Saudi Arabia’s Ithra hosts ‘Amakin’ art exhibit, straight from Jeddah

The event seeks to establish Jeddah as the main destination in the Kingdom’s contemporary art scene. (Supplied)
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The event seeks to establish Jeddah as the main destination in the Kingdom’s contemporary art scene. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabia’s Ithra hosts ‘Amakin’ art exhibit, straight from Jeddah
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Updated 06 July 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra hosts ‘Amakin’ art exhibit, straight from Jeddah

The event seeks to establish Jeddah as the main destination in the Kingdom’s contemporary art scene. (Supplied)
  • Three-month exhibit was launched on June 30 and invites audiences to explore artists’ relationships with place
  • ‘Amakin’ displays works from 27 artists previously featured in Jeddah

DHAHRAN: A popular Arabic song by a legendary Saudi singer inadvertently became the inspiration for an entire art exhibition that debuted last year in Jeddah. For the first time, that exhibit is now housed in Dhahran, where original works of art serve as personalized portals of nostalgia that allow viewers to take a trip down memory lane to real or imagined destinations. The works will be displayed at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, for three months, where the exhibit opened on June 30.

FASTFACT

The exhibit was curated by world-renowned expert in Islamic and contemporary Middle Eastern art Venetia Porter and was originally displayed at SAC in Jeddah from March 3 to June 3, 2022. This is the first time it is shown outside of its hometown.

The exhibit wrestles with the simple yet profound question: “What does the notion of place mean to you?” During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of one’s “makan,” or “place,” became a contemplative space for some and a refuge for others. Some escaped to a place created by their imagination, and others used their physical surroundings to build up their idea of a place.




Curator Venetia Porter

In a special treat for Shargiyya residents in eastern Saudi Arabia, the works of 27 artists previously displayed in Jeddah, in addition to the work by local artist Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, were displayed locally. The exhibit was created for the ninth edition of 21,39 by the Saudi Art Council, which was founded in 2013 by a group of local art patrons and led by Princess Jawaher bint Majed bin Abdulaziz.

21,39 Jeddah Arts is a non-profit initiative organized by SAC. Using the geographic coordinates of the city of Jeddah (21.5433°N, 39.1728°E), it seeks to establish Jeddah as the main destination in the Kingdom’s contemporary art scene. The 28th artist, Shargiyya artist and author Al-Soliman, was added by Ithra for this iteration to pay homage to a local pioneer in the Saudi art scene.




Obadah AlJefri’s piece

The exhibit was curated by world-renowned expert in Islamic and contemporary Middle Eastern art Venetia Porter and was originally displayed at SAC in Jeddah from March 3 to June 3, 2022. This is the first time it is shown outside of its hometown.

“The exhibition ‘Amakin’ is inspired by the song ‘All the places long for you,’ by Mohammed Abdu, whom everybody knows. The exhibition started in Jeddah — this was an exhibition that included 27 artists — and each artist tells us, through the work they create about a place that means something to them, whether it’s a physical place or a place in the imagination,” curator Porter told Arab News.

“I am very happy to be talking to you today about our very special exhibition hosted in Gallery One called ‘Amakin’ in collaboration with SAC. ‘Amakin’ means ‘spaces,’ which is very fitting for where we are right now. Ithra is a very unique space within itself and for what it provides,” head of Ithra Museum Farah Abushullaih told Arab News.




Badr Ali’s sketches

The exhibition feels almost like a collage of emotional homes, where emerging Saudi and international artists display their interpretation of a “makan” next to the works of pioneer artists, representing various generations and styles. The works range from photographs to mixed media.

One such artist is Jeddah-born Obadah Al-Jefri, who brought pages from his sketchbook to life, creating a dialogue with his past and current selves, with each giant page representing a different version of his perspective.

“My artwork examines my relationship with a sketchbook and how I found different parts of my identity within the pages of my sketchbook. The work itself feels like a collaborative effort between my present and younger self, and I explore those themes and honor my younger self for pushing me forward to become an artist and to pursue art professionally,” he said.

Badr Ali, another artist, began with paper and shifted to a different medium, employing printmaking techniques to transfer his ideas to silkscreen and using the markings of the five places he frequents, either physically or emotionally.

His family comes from Jeddah, a place that greatly inspired him, but he also grew up in London, worked in Paris and currently lives in Berlin. His fascination with Florence also prompted him to explore those destinations and create a new visual experience. He created drawings for each of these locations and combined them to create new locations.

“My work is based on drawings I made in cities that I live in or have lived in and have a personal connection to. I created a whole series of drawings in each of these places, around 100. In each one, I register memories, feelings, thoughts, and sensations. I chose the method of silkscreen printing as a way to create or combine elements in each of these locations,” he told Arab News.

The 19 artists from Saudi Arabia are: Abdullah Al-Othman, Abdulhalim Radwi, legendary artist Safeya Binzagr, Reem Al-Faisal, Bashaer Hawsawi, Emy Kat, Mohammed Hammad, Obadah Al-Jefri, Sara Abdu, Badr Ali, Asma Bahmim, Hussein Al-Mohasen, Muhannad Shono, Lujain Faqerah and Shadia Alem.

The Shargiyya artists are: Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, Talib Al-Marri, Bader Awwad Al-Balawi and Manal Al-Dowayan.

The remaining nine non-Saudi artists are: Taysir Batniji and Sadik Kwaish Al-Fraji from Palestine; Aisha Khalid and Imran Qureshi from Pakistan; Dia Al-Azzawi, Ghassan Ghaib and Nazar Yahya from Iraq; Ali Cherri from Lebanon and Catalina Swinburn from Chile.

 


Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  
Updated 12 sec ago

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

RIYADH: Mansour Al-Mushaiti, deputy minister of environment, water and agriculture, stressed the importance of developing geospatial infrastructure during a meeting organized by the ministry at its headquarters in Riyadh on Tuesday. 

Al-Mushaiti commended the ministry’s work on geospatial infrastructure and remote sensing over the past years and emphasized the need to develop leadership in this area. 

Bandar Al-Muslmani, general supervisor of the geospatial information and remote sensing department at the ministry, spoke about the significance of developing training programs in the field in order to bolster digital sectors through geospatial data, applications and spatial analytics.

Such training programs would lead to increased efficiency, improved services and location-based decisions.

According to the Unified National Platform, the availability of geospatial information is required to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.  


Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  
Updated 1 min 17 sec ago

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

RIYADH: Mansour Al-Mushaiti, deputy minister of environment, water and agriculture, stressed the importance of developing geospatial infrastructure during a meeting organized by the ministry at its headquarters in Riyadh on Tuesday. 

Al-Mushaiti commended the ministry’s work on geospatial infrastructure and remote sensing over the past years and emphasized the need to develop leadership in this area. 

Bandar Al-Muslmani, general supervisor of the geospatial information and remote sensing department at the ministry, spoke about the significance of developing training programs in the field in order to bolster digital sectors through geospatial data, applications and spatial analytics.

Such training programs would lead to increased efficiency, improved services and location-based decisions.

According to the Unified National Platform, the availability of geospatial information is required to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.  


Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman on Thursday congratulated Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council and the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen for signing a contract to operate Aden General Hospital for three years.

SDRPY on Wednesday signed the contract to operate and manage the hospital in the de facto capital and serve 438,000 patients a year, at a cost of more than SR330 million ($87.9 million)

“In continuation of the Kingdom’s efforts to provide support to the Yemeni people in the humanitarian, relief and economic aspects, we congratulate the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen and SDRPY for signing a contract to operate Aden General Hospital for a period of three years, with a value exceeding SR330 million, to provide health care to the brotherly Yemeni people,” Prince Khalid said in a tweet.

Operations at the hospital will begin within 90 days of completing of staff preparations, taking delivery of medicines and medical equipment, and testing health care devices.

The hospital will operate at 50 percent capacity during its first year of responding to the urgent needs of the people of Aden and neighboring governorates, increasing to full capacity by year two.


Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
Updated 18 August 2022

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
  • Officials discussed issues of interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world

RIYADH: The president of Uzbekistan met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation during an official trip to the Kingdom on Thursday.

During the meeting, Shavkat Mirziyoyev praised Hissein Brahim Taha for leading the OIC’s efforts to promote joint Islamic action and consolidate the spirit of Islamic solidarity.

The president stressed that the organization receives special attention from his country’s government which is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with the OIC.

Taha expressed his appreciation for Uzbekistan’s role in the OIC and its efforts to support the activities of the organization and promote joint Islamic action through various initiatives.

He stressed the OIC’s keenness to enhance cooperation with Uzbekistan in all areas of common interest.

The two officials also discussed issues of common interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world and taking care of the interests of the organization and its member states.


Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
  • Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself
  • Managing partner Mama’s Alchemy Dina Horanieh: We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause

RIYADH: Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, has always had an interest in natural skincare products, which she sourced from the US.

But after throwing a recreational “spa party” for friends a few years ago, she realized there was no need to look abroad to be ethically conscious.

Ashgar put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself. She went from giving the products away as gifts at her at-home spa to selling at local markets and events, eventually establishing her own company.

Now her cruelty-free and sustainable products can be found at major pharmacy chains, premium retailers, and spas across Saudi Arabia.

“We are impressed that most of our customers actually care about MZN being a sustainable brand. There is a remarkable awareness within our community of the benefits of buying sustainable local brands,” Ashgar told Arab News.

But this awareness was not always apparent, and is nonexistent in some communities.

A report by business consultancy Mordor Intelligence found that the major players in the Saudi beauty industry are non-cruelty-free firms, including Beiersdorf AG (parent company to brands such as Nivea and Labello) and Estee Lauder.

When a brand is not cruelty free, the company either conducts individual testing on animals itself, through their supplier, or through a third party.

Ranked top in the huge global market is Procter & Gamble, which holds brands such as Herbal Essences, Pantene, Olay and SK-II. The consumer giant recently announced its commitment to #BeCrueltyFree throughout its 19 companies, highlighting moves by the industry to become more sustainable.

Coming in third is Avon, a brand that is completely cruelty free. While Estee Lauder is not, some of the brands in its portfolio, including Smashbox and Too Faced, both popular with Saudi consumers, have cruelty-free certification by the US-based animal rights group PETA.

The issue becomes complicated because some brands cannot fully develop a cruelty-free approach because they sell products in countries that require animal testing by law, such as China. Pulling their supply from such countries would result in a huge revenue loss.

However, Saudi Arabia does not insist on animal testing for skincare and beauty products. This creates an easy market for local sustainable and vegan cosmetics to step up and answer the demand for those items.

Saudi environmentalist Zahra Alqatari told Arab News that there is only limited awareness of sustainability as an issue in the Kingdom.

“That makes demand for cruelty-free and sustainable beauty products low. As a result, the beauty industry continues to produce products that harm us, animals and the environment.” 

However, this is changing as local brands, such as MZN Bodycare, champion natural, vegan and cruelty-free products for the everyday consumer.

The brand, established in 2015, believes in using local plants to create environmentally friendly products.

“Our region is full of plantations that have amazing benefits like the moringa, olive oils, rose and lavender essential oils, and date seed powder and oils. We found through published research that those oils are very high in antioxidants and vitamins which are beneficial to the skin,” Ashgar told Arab News.

The company has seen a growing interest among Saudis in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly living habits.

“We actually had some customers ask for a ‘return packaging’ program from us, where we take back the used packaging and refill it for them. Some call us to verify the source of our raw materials and that we are actually a cruelty-free brand,” said Ashgar.

Another cruelty-free brand, Mama’s Alchemy, is based on veganism as a core value and motivator.

“We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause. We believe veganism plays a vital role in keeping our planet clean and reducing waste,” Dina Horanieh, the firm’s managing partner, told Arab News.

The brand founders went on the hunt for vegan body products for their personal use, but were unable to find any — so they made their own. Mama’s Alchemy caters not only to vegan consumers, but also anyone looking for clean and sustainable body products.

 “The response (from the Saudi public) has been heartwarming. We hope to see more local suppliers offering sustainable options. We are continuously working to offer more vegan and sustainable products,” said Horanieh.