Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)
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Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)
Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary
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Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)
Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary
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Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)
Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary
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Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)
Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary
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Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 April 2024
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Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif.
  • Dana Almasoud’s works are inspired by historical Middle Eastern and European art aesthetics

RIYADH: When picking up a pencil or paintbrush to create an artwork, self-taught Saudi artist Dana Almasoud channels her inner child.

“As soon as a child picks up a pencil, they attempt to draw or capture a sense of what they see through their eyes on paper. The majority of them stop at some point in their childhood, for whatever reason,” Almasoud told Arab News.




Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

“Fortunately, I was one of the few who never did. I had the luxury of a supportive mother who always looked forward to my next scribble.”

While pursuing her undergraduate studies in finance, as a freelance artist Almasoud explores a variety of styles, from fine art to surrealism and fantasy inspired by everyday scenes.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Much of Dana Almasoud’s work is inspired by Islamic historical art, characterized by its symbolism and emphasis on the beauty of spirituality.

• One of her first works inspired by Saudi culture was a commission from a man who wanted a portrait in the orientalist style.

• The artist says her work is an attempt to fill the void that excess simplicity and minimalism has created in recent years.

“The warm morning sun, the singing of the birds, the stoplights and the people. I am surrounded by life and I do my best to pour what I see into my work. What makes us human is how we make things from nothing,” she said.




Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

Speaking about the “sanctuary” she has created in her room, she said: “It took me years of collecting, arranging and a lot of dedication to get it to how it is now.”

Much of Almasoud’s work is inspired by Islamic historical art, characterized by its symbolism and emphasis on the beauty of spirituality.




As a freelance artist Dana Almasoud explores a variety of styles, from fine art to surrealism and fantasy inspired by everyday scenes. (Instagram/esotericdana)

“In order for me to create things that resemble life, it only makes sense to use colors that already exist in nature,” she said.

“I take a lot of inspiration from historical art, both from Europe and the Middle East, since the pigments they used were extracted from natural sources and were perfectly saturated.”




Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

She enjoys experimenting with new mediums, but drawing with a pencil is her preferred choice.

“I also do enjoy the occasional challenge of an ink brush, because once it sets its bristles on paper, you cannot go back. When it comes to painting with color (watercolors, acrylics, oils), I still consider myself in the process of learning,” she said.

The warm morning sun, the singing of the birds, the stoplights and the people. I am surrounded by life and I do my best to pour what I see into my work.

Dana Almasoud, Saudi artist

“I also experiment with pyrography, doll making, embroidery, linoleum block printing and, soon, murals.”

Almasoud said one of her first works inspired by Saudi culture was a commission from a man who wanted to look like an orientalist.




Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

Her most recent painting is of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green “shoulders” that are prevalent in Qatif.

“These tomatoes are known for a special flavor and a lot of farmers from various lands tried to grow it themselves, but to no avail. For some reason, these tomatoes only taste special when they grow on that specific piece of land,” Almasoud said.

She said she had been told her work had “a layer of fog, where the edges are never harsh,” which reflects the high levels of humidity in the Eastern Province where she lives.

“I can see the Arabian Gulf from the window of my room. You can imagine the high rates of humidity, which is where I think that layer came from,” she said.

“I will always wonder how this translated into what I draw, but regardless, I do love it.”

Almasoud said her art was an attempt to fill the void that excess simplicity and minimalism has created in recent years.

“My art is an attempt to inspire people back to see the beauty in complexity and the intricacy of the small things in life.”

Speaking about the importance of art in the modern world, she said: “With the increase in the pace of the world, art has become even more important. It gives people and their minds something to hang on to, for them to not lose themselves and their identities in a busy world.”

For more information about the artist visit @esotericdana on Instagram.

 


Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan

Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan
Updated 19 May 2024
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Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan

Saudi crown prince meets White House national security adviser Sullivan
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received the US official in Dhahran
  • SPA said their discussions included Saudi-US strategic relations, the Gaza War, and Palestinian statehood

DHAHRAN:  Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in eastern city of Dhahran, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

During the meeting, the strategic relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them in various fields were reviewed, SPA said.

It said efforts to find a credible solution to the Palestinian issue, including a lasting ceasefire and unhindered entry of humanitarian aid in Gaza, with a view to a “two-state solution that meets the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people”, were also discussed.


Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens

Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens
Updated 18 May 2024
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Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens

Greece’s prime minister receives MWL chief in Athens

RIYADH: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis received the secretary-general of the Muslim World League on Tuesday in Athens, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
During the meeting, Mitsotakis and Mohammed Al-Issa discussed a number of topics of common interest.
Al-Issa, who is also chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars spoke about Islamic values that call for global peace and understanding between its peoples, and said he appreciated the warm reception he received during his visit and the good sentiments expressed toward the Islamic civilizational contribution.
Al-Issa then met with Islamic officials in Greece, including muftis and imams, and visited the Athens Mosque, during which he expressed his pleasure with the additional dialogue that took place during the meeting.
He also met with Ieronymos II, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, during which the two sides stressed the importance of the role of religious leaders in addressing all forms of religious, ethnic, and civilizational clashes around the world.


Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum

Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum
Updated 18 May 2024
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Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum

Saudi environment and water minister heads Kingdom’s delegation at World Water Forum

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, is heading the Kingdom’s delegation participating in the 10th World Water Forum in Bali and will attend the high-level session, on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The forum, inaugurated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, kicked off Saturday and runs until May 25, with heads of state and government, ministers and officials from 180 countries, and 250 international organizations attending.
The Kingdom is participating with a high-level delegation representing the water sector, and will participate in an exhibition that highlights its efforts in developing the water industry through its regional and international contributions.
It will also organize a dialogue session on the sidelines of the forum in preparation for the Kingdom’s hosting of the 11th session of the World Water Forum in 2027 in Riyadh, under the slogan “Action for a Better Tomorrow.”
The Kingdom’s hosting of the event also comes as “confirmation of Saudi Arabia’s role in addressing water challenges around the world and its commitment to issues of environmental sustainability, based on what it has provided over decades of pioneering global experience in producing, transporting and distributing water and innovating technical solutions to its challenges,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Kingdom has helped push water issues to the top of the international agenda, a move it adopted during its hosting of the G20 in 2020, and to put strategic plans to ensure water security, strengthen partnerships with global and scientific institutions, and build capacities at all levels, SPA added.
This year’s forum is being held under the slogan “Water for Shared Prosperity,” and will discuss several sub-themes, including water security and prosperity; disaster risk reduction and management; and hydro-diplomacy.


Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years

Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years
Updated 18 May 2024
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Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years

Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years
  • Relatives in Saudi Arabia say they ‘never lost hope’ they would one day find Eid Alsumani
  • Eid and his older brother grew up in Alabama estranged from their father and other family members

JEDDAH: A four-decade long search has finally led to the heartwarming reunion of an US citizen with his Saudi family, putting an end to a painful era full of longing and searches that had long promised to end in disappointment.

Two-year-old Eid Alsumani, now 42, and his older brother’s American mother cut ties with the family for reasons that have not been revealed to the public.

She had met Saud Alsumani when he was a student in the US, after which they married and had two sons.

Eid Alsumani and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time. (Supplied)

Following her return to Alabama with the boys, Eid’s mother cut all communication between them and their father, who returned to Saudi Arabia.

“Throughout that period of time, which lasted 40 years, members of the family were searching for their sons through the American Embassy ... (they) tried to search for the family several times, but no leads helped,” said Bander Alsumani, Eid’s cousin.

HIGHLIGHTS

• A video of Eid Alsumani’s reunion with his family at King Abdulaziz International Airport after 40 years of separation went viral on social media.

• For decades, the family had tried everything including seeking the help of the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

An English teacher at Abdullah Al-Thagafi High School in Jeddah, Bander told Arab News that his family did not lose hope in finding the lost brothers. “We just hoped they were alive.”

After decades of searches that yielded no results, their father died, never having reconnected with his sons. Their uncle, Khalid Alsumani, went to the US, determined to find his estranged nephews.

Eid Alsumani and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time. (Supplied)

According to Bander, while the uncle sought the help of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, the perseverence of another member of the family paid off as they found Eid on Instagram.

“It was the happiest day for the family ... we all were in joy and happiness when we heard Eid is alive and coming back home with his uncle,” said Bander. The joy also came with the sad news that Eid’s older brother had already died.

Eid and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time.

I believe I will visit again in maybe six months. Inshallah, I will continue to learn more about my religion, Arabic, and my family.

Eid Alsumani, Found after 40 years

“It was the most wonderful feeling in the world … just couldn’t believe that the family had been reunited with (their) son after so many years,” said Bander.

A heartwarming video of Eid’s reunion with his family at King Abdulaziz International Airport after 40 years of separation went viral on social media.

When Eid appeared from passport control with his uncle, his cousins and relatives hugged him one after another tightly, shedding tears of joy.

The family hosted a gathering with various members of the family who came from all corners to meet the long lost son and celebrate the joyous occasion.

During the emotional reunion, Eid, dressed in traditional Saudi attire, expressed his immense happiness and relief at being reunited with his extended family.

A US citizen, Eid was raised in Alabama and currently resides in Florida having graduated with bachelor’s of science degree in history and nuclear engineering technology.

Speaking to Arab News after performing Umrah in Makkah, Eid described the scene at the airport as “unbelievable.”

He said: “It was surreal. It was the first time I had been in my fatherland.

“I was extremely excited about the blessings of seeing four family members who greeted me with the legendary hospitality of Saudi fame. It felt like a scene from a movie.”

Eid, who was raised by his mother with Christian values, has reconnected with Islam with the help of his Saudi relatives.

He described praying in the Grand Mosque in Makkah as an unforgettable moment in his life. “When I was in Makkah, I was amazed to see so many people from all over the world who were walking and praying together as one for the sake of Allah,” he said.

Speaking about his future in the Kingdom, he added: “Alhamdulillah, my stay has been extended for a few days … I believe I will visit again in maybe six months. Inshallah, I will continue to learn more about my religion, Arabic, and my family.”

 


Wildlife center to explore caves in Saudi Arabia’s north

The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife.
The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife.
Updated 19 May 2024
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Wildlife center to explore caves in Saudi Arabia’s north

The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife.
  • The program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched “due to its environmental significance and positive impact on wildlife”

RIYADH: Teams from Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Wildlife will begin examining various caves in the Northern Borders region as part of the Caves Exploration Program, which began in 2022.

It comes as part of a larger program that monitors ecosystems and biodiversity throughout the Kingdom.

These sites will be added to an international map of biodiversity and natural heritage hotspots as historical ecosystems and natural biological museums.

Dr. Mohammed Ali Qurban, National Center for Wildlife CEO

Dr. Mohammed Ali Qurban, CEO of the center, explained that the discoveries in the caves hold significant historical environmental value for Saudi Arabia.

“The cave ecosystems serve as a historical museum, providing evidence of the biological diversity that has existed in the Kingdom throughout various historical eras, as well as the spatial, environmental, and climatic changes in the Arabian Peninsula,” he explained.

The cave ecosystems serve as a historical museum, providing evidence of the biological diversity that has existed in the Kingdom throughout various historical eras.

Dr. Mohammed Ali Qurban, National Center for Wildlife CEO

Qurban added that these unique ecosystems provide a suitable environment for a wide range of organisms, as evidenced by the discovery of numerous skeletons of different types of mammals.

The program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched “due to its environmental significance and positive impact on wildlife.”

The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife. (SPA)

The center is currently completing studies on the targeted cave sites and documenting their importance within an integrated program.

According to Qurban, the center’s earlier discovery of several Arabian cheetah mummies in a cave in the northern part of the Kingdom — with some skeletons estimated to be over 4,000 years old — provided the first evidence of the species’ presence in the Kingdom.

Consequently, the center plans to develop a program for the resettlement of the Arabian cheetah in the Kingdom, enabling it to play a crucial role in maintaining environmental balance.

Qurban noted that, among other significant discoveries, researchers from the center discovered rare bats and the remains of several extinct animals.

The center is currently working on classifying these finds and determining their ages. This effort will facilitate the resettlement of these extinct species or their closest genetic relatives, thereby restoring their role.

The cave ecosystem is one of the rarest and most important of its kind in the world, recognized as natural heritage by UNESCO.

There are 1,826 caves in the Kingdom, consisting of underground passages and tunnels formed by natural processes in dry limestone areas — evidence of a historical era that experienced prolonged rainy climatic conditions.