JEDDAH: Jeddah municipality, in partnership with the Oyoun Jeddah Charitable Association (OJCA), has launched an initiative to install 50 Arabic calligraphy murals across the city, including on some of its main flyovers.
The initiative, which coincides with the UN’s Arabic Language Day, aims to add an aesthetic touch to the city with Arabic calligraphy paintings and murals, some of which are more than 70 meters long and 3 meters high.
The UN General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language in 1997. The day is meant to promote the equal use of all six of the UN’s official working languages throughout the organization. In January, the Saudi Ministry of Culture announced 2020 as the Year of Arabic Calligraphy to highlight its importance in reflecting the richness of Arab culture.
Jeddah Mayor Dr. Saleh Al-Turki said that the municipality has signed agreements with OJCA and other government, private and charitable organizations to artistically improve Jeddah’s landscapes for its residents and visitors. He said that these initiatives were being implemented by the municipality on the city’s main roads, sidewalks, buildings and public squares. He also noted that the partnership with OJCA was in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
With its more than 12 million words, Arabic is spoken by more 500 million people around the world. It is also the second-fastest-spreading language. It has enriched many languages — including Turkish, Persian, Spanish, Kurdish, French and Urdu — with its vocabulary.
The chairman of OJCA, Anas Mohamed Serafi, told Arab News that the idea of the initiative began when the municipality held a contest under the title “Municipality Award for Visual Arts” in 2019.
“There were three themes in that contest — Arabic calligraphy, painting and photography. Today we are collaborating with the municipality to modernize, humanize and make our beautiful city more humane and civilized. The contest was all related to these themes,” Serafi said.
He added that OJCA had signed two initiatives with Jeddah municipality, both aimed at making the city look better.
“We believe that visitors to the Bride of the Red Sea should see nothing but beauty wherever they go in the city. The genuine artworks that won awards in the contest have been replicated on walls. These works were reprinted and posted on the walls; they are not graffitied,” he said.
The other initiative, the Corniche of Colors, is also part of the municipality’s efforts to humanize the city. “We have turned the sidewalks at the corniche into places full of life and fun. These zones have attracted many walking enthusiasts of both genders and age groups, and even cyclists,” Serafi said.
“Works on the Arabic calligraphy initiative is being implemented under the direct supervision of the founder and CEO of Tasami Creative Lab, Musaed Al-Hulis, while the Corniche of Colors initiative is being administered by Dr. Adel Al-Zahrani, professor of architecture at King Abdul Aziz University. Both initiatives are supported by the Jeddah municipality,” Serafi said.
The OJCA chairman said that Jeddah had long been known as a city of art and beauty.
“(This is) since the time of the late former mayor of Jeddah, Mohammed Saeed Farsi, who had invited prominent artists to beautify Jeddah with their works. The city has the largest open museum in the world, located on the Jeddah Corniche, where invaluable art pieces are found. What is taking place nowadays is an extension to that artistic revolution,” Serafi said.
The deputy mayor for community services, A’idh Al-Zahrani, said that the initiative was part of the UN Arabic Language Day, which is observed annually on Dec. 18.