New collection pays homage to Saudi architectural heritage

The Banat Al-Balad bridal look features a roshan pattern inspired by the one in Beit Nassif. (Photos by Jaleel Felemban/ AN photo)
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The Banat Al-Balad bridal look features a roshan pattern inspired by the one in Beit Nassif. (Photos by Jaleel Felemban/ AN photo)
New collection pays homage to Saudi architectural heritage
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Rae Joseph. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New collection pays homage to Saudi architectural heritage
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The Banat Al-Balad bridal look features a roshan pattern inspired by the one in Beit Nassif. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New collection pays homage to Saudi architectural heritage
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Rae Joseph and Makram Marzuki. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)
New collection pays homage to Saudi architectural heritage
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Photo by Jaleel Felemban
New collection pays homage to Saudi architectural heritage
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Photo by Jaleel Felemban
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Updated 18 February 2024
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New collection pays homage to Saudi architectural heritage

The Banat Al-Balad bridal look features a roshan pattern inspired by the one in Beit Nassif. (Photos by Jaleel Felemban/AN photo
  • Banat Al-Balad by designer Makram Marzuki translates woodwork of rawashin into wearable garments

JEDDAH: In a remarkable fusion of tradition and modernity, Banat Al-Balad, a fashion collection by Saudi designer Makram Marzuki showcased at Zainal House in Jeddah’s historic district Al-Balad on Saturday, pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of Jeddah.

Marzuki, originating from Jeddah, selected his hometown as the muse for this unique collection, aiming to encapsulate the essence of Al-Balad’s stone facades and decorative rawashin.

The collection, rooted in the intricate beauty of Hijazi architecture, draws inspiration from the ornate rawashin and mangour window screen patterns that have long been a distinctive feature of the region’s buildings.




The Banat Al-Balad bridal look features a roshan pattern inspired by the one in Beit Nassif. (Photos by Jaleel Felemban/ AN photo)

Rawashin are an architectural feature prominent in Hijazi architecture, particularly in the historic areas of Jeddah and Makkah in Saudi Arabia. The term roshan refers to elaborately carved wooden window frames or latticework screens that are an integral part of traditional houses in the Hijaz region. These ornate wooden screens serve several practical and aesthetic purposes. The mangour patterns are the primary inspiration adorning each piece of textile in the collection.

The collection features 23 dresses worn by Saudi models from all 13 regions of the Kingdom, highlighting the diversity of Saudi beauty.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Banat Al-Balad draws inspiration from the ornate rawashin and mangour window screen patterns that have long been a distinctive feature of the region’s buildings.

• Recent Royal Institute of Traditional Arts graduate Samaher Bashamakh reinterpreted the traditional wooden patterns for textile.

Each piece in the Banat Al-Balad collection is a testament to the rich cultural tapestry of the Kingdom, brought to life through the collaborative efforts of artist Ahmed Angawi and recent Royal Institute of Traditional Arts graduate Samaher Bashamakh, who reinterpreted the traditional wooden patterns for textile. Traditional and innovative weaving techniques from some of the world’s most renowned mills helped bring it all together.

Marzuki told Arab News in an exclusive interview before the show: “We really tried to do a visual identity that is Saudi. So, when we thought about it, what is Saudi really rich in visually? It is geometry.”

Speaking about the significance of Zainal House to the collection, he said: “This is a really important house. It’s the first one to be built on brick. It’s a UNESCO heritage site. And we just thought of the grandeur of the double staircase … We thought about a new real entrance and the drama and what it could do.”




Rae Joseph, Creative Consultant. (Photo/Supplied)

Each of the models was crowned with a head scarf known in Hijazi tradition as “mihrama mudawara.”

Marzuki said: “I remember my great-grandmother wearing this. So, we tried to get it to match each look.”

The collection features several standout looks that demand attention. The velvet pieces are the result of intricate jacquard weaving, produced in one of the last remaining velvet mills.




Showcased at Zainal House in Jeddah’s historic district Al-Balad on Saturday, Banat Al-Balad by Saudi designer Makram Marzuki pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of Jeddah. (Supplied)

Evening attire sparkles with hand-painted glitter film and velvet insertions on a lever lace base, showcasing the meticulous craftsmanship involved.

A highlight of the collection is the bridal look, created with guipure mangour lace by a Swiss mill and complemented by a silk organza veil crafted with French embroidery, requiring around 400 hours of work. Each look is crowned with a mihrama mudawara, made from cotton voile and satin duchesse, honoring the traditional attire of the region.

Marzuki explained that the day looks focus on practical, wearable clothing suitable for the workplace — business casual and smart casual attire that is both stylish and comfortable.

Emphasizing modesty, the collection includes shirts, coats, skirts, and day dresses, addressing the need for a refreshed work wardrobe for women. The aim is to provide options beyond traditional abayas, offering a Saudi touch to smart casual wear for the global audience.

Regarding garment choices, the designer highlights the consideration of comfort in warm climates, incorporating lace and even bamboo fabric for heat-friendly options.

The collection explores negative and positive space with perforated designs showcasing roshan-like patterns. Additionally, some dresses feature the patterns translated into velvet, while custom-made shoes, crafted in collaboration with ZYNE, also integrate the unique elements of the roshan.

The patterns in the collection are inspired by different houses, including Matbouli, Ba Junaid, and Saloom House, each with its own unique story.

The bridal look features a roshan pattern inspired by the one in Beit Nassif — a restored coral house in Al-Balad that used to be a royal residence for King Abdulaziz— that has been faithfully translated into this garment through organza inserts applied by hand. The veil, also hand-embroidered by an atelier in France, follows the pattern but appears to be fading away.

Bashamakh’s creativity and skill translated the wooden roshan pattern into a stunning garment fit for a bride. It was worn by Rae Joseph, a Saudi vintage collector, fashion entrepreneur, and creative consultant.

She told Arab News: “Makram has always been a designer at heart … He knows fashion history, fashion archives, he speaks beautifully about fashion.

“It’s an honor for me to walk his first … I’m so proud to see everything that is happening now. This is just the beginning. Everyone here is lucky because they get to say later (that) they were at the first-ever Makram Marzuki show.”

Marzuki said: “When you look at the culture here, it is so rich, so … we have so much heritage, so much culture, so many stories to tell.”

Joseph praised the meticulous approach and exceptional quality with which Markuzi incorporates culture into his work. She said: “This is an independent show. The way they brought the community together and the way that the models are Saudi and everyone involved is Saudi is something to be noted. Because it’s an independent effort of Saudi creatives.”

Brand consultant Alaa Balkhy echoed the sentiments, telling Arab News: “We’re so happy to do the show to represent the community effort … the lead makeup artist is Saudi, the producers are Saudi, the show director is Saudi … We really wanted to represent with this show. We are doing our role in Saudi Vision 2030.”

Marzuki added: “We take extreme pride in this, the entire production team here is Saudi. This show would not have happened without also the support of MAC. They completely sponsored the makeup for the show.”

Banat Al-Balad, which translates to “Girls of Al-Balad,” is more than just a fashion collection; it is a celebration of Jeddah’s heritage, skillfully blending the old with the new to create a luxury textile line that pays tribute to the architectural beauty and cultural richness of the Kingdom.

 


Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
Updated 20 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
  • This year’s event celebrates decision by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to designate 2024 as International Year of Camelids
  • Saudi representatives will highlight role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol associated with Saudi society since ancient times

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is taking part in a special Camel Parade in France on Saturday, in celebration of the UN’s designation of 2024 as International Year of Camelids.

The event in Paris has been organized by the French Federation for the Development of Camelids in France and Europe, under the umbrella of the International Camel Organization, and is sponsored by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the Kingdom’s Camel Club.

This is the third year in which the event has taken place.  The event was first held in January 2019 and repeated in 2022.  

The participants in the parade of camels, llamas, alpacas and other members of the camelid family of creatures are expected to include more than 50 representatives of camel-related organizations from more than 30 countries, along with camel breeders, government officials, others with an interest in the animals, and entertainers from various branches of the performing arts.

The camelids family. (Shutterstock image)

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the countries that will be represented include the US, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Canada, India, Morocco, Tanzania, Peru, Algeria, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, Tunisia, Austria, Spain, Burundi, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, France, Sudan, Chad, Angola, the UK and Uganda.

Saudi representatives will highlight the role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol that has been associated with Saudi society since ancient times and “still enjoys great prestige,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

On Friday, the eve of the parade, public discussions took place at the Chateau de Janvry’s historical center about cultural heritage associated with camels around the world and the specific contributions by participating countries to the annual event in Paris.

The parade will be followed by a reception for invited guests, including representatives of the participating countries, international organizations, academia, research centers and the private sector, the SPA reported.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization named 2024 as International Year of Camelids to honor and promote the sector and highlight the important role it plays in efforts to achieve food security and economic growth in many countries.

 

 


Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad
Updated 20 April 2024
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Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister of defense, Talal Al-Otaibi, on Friday held talks with top officials from the Pakistan Army during an official visit to Islamabad.

He reviewed relations between the two countries during meetings with the commander of the army, Gen. Syed Asim Munir, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, and the chief of the general staff, Gen. Muhammad Avais Dastgir.

The Saudi-Pakistani Committee also met during Al-Otaibi’s visit. Its members discussed cooperation between the nations in the field of defense, including research and development, and the transfer and localization of technology, in line with the goals of Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification plan.


How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
Updated 20 April 2024
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How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
  • Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund wants to produce half a million electric vehicles by 2030
  • The Kingdom has installed charging outlets in public areas in Diriyah to encourage EV ownership

RIYADH: Around the world, electric vehicles are already revolutionizing leisure, public transportation and logistics, shrinking the carbon footprint of travel, improving air quality and reducing pollution in the air, on land and in the sea.

As Saudi Arabia embarks on a range of environmental initiatives designed to address the challenges posed by climate change and foster sustainable economic development, EVs have become an important focus area.

The shift from traditional combustion engine vehicles to new electric models has accelerated worldwide as companies and consumers opt for greener modes of transport. Saudi Arabia is no exception.

Saudia, the Kingdom's national flag carrier, has signed an arrangement to acquire 100 electric-powered jets from Lilium, developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) jet. (Supplied)

The transition from regular cars to electric vehicles in the Kingdom is flourishing. The EV trend has gone beyond personal vehicle ownership, with the proliferation of everything from e-scooters to electric buses.

There are even discussions around whether EV technology will soon be applied to aircraft and perhaps space travel.

Stephen Crolius, former climate adviser at the Clinton Foundation and current president of Carbon-Neutral Consulting, supports the idea of EV ownership due to its environmental benefits.

Although it might still be a challenge to educate the public in some societies about the benefits of transitioning to EVs, Crolius says the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

“For mass transition to occur on any front, there has to be a set of circumstances that cause it to happen,” he told Arab News.

“Through government encouragement, we can continue to build volume (and) cause industries to mature, like, for example, the battery industry, which has done a lot of maturing over the last 15 years … the cost of batteries and the prices of batteries have come down to an extraordinary degree.

Opinion

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“We are developing renewable generation for electricity. Are we developing fast enough to head off the climate crisis? I don’t know. But compared to new generations of technology getting rolled out, we are deploying a lot of renewable electricity generation, in historical terms, really fast.”

Companies such as CEER and Lucid, which are heavily funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, are at the forefront of driving growth in Saudi Arabia’s electric vehicle industry.

US electric car manufacturer Lucid signed a contract with the PIF two years ago to build a factory in the King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea. Today, PIF shares a little over half of the ownership of the group in the Kingdom, and aims to produce almost half a million EVs by 2030.

Since last year, the use of electric vehicles in the Kingdom has expanded to include electric buses as a sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Electric buses have zero emissions and therefore significantly reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases in urban areas, especially during the Hajj season, when pilgrims flock to the Kingdom and make use of its mass transit network.

An electric bus service connecting the airport to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah was launched by the region’s governor Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz during the last Hajj season.

DID YOUKNOW

• The Kingdom has invested at least $10 billion in US electric car manufacturer Lucid Motors.

• With 61% of shares, Saudi Arabia is the majority owner of Lucid Group through its Public Investment Fund.

• PIF aims to produce 500,000 EVs annually by 2030.

• In Riyadh, the EV share is targeted to increase by 30% in 2030.

The route connecting the two locations enabled high operational efficiency, with a bus able to travel 250 km on just a single charge.

Electric buses offer a variety of benefits, including reduced noise, improved energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs. In addition, they have a smaller carbon footprint, which is a crucial step toward sustainability.

Saudis committed to protecting the environment have also included EVs in their daily commute, with e-scooters now found in Riyadh and other cities. E-scooters provide an eco-friendly solution to local transport by cutting toxic emissions and lowering noise pollution.

Offering e-scooter services in various locations in Riyadh is a clear sign of the Kingdom’s eagerness to not only set regulations and promote electric vehicles, but also lead society in adopting a positive attitude toward sustainable living.

Gazal's e-scooter services have become a popular option for those traveling specially in crowded places in Riyadh. (Photo courtesy of Gazal)

Furthermore, with advancements in battery technology and the development of charging infrastructure, electric vehicles are becoming a viable option for companies aiming to decarbonize their operations.

For example, in public areas in Diriyah such as Albujairi and At-Turaif, standard wall outlets are available for EV owners to charge their vehicles while enjoying a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

As the aviation industry is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, the concept of electric aircraft may offer a promising solution to global decarbonization.

Three years ago, British automobile maker Rolls-Royce broke records when its “Spirit of Innovation” aircraft reached 628 km per hour, making it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

At the time, Warren East, the company’s then-CEO, said that electric aircraft could make “jet zero” a reality and help decarbonize all forms of transport.

Compared to existing commercial aircraft, which rely on petroleum and synthetic fuel blends, electric planes produce less noise, have lower operating costs and emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases.

However, there are still several obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric aircraft — in particular the sheer expense of adapting the existing infrastructure needed to support their use.

Though governments and private companies worldwide could collaborate and build a comprehensive network of charging stations to meet growing demand, this may burden the economies of some countries.

Nevertheless, the growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future.

The growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future. (Shutterstock photo)

Utilizing alternative sources of energy in these areas can change the carbon emissions game for the better, fight air pollution, and pave the way for sustainable transport systems in the Kingdom and around the world.

To realize the full potential of electric vehicles, however, governments and businesses will first have to address challenges such as the provision of sufficient charging infrastructure as well as range limitations in battery technology.

Through continued innovation and investment, electric vehicles will play a key role in creating a greener and more sustainable future.
 

 


Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
Updated 19 April 2024
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Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
  • Jawad Al-Omair has established himself as a painter, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him

RIYADH: While his classmates took part in sports activities, Saudi teenage artist Jawad Al-Omair daydreamed about the next time he would pick up a paintbrush or pencil to draw again.

At only 16 years of age, Al-Omair has established himself as an artist, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

He told Arab News that his breakthrough moment came when he discovered his artistic abilities in the third grade.

“All the kids used to go to play. I always found myself opening my notebook and just drawing. I remember one day, I drew something at school, and when I got home, I showed it to everyone. I told myself, ‘I should do this more often.’”

HIGHLIGHT

Jawad Al-Omair views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks.

He uses acrylic paint to portray his vivid ideas on canvas.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

“With every painting I do, I usually have a vision of what the color palette is going to be and the composition, and most importantly what message and feeling I am trying to deliver through the painting.”

The young artist views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks. “If I wanted to paint something that conveys the feeling of being lost, I would usually use cool toned colors like greys and blues.”

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

Al-Omair said that he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks.

“Dana Almasoud is one of my best friends who has helped me so much. Three years ago, I used to be a completely different artist. I used to be unable to draw small portraits, but she taught me how to. I can’t picture how my life would be if I had not met them,” he said.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

In a recent artwork, Al-Omair painted a large-scale self-portrait inspired by the style of John Singer Sargent, an American artist renowned for his portrait paintings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He described Sargent as one of his favorite artists. “If you see his self-portrait, It is similar to mine. I was looking at his artwork while I was painting so I could capture that same vibe.”

It took Al-Omair about 12 hours to complete the self-portrait, which emphasizes his prominent features.

“I get commented on my nose a lot, so I painted it in the center. I wanted to immortalize my 16-year-old self, because who knows what I will look like five years from now?”

The young artist aims to turn all sorts of experiences — even those of friends or family members — into art.

“How would life be if we did not have music or anything beautiful to look at? When you think of an artist, people usually imagine someone with a brush, but it is much bigger than that.

“Art is translating feelings with a certain skill. Movies taught humanity so much because you get to learn about people. Writing, songs and music are emotional things that we share. Art is one of the most important parts of life. Everyone has an artistic side to them that they may have not found yet,” he said.

 


Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Updated 19 April 2024
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Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Funding will help rebuild and repair facilities damaged by natural disasters in the Caribbean island nation

RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development signed a $50 million loan agreement with St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday to assist communities affected by natural disasters, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The deal was signed by SFD CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad and Camillo Gonsalves, finance minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, during the 2024 spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

According to the World Bank, the southern Caribbean nation faces a host of natural threats, including floods, hurricanes, droughts, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

The agreement will fund a project to rebuild and repair buildings and facilities damaged by natural disasters in the island nation.

This initiative includes the restoration and construction of essential infrastructure, such as housing, healthcare, educational, and sports facilities, aimed at boosting their durability and resilience against future disasters and climate change impacts.

The project will also include establishing four healthcare centers, building primary and secondary schools, renovating government buildings, and restoring homes damaged by volcanic activity.

The loan is in line with the SFD’s commitment to supporting vulnerable communities around the globe.

Since its inception in 1975, the Saudi fund has financed over 800 development projects and programs worldwide, with total funding exceeding $20 billion.