Zamakan: Saudi-based artists ponder universal questions through art

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Visitors to the exhibition take keen interest in the artworks on display. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 31 March 2019

Zamakan: Saudi-based artists ponder universal questions through art

  • The season featured 83 events across nine cities, attracting 730,000 visitors to events as diverse as a French Montana concert and an air contest

DHAHRAN: The organizers of an art exhibition in the Eastern Province want to become a platform for contemporary art in the Kingdom.
Zamakan, which runs in Dhahran until Sept. 23 at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), showcases the work of 11 Saudi and Saudi-based artists.
“This exhibition features the work of only Saudi and Saudi-based artists,” Laila Al-Faddagh, head of museums at Ithra, told Arab News. “Through these exhibitions and art prizes that we do, we really do try to make ourselves a platform for contemporary arts in Saudi Arabia.”
A tweet on the official @IthraWorld account shows a video tour of the exhibition space. Visitors are seen engaging with colorful and diverse pieces on display and discussing them.
Artist Sara Abdu said her work, “Communing with the self, as I commune with Him,” was inspired by a prayer mat which she inherited from an uncle.
“I’ve always been thinking about the relationship between humans and objects and the psychology behind the sentimental value,” she told Arab News. “Then I started thinking about the function of that prayer mat. It is a space where we get disconnected from everything that we reject, to reconnect with our true self, with God, and be true at that moment. I wanted to achieve that state through art, through the act of repetition.”
The artist, who is of Yemeni origin and was born in Jeddah, completed a residency program in Paris in 2017 and first exhibited at the Saudi Art Center in 2014.
“I used ink to produce the piece and the more I spent time working on this piece, the more order I found within me. You will find that there is more order and consistency — it is kind of documentation or a timeline that documents my state at that moment and the fact that I am using ink allows making mistakes and showing them peacefully. It is like taking that inward journey outwardly, making the private public in a way.”
Zamakan is a fusion of the Arabic words for time (zaman) and space or place (makan).
Each piece of art in Zamakan explores questions around space and time, the future and how space and time influence someone’s outlook.
The artists share a location, but they interpret time and space in their own way. Some through nature, some through numbers, some through sound waves.
Ashraf Fagih, division head of communications and partnerships at Ithra, said Zamakan was one of four galleries at the Ithra museum.
“This one is dedicated to contemporary art and the mission of this place, as is the mission of Ithra, is to nurture and to support Saudi talent and Saudi national content as well,” he told Arab News.
“That is exactly what is happening ... 11 Saudi and Saudi-based artists are representing their concepts of time and space. Zamakan is a word that represents these two physical dimensions.
“We are allowing the public to get in touch here in the Eastern Province with the artists themselves and with the work, the way time and space are being represented differently represents how Saudis view the world from different perspectives.
“They speak different mental languages as art is a mental state that is being represented physically and manifested physically eventually.”
Fagih said he was proud of Ithra’s dedication to spreading knowledge. The art on display rewarded the heart and mind, he added.
“It is part of Ithra’s mission to disseminate knowledge, to ignite inspiration and to create a bridge between world cultures. There are a lot of expat and international visitors, international media. We believe this revealed another colorful dimension of Saudi identity through the works of Saudi artists.”
Zamakan is part of the Sharqiah Season, which aligns with the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan to enrich the lives of people in the Kingdom through cultural, educational, sports, and entertainment events and programs.
The season featured 83 events across nine cities, attracting 730,000 visitors to events as diverse as a French Montana concert and an air contest.


Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

Updated 44 min 22 sec ago

Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

  • MoUs with top firms such as Chinese tech giant Huawei, French oil major Total open new opportunities

RIYADH: The Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Foundation Misk Initiatives Center has signed 12 memorandums of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh with local and international companies to support and develop youth talent.

Among the companies were the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the French oil firm Total, the Emirati Federal Youth Authority, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The agreements stipulated joint work between the two parties in the fields of talent development in Saudi Arabia and information and communications technology, in accordance with the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

This initiative aims to find ways of cooperation and employment opportunities between the two parties.

The MoU signed between the center and the Emirati Federal Youth Authority provides for the enhancement of joint cooperation in support of youth. 

The two parties will seek to discuss future cooperation, to build a strategic partnership between the two parties in exploring potential cooperative opportunities and setting a framework for such cooperation, in addition to organizing the exchange of technologies and innovations through the joint organization of courses, forums and workshops.

The MoU aims at creating a specialized scientific dialogue between the two parties, conducting joint research at the institutes in the field of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future, considering launching joint initiatives, and examining the possibilities of cooperative programs based on the extensive experience of Misk and the Federal Youth Authority.

Misk’s Initiatives Center agreement with Total will promote joint cooperation, find training opportunities for Saudi talent at the company’s headquarters and facilities, and cooperate on educational programs that support entrepreneurship and an ecosystem for startup companies, especially in the fields of energy and technology.

The Misk Global Forum also witnessed the signing of a MoU with “Hub71” to promote learning and leadership among Saudi youth, and enhance opportunities for joint collaboration, in addition to two MoUs with 500 startups and seed stars “to promote joint cooperation between the two parties, to develop and grow the business of startups and provide them with the necessary
environment.”

Misk also signed a MoU with the Public Institution for Education and Global Leadership to promote joint cooperation and achieve the objectives of both sides, to support innovation initiatives that instill the entrepreneurial mindset of young people, as well as the establishment and organization of entrepreneurship approaches. 

Both parties agreed to focus on exploring potential collaborative opportunities related to the Entrepreneurship World Cup, and establish a competition with competitors coming from 170 countries.

Both parties also agreed to support international competitions aimed at identifying the best solutions in various fields and sectors, as well as exchanging programs on entrepreneurship and innovation.

The center has signed a MoU with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to discuss the possibility of providing training programs and courses for the center’s employees of the Fund and the relevant authorities. In addition to discussing available opportunities for cooperative training within the Fund, and providing opportunities for participation and contribution of the Fund’s staff in Misk’s programs.

The MoU aims to explore the benefits of existing agreements between the two parties with international financial and educational institutions, in order to find opportunities that provide programs, training and educational courses, and granting cooperative trainings for Saudi youth in those global institutions.

The center also signed a MoU with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), aiming to enhance joint cooperation on educational technology and its integration into the educational systems in the Islamic world.

An MoU with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will enhance the cooperation between the two parties in several initiatives, including academic development, training, entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

An MoU with Endeavor Saudi Arabia will support the Kingdom’s youth, enhance their talents and potential, stimulate economic growth, and find ways of cooperation between the two parties that serve their common interests.

The center’s MoU with the Ministry of Economy and Planning aims to spread awareness, provide new information on the education and training of human resources in the administrative and economic fields, youth empowerment, and coordinate efforts to raise their abilities.

The MoU aims to create cooperative training opportunities in local and international institutions with the purpose of workforce growth in the Kingdom’s economic sector, contributing to the development of national competencies in the economy, policies and procedures, strategic planning, in addition to providing job opportunities for graduates from areas that serve the interests of both parties and support the achievement of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.