Saudi artist finds inspiration in the past for Founding Day

‘The Founding Heliography’ is an emblem of the three centuries since the founding of the state. (Supplied)
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‘The Founding Heliography’ is an emblem of the three centuries since the founding of the state. (Supplied)
Saudi artist finds inspiration in the past for Founding Day
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Photo/Supplied
Saudi artist finds inspiration in the past for Founding Day
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Photo/Supplied
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Updated 27 February 2022

Saudi artist finds inspiration in the past for Founding Day

‘The Founding Heliography’ is an emblem of the three centuries since the founding of the state. (Supplied)
  • ‘My work is a message for present, future generations to preserve heritage of their parents, grandparents in a way that reflects national belonging’

MAKKAH: A Saudi artist has attracted attention on social media presented with a work of art called “The Founding Heliography,” made to mark Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day. The piece was inspired by the rock writings and archaeological inscriptions found in various Saudi cities.

Ali Al-Sharif said that Saudi Arabia is the cradle of the civilizations that have been built in the Arabian Peninsula and the Kingdom’s territory was the recipient of the divine messengers who left a legacy that echoed the life of the ages in which they lived. He also said that this legacy wasn’t documented on leather nor on paper, but instead it was carved on rocks.
“I have two hobbies,” he said. “The first one is my love for archeology and the second is my love for fine arts of different schools, such as realism, abstract art and graffiti from an early age.

HIGHLIGHT

In his work ‘The Founding Heliography,’ Saudi artist Ali Al-Sharif used symbols found on the rocks in the Kingdom that referred to the prehistoric civilizations that lived in the Arabian Peninsula.

“The rock paintings and carvings of those civilizations are a reason why I am developing my skills and hobbies to travel outside the Kingdom.”
He said he was self-taught and uses advanced archaeological techniques to preserve the drawings and carvings. He said that this new art is called the “3D Graffiti School.”




Saudi Arabia is the cradle of the civilizations
that have been built in the Arabian Peninsula.
Ali Al-Sharif, Saudi artist

“I transferred more than 123 paintings and rock inscriptions in a three-dimensional manner to be visible and prominent outside the rock painting,” he said.
In his work “The Founding Heliography” he used symbols found on the rocks in the Kingdom that referred to the prehistoric civilizations that lived in the Arabian Peninsula.
He said that these represent the ancient ages in which ancient Arabs lived and which contributed to the formation of the personality of the founder King Abdulaziz.
“This allowed us to learn about their lives, the strength of their personalities and the way the rulers of the Saudi state navigated life despite its difficulties, as their life became a legacy later on,” he said.
He also stated that the early rulers were leaders in all fields, and they strived to achieve prosperity for their peoples and their successors who have immortalized the history of the Kingdom.
“My work is a message for present and future generations to preserve the heritage of their parents and grandparents in a way that reflects national belonging,” he said.
He said that “The Founding Heliography” is an emblem of the three centuries since the founding of the state.


Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum

Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum
Updated 19 sec ago

Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum

Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum
  • The XR industry was valued at $27 billion a mere three years ago and is expected to reach around $300 billion by 2024
  • Currently, only 1 percent of locally produced video games are consumed in the Saudi market

RIYADH: Local and international leading tech experts took to the stage at Riyadh Boulevard City on Monday to discuss the future of extended reality technologies in a panel discussion.

XR technologies are now more affordable than ever, which has led to their adoption in many industries globally such as education, film and industrial design. 

The XR industry was valued at $27 billion a mere three years ago and is expected to reach around $300 billion by 2024.

One of the goals of the panel, hosted by Gamers8, Ithra and the Saudi Esports Federation, was to spread awareness about Ithra’s Creative Solutions program, which has now hosted two cohorts of tech creatives, some of whom have been nominated for the Virtual Reality Awards in December.  

It also aims to educate the public about the newest XR technologies and their implementations. 

From VR arcades back in the 1990s to PlayStation Move in 2010 and portable VR headsets today, these technologies have been in development for years. Now, they are slowly being integrated into our daily lives.

The panel was moderated by marketing communication specialist Adel Al-Megren, while many questions about AR, mixed reality and artificial intelligence were answered by Simon Benson, inventor and tech consultant; Faisal bin Homran, head of esports at SEF; Rodrigo Terra, co-founder of ARVORE Immersive Experiences; and Dr. Ali Al-Shammari, managing director of NEOM Academy.

Esports education is one of the main goals of the biggest gaming and esports festival globally, Gamers8, and aims to create a greater market for local production and consumption.

Currently, only 1 percent of locally produced video games are consumed in the Saudi market. 

“We see the program as a window, as a gate, that connects Saudi to the world and the world to Saudi,” said Filipe Gomes, curator of the Creative Solutions program. 

Benson, who is also on the advisory board for Ithra’s Creative Solution program, said: “Instead of using the keyboard and mouse or a touchscreen as a tiny thing in our phone or our smartwatches to interact with digital content, we can actually do it in a much more intuitive way.”

Diego Terra, chief technology evangelist at ARVORE, said that now films and games can become more immersive as these technologies interact with the body itself and are also more user-friendly to older generations. 

“When we have the real-time content and you have interaction, you can explore one thing that is crucial, which is the senses,” he said. 

While headsets are currently on the market, smart glasses are a growing trend.

Smart glasses can instantaneously translate a restaurant menu instead of typing it into a translator app.

“If we were to have a video call, instead of you just appearing as a flat person, you could be in 3D, like a hologram in front of me,” Benson said, describing another use for the technology.

“It’s very much on our horizon now…definitely within our lifetime,” he added. 

The newly charted territory of the metaverse goes hand-in-hand with XR technologies. 

The metaverse, accessed through these technologies, will allow us to enter places and not just links. 

“We’re going to [be] doing all the things that we do now but in a different way…Websites will not be websites, [they] will be places…The vision is that gaming is just a place you go, not something that you download and use,” said Terra.


Saudi Arabia, US prepare for bilateral Native Fury 22 drill in Yanbu, Al-Kharj 

Saudi Arabia, US prepare for bilateral Native Fury 22 drill in Yanbu, Al-Kharj 
Updated 23 min 48 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, US prepare for bilateral Native Fury 22 drill in Yanbu, Al-Kharj 

Saudi Arabia, US prepare for bilateral Native Fury 22 drill in Yanbu, Al-Kharj 
  • The exercises are set to take place this week in Yanbu and Al-Kharj and will last for several days

Saudi and US marine corps arrived in Yanbu on Tuesday ahead of the planned bilateral Native Fury 22 drill maneuvers, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The exercises are set to take place this week in Yanbu and Al-Kharj and will last for several days, according to SPA. 

The drills are aimed at enhancing the partnership between Saudi forces and their US counterparts when carrying out bilateral plans, SPA said. 


Solar panel design and fitting training for Saudi students

Solar panel design and fitting training for Saudi students
Updated 09 August 2022

Solar panel design and fitting training for Saudi students

Solar panel design and fitting training for Saudi students
  • KAUST and SESP ink skills pact for two programs

RIYADH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Electric Services Polytechnic on Monday to train local students to design and install solar panels.

The pact focuses on photovoltaic energy design and installation, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

After completing the two programs, trainees will have to pass SESP’s exams to become certified for the work.

Dr. Kevin Cullen, KAUST vice president for innovation, said one of the university’s key innovation goals is to build technical capabilities and a skilled workforce in Saudi Arabia.

SESP Director-General Dr. Khaled Al-Somali said the institute was capable of producing highly qualified, productive graduates while also recognizing the need for skilled junior technicians in the Kingdom’s renewable energy sector.


My stories tell the story of every Saudi woman: Elham Dawsari

Subabat, women who serve coffee at all-female events, have become the subject of Dawsari’s most popular work. (Supplied)
Subabat, women who serve coffee at all-female events, have become the subject of Dawsari’s most popular work. (Supplied)
Updated 09 August 2022

My stories tell the story of every Saudi woman: Elham Dawsari

Subabat, women who serve coffee at all-female events, have become the subject of Dawsari’s most popular work. (Supplied)
  • The artist works to explore Riyadh in the 1980s and 1990s through the portraits of middle- and lower-class women

RIYADH: As interdisciplinary Saudi artist and writer Elham Dawsari sits with an iced Spanish latte in hand, a sweet combat to the heat outside, she recalls one of her first sketches: a younger version of herself sits on the front stoop of her house watching barefoot boys her age play around in the grass, free of social decorum. She holds a walkman in hand, her own personal bubble at the press of a button.

“I drew that because I wanted to not only answer questions, but to articulate the questions first: What is this about spaces? About women? About gender?” she told Arab News.

As she was simultaneously the subject of the sketch and the background to the playing boys, she made a visceral connection to the space around her and where women fit into it.

Two miniature figures, one dusting the patio and the other applying body cream and lemon, as part of artist Elham Dawsari's artwork "Nfas" showcased at Jax Arts Festival in Riyadh. (Photo by photographer Moat Alyahya)

Subliminally, she bagan to make the forgotten women the center of her work.

Dawsari works to explore a pre-Internet Riyadh in the 1980s and 1990s through centering middle- and lower-class women, investigating how it influenced their behavior and how they were shaped by the spaces around them.

“I think this is my way of coming to terms with a lot of things that happened in my life, including the stories of women because I still carried questions for the longest time, trying to understand it,” she said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Dawsari wanted her work to represent the women, and help view them in the simplest of forms: As humans.

• The work hopes to appreciate where they are now and ‘hopefully have them more included’ in our fast-paced and youth-focused lives, she says.

• The sculptures are a personal embodiment of memories and people, designed on a smaller scale to physically and emotionally pull the viewer in.

While Saudi culture has been slowly loosening its control on the societal expectations of women, some find it is still difficult to think critically of the past.

She has found that artistic pursuits are a more palatable way to honestly pursue without the societal backlash.

“Art is a way for me to clash, but indirectly,” Dawsari said.

Subabat, women who serve coffee and desserts at all-female events, have become the subject of her most popular work.

Dawsari's sculpture fanning herself in the patio's summer heat, and one of the five pieces in her sculpted artwork titled "Nfas."

The figures evoked mystery and curiosity for viewers, which is what inspired the pursuit, she said.

While she grew up in the US until high school, she still went to Saudi weddings and recalls seeing her first Subabat at an early age.

“Around 12-years-old, I began associating Subabat with muted beauty,” she wrote in her essay, titled “Documenting Subabat: A Tribute to Sisterhood.”

While they had a certain status and prestige at weddings, their presence was evidently invisible to the attendees. Their job was to serve and never chat.

“Classism was apparent, but they still looked similar to the grandmothers (at the weddings), the way they dress. Eventually 25 years later, I learned through research that they took that style from the women they worked for,” Dawsari said.

Subaba, a woman who serves coffee and desserts at special all-women events, offering tea as part of artist Elham Dawsari's photo series titled "Subabat."

That contrast stuck with her and her determination to document these women and their process, despite their prominent evasion, culminated in her photo series, essays, and docu short under the title “Subabat.”

While the notions of lamenting and nostalgia are prominent in many Saudi artworks, she chose to stray away from them.

“What joy does that give to anybody?” she thought. Instead of highlighting the problems of the current age, she decided to uplift the stories of the past.

In her artwork “Nfah,” Dawsari has created a series of five miniature sculptures showcasing how women utilized their time at home. In the secluded nature of their lives, either in their own home or in someone else’s, they sculpted who they are and searched for open spaces.

The work, most recently showcased at Jax Arts Festival in Riyadh, aims to analyze the relationship between urban landscaping and specific behavior of 1990s Saudi households.

The two sculptures that showed the voluptuous houseworking women, one cleaning the yard and the other squatting as she does laundry, reflect how they maintained their physical strength in rural Saudi Arabia.

Dawsari told Arab News that she hoped to start a conversation where she, and her audience, can look at these anchors as more than just houseworkers and parents, “to rewire ourselves and really think about all the other things that were in their lives, and the heavy burden of responsibility that society imposed on them.”

She wanted her work to represent the women, and help view them in the simplest of forms: as humans. The work hopes to appreciate where they are now and “hopefully have them more included” in our fast-paced and youth-focused lives, she said.

The sculptures are a personal embodiment of memories and people, designed on a smaller scale to physically and emotionally pull the viewer in.

“‘Nfah’ is more of these collective stories of people that I get to listen to, that I get to share, that fall into the essence of the artwork … it’s about breaking these barriers through these women,” she said.

Dawsari explores the theme of urban landscaping by tracing women’s movement inside these traditional households. In her work, she often wonders what these box-like spaces are meant to protect us from.

“It’s more like an emotional kind of fort you are in that protects you, another barrier in this society… Why is it so revolting? Why is it so depressing?” she said.

She connects the effects of these spaces we have built and how we impose ourselves on our architecture in return. What would happen to the next generation when they live in this so-called “utopian” home of their ancestors?

“How did it affect those women who, today, are also living in a different renaissance?” she questioned.

In a time where hustling and striving for the future defines our daily lives, it is easy to disconnect with our seniors who might not be running at the same pace.

“Everybody who came and interacted was affected, which means that we share the same story despite our differences,” said Dawsari.

Everyone has a similar memory of a mother figure applying lemon juice on their knees or making the afternoon coffee.

An Indian onlooker came to Dawsari once expressing how her work reminded her of her aunts and her family. The universality of her work is what speaks to the audience.

“Every passing day, we are losing stories that are undocumented…the thing is (to create more of a) habit, have people interact with more and more artworks about this generation,” added Dawsari.

 


Saudi artist turns her farming passion into creative work

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi artist turns her farming passion into creative work

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
  • Al-Obaid makes these hand-painted pot bags from scratch, sewing the bags according to pot size, and then she selecting a drawing to apply to the fabric, usually flowery

JEDDAH: Hadeel Al-Obaid, a Saudi artist from Eastern Province, with over 20 years of farming experience, took a leap of faith when she turned her childhood hobby into a unique business idea.

Offering hand-painted pot bags, Al-Obaid was creative enough to mix between art, farming, and gifting.

She told Arab News: “I inherited the love of farming from my late father — he taught me a lot of gardening skills since I was 13. So, at first, I used to share on social media tips and tricks on how to take care of plants and a few posts of my paintings.”

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)

Al-Obaid has gained extensive knowledge about plants. “I have a good relationship with my plants, I want everyone to benefit from my experience — and I am glad that my art-related business is also related to farming,” she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Al-Obaid had the time to practice painting styles inspired by Korean and Japanese art, and also by her indoor home garden and flowers. That was when the idea of her project, “Lavender touches,” was sparked.

FASTFACTS

• Offering hand-painted pot bags, Hadeel Al-Obaid was creative enough to mix between art, farming, and gifting.

• Al-Obaid says the main aim of her project, next to offering a fusion between painting and plants, is to change the gifting concept of flower bouquets.

“As a self-taught artist, in the beginning, I started with painting on the table serving mats, dinner table linens, and coasters, which (was) admired by many. Then, due to the number of indoor and outdoor plants I am surrounded by, I thought of adding a touch of art to these pots by covering them with hand-painted fabric bags to make them look more vibrant.”

Al-Obaid makes these hand-painted pot bags from scratch, sewing the bags according to pot size, and then she selecting a drawing to apply to the fabric, usually flowery. Then she colors it using paints, and finally, she applies an interesting Arabic phrase or a quote.

“I draw only flowers on the canvas bags after I sew them, most of which are inspired by my home garden (plants) such as peace lily, tulip, French hydrangea, common zinnia, Arabian jasmine, lavender, and pansy,” she said.

The name of her project, “Lavender,” is also inspired by her favorite color and flower.

Al-Obaid said that the main aim of her project, next to offering a fusion between painting and plants, is to change the gifting concept of flower bouquets.

“I personally think that the idea of gifting a flower bouquet to anyone on different occasions is respected, however, it is over-consumed and it really lacks the element of surprise, and if replaced with a well-decorated plant of any type, it will be more valued,” she said.

Al-Obaid also offers custom-made pot bags with customers’ selection of colors, shapes, types of flowers painted, English or Arabic names, or phrases about different occasions, as well as different types of indoor home plants and flowers.

“Each painting takes from an hour to three hours depending on the flower type,” she said.

The fabric pot bags also feature a water resistant color of a velvety texture, to maintain the beauty of the paintings once the plant is splashed with water, and can be found on Instagram @lavender_touches.