Saudi artist uses coins to create portraits of kings, leaders

Hisham Al-Najjar now hopes to sell his paintings to those interested in creative and distinctive artworks. (Photo/Saleh Fareed)
Hisham Al-Najjar now hopes to sell his paintings to those interested in creative and distinctive artworks. (Photo/Saleh Fareed)
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Updated 01 June 2022

Saudi artist uses coins to create portraits of kings, leaders

Hisham Al-Najjar now hopes to sell his paintings to those interested in creative and distinctive artworks. (Photo/Saleh Fareed)
  • Al-Najjar hit the spotlight after he created a picture of King Salman using coins from around the world. “The image of King Salman required 9,000 coins. It took a larger number of coins than the other portraits and it took me three months to finish”
  • Coins are really quite fascinating and as I got older, I had quite a massive supply of Saudi and foreign coins

JEDDAH: For artist Hisham Al-Najjar, painting on canvas or papers is conventional.

Instead, the Jeddah-based artist uses pennies and other international coins as the backdrop for his impressive paintings.

“Collecting Saudi and international coins has been my hobby for the past 25 years because it has been my favorite hobby beside drawing and painting,” said Al-Najjar, who is an enthusiastic collector of international coins.

Al-Najjar revealed that he has a treasure chest with more than 100,000 coins from different regions around the world, which he collected through antique shops and rare coin auctions. He now uses them to create professional paintings.

HIGHLIGHT

While displaying his coin portraits in Balad as part of the Jeddah Season, Hisham Al-Najjar told Arab News that his life had taken a different direction after he assembled all the pennies he had collected over the years to make portraits of prominent figures.

He began working as a coin artist in 2015 after he retired from the trade industry in 2014.

The artist garnered attention when he started to display his work at events and festivals such as the National Day, Foundation Day, Jeddah Season and other local exhibitions.

Al-Najjar hit the spotlight after he created a picture of King Salman using coins from around the world. “The image of King Salman required 9,000 coins. It took a larger number of coins than the other portraits and it took me three months to finish,” he said.

“I then thought of (creating) artistic portraits of our crown prince and previous kings. I started with drawing their pictures and then filled them with coins.”

The artist has already made 40 other coin portraits including kings of Saudi Arabia, princes, and leaders of the Gulf countries — such as King Abdulaziz, King Faisal, King Fahad, King Khalid, King Abdullah, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Shiekh Khalifa bin Zaid, Shiekh Mohammed bin Zaid and Shiekh Mohammed bin Rashid.

While displaying his coin portraits in Balad as part of the Jeddah Season, Al-Najjar told Arab News that his life had taken a different direction after he assembled all the pennies he had collected over the years to make portraits of prominent figures.

“Coins are really quite fascinating and as I got older, I had quite a massive supply of Saudi and foreign coins. So, when King Salman became the ruler of Saudi Arabia in 2015, I immediately thought of doing something new by using these coins to express my support to the new Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” he said.

The second-largest image that Al-Najjar created was of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with 2,800 coins.

Al-Najjar now hopes to sell his paintings to those interested in creative and distinctive artworks.

He also aims to make the largest portrait in the world with coins and enter it in Guinness World Records.

 


Saudi Arabia’s DGDA announces its official opening to the public on Dec. 4

Saudi Arabia’s DGDA announces its official opening to the public on Dec. 4
Updated 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s DGDA announces its official opening to the public on Dec. 4

Saudi Arabia’s DGDA announces its official opening to the public on Dec. 4
  • DGDA Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo told Arab News: “Three hundred years ago, the birthplace of the Kingdom was Turaif

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has announced the official opening of the UNESCO World Heritage site At-Turaif and the Bujairi Terrace to the public on Dec. 4.

The DGDA on Monday held a special gala dinner at Bujairi Terrace for a number of World Travel and Tourism Council delegates who were present in Riyadh for the 22nd WTTC Global Summit.

The summit is taking place for the first time in the Kingdom in Riyadh from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center.

Uniting a wide range of key industry players, this year’s edition of the WTTC Summit showcased Saudi Arabia’s pioneering efforts to reshape the world’s tourism map in a still-recovering, post-COVID world. As one of the industry’s largest events, the annual forum aspires to implement travel sustainability on a global scale.

The At-Turaif and Bujairi Terrace opening gala dinner was attended by Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Chair of WTTC Arnold Donald, President and CEO of WTTC Julia Simpson, Group Chief Executive Officer of DGDA Jerry Inzerillo, and a broad list of other high profile industry leaders.

In the upcoming week, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, the home of the first Saudi State, and dine at some of the world’s finest Michelin-star restaurants at the Bujairi Terrace.

Visitors will take a step back in time as they walk through the mudbrick palaces and pathways of At-Turaif that perfectly highlight the traditional Najdi architecture.

As a part of its opening, At-Turaif will offer 75-minute guided walking tours in both Arabic and English that will take visitors through the original seat of power, built in the 1700s, of the Kingdom’s Al-Saud family.

Upon its opening, visitors will be able to explore At-Turaif's Salwa Palace, a 10,000-square-meter complex whose first phases were built by Mohammed ibn Saud, the first ruler of the First Saudi State.

At-Turaif's palaces, pathways and detailed carvings in the Najdi architecture provide a glimpse into the past and a reminder of the origin of Saudi Arabia.

Along with the announcement of At-Turaif's opening, the DGDA will also host a variety of activities for the public, including theatrical performances, an Arabian horse show, calligraphy sessions, mudbrick-making shows and Saudi coffee experiences.

On Al-Nuzul Street, 13 buildings will host daily immersive theatrical performances that will take visitors back in time to experience life in At-Turaif during the First Saudi State.

Following the opening At-Turaif, Diriyah is also set to host a calendar full of events and activities for the public during the winter 2022 season.

Bujairi Terrace is also set to open its doors to the public on Dec. 4 with the aim of becoming the foremost luxury dining destination in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Located in Wadi Hanifah, Bujairi Terrace will offer 20 restaurants and coffee shops, several of which are Michelin-star restaurants, including Chez Bruno, Hakkasan, Long Chim and Tatel, overlooking At-Turaif.

Some of the international brands located in Bujairi Terrace include Angelina, Brunch & Cake, Café De Lésplanade, Cova / Cova Pasticceria, Flamingo Room, Joe & the Juice, Sarabeth’s and Villa Mamas.

Some of the local brands include TAKYA, Altopiano, Somewhere / Somewhere Dessert Bae, Sum + Things, and Hi.

Built from the same mud, water and straw used to construct At-Turaif, Bujairi Terrace will merge culture, history and luxury through live shows, historical programs, interactive entertainment and traditional performances from Saudi artists and musicians.

Earlier this week, some 1,500 employees at the DGDA put their signatures on mud bricks to be used to restore At-Turaif, the original home of the Saudi royal family and the country’s first capital.

DGDA Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo told Arab News: “Three hundred years ago, the birthplace of the Kingdom was At-Turaif. We give all our love and praise to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, to restore At-Turaif, which was built by Saudis brick by brick, but no one knows their names.

“Now we are building the new Diriyah, transforming it, using the same material, same mud, same straw, same palm trees, but now we know everybody’s name.

“So the next 300 years of this will be built by all these people and will remain very emotional and very special to them.”

The DGDA aims to develop the birthplace of the Kingdom into a world-class tourism, entertainment and cultural destination. Upon its completion, Diriyah will be a $50 billion giga-project featuring some of the world’s most luxurious restaurants and hotels built in the traditional Najdi architectural style.

This is merely the first phase of Diryah’s opening. Once complete, Diriyah will offer more than 150 fine-dining restaurants and premium cafes, 28 luxury hotels and resorts, and 400 luxury and lifestyle brands.

 


World-class line-up of speakers announced for Riyadh Philosophy Conference

Dr. Mohammed Hassan Alwan. (Supplied)
Dr. Mohammed Hassan Alwan. (Supplied)
Updated 56 sec ago

World-class line-up of speakers announced for Riyadh Philosophy Conference

Dr. Mohammed Hassan Alwan. (Supplied)
  • Dr. Mohammed Hassan Alwan, the commission’s CEO, told Arab News: “Its influence goes beyond academic communities with this year’s topic showing the philosophical link between knowledge and exploration

RIYADH: In international line-up of top speakers has been announced for the second annual Riyadh Philosophy Conference, starting on Thursday.

The Saudi Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission revealed the influential names due to address the three-day gathering at the King Fahad National Library.

The event, which runs until Dec. 3, aims to tackle issues affecting the future of humanity with intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, writers, and historians from around the world exploring a range of topics under the title, “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time, and Humanity.”

Speakers will include Alejandra de la Merced Fernandez, from the Universidad Nacional del Nordeste in Argentina, Joseph Cohen, associate professor of philosophy at University College Dublin, Norbert Frischauf, chief technologist and partner at SpaceTec and founder of the Austrian Space Forum, Nicolas de Warren, research professor of philosophy at Penn State University in the US, and Dr. Bjoern Gerd Freter, lecturer in world philosophy at the SOAS University of London.

Regional philosophers addressing the conference will include Abdullah Almutairi, head of the Saudi Philosophy Association, Dalia Toonsi, the founder and general manager of the Baseera educational consultancy, and Mishaal Ashemimry, special adviser to the chief executive officer of the Saudi Space Commission and the first female aerospace engineer among Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Dr. Mohammed Hassan Alwan, the commission’s CEO, told Arab News: “Its influence goes beyond academic communities with this year’s topic showing the philosophical link between knowledge and exploration.

“It highlights philosophy as a field of study that is relevant not only to philosophers but scientists, historians, and astronomers.”

This year’s theme was chosen by the commission to create a convergence of science and philosophy. Discussion topics will include ethics in exploration, the dilemmas of artificial intelligence, the complexities of space diplomacy, and how these issues will shape the future of humanity.

Alwan said: “I am delighted to see a roster of world-renowned academics, scientists, and philosophers at the forefront of their fields, speaking at the second-ever Riyadh Philosophy Conference.

“We look forward to seeing them lead pioneering conversations to address the countless questions that arise from the rapid scientific development we see in society today.

“We hope that the outcomes and discussions taken from this will be used to ensure a positive impact on humanity,” he added.

The conference will feature lectures, panels, discussions, seminars, and workshops designed to be inclusive and open. There will also be activities and workshops for young people, including a debating competition for college students.

The event will also provide a chance for young people to engage in discussion with international academics, along with a space for children and young adults to engage in critical thinking activities around the theme of the conference.

 


Saudi Fashion Commission discusses sustainability with industry leaders

Saudi Fashion Commission discusses sustainability with industry leaders
Updated 28 November 2022

Saudi Fashion Commission discusses sustainability with industry leaders

Saudi Fashion Commission discusses sustainability with industry leaders
  • Commission announces launch of new center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology focused on sustainability in textile science

RIYADH: The Saudi Fashion Commission hosted a virtual meeting on Thursday with experts and entrepreneurs to discuss sustainability in fashion.

The public was invited to attend the event, which examined the concept of sustainability and its role in the sector, as well as sustainability strategies and initiatives. 

During the meeting, the commission expressed its aim to support and stimulate the fashion community while also improving all stages of production involved in the industry, from design to product sustainability. 

It also said that it is working on several sustainability initiatives such as the second edition of its “GFX Swap Shop Riyadh” and the launch of a new center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology to innovate sustainable solutions and technologies in textile science. 

The virtual meeting is part of a series of meetings organized by the commission to establish the best standards and practices to promote the Kingdom’s fashion sector.

 


Austrian Embassy in Riyadh hosts concert promoting cultural diplomacy 

Austrian Embassy in Riyadh hosts concert promoting cultural diplomacy 
Updated 28 November 2022

Austrian Embassy in Riyadh hosts concert promoting cultural diplomacy 

Austrian Embassy in Riyadh hosts concert promoting cultural diplomacy 
  • The concert featured performances by violinist Daniel Auner, his mother Irina Auner, who played the piano, and Ehab Abdin, who played the oud
  • The guest list comprised a diverse group of figures from music lovers to professionals in the cultural sectors of Saudi Arabia, from ambassadors to influencers

RIYADH: Austrian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Georg Postinger hosted the concert “Orient meets Occident,” blending Saudi and Austrian influences in a night of music and cultural celebration, on Sunday in Riyadh.

The concert featured performances by violinist Daniel Auner, his mother Irina Auner, who played the piano, and Ehab Abdin, who played the oud. 

“We are witnessing something that is a little bit of an attempt at something new,” Austrian Ambassador Georg Postinger told Arab News of the concert, which he described as a “merger” between East and West. 

The ambassador stressed the importance of holding events that promote cultural understanding and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Austria. 

“You can kind of describe it as cultural dialogue,” Postinger said.

The concert began with classical Austrian music, which was followed by traditional Arabic sounds with oud player Abdin.

The guest list comprised a diverse group of figures from music lovers to professionals in the cultural sectors of Saudi Arabia, from ambassadors to influencers.  

The Auner mother-son duo played music from Fritz Kreisler and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with each performance followed by an explanation of the history and inspiration behind the music.

Following the Austrian set, Abdin performed traditional Saudi oud music, playing Farid Al-Atrash’s “Albi wa Muftahu” and Salim Al-Masri’s “Lamma Bada Yatathana,” among other pieces. The performance was met with a standing ovation from the audience.

“It’s a very wonderful feeling performing here, especially with the beautiful response from the audience,” Abdin said. 

Postinger said that the Austrian Embassy aims to continuously host events that promote cultural exchange and cooperation.


Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen
Updated 28 November 2022

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen
  • AMF program to improve transparency in banking, financial and private sectors
  • Saudi Arabia has been lead donor to Yemen since 2001

RIYADH: Under the sponsorship of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Monetary Fund has signed a $1 billion agreement with the Yemeni government to revitalize its flagging economy.

The deal, signed in Riyadh, seeks to establish a comprehensive economic, financial and monetary reform program to improve governance and transparency, expand and diversify production and lower unemployment and poverty.

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the program will develop Yemen’s financial and banking sector, strengthen the role of the private sector and promote long-term economic development. 

The reform priorities for the government include developing public resources, controlling and rationalizing government spending, improving efficiency, and rehabilitating critical infrastructure in electricity, water and transport services. 

Priorities for the financial and banking sectors include developing a supervision system to improve transparency and accountability and bolstering services for small and medium businesses and youths and women in rural areas. It will also seek to boost digitalization and payment method flexibility.

The program says the private sector is a primary driver of sustainable economic growth, and key in paving the way for greater integration into the global economy, the flow of foreign investment, and the strengthening of international partnerships. 

The Yemeni government expressed interest in exploring opportunities for regional and international institutions to collaborate to support Yemeni economic reform. 

The agreement’s sponsorship by Saudi Arabia is an extension of the country's economic support for Yemen. The Kingdom gave the Central Bank of Yemen $1 billion in 2012 and $2 billion in 2018 to cover the import of basic food commodities. 

From 2001 to 2022, Saudi Arabia has led the list of donor countries to Yemen, providing 30 percent of total support.