Snapchat brings Saudi UNESCO site to life with augmented reality 

The Lyihyan Bin Kuza (AlFarid) tomb carved into rose-coloured sandstone can be seen in Hegra (Madain Saleh), a UNESCO World Heritage site, near Saudi Arabia’s town of AlUla. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 February 2020

Snapchat brings Saudi UNESCO site to life with augmented reality 

DUBAI: Snapchat has collaborated with Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission of AlUla to bring the Unesco heritage site Lyihyan Bin Kuza (AlFarid) Al-Farid to life, by showcasing work from three artists using augmented reality (AR) via Snapchat Landmarkers.
Introduced in 2019, Landmarkers are the app’s lenses which enable AR experiences, transforming the world’s most iconic monuments in real-time.
During the Desert X AlUla art exhibition, which is running until March 7, Snapchat users will be prompted to find the icon of this landmark.
To activate the feature, visitors will have to point their phone cameras at Lyihyan Bin Kuza (AlFarid). By doing so, they will be able to see the works of the artists Zahrah Al-Ghamdi from Saudi Arabia, eL Seed from Tunisia, and Lita Albuquerque from the US, over a six-week time span at two-week intervals for each.
“We are excited to have Desert X AlUla, the first international collaboration for Desert X, as part of Winter at Tantora festival” said Nora Aldabal, arts and culture programs director at the Royal Commission of AlUla, in a statement.
“Artists from around the world will showcase their art in the desert of AlUla, home to a series of fascinating historical and archaeological sites. Having Snapchat participate in this landmark event will bring the landscape of AlUla to life in an entirely new light, in a juxtaposition of modern technology and history.”
Al-Ghamdi said: “I am thrilled to be among the artists whose work will be uniquely displayed on Lyihyan Bin Kuza (AlFarid) using a Snapchat Lens.
“This amazing feature will transform my artwork into an interactive experience. AR has become an integral element that brings art to life and provides people with an unparalleled experience.”

Saudi designer and musician: ‘You don’t need an excuse to fail’

Updated 26 February 2020

Saudi designer and musician: ‘You don’t need an excuse to fail’

  • An accomplished pianist, composer and artist Labeed Assidmi is known for his passion and hard work

DAMMAM: Saudi graphic designer, artist, musician and entrepreneur Labeed Assidmi is known for his passion and hard work.

Assidmi is a designer and art director for corporate events at Saudi Aramco. However, it’s not all he’s known for. An accomplished pianist and composer, he has been playing piano since he was a child and is often asked to perform at events. He also owns and operates the company Pinnizer, where he sells retro and Saudi-centric lapel pins.

He wants people to know that there are different levels to what he does and how he wants to be perceived. “I want to be known as a designer first, a musician second and a pin maker last,” he said.

His passion for design began with a trip to Disneyland, where he saw how effectively a logo could be used with the iconic image of Mickey Mouse. “They were so creative with it. It was everywhere; the hats, the shirts, the buses, the tickets and the food. It was never boring. I started to think about what kind of job a person could have that would allow them to create these things. I knew that that was what I wanted to do.”

After studying graphic design in the US, he returned to Saudi Arabia to pursue a career as a designer. He said that becoming a designer can unlock plenty of paths for aspiring creatives: “Design is like an airport, there are so many directions you can go in as long as you know the principles.”

His journey in music started in the fourth grade “on the half-functional keyboard that everyone had somewhere in their house during that era.” He tinkered around with it until he managed to teach himself a few simple tunes.

He started taking the piano more seriously in college, eventually composing songs.

“I always play my own songs, I don’t really like doing covers,” he said.

He finds composing and playing music cathartic, and an effective way of stretching his creative muscles without overexerting himself. “When I’m not making art, I’m making music, and vice versa. I love the piano, it’s my escape from everything,” he said.

He also supports local musicians and wants to see more people enter the field. “I do perform sometimes at my own events, but lately I’ve been trying to give local talent a chance. I know how many of them are out there that just need someone to take a chance on them and give them their big break.”

As for Pinnizer, he said that pin collecting had started growing in popularity as a pastime in the Kingdom, but he knew that there were few places to get pins with imagery familiar to his generation. “I found a gap in the market and decided to capitalize on it by creating designs with characters and symbols that were familiar to us,” he said.

Assidmi designs all the pins himself, and works with a company in China to produce molds for them, which he then sells on his website. He has created pins with iconic images of the past such as the old logos of Saudi TV and Saudi Airlines, as well as anime characters like Grendizer and Maroko.

“When people see my pins, and their voice goes up an octave when they give that nostalgic little ‘oh my God!’, I know I’ve succeeded,” he said.

He admits that balancing the triple workload and still managing to make time for himself and family is tough, but he has ways of getting around it.

He believes that compartmentalizing different aspects of your life into “pillars” can help people see the bigger picture and avoid getting too caught up in one thing.

Assidmi hopes that he can be an inspiration to future generations of Saudis, especially people who want to enter a creative field but don’t believe in themselves.

“My purpose is to leave a legacy that inspires people, to have people see what I’ve done and realize that this is something that they can do to. That’s how I want to be remembered.”

Shop Pinnizer at or follow Assidmi on Instagram @labeed and his work at and @pinnizer