Designing Saudi Arabia: Tasmeem Fair takes visitors on a journey of self-discovery, and celebrates Islamic art and architecture

Designing Saudi Arabia: Tasmeem Fair takes visitors on a journey of self-discovery, and celebrates Islamic art and architecture
“Chaotexa” by Mohanned Iskanderani, above, one of the exhibits at the fair organized by the Saudi Art Council, which aims to reintroduce the role of local designers and architects into Saudi society. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 20 October 2018

Designing Saudi Arabia: Tasmeem Fair takes visitors on a journey of self-discovery, and celebrates Islamic art and architecture

Designing Saudi Arabia: Tasmeem Fair takes visitors on a journey of self-discovery, and celebrates Islamic art and architecture
  • Organized by the Saudi Art Council, the Tasmeem Fair is helping to reintroduce the role of local designers and architects into Saudi society
  • Every art piece in this year’s Tasmeem Fair prompts viewers to take a self-reflective journey as they wander round the exhibition halls

JEDDAH: As part of the Kingdom’s new embrace of art and architecture under Vision 2030 the Tasmeem Fair, organized by the Saudi Art Council, is helping to reintroduce the role of local designers and architects into Saudi society.

Under the patronage of Princess Jawaher bint Majid bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the 10-day fair is exhibiting diverse works by 11 young Saudi architects in its Gold Moor Headquarters in Al-Shatea District.

“We are really lucky to have such talented youth with a high level of culture and intellect,” Princess Jawaher told Arab News. “That’s why for the Tasmeem exhibition we focused our efforts on finding and perfecting these artists.”

“Our Islamic civilization is a source of pride to us,” the princess continued. “It represents not only our heritage but also our identity. I am really thrilled that such an exhibition arose from this land and from our intellectual youth, may Allah bless them.’’

The designs exhibited in the second edition of Tasmeem were created according to a theme loosely related to self-discovery through different emotions, which did not bind the architects to any limits, leaving them room to delve into their creative imagination. 

Last year, the architects who explored the theme of reflection were more established. “I think last year’s designers were much more experienced; however, this year we wanted to have more junior ones. We chose designers based not on their years of experience but rather on their conceptual portfolio. Last year, we got 300 artistic portfolios and this year we received almost 800,’’ said Kholoud Attar, who founded Tasmeem with Nawaf Al-Nassar.




“Kaynoona” by Lujain Badraik, Jood Hurani and Stephanie Berroche. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Every art piece in this year’s Tasmeem Fair prompts viewers to take a self-reflective journey as they wander round the exhibition halls, with works that motivate them to think about stability, solitude, beauty and perfection. Each area of the exhibition represents a certain aspect of the inner self, and each visitor will have their own interpretation of the art, depending on how they perceive life and their place in it. This is in keeping with Islamic art and architecture, which have always inspired spiritual contemplation.

“It’s researching the idea of contemporary Islamic art and architecture by removing the layers that have been accumulated over the years, coming down to the basis of the foundation which is contemplation and inspiration from the Qur’an,” explained the curator, Lama bint Mansour.

“Our aim is to illuminate these foundations through holistic spaces and installations that embody the verses of the Qur’an in conceptual forms and express the esoteric and complex allegories revealed by the words of God.” 




“Perception” by Ahmed Jeddawi. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Attar, who is also the founder of KAAPH publishing house, said the curator’s vision was an inspiring one. “Lama bint Mansour managed to create a beautiful narrative to the story for all the works of the designers where the journey is actually a journey of self-discovery, and going back to the roots of our Islam and being inspired by the Qu’ran, that story I believe will help in creating a much stronger connection with the audience.’’ 

Mohammed Taha, a 26-year-old architect and space designer, is presenting his work in public for the first time. “Tasmeem Fair was an awesome art platform for me to present my work,” he said.

Once you enter his tilted room, your confused state represents the idea that our experience of the world does not depend on what is true, but on what we perceive to be true. “People who visit the room will understand the message between our struggle with illusion and reality,” said Taha.




“Thuluth” by Omar Abduljawad. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

He was influenced by the Qur’anic verse “Guide us upon the straight path,’’ as he said humanity has always struggled with the conflict between our innate nature and the path to righteousness. “It is not a piece of art or a space illusion, but rather a symbol telling people what I want (them) to learn from.’’ 

Maysan Mamoun, founder of Co Design, considers herself a community architect. She usually designs for public spaces with tactical designs. 

Her artwork, “The Abode,’’ is derived from our limited perception of time and place.  It is basically a space that represents both tangible and abstract materials, providing a harmonious understanding of our existential experience.

“This work resamples the meaning of abstracts and object elements,” Mamoun said. “The idea that I want to deliver here is the meaning of life unlimited — ‘Donia’ —  and the infinite ‘hereafter,’ through two materials, wax and ice. I wanted to form the shape of wax based on the ice to resemble the meaning of good deeds in life and how they last. In life, the person who did the good deed might go just like melting ice, and what will remain is the good deed represented by white wax.’’


Residents in Saudi Arabia above 50 set for second vaccine dose

Residents in Saudi Arabia above 50 set for second vaccine dose
Updated 25 June 2021

Residents in Saudi Arabia above 50 set for second vaccine dose

Residents in Saudi Arabia above 50 set for second vaccine dose
  • More than 48 percent of the country’s population has received at least 1 dose

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that residents in the Kingdom above the age of 50 will now be able to receive their second dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine after completing more than 40 days from their first dose.

More than 17 million doses have been administered as 48.8 percent of the country’s population has been inoculated with at least one dose.

The Kingdom recorded 1,255 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 479,390.

Most new cases were in the Makkah region with 340, followed by the Eastern Province (282) and Riyadh (203) while Jouf had only six people who tested positive.

There are 11,322 active cases while the number of critical cases dropped to 1,451 compared to the day before. Fourteen new COVID-19-related deaths have raised the total number of fatalities to 7,730.

The MoH said that a further 1,247 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 460,338. The country’s recovery rate is currently at 96 percent and holding steady.

In addition, 91,021 new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted in the past 24 hours have raised the number of tests conducted in the Kingdom to over 21.3 million.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

Meanwhile, Jeddah authorities closed 32 commercial outlets for breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Municipalities in the Kingdom have stepped up their efforts to ensure compliance with COVID-19 safety measures designed to protect public health.

The municipality of Jeddah governorate carried out 3,899 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities in one day, identifying 57 violations.

The violations varied between noncompliance with social distancing and wearing a mask, leniency in measuring the temperature of customers, overcrowding issues and failure to effectively use the Tawakkalna app.

Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or using the Balady app.


Saudi Arabia reports 120% jump in research published in major journals

Saudi Arabia reports 120% jump in research published in major journals
Updated 25 June 2021

Saudi Arabia reports 120% jump in research published in major journals

Saudi Arabia reports 120% jump in research published in major journals
  • The ministry has contributed to defining the national priorities in scientific research and innovations by organizing scientific events in cooperation with national authorities and industrial sectors

JEDDAH: The number of scientific research papers and innovations from Saudi Arabia’s government universities has increased dramatically in the past year.

The number of scientific publications from Saudi universities published in international refereed magazines and journals rose by 120 percent in 2020. The number of research papers rose to 33,588, almost doubling the target set last year at 18,000 publications. 

The Kingdom ranked first in the Arab world and second in the Middle East and North African region for the quality of published research papers for the third consecutive year according to the Nature Index 2020, one of the world’s most important international indexes for institutional research performance, evaluating and comparing international academic institutions. 

Saudi Arabia also ranked 14th worldwide in the publication of distinguished research papers and provision of solutions for the coronavirus pandemic. Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry has supported scientific research and innovation across governmental universities. 

Its efforts have ensured that the universities keep up with contemporary changes, improve learning outcomes and support the innovation-based national economy through setting the Kingdom’s research priorities.

The ministry has also developed a strategy for scientific research, including a special research identity for each university, to improve the rate of publishing and optimize its impact in line with national needs and Vision 2030’s goals.

Several programs have also been launched to support research and innovation across universities, such as the institutional funding initiative to support scientific research serving the national priorities and needs of the industrial sector. 

The ministry has contributed to defining the national priorities in scientific research and innovations by organizing scientific events in cooperation with national authorities and industrial sectors. These efforts have allowed the ministry to define 12 priorities.


Historic palace inspires Saudi design blueprint for the future

Historic palace inspires Saudi design blueprint for the future
Updated 25 June 2021

Historic palace inspires Saudi design blueprint for the future

Historic palace inspires Saudi design blueprint for the future
  • The wide-ranging blueprint reflects the authority’s ambitions to launch a fresh and innovative start for the Saudi architectural sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture has unveiled a comprehensive strategy to take the architecture and design sector in the Kingdom “to the next level” by empowering talented architects and designers.

The Murabba strategy, announced by the ministry’s Architecture and Design Authority, takes its name from the historic palace in Riyadh.

The wide-ranging blueprint reflects the authority’s ambitions to launch a fresh and innovative start for the Saudi architectural sector, going beyond traditional limits, and serving members of the sector through a range of initiatives and programs.  

Sumaya Al-Sulaiman, CEO of the Architecture and Design Authority, said that the strategy will develop the sector and help its members meet the aspirations of the Culture Ministry, led by Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. 

“The strategy covers multiple themes and aspects, such as the legislative and regulatory aspects, as well as supporting and enabling an educational and practical environment related to the targeted sector, along with a set of initiatives and programs aimed at supporting architects and designers across the Kingdom,” she said.

Under the slogan “the north star,” the authority’s strategy has defined its vision and mission to reflect its major objectives.

The authority has also elaborated its own vision of the sector, which it defined as “the creative expression of designing the built environment, products and communicating ideas with aesthetic and functional value, and includes the disciplines of architecture, interior design, urban planning/urban design, landscape architecture, graphic design, and industrial design, as well as all activities, professions, products, and services related to these practices.”  

The strategy covers six strategic objectives: Developing the sector through promoting its integration, contributing to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by developing the sector of innovative industries and design services, building the skills and talents of present and future professionals, obtaining global recognition for the Kingdom’s architecture and design sector, achieving environmental sustainability in the built environment, and finding a local community for research and innovation in architecture and design fields.   

The authority is planning 33 initiatives that fall under six programs to achieve its strategic objectives, set to be implemented in the five next years.  The first program, titled “architecture and design sector regulation,” focuses on setting the guidelines, laws and regulations of the commercial and professional practices in the sector and includes two initiatives.

The second program, titled “development of the architecture and design sector” focuses on promoting the development of the sector and empowering practitioners to make a greater and broader impact on the architecture and design community, and includes seven initiatives.

The third program, titled “professional development and education,” focuses on supporting local practitioners throughout a comprehensive professional journey, from education to professional excellence, and includes seven initiatives.

The fourth program, titled “content development,” aims to contain, collect, create and promote the cultural content of architecture and design to enrich cultural practices, and includes eight initiatives.

The fifth program focuses on the societal participation and communication, where it aims to set the schedules for cultural events and awards of the authority provided for the local and international community. It includes four strategic initiatives.

The sixth program, titled “activating the architecture and design authority” aims to activate the authority while focusing on internal initiatives and communication to implement the operational model. It includes five strategic initiatives.


Saudi Arabia to announce approved Hajj pilgrims on Friday

Saudi Arabia to announce approved Hajj pilgrims on Friday
Updated 25 June 2021

Saudi Arabia to announce approved Hajj pilgrims on Friday

Saudi Arabia to announce approved Hajj pilgrims on Friday
  • Due to the pandemic, 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform pilgrimage as registration was only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom
  • Electronic portal for domestic pilgrims received more than 540,000 applications before registration closed on Wednesday

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah will announce on Friday the names of the 60,000 pilgrims selected to perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year.
The ministry said that the electronic portal for domestic pilgrims received more than 540,000 applications from Saudi citizens and residents before registration closed on Wednesday, adding that there was no priority for early registration.
The ministry also said that the selected pilgrims will be able to start booking and purchasing packages at 1 p.m. on Friday.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the emergence of new mutations, the Ministries of Health and Hajj announced earlier this month they would cap the total number of people allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year at 60,000. 
Registration was only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom.
Males accounted for 59 percent of the registered pilgrims, according to the Hajj Ministry, while the age group ranging between 31 and 40 years old occupied the most registration slots at 38 percent. Registered pilgrims aged 60 and over represented the lowest age group at two percent.
Those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and be within the ages of 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus, according to the Kingdom’s vaccination measures. 
Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.


Saudi security officials arrest national in possession of over 7,000 amphetamine pills, firearm

Saudi security officials arrest national in possession of over 7,000 amphetamine pills, firearm
Updated 25 June 2021

Saudi security officials arrest national in possession of over 7,000 amphetamine pills, firearm

Saudi security officials arrest national in possession of over 7,000 amphetamine pills, firearm

RIYADH: Security officials in Saudi Arabia arrested a citizen who was found with a large quantity of amphetamine pills and a firearm in his possession, Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
Spokesman for Najran police, Maj. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Ashwi said that officials from the Special Forces for Road Security in the region managed to arrest a Saudi national in his thirties, who was found in possession of 7,160 amphetamine tablets and an unauthorized pistol-type firearm with live ammunition.
He added that he had been arrested, initial legal measures have been taken against him, and he was handed over to the competent authority, in preparation for his referral to the Public Prosecution.