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
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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.’’


Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. (SPA)
Updated 22 September 2019

Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

  • Debris major cause of death for marine life
  • Disintegration of plastic waste threaten human food resources

JEDDAH: A beach cleanup program targeting marine waste has been launched by the Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC), the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The firm, which is behind the development of a luxury seafront tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, is already developing a range of environment-friendly policies such as zero-waste-to-landfill, zero-discharge-to-the-sea, zero-single-use plastics, and achieving 100 percent carbon neutrality. On Saturday it launched the Marine Debris Beach Clean Up Program as part of the Red Sea Project. “Eliminating marine debris is receiving increasing attention from the media that it has become a global cause, urging us to participate in protecting our virgin environment for which our seafront is known,” said TRSDC CEO John Pagano.
“The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. It will also shed light on the importance of reducing the use of nonrecyclable plastics, in addition to encouraging the disposing of these substances in a safe and sustainable manner.”
The TRSDC will continue to explore ways for recycled materials to be a source of employment opportunities for the area’s residents, he added. 
TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land. It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

HIGHLIGHTS

• TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land.

• It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

• Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach cleanup program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject

Dr. Rusty Brainard, chief environment officer at TRSDC, said: “Marine debris causes significant damage to the environment and is a major cause of death for many marine organism species, which may ingest these substances. Moreover, the disintegration of plastic waste into small pieces that penetrate into the food web base may also threaten human food resources. Our program for eliminating marine litter is a long-term project that includes ongoing monitoring of environmental health, as well as periodic intervention to clean up any waste in the Red Sea Project.”
TRSDC has teamed up with leading academic institutions in the Kingdom, such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of Tabuk, on a number of educational initiatives, added Brainard.
The partnership between TRSDC and KAUST has led to an international competition — “Brains for Brine” — that encourages academics, scientists, engineers and the water industry to find solutions for managing the disposal of brine, which is a waste product of water desalination, in a sustainable and commercially viable way.
KAUST has also helped TRSDC with marine spatial planning for the Red Sea Project.
As part of the planning process, major environmental studies were carried out to ensure that the area’s sensitive ecology was protected both during and after completion of the development.
The final master plan, which preserves around 75 percent of the destination’s islands for conservation and designates nine islands as sites of significant ecological value, required several redesigns to avoid potential disruption to endangered species native to the area.
Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach clean-up program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject