Two Saudi artists to take part in major art exhibition in Russia

Saudi artists Daniah Al-Saleh (left) and Lulwah Al-Homoud
Updated 14 May 2019

Two Saudi artists to take part in major art exhibition in Russia

  • Al-Homoud has developed an abstract graphical form of language developed from the Arabic alphabet, which some predict could become a universal language

JEDDAH: Two Saudi artists are to take part in a major international exhibition aimed at exploring the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in modern art.
Lulwah Al-Homoud and Daniah Al-Saleh will be among the leading artists showcasing their work at the event in St. Petersburg, Russia, next month.
The new exhibition, organized by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the State Hermitage Museum, will be launched during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
The Saudi duo will join with artists from throughout the world for the expo, titled “Artificial Intelligence and Intercultural Dialogue,” which will open in the Hermitage’s general staff building (historical archive hall) on June 6, the first day of the SPIEF gathering and part of its cultural program.
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF, said: “The development of intercultural dialogue is RDIF’s important long-term mission. This exhibition is our new initiative aimed at promoting this dialogue and creating the trust needed for successful trade and investment.”
He added: “For this exhibition, we brought together artists of different nationalities, all of whom are using AI technologies. We are able to witness a new form of art being created. We hope that people from different nations will find it easier to understand each other through this art of the future.”
He said: “We are very pleased that the exhibition of the world’s best AI art is taking place during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the Hermitage, one of the most renowned museums in the world. This exhibition reiterates Russia’s cultural and technological leadership.”
The RDIF and its international partners are already investing in AI technologies which, according to experts, could add $13 trillion to the global economy by 2030, drastically transforming many sectors. Many countries are already developing their own AI programs.
Al-Homoud has developed an abstract graphical form of language developed from the Arabic alphabet, which some predict could become a universal language.
AI technology is used to process large volumes of data, including images. In recent years, the use of AI has helped to achieve revolutionary results in cybersecurity, banking and marketing, as a result of facial-recognition technology.

AI-based contemporary art has received global attention following “The portrait of Edmond Belami,” a painting created by the French art group Obvious which sold at Christie’s for $432,500 on Oct. 25, 2018.

Artists and computer programers from Obvious used generative-adversarial network (GAN) algorithms, designed in 2014 to create the painting. GAN is able to simultaneously run two algorithms. One algorithm constantly generates images, while the second one processes them, filtering out the failed images.

The invention of GAN has enabled AI systems to process information in a manner that is closer to that of the human brain. This enables it to use imagination and take a critical approach to the received information. The activity of both algorithms in GAN is balanced and excludes conflict, allowing for the best results.

Three artworks from Obvious, as well as pieces from other AI-based art specialists, will be exhibited for the first time in Russia. Most of the works are a result of creative processing by large AI algorithms.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, CEO of the Hermitage, said: “The Hermitage Museum always welcomes the experiments where art and science demonstrate their similarities and readiness to enrich each other. The artistic exploration of artificial intelligence continues the important process of humanization of science.”

An installation from Italian artist Davide Quayola will represent the AI “view” of French impressionist paintings, while the work by Turkey’s Refik Anadol, “Machine Hallucinations,” has been created using the latest GAN algorithm, which processed 100,000 photographs of Gothic and modern architecture. 

The work of Kostya Novoselov, who won the 2010 Nobel prize for physics after discovering the material graphene, will examine the limits of machine learning, drawing parallels with artworks created by humans.

The exhibition is the RDIF’s new initiative aimed at promoting dialogue between cultures. It builds on earlier successful cultural endeavors by the fund, including organizing concerts by the Mariinsky orchestra, and a Russian avant-guard art exhibition in Saudi Arabia in 2019, in partnership with Saudi Aramco and the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Exhibition participants also include Mario Klingemann from Germany, Chinese artists Sun Xun and Aaajiao, Russia’s Egor Kraft, ::Vtol::, and Novoselov in collaboration with Zhestkov Studio, Team Void from South Korea, American computer animator Jonathan Monaghan, and Norimichi Hirakawa of Japan.

Dmitry Ozerkov and Victoria Kondrashova are the curators of the exhibition, which will run until July 7.

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.