Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation

Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation
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This year’s edition, curated by artist Zahra Bundakji, attempts to understand the societal reforms underway in the Kingdom and their implications on a collective and individual level. (Photo/Supplied)
Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation
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This year’s edition, curated by artist Zahra Bundakji, attempts to understand the societal reforms underway in the Kingdom and their implications on a collective and individual level. (Photo/Supplied)
Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation
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This year’s edition, curated by artist Zahra Bundakji, attempts to understand the societal reforms underway in the Kingdom and their implications on a collective and individual level. (Photo/Supplied)
Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation
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This year’s edition, curated by artist Zahra Bundakji, attempts to understand the societal reforms underway in the Kingdom and their implications on a collective and individual level. (Photo/Supplied)
Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation
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This year’s edition, curated by artist Zahra Bundakji, attempts to understand the societal reforms underway in the Kingdom and their implications on a collective and individual level. (Photo/Supplied)
Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation
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This year’s edition, curated by artist Zahra Bundakji, attempts to understand the societal reforms underway in the Kingdom and their implications on a collective and individual level. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 29 November 2019

Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation

Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation
  • The program aims to project innovative and original content of Saudi Arabia-based artists

JEDDAH: An exhibition by emerging artists throwing a spotlight on the social changes taking place in Saudi Arabia has been launched in the Kingdom.

Athr Gallery in Jeddah is hosting “In the Midst of It All,” the sixth edition of its Young Saudi Artists (YSA) initiative, showcasing the works of 23 talented newcomers to the country’s growing art scene.

The YSA program, which began in 2011, aims to project the innovative and original content of Saudi-based artists onto a regional and international stage.

This year’s edition, curated by artist Zahra Bundakji, attempts to understand the societal reforms underway in the Kingdom and their implications on a collective and individual level.

The art display is the result of an open invitation to Saudi nationals and residents living in the Kingdom, aged between 19 and 40, to participate in the YSA initiative.

As this year’s exhibition theme, Bundakji posed a commonly asked question among youth about art, culture, and entertainment, “who are you, in the midst of it all?”

Bundakji told Arab News: “When I was preparing for the exhibition’s theme, I went around asking people what matters, and almost everyone said it’s our identity. It was based on everything around us, and now everything is changing, so who are we?”

She said that the exhibition contained artworks that expressed personal experiences and memories of childhood, identity crises, tragedies, traumas, and inner conflicts in an attempt to “tell people 100 years from now who we were in 2019. Through bringing all of these people together, you have an idea of what people are going through and begin to see a pattern.”

Most of the exhibitors are not from an art-related, academic background and have never exhibited before.




The art display is the result of an open invitation to Saudi nationals and residents living in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)

Aisha Zakia Islam, 27, a Saudi-born Bangladeshi multidisciplinary artist, is taking part with a series of elegies represented by henna patterns on X-rays belonging to her late mother.

“My work represents the process of accepting the loss, and turning something sad into something happier,” Islam told Arab News. “My mother loved henna, it was very ceremonial for her, and made her really happy. Working on this series was my mourning process.”

Islam said that henna becomes permanent on the X-ray, unlike the human skin, and trying to scrape it will remove the whole X-ray.

As an expatriate, she added that being able to present her artwork in Saudi Arabia and being exposed to the local art scene meant a lot to her. “Such initiatives usually target locals; I am glad to get this chance.”

Shaimaa Saleh, 24, a textile artist and printmaker based in Jeddah, explored themes of domesticity, family, memories, and time in her Athr display.

Her artwork takes its roots from “Majdolin,” a novel translated by Egyptian writer and poet Mustafa Lutfi Al-Manfaluti. It contains 22 pieces, each expressing a scene from the book and reflecting on the search for happiness.

“The text captivated me, and I couldn’t get over it. It lists scenes from our interactions with nature and people in our daily life as expected sources of comfort, happiness, and contentment.”

Using techniques such as embroidery, silkscreen printing and collage fabrics, Saleh’s art is inspired by her emotional experiences through everyday situations. The book’s text made her realize that she had misconstrued the source of happiness, and that it was “actually a journey, not a destination.”

She noted that the YSA initiative was important in introducing and giving space to young artists.

Mohammed Hammad, 36, a filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist, shared his experience of immigration and struggle with his fragmented identities in a video piece titled #Infinitesence83. His experimental short film presents an introspective examination of his immigration from Saudi Arabia and returning during the current socioeconomic change.

Through sound, film, and painting he highlights the stark contrasts between his country of birth, Saudi Arabia, and the European metropolitan cities where he was raised.

“I lived most of my life outside Saudi Arabia, and the video includes footage from my journey abroad in different countries and continents over the last seven years,” Hammad told Arab News.

“It is narrated by voice messages from my mother who used to send me a lot of messages updating me about the family, praying for me, and asking me to come back. And I’m finally here with her.”

Hammad said that he liked the idea behind the exhibition because it focused on personal experiences and inner crises. “Most of my art is expressive, it represents internal experiences and sometimes indirectly addresses social issues through self-reflection. In the past, exhibitions used to impose a certain topic on the artists, and my style was usually not in sync with their style.”

In September, the Athr Gallery invited artists from all disciplines to apply to take part in the YSA initiative. The program is designed to help young artists conceptualize their work and develop their projects, while allowing them to exhibit in a professional context, collaborate with a curator, and expose their work to criticism as well as to the marketplace.

“It is pleasant how the public and artists reacted to the initiative; we received over 200 applications, our biggest-ever number of applicants,” said Mohammed Hafiz, the gallery’s co-founder.

“There are two things we did differently this year. We appointed an independent curator and a partly international committee to select the artists,” Hafiz told Arab News. “We believe in supporting and stimulating the creative market. However, everyone has to take charge and responsibility for their future.

“Therefore, during the exhibition, artists get to engage with the public and professionals, including critics, the media, and other galleries. This is an opportunity to interact with the world as artists.

“Some of the artists will end up being represented by us in YSA; those who are no longer presented by YSA might be picked up by other galleries or decided to change their path. Some YSAers decided to become film directors or graphic designers because when they went through the process, they realized that this was not their preference,” Hafiz added.

The exhibition, which will also introduce the works of 110 Saudi-based artists in a gallery context, runs until Jan. 15, 2020.


Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief, Moroccan envoy discuss cooperation

Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief, Moroccan envoy discuss cooperation
Updated 26 February 2021

Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief, Moroccan envoy discuss cooperation

Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief, Moroccan envoy discuss cooperation

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, on Thursday received the Moroccan ambassador to Saudi Arabia and OIC permanent representative, Dr. Mustafa Al-Mansouri.
The envoy signed the statute of the Islamic Organization for Food Security on behalf of his country and discussed with Al-Othaimeen ways to further strengthen cooperation between the OIC and Morocco. Al-Othaimeen praised Morocco’s leading role within the organization and in joint Islamic action.


Who’s Who: Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany, executive president of Second Health Cluster

Who’s Who: Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany, executive president of Second Health Cluster
Updated 26 February 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany, executive president of Second Health Cluster

Who’s Who: Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany, executive president of Second Health Cluster

Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany is the executive president of a group of Saudi healthcare facilities known as the Second Health Cluster. It includes King Fahd Medical City, Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Hospital, King Saud Hospital for Chest Diseases, Al-Yamamah Hospital, and a group of primary healthcare centers in northeastern Riyadh.
Al-Yamany has also served as director of the National Neuroscience Institute, chairman of the board of directors of the Scientific Committee for Neurosurgery, medical director of neurology and head of the department of neurosurgery, both at King Fahd Medical City, and as a consultant of neurosurgery at the Riyadh Medical Complex.
He sat as chairman of the accreditation committee for health promotion at King Fahd Medical City, was a consultant of neurosurgery at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, and was an honorary professor of assistant clinical neurosurgery at King Saud University.
In addition, he held the positions of assistant executive director of medical departments and deputy executive director for medical affairs at King Fahd Medical City.
He is a representative of Saudi Arabia and an examiner on the Arab Board of Neurosurgery, and an executive partner of the Qimam Fellowship, which provides its fellows with one-on-one mentorship from senior public and private sector leaders.
Al-Yamany gained master’s degrees in health administration, and health management from Washington University, bachelor’s degrees in medicine, and surgery from King Saud University’s college of medicine in Riyadh.


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and US President Biden discuss regional security

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and US President Biden discuss regional security
Updated 26 February 2021

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and US President Biden discuss regional security

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and US President Biden discuss regional security
  • The talks dealt with ‘the most important issues in the region’
  • They discussed Iran’s destabilizing behavior and ending the war in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and US President Joe Biden discussed regional and global stability during a phone call on Thursday.
The two leaders stressed the importance of strengthening the partnership between the two countries and the depth of their historical relations, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
During the call, King Salman congratulated Biden on taking office last month.
The talks dealt with the most important issues in the region and reviewed developments of common interest, the report said.
The two sides discussed Iran’s behavior in the region, its destabilizing activities and its support for terrorist groups.
“King Salman thanked the US president for Washington’s commitment to defend the Kingdom against any threats and his assurance that Iran would not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons,” SPA said.
Biden commended the Kingdom’s support for UN efforts to reach a truce and a cease-fire in Yemen.
King Salman said the Kingdom was keen to reach a comprehensive political solution in Yemen and to achieve security and development for the Yemeni people.
A statement from the White House said the US president told King Salman he would work to make the bilateral relationship as strong and transparent as possible.


SAF improving lives of autistic children in Saudi Arabia for years

SAF improving lives of autistic children in Saudi Arabia for years
Updated 26 February 2021

SAF improving lives of autistic children in Saudi Arabia for years

SAF improving lives of autistic children in Saudi Arabia for years
  • Arab News spoke to Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Farhan Al-Saud, SAF’s chairman, to discover more about the charity’s efforts since its launch in 2009

JEDDAH: The Saudi-based Charitable Society of Autism Families (SAF) has been assisting families with autistic children and pushing for greater community inclusion for more than 10 years now. But while awareness of autism in the region has improved in that time, there remains a stigma around and lack of understanding of the condition in the Kingdom.

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate or socialize with others. It can lead to a variety of seemingly anti-social behaviors, including a lack of desire to interact with other people, displays of apparent hostility, avoidance of eye contact, repetitive patterns of behavior, and more.

Arab News spoke to Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Farhan Al-Saud, SAF’s chairman, to discover more about the charity’s efforts since its launch in 2009.

“With the right health care and resources, combined with family support, some of the children on the spectrum can gain the necessary skills to lead a ‘normal’ life and, in some cases, demonstrate special talents and capabilities not common in the wider population,” Prince Saud said. “We see many inspiring examples in our society and we regularly showcase these success stories.”

Autism is commonly diagnosed by the age of three and is more prevalent in males than females. The first studies of autism appeared in the 1960s, but less-severe varieties of autism were not identified until the 1980’s. Today, three types of ASD have been identified — each with specific characteristics that help doctors diagnose patients. They are autistic disorder, also known as classic autism; Asperger syndrome; and pervasive developmental disorders, also known as atypical autism.

Prince Saud said it is difficult to produce an accurate estimate of how many people in the Kingdom have ASD, due to the lack of sufficient studies. “However, according to the US CDC, 1 in 54 children — across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups — has been identified with ASD, meaning an approximate 1-2 percent of the global population is on the spectrum,” he said “This percentage might be applicable to the Kingdom.”

One of SAF’s most-common methods of raising awareness is through its series of public seminars, but it has recently also become more active on social media, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from its campaigning work, the society also helps arrange the provision of services including rehabilitation, educational development, guidance and assistance from other organizations for the families it supports, as well as a range of online offerings, including consultations, lectures and workshops, and rehabilitation services.

“We will continue our efforts to create a welcoming community in which autism is well understood so that those on the spectrum and their families can get the support they need,” Prince Saud said.

 


Saudi Arabia is a critical partner: US Yemen envoy

Saudi Arabia is a critical partner: US Yemen envoy
Updated 26 February 2021

Saudi Arabia is a critical partner: US Yemen envoy

Saudi Arabia is a critical partner: US Yemen envoy
  • Prince Khalid and Lenderking discussed diplomatic efforts and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to finding a solution to the conflict and supporting Yemenis

LONDON: Saudi Arabia is a critical partner of the US, the country’s envoy to Yemen said on Thursday in talks about resolving the conflict.

“The US recognizes the conflict in Yemen cannot be resolved without Saudi support,” Timothy Lenderking said after a meeting with the Kingdom’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Prince Khalid and Lenderking also discussed diplomatic efforts and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to finding a solution to the conflict and supporting Yemenis.