Painting the Saudi vision at Souq Okaz festival

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More than 50 artists took part in the creation of a 560-square-meter green mural at Souq Okaz. (SPA)
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More than 50 artists took part in the creation of a 560-square-meter green mural at Souq Okaz. (SPA)
Updated 30 June 2018

Painting the Saudi vision at Souq Okaz festival

  • The 12th Souq Okaz festival has brought together several sculptors for the first time at the event
  • The mural is the first to be painted in the form of the word Okaz in Arabic and in this size

TAIF: More than 50 artists from across Saudi Arabia took part in the creation of a 560-square-meter green mural at Souq Okaz, according to Mamdouh Salem, the CEO of Rowad Media.

Salem said: “The mural is the first to be painted in the form of the word Okaz in Arabic and in this size.”

The artists’ paintings, he said, captured the Kingdom’s landmarks, its achievements, Vision 2030, Souq Okaz, Arabian horses, Arabic alphabets and ancient life in Souq Okaz.

The CEO pointed out that each of the participating artists will display four of his paintings on the mural’s site. Six sculptors from within the country — Ali Al-Tekhis, Mohammed Al-Thaqafi, Ali Al-Hassan, Talal Al-Tokhais, Saeed Al-Zahrani and Ali Asiri — participated for the first time this year in creating the mural

The 12th Souq Okaz festival has brought together several sculptors for the first time at the event,  said Al-Thaqafi.

“Each of us (sculptors) gets inspired by Souq Okaz, its culture, and its future outlook.” He said Souq Okaz takes several steps forward every year.

“In 2009, we had prepared 22 granite rocks and written pre-Islamic as well as Islamic poems on them,”Al-Thaqafi said. 

“There were several unsuccessful attempts in the past few years until our dream became true this year and now we have a forum that will continue in the coming years.”

Salem told Arab News that the 1,800-square-meter Science Oasis painting of Arabic alphabets was created by 60 artists, including designers, architects, and workers.

“The painting aims to bring attention to Arabic alphabets since we are in Souq Okaz, which is linked to Arab history and the lives of Arabian tribes,” he said.

“It took the artists 30 days — 12 hours a day — to finish this painting.”

Salem said there was a suggested plan to design an oasis or garden for Arabic alphabets through which visitors can walk and take pictures.

The Arab Republic of Egypt, the guest of honor at the festival this year, provides several performances, including the Egyptian opera and takht.

Egypt’s Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem said her country’s participation was part of a strong relationship between the two countries.

Wood-carving artisans

Artisans restored the splendor of Souq Okaz Avenue, coming from different parts of the Kingdom to display their creative works during the festival.

The avenue was lined with dozens of artisans with their carvings on wood, Sadu weaving, Arabic calligraphy and other arts that aim to revive Saudi heritage and crafts.

Wood carver and carpenter Fawzi Al-Zahrani said the avenue displays “aim to acquaint the new generation with the crafts of their ancestors with a view of preserving these trades and professions from disappearing.”

Al-Zahrani said he uses the finest wood to carve and manufacture old kitchen utensils, as well as other woodworks that mimic the old southern environment of the Kingdom.

Taif Institute pavilion

The Taif Industrial Secondary Institute is participating in the festival with a pavilion displaying models designed and produced by the institute’s students.

Visitors to the pavilion start their tour at the production section, which displays auto parts produced by the students. Also on display are commemorative shields made by the institute and used in public and private events.

The pavilion features a section dedicated to carpentry and welding, where visitors are introduced to furniture, windows, doors and bedrooms made from the finest wood. 

Visitors can also see a car model with each part painted in a different color, representing the function of each component. The car represents the various skills the students learn at the institute.The pavilion contains other important sections, including electronics and power displays.

One of the main attractions during the 12th edition of the event is the Sadu and traditional carpets pavilion. Visitors can see hand-embroidered clothes for children, face covers for women, as well as tassels for horses, and special items for weddings and religious events.

Also on show are Sadu woven rugs representing the Two Holy Mosques, the logo of Saudi Arabia, and map and images of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the princes of some regions and the Vision 2030 logo.


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 51 min 8 sec ago

Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

  • “There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” says Abdullah Al-Joghiman

DHAHRAN: Saudi portrait photographer Abdullah Al-Joghiman has a message for everybody: You are beautiful just the way you are.

If you don’t believe him, let him take your picture.

“Even if you’re not photogenic, or think you look bad in pictures, I can always turn your frown upside down,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is a full-time financial analyst for the Saudi Electricity Co., but allows plenty of time for his work as a freelance portrait and event photographer on the side.

“I started off doing landscape photography, but I love portrait photography more. Landscape photographers have to travel a lot, and I wasn’t able to commit to that lifestyle for many reasons. But since I was a child I’ve always loved taking pictures of people. There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” he told Arab News.

The 34-year-old was born in Al-Hofuf and now lives in Dammam, but his passion for photography has taken him all over the Kingdom and to other areas of the world.

Al-Joghiman at the 2018 Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. (Supplied)

Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

“It was amazing, I met people from around 20 countries who came to take part,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Completely self-taught, Al-Joghiman caught the photography bug at college and has been training himself ever since. “I’ve been dabbling in photography since high school, but I started taking it more seriously in college. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2012 or 2013,” he said.

Al-Joghiman started off humbly, with a camera-centric smartphone, but has since expanded his collection significantly, and now shoots with a variety of high-tech cameras from Sony. Now he is attracting interest from both local and international sponsors, especially in the gaming and cosplay areas.

“Cosplayers are kind of difficult to shoot because they can be perfectionists, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they see the final pictures. That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is happy that social restrictions on photography in Saudi Arabia are easing, allowing him to find more opportunities to do the work he loves.

“It’s difficult to take pictures of people here, especially strangers, but I can’t really blame them, considering that they are not really used to that in our culture. But things are changing and it’s much easier to be a photographer in Saudi Arabia now,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdullah Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

He is grateful for the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revive the Kingdom’s art scene, and has long hoped that photography will become more regulated in the country.

“The market for photography and videography really needs to be regulated. It’s hard enough putting a price on one’s work without scoping out the competition and finding that someone else is charging thousands for just a headshot when I’m doing shoots for two or three hundred,” he said.

“I love my work, and I’d love to be able to do it for free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat,” he said.

Al-Joghiman doesn’t want to limit anyone else’s opportunities but simply wants the playing field evened out a little.

“As a photographer, I just want a fair chance for everyone. More importantly, a client should know exactly what they are paying for,” he said.

His advice to young Saudis looking to become photographers is this: “If you pursue photography, don’t worry. Just do what you love, and if people tell you that they don’t look good in pictures, convince them by taking a picture of them.”

AlJoghiman’s work can be found on Instagram and Twitter (@finalecco), and on his website, https://www.eccofantasyph.com