Saudi artist designs festive collection for home goods giant

The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)
The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 March 2024
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Saudi artist designs festive collection for home goods giant

The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)
  • “I love to curate things on the table and to stack things,” Balkhair told Arab News

RIYADH: Saudi artist Ethar Balkhair’s first collaboration with Kuwait-based home goods giant, Abyat, which translates from Arabic to “homes,” recently dropped in time for the holy month.

With green-tinted clear glassware, plates, gahwa cups and other accessories, Balkhair wants to help families break bread and break their fasts while enjoying a bit of her family’s story inserted into yours.




The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)

Inspired by meals at her late grandfather’s house during Ramadan as a child, Balkhair recalls enjoying picking out the clear but colored plates stacked on the table and watching as the color changed with the light or the food placed on top. That visual memory stayed with her and when she was given the opportunity to design this collection, she brought out elements of it into the present day. Abyat allowed her to bring her vision to the masses and share that with anyone who wished to pick up parts, or all of her collection, from their stores.

“I love to curate things on the table and to stack things,” Balkhair told Arab News. “My aim was to create a theme that celebrates the beauty of Ramadan and reflects our shared values and similarities that are at the heart of our cultural identity — in a fun and engaging way.”




The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)

In this collection, she wanted to visually express the emotions that many would experience during iftar, through merging vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. She illustrated a dancing pattern that casts a shadow of the palm tree design on the table as the light changed, or while stacked.

One of the things Balkhair loved about Ramadan was household traditions to break fast. Usually, loved ones gathered around as the call for prayer lingered in the background, seated at a communal table populated with an array of foods as the sound of the clinking of glasses and spoons filled the air before rushing to pray. She noticed how when she visited other people’s houses during the holy month, they would serve variations of the same dishes or have their own little traditions — but the rituals usually were mostly the same. She kept this in mind while designing.

My aim was to create a theme that celebrates the beauty of Ramadan and reflects our shared values and similarities that are at the heart of our cultural identity — in a fun and engaging way.

Ethar Balkhair, Saudi artist

The price point in the collection is typically under SR100 ($26); with the most expensive items selling for SR195 and the least expensive at SR32. The most popular items, the dinner plate set (which comes in a box of four), and the six-piece glass set (which has three tints of colors), each goes for SR89. The collection also has a family-style salad bowl and a fun and functional salad serve-ware set.




The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)

While Balkhair grew up in Jeddah, she was also mindful of all the other ways in which the collection could be used around the Kingdom.

The collection includes large baskets in two designs, meant to be filled with candy for the traditional practice of Gargee’an, the celebratory custom in mid-Ramadan that is mostly practiced in the Eastern Province and the neighboring Gulf countries, including Kuwait — the home of Abyat — where children would go door-to-door to exchange sweets and goodies while wearing traditional attire.

There is also a jug, a charger plate and several other options all created in what Abyat describes as the “urban modern and natural” style. The small spoons that come with the smaller dessert bowls also give nostalgic vibes, with palm trees intricately carved out in a delicate way. That palm tree, the signature symbol of the Kingdom, is also evident on some of the other plates and glasses, showcasing the Saudi narrative.




The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)

“I wanted the elements to reflect my life now but has the traditional feel, but with a more modern look. I wanted to make it fun so you will not get bored,” she said.

Since the dessert bowls are clear, it changes colors with whatever you put in it, whether it be a rich creme caramel or jiggly bright-red jelly.

“It’s exciting. This is the cheerful childhood emotion I want to bring to everyone’s table this Ramadan, including my own,” she said.




The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)

Of the collection, Abyat said: “The Layaly Al-Khair collection includes dining and home accessories that embody the depth of an authentic custom, where history meets the present in a beautiful scene of heritage. This collection was designed in collaboration with Saudi designer Ethar Balkhair, in support of local talent.”

Balkhair also noted how the name of the collection, which translates to “good nights” from Arabic, was derived from her family name — something Abyat surprised her with.

“My mother and father were over the moon when they realized that Abyat gave us a shout-out with the name of the collection,” she said.




The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)

The two candle-holders in the collection also serve as a modern twist on the traditional fanoos lanterns.

Asmaa Gadri, who lives in Jeddah, picked up a pair of those candle-holders after seeing them at her local branch.

“I fell in love instantly when I saw them,” Gadri told Arab News. “They’re so beautiful and I’m even more happy now that you’ve told me it’s by a Saudi designer,” she said.




The Layaly Al-Khair collection merges vibrant and dynamic traditional elements with lively contemporary energy. (Supplied)

Balkhair has collaborated with numerous companies to create curated collections before, such as her work with Nivea Creme, Bobbi Brown and Sephora, among other brands. But in each of those collaborations, they were for niche audiences, only meant for specific customers or to be used for a limited time.

This was the first opportunity where she designed for the entire family — from the youngest to the oldest member and those in between.

Balkhair hopes people such as Gadri would consider using her collection all year long. She does not want her collection to be something to be pulled out of a box or dusty cupboard and washed to be used once a year or only on a special occasion.

“I want to connect your story to my story, I love to emit emotion and let people connect. I want to celebrate the cheerful gathering! In my childhood, Ramadan gave me joy — it wasn’t just Eid,” Balkhair said.

“I am excited to produce a product that involves things we can use daily — not only in Ramadan,” she said. “But, first, I hope people eat the best foods and have the most blessed month. I joke that Ramadan would be sponsored by me,” Balkhair said with a laugh.

The collection will be available during Ramadan at Abyat stores Kingdom-wide and online.

 


‘Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative’ invites local participants to join fifth edition

Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)
Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)
Updated 14 sec ago
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‘Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative’ invites local participants to join fifth edition

Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)

DHAHRAN: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Ithra, has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative,” which is centered on leveraging the rich heritage of culture and arts in the Eastern Province.

“Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative” will be held from Nov. 1-23 in several spaces within the Eastern Province, including activations at Ithra headquarters.

As in the last four iterations, local creatives in the Eastern Province will be invited to offer curated programming. This year, as in the past, they are soliciting entries from the corporate sector, education sector, culinary sectors, social sector, sports sector, arts sector, trade sector, and logistics sector.
 
The previous editions of the initiative surpassed 700 entities and establishments, with over 2,300 creative contributions, 55 strategic partners and five main partners.
 
According to the statement, the initiative seeks to strengthen the concept of social responsibility among entities and individuals to achieve integration and uplift the community and all its institutions. The initiative aims to create a qualitative shift in the creative culture and to create a welcoming environment that discovers and develops talents, helping to make the Eastern Province a destination for creativity and creative tourism in the Kingdom.
 
This open call seeks entries from local creatives and asks them to share their talent in a leadership role. Among the requests is to pitch an in-person workshop idea, propose a talk or any other relevant programming idea. Those who earn a spot within this initiative will become leaders during the 23-day initiative, in which the general public will be invited to attend.
 
Interested local leaders in the creative space are invited to apply via the online portal. Registration will remain open for the next month through the initiative’s page on the Ithra website.


Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims

Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims
Updated 19 min 52 sec ago
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Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims

Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims
  • Pilgrims can download the map application from the association’s website at www.scouts.org.sa
  • Several changes to the holy sites and the two central areas in Makkah and Madinah recorded and updated

MAKKAH: The Saudi Arabian Scouts Association has issued detailed and interactive maps to help pilgrims.

The maps include the Mina and Arafat areas, the central area of ​​the Holy Mosque and the Aziziyah neighborhood in Makkah, the entire city of Madinah, the central area of ​​the Prophet’s Mosque, the Al-Naseem neighborhood, and Batha Quraish.

Pilgrims can download the map application from the association’s website at www.scouts.org.sa.

The general leader of the public service camps, Nasser bin Ali Al-Anazi, said this year’s maps were issued after continuous field and office work carried out from an early stage. He praised both the team’s efforts and the support and follow-up that camp volunteers received.

Al-Anazi said several changes to the holy sites and the two central areas in Makkah and Madinah had been recorded and updated. The most important were the new developments in Mina, particularly the new residential towers.

The head of the guide maps committee at the camps, Eng. Waleed Khaled Felemban, said the inclusion of the Al-Naseem neighborhood and Batha Quraish were new this year. He said 150,000 layers were needed for the software used to ensure clear, easy-to-use maps.


Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations opened for pilgrims

The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday. (SPA)
The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 24 min 58 sec ago
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Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations opened for pilgrims

The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday. (SPA)
  • Pilgrims can now use the metro to move between the holy sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah
  • The service follows the end of a 90-day trial of the line, which Saudi Arabia Railways announced on Monday

RIYADH: The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday.

Pilgrims can now use the metro to move between the holy sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The service follows the end of a 90-day trial of the line, which Saudi Arabia Railways announced on Monday.

Seventeen trains are available on the line for pilgrims throughout the season.

Saudi Arabia Railways has completed all maintenance and upgrades to trains, stations, signaling and communication systems, and its operations and control center.

The company has contracted over 7,500 seasonal workers, including individuals fluent in English, Turkish, Indonesian and other languages.


Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims

Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims
Updated 38 min 24 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims

Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims
  • SDAIA’s efforts during the Hajj season focus on providing data-driven capabilities and predictive analytics
  • Technologies have been leveraged to support government agencies working in Hajj

RIYADH: The Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence has deployed advanced data and AI technologies to streamline the entry process for Hajj pilgrims.

The SDAIA has this year equipped 14 entry points across the Kingdom — including airports, seaports, and land borders — with the necessary technical infrastructure to ease entry procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In addition, the body is backing the Makkah Route Initiative, partnering with multiple government bodies to implement the program in seven countries worldwide.

SDAIA’s efforts during the Hajj season focus on providing data-driven capabilities and predictive analytics, enhanced through continuous innovation in AI.

These technologies have been leveraged to support government agencies working in Hajj. The body has deployed a national technical team to secure communication circuits and ensure uninterrupted service in the regions of Makkah, Madinah, the Eastern Province, Tabuk, Al-Jouf, the Northern Borders, and Najran.

The SDAIA team is providing its services at various entry points, including King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Jeddah Islamic Port, Taif Airport, Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah, the Empty Quarter, Al-Batha, Salwa, Ar Ruqi, King Fahd Causeway, Halat Ammar, Neom Port in the Tabuk region, Jadidah Arar in the Northern Borders region, Al-Haditha in the Al-Jouf region, and Al-Wadiah in the Najran region.

The SDAIA is providing technical support to border crossing points, sorting sites, and security control centers through the National Information Center, according to the SPA.

It operates in 78 locations in the holy sites, offering systems, services, and technical products while enhancing integration with other government agencies. This integration ensures the availability of pilgrims’ data before their arrival, reducing the time required for entry registration.

The SDAIA has set up a round-the-clock technical support center to handle reports and resolve issues for various sectors during Hajj. Mobile technical kits have been deployed to ensure swift response to problems at all entry points and preventive maintenance has been carried out on workstations and network devices at Hajj terminals.

The SDAIA has also overseen the infrastructure and data rooms in the reception halls for pilgrims. Additionally, biometric capture and registration stations have been established at border points, with devices prepared, programmed, and equipped with the approved software. Personnel from participating sectors have also received training on the new systems and updates.

The organization has introduced Banan, a mobile device that enables identity verification services through biometric data for agencies working in the field.

The SDAIA has also developed the Sawaher and Baseer platforms to help manage crowd sizes effectively at various Hajj sites. These platforms ensure each location does not get overcrowded, promoting a safer and smoother experience for pilgrims.

The authority has integrated many pilgrim services into the Tawakkalna app. Pilgrims can now manage everything from Manasik Gate procedures to displaying their pilgrim cards, and entry permits for vehicles and personnel working on Hajj, in collaboration with Public Security.

Additionally, the platform offers the Rescue Me service and features such as the digital Qur’an, prayer times, and qibla direction.


Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke

Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke
Updated 59 min 48 sec ago
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Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke

Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke
  • Specialized medical team at King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah saved the life of a 70-year-old Turkish pilgrim
  • Patient regained full consciousness and was able to speak and move her limbs within less than an hour

MAKKAH: A specialized medical team at the King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah saved the life of a 70-year-old Turkish pilgrim who suffered a stroke.

The team performed a minimally invasive procedure that involved inserting a catheter into the brain to unblock the clogged artery and remove a blood clot.

The patient regained full consciousness and was able to speak and move her limbs within less than an hour.

She was then placed in the intensive neurological care unit for monitoring.