‘Saudi Picasso’ thinks outside the box

Faisal Al-Kheriji prefers cubism and surrealism ‘because cubism paints different shapes, while surrealism is about painting strange characters.’ (Supplied)
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Faisal Al-Kheriji prefers cubism and surrealism ‘because cubism paints different shapes, while surrealism is about painting strange characters.’ (Supplied)
‘Saudi Picasso’ thinks outside the box
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Faisal Al-Kheriji prefers cubism and surrealism ‘because cubism paints different shapes, while surrealism is about painting strange characters.’ (Supplied)
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Updated 18 January 2022

‘Saudi Picasso’ thinks outside the box

Faisal Al-Kheriji prefers cubism and surrealism ‘because cubism paints different shapes, while surrealism is about painting strange characters.’ (Supplied)
  • Culture and cubism meet in Jeddah-based artist Faisal Al-Kheriji’s distinctive portraits

JEDDAH: Saudi artist Faisal Al-Kheriji is keeping one eye on the past and the other on the future as he sets out to explore the rapid cultural changes transforming the Kingdom.

The 27-year-old artist draws on cubism and surrealism — art styles that originated more than a century ago — to create distinctive portraits showing how Saudi Arabia is modernizing and adapting to change.
Al-Kheriji’s artworks deal with subjects ranging from social customs to hospitality and styles of dress.
“I get inspired by my culture and by other artists, both globally and locally,” he said.
Al-Kheriji, who was born and raised in Jeddah, began to paint at the age of six and soon began attending art classes.
“Painting grew with me as a hobby, but I was self-taught after that. But my real journey began when I studied abroad. That’s when I started spending more time on painting, and trying new techniques and styles,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Faisal Al-Kheriji draws on cubism and surrealism — art styles that originated more than a century ago — to create distinctive portraits showing how Saudi Arabia is modernizing and adapting to change.

• Al-Kheriji’s artworks deal with subjects ranging from social customs to hospitality and styles of dress. Al-Kheriji began to paint at the age of six and soon began attending art classes.

Al-Kheriji is widely known for his figurative paintings and prints featuring fragmented portraits.
Recontextualizing paintings from the “old masters” and adding references to contemporary culture, he produces work that is heavily influenced by artists from the past, notably Pablo Picasso and his cubist figures.
For instance, his “Reema Lisa” depicts a Saudi woman dressed in traditional Hijazi dress, while “The Men of Saudi Arabia” shows Saudi men camping in a tent in the desert.
“I prefer cubism and surrealism because cubism paints different shapes, while surrealism is about painting strange characters that you don’t see in real life. My paintings are a mixture of both,” he said.
Al-Kheriji also includes patterns, fashion, traditional practices, and other elements from Saudi and Arab culture in his artworks.
Although he pursued a degree in management and marketing, and is currently a marketing manager at Unilever, the artist is committed to his artistic practice.
“Art for me is a hobby and I enjoy every minute of it.”
Al-Kheriji’s work has gone through many stages in recent years.
“If you look at my artwork in 2018 and now, you will notice a big difference. My identity is showing more and my style is becoming more obvious. In 2018, you will find some mixed art styles in my paintings. As I grew up, however, my focus shifted to creating paintings that introduce my culture to the world, as well as honoring the Kingdom’s rich history.”
Al-Kheriji said that he draws inspiration from artists ranging from Picasso to contemporary American painter George Condo, as well as the natural environment.
“I am most inspired by Pablo Picasso and George Condo because of their unique painting style that stands out from that of many other artists.”
Al-Kheriji’s work has been shown in galleries in London, Boston and Jeddah, and he plans to expand his exhibits in order to reach a wider audience and share his culture’s rich heritage.
“In 2015, I organized my first solo exhibition in Boston and, in 2017, I also showcased my artwork in London. In Saudi Arabia, I have been able to show my paintings many times, but since 2018 everything has been more digital.”
Al-Kheriji’s love of his own culture has been a constant throughout his career.
“When it comes to art, I am an Arab Muslim who is regionally focused,” he said.
“My art is focused on the region, whether it is Muslim, Saudi or Arab cultures. The only difference, I would say, is that Boston had an impact on me when I started taking art very seriously; you could say it was my turning point with art.”
Al-Kheriji encourages other artists to keep culture alive in their artwork. “I believe that art reflects culture and can build bridges between nations.”
He added: “Nowadays artists mistakenly try to learn and do whatever they consider other people will like.”
The artist is currently working on a collection exploring fashions and traditional clothing in regions of the Kingdom.
Over the past year, Saudi Arabia’s art scene has been expanding as more of the Kingdom’s young contemporary artists make a name for themselves.
“It’s definitely gaining more attention and becoming more popular,” Al-Kheriji said. “But I still think there is a long way to go. Recently, the Ministry of Culture organized great exhibitions around the  Kingdom. That’s a good step and they are outdoing the private sector.”
Al-Kheriji hopes that new emerging artists will be able to show their artworks at various galleries.


Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji said the KSA’s foreign policy attaches great importance to enhancing security and stability

RIYADH: A Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs official confirmed Wednesday that the Kingdom had taken crucial steps to enhance food security, put forward strategies to promote food growth and face climate change and water scarcity. 

Waleed Al-Khuraiji, Saudi deputy minister of foreign affairs, said these measures contributed to improving food security indicators in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the Global Food Security Call to Action meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday, Al-Khuraiji said that the food security challenge proves that sustainable recovery depends on international cooperation.

He said despite progress in the development process, achieving the 2030 SDG (social development goals) had become extremely difficult, as global expectations and indicators show a deviation in the path towards achieving the second goal of the program, which includes the eradication of hunger.

“Among the global health challenges are the spread of pandemics, as the spread of the COVID-19 revealed to us the fragility of the international system in combating a virus that is not visible to the naked eye, which led to severe consequences that affected societies and economies,” Al-Khuraiji said, adding  that this affected people’s lives, their livelihood and declining economic indicators.

He said Saudi Arabia led a global response to the pandemic that accompanied the Kingdom’s G20 presidency, as it supported global efforts to confront this pandemic with $500 million, in addition to providing $300 million to help countries’ efforts to address the pandemic.

“The Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 focused within sustainable development efforts on building a sustainable agricultural sector, strengthening sectors that support food systems, developing systems and improving agricultural productivity, and worked to strengthen research and innovation capabilities to ensure sustainable progress in food security,” Al-Khuraiji said.

In this regard, he said Saudi Arabia presented crucial initiatives to the region and the world, and had created a road map for facing environmental challenges. These intuitive include the Saudi Green Initiative the Middle East Green Initiative, and the circular carbon economy initiative.

Al-Khuraiji said the  Kingdom’s foreign policy attached great importance to enhancing security and stability, supporting dialogue and peaceful solutions, and providing conditions that support development and achieve people’s aspirations for a better tomorrow, weather in the Middle East or the world.

He added Saudi Arabia had always reiterated its commitment to helping the disadvantaged and countries hit by natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

“The Kingdom is the largest donor of humanitarian and development aid at the Arab and Islamic levels, and is one of the top three donors at the international level,” he said. 


Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation
  • Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid says the meeting was organized upon Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s directives

RIYADH: Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of defense, on Wednesday met the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The pair reviewed the Saudi-US partnership, and ongoing and future strategic military and defense cooperation between the Kingdom and US.

Prince Khalid expressed Saudi Arabia’s appreciation for the close cooperation between the two countries' defense bodies to achieve the two sides’ common interests and enhance security and peace regionally and internationally.

 

 

He also said that the meeting was organized based on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s directives.

Prince Khalid and US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, then, co-headed the Saudi-US joint strategic planning committee meeting.

The Saudi and US defense delegations join a photo session after their meeting in Washington on May 18, 2022. (SPA)

The meeting discussed regional and international developments, and a number of issues on defending common interests and global security and stability.

The meeting was attended by Gen. Fayyadh bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Saudi Chief of General Staff, and other Saudi and US senior officials.


Saudi foreign minister meets Algerian counterpart during official visit

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra. (SPA)
Updated 51 min 34 sec ago

Saudi foreign minister meets Algerian counterpart during official visit

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra. (SPA)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra on Wednesday evening, during his official visit to Algeria.
During the meeting, they reviewed the solid historical relations linking the two countries and ways of developing them in all fields.
The two sides also discussed enhancing joint cooperation in many aspects, the latest regional and international developments, and issues of common interest.
Lamamra hosted a dinner in honor of Prince Faisal and his accompanying delegation.
The foreign minister had arrived in the Algerian capital earlier on Wednesday.


Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia

Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia
Updated 18 May 2022

Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia

Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia
  • The event will highlight the significance of the ancient sport and the Kingdom’s efforts to advance it through local and international forums

RIYADH: An international event to celebrate the history of purebred Arabian horses is set to get underway in Saudi Arabia.

Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Equestrian Authority and the Horse Racing Club, will on May 25 patronize the launch of the second edition of the five day Kahila championship meeting.

Organized by the King Abdulaziz center for purebred Arabian horses, the event will be staged at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Convention Center and will highlight the significance of the ancient sport and the Kingdom’s efforts to advance it through local and international forums.


73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls

73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls
Updated 18 May 2022

73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls

73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls
  • The authorities thwarted attempts to smuggle 682 kilograms of hashish, 62.3 tons of khat and 194,300 amphetamine tablets

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 73 people after border patrols foiled massive drug smuggling attempts in several regions of the Kingdom.

Col. Misfir Al-Qarini, spokesman for the General Directorate of Border Guard, said that land patrols in the Jazan, Najran, Asir and Tabuk regions thwarted attempts to smuggle 682 kilograms of hashish, 62.3 tons of khat and 194,300 amphetamine tablets.

The seized drugs were handed over to authorities and legal steps taken against those detained, he added.

Among the alleged violators were 20 Saudi citizens, 26 Ethiopians, 23 Yemenis, two Pakistanis, one Sudanese and one Eritrean.