What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off

Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
1 / 14
Fabric artworks by Piyarat Piyapongwiwat. (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
2 / 14
Ayman Yossri Daydban, Tree House, 2019 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
3 / 14
Xu Bing. Background story - Streams and Mountains Without End. 2013. An artwork that will be exhibited in the upcoming Ad-Diriyah Biennale. (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
4 / 14
Dana Awartani, Standing on the Ruins of Aleppo, 2021 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
5 / 14
Filwa Nazer, The Other Is Another Body 2, 2019  (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
6 / 14
Filwa Nazer, The Other Is Another Body 2, 2019 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
7 / 14
Maha Malluh (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
8 / 14
Manal AlDowayan, I am Here, 2016 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
9 / 14
Sacha Craddock, Curator of Here, Now (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
10 / 14
Sami Ali AlHossein, Waiting, 2001 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
11 / 14
Sami Ali AlHossien, Crossing, 2018 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
12 / 14
Sheila Hicks, Palm, 1984-1985 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
13 / 14
Sheila Hicks, Struggle to Surface, 2016 (Misk Art Institute)
Special What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
14 / 14
Vasudevan Akkitham, Land Mine, 2012 (Misk Art Institute)
Short Url
Updated 09 December 2021

What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off

What’s on in December as Saudi Arabia’s busy cultural season kicks off
  • First up will be Misk Art Week, annual weeklong program to be held at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh
  • Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is probably the biggest attraction of the Kingdom’s upcoming cultural season

DUBAI: In common with other parts of the world, art, culture, and entertainment took a back seat in Saudi Arabia during the worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now, with infection rates under control in the Kingdom thanks to a successful immunization campaign, a two-year period of event closures and cancellations has finally ended.

Take December, which promises to be an especially action-packed month in the Saudi cultural calendar, with events running the gamut from in-person exhibitions and concerts to grand openings, many of which had been rescheduled since the onset of the pandemic.




The exterior of Hayy Jameel, Art Jameel’s new center in Jeddah. (Supplied)


First up will be Misk Art Week, opening at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh on Dec. 1. This annual weeklong program of exhibitions is being staged by the Misk Art Institute, operating under the auspices of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Then comes the first edition of Riyadh Art, billed as the largest public civic arts initiative of its kind in the world. Running from Dec. 5 to 8, it will feature 12 programs launched by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City to transform the Saudi capital into “a gallery without walls.”

Meanwhile, over in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, the Jameel Art Center is scheduled to open its long-awaited, multidisciplinary arts complex, Hayy Jameel, on Dec. 6.

Also coming to Jeddah in December is the annual Red Sea Film Festival. The Dec. 6 to 15 event, first launched in 2019, prides itself on featuring emerging talents from Saudi Arabia, the Arab region, and the developing world.
 




Aya Albakree is the CEO of the Thunaiyat Ad-Diriyah Foundation. (Supplied)

Then, to crown it all, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale opens on Dec. 11 in the new JAX district of Diriyah, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif, the first capital of the House of Saud dynasty founded in the 15th century. The event — Saudi Arabia’s first — will run until March 11.

Culture is an integral part of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, launched five years ago to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil as well as to embrace sectors such as tourism, technology and the creative industries.

Philip Tinari, director and chief executive officer of the Beijing-based UCCA Center for Contemporary Art and the lead curator behind the Diriyah biennale, told Arab News: “This is an art scene on the brink of greatly increased prominence and much of that has to do with government initiatives at all kinds of levels.

“Another big part of it has to do with this generation of artists who, maybe before these changes, were living abroad and have now decided to move home where they are finding new vectors of support.”
 




An installation by Lowrence Lek, who will feature at the Diriyah art biennale. (Supplied)

Before the COVID-19 outbreak morphed into a pandemic in early 2020, Saudi Arabia was gearing up to become a global destination for the arts.

Seasonal festivals were already popping up throughout the country and the ancient northwestern city of AlUla was staging a variety of concerts, conferences, and open-air exhibitions.

The cultural explosion was triggered partly by the Kingdom’s decision to open up to foreign tourists in September 2019 with a new electronic visa scheme. However, as the health crisis went global a few months later, the country was forced to close its doors once again.

Now that international travel has resumed with COVID-19 protocols in place, the cultural floodgates are open once more and visitors to the Kingdom are spoilt for choice.

FASTFACTS

• The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is the biggest attraction of Riyadh’s crowded cultural season.

• Hayy Jameel, designed by architectural studio waiwai, is Art Jameel’s new dedicated home for the arts in Jeddah.

Hayy Jameel is among the most hotly anticipated openings of the year. Designed by the multi-award-winning architectural studio waiwai, Art Jameel’s new dedicated home for the arts in Jeddah has been billed as a dynamic, creative hub for the community.

Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, told Arab News: “Hayy Jameel has been in the planning for more than 20 years, but it couldn’t have come to fruition at a timelier moment.

“The launch of our creative neighborhood accompanies an incredibly exciting calendar of events. The opening season opens to the public from Dec. 6 and unfolds through the spring, as cultural partners launch their spaces and we open the indie Hayy Cinema, making the complex Jeddah’s true home for the arts.”

In any event, the creative arts environment in Saudi Arabia is maturing fast, boosting demand for dedicated spaces for exhibitions, screenings and performances.

Carver said: “It needs independent, community-oriented endeavors working alongside the larger-scale government-led initiatives.
 




At-Turaif in Diriyah will host part of the Diriyah art biennale. (Supplied)

“The Ministry of Culture and other government entities are actively encouraging the not-for-profit sector and organizations like Art Jameel, given our mandate to give back to Saudi and support artists and nurture creative communities.

“To balance out the current breakneck pace of development, and demands on Saudi artists, we’re also aiming to foreground opportunities to develop long-term research, ideas, and skills; to explore and document local histories; develop contextual learning resources in Arabic; and to cross-pollinate the various creative art forms, bringing together visual arts, film, performance, architecture, design, and more.”

While Jeddah positions itself as one of the region’s foremost cultural destinations, Riyadh refuses to be outdone. First up in the Saudi capital’s cultural calendar is Misk Art Week.

Reem Al-Sultan, CEO of Misk Art Institute, told Arab News: “The fifth edition of Misk Art Week unites emerging and established artists in Saudi Arabia and across the globe with experts in critical and cultural discourse.

“Misk Art Institute offers an insightful array of multidisciplinary practices and international perspectives, providing a unique, educational experience to both the participating creatives and to the public engaging with these compelling conversations.”

Opening just a few days later will be Riyadh Art, staged by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, of which the Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium is part. The program includes an awards ceremony and will convene 20 sculptors from Saudi Arabia, the Arab region, and around the world.

Khalid Al-Hazzani, an architect and the RCRC’s director of projects, told Arab News: “Riyadh Art continues to transform the city into a gallery without walls with the launch of the Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium, its second initiative.
 




Philip Tinari, director of the Beijing-based UCCA Center for Contemporary Art and the lead curator of the Diriyah art biennale. (Supplied)

“As art and culture reflect the spirit of a city, we look forward to contributing to Riyadh’s vibrant art season this December and offering a platform for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.”

The Riyadh Art Project is just one of the city’s four mega-projects launched by King Salman on March 19, 2019. Dubbed a milestone in Riyadh’s mission to become one of the world’s most livable cities, the initiative will involve the installation of more than 1,000 artworks across the metropolis.

The Diriyah biennale is undoubtedly the biggest attraction of the crowded cultural season. Developed by a team of international curators led by Tinari, the event will feature works by around 70 artists examining the theme, “Feeling the Stones.”

The biennial event will alternate each year between a contemporary art and an Islamic art exhibition under the auspices of the Diriyah Foundation, chaired by Prince Badr Al-Saud.

“I think the Diriyah biennale will consolidate much of the progress that has been made,” Tinari said, referring to Saudi Arabia’s cultural awakening.

“What is really special about it is the scale — spread across 12,000 square meters of newly converted warehouse space that will be dedicated to this event moving forward.

“I hope that the Diriyah biennale will become a benchmark for the scene more generally and that other kinds of art events will congregate around it.”

Twitter: @rebeccaaproctor


Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 

Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 

Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 
  • The embassy expressed its full confidence in the Tunisian judiciary

RIYADH: A Saudi man was killed by his Tunisian wife’s brother in Bizerte, Tunisia, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Wednesday, citing a statement from the Saudi embassy in Tunis.

The statement said: “The embassy would like to clarify that it has followed up on the details of the tragic incident since its occurrence with the concerned authorities in Tunisia,” adding that the case is now with Tunisia courts.

The embassy expressed its full confidence in the Tunisian judiciary.

It also said that it has completed all the necessary procedures with the authorities, and the body of the deceased had been returned to the Kingdom.

The embassy extended condolences to the family of the deceased.
 


Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call on Tuesday from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
During the call, they reviewed aspects of bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Germany, opportunities for joint cooperation between the two countries, and ways to develop them.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments and efforts exerted to achieve peace and stability, in addition to reviewing the most prominent issues of common interest.


Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection
  • Ready-to-wear Saudi fashion label launches “SEASON V”

RIYADH: Ready-to-wear Saudi luxury label Hindamme launched its new collection, “SEASON V,” that explores relationships to families, communities, and the Earth.

The brand, established by designer Mohammed Khoja, became well known for successfully fusing Eastern and Western cultures through modern, opulent apparel in forward-thinking, creative designs.

“Autobiographical in its spirit, the brand’s latest offering investigates the deeper and more meaningful connections in life,” said Khoja.

“What inspired this collection is bringing together the community and building new connections and reconnecting with nature. It has a very positive theme, and the reason why I wanted to create it was because I felt it was therapeutic for myself, and also the need to focus on our planet,” he added.

Through its aesthetic, “SEASON V” applies the science of color theory, with pieces that feature mood-inducing gradients as well as futuristic and nature-inspired motifs in fabrics like velvet, nylon, and satin. A joyful ode to new beginnings, “SEASON V” reflects themes of resilience, aspiration, and gratitude.

“Every time I wear the bomber jacket from (the) ‘SEASON V’ collection, people stop me and ask me where did I get it from, which is rewarding for me. The jacket has an attractive lavender color with the calligraphy of the Arabic word for ‘Earth’ on the back,” Khoja said.

HIGHLIGHT

Through its aesthetic, ‘SEASON V’ applies the science of color theory, with pieces that feature mood- inducing gradients as well as futuristic and nature-inspired motifs in fabrics like velvet, nylon, and satin. A joyful ode to new beginnings, ‘SEASON V’ reflects themes of resilience, aspiration, and gratitude.

Indeed, much of the collection reflects the designer’s love of calligraphy, with the Arabic ‘Earth’ motif applied in embossed, padded embroideries throughout several items.

“SEASON V” also introduces a specially commissioned collaboration with Kyoto-based Japanese artist Ikegami Yorikyuki, that features prints of a mural entitled “A Certain Planet” in several pieces throughout the collection.

The most recent editorial lookbook of “SEASON V” also brought together a number of Middle Eastern multi-disciplinary artists to produce a collection of prints that reflect an NFT-inspired universe that honors nature and denotes both our current connection to, and disconnection from it.

“I collaborated with a number of Arab creatives. I really look up to producing a series of artistic photography as an editorial for the new collection. It was beautiful, in a sense, as it produced a diverse fusion of art, photography and fashion within these visuals,” said Khoja.

About naming the collection “SEASON V” Khoja told Arab News: “From the beginning of establishing my brand, I decided to do drops, as what they refer to in the fashion world, rather than follow a season, and I felt like the easiest way to document each season was by giving it a number, and in this case, it was in Roman format, but I also do smaller collections between each season.”

In each of its collections, Hindamme, which in the old Arabic dialect means “to possess perfect harmony,” frequently combines different genres.

Khoja spoke about the importance of connecting young Saudi designers to investors for support, putting Saudi fashion brands in malls and showrooms.

Through Hindamme, Khoja has been a trailblazer in influencing and advancing Saudi Arabia’s fashion and cultural landscape with his “East meets West” philosophy.

He launched Hindamme in 2016, incorporating patterns like “Al-Qatt Al-Aseeri” from his native land and highlighting frequently ignored elements of heritage to a new audience in a contemporary and forward-thinking format.

He was inspired by reflecting elements of his everyday life and larger cultural and social themes through his designs.

Many of his pieces have also won recognition on a global scale and are now part of permanent collections at a number of museums.


Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in the UK held a ceremony on Tuesday to honor a number of employees who have ended their work term at the mission in the capital, London.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to Britain, Prince Khalid bin Bandar, expressed his thanks and appreciation to the employees for their effort and dedication in serving their religion, king and country, wishing them more success in their endeavors inside and outside the Kingdom, in the interest of the nation in various fields.


Saudi Arabia’s regions provide healthcare to thousands of patients

Saudi healthcare sector provided medical services to thousands of patients. (SPA)
Saudi healthcare sector provided medical services to thousands of patients. (SPA)
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi Arabia’s regions provide healthcare to thousands of patients

Saudi healthcare sector provided medical services to thousands of patients. (SPA)
  • In Riyadh, the emergency departments and outpatient clinics of Dawadmi General Hospital provided their services to around 86,434 people

JEDDAH: Clinics and hospitals in the Kingdom’s central and eastern regions provided medical services to thousands of patients in the first half of 2022, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In Buraidah, the blood clinic at the Prince Sultan Cardiac Center in Qassim helped more than 1,870 people.

The services included medical consultations, guiding patients on how to get medicines from the pharmacy, and delivering patient medication to homes in cooperation with Saudi Post.

It also held a virtual clinic through the Anat app to help healthcare officials interview patients remotely, follow up on their appointments, or get them tested by the nearest healthcare center without the patient visiting the center.

In Riyadh, the emergency departments and outpatient clinics of Dawadmi General Hospital provided their services to around 86,434 people. It performed 836 surgeries, 17,073 radiological examinations, and 366,469 laboratory tests.

Hafr Al-Batin Central Hospital, represented by the Cardiac Surgery and Catheterization Unit, performed 39 successful cardiac catheterization operations during July.  

Hafr Al-Batin Health Affairs said seven emergency cases of high-risk heart attacks were treated.

An advanced and complex cardiac catheterization was carried out on a patient suffering from chronic obstruction in the coronary arteries using the CTO technique, in addition to three cardiac catheterizations for patients suffering from coronary artery blockage using the internal imaging technique by intravascular ultrasound.

Hafr Al-Batin Central Hospital provided services to 237 beneficiaries last year. It also dealt with 150 emergency cases, 80 diagnostic and therapeutic cases, four implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, and seven electrocardiography.