Saudi creative couple pursuing Japanese art dream

Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)
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Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)
Saudi creative couple pursuing Japanese art dream
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Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)
Saudi creative couple pursuing Japanese art dream
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Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)
Saudi creative couple pursuing Japanese art dream
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Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)
Saudi creative couple pursuing Japanese art dream
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Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 February 2024
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Saudi creative couple pursuing Japanese art dream

Saudi creative couple pursuing Japanese art dream
  • Fatimah Al-Dubais, Mohammad Al-Madan are spreading their love for the artforms across Saudi Arabia

DHAHRAN: The first thing that strikes you when you meet the creative duo Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan is how much they love merging Japanese aesthetics with Saudi sensibilities. It would not be unusual for one to have an engaging conversation with them about Japanese-related matters while they each keep their hands busy. Her, elegantly folding vibrantly-colored paper rapidly into a crane as she talks, and him, sketching with his signature anime-style drawing as he responds. Their love for Japanese art runs deep — all while always maintaining their Saudi roots.

Both Al-Dubais and Al-Madan grew up in the Eastern Province; they each independently grew a fascination for Japanese art from a young age — Al-Dubais with origami, Al-Madan with anime and manga. They met in the creative world in 2016 and have since become partners in life and in work.

“We are known in our Saudi friend circle as the ‘Japanese art couple’,” Al-Madan told Arab News with a smile.




Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)

Indeed, the creative couple have been adamant about spreading their version of Japanese-inspired art in the Kingdom for the last seven years, teaching hundreds of students workshops and offering personalized guidance for locals who want to merge their chosen traditional Japanese art forms — all while still keeping it fresh and “Saudi.”

The story unfolded when Al-Dubais was about 12 years old in Saihat City in 2010. A student she did not know was creating little cranes made of paper and gifting them to other girls at school. Although she never received one herself, Al-Dubais was instantly fascinated. The idea of taking a mundane everyday item like paper and using just your hands to transform it into something else entirely intrigued her, but she did not know what the art form was called.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Both Fatimah Al-Dubais and Mohammad Al-Madan grew up in the Eastern Province and became fascinated by Japanese art from a young age.

• They bonded professionally over their love of Japanese art and their interest in finding creative ways to weave their Saudi identity into their works.

• The pair have worked on many collaborations, using local materials like parts extracted from a palm tree to make art.

YouTube had just started to become popular that year and Al-Dubais had to ask her parents for permission to make a search. As soon as she went online, she tried to look up paper-related art but she could not find the right keyword. Then one day, the algorithm showed her a thumbnail of an origami video and she clicked it. That is how her journey into origami started.

She then spent hours and hours teaching herself how to shape little pieces of paper at home into small works of art. Her mother, who constantly encouraged her to explore new art forms and to be creative, told her to keep at it. So, she did.




Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)

“My mother was my biggest supporter when I was starting to learn origami. Many people around me told me stuff like ‘what are you doing, just folding paper over and over, that isn’t even artistic!’ I enjoyed it, though, and my mother told me to ignore them. It was ‘something’ and soon, they’d know it,” Al-Dubais told Arab News.

And, soon enough, people did. In 2013, after years of making little paper pieces of art in her bedroom, Al-Dubais’ mother told her she had a surprise. Her mother had spoken to some local artists in Saihat and told Al-Dubais to pack some of her paper creations — they were going to show them off at an art show. It was the first time she felt like a legitimate artist and that her works were worthy of being showcased. She learned a lot from that experience and the interaction with other artists encouraged her to become a full-time artist. A year later, in 2014, she started to buy proper origami paper when a new store opened up not too far from her hometown. Every Thursday, she would make a trip there to buy some paper. Then, she started to order from Amazon.

Going to Japan — a place that inspired our work and our lives, even from this distance — would be a dream.

Fatimah Al- Dubais, and Mohammad Al-Madan Saudi artists

While still in high school, Al-Dubais began teaching workshops related to origami, and after she graduated in 2015, she decided to go all in.

When talking to locals about her love of origami, she met a gentleman who worked between Saudi Arabia and Japan and asked if she would like an introduction to the Japanese Embassy in Riyadh. Al-Dubais’ mother accompanied her to the Kingdom’s capital, where she spoke to people about her art and gained confidence to continue learning the craft professionally.

Meanwhile, Al-Madan, who is a few years older than Al-Dubais, grew up not far from her hometown and also had a love of Japanese art — but it was more focused on manga and anime. He was always a creative child and also grew up in a creative family who worked with their hands.




Fatimah Al-Dubais and her artist husband Mohammad Al-Madan’s love for Japanese art runs deep, while always maintaining their Saudi roots. (Supplied)

“In 2016, I was leading an art workshop in Qatif and needed some assistance. Mohammad — who is now my husband — was a volunteer,” Al-Dubais said with a giggle. They bonded professionally over their love of Japanese art and their interest in finding creative ways to weave their Saudi identity into their works.

Al-Madan, who was studying in the US at the time, went back to university. Although his major was in business management, he took art classes on the side just for fun.

“I took an animation class and developed my own style which I use today,” he said.

Upon his return, he proposed to Al-Dubais. It was at the height of the pandemic so they had to keep their wedding very small. After that, their lives centered on Japanese-inspired art.

Speaking about her husband’s artwork, Al-Dubais said: “Not because he’s my husband, but I really like his style! It has elements of anime but is a bit more realistic, like the features look a bit more real. He will talk to you and pay attention to what you are saying while his hands draw you at the same time. It is his way of communicating.”

They both used to create art the old-fashioned way, with paper, but have now pivoted to digital mediums. The couple rarely start with paper anymore, since it is more practical and efficient to do most things electronically, saving time and energy, as well as materials.

The pair have worked on many collaborations since, using local materials like parts extracted from a palm tree to make art.

Last year, they worked on a giant origami-inspired owl art piece at a local cafe in Saihat, named Sova, which became the talk of the town. Sova, which means owl in Ukrainian, became a physical manifestation that combined their skills to create a large-scale art piece that locals could interact with.

They also collaborated on many workshops at Ithra in Dhahran, and at Hayy Jameel on the opposite coast in Jeddah. So far, the couple have taught hundreds of students by hosting events in most major cities within the Kingdom.

But they are still looking to learn and create. A missing piece still remains: They have never visited Japan to experience the art forms they now center their lives around.

“We got married during (the pandemic) and our plan was to go to Japan for our honeymoon, but that still didn’t work out. Hopefully we will get a chance to go, to visit or study. Going to Japan — a place that inspired our work and our lives, even from this distance — would be a dream,” the couple said.

 


Saudi Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites

Saudi Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites
Updated 33 min 5 sec ago
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Saudi Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites

Saudi Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs prepares 5 clinics, center for heat exhaustion at Hajj sites
  • Some 250 employees and health practitioners made available, including 50 doctors specialized in different fields
  • Facilities include 26 inpatient beds, ICU beds, isolation rooms

MAKKAH: The Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs has prepared five clinics and a medical center for heat exhaustion and sunstroke at Mina and Arafat to serve pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.
The Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday that the ministry had concluded its preparations and made available 250 employees and health practitioners, including 50 doctors specialized in intensive care, cardiology, emergency, internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, family and community medicine, and fighting infections.
Dr. Jabr Al-Subaie, the chief operating officer in the health affairs section of the ministry in the Western Region, said that five clinics had been set up for men and women suffering with respiratory diseases, along with 26 inpatient beds, ICU beds, and isolation rooms.
He added that a room for minor operations, a dental clinic, a pharmacy and a laboratory will also be made available, along with radiology services.
The health affairs section is also present for a second year in Arafat, with a heat exhaustion and sunstroke center boasting 20 beds with the latest equipment.
The center has an air and water spray distribution system. There are also clinics for men and women and an outpatient pharmacy.
Dr. Majid Al-Thaqafi, the medical supervisor at the field hospital in Mina, said all rescue teams were equipped with the latest emergency and support equipment at the Jamarat sites at Mina and Jabal Al-Rahma (Mount Arafat).


How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj

How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj
Updated 31 min 11 sec ago
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How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj

How Saudi Arabia is using AI and other high-tech solutions to streamline traffic during Hajj
  • By monitoring congestion with AI-controlled drones, the Kingdom offers pilgrims a seamless transport experience
  • To bypass Makkah’s heavy congested streets, hospitals will use drones to transport blood and laboratory samples

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is using artificial intelligence technologies to enhance traffic management and alleviate congestion in Makkah during the annual Hajj season, ultimately providing a more secure and seamless pilgrimage experience.

Having hosted 1,845,045 pilgrims in the 2023 season, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Statistics, efficient traffic control measures are more important than ever.

By implementing AI-powered solutions, such as real-time traffic monitoring and adaptive signal control systems, Saudi Arabia aims to streamline the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, reducing bottlenecks and ensuring smoother movement throughout the city.

Col. Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, security spokesperson at the Ministry of Interior, told Arab News there are several new AI applications for this Hajj season, including new algorithms for surveillance cameras to analyze the number of vehicles on the city’s streets.

“We have supplied advanced digital equipment for data, artificial intelligence, and cutting-edge technology to assist field officials and incorporate AI into operational systems,” Al-Shalhoub said.

“We are utilizing AI technologies to enhance traffic control in Makkah by leveraging the collaboration between the Civil Defense and the Saudi Data and AI Authority.”

This partnership will offer digital solutions to assist security personnel in monitoring and analyzing data during Hajj operations.

“The cooperation between these authorities allowed us to establish an integrated advanced technology system during this year’s Hajj season, where operations centers are equipped with smart platforms built with national artificial intelligence algorithms to serve the pilgrims during their performance of Hajj rituals,” Al-Shalhoub added.

Saleh Al-Jasser, the Kingdom’s minister of transport and logistics, recently announced the rollout of new technologies designed to manage traffic during Hajj this year, including the use of drones for road network inspection and evaluation using thermal scanning.

Meanwhile, the Virtual Glasses Initiative is revolutionizing transport monitoring by equipping field monitors with augmented reality glasses to supervise activities and ensure compliance.

With a target to cut inspection times by 600 percent, from 60 seconds to just 10 seconds, it is hoped that this innovative technology will streamline operations and significantly improve efficiency.

“Cameras, intelligent systems, and sophisticated data dashboards, like the Sawaher platform, offer advanced services for identifying and analyzing the flow of vehicles and pilgrims, as well as for detecting violations in different areas,” Al-Shalhoub said.

By improving monitoring quality and easing congestion, the initiative is providing a more seamless transport experience for passengers.

The initiative is currently being tested on a fleet of 100 buses to assess its effectiveness.

The Ministry of Health will also be using drones to quickly and efficiently transport blood and laboratory samples between hospitals around the holy sites to help cut waiting times for transfusions and test results.

Compared with the existing system of making deliveries by road, drones will reduce the time needed to transport blood from an average of two and a half hours to just two minutes.

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The Public Transport Authority has also launched the “Enseeyab” initiative, first introduced during Hajj season 2023, using drones connected to an AI program to measure the real-time movement of pilgrims to the holy sites by bus.

The authority aims to provide safe means of travel using new technologies, including AI, to measure their effectiveness. These technologies will ensure pilgrims can perform rituals in comfort and with ease.

Another way authorities will be managing traffic congestion during Hajj is through micro-mobility options, such as electric scooters, which will be available at the holy sites to facilitate movement.

By providing designated paths for these electric scooters, planners have allowed pilgrims to travel more efficiently and reduce the overall congestion in high-traffic areas.

Some of the key routes that could benefit from the use of electric scooters include Route No.1 from Arafat to Muzdalifah border, which is 4,000 meters in length, and the 1,200m pedestrian road bridge entering and exiting Jamarat.

These technology-driven solutions reflect the country’s commitment to use innovations to optimize the Hajj experience for all participants.

Through the integration of AI into traffic management systems, Saudi Arabia can adapt to changing conditions and address issues quickly.

This proactive stance helps to alleviate congestion and enhance the overall efficiency of transport networks during Hajj.


First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports

First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports
Updated 13 June 2024
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First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports

First Saudi pro boxer hails Kingdom’s rise as major force in global sports
  • Ziyad Al-Maayouf tells the Mayman Show by Arab News he hopes he can inspire more young Saudis to take up the sport and follow in his footsteps
  • In the absence of any local boxing heroes from the Kingdom when starting out, he says he looked to Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao for inspiration

Riyadh: Saudi professional boxer Ziyad Al-Maayouf is proud that the Kingdom is establishing itself as a major force on the global sports stage.

During an interview with the Mayman Show by Arab News, the 23-year-old also spoke of his hopes that he is only the first of many professional boxers from Saudi Arabia, and told how his journey as a professional boxer began in 2010.

“It really started for me when one day I Googled ‘professional Saudi boxer.’ I found no one,” he said, adding that he then searched for just “Saudi boxer” and still found no results.

This is important, he added, because young people who aspire to careers in sports naturally look to their idols for inspiration.

“It’s even a lot better when your idols are people you can relate to, where your superheroes are people you could relate to,” he said.

But when Al-Maayouf went looking for someone with whom he could closely identify to inspire him in his boxing career he could not find anyone from his country.

“That’s where I said, OK, I think this is where I want to start competing,” he said. “I want to be the guy who, when you Google ‘professional boxer from Saudi Arabia,’ he comes up; and, you know, little did I know, the stars were aligning in the way they did.”

Al-Maayouf said he is very pleased to see sports initiatives form such an important part of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s national development and diversification plan.

“The sport they choose to invest in the most, and powerfully, powerfully, like that, is boxing,” he said. “And then behind the scenes, there is a Saudi boxer that’s been training for over a decade, preparing and waiting for a moment like that. So I always say that my career aligns exactly with Vision 2030, you know?”

In the absence of any local heroes, Al-Maayouf said he has been greatly inspired by Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, in part because of what the fighter means to the people of his native country.

“The way that he is to the Philippines, they look at him as if he’s come from the sky,” he said. “It's like he is something else for them there. It is like he’s a prophet there (for) what he was for the Philippines, how he carried that weight on his back and how much he achieved while doing so.”

Al-Maayouf said he can relate to Pacquiao’s journey as a boxer who moved alone to another country to train, leaving his family and friends behind. He also respects the legendary fighter’s achievements outside of the ring, in particular his efforts to help promote his country and community.

“How he helped his people, how he introduced the world to the Philippines, you know?” he said. “And he was always announced as ‘the fighting pride of the Philippines.’ So I always wanted to be announced as ‘the fighting pride of Saudi Arabia,’ you know? ‘The fighting pride of the Arab world.’”

Inspired by Pacquiao, Al-Maayouf trained at the Filipino fighter’s gym when he moved to the US in 2019 to pursue his studies, majoring in psychology.

“I only applied to universities in Los Angeles because that’s where Pacquiao was,” he said. “That’s where Pacquiao’s gym was. That’s where his coach was. I wanted to go where Pacquiao did, so I did exactly that.

“On Aug. 4, 2019, I arrived in LA; on Aug. 5, I was in Pacquiao’s gym, training. And ever since, I could maybe count the weeks on my hand that I took off from training since 2019. Because when I moved, I realized that the decade I had been training before went out the window because, you know, we didn’t have the IQ, the knowledge.”

The Kingdom was still learning about boxing during that time, he said, and the sport was rarely even broadcast on TV.

“So the levels were completely different,” Al-Maayouf added. “I stayed there for a lot of years, just getting a beating every single day.”


Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister

Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister
Updated 13 June 2024
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Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister

Saudi FM receives phone call from Iran’s acting foreign minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday received a phone call from the Iranian acting foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani.
During the call, they reviewed aspects of cooperation between the two countries and topics of common interest, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.


Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy

Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy
Updated 13 June 2024
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Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy

Makkah faces potential thunderstorms, Madinah and Jeddah partly cloudy
  • Current temperatures in Makkah sit at 43 degrees Celsius

MAKKAH: There is a chance of rain and thunderstorms over Makkah in the next few hours, according to the National Center of Meteorology.
Meanwhile, Madinah and Jeddah are also expected to be partly cloudy, reported Saudi Press Agency on Thursday.
Current temperatures in Makkah sit at 43 degrees Celsius, with south-westerly to westerly winds ranging from 12 to 34 km/h. These could increase to more than 50 km/h with thunderstorms.
Madinah is experiencing significantly warmer temperatures at 46 degrees Celsius, with westerly to south-westerly winds at 12 to 34 km/h.
Jeddah offers a reprieve from the heat with temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius and north-westerly to westerly winds at 10 to 30 km/h.