Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists

Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists
1 / 5
Najd Alsahli, a communication manager in a government sector, collaborated with her brother Abdullah to bring the studio to life. (Supplied)
Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists
2 / 5
Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists
3 / 5
Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists
4 / 5
Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists
5 / 5
Short Url
Updated 04 August 2023
Follow

Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists

Virtual artspace opens new worlds for disabled artists

RIYADH: Saudi brother and sister Abdullah and Najd Alsahli created the virtual studio Art Without Limits with the goal of empowering artists living with disabilities.

Abdullah, an independent artist, has spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that affects movement and strength. He was determined to find art software suitable for artists with similar conditions.

In 2019, he began publishing articles talking about his experience using various types of software. The following year, he published his second article, “How I use Blender with a Disability,” listing his user-friendly tools and applications to create art.

“A few years ago, I started writing articles about my process on public platforms such as Medium. The goal of those articles was to create something that might be useful for anyone with the same condition as me or anyone interested in creating art in general,” Abdullah said.

After receiving positive feedback from fellow artists and followers, he continued to write more about his experiences.

“Those articles were received really well and it inspired me to continue expanding on it, so the Art Without Limits studio is a natural evolution of my early articles.

“I get messaged often by people saying I inspired them to start doing digital art, which is some of the most encouraging feedback an artist can receive. It’s quite surreal.”

Abdullah, who goes by his artist name ARC, said his goal is to “deconstruct the limits any disabled artist might face while creating art, hence the name Art Without Limits.”

He urges artists to “work within their disabilities” and find a medium that suits their artistic style.

“I picked digital art because it was the best medium for my specific disability. It doesn’t require a lot of physical strength to move a touchpad around, unlike painting where you need to move a brush around a large canvas, which is physically difficult depending on what kind of disability you have.”

Abdullah’s animations are smooth loops of digital art.

“My art style has evolved and changed throughout the years, and I am sure it will continue changing as I grow older, but the main theme is smooth, soothing looping animations. My goal is to create something mesmerizing and pleasant to look at.”

Abdullah said he has unlocked his artistic potential by constantly sketching and publishing his art.

“It creates a satisfying feedback loop that motivates you to create more, and with creating more, you get better at unlocking your full artistic potential.”

Although there have been developments in art creation software, Abdullah said there is “always room for improvements” to make products more user-friendly.

“But you can’t really wait for them to arrive. Any person with a disability knows the best way to get things done is by doing them yourself; that’s why most of the assistive technologies I use are things I made myself or constructed from off-the-shelf products.”

Najd, a communication manager in a government sector, collaborated with her brother to bring the studio to life.

“It started with my brother Abdullah approaching me about an idea to expand his articles and work on an art studio with a focus on artists with disabilities.

Najd said she attended international events to spread the AWL Studio name and shed light on their objective.

“I was already heavily involved with helping him with the logistics of his art journey in terms of attending international events on his behalf when he couldn’t travel, and presenting a few of his talks in France and the US. So, being a co-founder in Art Without Limits felt like a natural extension of that.”

She said that as an outsider looking in, assistive technologies could be improved for artists who rely on their use.

“While working closely with Abdullah, I noticed a lot of assistive technologies have room for improvement in terms of availability. It’s quite difficult to find what we need locally, so we’ve been making our own custom systems and tools, and we hope we can open source them in the future.”

Abdullah and Najd plan to make AWL Studio into a physical space in the future. In the meantime, Abduallah will continue to pursue his career as an artist.

“If I can help encourage one person to pursue art then I’d feel pretty accomplished already. Creating art can be quite therapeutic, especially for people with disabilities — the sense of accomplishment when you finish a piece of art is quite magical.”

 For more information on ARC’s artworks visit: https://arc.art/a-selection-of-my-artworks


Saudi Arabia and Qatar sign tax rules agreement

Saudi Arabia and Qatar sign tax rules agreement
Updated 13 sec ago
Follow

Saudi Arabia and Qatar sign tax rules agreement

Saudi Arabia and Qatar sign tax rules agreement
  • The aim of the accord is to avoid the possibility of double taxation and prevent tax evasion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s minister of finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, and his Qatari counterpart, Ali Al-Kuwari, signed an agreement on Thursday designed to avoid the possibility of double taxation and prevent tax evasion.

During the signing ceremony in Doha, Al-Jadaan said the agreement is part of efforts to strengthen legislative coordination between the two countries, to encourage bilateral trade and attract investment to the region, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Kuwari highlighted the important nature of the agreement and the effective role it will play in these efforts, adding that it will help to ensure international standards of transparency are in place, through the exchange of financial information as the nations work together on taxation and economic relations.


Indonesian pilgrim receives open-heart surgery

Indonesian pilgrim receives open-heart surgery
Updated 3 min 54 sec ago
Follow

Indonesian pilgrim receives open-heart surgery

Indonesian pilgrim receives open-heart surgery
  • The Madinah Health Cluster said that the man, aged in his 60s, arrived to the ER with sharp chest pain
  • Medical staff performed open-heart surgery and placed new arteries taken from the patient’s chest and leg

MADINAH: Medical staff at Madinah’s Cardiac Diseases and Surgery Center of Madinah performed open-heart surgery on an Indonesian Hajj pilgrim.

The Madinah Health Cluster said that the man, aged in his 60s, arrived to the center’s ER with sharp chest pain. Medical examinations showed he had suffered a cardiac stroke. Staff used a diagnostic catheter to discover severe blockages in three coronary arteries.

Medical staff performed open-heart surgery and placed new arteries taken from the patient’s chest and leg.

He was transferred to the intensive care unit, then to the inpatient department for rehabilitation. After being discharged, the pilgrim left the center in good health to complete the Hajj rituals.
 


How a Saudi artist combines AI with conventional artistic techniques to create nostalgia-infused images

How a Saudi artist combines AI with conventional artistic techniques to create nostalgia-infused images
Updated 7 min 6 sec ago
Follow

How a Saudi artist combines AI with conventional artistic techniques to create nostalgia-infused images

How a Saudi artist combines AI with conventional artistic techniques to create nostalgia-infused images
  • Hadeel Mohammed uses generative AI to create images that depict daily life in Saudi Arabia during the 1990s
  • Rather than replace human creativity, Saudi artist believes AI will augment and improve the creative process

RIYADH: Artificial intelligence technologies have already found new and exciting applications in the workplace, health, education and business. Now, creative industries are finding novel ways to employ these mold-breaking tools.

Hadeel Mohammed, a Saudi AI artist, has used the technology to create nostalgia-infused images that depict various aspects of daily life in Saudi Arabia during the 1990s.

About a year ago, Mohammed took an interest in how technology and creativity can combine to make something entirely new, and began experimenting with AI to create bold visuals plucked from her imagination.

After earning a certificate in AI art, she was able to blend various digital editing methods with more conventional artistic techniques.

“Every artwork I create is quite personal and reflects my vision and personal growth to visualize ways to express myself,” she told Arab News.

Mohammed begins with a nostalgic memory or an old song. She then uses AI algorithms to generate artworks that reflect the ideas and emotions that these evoke.

“This is only the beginning of what you see in my work,” she said. “I then spend time refining, editing, changing details and improving compositions using different art software to reach the final photo, while also adding my personal touch to it.

“The end photo is a piece that tells a story and connects with viewers on a deeper level.”

Mohammed says she draws her inspiration from “how life was as a child living in the ‘90s.

“This is my vision of the past, and I try to use my imagination to produce unique art, particularly in the fashion, interiors, retro patterns, styles, colors used, music and way of life during that time. This might not reflect everyone’s lifestyle. I produce what evokes certain emotions.

“I remember my mother would often bring me to gatherings and I was fascinated by the lovely clothing worn by women at that time. To this day, I still enjoy looking at old photos to relive the beauty of that time and through my graphics, I hope to celebrate Saudi nostalgic fashion and lifestyle from the 1990s.”

Mohammed says that artworks that reflect the Saudi or Arab ‘90s can be difficult to produce “because AI’s knowledge of ‘female’ features is so limited,” resulting in her having to edit the photos to depict accurate features.

When curating an image, Mohammed focuses on the “mood and vibe” she is looking to convey.

“I love classic styles and use them a lot in my photos. They are timeless and full of elegance and nostalgia. For the color palette, I use earthy tones to bring a sense of coziness and warmth like shades of brown and beige. I remember them being called ‘royalty colors’ back in the ‘90s, while in the ‘80s, pastel colors and metallic accents were more used.”

She draws particular inspiration from the style of Saudi American businesswoman and editor Princess Deena Al-Juhani Abdulaziz for her fashion and her image as a modern and elegant Saudi woman.

Despite its game-changing applications, AI can be unpredictable. Mohammed says there are occasionally issues with photo resolution challenges in post-processing.

“Most of the time, I have to use editing software to change the composition and enhance the photos, as AI’s results sometimes are unpredictable and inaccurate,” she said.

“Photos generated by AI might be good for the screen, but they are not suitable for printing large-sized photos.

“AI is still limited by the data it is trained on. It only reproduces the same existing styles and techniques unless guided and edited by a human artist. This is where creativity comes in.”

Instead of being restricted by the curbs that come with AI, Mohammed sees these limitations as an opportunity to learn new methods for generating and refining art.

“It is a fun journey that I enjoy and embrace with all its constraints. However, in order to produce beautiful work that represents my vision, I also combine AI technologies with standard art design.

“For art to be meaningful, it should reflect an emotional feeling and this cannot be done by a machine alone. Only a human can add real purpose and cultural insight to any type of art. Machines just make random pictures without understanding.”

Mohammed says AI still requires “the right people to choose the best art and know good art when they see it, as machines make many random photos. Not all of it is appealing.

“In summary, AI alone cannot substitute human vision, guidance, experience, and emotions to make art with true meaning and impact.”

As with all AI tools, advances are occurring rapidly.

“As technology develops, Al will create a greater variety of creative mediums and aesthetics and other fields like music and animation will be incorporated into technology,” said Mohammed.

“Also, algorithms will become more advanced and accessible and will not require much effort to meet our standards or ideas.”

And as AI tools become more widely used, their acceptance in the creative industries among artists is likely to grow.

“I think in the next few years, artists will be more accepting of AI-generated art, and it will also change the way that artists create their own work. I see that AI will probably become a common tool for artists, content creators and graphic designers.”

Rather than replace human creativity, Mohammed believes AI will augment and improve artworks.

“AI-generated art can become a major force in the art world and artists will experiment with new techniques to reach broader audiences. As people become more comfortable with AI’s capabilities, its influence in the art world will grow, leading to a rich and diverse landscape of artistic expression.

“I see a future where AI and human creativity work hand in hand.”

Evidence of this growing acceptance of AI-generated art can be found on Mohammed’s TikTok and Instagram accounts, where she has received positive feedback from her followers.

“I mostly receive a lot of positive feedback, both in comments and private messages,” she said.

“People regularly express their appreciation and thank me for bringing back old memories and feelings. They say that they enjoy and love my content. It makes me happy that, through visualizing memories through art, I can provide positivity and happiness to others.”
 

 


King Abdulaziz Airport welcomes Syrian pilgrims for Hajj 

King Abdulaziz Airport welcomes Syrian pilgrims for Hajj 
Updated 8 min 29 sec ago
Follow

King Abdulaziz Airport welcomes Syrian pilgrims for Hajj 

King Abdulaziz Airport welcomes Syrian pilgrims for Hajj 

JEDDAH: The passport department at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah has welcomed flights carrying pilgrims from Syria arriving to perform this year’s Hajj. Entry procedures were completed smoothly and efficiently.

Authorities emphasized their commitment to facilitating travel for pilgrims, adding that points of entry are equipped with the latest technology and staffed by qualified personnel fluent in multiple languages.
 


Saudi authorities warn holders of visit visas against performing Hajj rituals in Makkah

Saudi authorities warn holders of visit visas against performing Hajj rituals in Makkah
Updated 9 min 7 sec ago
Follow

Saudi authorities warn holders of visit visas against performing Hajj rituals in Makkah

Saudi authorities warn holders of visit visas against performing Hajj rituals in Makkah
  • Some 20,000 visitors have violated regulations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Public Security has said that visit visas — regardless of their type or designation — do not permit holders to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

The authority has urged all visitors to the Kingdom who hold a visit visa not to travel to Makkah or stay there between May 23 and June 21.

The directorate said 20,000 visitors had so far violated Hajj regulations and instructions, which prohibit them from being in Makkah without a valid visa.

The authority stressed that whoever violates regulations will be subject to penalties being applied against them, in accordance with the Kingdom’s regulations and instructions. This is to ensure the safety of pilgrims who are authorized to perform Hajj in a secure and peaceful environment, the SPA added.