Saudi artist contemplates life and loss in her work

Abeer Sultan’s installation titled ‘I Will Take the Sun Into My Eyes,’ is on display at Noor Riyadh’s exhibition in JAX District until March 2. (Supplied)
Abeer Sultan’s installation titled ‘I Will Take the Sun Into My Eyes,’ is on display at Noor Riyadh’s exhibition in JAX District until March 2. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 January 2024
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Saudi artist contemplates life and loss in her work

Saudi artist contemplates life and loss in her work
  • Inspired by the color blue, Abeer Sultan’s latest video installation is on display at Noor Riyadh

RIYADH: Abeer Sultan is a collector of moments. In chilly weather or exhausting heat, she can be found roaming local neighborhoods in search of snapshots of life, which she tucks away in her camera until their time comes.

Her process shapes her practice. The artist’s most recent work titled “I Will Take the Sun Into My Eyes,” is on display at Noor Riyadh’s exhibition in JAX District until March 2.

Speaking about the exhibition, Sultan said: “I’m glad I’m participating in Noor Riyadh alongside some amazing artists. It’s a great way to have all these narratives in conversation with each other and I hope to take the audience along with me to explore the world I’ve created.”




Abeer Sultan’s installation titled ‘I Will Take the Sun Into My Eyes,’ is on display at Noor Riyadh’s exhibition in JAX District until March 2. (Supplied)

Sultan is an emerging Saudi Arabia artist who presents her own experiences as a way to elicit emotional responses from her audiences.

Taking a new approach to the exhibition’s theme “Refracted Identities, Shared Futures,” Sultan blurs reality and fiction. Inspired by the color blue, she explores alternative, yet realistic worlds through conventional modes of visual storytelling.

The three-screen video installation, commissioned by Noor Riyadh, displays different encounters in Riyadh and Jeddah. The moments she selected was not based on aesthetic considerations, rather on feelings they elicit.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Abeer Sultan is an emerging Saudi artist who presents her own experiences as a way to elicit emotional responses from her audiences.

• The three-screen video installation, commissioned by Noor Riyadh, displays different encounters in Riyadh and Jeddah.

• She has used the color blue to portray both sadness and calm, which is a captivating feature of the work.

Sultan, who is based in Riyadh, was drawn to the coastal city of Jeddah looking for shades of blue. She found the sea, fish markets, and a muse.

“I wrote a proposal a while back with my friends about immigrating and being the children of the sea. I kept thinking about it, and Jeddah always gave me the feeling of nostalgia. The idea of the sea kept recurring in my mind and I wanted to capture that to an extent,” she said.

The work’s title was inspired by the Bjork song “Sun In My Mouth,” leading her to write a short piece which became her starting point.




Abeer Sultan, Saudi artist

“I chant and I repeat until I meet you at the end with your cold hands in my palms. You are dead, but pulsing with life. You emanate the bluest light my love. While I’m stuck in this intolerable heat,” she wrote as part of her poem.

The text was written as a continuation of her 2022 Misk Art Institute residency project titled “Al-Bidaya,” or “The Beginning,” which sought to portray the symbolism involved at the funerals of people.

“I’m always thinking about loss and separation, and here, it came out in this way,” she said about her most recent installation.

When people see my work, I hope I can make them feel how I’m feeling, but also see themselves and their experiences in it.

Abeer Sultan, Saudi artist

On one hot summer day, she came across fallen palm trees. “It was too hot and I really loved walking and I couldn’t. So, I took videos of dead palm trees, and they really described my emotional state at the time: bent and dry,” she said.

She contrasts growth and decay, as a metaphor for life itself, by having the palm trees — no longer upright but wilting toward their final state — frame the three display screens.

She has used the color blue to portray both sadness and calm, which is a captivating feature of the work.

“It’s about separating, losing, and how that feels, but also there’s a sense of playfulness,” Sultan said about the work.

One of the scenes she presents shows her family members lining up for prayer as her young cousins fiddle around the mat, a sight which for Muslims are both familiar and nostalgic. This was inspired by a moment she witnessed where women prayed together just outside of King Fahd National Library in Riyadh.

She collaborated on the sound with fellow artist Sumayah Fallatah who repeats the words “the wave shuddered” in Arabic behind Sultan.

The closing scene of her video installation captures a woman walking towards the sea, alluding to a possibility of continuing the work as a series, championing the “Children of the Sea” concept.

The world Sultan creates is not rooted in escapism, but rather a means to contemplate our current realities. Her work is seemingly simple but evokes the complexities of human experience.

“When people see my work, I hope I can make them feel how I’m feeling, but also see themselves and their experiences in it,” Sultan said.

 


Sync Summit at Ithra ends with world premiere of documentary

Sync Summit at Ithra ends with world premiere of documentary
Updated 58 min 46 sec ago
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Sync Summit at Ithra ends with world premiere of documentary

Sync Summit at Ithra ends with world premiere of documentary
  • The documentary takes viewers on a trip as he journeys to places near and far within Japan to interact with locals, expats and visitors about their relationship to technology and nature

DHAHRAN: For the finale of the two-day Sync Digital Wellbeing Summit at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, a documentary titled “The Dark Side of Japan” premiered at the Ithra Cinema on Thursday. 

The Bahraini creative influencer, Omar Farooq, who was the narrator in the documentary, was there in-person with his team to answer questions after the screening.

As part of the Sync Spotlight series, the documentary tied together all the various themes explored during the summit, of which technology and wellness topics were explored on stage and at various points throughout the center. The documentary, which was filmed in Japan, showcases Farooq as he observes the Japanese people’s intense interactions with — and addictions to — their screens. Amid the bright lights of flashy Tokyo emerges a lingering dark side of loneliness, heads down, and fingers scrolling endlessly.

The filmmaker and influencer tried to convey an important message the old-fashioned way before the film premiere. He asked every attendee to take a moment to look under their seats. After a minute of awkward shuffling, it was revealed that an envelope was placed there so they could tuck their phones away and watch the documentary phone-free.

An envelope that was placed under each seat at the Ithra Cinema instructing viewers to place their phones there and enjoy the documentary phone-free. (Supplied)

Farooq wanted the audience to be completely immersed and to be on the journey alongside him.

The documentary takes viewers on a trip as he journeys to places near and far within Japan to interact with locals, expats and visitors about their relationship to technology and nature. He spoke to families of young children about the school system and he spent time with adults of various backgrounds to ask about their preferences: city life or country life?

“It’s hard to keep a close relationship with people (in Tokyo). We don’t have time to care about others,” a Japanese artist told him in one scene.  

Wildly popular, with 3.9 million followers on instagram, Farooq was on hand to have a discussion on stage after the screening. Moderated by Ithra’s own head of a performing arts and cinema, Majed Z. Samman, who had studied in Japan and was familiar with the Japanese culture, they were joined by Mohammed Alhajri and Ahmed Alsayed, both of whom were with Farooq in Japan to assist with the filming. They sat on the floor, Japanese style, on stage for the discussion.

The panel sat on the floor, Japanese style, for the panel discussion. (Supplied) 

“This documentary isn’t about Japan,” Farooq cautioned the audience. Japan was merely an example of a place that has been plagued by hyper internet addiction and loss of real world connection. He asks the question: “Will this be our future? Is it already our present?”

He instructs viewers to look within and not just walk away as a programmed robot on autopilot; constantly shackled to their smartphones and ignoring the world around them.

After the initial screening, there were two other screenings back-to-back at the cinema, both of which were sold out.

The Ithra-produced documentary was mostly in Arabic, with some English and some Japanese.
 


Saudi Ports Authority: Jeddah Islamic Port is ready for 2024 Hajj season

Saudi Ports Authority: Jeddah Islamic Port is ready for 2024 Hajj season
Updated 24 May 2024
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Saudi Ports Authority: Jeddah Islamic Port is ready for 2024 Hajj season

Saudi Ports Authority: Jeddah Islamic Port is ready for 2024 Hajj season
  • During Hajj season, ports are not only limited to receiving pilgrims but will also provide them with logistical and strategic services
  • Jeddah Islamic Port is the gateway to the Two Holy Mosques

RIYADH: The Saudi Ports Authority said it is ready to provide this year’s pilgrims with a distinguished experience through advanced equipment and high-tech operation systems run by young Saudi men and women skilled in welcoming pilgrims.
The authority explained that, during Hajj season, ports are not only limited to receiving pilgrims but will also provide them with logistical and strategic services, including goods and medicines delivered in a timely manner.
Ships will likewise transport livestock for sacrificial purposes, clearing them, ensuring their safety, and facilitating their transportation from the port to the holy sites through the Huda and Adahi Route initiatives, organized by the authority.
Jeddah Islamic Port is the gateway to the Two Holy Mosques and an important logistical and commercial center along the coast. It extends over an area of 12.5 sq. km and comprises equipped container terminals through which chilled and frozen food products, as well as other goods, pass.


Cameroon’s National Day celebrated in Riyadh

Cameroon’s National Day celebrated in Riyadh
Updated 24 May 2024
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Cameroon’s National Day celebrated in Riyadh

Cameroon’s National Day celebrated in Riyadh
  • Cooperation between the countries hailed by ambassador
  • The ambassador said that in addition to the projects, both countries had attributes which were complementary

RIYADH: Cameroon’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Iya Tidjani hailed the cooperation between the two countries at a reception in Riyadh to celebrate Cameroon’s 52nd National Day.
Tidjani told Arab News: “The cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Cameroon currently has an active portfolio of four projects, for a total of $61 million.
“These include the construction of the Olama-Kribi road (Bingambo-Grand Zambi section); the construction of an industrial high school in the city of Douala; the construction and equipment supply to the regional hospital of Mbalmayo; and the construction of the Bikoula-Djoum road.”
The ambassador, who was speaking at the reception, said that in addition to the projects, both countries had attributes which were complementary, and would lead to further cooperation.
Cameroon’s National Day takes place on May 20 each year, and the ambassador added: “The political history of Cameroon reminds us that it was on May 20, 1972, that Cameroonians, from north to south, from east to west, decided, following a constitutional referendum, to create a single state, whose rich cultural mosaic would constitute the strong basis of its unity.
“Long live the cooperation between the Republic of Cameroon and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“The cooperation between the two countries is testimony of the solid friendship ties existing between our two countries, and also reflects the excellent relationship we have maintained over the decades.”
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Cameroon were established in 1966 and have continued to deepen in the years since.


Shoura Council speaker heads to Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum

Shoura Council speaker heads to Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum
Updated 24 May 2024
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Shoura Council speaker heads to Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum

Shoura Council speaker heads to Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum
  • The conference will be held in Algiers on May 26-27
  • Al-Sheikh said that the Shoura Council’s participation in the conference stems from the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting joint Arab action

RIYADH: Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh will lead the Kingdom’s delegation to the 36th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The conference will be held in Algiers on May 26-27, and will be attended by heads of parliaments and councils from Arab countries.
In a statement, Al-Sheikh said that the Shoura Council’s participation in the conference stems from the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting joint Arab action, and its continued interest in establishing security, stability, and peace in Arab countries and the world.
The council seeks to support official diplomacy by taking part in regional and international parliamentary meetings and conferences, or through reciprocal visits to enhance parliamentary cooperation with various parliaments around the world, he said.
A consultative meeting between heads of parliaments before the conference will discuss several topics to be presented by its permanent committees, the Palestine Committee; the Social Affairs, Women, Children, and Youth Committee; and the Political Affairs and Parliamentary Relations Committee.
The Shoura Council delegation includes council member and member of the Executive Committee of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union Bandar bin Mohammed Asiri, council members Issa bin Mohammed Al-Issa and Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Yahya, and several council staff members.


Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission launches Sitar Program to support productions

Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission launches Sitar Program to support productions
Updated 24 May 2024
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Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission launches Sitar Program to support productions

Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission launches Sitar Program to support productions
  • The program is designed to support drama companies, institutions, associations, theater groups
  • It aims to elevate the feasibility of local productions across financial, administrative, and artistic dimensions

RIYADH: The Theater and Performing Arts Commission has announced the launch of the Sitar Program, part of the Production Support Initiative, the Saudi Press Agency Reported.
The program is designed to support drama companies, institutions, associations, theater groups, and amateur clubs operating in the performing arts sector.
According to SPA, the program aims to elevate the feasibility of local productions across financial, administrative, and artistic dimensions. It seeks to encourage investment in the sector, develop and manage support programs for theatrical productions, and mitigate risks for entities looking to invest in the industry.
Submitted works will be reviewed by several committees to ensure they meet eligibility conditions and comparison criteria. Once approved, the selected applicants will begin implementing their projects in theater and performing arts.
The program aims to enhance beneficiaries’ technical, financial, and administrative skills, stimulate sustainable theatrical productions, and expand the expertise of practitioners in the theater and production sectors.
Works benefiting from the Sitar Program have the opportunity to be nominated for participation in the second edition of the Riyadh Theater Festival.
Those interested in participating in the program are encouraged to read the general terms and conditions via the following link: https://engage.moc.gov.sa/tpa/