Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present

Abdullah AlOthman - Casino AlRiyadh, 2021 - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Abdullah AlOthman - Casino AlRiyadh, 2021 - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Ahmad Angawi - Proportion of Light, 2021 - Wood and engraved glass  230 x 80 cm - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.
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Ahmad Angawi - Proportion of Light, 2021 - Wood and engraved glass 230 x 80 cm - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.
Ahmed Mater - Antenna (Green), 2010 - From the series Antenna 150 x 150 x 50 cm - Courtesy of a private collection - Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.
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Ahmed Mater - Antenna (Green), 2010 - From the series Antenna 150 x 150 x 50 cm - Courtesy of a private collection - Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.
Ahmed Mater - Mitochondria: Powerhouses, 2021 - Tesla coil machine, fulgurite sculptures, sand 1400x1400x200 cm - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Ahmed Mater - Mitochondria: Powerhouses, 2021 - Tesla coil machine, fulgurite sculptures, sand 1400x1400x200 cm - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Aleksandra Stratimirovic - Northern Lights, 2015 - Programmed LED Width 5000 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Aleksandra Stratimirovic - Northern Lights, 2015 - Programmed LED Width 5000 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Aleksandra Stratimirovic - Northern Lights, 2015 - Programmed LED Width 5000 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Aleksandra Stratimirovic - Northern Lights, 2015 - Programmed LED Width 5000 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Ali Alruzaiza - Tribute to Ali Alruzaiza, 2021 - Video projection - Video design by Sara Caliumi and Carlo Camorali - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Ali Alruzaiza - Tribute to Ali Alruzaiza, 2021 - Video projection - Video design by Sara Caliumi and Carlo Camorali - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Amigo&Amigo - Parabolic Lightcloud, 2018 - 1082 light pixels, 800 m recycled rope, 9m diameter - Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Amigo&Amigo - Parabolic Lightcloud, 2018 - 1082 light pixels, 800 m recycled rope, 9m diameter - Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Amigo&Amigo - Parabolic Lightcloud, 2018 - 1082 light pixels, 800 m recycled rope, 9m diameter - Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Amigo&Amigo - Parabolic Lightcloud, 2018 - 1082 light pixels, 800 m recycled rope, 9m diameter - Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Angelo Bonello - Run Beyond, 2015 - Iron and LED lights 5300 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Angelo Bonello - Run Beyond, 2015 - Iron and LED lights 5300 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Angelo Bonello - Run Beyond, 2015 - Iron and LED lights 5300 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Angelo Bonello - Run Beyond, 2015 - Iron and LED lights 5300 cm - Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Ayman Yossri - Daydban Somewhere beautiful, 2021 - Film stills on TV monitor - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.
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Ayman Yossri - Daydban Somewhere beautiful, 2021 - Film stills on TV monitor - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.
Ayman Zedani - Earthseed, 2021 - 3-channel video installation Dimensions variable - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Ayman Zedani - Earthseed, 2021 - 3-channel video installation Dimensions variable - Courtesy the artist - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Carsten Höller - Light Wall (Outdoor Version), 2021 - 1,100 LED bulbs, digital control unit, sound, steel panels, structural elements, wiring, cables 600x400x275 cm. - Unique - Courtesy the artist and MASSIMODECARLO - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Carsten Höller - Light Wall (Outdoor Version), 2021 - 1,100 LED bulbs, digital control unit, sound, steel panels, structural elements, wiring, cables 600x400x275 cm. - Unique - Courtesy the artist and MASSIMODECARLO - Photo © Riyadh Art.
SKALAR, 2021 - Reflections on Light and Sound Light and sound installation - Courtesy the artists - Photo by Christopher Bauder.
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SKALAR, 2021 - Reflections on Light and Sound Light and sound installation - Courtesy the artists - Photo by Christopher Bauder.
SKALAR, 2021 - Reflections on Light and Sound Light and sound installation - Courtesy the artists - Photo by Christopher Bauder.
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SKALAR, 2021 - Reflections on Light and Sound Light and sound installation - Courtesy the artists - Photo by Christopher Bauder.
Company New Heroes - We Light Riyadh, 2021 - 808 lamps, approx. 6000x3000 cm - Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
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Company New Heroes - We Light Riyadh, 2021 - 808 lamps, approx. 6000x3000 cm - Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection - Photo © Riyadh Art.
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
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This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy. (SPA/Supplied)
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Updated 23 March 2021

Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present

Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present
  • Undeterred by the pandemic, the festival lights up the capital with over 60 artworks by international and Saudi artists

RIYADH: For 17 days, the city of Riyadh will be transformed into an open-air art gallery with more than 33 light installations across the Kingdom’s capital.

Noor Riyadh, the mammoth festival of lights, inaugurated its first edition on Thursday, March 18, in the midst of the global pandemic. This pivotal creative event aims not only to celebrate the breadth of artistry exemplified through the work of the over 60 participating international and Saudi artists but also the advent of the Kingdom’s push for a greater creative economy.
On the grounds of the Cultural Palace in Riyadh’s prestigious Diplomatic Quarter is a lone pop-up coffee shop — emblematic, one could say, of Saudi Arabia’s popular pastime. Yet there is something different about this particular coffee bar. Poetic Arabic phrases cover the pop-up’s exterior, illuminated in a soft glow. When translated into English, they read: “I am the one coming from the dreamy city. What should I write?”




"Colored Triangles by Myriad, for Riyadh” work in situ: KAFD Conference Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2020-2021
Auto-adhesive colored transparent vinyls
Courtesy the artist and GALLERIACONTINUA
Photo © Riyadh Art.


Titled “Ricochet,” the pop-up is a light artwork by the youngest artist in the first edition of the festival, Nojoud Alsudairi, who addresses public space through Arabic poetry. When visitors grab a cup of coffee, the cup itself is covered with poetic phrases, such as “In your land, generosity, always” or “I have no other place.” Al-Sudairi’s performative architecture installation is very much rooted in the present time and the effects of the pandemic on city life.

During Riyadh’s quarantine, Alsudairi, 26, collected haikus, a Japanese poetic form, and deconstructed phrases from letters written by residents of Riyadh to their city. Additional luminous signs from “Ricochet” can be found around the city, extending the artwork across Riyadh’s eclectic urban landscape.
“My work started during the pandemic as a research project into how Riyadh residents interacted with their city during quarantine,” said Alsudairi. “I began asking people I know to send short phrases on how they were seeing the city through their windows, and this gave me the idea to incorporate literature into the project through signage around the city.




Dan Firman
Butterfly, 2007
Neon tubes
350 x 635 cm
Courtesy the artist and the Farjam Collection 
Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.

“The result was a visual essay on how signage in Riyadh was becoming the interface of the city. Driving through the streets in Riyadh at night, one can see how the city has become an experience of this electric landscape, of all of these words and sentences forming odd pieces of abstract poetry.”
Until April 3, the city of Riyadh will be transformed into an open-air gallery, illuminated by large-scale light installations. As Raneem Farsi, the Saudi curator of the exhibition, notes, what makes the exhibition dynamic is “that Noor Riyadh has included numerous Saudi artists, many of whom have been commissioned to make pieces especially for the exhibition.”

HIGHLIGHT

On the grounds of the Cultural Palace in Riyadh’s prestigious Diplomatic Quarter is a lone pop-up coffee shop — emblematic, one could say, of Saudi Arabia’s popular pastime. Yet there is something different about this particular coffee bar. Poetic Arabic phrases cover the pop-up’s exterior, illuminated in a soft glow. When translated into English, they read: ‘I am the one coming from the dreamy city. What should I write?’

The artworks, which encompass a range of media, including music, sculpture and performance, can be found in two main areas: The King Abdul Aziz Historical Center and the King Abdullah Financial District, where visitors can also view “Light Upon Light,” an exhibition of light art from the 1960s to the present, which is on view until June 12.
While the global art community will have to view the artworks virtually, Saudis have already been flocking to the venues in record numbers.
“One of the most critical aspects of Vision 2030 is the flourishing of the Saudi creative economy, which we are trying to foster, and this is one of the main highlights of Noor Riyadh as a program,” Anas Najmi, adviser to the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, told Arab News. “Despite all of the challenges of the pandemic, we managed to give the experience to 15,000 visitors in just one day. Secondly, over 1,200 jobs were created as part of the Noor Riyadh festival, half of which are for Saudis.”
One aim of the festival is to attract visitors to sites in Riyadh that are not so often frequented, including the King Fahd National Library, the Diplomatic Quarter and JAX, the industrial zone of Diriyah.




Leo Villareal
Corona, 2018
LED monitors, custom software and electrical hardware
145.1 x 248.6 x 16.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist, Pace Gallery and Superblue
Photo © Riyadh Art 2021.

“Light Upon Light,” the main exhibition, showcases a thorough survey of the history of light art through the display of works by leading international artists from the movement, including Dan Flavin, James Turrell, Lucio Fontana, Julio Le Parc and Robert Irwin, alongside contemporary art world superstars such as Urs Fischer and Yayoi Kusama. Also featured are the works of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent emerging and established artists: Nasser Al-Salem, Manal AlDowayan, Rashed AlShashai, Sultan bin Fahad, Dana Awartani, Maha Malluh, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Ahmed Mater, Ahmad Angawi, Abdullah AlOthman, Sarah Abu Abdallah and Mohammad AlFaraj.
“To my understanding, it is the first time that light art has been shown here in the Kingdom, and for that reason alone it is significant,” curator Susan Davidson told Arab News. “What is also significant is the impact I hope it will have on the people of Saudi Arabia. Art takes many different forms, and it can bring a level of well-being and joy into your life. This works very well with Vision 2030 in terms of making Riyadh in particular a very viable and livable city.”




Daniel Canogar
Bifurcation, 2021
Multi laser projection
Courtesy the artist
Photo © Riyadh Art.


Light works by Saudi artists reference both Saudi’s ancient past and its present through conceptual forms. For example, Sultan bin Fahad’s “Once Was A Ruler” (2019) is a series of composites from his photography of ancient sculptures of monarchs from the ancient Arabian kingdom of Lihyan, merged with his own bodily X-rays. Abdullah Al-Othman’s “Casino AlRiyadh” (2021) takes the form of a neon-colored sign that imitates the unique anatomy of the city of Riyadh and draws inspiration from the lighted signage throughout the city. It also references former places for gathering in Riyadh.
Perhaps the most powerful marriage of old and new Saudi through the medium of light art can be found in Robert Wilson’s piece “PALACE OF LIGHT” (2021).




UxU Studio
Illusion Hole, 2020
Metal, LED Lights, wood
200x200x40cm
Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection
Photo © Riyadh Art.

The work consists of two parts: Multiple performative light elements that dress the landscape of At-Turaif — the historic district of Diriyah and first capital of the Saudi dynasty dating back to 1766 — and a large copper dish placed in front of the palace that, when the light performance is played, seems to be rising out of the sea as the curved edges of Diriyah’s mudbrick structure is covered with projected images of moving waves.
The emotional performance was quickly consumed and widely shared on social media platforms, giving the world a taste of the brilliance of Noor Riyadh. As Davidson said: “Many things get around in the art world through whispers. Even those who could not attend this monumental show will hear about it.”


British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion

 British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion
Completing "puzzle-work" of a smashed glass beaker at the Archaeological Museum, AUB. Courtesy of the AUB Office of Communications and Archaeological Museum
Updated 28 July 2021

British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion

 British Museum, TEFAF team up to restore glass artifacts damaged in Beirut explosion

DUBAI: It has been almost one year since two explosions rocked the port of Beirut, killing more than 200, injuring over 6,000 and leaving hundreds of thousands without a home. The incident, which occurred on Aug. 4, 2020, caused significant damage to buildings in Lebanon’s capital, including the Archaeological Museum at the American University of Beirut (AMAUB), situated two miles away from Beirut’s port where the blasts occurred. During the explosions, many of the artworks on display were damaged.

Now, almost a year after the devastating event, the British Museum and The European Fine Art Foundation have announced that they will partner to help restore some ancient artifacts that were damaged by the blast.

The museum and the fair will restore eight glass vessels dating to Roman and early Islamic times.

The case of glass vessels displayed at the Archaeological Museum (AUB) before the explosion. Courtesy of the AUB Office of Communications and Archaeological Museum

During the explosion, the glass objects that were on display at the AMAUB shattered into hundreds of tiny shards. They will now be painstakingly pieced back together at the British Museum’s conservation labs in London.

Most vessels were shattered beyond repair with only 15 being identified as salvageable.  Of these, only eight are safe to travel to the British Museum to be conserved.

The restored glass works will go on view at the British Museum in a temporary exhibition before returning to Beirut.

Claire Cuyaubère, a conservator from the French Institut National du Patrimoine helped to collect and categorize the shards of ancient glass from the mixed debris, which included glass from the display case and surrounding windows, after the blast.

Conservator Claire Cuyaubère assisting with "puzzle-work" of shard from a glass dish at the Archaeological Museum, AUB. Courtesy of the AUB Office of Communications and Archaeological Museum

She returned to Beirut in July 2021 to identify and match broken shards from each vessel, and identify those suitable for shipment to London. The puzzle-work was supported by the Friends of the Middle East Department at the British Museum.

Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said in a statement: “Like the rest of the world, we looked on in horror at the devastating scenes in Beirut in August last year. We immediately offered the assistance of the British Museum to colleagues in the city. As we mark one year since the tragedy, we’re pleased to be able to provide the expertise and resources of the British Museum to restore these important ancient objects so they can be enjoyed in Lebanon for many more years to come.”


How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers

How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers
Part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik is in Croatia to celebrate model Jasmine Tookes’ bachelorette party. File/Instagram
Updated 28 July 2021

How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers

How models Shanina Shaik, Imaan Hammam and more are spending their summers

DUBAI: With the easing of travel restrictions in some countries, our favorite jet-setting It-girls have taken the opportunity to catch a flight this summer — and they’re making sure to document every minute of their holidays on social media.

Part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik, along with her closest friends, fellow models Sara Sampaio, Lais Ribiero, Jasmine Tookes and Josephine Skriver, flew to Croatia to celebrate Tookes’ bachelorette party.

Tookes and Snapchat’s Juan David Borrero are set to get married in Borrero’s home country of Ecuador, but due to COVID-19, the exact wedding date is yet to be announced.   

“Seeing the beautiful sights,” Shaik wrote. Instagram

The stylish friend group toasted the future bride, who got engaged to Snapchat’s director of international markets in September 2020, this week in Hvar, an idyllic island surrounded by turquoise waters in Croatia. The models were transported to the island by way of a fun-filled boat excursion, which saw them dancing, tanning, sight-seeing and swimming.

“Seeing the beautiful sights,” Shaik wrote alongside a video of the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea.

Elsewhere, Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam decided to spend her summer in her homeland.

The 24-year-old jetted to Agadir, Morocco, where she is enjoying some much-needed family time following months of lockdowns and movement restrictions.

Hammam, who was born in the Netherlands to a Moroccan mother and Egyptian father, offered her followers a sneak peek into her family life, sharing candid photos of herself snuggling with her baby cousins and enjoying traditional Moroccan food.

Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam decided to spend her summer in her homeland. Instagram

And Hammam isn’t the only jetsetter to revisit her roots this summer.

British-Albanian crooner Dua Lipa is currently Albania with her partner of two years, part-Palestinian model and singer Anwar Hadid.

Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid are in Albania. Instagram

 The 25-year-old hitmaker has made sure to document the trip for her 69.4 million Instagram followers, sharing photos and videos of herself and her beau making the most of their downtime by relaxing by the beach and lapping up the sunshine.

The couple are with the Grammy award winner’s parents, Dukagjin and Anesa Lipa, in Albania, where the “New Rules” singer made an appearance at the Sunny Hill Kindergarten construction site last week.

And it seems like Hadid is getting along well with the parents.

Anwar Hadid with Dua Lipa's father Dukagjin Lipa. Instagram

Lipa shared a carousel of images on her Instagram feed, which included a sweet photo of the two most important men in her life in an affectionate embrace.  

Elsewhere, Moroccan-British model Nora Attal is enjoying Paris with her family and US-Somali model Halima Aden’s “Munich trip is going lovely,” as per her Instagram caption.


Three Arab films set to premiere at Venice Film Festival

The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1. (Shutterstock)
The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1. (Shutterstock)
Updated 28 July 2021

Three Arab films set to premiere at Venice Film Festival

The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1. (Shutterstock)

DUBAI: The Venice International Film Festival unveiled a starry lineup of world premieres for September, including three films from the Arab world.

“Amira” by Mohamed Diab is set to play in the Horizons section and is a coming-of-age drama shot in Jordan, but set in Palestine.

“Costa Brava” is Lebanese director Mounia Akl's debut work and pairs Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri with Lebanese actress and director Nadine Labaki.

Finally, “Republic of Silence” by Diana El-Jeiroudi is a personal account of the director’s childhood in Syria and, 40 years on, her exile in Berlin.

The films will premiere alongisde international titles, including Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, and Ridley Scott’s medieval drama “The Last Duel,” featuring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Adam Driver.

The oldest film festival in the world is kicking off its 78th edition Sept. 1 on the Lido with the premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s “Madres paralelas,” starring Penelope Cruz. “Spencer” and “Madres paralelas” are among 21 features premiering as part of the official competition, which has often helped guide eventual Oscar best picture nominees and even winners.
 


Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand
Ketish, launched by former Huda Beauty product developer Eman Abbass, is the first brand to be launched by HB Angels. Supplied
Updated 27 July 2021

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

DUBAI: Iraqi-US beauty mogul Huda Kattan has announced Ketish as the first brand to be launched by Huda Beauty Angels — which falls under HB Investments, Kattan’s venture capital firm. Ketish, a feminine care label, is being spearheaded by Eman Abbass, a former Huda Beauty product developer.

“I’m really excited on a deep level about Huda Beauty Angels and being able to reveal to you guys very soon the first project we are investing in with an amazing founder who has such an amazing mission and purpose and we know they’re going to change the world,” she said in a video shared with her 49 million Instagram followers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HUDA KATTAN (@hudabeauty)

“When we first started our brand, nobody wanted to invest in us. Nobody wanted to really believe in our cause and what we were doing,” she added, revealing what prompted her to start the $10 million female entrepreneur seeding initiative, HB Angels.

Specializing in female wellness, Ketish aims to launch its first product in August 2021, although Abbass has been tight-lipped on the sort of products that will be offered, telling The Industry Fashion website that the brand will focus on “targeted body care products.”

The new brand was inspired by Abbass’s own health experience. When she was 21-years-old, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer during her first-ever gynecologist appointment. Coming from a conservative background, Abbass felt ashamed to talk to her American-Egyptian family about her health during the diagnosis and treatment process.

Huda and Mona Kattan pictured with Eman Abbass (M). Supplied

Following a nine-year healing journey that she had to go through alone, Abbass was inspired to launch the luxurious female wellness brand that aims to reform feminine care products in the Middle East and is named after a female ancient Egyptian deity.

“A lot of those brands and products that we find now are in the pharmacy and the pharmacy is traditionally a place that you go when you are sick or something is wrong,” she told The Industry Fashion website. “We want to take feminine wellness and care out of the pharmacy and put it in the places that women shop… when I’m having a bad day I go to Sephora or I hop on to Cult Beauty. It’s those spaces that we want to be playing in to really elevate that experience and give women products that they can incorporate into their overall beauty and self-care routines.”

“Ketish is a movement,” Kattan said in a press release. “It’s about taking power back and being fully comfortable with yourself. When people start to become part of this community, they’re going to feel liberated. I realized very quickly that this was a topic that so many people had so many issues with. The more I started talking to Emaan, the more I was convinced that she could change the category.”


Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
  • Offering people easy ways to learn new skills, explore methods to promote self, business

JEDDAH: Online platforms are helping smaller creative businesses to pass on their knowledge to interested parties. Two such platforms that have been attracting attention from Saudi locals are Suplift and Upgrade.

These online platforms began popping up on social media a few years ago with experiences and activities offered with a registration fee.
Fadi Yahya, the founder of Suplift, told Arab News that the question that inspired Suplift was “How can I ask people with skills to share them with other people who are interested in learning?”

I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities.

Fadi Yahya, Founder of Suplift

“I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities,” he said. “It was extremely hard for an average person to try any activity they like.”
This led to Yahya giving over a few years of his life to build a business from scratch that allowed profits to be given back to a talented person rather than an organization. “Our job was to make the structure simple.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.

• Upgrade-sa.com’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.

He said there were many challenges as the team was building a new market. “We are not running away or finding the easy way out. One thing we had trouble with was the lack of experience.”
Yahya said that to enable the experiences, the team had to find locations, work out the structure, marketing, customer service, technology, management, as well as ways of working with the government.
The aim of Suplift is to promote the idea of having hobbies. “The thing I am most proud of is that we help so many people make money. Many people say that passion can not help you make money, but I think it is needed in order to help the Saudi economy move further.”
Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.
“Now that people understand that they can make money doing what they love, we will have more artists, golfers, divers, archers and so many more,” he said. “This makes me proud of my team and myself.”

When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things.

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com, told Arab News that their platform’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.
The early days of the business were very challenging, Mujahid said. “When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things. So now when the trainers or upgraders, as we call them, come to us, we provide them with guidelines so they can spread their knowledge.”
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector — supporting Saudi economic diversification objectives and building a prosperous future.