Saudi visual artists take part in Qatif transformation project 

Misk Art Institute is one of Misk’s initiatives that seek to enrich the artistic culture and support creative experiences by organizing events that connect artists. (SPA)
Updated 15 April 2019

Saudi visual artists take part in Qatif transformation project 

  • Misk Art launches Tajalat initiative to promote national cohesion
  • Saudi artists excited over the opportunity to showcase Kingdom’s cultural diversity

QATIF, Eastern Province: The Misk Art Institute has launched Tajalat initiative in Qatif as part of the central Awamiyah project to bring together visual artists from all across Saudi Arabia to carry a message of love by promoting the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. 

Misk Art Institute is one of Misk’s initiatives that seek to enrich the artistic culture and support creative experiences by organizing events that connect artists. It is a cultural organization operating under the auspices of the Misk Foundation, established by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The central Awamiyah project in Qatif was opened on Jan. 31 by the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, Prince Saud bin Naif. Local Mayor Fahd Al-Jubair said he was delighted at the progress made in central Awamiyah, which he hailed as one of the most ambitious transformations in the Kingdom.

“The inauguration of the central Awamiyah project is a vital step in the comprehensive development of Qatif and its cities, so that it remains a cultural hub,” he said.

Twenty-two male and female visual artists are taking part in the initiative that will help transform the area into a jewel of Saudi urban heritage. Misk Arts Institute CEO Reem Sultan extended thanks to Qatif people for hosting the Tajalat initiative. She said the institute always works on initiatives that support art and artists throughout the Kingdom.  

The Saudi Press Agency quoted several artists as saying that the initiative is an extension of the success of its first edition that was launched as part of the Winter at Tantora cultural festival in Al-Ula. It aims to provide artists a platform to discuss the Saudi art scene and promote creative activities in the Kingdom, they said.

Munir Al-Hajji, a visual artist from Qatif, said the initiative is very important as it promotes different art forms and contributes to promoting the message of love and peace and showcases Saudi Arabia’s rich history and bright future through art.     

He said several artists from different parts of the Kingdom are taking part in the second season of the initiative. “Taking part in the initiative is an honor,” Al-Hajji said. He said the artists see this as an opportunity to their nation and to boost national cohesion.

Many artists see this event as an opportunity to promote the diverse culture of the Kingdom and to achieve unity through diversity.

Al-Hajji stressed the importance of organizing such events for the preservation of regional and national heritage.

Abdullah Al-Tamimi from Riyadh said the initiative carries a message of peace, security and love among Saudi citizens. He lauded the Misk Foundation for this initiative.

Visual artist Layla Nasrallah from Qatif said that organizing this initiative is a dream come true to the region’s young men and women. She said the participation of visual artists from all over the Kingdom represents a cultural dimension. “Art is a message and it is the responsibility of artists to deliver it to future generations,” she said.

Youssef bin Ahmed Jaha, an artist from Makkah, said such initiatives help enrich the creative experiences of artists.

Visual Artist Sima Abed Al-Hay from Qatif stressed the importance of the initiative that constitutes a new beginning featuring the cultural and heritage aspect of the Kingdom.

Visual Artist Zaman Jassem from Qatif was delighted at the participation of so many visual artists, who got the opportunity to showcase their work through the Tajalat initiative. 

He said the initiative reflects the diverse cultures thriving across the Kingdom. Jassem said the initiative aims to promote humanitarianism and development and it seeks to promote peace and harmony.

 

QATIF, Eastern Province: The Misk Art Institute has launched Tajalat initiative in Qatif as part of the central Awamiyah project to bring together visual artists from all across Saudi Arabia to carry a message of love by promoting the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. 

Saudi visual artists take part in Qatif transformation project 

 


‘American Sharqawia’: US Consul General Rachna Korhonen bids Saudi Arabia farewell

Updated 09 July 2020

‘American Sharqawia’: US Consul General Rachna Korhonen bids Saudi Arabia farewell

  • "There’s some magic in the water of the desert," says Korhonen

JEDDAH: As she reaches the end of her second mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, US Consul General Rachna Korhonen will soon be heading home, taking memories to last a lifetime.
Known for her love for culture and the Arabic language and for her vast knowledge of the region, Korhonen became well known as a constant supporter of Saudi women and youth in the region, participating in numerous cultural and social events in the Eastern Province and across the Kingdom.
After two more weeks in the Kingdom, Korhonen will return to the US capital to serve as the executive director of the Bureau of Near East Affairs (NEA) and the Bureau of South Central Asian Affairs (SCA) at the US State Department which supports the posts in the region, including Saudi Arabia, thus continuing her connection with the Kingdom.
With 14 years of experience as a US diplomat, she served 3 years in Riyadh in 2010, and then came back to serve as the consul general in Dhahran in August 2017. “I would say Riyadh was the start of my relationship with Saudi Arabia, and Dhahran and the Eastern Province is the culmination of the relationship,” said Korhonen told Arab News on a video call. She almost feels herself Sharqawia, a resident of the Eastern Province, Sharqia.
“Ana Sharqawia (‘I am a Sharqawia). The measure of any place is the people, it’s not about the place, it’s really about the people.”
As consul general, her role was to build relations and promote the interests of her home in the country where she was posted. Korhonen went the extra mile, she joined in the region’s celebrations and understood its traditions and culture.


Recalling her time in the Eastern Province, she said: “I’ve been getting to know Sharqawis, the people who live and work here, who have made this their home in the years since Aramco started or were born in Al-Ahsa. I think anyone who comes to the Eastern Province falls in love,” she said.
“The biggest reason I’ve gotten to enjoy myself here is (because) it has quite a bit of America here. I think it’s difficult to realize how much America exists in Saudi Arabia until you come to the Eastern Province,” she added.
As the drilling for oil began in 1935 with the help of the California Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC), which later became Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s oil capital has been home to thousands of Americans over the past 85 years, who have had a major influence on the region.
“Aramco is definitely a reminder of home, and you put that in with the people, the hospitality, the normal way of being Saudi which is to welcome your guests no matter who they are. You put those things together, you get the best of the United States and you get the best of Saudi Arabia.”
A native of New Jersey and big baseball fan, her love for the game didn’t stop her from supporting the Al-Ettifaq Football Club in Dammam, attending matches and singing their anthem.
Her trips to Al-Ahsa, a place she calls the most beautiful place in the Kingdom, allowed her to discover the region’s vast experiences.
Her appreciation of Al-Ahsa goes deep. Both the scenery and the hospitality of the people make it her favorite city — she even took Ambassador John Abizaid on a trip there in February.
“As you drive towards Al-Ahsa, you can see the sand changing color, from a bright yellow to a reddish color,” she said. “You start seeing the desert turning green, which is amazing to me. I’m a mountain and forest type of person and I can tell you that I now like the desert too, it’s beautiful.”
The uniqueness of Al-Ahsa called out to Korhonen and she recalls her first visit to the region in 2017. “The history, the people, the food, the culture, is very different from any place I’ve been to in Saudi Arabia, Hasawis (people of Al-Ahsa) are lovely. I think there’s some magic in the water of the desert,” she said.
Korhonen developed an interest in regional cultural events, visiting local markets picking out sheep for Eid, learning about the Saudi love for falconry and participating in the traditional celebratory dance of Al-Arda. She even has a Diwaniya, a parlor where guests are received, at her home.

When she returned to the Kingdom in 2017, Korhonen noticed the transformation of the Kingdom, noting that Vision 2030 has been the instigator for this noticeable change.
“The changes have been tremendous, I think Vision2030 is really going to really bring Saudi Arabia onto the world stage. I think some parts are already there. In the energy sector, Saudi Arabia has always been a leader,” she said. “I’m betting you right now that you’re going to see Saudi women, you’re going to see Saudi men, you’re going to see Saudi kids, Saudi art, culture and music, the traditional Saudi things, all starting to show up on the world stage.”
As the Kingdom heads towards diversifying its economy, Korhonen anticipates that the world will begin seeing more Saudi entrepreneurs with innovative ventures, as education is key. She noted that with the continuous flow of Saudi students on scholarships in the US, their return to the Kingdom will help bring forth a new business-like mindset with partnerships between the two countries that will help the Kingdom’s economy to flourish.
“It’s coming,” she noted. “I’ve seen some of the (US) businesses here, but I haven’t seen enough yet and I’d like to see more of that in the next 2-5 years, because Vision 2030 will be a success if we can get entrepreneurs to start businesses and hire more Saudis,” she added. “That to me is the key and that is what you should be bringing back from the US.”
As the end of her mission draws near, it's safe to say that we'll be seeing Korhonen back in the Kingdom in the near future.
“I’ll honestly come back because of the people, because of the friendships I’ve made here.”