A look at Riyadh Art, which is going to bring public art to the city

 A look at Riyadh Art, which is going to bring public art to the city
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Riyadh Landmark — XXL. (Supplied photo)
 A look at Riyadh Art, which is going to bring public art to the city
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 A look at Riyadh Art, which is going to bring public art to the city
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Updated 28 April 2019

A look at Riyadh Art, which is going to bring public art to the city

 A look at Riyadh Art, which is going to bring public art to the city
  • Riyadh Art will distribute more than 1,000 pieces of art in public spaces throughout the city
  • Art suffered a setback in Saudi Arabia when the Sahwa movement held sway

RIYADH: When you think of cities around the world famous for their art, Riyadh does not instantly spring to mind, but with Saudi Arabia’s cultural revolution beginning in earnest, all that will change.

Last month, King Salman announced four projects for the capital, one of which is Riyadh Art, which will feature the distribution of more than 1,000 pieces of art in public spaces throughout the city by the end of 2023.

Saudi Arabia “has a rich archaeological, architectural and cultural history, as well as an increasingly dynamic contemporary art scene,” said Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s chairman for the Middle East and India. 

“Pioneering projects such as … the open-air Sculpture Museum in Jeddah paved the way by showing the tangible social benefits of displaying contemporary art in an urban setting,” he added.

“Riyadh Art is an exciting new initiative which promises to promote new dialogues, forging conversations between the next generation of Saudi artists and the wider community,” he said.

“We look forward to seeing the expanded artistic and creative perspectives that Riyadh Art is sure to bring to the capital city, as well as to other centers of creativity in the Kingdom.”

In the 1950s, Saudi artists took inspiration from European Renaissance paintings. In the 1960s, the first art scholarships were awarded to young Saudis, giving them the opportunity to travel abroad.




The Noor Festival will showcase interactive artworks based on illumination. (Supplied photo)

Futurism, impressionism, cubism and abstract art all found their way into local art until around 1979. But then came the Sahwa, an ideological movement against Western cultural influence.

Almost overnight, things in Saudi Arabia changed. An austere, conservative cloud settled over the country, choking the art scene.

But it has been revived significantly in recent years, including the formation of the Saudi Art Council in 2014.

The idea of art being a necessity rather than a luxury was starting to return to Saudi Arabia, and the concept of being an artist was starting to look like more than just a hobby again.

There was also the foundation of Art Jameel, created by the family of the late entrepreneur, visionary and art lover Abdul Latif Jameel, which actively works to support the art community in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh Art is one of the biggest and most ambitious of the Vision 2030 projects to date. Featuring offerings from both local and international artists, the project will establish Riyadh as a major arts hub.

According to details seen exclusively by Arab News, Art Riyadh will comprise 11 sub-projects.

Several of them will be permanent, stationary locations for local artists. The Urban Art Lab will consist of galleries featuring well-known artists in city squares, which will encourage interaction between artists and citizens.

The Joyous Gardens will be playgrounds in neighborhood gardens designed by famous artists.

Jewels of Riyadh will consist of a collection of valuable artworks that will be installed at tourist destinations.

The Welcoming Gateways, at Riyadh’s entrances, will feature creative designs and unique architecture.




The Jewels of Riyadh project will consist of valuable artworks installed at tourist destinations. (Supplied photo)

Art on the Move will include sculptures at important intersections across the city. Art in Transit will reflect the opening of the new Metro, scheduled to begin operation before the end of 2019, with artworks in metro and bus stations.

Urban Flow will consist of pedestrian bridges designed by artists to strengthen the city’s interconnectivity and encourage citizens to walk.

Garden City will be a garden for art, containing monuments and sculptures in a permanent location in the heart of Riyadh.

The annual Noor Festival will showcase interactive artworks based on illumination, held in one of the local parks. Perhaps most ambitiously, the Riyadh Landmark — XXL will distinguish the city.

Details are being kept tightly under wraps for now, but an announcement is expected soon. According to Riyadh Art representatives, the project’s design and study are being finalized, implementation is expected to start in the second half of 2019, and completion is expected at the end of 2023.

Local artists are excited about the prospects. “Everything about this project excites me: The revival of art and culture in Saudi Arabia, the potential psychological impact it could have on people’s mood, the enrichment it could bring to people’s lives. I’d mind being stuck in Riyadh traffic a lot less if I had something beautiful to look at,” sculptor Talal Altukhaes told Arab News.

“We have so many talented, brilliant, artistic Saudi youths who’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time.”

Artist Ameera Sheikh, known to her tens of thousands of fans online as “Mikandii,” told Arab News that the project will “give so many people the chance to shine and to showcase their talents.”




Artist Ameera Sheikh. (Supplied photo)

She said: “In the past, it has been much more difficult for artists to find support in Saudi Arabia, but things are changing, and I’m so happy to see it.”

Sheikh, who works fulltime as a freelance artist, added: “In the past, we haven’t had enough opportunities for Saudi artists to really maximize their own potential. In Jeddah, where I live, there are galleries opening and more spaces dedicated to art, but most of the ones I’ve seen have been temporary. It’s very nice to see something more permanent being made available.”

Aljohara Jeje, a Dutch artist living in Saudi Arabia who splits her time between Jeddah and Riyadh, is well-known in the Jeddah art community, and her work has been displayed in some of the city’s most prestigious galleries.

Her most recent work, a poster of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has gained critical acclaim in Jeddah’s art scene.

“Riyadh Art sounds magnificent,” Jeje told Arab News. “Riyadh is an amazing place, so vibrant. It’s a city that’s growing exponentially, and so is the interest in it. So I welcome the activity and look forward to seeing Riyadh Art.”




Dutch artist Aljohara Jeje and her poster of the Saudi crown prince. (Supplied photo)

She said the project will help Riyadh catch up to Jeddah’s art scene, adding: “I believe that Jeddah can become the next global art hub, and Riyadh is lagging a little bit behind in that respect. Jeddah can easily, within a few years, be on par with some of the larger, globally recognized art cities such as Berlin or Shanghai.”

Jeje expressed hope that Riyadh Art will make people more receptive to art as a cultural necessity.

“Art is for everyone. It needs to be available to the public, and people need to get used to it as a part of life,” she said.

“You don’t have to like all of it. You can develop tastes and preferences over time. But art needs to be made available for everyone so we can get used to it.”

Participation criteria are being finalized, and details will be announced in the second half of the year, Riyadh Art organizers told Arab News.

 


Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
  • The train accident left 97 wounded after it derailed off its tracks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it expresses its deep sorrow for the train accident north of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
A passenger train derailed earlier on Sunday in the city of Toukh in Qalyubia province, injuring around 100 people.
“The Kingdom expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Egyptian leadership, government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Four train wagons ran off the railway while the train was traveling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from Cairo, Egypt’s railway authority said.
(With AP)


Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region

Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region

Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman met with the special envoy of the British prime minister for the Gulf Region, Edward Lister, early Monday in Jeddah.

During the meeting, they looked into ways to enhance Saudi-UK bilateral relations and discussed regional and international events of common interest.

The meeting was attended by Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Saudi ambassador to the UK; Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan; Minister of Commerce and Minister of Information-designate Majid Al-Qasabi, as well as the British ambassador to the Kingdom, Neil Crompton.


‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
A Saudi woman walks on a social distancing marker at a shopping center, as preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 3, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 April 2021

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
  • Makkah police arrest 13 people for violating isolation, quarantine instructions

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced on Sunday that authorities have detected a surge of “worrying” behaviors in the Kingdom since the beginning of Ramadan, warning citizens to avoid ignoring anti-coronavirus health measures.

At a joint press conference between the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, MoI spokesperson Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub warned that the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom could potentially lead to citywide lockdowns, as well as the banning of certain activities.
“We must cooperate and not trivialize the dangers. We do not want to have to resort to tough measures,” he said.
Al-Shalhoub added that the Kingdom was continuing to crack down on rule-breakers and those who violate safety precautions, including people using social media to spread misinformation about safety measures and ways to circumvent them.
Meanwhile, Makkah’s regional police spokesman said that 13 people were arrested in Jeddah and Taif for violating isolation and quarantine instructions after they tested positive for coronavirus.
Preliminary legal procedures were taken against them and their cases were referred to the Public Prosecution. The MoI previously warned that violators will face up to a two-year prison sentence, a fine of up to SR200,000 ($53,300), or both.
Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly revealed that the Kingdom has seen a slight rise in the percentage of women contracting coronavirus, warning that the number of women coming forward to be vaccinated was lower than expected.
“We have also seen a rise in the number of female cases that become critical and end up needing intensive care. Women also make up 55 percent of the overall number of cases in the Kingdom,” he said.
The MoH announced that 917 new coronavirus cases were reported on Saturday, raising the total number of cases to 404,970.
There are now 9,445 active cases, 1,044 of which are in critical care.

INNUMBERS

404,970 Total cases

388,702 Recoveries

6,823 Deaths

Of the new cases, 402 were in Riyadh, 203 in Makkah and 131 in the Eastern Province. Baha and Jouf reported the lowest cases on Saturday, with just six cases each.
Al-Aly said that appointments for second vaccine doses would be automatically updated, following news that some appointments had been canceled. The Saudi strategy aims to immunize the largest number of people possible with at least the first dose, Al-Aly added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that more than 15 million people have benefited from its Eatmarna app.
The ministry said that only people who have taken at least the first dose of the vaccine will be permitted to perform Umrah, or pray at either the Grand Mosque in Makkah or the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Violators will be prosecuted for attempting to perform the pilgrimage without the proper permissions, officials said, adding that authorities are encouraging safety precautions in order to ensure safe, smooth, and seamless pilgrimages for all visitors.
There were 907 new recoveries reported in the Kingdom, raising the total number of recoveries over the course of the pandemic to 388,702. The Kingdom’s death toll rose to 6,823 after 13 new coronavirus-related deaths were recorded.
Almost 7.1 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Saudi Arabia so far.

The Kingdom is now delivering vaccines at a rate of about 1.32 per second, or 114,471 each day. About 20.3 percent of the Saudi population have now been vaccinated.

The last day saw the completion of 51,225 PCR tests, bringing the total number of tests conducted in the Kingdom to 16,174,957.

 


Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases
  • The authority said crimes of financial and administrative corruption do not fall under the statute of limitations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-corruption Authority (Nazaha) said on Sunday it had initiated a number of criminal cases and legal procedures.
Among the most prominent cases, a retired major general and two retired employees from the Ministry of National Guard were arrested for obtaining SR198 million ($52.8 million) from local companies and one foreign company in return for helping them win contracts.
In the second case, the former director general of projects at the Ministry of Higher Education and five businessmen were accused of establishing companies and obtaining ministry projects through them, exaggerating prices, obligating other companies contracted with the ministry to deal with them, and obtaining funds. Work is underway to calculate the amount of money that was embezzled.
In the third case, an employee working for the Foreign Ministry was arrested for having disbursed approximately SR733,000, in an irregular manner, from an account of one of the Kingdom’s embassies.
In the fourth case, an employee of the Ministry of Information was arrested for issuing 328 media licenses and receiving around SR700,000.
Two employees at a regional branch of the Ministry of Finance were suspended after two citizens bribed them with SR126,000 out of a total amount of SR8 million agreed upon, in return for facilitating payment of financial compensation.
In the sixth case, three employees in the Education Department in one of the governorates were suspended for obtaining SR624,000 in cash installments from a businessman in exchange for facilitating access to seven projects amounting to SR3.2 million.
The seventh case was in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, where a notary was arrested in one of the regions for issuing a lost deed in an irregular manner to one of his relatives.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, an officer with the rank of captain working in a regional branch of the General Directorate for Narcotics Control was arrested for obtaining SR35,000 from an expatriate, in exchange for holding a case related to his brother.
A further case involved a bank employee in one of the Kingdom’s governorates who was suspended for obtaining SR21,000 from some of the bank’s clients in exchange for completing their financing procedures.
And the last case involved two employees working in a municipality who were arrested for receiving SR25,000.


Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign

Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign
Updated 19 April 2021

Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign

Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign
  • Donations from philanthropists inside the Kingdom accounted for 99%

RIYADH: More than SR300 million ($79.9 million) has been donated to the national platform for charitable giving “Ihsan” since Friday, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.
Since its inauguration at the end of March, the Ihsan platform has received more than 3 million visitors, and has contributed to serving more than half a million beneficiaries through more than 200 official partners involved in the charitable sector.
Donations from philanthropists inside the Kingdom accounted for 99 percent of the total donations.
Ihsan also provided opportunities to donate outside the Kingdom for projects submitted by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.
“Ihsan works to support opportunities for donations and charitable projects in all regions of the Kingdom, and in various fields of charitable and humanitarian work,” the statement said.
It includes donation opportunities for education, health, housing and other fields by making use of modern technologies, which contribute to quick and easy access and achieving the highest standards of transparency and reliability, it added.
The national platform for charitable giving said it is continuing to receive donations from philanthropists during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.