Saudi Modern exhibition explores early architecture, urbanization in Jeddah

Saudi Modern exhibition explores early architecture, urbanization in Jeddah
1 / 3
Saudi Modern tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Saudi Modern exhibition explores early architecture, urbanization in Jeddah
2 / 3
Saudi Modern tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Saudi Modern exhibition explores early architecture, urbanization in Jeddah
3 / 3
Saudi Modern tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Short Url
Updated 22 November 2021

Saudi Modern exhibition explores early architecture, urbanization in Jeddah

Saudi Modern exhibition explores early architecture, urbanization in Jeddah
  • Works by contemporary artists and architects will be put on display as the exhibition ‘strives to acknowledge history in a boundless manner’

JEDDAH: Contemporary artists and architects are flocking to the heart of Jeddah’s historical downtown to showcase works that depict the city’s first major urban development phase in a new exhibition, going back to “where and when” it all started.

The exhibition titled “Saudi Modern” tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962 by contemporary artists and architects. It was launched at the newly renovated iconic Tamer house, owned by one of the families that lived in the old town.

Saudi Modern is a multidisciplinary initiative founded by Jeddah-based architecture and design studio Bricklab. The project aims to unfold the narrative of modern development in the early decades of the 20th century by focusing on architecture and urbanism across the different cities, towns, and villages in the Kingdom. 




Saudi Modern tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“By studying the individual projects, buildings, and developments during this time period, we will better understand our collective modern heritage and develop an articulated discourse around it,” Abdulrahman Gazzaz, Saudi Modern curator, told Arab News.

The first edition of the series looks at Jeddah starting in 1938, narrating the city’s early encounters with modern development. Curated by the founders of the initiative, the exhibition is divided into two parts. The first part documents key moments in urbanism and architecture to reconstruct fragments of a rapidly evolving city. The exhibited material is the result of an experimental approach to building an archive through a limited set of available resources, photographic surveying, and digitization technologies.

Drawing from the research material in the first part, a group of seven artists and architects developed a series of works responding to the city’s broader social, cultural, and economic narratives. This second part sets out to forge new interactions between the artist and the built traces of a period marked with accelerated expansion efforts that forever recomposed the face of Jeddah and its civic community. 




Saudi Modern tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Works by contemporary artists and architects will be put on display throughout the exhibition’s run. They include both acclaimed and emerging artists Alaa Tarabzouni, Ahmed Mater, Filwa Nazer, Nasser Al-Salem, Zainab Alireza, Dima Srouji, Aziz Jamal, and Lina Gazzaz.

“It all started with a question, what is the genius loci (the genius of the place) of Jeddah? What is this distinct character that makes it what it is? Surely it’s not only Al-Balad,”  Lina Gazzaz said.

“There’s a fascinating set of architectural styles that emerged as the city moved away from vernacular building traditions. The use of concrete has dominated our streets and international styles have infiltrated the language of our urban fabric. It is this very fact that is long forgotten and removed from our collective understanding of our cities,” Saudi Modern strives to acknowledge history in a boundless manner.

Gazzaz’s brother, Turki, said the exhibition on Jeddah is the first step to better understand modern development, in the built environment and the manner in which it has affected social change. As we approach the centennial of the discovery of oil, a critical inquiry into this pivotal period becomes instrumental in articulating ideas around our cultural heritage. 




Saudi Modern tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

The exhibition will continue at Tamer house until Dec. 20 and includes weekly talks and discussions by professionals and experts in architecture and urban planning.

Project manager Rasha Zaki Farsi spearheaded the exhibition, which aims to raise awareness of the nation’s modern heritage both locally and internationally. It will also influence local policies pertaining to the preservation of heritage structures and motivate developers and property owners to readapt and reuse spaces.

“Saudi Modern is an initiative that documents, studies, and analyzes the progression of Saudi architecture since the 1940s and celebrates it through artistic interpretation. Architectural designs are explored within Saudi’s unique cultural and philosophical context,” Farsi said.

“As the past is what moves us forward, Saudi Modern aims to provide an authentic outlook on Saudi architecture’s tangible history as a valuable resource for future generations to build on.”

Zayd M. Zahid, CEO of Zahid Group, the exhibition’s main sponsor, said exploring Jeddah’s many facets delivers a fascinating journey through time.

“It is shaped by the diverse and enriching influences that a lifetime of different cultures, people, and activities have had on this charming city,” he said. 




Saudi Modern tackles the narrative of architecture and urban development in the coastal city between 1938 and 1962. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“The artists and team at Saudi Modern have done a wonderful job of capturing a pivotal period in Jeddah’s development. A timely initiative to refresh our memories and educate us, as the Kingdom embarks on its next phase of modernization.”

It is part of a more extensive study of the Kingdom’s history into modernity. It is an experimental approach to urban and historical research in which artistic practices and academic methodologies are used to communicate the period’s contemporary relevance. Three themes were highlighted: architecture, urbanism, and contemporary art.

Aside from the three themes, Magic of Imagination, a Jeddah-based creative institute for children, collaborated with Bricklab to present “The Curse of Light,” which has enthralled visitors.

MOI Director Batool Abedi explained the artwork from the institutes’ children.

“This work was created through the imagination of a group of children aged 8-12 years old. The children were immersed in an empty Tamer house, allowing them to absorb the architectural design and create something through their experience of the house itself. The children’s perception was that the house was haunted,” he told Arab News.

“This was the basis of their design. Then, through the motifs of the house, such as on the ceilings, doors, cornice, and chandeliers, the children began to compose a story about the house. Through this process, they created works of art to portray and visualize their story.”


Saudi digital artist merges famous figures with KSA’s landscapes

Titan from Japanese anime ‘Attack on Titan’ behind mountains of Al-Shafa road, Taif. (Supplied)
Titan from Japanese anime ‘Attack on Titan’ behind mountains of Al-Shafa road, Taif. (Supplied)
Updated 28 May 2022

Saudi digital artist merges famous figures with KSA’s landscapes

Titan from Japanese anime ‘Attack on Titan’ behind mountains of Al-Shafa road, Taif. (Supplied)
  • One of his preferred locations is Jeddah’s historical quarter, but the graphic designer said that he can let his imagination run wild in any location he explores

JEDDAH: Imagine seeing Disney’s Princess Aurora in historic Jeddah, one of the titans from the Japanese anime “Attack on Titan” lurking behind the mountains of Taif’s famous Al-Shafa road, or international figures appearing in old alleyways. These are just some of the products of Hazem Al-Ahdal’s wild imagination.

I took a picture of the view in front of me, and merged characters and turned them into reality, says Hazem Al-Ahdal

The 26-year-old photographer and graphic designer draws inspiration from both visual art and cinematography, merging images of global figures and cartoon characters into landscape photographs and then using his graphic design skills to create realistic artworks.

HIGHLIGHT

Historic Jeddah, the Jeddah waterfront, and cities such as Madinah, Taif, NEOM and Tabuk have all been used by Al-Ahdal as locations for his images, while natural landscapes, abandoned places and random streets also feature in the final works.

Historic Jeddah, the Jeddah waterfront, and cities such as Madinah, Taif, NEOM and Tabuk have all been used by Al-Ahdal as locations for his images, while natural landscapes, abandoned places and random streets also feature in the final works.

Russian Countess Anastasia de Torby, left, in an old market in Tabuk. Princess Diana at an open Maq’ad in Historic Jeddah.

Al-Ahdal said that he has been interested in the visual arts since childhood.

“Because of this passion, I decided to start my own art world and realize it,” he told Arab News.

His personal favorite artwork imagines Countess Anastasia Mikhailovna de Torby, elder daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia, in an old market in Tabuk.

“This is my favorite because of the integration of Western and Arab civilization in one work. Because of this work, other ideas began to come,” said Al-Ahdal.

“I love anything vintage or related to history. I loved her classical attire and thought it would suit the vision I had for the photograph,” he said, referring to the 20th-century Russian countess.

Al-Ahdal said that he chooses characters from a host of international figures or cartoons based on the site of the photograph, “and so the integration process begins.”

One of his preferred locations is Jeddah’s historical quarter, but the graphic designer said that he can let his imagination run wild in any location he explores.

“Of course, there are stories with many works of art, including when I was drinking coffee in one of the cafes and I was in front of an empty chair. My fantasies began with characters who may be sitting in front of me,” he said.

“I took a picture of the view in front of me, and merged characters and turned them into reality.”

Al-Ahdal converts his digital art into posters and even fashion items.

“I have no limits in art. I participated in many exhibitions with realistic works and paintings, I even participated in the field of fashion and I’m planning on participating in more projects,” he said

Al-Ahdal said that he loves ’90s movies for their content. “The best old classic works from the ’90s and before — these films contain stories and lessons in life,” he said.

“One of my favorite TV shows is the sitcom ‘Friends’ and one of my favorite distinctive films is the Italian film La vita e bella (Life is Beautiful),” he added.


Saudi Misk Art Institute celebrates work of Fahad Hajailan, Amina Agueznay

Fahad Hajailan was known for his embodiment of women in most of his works, and he is known for his abstract art. (Supplied)
Fahad Hajailan was known for his embodiment of women in most of his works, and he is known for his abstract art. (Supplied)
Updated 28 May 2022

Saudi Misk Art Institute celebrates work of Fahad Hajailan, Amina Agueznay

Fahad Hajailan was known for his embodiment of women in most of his works, and he is known for his abstract art. (Supplied)
  • The Misk institute invited Agueznay to have her first exhibition in Riyadh, where visitors enjoyed the distinctive shapes created from wool and other elements

RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute celebrated the launch of its fifth and sixth Art Library book series, highlighting the work of the late Saudi artist Fahad Hajailan and Moroccan artist Amina Agueznay.

It featured a selection of their influential and seminal works alongside articles from local and international art critics and curators.

Accompanying the launch were two exhibitions of artists’ works discussed in the Art Library books.

Hajailan's book “Poetry in Color" carries a group of paintings that embody his figurative and abstract style and his poetic use of color.

Amina Agueznay’s art combines modern construction techniques and traditional weaving and breaks down barriers between art and crafts.

He was known for his embodiment of women and abstract art, geometric shapes, and colored spaces.

The Misk institute invited Agueznay to have her first exhibition in Riyadh, where visitors enjoyed the distinctive shapes created from wool and other elements.

Agueznay is an artist, jewelry designer, and architect based in Casablanca.  

“I've been into art since I was a child since my mother has been an artist as well,” she told Arab News. “I worked as an architect in the US, and I returned to Morocco to design jewelry and collaborate with other artists to make jewelry. I liked the synergy and exchange I learned from them. Likewise, they learn from me.

HIGHLIGHT

The event featured a selection of their influential and seminal works alongside articles from local and international art critics and curators. Accompanying the launch were two exhibitions of artists’ works discussed in the Art Library books.

“Then I started working on company projects to accompany artisans for different kinds of crafts to modernize their products for commercial purposes. I loved it because it enabled me to discover more of the areas of Morocco, where they have many different crafts and wool art.”

Agueznay's agency said she started working with female artisans and became interested in wool as an artistic element through rug weavers, which is how her inspiration for using threads began.

She had a workshop at the exhibition where she taught visitors to work with wool to create special pieces of art.

Al-Hujailan was known for his embodiment of women in most of his works, and he is known for his abstract art, geometric shapes, and colored spaces.

“What's cool about the workshop is that the theme was weaving, but it's about how you write stories with the wool. So, I brought the wool from Morrocco, and now the visitors are doing incredible things with it,” she said.

Her book “Unmuted Narratives” explores her artwork, which combines modern construction techniques and traditional weaving to break down the barriers between art and crafts.

“The book that was written about my art enabled me to see a large body of my work and my progress, which is great for an artist. And I'm ready to move on and evolve more in the art world, so I'm grateful for Misk Art Institute for this,” Agueznay said.

The Art Library series, which ends on Aug. 15, was launched to enrich local creative content. The event constitutes the core of the institute's goals and represents its focus on instilling a culture of awareness and encouraging more documentation in the Saudi art and culture sector.


International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh

International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh
The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative aim to plant 10 billion trees. (SPA)
Updated 28 May 2022

International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh

International afforestation technology event to be held in Riyadh
  • Experts to discuss environmental, climate, sustainability, investment issues

RIYADH: The International Exhibition and Forum on Afforestation Technologies begins in Riyadh on Sunday under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It is organized by the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification and being held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley said the National Environment Strategy was a roadmap to realizing the aspirations of the Saudi Vision 2030 regarding the protection and development of the environment.

Talal S. Al-Rasheed, a consultant at Gulf Energy for Environmental Consultation.

He highlighted the crown prince’s efforts to promote vegetation cover locally, regionally, and internationally through ambitious plans including the Saudi Green Initiative, the Middle East Green Initiative, the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation, and the International Coral Reef Initiative.

HIGHLIGHT

It covers topics such as nurseries, seeds, afforestation and technologies, land rehabilitation and desertification, irrigation technologies, forest management and development, water sources and technologies, environmental solutions in plant carbon storage, pest control, and agricultural waste management.

The last two initiatives were included in the declaration of environment ministers during Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 in 2020.

Last October, the crown prince announced two initiatives worth SR39 billion ($10.39 billion) to combat climate change, to which Saudi Arabia will contribute about 15 percent of the entire cost.

The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative aim to plant 10 billion trees.

Nearly 150 different activities will be offered at the International Exhibition and Forum on Afforestation Technologies, with participation from international and local agencies, the government, the commercial sector, and environmental nonprofit groups.

Around 90 experts on environmental, climate, sustainability and investment issues from around 20 countries and global organizations will also attend.

There will be 19 dialogue sessions, workshops, over 50 scientific papers, and approximately 80 exhibitors showcasing their goods, ideas, and innovations.

These represent the most recent technological successes in combating desertification and minimizing its impact, developing and protecting vegetation cover, and the most recent advances in experimentation, research, and scientific studies.

The exhibition covers topics such as nurseries, seeds, afforestation and technologies, land rehabilitation and desertification, irrigation technologies, forest management and development, water sources and technologies, environmental solutions in plant carbon storage, pest control, and agricultural waste management.

The National Center for the Development of Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification works to protect and control vegetation cover sites throughout the Kingdom, rehabilitate degraded ones, detect encroachment, combat deforestation, and supervise the management and investment of pasture lands, forests, and national parks, which promotes sustainable environmental development and contributes to achieving the objectives of the Saudi Green Initiative.

Experts told Arab News that these investments were critical for meeting global targets for environmental protection, climate change control, and mitigating the effects of greenhouse emissions.

Dr. Amal Aldaej, an international relations and strategic partnership adviser, said the Saudi Green Initiative was considered to be the biggest initiative for accelerating the Kingdom’s path toward a healthy, clean and green future.

“The initiative will also help in reducing carbon emissions and sandstorms, combating desertification and land degradation, as well as lowering the temperature (it) will also help in restoring the degraded ecosystems across the country and improve the natural capital,” she said.

She added that the Saudi Green Initiative would connect communities to a higher-level policy and technical and financial assistance that would have a great impact socially and economically.

She stressed that regional alliances would play a crucial role in coping with climate change and global warming challenges. Through regional alliances and joint efforts to redress climate change, adaptation and mitigation could play a vital role in investing and ensuring sustainability.

Aldaej pointed out that there was a strong link between climate change and sustainable development through regional alliances. Poor and developing countries, particularly least-developed countries, would be among those most adversely affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks to their social, economic, and natural systems which would lead to cross-border climatic issues.

“Climate change and global warming issues can affect the countries of the region and can lead toward other regions as well. The sustainable goals can only be achieved through regional alliances by investing and ensuring sustainability through joint efforts.”

Environmental activist Talal S. Al-Rasheed emphasized the “importance of activating the role of community organizations” in achieving this.

Al-Rasheed, a consultant at Gulf Energy for Environmental Consultations, said the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative highlighted the importance of land conservation and the Kingdom’s leadership position in contributing to global goals.

Saudi Arabia faces numerous environmental issues, including high temperatures of 52 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country and a lack of rain, which threatens water security and increases sandstorms and their detrimental economic impact.

Al-Rasheed said the ministry prioritized community participation in cultivating local plants to raise environmental awareness.

 


Symposium reviews fatwa in Two Holy Mosques, projects to improve visitor experience

Symposium reviews fatwa in Two Holy Mosques. (SPA)
Symposium reviews fatwa in Two Holy Mosques. (SPA)
Updated 27 May 2022

Symposium reviews fatwa in Two Holy Mosques, projects to improve visitor experience

Symposium reviews fatwa in Two Holy Mosques. (SPA)
  • Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais said the symposium had been the first of its kind held by the government agency and aimed to implement programs related to the fatwa of the general presidency

MAKKAH: Officials of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques recently reviewed initiatives designed to improve the visitor experience of worshippers.

The outcomes of a symposium, titled “Fatwa at the Two Holy Mosques and its Impact on Facilitating Procedures for Visitors,” have received the approval of the Saudi leadership.

Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais

Projects discussed at the scientific symposium are set to be launched at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and translated into 10 languages including English, French, Russian, Farsi, Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, Bengali, and Hausa.

Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said the symposium had been the first of its kind held by the government agency and aimed to implement programs related to the fatwa of the general presidency, the fatwa in the Two Holy Mosques, and efforts to make it easier for visitors to access the Grand Mosque, and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

HIGHLIGHT

Projects discussed at the scientific symposium are set to be launched at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and translated into 10 languages including English, French, Russian, Farsi, Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, Bengali, and Hausa.

He pointed out that the symposium had highlighted the continued support of the country’s leadership in backing the development and administration of the holy sites, the empowerment of women, and the introduction of technology such as the use of robots and electronic platforms.

Abdulwahab Al-Rasini, adviser to the general presidency, undersecretary for governance, legal, and development affairs, and supervisor of scientific and guiding affairs, said the body, together with members of the scientific committee for research and iftar, had an important role to play.

Maher Al-Zahrani, deputy president for exhibitions and museums, said that renovation work carried out at the Two Holy Mosques was being put under the spotlight through an exhibition.

 

 


Saudi Arabia ranks first globally in date exports

Saudi Arabia ranks first globally in date exports. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia ranks first globally in date exports. (SPA)
Updated 28 May 2022

Saudi Arabia ranks first globally in date exports

Saudi Arabia ranks first globally in date exports. (SPA)
  • The value of palms and dates in Saudi Arabia is almost SR7.5 billion, 12 percent of the agricultural gross product and 0.4 percent of the non-oil gross product

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has ranked first globally in terms of the value of date exports in 2021, according to the TradeMap of the International Trade Center.
The value of Saudi exports of dates in 2021 reached SR1.2 billion ($320 million).
The Kingdom also realized the highest annual growth rate of exports over the past five years of 12.5 percent, with exports entering 113 countries.
The National Center for Palms and Dates said the achievement reflected the interest of the Saudi leadership in enhancing non-oil exports, developing the work system in planting and improving the production of palm, and the leading role of partners, mainly the producers and exporters of dates.
It said the Saudi Vision 2030 placed a lot of attention on the palm and dates sector through its development and sustainability, working early to prepare and implement programs to develop this sector and increase its contribution to the gross domestic product.
The value of palms and dates in Saudi Arabia is almost SR7.5 billion, 12 percent of the agricultural gross product and 0.4 percent of the non-oil gross product. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization congratulated Saudi Arabia on this achievement.