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 authorities supervise readiness to ensure safe Hajj

The exercise consisted of a fire resulting from a short circuit, which prompted smoke and flames outside the building. (SPA)
The exercise consisted of a fire resulting from a short circuit, which prompted smoke and flames outside the building. (SPA)
Updated 21 sec ago

Saudi authorities supervise readiness to ensure safe Hajj

The exercise consisted of a fire resulting from a short circuit, which prompted smoke and flames outside the building. (SPA)
  • A mock experiment in Makkah ensures staff readiness to deal with emergencies

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s health and humanitarian authorities, Makkah Health Affairs and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority in Madinah, supervised inspections in the holy cities to assess readiness and preparations to ensure a safe Hajj.

Makkah Health Affairs participated in a mock experiment that consisted of a fire drill in one of the pilgrim residences in the city, to measure the degree of preparedness of the medical facilities and staff this Hajj season.

The experiment consisted of a fire resulting from a short circuit, which prompted smoke and flames outside the building and resulted in the removal of a number of residents, in addition to 34 casualties ranging from injuries to fatalities.

The cases were checked by the medical staff according to their designated zones, where they were positioned: Six cases in the red zone, eight cases in the yellow zone, 16 cases in the green zone and four cases in the black zone.

Hamad Al-Otaibi, spokesperson of Makkah Health Affairs, confirmed that this experiment was carried out with the participation of a number of medical and security authorities and departments.

The experiment also witnessed the participation of the executive administration of emergencies and disasters in Makkah Healthcare Cluster and the affiliated hospitals — Al-Noor Specialist Hospital, King Abdulaziz Hospital, King Faisal Hospital — and the ambulatory centers.

The director general of Makkah Health Affairs and chairman of the Hajj and Umrah executive committee, Wael bin Hamza Mutair, confirmed the readiness of the health sector in Makkah to deal with all medical, ambulatory and emergency cases inside and outside the holy places.

King Salman ordered state sectors to serve pilgrims during Hajj to the best of their ability during a recent Cabinet meeting.

“Serving Hajj and Umrah pilgrims has been at the forefront of the Kingdom’s priority since its establishment and still is. We are proud to continue this mission with the highest competency,” the King said.

Meanwhile, SRCA President Dr. Jalal bin Mohammed Al-Owaisi visited Madinah to check and inaugurate a number of ambulatory centers in the region.

The visit came as part of his tour to check preparations ahead of the pilgrimage, and to ensure the readiness of the various centers receiving pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah.

Al-Owaisi listened to a detailed presentation on the potential of the centers, and the most important preparations done by these centers to receive visitors to Madinah during the Hajj season.


Childhood memories of Hajj pilgrimages inspire Saudi filmmaker’s latest project

Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with Makkah
Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with Makkah
Updated 11 min 42 sec ago

Childhood memories of Hajj pilgrimages inspire Saudi filmmaker’s latest project

Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with Makkah
  • Mujtaba Saeed’s script draws parallels between Makkah and Berlin, and explores the contrasts between traditional values and the modern world

RIYADH: Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed’s relationship with Makkah began at an early age. He fondly recalls family journeys to the vibrant city for Umrah or Hajj, surrounded by people of all ethnicities and nationalities who gathered at the holy place for one common purpose.

He paints a picture of childhood road trips across the multi-toned sand dunes of Saudi Arabia as buses passed by carrying strangers from all walks of life, all chanting the same prayer in a united voice.

Saeed remembers the journeys from his childhood home in the city of Saihat, in the Eastern Province, to the Hijaz region in the west of the country as being full of excitement and marvel.

Mujtaba Saeed’s 2021 film ‘Zawal’ won a Golden Palm award for Best Short Film at the Saudi Film Festival, and a Golden Sail award
at the Gulf Radio and Television Festival, which took place in Bahrain. (Supplied)

“It was filled with adventure,” he told Arab News. “From a child’s perspective, it was a long trip that never ends. My relationship with Makkah was the idea of traveling to a place.”

The screenwriter and director is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with the holy city, which was a big part of his life until he moved to Germany as a young adult to continue his education.

“After that, I didn’t visit (Makkah) for a while but the memories remained,” he said. “I consider (the memories) things that open up questions related to time, connection and the act of travel … I think it’s similar to any Saudi’s relationship to Makkah.”

HIGHLIGHT

Mujtaba Saeed remembers the journeys from his childhood home in the city of Saihat, in the Eastern Province, to the Hijaz region in the west of the country as being full of excitement and marvel. Saeed, who now splits his time between residences in Berlin and Saudi Arabia, said these emotions and his experiences with the holy city are what inspired his latest script.

He added that the city is a focus for the many individuals and families who visit it as pilgrims throughout their lives.

“I think I grew up with these visuals and they’re filled with emotions; Makkah is a place filled with emotions for me,” he explained.

Saeed, who now splits his time between residences in Berlin and Saudi Arabia, said these emotions and his experiences with the holy city are what inspired his latest script. It is still a work in progress but he is determined to share its story not only with fellow Saudis but audiences around the world.

“It’s up to everyone to try to engage and integrate with different cultures,” he said. “I think what’s inside us as humans and what motivates us as people is all one.”

The script reflects Saeed’s own life as it revolves around two cities: Makkah and Berlin. Though there are many differences between them there are also similarities, not least a transient nature, with people constantly coming and going: Pilgrims in Makkah, and tourists and students in Berlin.

“These two places are directions (Qiblatan) for many people in the world, so I’m trying to search for the contrasts between the two and how that contrast affects the characters,” he said.

“For me, it’s also really important to see how this young city of Berlin opens up questions for anyone who visits it … questions that relate to our relationships with our bodies, and our connection to ourselves and others.”

Saeed said the search for answers to these questions by the characters in the story creates the conflict that is essential in any drama.

He added that his aim with the script is to explore the contrast between notions relating to the traditional values of “old society” and the modern, globalized world. More importantly, he said, it considers whether diverse groups of individuals, each with their own dynamic and colorful backgrounds, can coexist safely in one place.

“In Makkah, this equation exists,” said Saeed. “From the time I left to study in Germany and then worked there, there was care in a city that was also global. But still, there remains the important question: How can you amplify other voices there?”

He said he feels a responsibility as an artist to amplify voices that often go unheard. As the development of arts and entertainment in the Kingdom continues, as part of which the country aims to become a regional hub for cinema, filmmaking and broader forms of cultural exchange, he believes the growth of Saudi cinema offers an ideal opportunity to achieve that goal.

“At this stage of national renaissance, where we are giving a voice to Saudi cinema, we need, in addition to the work that the Saudi film commission does to develop regulated creations, to have an interest in more collaborative efforts, whether that’s with Europe, India, or other counties,” Saeed said.

“I think cinema will become our language — and it’s a universal language — in the coming years.

“The importance of the European Film Festival in Riyadh is something we can’t argue about and I think it’s important to focus on presenting diverse cinematic content.”

The inaugural EFF, which aimed to promote European cinema and encourage the building of contacts between filmmakers in Europe and Saudi Arabia, took place between June 15 and 22. Saeed believes it was important in terms of helping to bridge cultural gaps and encouraging ongoing communication.

“I don’t think the festival presented films that are new to this audience, because the Saudi audience greatly follows (cinema), but it’s important for European filmmakers to meet this audience,” he said.

Saeed’s other current projects include a screenplay titled “Gharaq,” which translates as “Drowning,” which in June won the Best Feature Film Script award at the 2022 Saudi Film Festival. Saeed said that it explores the duality of forgiveness and revenge, adding: “A person can’t be free unless he forgives.”

The film is prepping for production, with filming due to take place in the east of the Kingdom. He is hopeful it will be a Saudi-German co-production.

Saeed’s 2021 film “Zawal” won a Golden Palm award for Best Short Film at the Saudi Film Festival, and a Golden Sail award at the Gulf Radio and Television Festival, which took place in Bahrain between June 21 and 23. It tells the story of an 8-year-old boy who lives with his mother in a refugee camp under quarantine following the outbreak of a mystery pandemic.


Saranghae KSA festival unites K-pop fans in Jeddah

Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean. (Supplied)
Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean. (Supplied)
Updated 01 July 2022

Saranghae KSA festival unites K-pop fans in Jeddah

Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean. (Supplied)
  • The Consulate General of Korea in Jeddah delievered a one-of-kind Korean experience, offering to photograph fans wearing traditional Korean outfits, as well as providing cooking demonstrations

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia's first K-pop festival, Saranghae KSA 22, brought fans from a wide range of backgrounds together under the roof of the Jeddah Superdome for a three-day celebration of Korean music and culture.

K-pop installations, an Umbrella Boulevard and a Cherry Blossoms Avenue provided picture-perfect backgrounds for fans, who were also given a taste of Korean cuisine at stalls selling a range of Korean favorites.

One audience member, Ghazal Mazen, 16, said that she grew up listening to Korean songs because of her older sisters, and has been a fan of Ateez since early 2020.

“I really can’t describe how I feel now. It feels like a dream I have been waiting to live in real life,” she said.

High-quality screens ensured fans were able to see their favorite performers, while a screen suspended from the middle of the dome displayed images taken by audience members at the photo booth, as well as short clips of the bands.

The Consulate General of Korea in Jeddah delievered a one-of-kind Korean experience, offering to photograph fans wearing traditional Korean outfits, as well as providing cooking demonstrations.

Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean.

Both bands took a break to meet the audience and answer questions from fans.

On Wednesday, EPEX enjoyed the festive vibe of Jeddah Season by visiting the Historical Jeddah zone, walking through museums and the house of horror, playing games, and winning prizes.

Fans of Ateez spotted the band members shopping at the Red Sea Mall on the same day.

Saturday will mark the last day of the festival with Monsta X and Verivery.

 


Saudi Red Crescent Authority and The Helicopter Co. launch air ambulance service

Saudi Red Crescent Authority and The Helicopter Co. launch air ambulance service
Updated 01 July 2022

Saudi Red Crescent Authority and The Helicopter Co. launch air ambulance service

Saudi Red Crescent Authority and The Helicopter Co. launch air ambulance service
  • The service will be implemented in Riyadh first then gradually cover the rest of the Kingdom’s regions in several phases

RIYADH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority and The Helicopter Co. have signed an agreement to launch an air ambulance service in the Kingdom.

The signing, which aims to raise the quality and efficiency of ambulance services to save lives, was attended by Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel, who is also chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority.

The agreement was signed by President of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority Jalal Al-Owaisi and CEO of The Helicopter Co. Capt. Arnaud Martinez.

The agreement stems from the authority’s belief in the importance of an air ambulance, which can respond quickly to save lives in emergencies and exceptional circumstances — such as locations that are difficult to reach otherwise — in which speed of communication is crucial to providing medical care.

The agreement stipulates the provision of air ambulance helicopters around the clock to transport highway accident casualties and transfer critical cases between hospitals.

The service will be implemented in Riyadh first then gradually cover the rest of the Kingdom’s regions in several phases.

Air ambulance helicopters will also be provided to respond to critical cases at holy sites and will be among the services provided by the authority to pilgrims and visitors during the Hajj season.

Raed Ismail, chairman of the board of directors at The Helicopter Co., said that this agreement is the result of relentless efforts and cooperation with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority and represents an important step in keeping pace with modern health systems that contribute to saving lives.

The Helicopter Co. was established in 2019 by the Public Investment Fund as the first local operator of commercial helicopters. Today, the company owns 17 helicopters that provide air ambulance services and are also available for tourism and business trips. It recently signed an agreement to purchase 42 new helicopters.

The air ambulance service falls within the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, as it will contribute to facilitating access to emergency medical care and reduce the percentage of deaths and injuries resulting from traffic accidents.


Diriyah,Jewel of the Kingdom: STEM training programs to foster Diriyah youth’s untapped talent and potential

Diriyah,Jewel of the Kingdom: STEM training programs to foster Diriyah youth’s untapped talent and potential
Updated 29 min 12 sec ago

Diriyah,Jewel of the Kingdom: STEM training programs to foster Diriyah youth’s untapped talent and potential

Diriyah,Jewel of the Kingdom: STEM training programs to foster Diriyah youth’s untapped talent and potential
  • The programs will be conducted in Arabic with the courses covering training across video games, film and animation production, breakthroughs in the field of science, immersive art experiences, and music and film discovery

The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has reinforced its commitment to the mission of investing in the personal growth of the community’s youth through the establishment of a series of STEM training programs.

The initiative, “Program Your Passion,” is a STEM-focused community training project in collaboration with DigiPen, the global training institute that seeks to foster and enrich the untapped talent and potential of the local Diriyah youth.

DigiPen, founded as a computer simulation and animation company by Claude Comair in 1988 in Vancouver, British Columbia, was the first institution globally to offer a bachelor’s degree in video games programming.

The training programs launched by DGDA will be provided to middle and secondary school students across the Diriyah community. Introducing digital skills will help ensure that students are technically proficient, and will have the chance to explore future job opportunities across Saudi Arabia’s thriving digital economy, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program.

The “Program Your Passion” project will have two main development goals: The first will encourage students to develop their skills in developing video games, while the second will ensure they become proficient in new skillsets like animation design, coding, and much more.

The programs will be conducted in Arabic with the courses covering training across video games, film and animation production, breakthroughs in the field of science, immersive art experiences, and music and film discovery. As a first step last week the program started the training workshops for 12 Saudi trainers, under the supervision of experts from DigiPen.

Ahlam Althunayan, community engagement director at DGDA, highlighted her excitement about the program being introduced across Diriyah schools, saying: “I am delighted to bring this program to the youth of Diriyah, to help nurture them with the skills of tomorrow. We are excited to welcome the world-class programs from DigiPen for the first time to our community. This brings new opportunities for our youth community members.

“Diriyah shines because of its people, and right here in the Jewel of the Kingdom we are certain that ‘Program Your Passion’ will harness new opportunities and empower young Saudi talents with digital tools to share their rich culture and heritage with the world.”

DGDA is committed to empowering Diriyah’s youth and has been working to implement training programs like these to provide unique opportunities for the local community. Earlier this year, DGDA hosted the launch ceremony of the second Madrasti Codes (My School Codes) competition in the heart of the At-Turaif neighborhood, facing the historic Salwa Palace.

In addition, DGDA’s community engagement team also hosts a series of monthly workshops aimed at introducing community-focused initiatives to improve ease of living, and community services across Diriyah.