Saudi artists draw inspiration from Islam

Wafa Alqunibit says her work has its place in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 20 January 2019
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Saudi artists draw inspiration from Islam

  • Wafa Alqunibit: “The difficulties that I faced were getting the names on point, because a lot of them are very similar to each other

JEDDAH: The work of Saudi sculptor Wafa Alqunibit is on display in a Jeddah art gallery. A small glass box holds objects that have the appearance, shape and texture of dates. Only they are wrought from metal and glint silver and gold.
Alqunibit concedes that art can sometimes be a taboo subject in Saudi society, but says her work has its place.
“I do this to promote and represent our culture and religion as I belong to a very religious family. We have our freedom and we have open minds and I just wanted to portray this image to the world,” she told Arab News.
Her Instagram feed shows other examples of her art, including sculptures featuring the distinctive ringed and slightly curled horns of the Arabian oryx, and videos of her carving, sanding and sawing using machinery that can be seen in any carpentry or masonry workshop.
But her journey toward the arts — specifically sculpture — has not been straightforward.
“I went to Portland (in the US) to complete my doctorate in human resources. But I ended up changing my major to arts and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and they accepted me as a painter.”
But her professors thought she had different strengths — with one telling her she was born to be a tough person.
“At first I thought he was referring to me as an aggressive person, but later when I started sculpting I found out what he meant.”
She uses her work to communicate with people, especially those who misunderstand Islam, and recalled living in the US at a difficult time for Muslims.
“I took support from the arts, to tell people what we really are and now my artwork is displayed in so many galleries and I have been given the title of religious artist.”
Another artist taking inspiration from culture and religion is 26-year-old author Allaa Awad, who has taken the 99 names of Allah and turned them into poetry.
Her debut work, “Ninety-Nine: The Higher Power,” includes poems about purity, mercy, blessings and peace.
“I have encountered many people in life. They have a negative concept about life and God and I just wanted to turn that around and put my own perceptions of what I think God is, who He really is and how we should perceive Him,” she told Arab News.
She also experienced a struggle in her artistic journey, like Alqunibit did, but in a different way.
“The difficulties that I faced were getting the names on point, because a lot of them are very similar to each other. The best part was how people reacted to it on a spiritual level and how they were able to relate to what I had to say, rather than what online research had to say.”


KSA’s anti-graft agency Nazaha reports rise in corruption complaints

Nazaha has completed investigations into 59 percent of the complaints, with 4.4 percent referred to the Control and Investigation Board. (SPA)
Updated 19 February 2019
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KSA’s anti-graft agency Nazaha reports rise in corruption complaints

  • Nazaha announced the statistics as part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Integrity and Combating Corruption and Vision 2030

JEDDAH: Complaints to the Saudi National Anti-Corruption Commission, Nazaha, have risen by 50 percent in a single year amid increasing efforts to combat financial and administrative misconduct in the Kingdom.
Nazaha received 15,591 reports in 2018 compared with 10,402 the previous year, according to statistics released by the commission.
Financial and administrative corruption cases made up the bulk of the reports.
Nazaha has completed investigations into 59 percent of the complaints, with 4.4 percent referred to the Control and Investigation Board and 3.37 percent to the Kingdom’s Presidency of State Security.
The commission’s smartphone app received 29 percent of the reports, followed by the website at 23.6 percent, while 19.2 percent of the complaints were made in person at Nazaha’s branches. AN Jeddah
Nazaha announced the statistics as part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Integrity and Combating Corruption and Vision 2030.