Graffiti artists adding color to the streets of Jeddah

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Elias Tashkandi, Hanan Kamal and Abdulkareem Jeyad with their wonderful creations in Jeddah. One of the most public, and popular, manifestations of their efforts to brighten up the city is the increasing amount of incredible graffiti art that can be found on walls across the city.(Photos/Supplied)
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Updated 10 March 2019
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Graffiti artists adding color to the streets of Jeddah

  • The art form has grown in popularity among the youth in Saudi Arabia in the past five years

JEDDAH: The bride of the Red Sea, as Jeddah is known, is a surprisingly colorful city, thanks in no small part to the fact that the Kingdom is home to some incredible artistic talent.
One of the most public, and popular, manifestations of their efforts to brighten up the city is the increasing amount of incredible graffiti art that can be found on walls across the city.
One of the artists contributing to this trend is 19-year-old Saudi student Elias Tashkandi, whose love of graffiti was sparked at the age of 8 while traveling in France.
“I saw the artworks on the trains and in the streets,” he said. “I then began replicating them, but on paper. I started experimenting in graffiti and its basics on a deeper level in 2016.”
The young artist has since participated in a number of festivals, including Common Ground, XJED, and the Jeddah Food Festival.
He explained that the nature of graffiti tends to encourage the building of a real community spirit among the artists.
“It is only a hobby of mine as I am still a beginner,” said Tashkandi. “Through it, I have met other artists and they are some of my dearest friends now.”
He said that he has a particular interest in “calligraffiti,” which “combines the art of calligraphy and graffiti.”
His favorite graffiti fonts include “Straight Letter” and “Wildstyle,” which he likes to depict in a three-dimensional style.
“Each artist can create their own style and font,” he added. “The style I follow is straight letters with a three-dimensional touch.”
Hanan Kamal a 26-year-old Saudi project manager, began drawing at the age of nine and took up graffiti in 2008. She has displayed her art at many events, the most recent of which was the Jeddah Book Fair in January.
“Graffiti — and drawing in general — is my passion, not just a hobby,” she said. “It evolved into freelance work that appealed to many people and I was encouraged, especially by women, as they are a minority in this field.”
This is slowly starting to change, she said, with increasing numbers of women picking up cans of spray paint and pursuing their passion for the art form.
“Recently, there has been an increase in the number of women in this field and they are very creative,” said Kamal. “I support women of all kinds of talents in their determination to prove themselves.”
Art runs in the family for Abdulkareem Jeyad, a 23-year-old freelance graphic designer from Indonesia.
“I was born into an artistic family,” he said. “Since my mother is an abstract artist and my father is a calligraphy artist, naturally I’ve grown and been raised surrounded by colors and letters. I have been in the graffiti field for more than 9 years and counting.”
His favorite font is Wildstyle, he said, “because you shape and change the letters however you want and you can make your own unique piece. I enjoy the sharp outlines, the mixed colors and the details in each piece or wall.”
Street art is more than just a hobby to Jeyad. “I choose graffiti because I can express my imagination and myself,” he explained.
He has participated in several events in Jeddah, and created a graffiti show for XJED. He said the art form has grown in popularity in Saudi Arabia in the past five years “and people are starting to understand what it is and the aesthetic of it.” He has also noticed the growing number of women entering the field.
“I have seen lately a lot of young artists, especially women, starting to do graffiti,” he said. “I would like to say to them to never stop the passion for graffiti. No matter what, keep practicing and be creative. You will develop your own style with practice.”


First Saudi female air traffic controllers begin work

Updated 22 March 2019
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First Saudi female air traffic controllers begin work

  • Eleven women completed a one-year program conducted by Saudi Air Navigation Services

JEDDAH: Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS) on Wednesday celebrated the appointment and start of work of the first batch of Saudi female air traffic controllers at an air traffic control center in Jeddah.
Eleven women completed a one-year program conducted by SANS in cooperation with the Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation. This is the first program to qualify women to work as air traffic controllers.
The academy initiative, in collaboration with SANS, seeks to create more jobs for women as part of a reform push to wean the economy off oil. Vision 2030 plan aims to increase employment and diversify revenue sources.
Earlier, SANS CEO Ryyan Tarabzoni said the state-owned company was prioritizing the hiring of women in the profession, as the country pushes to extend women’s rights in the country and also recruit more nationals as part of the “Saudization” project.