Misk Art Institute documents Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan’s artwork

In 2012, Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan collected a group of female Sadu weavers, marginalized by the oil boom, and had each of them paint their names on Maplewood pearls. Strung together and suspended, this collective art piece became one of her most notable participatory works, titled “Esmi (My Name).” (AN Photo Nada Alturki)
In 2012, Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan collected a group of female Sadu weavers, marginalized by the oil boom, and had each of them paint their names on Maplewood pearls. Strung together and suspended, this collective art piece became one of her most notable participatory works, titled “Esmi (My Name).” (AN Photo Nada Alturki)
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Updated 12 June 2023
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Misk Art Institute documents Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan’s artwork

Misk Art Institute documents Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan’s artwork
  • “We have not witnessed another artist that has done it in the way (AlDowayan) did in terms of communicating with the society and community around her in (the making of) her artworks,” Basmah Alshathry, chief curator at the institute, told Arab News

RIYADH: Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan incorporates community participation into her work and is the subject of Misk Art Institute’s latest Art Library series book, titled “Manal AlDowayan: Participatory Acts,” showcasing her unique skills as a multidisciplinary artist who uplifts the voices of a community.

In 2012, AlDowayan collected a group of female Sadu weavers, marginalized by the oil boom, and had each of them paint their names on maplewood pearls. Strung together and suspended, this collective art piece became one of her most notable participatory works, titled “Esmi — My Name.”

The project was developed around the social attitude towards concealing women’s names and identities.




"Now You See Me, Now You Don’t" Invites the public to experience the immersive piece that highlights puddles, or lack thereof, in the landscapes of AlUla. (AN Photo Nada Alturki)

What infatuated viewers was not the artist’s use of material to conceptualize social issues, but rather the consistent candor and truth in voicing her and the collective experience.

“What you connect with is the humanity of my story,” AlDowayan told Arab News.  

Emerging as an artist in 2005, AlDowayan created a space where the public, especially women, were centered in the growth of a participatory art movement in the Kingdom.




Portraits from AlDowayan's "I Am" series hand at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall, highlighting women's contributions to furthering society historically. (AN Photo Nada Alturki)

“We have not witnessed another artist that has done it in the way (AlDowayan) did in terms of communicating with the society and community around her in (the making of) her artworks,” Basmah Alshathry, chief curator at the institute, told Arab News.  

The publication release is accompanied by an exhibition of selected artworks, which move away from a one-sided conversation by bringing her art to life, allowing the community to indulge in an inclusive thread of conversation and share live responses.

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The 125-page Art Library series book titled ‘Manal AlDowayan: Participatory Acts,’ offers a glimpse into the artist’s work, her transition to conceptual art, and a rearview into her life.

Alshathry said: “When you look at a work like ‘Sidelines,’ and the fact that she wanted to create a work to shed light on a community that was sidelined in society, (AlDowayan) wants these communities to join her. And that on its own is very powerful.”

Her pieces are displayed alongside the legacy of the late Emirati artist Hassan Sharif in both a publication and exhibition based on AlDowayan’s selection. While their individual practices and journies are vastly different, he is more of a symbol than inspiration for her work.




In 2012, Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan collected a group of female Sadu weavers, marginalized by the oil boom, and had each of them paint their names on Maplewood pearls. Strung together and suspended, this collective art piece became one of her most notable participatory works, titled “Esmi (My Name).” (AN Photo Nada Alturki)

AlDowayan explained: “In Saudi Arabia, the contemporary art movement is so powerful and is getting the majority of talent and investment … it would be an injustice to our own regional art history not to include the story and art of Hassan Sharif.”

Building on art history in the region, the side-by-side exhibitions invite local art-lovers to view her work, and maybe even get a glimpse into the world of the “father of conceptual art” in the Gulf region.  

The works on display are merely a retrospective; a slice of AlDowayan’s participatory works, or artworks activated by the presence or contribution of the audience.




Shimenawa rice straw paper has been woven together to create "Illuminate Me," a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess of light. (AN Photo Nada Alturki)

“Despite a critical aversion to reductive pigeonholing, it is near impossible to untangle Manal AlDowayan’s story from that of her home country,” wrote Ruba Al-Sweel, one of the three contributing writers to the retrospective.  

Indeed, documentation of the works’ timeline mirrors that of Saudi Arabia through shedding layers, cultivating complexity, and championing collective experiences.  

Her life story unfolds through art. The two-dimensional photo series “I Am” in 2005 highlights women in various fields during a gendered time in history. Later, she stepped out of the studio with photo documentations of Dhahran in “Landscapes of the Mind.” She then disposed of the frame completely with a flock of birds in the 2011 “Suspended Together,” a response to the imposed guardianship on women’s travel.  




The release of "Manal AlDowayan: Participatory Acts" is accompanied by an exhibition of selected artworks, which move away from a one-sided conversation by bringing her art alive, allowing the community to indulge in an inclusive thread of conversation and share live responses. (AN Photo Nada Alturki)

While many believe the installation speaks on behalf of a people, her practice stems from a personal place.

The 125-page book offers a glimpse into the artist’s engagement in participatory works, tracking her introductions to art through a photographic lens, her transition to conceptual works, and a rearview into her life.  

AlDowayan has displayed her photography, multimedia installations, and sculptures globally, including solo shows in Madrid’s Sabrina Amrani Gallery and Miami’s Rojas + Rubensteen Projects.




'Sidelines' by Manal AlDowayan contrasts the the neglect that women artisans have suffered with the urbanization and rapid transformation of Bedouin groups in Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo Nada Alturki)

In the Kingdom, she has a unique positioning, initiating not only a shift from modern to contemporary, but also addressing gender within society. Her impact is undeniable, making her one of the most internationally recognized Saudi figures in the art world.

“The intention of actually producing the series of the Art Library is to fill a prevalent gap in terms of the archiving documentation of Arab artists that have contributed in important and significant ways to the art field,” Alshathry said.  

It is an essential record for artists, historians and researchers today, and more importantly, the future. Regardless of the boundless artworks born out of the region, they have historically been dictated and archived through Western lenses.

“Every researcher that you will come across in the world that wants to write a paper, or a PhD thesis, or an article, will tell you the worst thing is there are no resources. And most of our resources, that document our contemporary art movement, have not been preserved,” AlDowayan said.

 


Young man converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha

Young man converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha
Updated 7 sec ago
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Young man converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha

Young man converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha
  • Al-Barouqi Tourist Farm owner Ahmed Al-Barouqi rehabilitated the farm while preserving its agricultural terraces, famous trees and old wells
  • The farm is enjoying a surge in demand due to recent rainfall, the pristine atmosphere and the natural beauty of the area

AL-BAHA: A farmer in Al-Mandaq Governorate has turned his passion and hobby into a thriving tourism project.

Ahmed Al-Barouqi, who owns Al-Barouqi Tourist Farm in the governorate, northwest of Al-Baha, takes advantage of the mild climate and natural beauty of the area, including its agricultural terraces, historic village and picturesque valley, to attract visitors.  

With a mild climate and natural beauty of the area, the farm has become a tourist attraction.  (SPA)

The Saudi Press Agency interviewed Al-Barouqi, the young farmer in Al-Tarf, Wadi Rusba, behind Al-Barouqi Tourist Farm.

“My relationship with agriculture spans over 27 years, having grown up in a family surrounded by farms,” he said. “This inspired me to invest in the farm in Al-Tarf village, where we have fond childhood memories of planting grape, almond and fruit trees.

“I was determined to create a rural tourism investment model that harmonizes with the region’s natural features and moderate climate, providing a unique experience for visitors to the province,” he added.

Al-Barouqi said he rehabilitated the farm while preserving its agricultural terraces, famous trees and old wells. He created paved paths and seating areas and opened scenic views of the adjacent valley by adding seating areas.

Popular dishes, including tannour bread, coffee, and tea are offered to visitors in the farm. (SPA)

He also offers popular dishes, including tannour bread, coffee, and tea.

He highlighted the success of implementing drip irrigation for strawberry crops, which aligns with the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. This initiative has added value to the farm and its visitors, creating new agricultural investment opportunities and promoting a diverse agricultural culture. By diversifying products and experimenting with various crops, the farm aims to achieve self-sufficiency in producing crops for local markets.

Fruits are abundant in the farm. (SPA)

Al-Barouqi said: “Farming has created over 20 seasonal job opportunities for young men and women in the region and established sites for productive families.

“We have a comprehensive development plan and vision for the farm that includes agricultural, recreational and investment aspects. Investing in this sector results in pioneering commercial projects that provide a distinctive tourism experience in the Al-Baha region,” he added.

The farm is enjoying a surge in demand due to recent rainfall, the pristine atmosphere and the natural beauty of the area.


Shoura delegation discusses relations between Saudi Arabia and Senegal in Dakar

Shoura delegation discusses relations between Saudi Arabia and Senegal in Dakar
Updated 38 min 3 sec ago
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Shoura delegation discusses relations between Saudi Arabia and Senegal in Dakar

Shoura delegation discusses relations between Saudi Arabia and Senegal in Dakar
  • Party on an official visit to the republic

DAKAR: A delegation from the Saudi-Senegalese Parliamentary Friendship Committee of the Shoura Council, led by  Dr. Ayman bin Saleh Fadel, council member and committee chairman, met Senegal’s Minister of African Integration and Foreign Affairs Yassine Fall at the ministry’s headquarters in Dakar.

The delegation is currently conducting an official visit to the Republic of Senegal and the two parties discussed bilateral relations as well as possible cooperation in multiple sectors to enhance coordination. Other topics were also discussed.


A journey through time: Tahlel Museum’s tribute to Asir’s culture 

A journey through time: Tahlel Museum’s tribute to Asir’s culture 
Updated 25 May 2024
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A journey through time: Tahlel Museum’s tribute to Asir’s culture 

A journey through time: Tahlel Museum’s tribute to Asir’s culture 
  • The museum is home to many heritage pieces, including coins, traditional costumes, wood art, and agricultural tools
  • It also includes the owner's artistic works of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, geometric shapes, and tribal symbols painted in vibrant colors 

ASIR: Perched atop the Souda Mountains in the Abha region of Asir province in southern Saudi Arabia is a modest museum created by an Asiri woman called Halima Asiri. 

Passionate about old Saudi heritage, Asiri established the Tahlel Museum in a small traditional house. 

Halima Asiri is a woman who is passionate about old Saudi heritage, which led her to establish the Tahlel Museum. The museum is a small house in the shape of old Saudi buildings. (AN photo by Rahaf Jambi)

It includes many heritage pieces, including coins, traditional costumes, wood art, and agricultural tools. It also includes her artistic works of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, geometric shapes, and tribal symbols painted in vibrant colors. 

“This is my small museum, where I exhibit the work of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a kind of natural color painting that have been certified by UNESCO as part of the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Each pattern has a name and a symbolic meaning. Men do not practice this art, thus women are the only ones who specialize in it,” Asiri told Arab News. 

Asiri is one of the few women who still uses natural materials to create the art of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri. These colors are extracted from coal, rice, turmeric, pomegranate peel, stones and other sources. 

“I take 24 colors from nature, such as clover, coal, stone, and leaves, grind them into a paste, and use that paste to paint canvases and walls,” she said.

Ancient coffee and teapots, clay cups, copper household utensils, and other artifacts are on display in one of the rooms. 

Tahlel Museum owner Halima Asiri is one of the few women who still uses natural materials to create the art of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri. (AN photos by Rahaf Jambi)

“The handcrafted items found here date back to 400-500 years, and the people of the Asir region used them all,” Asiri said. 

She incorporated a model of the old town in which she formerly resided in the museum. The town has since fallen into ruin. 

“The old roads were difficult, and women had to carry wood, walk, and climb mountains to get to their homes. The model that I constructed depicts the hardship and strength of women in Asir,” she explained. 

The museum also features the traditional attire worn by women in the Asir region. 

“I have items of clothing that Asir women wear on their wedding night. I also have regular clothes, like straw hats,” she added. 

Asiri started collecting antiques that date back centuries when she was young, and she made sure to collect antiques and present them in her museum in a unique way. 

There are numerous kinds of swords, weapons, and clothing that the locals used in battle displayed on the walls. 

The location also features a workshop where guests can learn how to paint Al-Qatt Al-Asiri works, in addition to selling her artwork on commission. 

“I teach Al-Qatt Al-Asiri art as a trainer. I frequently get big groups of people, and not so long ago, I trained a group of foreign women,” she said. 

The museum is also linked to a cafe where she serves traditional Asiri dishes like areekah using natural honey. 

“Many foreigners have visited, including ambassadors and ministers,” she said. 

Asiri greets visitors when entering the museum with a famous Asiri phrase, “a thousand welcomes.”

Owing to its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, the Asir region is highly sought-after by those seeking to explore unspoiled landscapes, wander through charming villages, and explore historic castles. 
 


Saudi crown prince speaks to acting Iranian president in light of tragedy

Saudi crown prince speaks to acting Iranian president in light of tragedy
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi crown prince speaks to acting Iranian president in light of tragedy

Saudi crown prince speaks to acting Iranian president in light of tragedy
  • President Ebrahim Raisi and others were killed in helicopter crash 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a telephone call on Friday to Mohammad Mokhber, the acting Iranian president, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The crown prince sent his condolences following the deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and others in a helicopter crash earlier this week.

Mokhber expressed his thanks to the crown prince for his kind sentiments.

The two sides also spoke of achievements in bilateral relations between the countries, stressing the importance of continuing to enhance cooperation.

The Iranian president, foreign minister and six others were killed on Sunday when the helicopter in which they were traveling crashed in dense fog in mountainous terrain near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan.


Saudi Arabia welcomes World Court ruling on Gaza

Saudi Arabia welcomes World Court ruling on Gaza
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia welcomes World Court ruling on Gaza

Saudi Arabia welcomes World Court ruling on Gaza
  • Kingdom said it appreciated the ICJ decision, which it called a positive step towards the moral and legal right of the Palestinian people

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed the Kingdom’s welcoming of a decision made Friday by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to immediately stop military attacks or any other offensive actions in Rafah, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kingdom said it appreciated the ICJ decision, which it called a positive step towards the moral and legal right of the Palestinian people.

It stressed the importance that international resolutions should involve all Palestinian areas in accordance with the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy.

Saudi Arabia also reiterated its call to the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to stop all forms of aggression against the Palestinian people.