Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks
Children and adults alike can learn more about the science of volcanoes as they build their own volcano in a sandbox at the Artorama event in Riyadh. When the body and crater are formed, a projected flow of lava arises from the vent. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 03 October 2022

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks
  • State-of-the-art installations are offering visitors a unique immersive experience

RIYADH: Creative artworks and state-of-the-art installations by Saudi artists at Artorama are offering visitors a unique immersive experience.

Artorama, Nowaar Entertainment’s latest event, will run until Oct. 21 in Riyadh’s Laysen Valley. 

The first zone features distinctive designs from five Saudi artists. The visitor must physically touch the designs to view the artworks in their full, colorful glory.

 

“Eternal Light” by Ameera Sheikh was originally executed as the cover for the yet-to-be-published novel by Sara Al-Hussain. It tells the story of a young girl who sets off on a journey to uncover a mysterious power as she faces unknown evils ahead. 

“I wanted to show the magical and mysterious environment but with an ominous and an unsettling feeling that makes you feel a little anxious as you are drawn into the piece, just like our heroine,” Sheikh told Arab News. 

The artist was told in the past to leave Saudi Arabia in pursuit of job opportunities abroad, but she saw the great potential for a better future at the time, which has now proven to be the case for aspiring artists. 

“I feel very grateful for being patient. We had a little community of artists here where we helped each other improve by hosting small galleries and gatherings to keep it active and help it grow,” she said. “Now our community has a very powerful impact both globally and locally, and this has been strengthened by the current growing embrace of art and artists in the country.” 




‘Eternal Light’ by Ameera Sheikh tells the story of a young girl who sets off on a journey to uncover a mysterious power as she faces unknown evils ahead. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

In illustrator Ethar Balkhair’s piece, the visitor’s touch brings two figures to life in an explosion of color, highlighting the cultural and social aspects of Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historical area. “Jeddah is all about color. I really wanted to reflect the spirit of Al-Balad in this art. At the same time, I wanted to tell the story of Hijazi people,” she told Arab News.

Balkhair was born into a family with a passion for art; one of their household activities was to sit down and draw together. Her collaboration with Artorama was the first opportunity for her to showcase her illustrations in a local setting, but her work has reached far beyond Riyadh, with big names such as Vogue and Bobbi Brown featuring her art.

“Recently, with the initiatives from the Ministry of Culture and others, people have a chance to release the art that’s inside of them. Now, everyone has a space. In Saudi Arabia, the art scene is only growing,” Balkhair said. 




The event allows visitors to indulge in their senses and experience art in immersive and innovative ways. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“Artwork doesn’t just have to center around beauty. There’s a story behind it. Now, they’re shedding light on the artist behind the art, and that supports us even more, makes us more confident, and allows us to explore more without fear,” she said. 

Mahmoud Zaini’s “Human Sustainability” takes a deep dive into the ethics and future of modern technology. The eccentric piece, drawn in 2017, raises awareness of the tech industry’s impact on humanity. “I was extremely disgusted by our trajectory as a race. Eventually, technology will turn us into cogs in its machine. I decided, therefore, to illustrate that concept with this contraption that recycles everything coming in and out of this ‘consumer’ to grant him a more sustainable existence,” Zaini told Arab News. 

HIGHLIGHTS

• The first zone features distinctive designs from five Saudi artists. The visitor must physically touch the designs to view the artworks in their full, colorful glory. Zone 1 also has an infinity room and a photo booth station, where visitors can engage with dynamic backgrounds.

• Zone 2 features a variety of attractions including a ball pit with interactive games, a projection drawing station, 3D printing, immersive swings and a volcano sandbox, where both children and adults can learn more about the science of volcanoes.

• Anamorphic projection mapping technologies in Zone 3 utilize high-power projectors to give visitors the illusion of seeing the building’s interior while standing outside of it.

The artist expressed his delight with the General Entertainment Authority’s interest in highlighting the topic. “I am extremely happy with the trajectory we’re headed in as citizens of the Kingdom, where art pieces are appreciated and dialogue around them is fostered. What an incredible time to be in as a Saudi artist interested in big questions,” he said. 

Zone 1 also has an infinity room and a photo booth station, where visitors can engage with dynamic backgrounds. Exhibition-goers can color and design their own race car, which is then scanned and projected as if racing through the streets of Riyadh. 

Zone 2 features a variety of attractions including a ball pit with interactive games, a projection drawing station, 3D printing, immersive swings and a volcano sandbox, where both children and adults can learn more about the science of volcanoes as they build their own. Anamorphic projection mapping technologies in Zone 3 utilize high-power projectors to give visitors the illusion of seeing the building’s interior while standing outside of it. 




The event allows visitors to indulge in their senses and experience art in immersive and innovative ways. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“This event releases the inner kid inside of us. We all like to play, we all like to experiment, and this is a good place to test that out,” Khalid Sonbol, one of the project managers at Nowaar Entertainment, told Arab News.

Artorama was one of the winning pitches under the General Entertainment Authority’s “Ideas for Entertainment” initiative in 2021, which aimed to empower 20 Saudi projects centering around entertainment activities and preserving Saudi heritage for future generations. Nowaar Entertainment seeks to amplify Saudi voices, showcasing exclusive works by Saudi artists and creators around the Kingdom — even in their product gift shop. “We’re interested in showing what we have in the Kingdom,” Sonbol said. “We believe entertainment is necessary. Most people used to travel to have an actual entertaining experience. They would go to museums, parks. Now, we don’t need that. We have that here,” he said.


Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects

Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects
Updated 16 sec ago

Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects

Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects
  • King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center in Madinah boasts range of services with focus on oncology, ophthalmology, obstetrics

RIYADH: King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center’s Al-Madinah Mega Project has been named by the Project Management Institute as one of the world’s best three schemes in the Large and Mega category.

The award recognizes projects with a budget of more than $50 million that seek to encourage superior management practices and organizational results while also having a positive impact on society.

The PMI chapter in Saudi Arabia named it as its Social Project of the Year.

The hospital and research center utilizes cutting-edge medical technology and offers a full range of services with a focus on oncology, ophthalmology, and obstetrics.

The complex spans some 331,000 sq. meters, and has a 300-bed capacity.

 


Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative
Updated 07 December 2022

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative
  • Officials from the embassy and NCVC gathered for a jointly organized tree-planting event on Dec. 3 in the Saad National Park
  • The event was also intended to mark International Volunteer Day

RIYADH: As part of the Philippines Embassy’s initiative to celebrate the 53rd diplomatic anniversary with Saudi Arabia, the embassy recently took part in the “Let’s Make it Green” afforestation initiative being implemented by the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification across the Kingdom.
Officials from the embassy and NCVC gathered for a jointly organized tree-planting event on Dec. 3 in the Saad National Park, 100 km east of Riyadh.
The event was also intended to mark International Volunteer Day, which takes place annually on Dec. 5. This year’s theme is “Solidarity through volunteering.” According to the website of the UN Volunteers program, which coordinates IVD, the campaign “highlights the power of our collective humanity to drive positive change through volunteerism.”
Rommel Romato, charge d’affaires at the embassy, said: “The Filipino’s sense of volunteerism and commitment to environmental sustainability transcend our borders. Our dynamic Filipino community in Saudi Arabia fully supports the Saudi Green Initiative programs by undertaking clean-up drives and tree planting activities, among others.”
Amal Al-Daej, international relations and strategic partnership adviser of the NCVC, said: “The government of Saudi Arabia has decided to overcome environmental and ecological limitations through different initiatives. The most prominent among them is the Saudi Green Initiative which was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021. It aims to plant 450 million trees by 2030 — with a long-term target of 10 billion trees.
“This initiative foresees that afforestation and land-restoration measures will increase the Kingdom’s forestry sink to over 200 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. Besides that, it is envisaged that the protected areas shall be increased to 30 percent of the total land area of Saudi Arabia by 2030.
Similar climate initiatives are also planned under the Middle East Green Initiative at the regional level, Al-Daej added.
She said: “Obviously it is difficult to draw comparisons between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia regarding the management of natural resources since it is a tropical country. Almost 90 percent of the total 25 percent forest cover of the Philippines is planted. We may learn from the plantation activities in mangrove forests in the Philippines, and also about nursery techniques for raising tree seedlings.
“The measures being taken by the Philippines to control the sharp rate of decline in forest cover over the past few decades would also be useful for us. Similarly, knowledge sharing may also be possible in regard to the management of protected areas.
“We very much appreciate the efforts being made by the volunteers from the Philippines. Indeed, the message to improve green cover through this event will help to encourage others to join in our efforts for greening Saudi Arabia,” Al-Daej added.


Legendary French animator Michel Ocelot talks inspiration, creativity and fame

Legendary French animator Michel Ocelot talks inspiration, creativity and fame
Updated 07 December 2022

Legendary French animator Michel Ocelot talks inspiration, creativity and fame

Legendary French animator Michel Ocelot talks inspiration, creativity and fame
  • Childhood in ‘beautiful’ Kenya shaped his vision
  • Key to artistry is facing fear, he says at Red Sea festival

JEDDAH: Legendary French animator Michel Ocelot says the key to becoming an accomplished artist is to continue to face one’s fears of failing and never giving up.
Ocelot, 79, offered this advice to fellow creatives on the sidelines of the Red Sea International Film Festival currently underway. He was speaking during one of the “In Conversation” sessions at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah on Dec. 6.
The Frenchman is a writer, designer, storyboard artist, and director of an array of acclaimed animated feature films. He is mostly recognized for “Kirikou et la Sorciere” released in 1998 which means “Kirikou and the Witch,” and also his remarkable animation “Azur and Asmar: The Princes’ Quest” released in 2006.
“Kirikou et la Sorciere” marked the rebirth of French animation in the cinema and it was a striking start to the passionate Ocelot’s artistic career. “I know what I want, I’m doing it and I love it,” he said.
The artwork for “Kirikou et la Sorciere” was completely handmade and drawn. After struggling “hard” as an artist he suddenly found international success.
He said he had produced the work with “not much money” and without the backing or support of a company or a board of directors. He had succeeded in creating a compelling fictional world from very few resources.
Ocelot’s brilliant work is an inspiration for generations of experts and emerging animation artists. “Kids who were kids at the time (and are) now adults … come to me and thank me. And sometimes they cry. So, I’m lucky.”
Despite his success, Ocelot’s start was challenging. “It was hard to find my way because when I started animation didn’t really exist.” He said there were no schools, and he did not have resources to pay for cameras or editing. “So, I lost quite some time. I learned by myself.”
“I think I started at the year of 1 or 2, I took a pencil and I drew and I never stopped. And then I was a happy child and I was always active. And I think I prepared myself for my job from my infancy. And I would draw in paint and cut (it out) and get into a disguise and decorate the house for the festivals, and make a little gift with a nice package. And that’s my vision today.”
His artistic sensibility was influenced by his formative years growing up in Kenya where he was inspired by the country’s “beautiful and benevolent people.”
“I remember the beauty of the people and the dresses of (the) women on festival days … True elegance, happy elegance, and the details within which made my infancy in the world of animation special.”
Ocelot eventually became president of the International Animated Film Association, a position which allowed him to showcase his understanding and affinity to different cultures, and to reflect his passion for Africa.
“So that’s always been a great part of my life. Being aware of different worlds and being at ease with them and being at ease with such different parts of the world. I can put myself in the place of other people easily, and I know the relatability of things.”
Ocelot said artists must overcome their fears and try to be as original as possible. “Give everything you have. Try not to listen to bad advice. Sometimes you get good advice, but it’s better not to follow them. Don’t be afraid to start.”
His new animated feature film that was released earlier this year, “The Black Pharaoh, the Savage and the Princess,” was screened for the audience after the session.


Chinese President Xi arrives in Saudi Arabia on official visit

Chinese President Xi arrives in Saudi Arabia on official visit
Updated 07 December 2022

Chinese President Xi arrives in Saudi Arabia on official visit

Chinese President Xi arrives in Saudi Arabia on official visit
  • Xi was invited by King Salman to attend a Saudi-Chinese summit in the Kingdom
  • Xi’s visit reflects the leaders’ desire to strengthen bilateral relations

RIYADH: China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday as part of a three-day visit to the Kingdom. 
Xi was invited by King Salman to attend a Saudi-Chinese summit in the Kingdom, which will run until Dec. 9, state agency SPA reported. 
The summit, headed by King Salman, will also see the participation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 
Xi is set to attend two more conferences, the Riyadh Gulf-China Summit for Cooperation and Development and the Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development during his visit. 
All three summits will focus on ways to enhance joint relations in all fields and economic cooperation.
Leaders from GCC and Arab countries will also participate in the events held in Saudi Arabia. 
Xi’s visit reflects the leaders’ desire to strengthen bilateral relations, enhance strategic partnerships and highlight potential political and economic cooperation to serve common interests, SPA added.


Volunteers at Grand Mosque in Makkah serve 30 million worshippers

Volunteers at Grand Mosque in Makkah serve 30 million worshippers
Updated 07 December 2022

Volunteers at Grand Mosque in Makkah serve 30 million worshippers

Volunteers at Grand Mosque in Makkah serve 30 million worshippers
  • In the Prophet’s Mosque, 7,000 volunteers served pilgrims over the past eight months

RIYADH: About 30 million worshippers have benefitted from volunteering services offered at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

According to figures released by Saudi Arabia’s Social, Volunteering and Humanitarian Department, volunteers from 35 entities across 17 fields exerted a total of 1.2 million hours in serving around 30 million worshippers from August last year until the first quarter of this year.

Volunteer services included serving breakfast to 5.9 million worshippers, providing 366,500 umbrellas, and distributing 2.3 million Zamzam water bottles.

In the Prophet’s Mosque in Al Madina, 7,000 volunteers served pilgrims over the past eight months, reported SPA.

The 350,000 volunteering hours covered helping elderly pilgrims and people with disabilities, organizing pedestrian flow, providing specialized first aid and offering guidance on locations in several languages.