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.”


Saudi Arabia arrests 13 accused of planning terrorist attacks

Updated 22 April 2019
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Saudi Arabia arrests 13 accused of planning terrorist attacks

  • Four attackers were killed in failed terrorist attack claimed by Daesh on Interior Ministry building in Zulfi
  • The Presidency of State Security released identities of the 4 attackers

RIYADH: Thirteen people were arrested after finding plans to execute criminal acts that were targeting the Kingdom’s security, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.
The statement published by SPA included the names of the 13 men arrested, in addition to their civil ID numbers.
The spokesperson for the Saudi Presidency of State Security said explosive belts were found during a raid on the house of the Zulfi attackers.
Four heavily armed attackers were killed in a failed terrorist attack claimed by Daesh on an Interior Ministry building in Zulfi, north of Riyadh on Sunday.
The four terrorists that were killed belonged to Daesh.
The Presidency of State Security released the identities of the four attackers: Abdullah Hamoud Al-Hamoud, Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Mansour, Samer Abdulaziz Al-Madid and Salman Abdulaziz Al-Madid.

Saudi authorities discovered a house in Al-Rayyan neighborhood in Zulfi governorate, rented by Abdullah Al-Hamoud, one of the four perpetrators, where they found what resembled to be a factory for manufacturing explosives and explosive belts.
A total of five explosive belts were found, four of which were worn by the perpetrators, and another inside a car. The belts contain detonating keys and grenades with shrapnel-like screws.
Authorities also seized 64 homemade grenades, 61 pipe fittings, of which nine were being processed as pipe bombs, three mobile phones, three pressure cookers ready for detonation, two Kalashnikov machine guns, six pistols, and other various weapons.
They also found four bags (74,900 kg) containing organic fertilizers, along with sets of laboratory glass containers, a number of plastic containers, a package of liquid chemical containers, sulfur-fiber cartons, a homemade explosive detonator and a set of screws that were equipped with shrapnel.
Authorities also seized a set of ATM cards, two national identity cards, SR 228, a number of publications and CD-ROMs with content related to terrorist organization.
The Presidency of State Security said it is continuing to follow up with terrorist elements that threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom.