Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  

Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  
Diriyah Biennale Foundation Exterior. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 February 2024
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Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  

Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  
  • ‘After Rain’ features 92 artists and is led by a team of international and Saudi curators  

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s flourishing cultural scene gains further impetus this month with the return of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale. Taking place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh from Feb. 20 to May 24, this is the second edition of the contemporary art event after its inaugural showing in December 2021.  

Titled “After Rain,” the biennale will feature the work of 92 artists from 43 countries, of whom 30 are from the Gulf region. Such a vibrant mix of artists from around the world supports the biennale’s mission to provide a platform for contemporary art to foster dialogue between Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.  

The 2024 biennale centers around ideas relating to the natural environment and the impact it has on human life. If one is living in an oasis in the desert, for example, when it rains it has an immediate effect on the surroundings. Drops of rain nourish the earth and revitalize it. So the title “After the Rain,” explains the biennale’s German-born lead curator and artistic director Ute Meta Bauer, is about renewal and hope — reflective of the energy and change of today’s Saudi Arabia.  




Ahmed Mater in his Riyadh studio in June 2022. Mater is one of the Saudi artists participating in this year's Diriyah Biennale. (AFP)

“The second edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale,” Bauer tells Arab News, “examines the role that contemporary art can foster in a society that is (in) a period of rapid change.” 

The event will take place across seven halls and numerous terraces and courtyards in a series of repurposed former warehouses located in the JAX District of Diriyah, situated along Wadi Hanifa. 

Led by Bauer, the curatorial team includes Wejdan Reda of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation; Rahul Gudipudi, who will act as adjunct curator alongside co-curators Rose Lejeune and Anca Rujoiu; Ana Salazar; Amina Diab; Dian Arumningtyas; and Alanood AlSudairi. 

“The artists’ experiences stood central in the preparation of ‘After Rain,’” Reda says. “We organized various trips to different parts of Riyadh and the Kingdom to engage with professionals across various disciplines to explore various offerings around the country.” 

Those excursions included visits to Dammam, Khobar, Al-hasaa, Riyadh, Jeddah, Khamis Mushait, Abha, and Rijaal Almaa, and centered around fostering conversations and enhancing collaboration between Saudi artists of various generations to further learn about the country’s rich and diverse cultural scene. 




Mohammad Al-Faraj at Hayy Jameel in Jeddah in early 2023 Al-Faraj is one of the Saudi artists participating in this year's Diriyah Biennale. (Supplied)

“It is our deeply held belief and ambition as a foundation to deliver world-class international platforms that highlight the transformative power of 

the arts in Saudi Arabian society,” Aya Al-Bakree, the CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation said in a statement. “‘After Rain’ opens a new chapter for the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, where a diverse and multi-generational group of artists come together. We hope to ignite conversations, broaden perspectives, and, above all, engage wider audiences than ever before with the arts.” 

Participating Saudi artists include Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, Asma Bahmim, Mohammad Al-Faraj, and Ahmed Mater. The featured works cover a range of media and diverse artistic practices exploring a range of subjects, including historical, archaeological, and environmental issues, among many others. 

“Our aim is to engage deeply with the location and the conversations taking place here, while simultaneously fostering new connections within the Middle East region and beyond,” said Bauer. 

Many of the works will reflect on — and engage with — the unprecedented period of transformation currently taking place in Saudi Arabia. 

Among the newly commissioned works will be a collaborative project between Mater, one of Saudi Arabia’s most important artists, and Berlin-based photographer and filmmaker Armin Linke. The two artists have embarked on a long-term partnership that will see them jointly documenting Saudi futurism since the 1940s. Both artists conducted research into the archives of Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom’s petroleum and natural gas company, located in Dhahran in the eastern province.  




The biennale curatorial team Top (L-R) Ana Salazar, Dian Arumningtyas, Ute Meta Bauer, Wejdan Reda, Anca Rujoiu Bottom (L-R) Alanood Alsudairi, Rose Lejeune, Rahul Gudipudi. (Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

On a more spiritual note, the Jeddah-based Yemeni artist Sara Abdu will create a series of towers made from hand-crafted bars of soap to explore the region’s cleansing rituals.  

As this year’s biennale will be running throughout Ramadan, many of the works focus on the communal values of the holy month, such as the sharing of food, for example. Britto Arts Trust will invites the audience to harvest, cook, and eat in a bamboo architectural structure, while NJOKOBOK, a collaboration between artists Youssou Diop and Apolonija Sustersic, will operate a juice and tea bar serving locally produced hibiscus and ginger juice, alongside Senegalese mint tea. 

Additionally, Lucy and Jorge Orta will invite the public to participate in a meal in the streets of the JAX District, connecting the structure in which the Biennale is housed with artist studios and other artistic platforms within the district.  

Another interactive highlight will be large-scale artworks that incorporate contemporary art references with traditional Saudi art forms. These will be stationed outdoors around the JAX district. One example is a work by Bosnian-born Azra Aksamija in the form of a 70-meter-long canopy of recycled felt, inspired by Saudi textiles and incorporating traditional Sadu weaving techniques. 

Dutch architect Anne Holtrop, meanwhile, will build a structure from recycled glass sheets produced by Saudi manufacturers.  

Beyond the themes of renewal, hope and the natural environment, a great emphasis has been placed on knowledge, discovery and cross-cultural dialogue.  

“The biennale is a meeting ground for young voices and established figures,” emphasizes Bauer. “It feeds off and nurtures the cultural ecosystem in which it is embedded.” 

Innovation, both artistic and intellectual, with a focus on history, creativity and nature is, then, the mission of “After Rain” — for rainfall promises a period of fertility, regeneration and hope. 


Birthday wishes pour in for Gigi Hadid

Birthday wishes pour in for Gigi Hadid
Updated 6 sec ago
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Birthday wishes pour in for Gigi Hadid

Birthday wishes pour in for Gigi Hadid

DUBAI: US Dutch Palestinian model Gigi Hadid turned 29 this week and the fashion and beauty crowd took to Instagram in droves to wish her a happy birthday.

Hadid’s younger sister, Bella Hadid, kickstarted the well wishes with a heartwarming message alongside a carousel of photos of the sisters, including several childhood snaps.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

“Happy birthday princess of Genovia, I love you so much,” Bella captioned her Instagram post. “Life without you would be nothing, I would be nothing! You inspire me and make me feel strong.

“Watching you give birth and then raise the most perfect angel is the most magical gift a sister could ask for,” Bella wrote to the mother-of-one. “I feel so lucky. You are the best and coolest mama, best sister, best daughter, and best friend. Anyone who has the privilege to be in your orbit is lucky. I love you sissy, you make me feel proud to be your sister.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

Leading designers also took to the photo-sharing social media platform to celebrate the birthday girl, including Donatella Versace who wrote: “Happy Birthday to you, my girl @gigihadid. You are beautiful inside and out, Gigi. I hope you have the best day celebrating with Khai and all your loved ones. You deserve the best, always.”

Khai is Hadid’s three-year-old daughter with British singer Zayn Malik.

Fellow model Lily Aldridge, British designer and TV personality Tan France, stylists Elizabeth Sulcer and Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, celebrity makeup artist Partick Ta and many more all took to Instagram Stories to share touching messages.

Also paying tribute to the catwalk star on her special day was her father, Palestinian real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid, who shared a thoughtful birthday message on his feed.

“Happiest birthday to my beautiful smart elegant loving caring talented mother sister daughter one can ever be. Happy birthday my love,” he wrote. 

Hadid has been occupied with her fashion label, Guest In Residence. Just last week, she unveiled the Spring/Summer collection both online and in stores. The collection introduces the brand’s inaugural cotton and silk blends, along with lightweight cashmere options.


Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh

Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh
Updated 24 April 2024
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Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh

Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh

RIYADH: Milan-based Istituto Marangoni, in collaboration with the Saudi Fashion Commission, will open a Higher Training Institute in Riyadh offering courses specialized in fashion and luxury, with plans to inaugurate the institute in 2025. 

According to a released statement, the institute’s mission in Saudi Arabia is to explore new avenues for local talent development and generate employment opportunities in the relevant industries.

The new institute in Riyadh will offer three-year advanced diplomas available in specific areas such as Fashion Design, Fashion Management, Fashion Product, Fashion Styling & Creative Direction, and also in the management of Fragrances & Cosmetics and Interior Design. (Supplied)

 “We are very excited to do a partnership with Istituto Marangoni. It's one of the leading global educational institutions focused on fashion and design. They have many campuses around the world, but for Saudi Arabia, it's the first time they are opening their campus. And they are also the first educational institution to come into Saudi Arabia as a foreign direct investment, which shows their commitment to the potential in the Saudi market, especially for creatives and businesses, and through this partnership, we'll be able to educate and provide employment to all the local creatives in the industry in Saudi Arabia,” Burak Çakmak, chief executive officer of the Fashion Commission under Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture, told Arab News.

The new institute in Riyadh, to be accredited by the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, will offer three-year advanced diplomas available in specific areas such as Fashion Design, Fashion Management, Fashion Product, Fashion Styling & Creative Direction, and also in the management of Fragrances & Cosmetics and Interior Design. Students will be able to choose whether to complete the advanced diploma in Riyadh, with the option of stepping into the fashion industry through a six-month internship during the last year of study, or complete studies for a bachelor’s degree at any international Istituto Marangoni campus.

The institute’s mission in Saudi Arabia is to explore new avenues for local talent development and generate employment opportunities in the relevant industries. (SupplieD)

The institute has campuses in Milan, Florence, Dubai, Paris, London and Miami.

In a released statement, Stefania Valenti, Global Managing Director of Istituto Marangoni, said: “We created this important partnership with the Saudi Fashion Commission because we believed that they are going to have a very strong agenda that is going to create a fashion (and) luxury system in Saudi (Arabia).

“We want to provide our knowledge and skills to the new generation, because there is a strong appetite here for the young generation, for the women, that they want to start to study in Saudi, they don't want to study abroad,” she added. 


Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection

Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection
Updated 23 April 2024
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Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection

Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection

DUBAI: Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teased her new collection, titled “High Summer,” on social media this week.

The celebrity-loved designer will release her new drop worldwide at 3 p.m. Central European Time on Tuesday.

Muaddi shared a teaser with her 1.3 million followers featuring a model opening a cream-colored clutch, revealing a mirror on the inside of the bag.

In addition to her collection of shoes, Muaddi’s jewelry and bag lines are also gaining acclaim among her celebrity clientele. The shoemaker’s label has garnered a loyal list of famous fans, including Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber Baldwin. 

Muaddi launched her eponymous footwear line in August 2018, about one year after departing from her role as co-founder and creative director of luxury footwear label Oscar Tiye.

The creator also helped design the shoes for Rihanna’s Fenty collection. The collaboration received the Collaborator of the Year award at the 34th edition of the FN Achievement Awards in 2020.

A year later, she landed a spot on Women’s Wear Daily and Footwear News’ 50 Most Powerful Women list.

Her jewelry collection encompasses rings, earrings and bangles.

The rings boast spiral-shaped designs, bombe rings with a crystal centrepieces available in both silver and gold, and a silver band adorned with crystals.

In the earring selection, versatility reigns supreme. Alongside simple rectangle and circular hoops embellished with crystals, she offers intricate multi-ring hoop designs.

The designer’s handbag range includes a variety of styles, from sleek clutches with striking embellishments to bold totes and crossbody bags.

Some of the bags are embellished with sparkling crystals or intricate sequins, while others are made from satin or leather and feature metallic finishes. The color palette includes classic cream, brown, black, red and silver.

Muaddi previously spoke to Footwear News about her rise of one of the most in-demand footwear designers in the industry.

“I was so passionate, so I was willing to go through any hardship,” she told the publication. “There’s a reason why only so many people get to this point, because you get tested a lot.

“Many times, I was close to giving up. I had to part ways with my partner, with producers; I’ve had (orders) cancelled. It’s not about what you go through, it’s how you survive the situation and how you thrive after it. It’s a never-ending lesson,” she added.


REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure

REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure
Updated 23 April 2024
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REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure

REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure

LONDON: Right from the start, before you even take control of Selene Vassos, a reconnaissance scout who has crash landed on a prohibited and mysterious planet, you are warned that “Returnal” (available originally for PS5 but now PC too) is “intended to be a challenging experience.” Such difficulty may deter the casual gamer used to a steady progression of character and exploration through a games environment. However, “Returnal” is a thoughtful and rewarding adventure that lays claim to much originality of thought in its set up. The key theme is that when you die, you return! But not to the same environment that you were in before. Instead, each new cycle postures new challenges and progress can only be made by unlocking upgrades that allow you to make more meta progress in Selene’s journey.

Selene herself is a super professional, unfazed character who doesn’t appear too bothered when she comes across a body of her former self that died in this strange world where the laws of physics and time appear not to apply. Staying alive is obviously crucial, particularly as it allows her to retain better weapons for longer. In addition, avoiding damage allows for boosts of agility, vision and more, making for a more lethal Selene. The environment is varied and surprising with each incarnation and the weapons on offer come complete with a range of exciting alternative fire mechanisms such as homing missiles or laser-like items. A hostile environment where even plants are a threat to life is mitigated by your technology, the core of which you can improve despite the reset of deaths, through fancy smart “xeno-tech” that becomes integrated with alien kit left around.

There is a paradox in “Returnal” described by Selene herself that she is trapped in an environment that is “always the same, always changing,” which literally makes no sense. Players have to be patient in the early chapters getting used to the sapping dynamic of death and return. Once that makes more sense, the loneliness of both her alien environment and the impossibility of even dying to escape it make for a pretty special atmosphere that a smart shooting engine then complements.


Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard
Updated 22 April 2024
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Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

DUBAI: US Palestinian beauty moguls Simi and Haze Khadra took to the stage at the Arab Conference at Harvard in the US to share insights into their business, SimiHaze Beauty.

The twins — who are often spotted alongside the likes of Kylie and Kendall Jenner as well as Canadian musician The Weeknd — spoke at the conference that ran from April 19-21.

“Thank you for having us as speakers at Harvard’s ACH24, discussing our unwavering values in our lives and business which has not only brought us more purpose, but also more success. We also discuss the next frontier of the beauty business as founders (of) @simihazebeauty,” the pair shared on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

The brand is set to be available in the GCC via French multinational retailer Sephora starting from May 2024, with the sisters scheduled to jet to Dubai for a launch event on May 2.

The twins launched their US-born cosmetics brand in 2021 with a range of stick-on makeup designs that can be placed on the face for a bold beauty look achievable within seconds. The sticker book features an array of edgy designs inspired by their favorite DJ looks from the past, such as chrome wings, neon negative space eyeliner and holographic cat-eyes.

SimiHaze Beauty has expanded to include a range of products, including lipsticks, bronzing powders, a lifting mascara and more.

The beauty entrepreneurs and DJs, who grew up between Riyadh, Dubai and London, are known for their contemporary beauty looks and are often spotted in public with futuristic makeup, something they have managed to encapsulate in their brand.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

Earlier this month, the sisters celebrated their birthday with a call for donations to Gaza.

“Thank you for all the sweet birthday messages. Feeling all the love and radiating it all back to you. All we want for our (birthday) is for you to help us build a NICU for the babies in Rafah,” the sisters posted.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

“Many premature babies in Gaza are in dire need of help as a result of the ongoing blockade by Israel. Newborns share incubators as supplies run low at the few swamped remaining hospitals that have not been attacked. @heal.palestine is actively working on building a new NICU in Rafah while supporting the only other existing NICU at the Emirati Hospital by providing medication and all the other supplies to help give premature babies the care they need,” the sisters posted on Instagram earlier this week, referring to US-based nonprofit organization Heal Palestine.

The pair have been vocal about the conflict in Gaza, posting frequently on their social media platforms as well as hosting video discussions on YouTube on various aspects of Israeli-Palestinian politics.