JEDDAH: In recognition of the services that Saudi hospitals are providing, an art exhibition and workshop were organized at Jeddah’s Gardenia Residential Complex on Saturday with 22 artists from Egypt, Yemen, India and Saudi Arabia.
Under the theme “Our old neighborhood’s doors,” the three-day outdoor event, organized by the Art Harmony gallery, was a sign of appreciation for the King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital.
Under the theme ‘Our old neighborhood’s doors,’ the three-day event, organized by the Art Harmony gallery, was a sign of appreciation for the King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital.
The inaugural day was attended by the Japanese consul general in Jeddah, Izuru Shimmura. Saudi princess and poet “Jawharat Al-Sahra” was an honorary guest at the event.
The idea of the workshop and exhibition began after an artist’s mother received extensive care at KFAFH before she died. Some ten days after her loss, Matluba Qurban told fellow artists about the excellent medical services her mother had received at the hospital.
Asking Allah for mercy for Qurban’s mother, colleagues expressed their desire to offer a gesture of loyalty to KFAFH and its healthcare workers through an artistic workshop, with all paintings to be gifted to the medical institution to add an aesthetic touch to the hospital corridors.
Qurban, one of the organizers, said that 22 artists of both genders took part in the exhibition and workshop.
“Their paintings, which bring back our beautiful old neighborhoods, will be presented to the KFAFH officials who have allocated a place in the hospital for the artworks to be hung. It was really nice of the KFAFH to accept our initiative,” she said.
She said that several renowned Saudi artists, such as Amal Felimban, Fahad Turkistani and Abdullah Al-Sulaimani, participated in the exhibition and workshop.
Dr. Khalid Aql, a co-organizer, told Arab News that the artists had insisted on expressing their gratitude to the hospital.
“The message of art is basically human. We, as artists, are always present at the occasions where a service provider is honored for their exceptional performance,” Aql said.
He said that the participating artists had been keen to take part in the workshop, adding that their artworks would be displayed in a distinguished health service-providing institution.
Jawharat Al-Sahra told Arab News that hospitals deserved tribute for the services they provided to patients.
“These artists have devotedly gathered to show respect and appreciation to our hospitals, represented here by KFAFH. We are, in fact, proud of these advanced healthcare facilities that provide health services to both Saudis and residents,” the princess said.
US rapper Ice Spice champions Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi at awards show
Updated 29 March 2023
DUBAI: US rapper Ice Spice attended the iHeartRadio Music Awards this week wearing a small purse by Romanian Jordanian designer-to-the-stars Amina Muaddi.
The “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” singer chose the Superamini Baby Girl bag in black satin. The bag has leather lining, along with a crystal-embellished logo and “Baby Girl” text.
She matched the purse with a black-and-white dress by French fashion label Jean Paul Gaultier and black platforms by Saint Laurent.
At the star-studded event in Los Angeles, Ice Spice – along with British rapper Pink Pantheress – presented the Song of the Year award to superstar Taylor Swift who won the award for her hit “Anti-Hero.”
Trailblazers: Safia Farhat — Tunisian artist, educator and activist now gaining global renown
In this series, we highlight pioneering female artists from the Arab world in honor of Women’s History Month
Updated 29 March 2023
DUBAI: Tunisian artist Safia Farhat was not only a dynamic tapestry creator, but had an impressive resumé including ceramicist, educator, women’s rights activist, and publishing pioneer. She was a woman who accumulated a list of historic firsts in her lifetime.
She contributed to the growth of visual culture in independent Tunisia under the progressive leadership of President Habib Bourguiba. Farhat designed national stamps, had her fiber art displayed in the country’s banks, hotels, and schools, and worked with expert weavers and artisans in her studio.
Farhat was born in the harbor city of Rades in 1924 and raised in a well-to-do family. It was her maternal aunt, who was skilled in knitting and crochet, who cultivated Farhat’s love of art. She went on to study at the Tunis Institute of Fine Arts and was reportedly just the third Tunisian woman to enroll there.
She later became the institute’s first female director in 1966 — remaining in the role for more than a decade. She encouraged female students to take part in the institute’s programming. Farhat also founded Tunisia’s first magazine for women, “Faiza,” delving into feminism and decolonization, among other social issues.
Her colorful, thickly lined tapestries depict animals, plants, and men and women wearing traditional clothing. “When I saw her work, I was really fascinated by its sculptural elements, the color, the various techniques that were embedded in it — and by their stories,” Jessica Gerschultz, a professor of African studies at the University of Kansas, told Arab News.
“She seems to really play on self-referentiality,” she continued. “Her works are referring to her other works, so there are many symbols — lots of triangles and zigzags — integrated into her weavings and other works that she did in ceramics and iron.”
Farhat, who died in 2004, is a name still recognized by some older people in her homeland, but she has been generally overlooked, ironically, by young art students in Tunisia. “At the institute, maybe students know her name, but they’re not very familiar with her,” noted Gerschultz. “Maybe they don’t know her at all.”
International interest in Farhat, however, was boosted last year as a result of her works being showcased at the Venice Biennale. “It’s wonderful to see her contributions now being viewed more widely,” said Gerschultz.
London’s Victoria & Albert Museum hosts ‘open iftar’ for hundreds
Updated 26 March 2023
DUBAI: More than 500 people flocked to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on Friday for an ‘Open Iftar’ event organized by the Ramadan Tent Project charity.
“Ramadan 2023 marks 10 phenomenal years of the Ramadan Tent Project and our signature Open Iftar events. Over the past nine years, our humble tent on a patch of green grew and grew, before it traveled to landmark locations,” the project said.
Similar events will take place this year at Shakespeare’s Globe theater, Wembley Stadium, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium and the Royal Albert Hall.
“The theme to mark our 10-year anniversary is ‘Belonging’. For the past decade we’ve connected and convened over half a million people from all backgrounds. Our passion in bridging between different communities is rooted in sharing our authentic selves with the world.
“True belonging shouldn’t require you to change who you are – rather, it’s to celebrate who you are,” read an additional statement on the website.
Since 2013, the Open Iftar events have hosted more than 500,000 people across the UK at some of the country’s most iconic cultural spaces including Trafalgar Square, the BALTIC Museum, Bradford’s Centenary Square and Coventry Cathedral.
Finding treasures at the Islamic Arts Biennale’s Al-Matjar in Jeddah
Sustainability key to the concept store; more than 620 rare, custom-made items on display
Updated 26 March 2023
JEDDAH: Visitors to the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah can pick up Ramadan-themed items and intricate works of art at the on-site Al-Matjar concept store, a retail space developed by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.
“The biennale store is never, ever the same. We change it every week. The only constant is that you’ll see is the Diriyah Foundation merchandise,” Dalia Al Akki, the store representative, told Arab News.
According to Al Akki, the DBF hopes the shop can become one of Jeddah’s new cultural destinations. It aims to have something for everyone — and allow them to take a bit of the Biennale’s “Awwal Bait” (First House) theme back home with them.
“The idea of this collaboration is that the Diriyah Foundation wants to open a platform to support digital artists. It’s like a marketing tool for us to use their illustrations and create merch with them, or stationery, or puzzles,” she said. “We didn’t want to just do merchandise this year; we wanted to really enhance this idea of collaboration.”
Since the biennale is a temporary exhibition, the idea was to create tangible items that people can take back home with them.
After thorough research, they reached out to around 180 brands, of which 95 made it to the shelves. Since the DBF is a non-profit organization, it was obligated to use the space as a launching pad for brands and to cultivate creativity.
“Some of these items are very rare and very beautiful, and soon they’ll be collectible,” Al Akki said proudly.
The store prioritizes collaborating with brands that focus on sustainability, and many of the over 620 items are rare and custom-made. According to Dalia Al Akki, every item in the store will be reused, including the wayfinding flags that will be repurposed into tote bags later.
It was always meant to be a pop-up shop, which is perhaps part of the allure. If you like something, pick it up and buy it instantly or it might be gone. Maybe forever. Many items were custom-made for the shop and won’t ever be sold anywhere else.
There’s one section that is distinctly pre-owned. It is dedicated to selling secondhand books and Al Akki hopes this will help shift people’s perception of pre-owned and think of it as ‘pre-loved.’
“We know a guy that collects books from all over the region, so we really wanted to add that in,” she explained. “A lot of artists actually just buy books and end up throwing them. A lot of people in the Kingdom don’t know the value of these books. But for us, secondhand books are still valuable. We even have vintage magazines.”
She said that she has been surprised by the popularity of the secondhand books and have had to replenish their stocks.
“We also work with a lot of product makers (who focus on) sustainability. Nothing in the store is going to be thrown away; everything is going to be reused — even the wayfinding flags; we are actually taking them and making tote bags out of them for next year,” she said. “We are supporting local and international artists and sustainability is a main goal.”
It was crucial for the curation of the products to be inclusive of different countries and styles, as well as price ranges, and to provide something that non-Muslims could buy too.
“What’s amazing about the whole idea of this pop-up store is that we really get to know the community — beyond the Kingdom. We can’t wait for the (next Biennale cycle) because there’s so many places you could go. I mean, this was limited, challenging, but definitely worth it,” Al Akki said. “We’ve learned, we’ve grown, we’ve met many beautiful people along the way.”
One of those people is Sultan bin Mohammed, the shy-but-charming millennial leader of the Galag Garage clothing brand (Galag translates to “nuisance”).
He was proud to take part in this pop-up store in his hometown of Jeddah and is shaking up the shop — one stitch at a time.
The filmmaker and entrepreneur showed Arab News his exclusive capsule Galag collection, created in collaboration with the Diriyah Biennale Foundation store. Rows of durable-but-soft hoodies, t-shirts, tote bags and caps with the word “Galag” written in Arabic using the custom biennale font and typography.
“They (Diriyah Biennale Foundation) wanted really to represent the structures in the Hajj terminal. So I wanted to recreate that, but give a bit of a retro-wave design,” he told Arab News.
He also added elements that are distinctly ‘Galag,’ such as images of vintage cars.
“We wanted something that’s wearable, has a bit of style, has a bit of weight to it — something that people would be happy and comfortable with. We decided to do very simple but high-quality material with interesting colors,” bin Mohammed told Arab News.
Most of those color inspirations were derived from local nature. The sandy hoodie has a bit of saturated blue that pops — meant to represent the sky. The white hoodie, in contrast, was meant to be muted.
“Every color choice here is meant to look better with age; so the longer we wear it, the better it looks — that was the concept,” he said.
Like Al Akki, bin Mohammed was adamant that he wanted to produce something that would last.
“Sustainability is a huge thing. We really wanted to use something that lasts — something that you can wear for years, maybe put in your closet then bring it out and it still keeps its shape; it keeps the quality and it doesn’t disintegrate,” bin Mohammed said.
He was also keen to have the date incorporated into the t-shirts. “It’s the first Islamic Arts Biennale and to have the date on it to commemorate it was really important. I think it’s really cool to have a piece of history. It’s great that we’re a small part of that,” said bin Mohammed.
Saudi Fashion Commission chief among international panelists at first-ever Egypt Fashion Week
The event will kick off with an opening night on May 12 at the Egyptian Museum, featuring the “Best of Egyptian Designers” fashion show curated by US stylist Julie Matos, followed by a gala dinner
Updated 27 March 2023
DUBAI: Saudi Fashion Commission CEO Burak Cakmak is set to speak at the first edition of Egypt Fashion Week, which will take place from May 12 to 15.
The event will also be attended by US fashion blogger Diane Pernet, Nigerian entrepreneur Omoyemi Akerele and co-founder of the Egyptian Fashion & Design Council Austrian Egyptian Susan Sabet.
Sabet said in a statement: “We are very proud and grateful to have won over so many distinguished speakers and major worldwide media partners and attendance to ensure that all eyes will be on Egyptian fashion.”
The fashion week, which has been in the making for about four years, is titled “Past, Present & Future” and is set to celebrate Egypt’s rich heritage and civilization, inspired by its culture, and to show the world Egypt’s present.
“Inspired by the rising number of emerging designers and growth of the local fashion industry, we knew the time had come to show the world our pool of creative talents and local cotton and textile industry,” Sabet added.
“The EFW program goes far beyond fashion shows and exhibitions and aims to connect the local, African and Middle Eastern markets through design, craftsmanship, education, sustainability, production and retail.”
The event will kick off with an opening night on May 12 at the Egyptian Museum, featuring the “Best of Egyptian Designers” fashion show curated by US stylist Julie Matos, followed by a gala dinner.
The following two days will be held at the Museum of Agriculture, one of the most important museums of its kind in the world, which will open its doors for the first time after five years of renovation for EFW.
The museum traces the history of agriculture and cotton in Egypt from prehistory to modernity, acknowledging agriculture as the basis on which Ancient Egyptians built a civilization.
The fashion week’s guests will discover designer exhibitions curated by Lagos Fashion Week, Jordan Fashion Week and GTEX-ITC.
EFW will also host panel talks by local, regional and international industry leaders in the fields of design, education, craftsmanship, production, retail, sustainability, women’s empowerment and finance.
Launchmetrics, a partner of New York and Paris fashion weeks, is EFW’s logistics partner.