Writing on the wall: Saudi graffiti artists make their mark

Writing on the wall: Saudi graffiti artists make their mark
Initially inspired by Arab characters and Islamic motifs, the Dad Family avoided political statements and started to promote a message of love through its graffiti. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 February 2021

Writing on the wall: Saudi graffiti artists make their mark

Writing on the wall: Saudi graffiti artists make their mark
  • Culture Ministry launches initiatives and programs to support ‘street artists’ with specific city locations

MAKKAH: Saudi artists are turning blank, empty walls across the country into beautiful and creative murals, using graffiti and street art to complete their vision.

Graffiti is writing or drawings made on a wall or other surface, usually without permission and within public view. In many Western cultures, it is considered illegal as famous graffiti artists such as Banksy remain elusive. But in the Kingdom, graffiti is an accepted art form.
The Saudi Ministry of Culture has launched initiatives and programs to support “street artists,” with specific city locations chosen so they can express themselves by using spray paint, paint by brush, markers, stenciling, and more.
“Graffiti is a great art form that has become one of the modern ways of beautifying public spaces,” Zainab Al-Mahoozi, a Saudi graffiti artist, told Arab News.
Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. But in Saudi Arabia, the art form started 20 years ago. At first, most graffiti in the Kingdom was presented in a distorted way.
The art form started to evolve in 2009 when a group of young men and women in Jeddah called the “Dad Family” sought to put an Arab touch on what was viewed back then as Western art.

I want my art to deliver messages for society and be the voice of those who do not have a voice.

Zainab Al-Mahoozi, Saudi graffiti artist

Initially inspired by Arab characters and Islamic motifs, the Dad Family avoided political statements and started to promote a message of love through its graffiti.
The art form later spread to Qatif, Al-Ahsa and Riyadh as the number of street artists in the country continued to grow.
Al-Mahoozi noted that each artist is unique and has their own style, while dreary or blank walls alongside cafes, gyms, or garages can be brought back to life with graffiti.
“What distinguishes this art is the strong messages it carries for people as if it were an open and free exhibition,” said Al-Mahoozi, who started doing graffiti in the Kingdom more than 10 years ago.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. But in Saudi Arabia, the art form started 20 years ago. At first, most graffiti in the Kingdom was presented in a distorted way.

• The art form started to evolve in 2009 when a group of young men and women in Jeddah called the ‘Dad Family’ sought to put an Arab touch on what was viewed back then as Western art.

“Children have also shown a great interest in this art on social media, where murals have become the perfect background for their photos.”
Locations chosen for graffiti are usually near a traffic light or within a public place, to maximize the potential viewing of the art form.
“I intentionally seek to find uncommon places, so that I can enhance and bring them back to life,” said street artist Houssam Al-Hassan, who prefers to use spray paint for his graffiti.


“I want my art to deliver messages for society and be the voice of those who do not have a voice.”
Al-Hassan said there are about 50 graffiti artists in Saudi Arabia because the art form is not easy to create. Artists have to deal with different kinds of walls that might not be smooth, have holes, or exist in places poorly equipped for drawing. So the art form is not for everyone.
“Graffiti combines the local culture of the society with the modern visions and different international schools,” Al-Hassan said. “Artists rely on simple drawings and styles that can reach everyone.”
With support from the Saudi culture ministry, the future is bright for street artists in the Kingdom.
“Graffiti is a natural development of culture and progression,” Riyadh street artist Walid Al-Subaihi told Arab News. “It is used for advertising, to deliver messages, express opinions and ideas.”


DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties
Updated 46 min 30 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

RIYADH: Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Shahin Abdullayev recently held a meeting with the joint Saudi-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Friendship Committee of the Shoura Council in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The meeting was held under the co-chairmanship of Dr. Faiz Al-Shehri, member of the Shoura Council and head of the committee, and examined various ways to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially at the level of parliamentary relations between the Shoura Council and the Azerbaijani parliament.
Abdullayev wished the council success in its new session and expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s policies to enhance security, peace and stability in the Gulf region and beyond.
Al-Shehri ran through the Shoura Council’s organizational structure, and highlighted the importance of the diplomatic role played by parliamentary friendship committees.
Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan celebrated the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in February 2017.
The then-Azeri Ambassador in Riyadh Rasim Rzayev said at the time: “Azerbaijan and the Kingdom, two brotherly Muslim countries, have unique commonalities of a historical, religious and political nature.”
 


Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 February 2021

Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif met Janet Alberda, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia, in Dammam on Wednesday.
During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and issues of common interest, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Alberda highlighted the development that the Eastern Province has been witnessing, and wished further progress and prosperity for the Kingdom.
The meeting was attended by the Saudi Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of the Netherlands Sulaiman Al-Suhaimi.
Also on Wednesday, Prince Saud received the regional director of Al Arabiya channel, Mohammed Al-Hekmi, accompanied by a number of employees.
Prince Saud praised the role of the media in highlighting the societal and development accomplishments of the Kingdom in general and the Eastern Province in particular.
The media played an influential role and was an important means of communication, he said.
Earlier, Prince Saud met the US consul general in Dhahran, Nicholle Manz-Baazaoui. Issues of common interest and ways to promote relationships between the two countries were discussed.
Prince Saud stressed the solid ties between the two countries and their common vision on various topics.
He also highlighted the two countries’ joint work toward achieving security and peace in the region and the world, as well as their economic and cultural cooperation.
 


Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank

Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank
Updated 25 February 2021

Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank

Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank

Tareq Al-Sadhan has been president and CEO of Riyad Bank since April 2019. Before that, he served as the bank’s senior executive vice president from January 2018 to March 2019.
Al-Sadhan worked with KPMG Saudi Arabia, where he spent 18 years rising through the ranks to become one of the youngest partners in the firm’s history.
He was CEO/managing partner and chairman of the advisory committee during his last five years at the company.
Before his current position, Al-Sadhan worked in the Kingdom’s public sector in roles such as adviser to the chairman in the Saudi Fund for Development, acting director general at the General Authority for Zakat and Tax, and deputy governor for supervision at the Saudi Central Bank.
Al-Sadhan holds a bachelor’s degree in administration science from King Saud University, majoring in accounting (1997), and a master’s degree in business management from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees, France (2007).
He gained a diploma in international business from the University of Edinburgh in 2006, and a diploma in leadership development and strategy from INSEAD in 2010.
Al-Sadhan is a member of the 2020 World Economic Forum’s Stewardship Board for the Middle East and North Africa, and a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants.
He has been an audit committee member at the Public Investment Fund since March 2019, and an advisory board member at Mastercard since March 2018.


Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK
Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK
  • Prince Khalid bin Salman held a phone call with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace

RIYADH: Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman held a phone call with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to discuss defense relations between both countries. 

“Had a good call with the United Kingdom Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to discuss defense relations between our two friendly countries, and our common interests in achieving regional and international stability,” Prince Khalid tweeted Wednesday.

In an interview last year with Al Arabiya, Wallace said the UK’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not restricted to selling weapons, but a strong defense partnership.


KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti
Updated 25 February 2021

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched a voluntary medical campaign for specialized surgeries in Djibouti.

The center’s medical team has to date performed 41 urinary tract operations on children in the east African country and provided the necessary treatment for 60 other cases.

The health initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s relief and humanitarian efforts, through the center, to help crisis-hit countries and the suffering of people around the world.