How diverse music traditions have influenced Saudi Arabia’s identity and culture

How diverse music traditions have influenced Saudi Arabia’s identity and culture
“Talal Maddah, a pioneer in Saudi music known as The Earth’s Voice, was the first to sing Al-Mkblahah, or long songs,” said Saudi poet Abdullah Thabit. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 September 2022

How diverse music traditions have influenced Saudi Arabia’s identity and culture

How diverse music traditions have influenced Saudi Arabia’s identity and culture
  • Travelers carried folk traditions across the Arabian Peninsula, blending cultures and influences 
  • Today, the Kingdom embraces a diversity of world music, while never losing sight of its heritage

JEDDAH: Folk music traditions in Saudi Arabia are diverse and complex, combining distinctive tones, rhythms and melodies with poetry, percussion, and dances that have been passed down through generations.

Over the centuries, poets and musicians have traversed the Arabian Peninsula and the wider Middle East, exchanging and combining modes of expression through song, music and dance.

The contemporary soundscape echoes these ancient traditions, expressed through popular rhythms and songs that emerged from classic literature, epics, and heroic poems, mirroring the history, values, norms, and consciousness of society.

Since pre-Islamic times, singers and reciters have helped spread poems among tribes. This practice found its way to the courts of the caliphs, where celebrated singers set poems to melodies and performed for private audiences.




Another layer of percussive sound in Saudi music is clapping and dance, the latter of which falls into two categories. The first encompasses steps in unison, such as the dance of “al-dahha” in the north, and “al-khatwa” in the southwest. (SPA)

With time, the courts disappeared, but the practice remained.

Nearly all melodies from the region fall within the esthetic principles of the centuries-old maqam system, a hallmark of Middle Eastern music. It describes a series of modes or scales and a way of improvising and forming melodies within those modes.

Maqam scales usually have seven notes that repeat at the octave, while a few extend beyond eight notes. Though there is no harmony, harmonic intervals can sometimes be heard for a moment or two in passing.

While visiting the Hijaz in 1814, Swiss orientalist Johann Ludwig Burckhardt documented the region’s distinctive musical notation in his book, “Travels in Arabia,” where he described performances by women separated into two choirs, each featuring six, eight or 10 individuals. One group would begin singing and chanting, while the other repeated after them.

In the Hijaz, there is rich musical culture based on song traditions that have more complex melodies than elsewhere in the Kingdom, expressed using instruments such as the oud, qanun, nay (the flute), and more recently, the violin.

For centuries cities like Makkah and Madinah had a musical life that rivaled or even surpassed those of neighboring Arab cities, such as Baghdad and Cairo, where music at royal courts was plentiful.

The migratory lifestyle of the Bedouin discourages excess baggage, including musical instruments, so these communities tended to stick to simple rhythms, with the beat counted by clapping or striking together everyday implements that formed the basis of the music.




King Salman partaking in the “ardah,” an old war dance. (SPA)

Drums were and still are considered an orchestra in themselves, as most Saudi and Gulf folk music uses shallow frame drums held in the left hand and struck with the right in a unique multi-toned rhythm.

Another layer of percussive sound in Saudi music is clapping and dance, the latter of which falls into two categories. The first encompasses steps in unison, such as the dance of “al-dahha” in the north, and “al-khatwa” in the southwest.

The second is a freestyle dance, often performed solo or in pairs, by dancers twirling colorful bisht (cloaks), such as the “majroor” in Taif and the “yanbaawi” and “mezmar” in the western region.

Blending elegiac poetry with singing, drumming, and slow, majestic movements, the “ardah,” an old war dance that later became one of peace and celebration, is now an iconic part of traditional Saudi Arabian culture. 

The poems sung are patriotic, and their dignified, masculine, and proud movements tell a historical tale of bravery, resilience and continuity.

Over in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, folk arts are derived from the region’s rich traditions of pearl diving, seafaring, oasis agriculture, and long-distance trade. There are date-harvest songs in Al-Ahsa, and shepherding songs from the southwest and other regions.




Tarouf Abdel-Kheir Adam, popularly known as Etab. (Supplied)

These traditions did not appear in complete isolation, however. Trade caravans, pilgrimages, and the search for new pastures carried traditions across great distances, blending cultures and spreading influences.

“If you look at the map of Saudi Arabia, you will find that it is surrounded on all sides by different musical and lyrical (traditions in) countries,” Abdullah Thabit, a Saudi poet and writer, told Arab News.

“You have Yemen from the south, Iraq and the Levant, Turkey from the north, Gulf countries from the east, and Egypt and Sudan from the west. Regions were influenced by their surrounding regions over centuries.”

It is therefore not immediately clear to the untrained ear what constitutes a definitively Saudi Arabian musical style, distinct from its neighbors, but common across the Kingdom’s provincial boundaries.

Thabit says the modern musical style that can be described as distinctly Saudi Arabian was developed by Tariq Abdel-Hakim, commander-in-chief of the Kingdom’s Army Orchestra in the Saudi Army Band, and the maestro who composed the Saudi national anthem.




In the Hijaz, there is rich musical culture based on song traditions that have more complex melodies than elsewhere in the Kingdom. (SPA)

The contributions of Abdel-Hakim, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, were considered a turning point for music in the Kingdom, as he transferred Saudi music from the aural melody to written musical notation on sound scientific foundations.

“It was his student, Omar Kadras, who tried to mesh between the rhythm and sounds of folklore, giving birth to a new sound in Saudi music,” said Thabit.

“Talal Maddah, a pioneer in Saudi music known as The Earth’s Voice, was the first to sing Al-Mkblahah, or long songs. Mohammed Abdo then contributed to popularizing the new form of music, but you will find that before this new and matured form of music, it was greats such as Hisham Al-Abdali, Hasan Jawah, Abdulrahman Muezzin Platin, who was also a muezzin at the mosque, and more who made it popular.”

In the second half of the last century, the artistic movement expanded and witnessed the emergence of several composers, such as Siraj Omar, Kadars, and many singers, led by Maddah, Muhammad and Abu Bakr Salem, then Abdul Majeed Abdullah, Abadi Al-Jawhar, Rabeh Saqr, Rashid Al-Majed and others.

“Women’s voices also appeared with them, although they are unfortunately very limited, such as Ibtisam Lutfi, Etab, Sarah Qazzaz, and Toha, who were closer to popular singing,” said Thabit.

Today, Saudi music encompasses everything from jazz, hip-hop and rap to techno and rock ’n roll, with many of these genres incorporating aspects of folklore traditions, such as Majed Al-Eisa’s songs “Lifestyle Samry,” “Lehe” and “Hawages.”




It is not immediately clear to the untrained ear what constitutes a definitively Saudi Arabian musical style, distinct from its neighbors, but common across the Kingdom’s provincial boundaries. (SPA)

While these traditions are colorful and lively, Saudi youth are also drawn to foreign music genres. Jara, one of Saudi Arabia’s youngest big-name performing artists, made waves when her rap single “966” was released in 2020, while hip-hop artist Qusai continues to make his mark a decade after his first release.

“Using sounds from the region is simply a way to celebrate my heritage which feeds into the concept of exporting our beautiful culture,” Saud Al-Turki, a Khobar-based record producer, told Arab News.

“As a producer, I never wanted to feel restricted in regards to the sounds that I could tap into. In my opinion, connecting with a global audience is more impactful. The beautiful thing about Saudi sounds is that you can hear the inspiration from different parts of the region depending (on) where you are geographically.”

Before the Kingdom began opening up in 2016 and started to promote creative industries and youth participation, Al-Turki says experimenting with musical styles was not commonplace.

“Back then, there was no support from government entities and big corporations. On the contrary, they did not receive the same acceptance, respect and support that current artists are receiving,” he said.

Today, Saudi Arabia is embracing the diversity of world music and evolving tastes, while never losing sight of its heritage.

“We should never forget where we come from,” said Al-Turki. “Saudi Arabia is historically diverse and there’s nothing more beautiful than a diverse culture. We have different sounds in every region that deserve to be appreciated and showcased.

“It is our duty to highlight and pay homage.”


Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4

Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4
Updated 29 November 2022

Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4

Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4
  • DGDA Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo told Arab News: “Three hundred years ago, the birthplace of the Kingdom was At-Turaif

RIYADH: Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb inaugurated the UNESCO World Heritage sites At-Turaif and the Bujairi Terrace in Diriyah on Monday.

The DGDA held a special gala dinner 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.

HIGHLIGHT

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.

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.


Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable

Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable
Updated 28 November 2022

Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable

Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable
  • Raneem Shaban, 27, aims to encourage change in the Kingdom’s fashion industry through creations that transform used clothing into something new
  • ‘I was worried people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed,’ she said.

JEDDAH: A recent trend in global fashion has been an attempt to make the industry more environmentally friendly and sustainable. As a result, some designers have been inspired to create ready-to-wear clothing from recycled materials.

One of them is Saudi fashion designer Raneem Shaban from Jeddah. The 27-year-old launched her own custom-clothing label R*3 in 2021 with the aim of reducing “fashion waste” in the Kingdom’s fashion industry through upcycled and reconstructed creations that transform used or vintage clothing into something new.

“At first, I was worried that people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something that has been created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed and people are more adaptable,” she said.

Shaban, who graduated from Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, said she developed a fascination with creating clothes in early childhood.

“From a very young age, I had a passion to design clothes from the used materials that I found in my basement and one of my biggest joys was going through my mother’s wardrobe, which influenced me immensely toward a classic sense of style,” she said.

Shaban’s bold and daring designs are designed to be unique, challenging for the masses, and attention grabbing.

“As a designer, I believe it’s very essential to get out of your comfort zone and make a statement, for which I worked hard to reach out to people and make them understand the fashion-forward trend,” she said.

I was worried people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed.

Raneem Shaban, Saudi fashion designer

Shaban has been involved in a number of projects, including collaborations on runway styling projects and editorial fashion shoots with Harpers Bazaar Arabia and Vogue Fashion Experience by Rubaiyat, and styling Nasibah Hafiz’s spring/summer 2022 collection, powered by La Macarena, among others.

She also participated in Fashion Star Arabia, a fashion-design competitive reality series broadcast on Dubai One. She recently showcased her collection at the Light Exhibition in Riyadh alongside other young, fashion designers.

“A fashion designer has the possibility to influence people and the way they dress; it’s a big responsibility to take the role seriously and be driven,” Shaban said.

“My work journey has been very rewarding. I have had the opportunity to meet distinguished fashion personalities and clients that acknowledged and appreciated my ready-to-wear collection. It feels great when people relate to my collection on a deeper and personal level.”

As part of her design process, Shaban creates fashion “mood boards” from images in old magazines that help to inspire her to create interesting new looks and styling options.

“I didn’t aim to adopt a sustainable approach because it’s ‘on-trend,’” she said. “Instead, I always had a passion for creating styles using recycled fabric or materials and converting it into a brand new, wearable outfit.”

In her role as a sustainable fashion designer, Shaban said she strives to always be mindful of the resources her label consumes and wastes, while at the same time ensuring her designs meet the demands of the marketplace. Feedback from her customers also helps her understand the needs of the market on a range of issues, including the materials and textures of fabric people prefer.

Shaban said she continually learns new things and tries to further explore sustainable materials and fashion trends. She plans to launch a line of accessories alongside her custom-made clothing in the near future.

“It’s important for me to be consistent in designing new collections from used fabrics, while making sure it matches the current fashion trends,” she explained. “The market in Saudi Arabia has changed dramatically and people are more open to bold and narrative style.

“It’s a lot to manage but when you aim to build a unique concept fashion style and receive encouragement for the work. It really makes you feel alive.

“The response to my custom-made designs has always been positive. It pumps the energy and pushes me to work hard and ignore the demands and challenges.”

Shaban said she finds it interesting that people who wear her brand are so aware of the benefits of eco-friendly fashion, and so she considers it her responsibility to help initiate a shift toward a more sustainable industry in the region.

“Under Saudi Vision 2030, I aim to bring more awareness and longevity toward sustainable fashion in the Saudi Arabia marketplace,” she added.

Asked what advice she could offer to aspiring young designers, she said she would encourage them to take time to figure out what it is that they really love and are good at, follow their passion, take risks and enjoy the challenges along the way.

 


UN food body backs Saudi green climate, energy commitments

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa
Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa
Updated 29 November 2022

UN food body backs Saudi green climate, energy commitments

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa
  • FAO signs pact to boost dates industry by 2027
  • Aid efforts strengthened with KSrelief globally

RIYADH: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has lauded the Kingdom for its its climate change commitments such as the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, environment protection and energy transition programs.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the FAO’s Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa Abdulhakim Elwaer said that this was the view of FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu.
Elwaer said the FAO’s director general, who had recently visited the Kingdom, had signed an agreement with the International Date Council headquartered in Riyadh to boost the industry in preparation for the International Year of the Date Palm 2027.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu met KSRelief Supervisor General Abdullah Al Rabeeah at the Center in Riyadh. (Photo/FAO)

 “The partnership between the FAO and Saudi Arabia is strong, strategic and growing since the Kingdom joined the FAO in 1948,” said Elwaer.
Elwaer said Dongyu had held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley to discuss the FAO’s technical support for the Kingdom on food security, agriculture-led rural transformation and climate change.

The partnership between the FAO and Saudi Arabia is strong, strategic and growing since the Kingdom joined the FAO in 1948.

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa

 “In November 2020, the G20 launched The Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats. Under this global initiative, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched two initiatives, the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative. The FAO has been closely engaged in the two initiatives,” said Elwaer.
“The pressures on land and water resources are pushing the productive capacity of agricultural, forestry and pastoral ecosystems to the limit, and significantly contributing to the increasing trend of acute food insecurity. The Middle East region is particularly constrained in terms of its agricultural resources.

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director-General & Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa and Abdul Rahman Al Habib, Executive Director of the International Dates Council signing MoU under the patronage of Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, Minister for Environment, Water and Agriculture in Riyadh. (Photo/FAO)

“The region is most scarce globally in terms of agricultural land (an average of 1.07 hectares per capita) and water availability (9 percent of the global average) and is the only region in the world where harvest area shrinkage is expected by 2050,” he said.
“The MGI presents an excellent opportunity to address land degradation through a holistic, landscape and cross-sectoral approach, which is crucial for food security and resilient livelihoods,” said Elwaer.
He said the FAO has vast technical expertise and strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in these areas, to provide the Kingdom with the support it needs. This is part of the UN’s 2021–2030 Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Elwaer said Dongyu also had a meeting with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah. The FAO and KSrelief are close partners, having signed a five-year collaboration agreement in 2021 to boost aid efforts globally, including in countries such as Yemen and Somalia, he added.
The two officials had also discussed the FAO’s contribution to some of KSrelief’s strategic initiatives including the Global Humanitarian Hub on the Red Sea.

 


Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World
Updated 28 November 2022

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World
  • The beauty of the Moroccan subzone comes from the country’s traditional architecture, cultural and geographical influences

RIYADH: Riyadh Season’s Boulevard World, which opened last week, brings together the cultures of 10 countries in a single location on the largest artificial lake in the world.

The Morocco subzone is one of them. Due to its location between Europe and Africa and its border with the Sahara in the south, Morocco has a lot of different cultural and geographical influences. This makes the Morocco subzone one of the best examples of physical and symbolic heritage in Riyadh Season.

The subzone shows a beautiful and fantastic image that reflects the traditions of the Moroccan people in their unique clothing, music, and food, thanks to the variety of options and elements based on a range of different colors, designs, and patterns in creating spaces.

Walking into the subzone, you will see beautiful Moroccan women wearing the traditional kaftan dress. They greet you with their Moroccan accents, and you see the decorations in a mix of different Moroccan cities. Visitors can shop for kaftan dresses and different Moroccan products and authentic food.

Riyadh Season shows how the Arab, Amazigh, African, and Mediterranean civilizations influenced each other. Many opulent facades have beautiful designs based on unusual blending and harmony.

The streets of the Morocco subzone in Boulevard World, which is the season's crown jewel, smell just like those of old Fes, Tangier, rich Oujda, and charming red Marrakech.

This makes it a delight for the soul and a civilization that dwells in the hearts of visitors in Riyadh’s winter while educating them about numerous Moroccan cities and cultures that subtly keep pace with different eras.

The beauty of the Moroccan subzone comes from the country’s traditional architecture, which has many curved entrances and round arches, as well as wool-based rugs and warm, classic velvet furniture in the rooms.

Mosaic tiles and pieces of pottery are used to decorate the walls and ceilings of Moroccan cafes and restaurants in Boulevard World.

The area has a strong cultural feel because it has a lot of high-quality sculptures, visual arts, cinema, and music. There are also a lot of fountains and sidewalks in the area.

Visitors of Boulevard World can also learn about different cultures across the world through several subzones inspired by China, Italy, France, India, Spain, America, Japan, Greece and Mexico.

For both families and individuals, Boulevard World is a premier entertainment destination, featuring a host of experiences, including rides in hot air balloons, submarines and boats.

It has the largest man-made lake in the world, where boats can travel between cities through 11 stations.
It also offers the Area 15 experience from Las Vegas; The Sphere, the biggest spherical theater in the world; a city for game fans; comic book and anime-themed activities; and plenty of family-friendly entertainment options.

Visitors can enjoy a ride in a Venetian gondola, taste American cuisine, stroll through live Hollywood shows, shop for the best Spanish products, and watch flamenco shows.

The third Riyadh Season kicked off on Oct. 21 with more than 8,500 activities. This year’s event offers people a wide range of entertainment options, combining exclusivity and modernity to promote the capital as a major incubator and popular destination for tourism. It also promotes the Saudi entertainment sector and consolidates the Kingdom’s position as a prominent regional and global entertainment destination.

The new season include 15 zones: Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland, Al-Murabaa, Sky Riyadh, Via Riyadh, Riyadh Zoo, Little Riyadh, The Groves, Imagination Park, Al-Suwaidi Park, Souq Al-Zel, Qariat Zaman, Fan Festival and Riyadh Front.

 


Who’s Who: Noha Radwan, vice president at Retaj Engineering and Consulting Co.

Noha Radwan
Noha Radwan
Updated 28 November 2022

Who’s Who: Noha Radwan, vice president at Retaj Engineering and Consulting Co.

Noha Radwan

Noha Radwan has been vice president, junior partner, and a member of the board of directors at Retaj Engineering and Consulting Co. since 2014.

During her time with the Saudi architecture firm, she has developed and implemented value-added strategies to increase product and service profitability, drawn up marketing initiatives to build brand reputation and customer engagement, and provided sales and marketing trend forecasts to improve business strategy.

From 2016 to 2019, she worked as a part-time lecturer at Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah where she was responsible for creating lesson plans and delivering lectures on architectural construction-based green design.

She was also a teaching assistant at the same university in 2015 and developed methods for increased student engagement which led to improved year-on-year exam results.

In 2014, Radwan held a position as a researcher and junior architect in London helping in the review and redesign of the flight lounge at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah, while also reviewing proposed city building designs and preparing documentation for regulatory authorities.

She had a three-month internship at London architecture firm Groupwork where she produced detailed drawings and sketches using specialist computer software apps, and prior to that was with Zuhair Fayez Partnership, another architecture company.

Radwan is a licensed architect with the Saudi Council of Engineers and an affiliate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

She gained a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Kingston University in London, and a master’s degree in project and construction management from the University of Greenwich, also in the English capital.