From deserts to ice, new driving adventures await Saudis

From deserts to ice, new  driving adventures await Saudis
The driving experience is unparalleled in Lapland, where you have such vast lands and frozen lakes that can allow you to really test your skills and driving abilities safely and without any trouble, said Saudi rally driver Rakan Al-Rashed. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 November 2020

From deserts to ice, new driving adventures await Saudis

From deserts to ice, new  driving adventures await Saudis
  • Collaboration will have thrill-seekers venturing out to wilderness of Finland, which offers unique ‘cool’ experience

JEDDAH: From sand to ice, new driving experiences await Saudi adventure buffs in the icy tundras and thick forests of Finland’s Lapland region.
Many Saudis and Gulf residents have had an uncanny love for the desert sands spanning generations, often venturing out to the seclusion of the deserts to unwind and enjoy the calm and quiet.
There are fertile lands for motor adventures, and one collaboration between a Saudi and a Finn will have Saudis desert drifters venturing out to the northernmost region of Finland, where temperatures can easily drop to -40 degrees — the frozen subarctic wilderness of Lapland, which offers a unique thrill on the ice.

Janne Honkanen, founder of Octola Lodge and Private Wilderness, and Saudi rally driver Rakan Al-Rashed, spoke to Arab News about this unique collaboration, where adventurers can experience the ultimate thrill of ice driving offered by Al-Rashed and enjoy a proper Finnish winter exclusive to Octola.
The two met at one of Al-Rashed’s arctic rally races a few years ago, and their friendship grew stronger over the years during Al-Rashed’s frequent visits to Lapland, where Honkanen was just beginning to build the lodge resort on the empty land in early 2017.
“It was a huge piece of land in the wilderness and we began to think that a day will come when we’ll collaborate and do something together,” said Honkanen. “I thought it was crazy for Rakan to do what he’s doing, racing on the ice and snow, and it hit me that we could offer that in the lodge for guests to experience, and what better way than with the help of a rally racer in person.”
Some of Honkanen’s frequented guests at Octola were Arabs and adventure seekers that would dare head to one of the coldest places on Earth to experience some of the unique features of the land.

Visitors can enjoy the majestic northern lights, the relaxed activity of reindeer herding, or join Al-Rashed in the thrill of riding in a car fit for speed over the ice and snow.
This might not seem like an average Arctic experience, said Al-Rashed, who began his career in 2011 racing on the ice. He said Lapland provides one of the best driving experiences anyone could wish for. “The driving experience is unparalleled. You have such vast lands and frozen lakes that can allow you to really test your skills and driving abilities safely and without any trouble.”
He also believes there is little difference between the sandy and icy terrain. “It’s simply a matter of adapting,” he said.
“I’ve always been interested in racing and cars and my start was on the ice. Taking the discipline of the desert, I began training in Finland during summers and winters in various conditions, and I learned how to apply it on the snow and ice,” he told Arab News. “That’s what makes the environment quite unique.”

With more reindeer than people in Lapland, it is an adventure seeker’s playground. From custom-built snowmobiles to private ice tracks and more than 70 different experiences, the ice racing experience is one that is catered to everyone’s taste.
There are over 300 hectares of private wilderness and different driving routes and tracks, as well as the chance to provide guests with custom tracks built to their specifications to add to the unique experience.
Al-Rashed’s rally experience serves as an integral part of the ice driving experience at Octola, as he introduces guests to the theory behind driving on ice, takes them through the stages based on his own experience and has them test trial their skills in the safety of a car under his supervision, or, if they feel brave enough, on their own.
 


Rawasheen exhibition preserves decorative architecture of Jeddah

Rawasheen exhibition preserves decorative architecture of Jeddah
In the display, titled ‘Rawasheen,’ (plural for rowshan), Saudi artist and trainer Ibtihal Bajnaid gathered some of the country’s most prominent and up-and-coming artists under the auspices of the city of Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 25 sec ago

Rawasheen exhibition preserves decorative architecture of Jeddah

Rawasheen exhibition preserves decorative architecture of Jeddah
  • With 70 artworks on display, the aim was to preserve and even revive Jeddah’s creative architecture legacy

JEDDAH: In an ode to the rowshan, one of the most distinctive Hijazi architectural features, 43 Saudi female artists combined forces in an exhibition in Jeddah’s Fine Art Center. The rowshan is an elaborately patterned wooden window frame on the outside of the old buildings that served to air their interior.

In the display, titled “Rawasheen,” (plural for rowshan), Saudi artist and trainer Ibtihal Bajnaid gathered some of the country’s most prominent and up-and-coming artists under the auspices of the city of Jeddah.
The artists looked to capture the beauty of the rowshan, which was a prominent feature of old buildings in Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah. The use of the rawasheen has died out, and they are found only in a few offices, homes and old buildings in Hijaz today.


With 70 artworks on display, the aim was to preserve and even revive Jeddah’s creative architecture legacy.
Bajnaid has researched the art of the rowshan for years. Looking to revive the architectural feature, she dedicated her first exhibition to its beauty.
She told Arab News: “The rawasheen of Jeddah is only the start. We are planning to cover all historic architecture and traditional legacies of the Kingdom.”
The artworks of the gallery — some of them abstract art inspired by the essence of the old town today — were mostly inspired by photos of the rawasheen by famous photographers.
Najla Abdulshakour, an artist who is the media coordinator of the gallery, said the gallery works as “a documentation for the cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia and its ancient civilization, specifically the famous architectural art of historic Jeddah.”

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The youngest participant was Rital Albigami, a nine-year-old with a powerful presence among her older peers in the gallery with her beautiful oil painting of one of Jeddah’s most prominent buildings, Naseef House.

The display that ran over the weekend brought together families, art enthusiasts and prominent artists. Hisham bin Jabi, a Saudi art veteran said: “I am really delighted to see this amount of enthusiasm toward art and heritage among the young artists. There is shade, light, and depth, I am truly amazed by the fine level of the artwork.”
Bajnaid was the driving force in training rising Saudi artists of different ages and her efforts proved very fruitful.
The youngest participant was Rital Albigami, a nine-year-old with a powerful presence among her older peers in the gallery with her beautiful oil painting of one of Jeddah’s most prominent buildings, Naseef House.
She expressed her excitement about art: “I love painting so much. This gallery is a big opportunity for me and I am so happy to be among the participants. My dream is to become the biggest and greatest artist in Saudi Arabia.”

The rawasheen of Jeddah is only the start. We are planning to cover all historic architecture and traditional legacies of the Kingdom.

Ibtihal Bajnaid, Saudi artist and trainer

Her mother said: “Rital is a very creative, talented kid and she’s a fast self-learner. She started to draw cartoon characters through tutorials on YouTube when she was seven. She then became interested in portrait and oil paintings, I tried to enrol her in portrait art courses, but she wasn’t accepted due to her age. Luckily, she met Ibtihal, who welcomed her in her classes and provided her with the support that led her to participate today in a real art gallery with adult artists for the first time even at this very young age.”
Afrah Ahmad, one of the participants from Riyadh, said: “I loved the subject so much, it has to do with the heritage of my country. My painting is built upon the one-point perspective, where you can see everything from one direction.”
Inspired by a 150-year-old building, Khadija Abu Al-Husain, from Makkah, tried to reflect the more vibrant tone of the building to pick up its decorative exterior, as many changes have been applied to the building over the years. Today the building has been turned into an antique art gallery and oriental music cafe.
“The original photo was in black and white so I used aquatic colors to reflect on the style of old Jeddah architecture,” she said.
Eighteen-year-old Jana Gandeel created models of the two most popular rawasheen in Jeddah using various materials such as the very thin Wawa wood, popsicle sticks, wooden dowels, and barbeque sticks, with some carving and other tools.
“I want my artwork and name to be known in the art industry, I want to know all the big artists and hopefully one day I will be one of them,” she said.