Artist pays homage to Saudi Arabia’s heritage, culture through diverse artforms

Abdulwahhap Otaif uses dried frond leaves as a canvas to create dotted paintings of prominent figures such as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi elements such as coffee cups and camels. (Supplied)
Abdulwahhap Otaif uses dried frond leaves as a canvas to create dotted paintings of prominent figures such as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi elements such as coffee cups and camels. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 February 2024
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Artist pays homage to Saudi Arabia’s heritage, culture through diverse artforms

Artist pays homage to Saudi Arabia’s heritage, culture through diverse artforms
  • Otaif has mastered multiple styles of abstract and realistic artforms using mediums such as clay, oil and acrylic on canvas

RIYADH: As a multidisciplinary artist, Abdulwahhap Otaif’s diverse artwork returns to one common denominator — a rich reflection of Saudi heritage.

The Saudi artist began his journey in his hometown, Abha, where he gained inspiration from the beauty of his surroundings, and guided by his sister.

“There is no doubt that the environment played a major role, in addition to the creativity of my older sister, who encouraged and nurtured me in the direction of the fine arts field until art became a pleasure and an outlet for me in life,” he told Arab News.

Otaif describes his upbringing as “a simple environment, filled with beauty and diversity, between the corn fields, the plains, the mountains, the scent of jasmine … the weekly popular markets, and the moonlit nights.”

The true artist is the one who deals with and raises in his works the issues and concerns of his society and environment.

Abdulwahhap Otaif, Saudi artist

He began drawing in elementary school and his hobby soon turned into a career.

“My passion for art continued in the middle and high school levels, then my university studies in history and civilization were a fertile field for learning about Islamic arts and architecture in different civilizations,” he said.

Otaif has mastered multiple styles of abstract and realistic artforms using mediums such as clay, oil and acrylic on canvas.

He is known for using dried frond leaves as a canvas to create dotted paintings of Saudi elements such as coffee cups and camels, and prominent figures such as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the late King Abdullah.

“There is no doubt that the Saudi heritage is very rich and diverse, and it provides broad horizons for everyone who searches for it. My project, ‘Memory of the Fool,’ was to present the Saudi heritage in different stages and methods.”

Otaif’s most recent work is an interactive piece made out of clay painted with mosaic designs that aims to stimulate multiple senses: “I try to make the viewer enjoy the work with more than one sense. So, when I spray the clay with water it emits the smell of rain meeting with the clay after a long absence, and this is due to a special technique in shaping and burning clay.”

Otaif’s work is currently being displayed at the Diriyah Doors exhibition in Riyadh.

Speaking about his participation in the local art scene, he said: “I have become an artistic imprint and have excelled in presenting heritage in a contemporary way. My project is celebrated in many organizations and events inside and outside the Kingdom, and my works are even presented as a gift from government agencies to guests from outside the Kingdom.”

Otaif says that “the development of any society is measured by the development and diversity of the arts in it, and the true artist is the one who deals with and raises in his works the issues and concerns of his society and environment.”

He believes in the significance of art as a way to document progress and history: “Also, the arts throughout history bear witness to the development of every society and convey the aspects of life and issues prevalent in that era of time.”

His studio, Kadi Gallery, is located in Riyadh’s Al-Mousa Center, where he continues to create more pieces and exhibits his work.

To explore Otaif’s  artwork, visit his Instagram @otaif_art.

 


Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
Updated 23 May 2024
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Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
  • The procedure is meant to keep the cover, known as kiswa, free from getting soiled and tampered with as pilgrims performing Hajj circumabulate the Kaaba

RIYADH: In keeping with the annual tradition, officials raised the lower part of the kiswa — the elaborately designed black cloth covering the Kaaba — in Makkah on Wednesday ahead of this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, two-and-a-half meters wide and 54 meters long on all four sides, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Carrying out the procedure were 36 specialized technical personnel with the aid of 10 cranes.

As described in the SPA report, the kiswa is lifted in several stages: It starts with unscrewing the bottom of the cover from all sides, separating the corners, then untying the bottom rope and removing it from the fixing rings, after which the cloth is rolled upward. The lanterns are then dismantled and the white cloth are put in place, after which the lanterns are reinstalled over the white cloth until the final stage.

The procedure is repeated every year to protect the kiswa from getting soiled and damaged as pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

The annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered the world's largest human gathering, with year 2012 marking the biggest number of participants at 3.16 million.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi authorities allowed only a symbolic observance of Hajj with just a thousand pilgrims. The numbers were gradually raised as the health crisis was placed under control worldwide. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed the "once in a lifetime" journey and the figure is expected to go higher this year.

Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dul Hijjah, the black silk cloth is removed and a new kiswa is draped in its place.


Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior announced that visit visa holders are not allowed to enter or stay in Makkah during May 23-June 21 as access to the city will be limited to Hajj visa holders.

The ministry stressed that all types of visit visa are not a permit to perform Hajj, adding that violators will be subject to penalties according to Saudi laws and regulations.


Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, conveyed the condolences of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to top Iranian officials in Tehran on Wednesday on the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions.

Prince Mansour bin Muteb bin Abdulaziz, Adviser to King Salman and Minister of State, and Prince Faisal were received by Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs to Iran President Mohammad Jamshidi and Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.

Saudi ambassador to Iran Abdullah Al-Enazi attended the reception.


Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
  • Accreditation follows evaluation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve by the international organization Key Biodiversity Areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been granted accreditation as “the first major biodiversity site in the Kingdom.”

The organization Key Biodiversity Areas confirmed the accreditation, after an evaluation based on international standards, on its website on Wednesday. It said the reserve meets three global standards, including the presence of endangered species, and so qualifies for inclusion. The announcement coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place on May 22 each year.

KBA works to monitor and preserve approved sites of great importance as part of its efforts to sustain biological diversity on a global level, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi reserve is managed by the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority with the aim of protecting endangered species, developing natural habitats, raising environmental awareness among the public, and reducing natural and human threats to the area. It is considered the largest nature reserve in the Middle East, covering a total area of 130,700 square kilometers.


Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the UN World Tourism Organization’s 50th meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, on Wednesday in Muscat.

During his speech, the Saudi minister stressed the Kingdom’s openness to cooperate with member states to adopt joint regional tourism projects to attract international visitors to the region. 

Al-Khateeb thanked the Omani Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salem Al-Mahrouqi for the hospitality and extended his appreciation to the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other officials for their efforts to advance the tourism sector globally.