Riyadh street art festival transforms abandoned building into gallery

The RSH Street Art Festival displays the work of more than 30 international, regional, and local artists. Inset: The Art of the People area to unleash creativity is open to all from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Supplied)
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The RSH Street Art Festival displays the work of more than 30 international, regional, and local artists. Inset: The Art of the People area to unleash creativity is open to all from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Supplied)
Riyadh street art festival transforms abandoned building into gallery
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A mural by Egyptian painter Aya Tarek (right) facing the site-specific immersive work of Indian artist Pranav. (Supplied)
Riyadh street art festival transforms abandoned building into gallery
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People of all ages and backgrounds gathered at an abandoned building in the Kingdom's capital to witness its art renaissance. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 November 2023
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Riyadh street art festival transforms abandoned building into gallery

Riyadh street art festival transforms abandoned building into gallery
  • The RSH Street Art Festival organized by Visual Arts Commission will run until Dec. 6

RIYADH: A building that stood abandoned in Riyadh’s Al-Mughrizat District for 15 years was transformed on Nov. 15 as crowds attended its rebirth.

The annual RSH Street Art Festival, which is organized by the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Visual Arts Commission and runs until Dec. 6, displays the work of more than 30 international, regional, and local artists, and aims to build communities around art while helping to beautify the city of Riyadh.

Basmah Felemban, co-curator of the festival, told Arab News: “The festival puts on stage the works of artists from Saudi Arabia and all over the world, and that diversity really reflects on the different flavors in the works.




The RSH Street Art Festival displays the work of more than 30 international, regional, and local artists. Inset: The Art of the People area to unleash creativity is open to all from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Supplied)

“It creates a great environment to discuss deeper questions about street art as a practice through workshops, lectures, and discussions for both curious artists and more advanced individuals and collectives.”

Two of the works, one by ST4 Collective and another by Saudi artist San Shyn, are to be repurposed and permanently relocated to Municipal Square and Sunset Park, respectively.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The RSH Street Art Festival aims to build communities around art and beautify the city of Riyadh.

• Two of the works, one by ST4 Collective and another by Saudi artist San Shyn, will be permanently relocated to Municipal Square and Sunset Park, respectively.

• Saudi artist Bolotron’s work ‘Bolotron 808 — Cyber Vision’ is a futuristic cyborg-obsessed take on the Kingdom.

Shyn said of the work: “I was inspired by the location. The park is a place for families and children to gather, play, and enjoy their time, surrounded by trees and grass. I chose colorful and vibrant flowers as the main element while the character runs in the middle.”

A large black and white collection of headshots of various members of the community hits the senses just before the entrance. The work is by the Inside Out Project, a platform that amplifies voices through public art and highlights street communities.




Basmah Felemban, RSH Street Art Festival co-curator

To enhance their presence in the space, visitors can listen to the experiences through testimonies and the voices of the people themselves.

Walking through the interior, Saudi artist Zainab Al-Mahoozi’s mural reels in visitors with tempting visuals of an ice cream truck. Emerging from the blacked out window is a stranger’s arm handing awaiting children the frozen dessert. She uses her dedicated space to tackle social issues, in this particular case concerning children and vulnerable members of society.

The festival puts on stage the works of artists from Saudi Arabia and all over the world, and that diversity really reflects on the different flavors in the works.

Basmah Felemban, RSH Street Art Festival co-curator

She told Arab News: “Not everything that looks outwardly pleasing is the same on the inside.

“I chose to exemplify this notion through children since they’re the most impressionable, but this also applies to everyone.”

Others choose to platform the new Saudi and its promising future. Saudi artist Bolotron’s work “Bolotron 808 — Cyber Vision” is a futuristic cyborg-obsessed take on the Kingdom, while Fouad Alghareeb showcases a Saudi Lego character running toward the 2034 World Cup in one mural and nods to the country’s first-ever car manufacturing facility in another.




The RSH Street Art Festival displays the work of more than 30 international, regional, and local artists. Inset: The Art of the People area to unleash creativity is open to all from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Supplied)

Iraqi artist Wijdan Al-Majed’s “Landmarks of Iraq in Riyadh” is an impressive interpretation of an imagined space. The mural pays homage to prominent Iraqi figures and the country’s deep-rooted history and identity.

Photojournalist Martha Cooper played a pivotal role in documenting graffiti culture in the 1970s and 80s in New York City, and her collaborative 1984 book “Subway Art” has quickly become a street culture bible. A collection of her photos is displayed digitally at the festival.

Backdropping the festival’s miniature skate park is a colorfully contrasted artwork by SHN Collectivo, composed of Brazilian creatives Haroldo Paranhos, Edwardo Saretta, Marcelo Fazolin, and their crew. The silkscreen-printed neon mural features Saudi cultural elements like palm trees while also boasting tropical prints, stylized in printed letter stamps.




The annual RSH Street Art Festival kicked off with a bang as it displayed the work of over 30 international, regional, and local artists with an aim to build communities around the artform and beautify the city of Riyadh. (AN photo)

Ahmad Bawazeer’s RSH work is a self-portrait in which he is seen carrying a bouquet of flowers and boasting his beating red heart to surrounding faces. “I like giving out good vibes and happiness,” he told Arab News. “With all the suffering in the world, this is me just sending flowers to everyone through art.

“I think all this — skateboarding, street art, music — is part of youth culture and they all complement each other.

“In order for all of us to succeed we need to support each other and push further to become better. It’s all about boosting the culture.”

Bawazeer speaks of his early interaction with art when his mother would sketch out Street Fighter characters and he would then bring them to life with colors. To this day, characters are central to his work.




The Art of the People Area buzzed with visitors looking to unleash their creative expression with various materials, including paint and non-toxic chalk, on the building’s walls. By the end of the fest, the concrete will become a collective artwork. The zone is open to all, daily from 7 to 9pm. (Supplied)

But the event is not merely a display of captivating artworks. It works to actively educate and engage the public through workshops, lectures, street performances, skate classes, competitions, and film screenings.

The first night’s program began with a lecture from American artist Futura 2000, who was at the forefront of the early 1980s street art movement, in conversation with festival co-curator Cedar Lewisohn.

Other topics include “A Brief History of Graffiti Writing” and “The Community Mind Map,” while other discussions will be taking place throughout the month, as well as workshops for aspiring artists and children.




Graffiti work by Saudi artist Moath Alofi. (AN photo)

As the festival champions collaboration, collectiveness, and knowledge exchange, the halls of the abandoned building echo with discourse circles, music, and the rattles and hisses of spray cans.

The Art of the People Area buzzes with visitors looking to unleash their creative expression with various materials, including paint and non-toxic chalk, on the building’s walls. By the end of the fest, the concrete will become a collective artwork. The zone is open to all, daily from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Al-Mahoozi said: “We used to dream of something like this happening. Street art or graffiti used to be forbidden, and today artists are acknowledged and asked to present work to the community by the Visual Arts Commission.”

 


Hail deputy governor joins Zubaida Trail for Founding Day

Hail deputy governor joins Zubaida Trail for Founding Day
Updated 22 February 2024
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Hail deputy governor joins Zubaida Trail for Founding Day

Hail deputy governor joins Zubaida Trail for Founding Day

HAIL: Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Hail region, took part in a Zubaida Trail caravan on Thursday to mark Founding Day celebrations.

The caravan, overseen by the Heritage Commission and organized by the Caravans Trails Association, began its journey from the historic city of Fayd to Sumaira’ Province.

Prince Faisal honored the sponsors and partners, and along with hikers, horseback riders, camel riders and cyclists, took part in the caravan journey.

Along the route, the deputy governor spoke to groups taking part in the event, including Saudis and foreigners in the Kingdom.

Prince Faisal praised the government’s support for the heritage sector, and commended the dedication of all parties involved in the caravan program.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Obeida, general supervisor of the Zubaida Trail, praised the support given to the initiative by the Saudi leadership, as well as the Hail governor and his deputy.

He said that the scheme aims to revitalize the ancient route, which is one of many in Saudi Arabia dating back over 1,000 years.

Al-Obeida highlighted the importance of community involvement in sustaining and developing the trail route for economic, cultural and tourism purposes.
 


Endangered native animals released in Saudi reserve

Endangered native animals released in Saudi reserve
Updated 22 February 2024
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Endangered native animals released in Saudi reserve

Endangered native animals released in Saudi reserve

AL-ULA: Fourteen Arabian oryxes and 40 Arabian sand gazelles have been released into the Gharameel nature reserve by the the National Center for Wildlife.

The conservation effort at Gharameel, located 60 km north of AlUla, took place with cooperation from the Royal Commission for AlUla.

The reserve features unique biodiversity throughout its rock and sand formations, and hillsides.

Resettlement of endangered native species is a key target of the center, as well as restoring biodiversity and environmental balance as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Animal reintroduction also promotes the RCU’s plan to activate six nature reserves while regenerating AlUla as a leading global destination for cultural and natural heritage.

The formations of rocky pillars in the area were created through wind and rain erosion over thousands of years.

AlUla is also a popular stargazing destination for tourists from around the world.
 


Saudi honeybee program achieves 200% productivity boost

Saudi honeybee program achieves 200% productivity boost
Updated 22 February 2024
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Saudi honeybee program achieves 200% productivity boost

Saudi honeybee program achieves 200% productivity boost

RIYADH: The honeybee breeding program — spearheaded by the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program “Saudi Reef” in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture — is poised to make a substantial impact on bee populations.

A select group of model beekeepers has achieved an impressive 200 percent increase in productivity by implementing the program.

According to the “Saudi Reef” program, the surge in production is attributed to a strategic focus on expanding queen bee rearing within the breeding and propagation program.

Additionally, the adoption of innovative production techniques and best practices, including hive management and organic beekeeping, has played a key role.

These practices have been documented in a booklet distributed to beekeepers and have yielded significant production boosts in several model farms established by the project.

Expanding on its success, the program plans to roll out projects for “bee queen breeding and nuclei production” across eight centers spanning regions such as Jazan, Najran, Asir, Baha, Makkah, Madinah, Hail and Tabuk.

Each center is expected to produce 5,000 queen bees annually, characterized by purity and high-production specifications.

This will enable beekeepers to expand queen bee breeding and bee colonies while preserving favorable genetic traits for enhanced production and resilience against diseases and environmental factors.

The honeybee development and honey production sector is a key focus of the “Saudi Reef” program. Since its inception, the program has had significant increases in production, enhancing the income and living standards of its beneficiaries.

To increase food security and agricultural self-sufficiency, Saudi Arabia unveiled an ambitious initiative in August last year to produce more than 7,500 tons of honey annually as part of the Saudi Reef.


Makkah expo focuses on next steps for hotel, culinary sectors

Makkah expo focuses on next steps for hotel, culinary sectors
Updated 22 February 2024
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Makkah expo focuses on next steps for hotel, culinary sectors

Makkah expo focuses on next steps for hotel, culinary sectors
  • Saudi employees trained at top schools bringing skills back to the Kingdom

MAKKAH: The Makkah Expo for Hotels and Restaurants, held at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Exhibition Center, ended on Wednesday evening.

The exhibition’s fifth edition was inaugurated by Vice Chairman of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce Mustafa Rajab and involved officials, business owners and company representatives.

A large number of companies and institutions representing the hotel and culinary sectors, specialized in serving Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and visitors, attended the three-day exhibition, which was held in collaboration with the Unit for Exhibition Organization.

Abdullah Haneef, the acting secretary-general of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News: “The exhibition provided an opportunity to access the best practices in the hotel and restaurant sectors, as it brought together a select group of people specialized in this field in Makkah, a pioneer in the hotel sector field attracting large numbers of visitors from around the world.”

He added that industry officials exchanged business ideas and showcased modern tools and technology, food products and hotel and restaurant supplies, and took part in several accompanying events.

Haneef added: “The exhibition offers an opportunity for investors, interested parties, specialized companies and experts in the hotel and restaurant sector from inside and outside the Kingdom, to display their products to investors and interested individuals and exchange expertise, as well as engage in commercial deals between exhibitors, participants and individuals interested in the hotel and restaurant sector.”

The exhibition also hosted a salon for culinary arts and live cooking demonstrations.

Khalid Al-Ghamdi, an investor in the hotel sector, said that the Saudi industry has begun a strong post-pandemic recovery, and is fulfilling its role in serving visitors.

He added that intensive training programs Saudi employees are undertaking in top international hotel schools are helping them apply their knowledge back in the Kingdom.

Al-Ghamdi said that the restaurant sector is facing significant challenges but also opportunities, including smart digital solutions.

Makkah is one of the most significant and holiest places worldwide, drawing millions of Muslims for religious rituals such as Hajj and Umrah, he added.

The city should therefore focus on enhancing future innovation plans and smart marketing to make the hospitality sector a top performer, through innovative solutions and major investment, he said.


Saudi, French FMs discuss bilateral ties on G20 sidelines

Saudi, French FMs discuss bilateral ties on G20 sidelines
Updated 22 February 2024
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Saudi, French FMs discuss bilateral ties on G20 sidelines

Saudi, French FMs discuss bilateral ties on G20 sidelines
  • Ministers reviewed latest regional and international developments, particularly Israel’s war on Gaza

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met on Thursday with his French counterpart Stephane Segournet on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

They discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in various fields, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

They also reviewed the latest regional and international developments, particularly Israel’s war on Gaza.

The Kingdom’s Ambassador to Brazil Faisal Ghulam and Walid Al-Smail, assistant director general of the Saudi foreign minister’s office, were also present at the meeting.