Saudi creatives showcase cutting-edge projects at Ithra

The winning projects each utilized immersive technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, immersive audio and haptics. (Supplied)
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The winning projects each utilized immersive technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, immersive audio and haptics. (Supplied)
Saudi creatives showcase cutting-edge projects at Ithra
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Fatimah Al-Dubaisi unveiled “Revive,” a VR experience set in a world where Earth’s ecosystem has collapsed. (Supplied)
Saudi creatives showcase cutting-edge projects at Ithra
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Creators, multimedia designers, game developers, graphic designers, animators, artists, and others interested in immersive technology are target audiences for Creative Solutions. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 February 2024
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Saudi creatives showcase cutting-edge projects at Ithra

Saudi creatives showcase cutting-edge projects at Ithra
  • Finalists this year earn a total fund of SR 750,000 ($200,000), double the amount of the last cycle

DHAHRAN: Five finalists from the third edition of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture’s immersive design residency program recently showcased their projects.

Miznah Al-Zamil, head of creativity and innovation at the center, also known as Ithra, said: “We are not just nurturing innovators, we are trying to identify and promote breakthrough creatives who will help redefine the immersive tech landscape in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

“And our quest to contribute to Saudi’s creative economy continues,” she said, adding that recruitment for the next wave of talented Saudi creatives is now underway for the fourth edition of the program.




Miznah Al-Zamil, Ithra’s head of creativity and innovation

According to Ithra, the 2023 cycle received 187 submissions. Of those, 15 ideas were selected to proceed to the three-month development phase before Wednesday, when the five successful finalists were revealed.

On Demo Day, 80 international investors and leading companies in the Kingdom’s immersive technologies sector were present to witness the five final ideas chosen. The program’s delivery partner, IN4 Group, a Manchester-based leading innovation and digital skills provider, was also present.

The winning projects — some of which responded to local and global issues such as environmental protection and historical preservation — each utilized immersive technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, immersive audio and haptics.




Experts mentored the participants and designed a series of masterclasses, workshops and bootcamps that focused on their creative, technical, and entrepreneurial abilities. (Supplied)

During the intensive, eight-month residency, participants were mentored by experts in the field and attended a series of masterclasses, workshops and bootcamps, each custom-designed to hone their creative, technical and entrepreneurial skills.

Finalists this year earn a total fund of SR 750,000 ($200,000), double the amount of the last cycle. Applicants also receive custom tech mentorship to further develop their projects into working prototypes, with the results showcased in a private exhibition at the end of the program at Ithra’s flagship creative conference, Tanween.

We are not just nurturing innovators, we are trying to identify and promote breakthrough creatives who will help redefine the immersive tech landscape in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Miznah Al-Zamil, Ithra’s head of creativity and innovation

Myriam Achard, head of partnerships at Phi Center, a multifunctional space based in Canada that is dedicated to the arts, spoke to the attendees.

“It always starts with a good story, then the technology follows,” Achard said.




Sultan Bin Masoud presents ‘AudioAura’ App at the event. (Supplied)

The five 2023 finalists were each present to guide members of the audience through their prototypes.

Sultan Bin Masoud, who has over two decades of experience as an engineer, presented AudioAura, an application with immersive audio experiences tied to specific geo-locations.

“With the goal of entertaining and educating users about Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage and history, AudioAura takes users on a journey to explore various heritage sites and be fully immersed in the recreated soundscape of historical narratives,” he said.




A VR experience presented by Michael Bou Nacklie titled "Arabia Revealed" highlights the diversity and beauty of Saudi Arabia through various locations. (Supplied)

Fatimah Al-Dubaisi unveiled “Revive,” a VR experience set in a world where Earth’s ecosystem has collapsed.

“‘Revive’ immerses viewers in a young man’s journey to protect the only plant he has ever seen amid a vicious conflict that threatens not only his life but humanity’s fate as well,” Al-Dubaisi said. Her project is in collaboration with team members Layla Al-Dubaisi, Zainab Abuabdullah and Zainab Al-Jishi.

Fatima Al-Luwaim’s “Janamia,” an immersive animated film, is set in her hometown of Al-Ahsa, about one and a half hours away from Ithra by car.

“A seemingly ordinary bougainvillea flower named Janamia embarks on a journey to discover her true worth, as she defies nature’s whims and human indifference to find a place where she truly belongs,” Al-Luwaim said of her project.

Team leader Malak Quota, along with Pixel Hunters, showed her trip within the womb in “Surrounded Serenity,” a VR experience that journeys into a place all humans have been but none recall. “It takes the user on a virtual journey which offers calming interactions and a chance at symbolic rebirth,” Quota said.

Michael Bou Nacklie presented “Arabia Revealed,” a VR experience that takes the user across various places within the Kingdom to highlight the diversity and beauty of the country.

“(It is) designed to clarify misconceptions about Saudi Arabia, as seen through the lenses of news outlets and social media influencers who often show a fraction of what the country and its people have to offer,” he said. His project is in collaboration with Hasan Hatrash and Rauf Saadra.

Launched in 2021, the Creative Solutions program runs an annual open call to attract creatives from all over the Kingdom.

The program was initially designed to be a hybrid model — a combination of online and in-person meetings. In 2024, however, Ithra aims to focus more on the latter so that participants can enjoy organic interactions at both the Idea Lab and Immersive Lab at Ithra.

The target audience for the Creative Solutions program includes filmmakers, multimedia designers, game designers, graphic designers, animators, artists and others who are interested in discovering ways to merge immersive technology with storytelling.

For more details about the Creative Solutions Residency Program, visit ithra.com.

 


KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries

KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries
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KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries

KSrelief continues aid projects across several countries

RIYADH: Saudi charity KSrelief distributed 1,930 food parcels on Saturday to displaced families in Sudan’s Blue Nile state. 
The initiative, part of the group’s food-security support project in Sudan, benefited 12,236 individuals, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The assistance comes within the framework of a series of relief and humanitarian projects implemented by Saudi Arabia through KSrelief to help conflict-hit areas, SPA added.
In Lebanon, KSrelief provided health care services to Syrian refugees and their host community in Arsal town of Baalbek Governorate. 
The Arsal Health Care Center received a total of 3,422 patients and offered 6,128 services from various health sections such as clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, nursing and the community and mental health program. 
In Yemen, KSrelief continues its implementation of the water supply and environmental sanitation projects across several districts. If February, KSrelief pumped 36,207,000 liters of usable water and 3,194,000 liters of potable water into Hajjah Governorate.
Additionally, the center carried out 237 transportation operations to remove waste from displaced camps.
In Saada Governorate, KSrelief pumped 290,000 liters of potable water and another 290,000 liters of usable water, benefiting 30,100 people.


Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke with the prime minister of Iraq on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During their phone call, Prince Mohammed and Mohammed Al-Sudani discussed developments in the region and increasing escalation against the backdrop of the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions.

They also dissussed the importance of making the necessary efforts to prevent the situation from worsening and ways to spare the region from the risks of escalation, SPA added.


Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday.

During the call, the officials discussed developments in the region and increasing escalation against the backdrop of the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions.


Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in the Middle East on Sunday with his US counterpart during a phone call.

The call comes after Iran launched a wave of missiles and attack drones against Israel overnight Saturday to Sunday.

Prince Khalid and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also discussed efforts to contain the crisis while upholding international peace and security.

The officials also reviewed their strategic defense partnership and explored ways to further enhance it, the Kingdom’s defense minister said in a post on X. 


Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
  • Ali Alhammadi has been passionate about visual arts since childhood

JEDDAH: Ali Alhammadi, a Saudi 32-year-old visual artist from Aldawadmi in Riyadh, has carved out a remarkable pathway in the world of art since his professional debut in 2017.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the “Saudi renaissance” in line with Vision 2030, prompting him to embark on a creative expedition to express his perceptions through the canvas.

Alhammadi told Arab News that his art philosophy is about breaking invisible limitations and transcending comfort zones, drawing inspiration from the evergreen landscapes he encountered during camping trips with his father in the Riyadh desert.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

“During every spring season, me and my father used to go camping in the outskirts of Riyadh, when the desert turns green for a couple of months, where all the magical inspiration happens.”

Through his landscapes and abstract pieces, Alhammadi delves into his feelings, insecurities and aspirations, painting a narrative that speaks volumes.

“I use my art to express both happiness and sadness, and sometimes I start a painting with an idea in mind, but then I end up with a new one,” he said.

Ali Alhammadi, Saudi artist

One of Alhammadi’s pioneering techniques, “Invisible Limitations,” challenges traditional conceptions and societal norms, symbolizing the potential within, and beyond self-imposed boundaries. He said that his work reflects a realization that limitations are merely illusions.

“Our comfort zone sometimes restricts our ability to be inspired and inspire others. That’s why I decided to paint the Invisible Limitations theme.

“As I matured, I realized that most of these limitations don’t exist ... our limitation is the sky.”

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

Alhammadi’s artistic evolution has been influenced by his participation in prestigious exhibitions such as The Stars Exhibition at the German Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the second Riyadh Season Exhibition.

These platforms not only showcased his talent but also provided a catalyst for his creative development, empowering him to delve deeper into his cultural roots while embracing global influences.

Navigating between diverse cultural landscapes, Alhammadi, based between Liverpool and Riyadh, seamlessly fuses vibrant hues and styles, blending Saudi heritage and international artistic trends.

His experiences abroad have expanded his artistic horizons, inspiring him to create artworks that resonate with a global audience while retaining a distinctive Saudi essence. “Now that I have found my theme and art style, I believe that this phase will take me to different phases in my professional art career,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Alhammadi envisions his artwork evolving to explore the intricacies of human and cultural relationships, going deeper into themes that resonate with universal emotions and experiences. “Human and cultural relationships is something I’m keen on expressing through art,” he said.

His participation in international and local events such as the Founding Day in Liverpool and the National Day in London has not only spotlighted his talent but also enriched his artistic narrative with a tapestry of diverse influences.

For aspiring visual artists embarking on their creative odyssey, Alhammadi offers this advice: “Stay true to your vision, embrace your unique style, and let your art tell your story.”