Noor Riyadh’s illuminating mission to light up the city with art

Ahaad Alamoudi’s work ‘Ghosts of Today and Tomorrow’ is a performative installation that considers the role of light as a natural carrier of information. It is comprised of two ancient pigeon towers, alluding to the historical use of pigeons as message bearers. (Supplied)
Ahaad Alamoudi’s work ‘Ghosts of Today and Tomorrow’ is a performative installation that considers the role of light as a natural carrier of information. It is comprised of two ancient pigeon towers, alluding to the historical use of pigeons as message bearers. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 November 2022

Noor Riyadh’s illuminating mission to light up the city with art

Noor Riyadh is the first program implemented under the auspices of Riyadh Art. (Supplied)
  • The annual festival of light and art features more than 190 works by about 130 Saudi and international artists from 40 countries

RIYADH: Visitors to Wadi Hanifa, an expansive valley in Riyadh lined with palm trees and streams of water, were greeted last weekend by a number of new, large-scale contemporary works of public art created by Saudi and international artists.

The installations are part of Noor Riyadh, an annual festival of light and art featuring more than 190 works by about 130 Saudi and international artists from 40 countries. They are on display until Nov. 19 at 40 locations in five main hubs across Riyadh.

Children played soccer in front of “One Thousand Galaxies of Light,” a work by American/Puerto Rican artist Gisela Colon, which consists of an elliptical configuration of 100 upright white light tubes, each of them is 2.5 meters tall.




Children play in front of ‘One Thousand Galaxies of Light,’ a work by American/Puerto Rican artist Gisela Colon, which consists of an elliptical configuration of 100 upright white light tubes, each of them is 2.5 meters tall. (Supplied)

Colon, who also participated in the first edition of Desert X AlUla in 2020, said she drew on physics, cosmology and biology for this work, which imagines a forest of mythical horizons metaphorically pointing toward a vibrant future, in line with the theme of Noor Riyadh this year: “We Dream of New Horizons.”

At a nearby major thoroughfare, passersby can see Riyadh-based choreographer, dancer and artist Sarah Brahim’s installation, “De Anima,” featuring images projected on the underside of a bridge in the Wadi Hanifa wetlands.

“In this work I was inspired by the way that light permeates through the body and back out again in various ways,” Brahim told Arab News.




Ahaad Alamoudi’s work ‘Ghosts of Today and Tomorrow’ is a performative installation that considers the role of light as a natural carrier of information. It is comprised of two ancient pigeon towers, alluding to the historical use of pigeons as message bearers. (Supplied)

“The work is re-theorizing Aristotle’s text ‘De Anima’ and is looking at five different souls during five different times of the day, about how light animates the soul and the essence of life. Each person represents a physical and metaphorical type of light.”

Brahim also emphasizes the use of time in her piece. Visitors to the installation are offered headphones through which they can listen to a soundtrack as they view the images.

Another work on display at Wadi Hanifah is Saudi multimedia artist Ahaad Alamoudi’s “Ghosts of Today and Tomorrow,” a performative installation that considers the role of light as a natural carrier of information. It is comprised of two ancient pigeon towers, alluding to the historical use of pigeons as message bearers, and a singer who performs a mawwal, a type of traditional Arab song, while light shines out from the openings in each tower.




Noor Riyadh is the first program implemented under the auspices of Riyadh Art. (Supplied)

“The meaning of light is very accessible and appropriate to a city like Riyadh,” Miguel Blanco-Carrasco, the executive director of Noor Riyadh, told Arab News. “The city comes to life after the sunset because of the temperature and the geography of Riyadh.”

In the evening, many residents often go out to dinner or spend time in the city’s many parks. As a result, the festival was devised with the aim of installing art in some of the places in Riyadh where the people are were most likely to see it.

“Light is an accessible medium to everyone, regardless of their educational levels or class or understanding of contemporary art,” said Blanco-Carrasco. “We want to take art everywhere and we want to make it accessible to everyone.”




At a nearby major thoroughfare, passersby can see Riyadh-based choreographer, dancer and artist Sarah Brahim’s installation, ‘De Anima,’ featuring images projected on the underside of a bridge in the Wadi Hanifa wetlands. (Supplied)

Another highlight of Noor Riyadh is Saudi artist Muhannad Shono’s “I See You Brightest in the Dark,” which is on show in Bayt Al-Malaz.

Saudi-Palestinian artist Ayman Yossri Daydban’s “If God Willing, All Will be Resolved,” meanwhile, uses carefully chosen stills from subtitled movies to create a work that paints Arabic script with light.

It takes its inspiration from the commonly used Arabic phrase, “Inshallah,” meaning “God willing,” which is rendered in large, neon white text on the structure of the derelict Irqah Hospital. It overlooks the abandoned urban landscape around it, breathing new life into a space now largely devoid of human presence.




Noor Riyadh is the first program implemented under the auspices of Riyadh Art. (Supplied)

“Carving the Future,” by Saudi artist Obaid Al-Safi, is presented in a desert landscape. With the work, the artist is questioning the relationship between the desert and the civilization that emerged from it, pondering the links between the Kingdom’s ancient past and its more recent transformations.

Saudi artist Ayman Zedani’s poignant “Between Biotic and Bionic,” in Riyadh’s Olaya district, explores how, in cities across the Gulf region, nature is increasingly something people experience as simulacra, or imitations, such as artificial rainforests or neon jungles, blurring the distinction between what is real and that which is artificial.

It brings together, in Zedani’s signature style, elements of light, sound, sculpture and nature in structures made from welded metal that are covered in resurrection plants, which are types of plants that can survive periods of extreme dehydration, in a nod to the desert landscape and the effects of climate change.

A text work by Joel Andrianomearisoa, an artist from Madagascar, is unmissable. Installed in King Abdullah Financial District and created using neon lights and metal, it relays the message, “On a Never-Ending Horizon, a Future Nostalgia to Keep the Present Alive,” which speaks of love, hope and dreams for the future.

Noor Riyadh is the first program implemented under the auspices of Riyadh Art, the first public art initiative in the Kingdom. It aims to transform the city into a “gallery without walls,” to beautify it and enhance the creative spirit among the population.

One of its objectives, Blanco-Carrasco said, is to “remove any preconceived ideas of contemporary art as accessible only to the elites; we want to make it available to everyone in Riyadh. Noor Riyadh is their festival.”


Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday

Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday

Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday

King Salman invited President of China Xi Jinping for an official visit to attend the Saudi-Chinese summit held in Saudi Arabia from Dec. 7 to 9, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday. 

The summit will be chaired by King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It will look at relations between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states with the People's Republic of China,

Discussions are expected to focus on strengthening joint cooperation in economy and development.


Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco

Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco

Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco
  • KSRelief continued providing medical aid to Syrian refugees residing in Jordan’s Zaatari camp

RIYADH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has concluded an anti-blindness voluntary program in Morocco’s Tiflet.

Under the Saudi Noor Voluntary Program, held in collaboration with the Kingdom’s Al-Basar International Foundation, doctors performed 462 cataract removal operations, examined 5,800 patients and distributed 1,470 glasses.

The program comes as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to help low-income families in the region, according to a statement by state news agency (SPA).

KSRelief continued providing medical aid to Syrian refugees residing in Jordan’s Zaatari camp. The agency’s medical clinics offered consultations to 14,704 refugees during November, said SPA.

The laboratory and radiology departments also received 1,480 people.


Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen
  • MASAM removed over 375,000 mines from Yemen since its 2018 launch

RIYADH: A total of 1,307 mines planted by the Iran-backed Houthi militia across Yemen were dismantled in one week under King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSrelief) Masam project.

The extraction, which took place at the end of November, included 20 anti-personnel mines, 113 anti-tank mines, 1,170 unexploded ordnance, and four explosive devices, state news agency (SPA) reported.

Since its launch in 2018, the landmine clearance project has removed over 375,000 mines from Yemeni lands.

Earlier in June, KSRelief renewed Masam project for a fifth year at a cost of $33.292 million.


Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day
Updated 05 December 2022

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day
  • Naif told Arab News that the walk had been “another accomplishment” after he previously completed more than 4 billion steps, covering 4,000 km on foot, through nine treks taking in NEOM, Makkah, Abha, Madinah, and AlUla

JEDDAH: Two Saudi adventurers have arrived in Abu Dhabi after walking for 30 days to celebrate the 51st UAE National Day.

Thirty-two-year-old Naif Shukri and his nephew Abdul Ellah Shukri, 19, started their trek from Riyadh passing through Al-Ahsa and Al-Hofuf before arriving at the UAE border, a journey of 1,200 kilometers.

Naif told Arab News that the walk had been “another accomplishment” after he previously completed more than 4 billion steps, covering 4,000 km on foot, through nine treks taking in NEOM, Makkah, Abha, Madinah, and AlUla.

He said: “Our journey titled, the Saudi is Emirati and the Emirati is Saudi, has several goals, but the most notable was the participation with Emirati brothers in their UAE National Day. It was a way to express our love and affection to the Emirati people.”

He broadcasted his trip on social media and was amazed by the interaction from Emiratis many of whom were waiting to greet the duo on the UAE border.

On Dec. 1, followers, supporters, and friends gathered at Bani Yas as Naif sent pictures of himself and his nephew holding the Saudi and UAE flag and another showing them arriving in the UAE.

“The Emirati people have been so hospitable and encouraging. The best part of the journey was the warm welcome we received upon our arrival,” he added.

 

 


Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex
Updated 05 December 2022

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex
  • Film AlUla has hosted 694 production days since opening in 2020

JEDDAH: Film AlUla, the film agency of the Royal Commission for AlUla, has started construction on the first phase of its studio complex.

The finished complex will cover around 30,000 square meters and is set to be up and running by the end of next year.

The first phase will include two world-class soundstages, production support buildings, workshops, a pyro/sfx building, a sound recording studio, catering and administration buildings and a 6,500 square meter backlot.

HIGHLIGHT

The first phase will include two world-class soundstages, production support buildings, workshops, a pyro/sfx building, a sound recording studio, catering and administration buildings and a 6,500 square meter backlot. It is located near 12 sq. km of outdoor shooting locations showcasing the beauty and ancient heritage of AlUla, making it the best suitable for on-location filming and set construction.

It is located near 12 sq. km of outdoor shooting locations showcasing the beauty and ancient heritage of AlUla, making it the best suitable for on-location filming and set construction.

“AlUla is a thriving center for arts, culture and heritage. With the film and screen sector of central focus the first phase of this studio complex is carefully planned and part of a much larger program of infrastructure development,” said Charlene Deleon-Jones, executive director of Film AlUla.

“This complex will satisfy the growing demand from regional and international producers to shoot at AlUla, while also supplying an epicenter for our production ecosystem. The studio complex will diversify AlUla’s economy, in line with the objectives of RCU, as we build a home to nurture Saudi talent in the screen sector for generations to come,” he added.

Film AlUla worked with the US-based company Tait to ensure that work in AlUla would be uncluttered and comfortable, including during summer.

The studio complex will be 14 minutes from the Film AlUla Residence, which has 300 rooms, restaurants, recreational facilities and office space for industry professionals, and 20 minutes from AlUla International Airport, which recently opened a hangar for private jets. It lies outside the airport’s flightpath.

Phase two will be announced in the second quarter of 2023.

The project aims to attract local and international productions is bolstered by Saudi Arabia’s offer of a cashback rebate of up to 40 percent for international and local feature films, television series and documentaries.

The studio complex is also meeting rigorous environmental standards. Film AlUla contracted environmental agencies to conduct a 10-month impact assessment on the new location and will build it under continuous environmental monitoring.

Film AlUla has hosted 694 production days since opening in 2020. Movies include Kandahar, directed by Ric Roman Waugh and starring Gerard Butler, which was the first major Hollywood feature to shoot almost entirely in AlUla, and the Iraq war story Cherry, starring Tom Holland and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

Additionally, Norah was the first Saudi feature film to shoot at AlUla entirely and featured an all-Saudi cast and more than 40 percent Saudi crew.

A number of TV productions have been filmed in AlUla including the British series Expedition with Steve Backshall and Nat Geo documentaries, along with commercials, promotions, photo-shoots and short films.