zubailah

JEDDAH: Jeddah-based music duo Statues of Sinking Men are known for their stirring live performances — an irony since the band make every effort to stay out of the spotlight.
“The idea is for the audience to notice us as little as possible,” said Abdullah Babrouk, who produces art and visuals to accompany Abdulmalik Zubailah’s beats and vocals. “The focus is meant to be on the music.”
Statues of Sinking Men celebrated the release of their debut album on Friday night with a rooftop launch party. The self-titled album is the first offering from the band since their formation in 2017, and has been in development since October that year.
Zubailah’s music is only part of the duo’s show, with Babrouk’s mesmerizing visuals the main focal point.
Using little more than a synthesizer and a microphone, Zubailah manages to create music that is both complex and catchy, with soulful lyrics that express a variety of emotions.
“Statues of Sinking Men is an outlet for me to express everything I could never say with words alone,” said Zubailah. “The good, the bad and everything in between, with full freedom.”
Babrouk uses a computer program to create visual effects live and in time with the music — a demanding process that requires intense concentration. The combined effect of music and art is ethereal, as much live art performance as musical performance.

Winter breeze
The launch party was hosted by Mnassa and held on the roof of their office in Al-Zahraa. Admission was free, and a sizeable crowd showed up to support the musicians on a cool December night, accompanied by a full moon and a winter breeze.
Up-and-coming musician GHADA opened the show with her haunting, powerful vocals.
Later, she told Arab News that she was delighted to have been asked to perform at the event. “I never thought that I would actually be doing this. I’m still processing everything that’s happening. But I’m glad it is happening.”
Statues of Sinking Men performed their latest album, with visual accompaniments projected on to a wall behind the stage.
Zubailah stepped on stage in a custom-made sea captain’s jacket, styling himself “The Deceased Captain Bartholomew Bellik.” With Babrouk as his seafaring companion “Xabris Black,” the performers told the story of a failed sea voyage, an untimely death and, ultimately, a rebirth.
“I was on the sea with them when I listened to the music,” one concertgoer said after the show. “I heard the waves in it. I felt the salt spray. It was bizarre, but it was interesting. I loved it. I can’t wait to attend another performance.”
The band also had a few surprises for the crowd. While performing “Criminal,” audience members were invited to “be criminals with them” as Babrouk handed over a PlayStation controller, which audience members could use to deliver the PlayStation classic “Hotline Miami” in accompaniment to the song.
After the show, Babrouk and Zubailah said they were exhausted, but immensely happy at the success of the event.
“I never thought this would be happening here in my hometown,” said Zubailah. “It’s so liberating.”
Asked if he had anything else to add, Zubailah replied with a grin: “Come to one of our shows and embrace the stage of sentimental night.”
Statues of Sinking Men can be found on Twitter and Instagram, and their music is available on all major music streaming and purchasing providers.


Website launched to support housing project in Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Housing are working together to provide the necessary services for citizens from different social classes. (SPA)
Updated 26 min 49 sec ago
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Website launched to support housing project in Saudi Arabia

  • Real estate financing for January hit SR4.7 billion, and coming months were expected to see even bigger figures, Al-Hogail told Reuters news agency on the sidelines of a housing conference in Riyadh

RIYADH: A new website has been set up to support a housing project for 10,000 units in the Kingdom.
Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail, and Commerce and Investment Minister Majid Al-Qassabi on Sunday launched Benaa Housing, which will help construction companies and contractors contribute to a development program in the Kingdom.
Benaa Housing aims to speed up the process of building 10,000 housing units in various parts of Saudi Arabia by enabling small and medium enterprises in the construction sector to access and contribute to projects and opportunities. The estimated cost of the project is SR3.5 billion ($910 million).
“The Ministry of Housing is always keen to provide adequate housing, solutions, and services suitable to all families, especially the beneficiaries of the Housing Development Program in all regions of the Kingdom,” Al-Hogail said.
Al-Qassabi said the new platform would generate more business opportunities for small and medium enterprises and provide suitable apartments for middle-class and lower-income families.
“The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Housing are working together to provide the necessary services for citizens from different social classes and groups, and the new platform is the fruit of these efforts,” he added.
Earlier this month, the housing minister said he expected investments in the real estate financing sector to reach between SR60 billion and SR80 billion this year.
Real estate financing for January hit SR4.7 billion, and coming months were expected to see even bigger figures, Al-Hogail told Reuters news agency on the sidelines of a housing conference in Riyadh.
Saudi home ownership was growing between 6 and 7 percent annually, he said, adding that he hoped to raise home ownership to 15,000 new households per month by 2020, from a little over 10,000 per month now.
The ministry aims to increase housing ownership through policy and stimulating the private sector, according to its website.
The challenges facing the ministry are the limited availability of suitable units for all parts of the population; difficulty in accessing adequate housing finance; the inefficiency of the real estate sector and heavy reliance on government funding.
“Even though 47 percent of Saudi families already own their homes, we aim to increase this rate by 5 percentage points by 2020,” the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan states. Vision 2030 also aims to speed up construction and provide Saudis with high-quality, competitively priced housing, and to stimulate localization of the country’s construction industry.