RIYADH: Technology and traditional practices are being combined to help raise the profile of Saudi art on the global stage.
With the assistance of an immersive experience design company, artists taking part in major events being held in the Kingdom are using augmented, virtual, and mixed reality techniques to display their works. Damp-Proof Batten Light
Jeddah-based Midwam has been working to promote public- and private-sector brands at festivals including Noor Riyadh, MDLBEAST, and the AlUla Dates Festival.
A photo by Abdulrahman Alshalhoub
Khalid Al-Muawad, co-founder and chief executive officer of Midwam, told Arab News: “We basically look at the entire scene and take it from a human-centric approach, and look at what can attract and engage a person toward that industry.”
In its collaboration with Noor Riyadh, the company worked with four Saudi artists to apply a hi-tech perspective to their creations.
Mohammed Al-Sanie, a contributing artist and senior member of Midwam’s production department, told Arab News: “In our line of business, or even when working with artists, we usually consider technology as an enabler or as a tool. It shouldn’t be the star of what we’re doing, it should be a tool that we utilize.”
A photo by Abdulrahman Alshalhoub
A new-media artist, Al-Sanie’s work is mainly influenced by the 1980s, retro science fiction, and the synthwave electronic music genre, and aims to explain the present and future through the past.
One of his pieces, “Dreams in Color,” is an outdoor LED installation presenting an alternative version of Riyadh via video loops displayed on a screen framed by wood, cladding, and Styrofoam scaffolding.
• Jeddah-based Midwam has been working to promote public- and private-sector brands at festivals including Noor Riyadh, MDLBEAST, and the AlUla Dates Festival.
• In its collaboration with Noor Riyadh, the company worked with four Saudi artists to apply a hi-tech perspective to their creations
He said: “It’s retro style aesthetics, so what immediately came to my mind was CRT (cathode-ray tube) TV, which many people may remember their grandparents having. I came up with the idea of building a sculpture of a TV, with the screens of the TV being from the modern era, blending new technology with the old.”
His idea was based on the black-and-white television sets of the 1950s and 1960s, with a reimagination of the future in a rendered 3-D world composed of warm hues and neon accents.
“The title for the piece, ‘Dreams in Color,’ is me attempting to influence people’s dreams in a positive, happy, surreal, and imaginative way, based on that info,” Al-Sanie added.
Under the theme, “We Dream of New Horizons,” the Noor Riyadh festival looked to champion the innovation of light through various mediums.
Mohammad Alfaraj’s piece ‘With Light, I Create A Hand of Love, and Extend It To You,’ comprises a screen and a camera set up in an outdoor location, nothing occurs until audience members take out their phones, using the light emitted from them as brushes with which to paint in the air. (Supplied by Riyadh Art)
Al-Sanie said his work was designed to create a balance between the digital and physical, comparing the old and new Riyadh through a retro-futurist depiction.
Midwam has also linked up with other artists on developing content and storyboarding the experience.
As part of the Saudi Art Council’s 21,39 initiative, the firm worked with Marwah Al-Mugait on creating a performance of 3-D video-projection mapping.
Al-Muawad said: “You need to keep the guidelines of that art into perspective when you’re creating that experience. They’re extremely precise and detailed about how the journey of that experience is going to be.”
Mohammed Al-Hamdan presents his ‘Walking Lights’ interactive streetlight installation on the sidewalk of Riyadh’s Olaya Street that functions by sensing the motion of passing pedestrians and translating it into an immersive experience of light and sound. (Supplied by Riyadh Art)
For multimedia artist Daniah Al-Saleh’s Noor Riyadh work, Midwam sketched, visualized, and helped map her video pieces. It explored the resistance to public displays of love and affection in conservative societies through social commentary.
Multiple AI-generated fake figures were projected onto pillars, lip syncing to 26 famous Arab love songs in declaration of their love in a public space.
Al-Saleh told Arab News: “Midwam was responsible for the production of my work, ‘Love Stories,’ in Oud Square. They were assigned to me because my work had a little bit of mapping, and they were really hands-on. We had many meetings until they understood exactly what I wanted.”
The company also worked with artists Mohammed Al-Faraj, whose “With Light I Create a Hand of Love and Extend it to You” piece required audience participation using mobile phones, and Mohammed Al-Hamdan on presenting his “Walking Lights” interactive streetlight installation activated by pedestrian movements.
Tapping into the art scene through their work was key for the company to build on public art initiatives, impact communities, and humanize environmental issues, in an effort to place Saudi Arabia on a global platform.
“All of these are considered soft power elements. When there’s a specific perspective on a population or country that’s completely limited to a certain area, art comes in and that completely changes,” Al-Muawad added.
Al-Sanie said: “The artist brings their narrative to the art piece. Additionally, the visitor or the observer brings their own perception; it’s an invisible conversation between the creator and the viewer.”
MARRAKECH: The 177th Executive Council of the UN World Trade Organization has passed a Saudi resolution to “redesign tourism” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As newly elected chair of the council, the Kingdom successfully lobbied for the creation of a Saudi-Spain-UNWTO working group to oversee and direct significant changes to the global tourism industry.
The proposal had been promoted by the Kingdom since December 2021, with a Saudi host delegation reiterating its support for the creation of the working group during the Kingdom’s hosting of the 116th Executive Council in Jeddah earlier this year.
This week’s three-day event in Marrakech, attended by Arab News, saw the passing of a resolution to push forward with the creation of the working group, which has been supported from the outset by Spain.
The working group, which will comprise eight members of the organization according to the resolution, is slated to launch in spring next year, but will still require the formal endorsement of the UNWTO chief.
The eight members will work alongside the three working group co-chairs — Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the UNWTO — to move forward with the vision to transform global tourism.
Of the council’s 36 member countries present at the event, 31 approved the resolution. The working group aims to represent every region of the world, and will include two member states for Africa and America, as well as single states to promote the tourism aspirations of Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Pacific, and South Asia.
Once established, the working group will meet at least biannually and will run on a budget allocated voluntarily by member states of the Executive Council.
The move is expected to lead to a significant shake-up within the world’s premier tourism body, with the Kingdom calling to “revitalize” the UNWTO and “improve its operating methods.”
It comes on the back of enhanced Saudi-Spanish ties in investment and tourism, and is the result of months of work by the two countries to gather support for the proposal among council members.
The working group aims to make the UNWTO “more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable than ever,” said Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb.
The passing of the resolution was the first major step by the Kingdom in its position as council chair.
Al-Khateeb oversaw the handover from previous chair Cote D’Ivoire in Marrakech on Friday.
Trade between Saudi Arabia and Spain totals $3.5 billion annually. The two countries have made significant steps toward boosting economic ties throughout the year, with the Saudi-Spanish Investment Forum in June ahead of the Jeddah UNWTO event leading to a number of high-profile agreements.
The meeting in Marrakech also saw the admittance of several Saudi and Spanish affiliate members, including the Jeddah Central Development Co. and Spain’s Innovaris SL and Eturia CLM.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has delivered support to the Ministry of Public Health and National Solidarity in Chad to prevent and respond to the malaria epidemic, Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
The support was delivered in the presence of the Chadian Minister of Public Health and National Solidarity, Dr. Abdelmadjid Abderahim, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Chad, Amer bin Ali Al-Shehri, the KSrelief representative in the capital, N’Djamena, and a number of officials.
Abderahim expressed his thanks and gratitude for the support, which comes within the framework of the aid provided by the Kingdom through KSrelief for many relief projects, according to the humanitarian needs in all countries around the world and according to the highest standards.
#KSrelief delivers support to the Ministry of Public Health in the Republic of Chad to respond to the malaria epidemic pic.twitter.com/CJ9pCkcwVD — KSrelief (@KSRelief_EN) November 25, 2022
#KSrelief delivers support to the Ministry of Public Health in the Republic of Chad to respond to the malaria epidemic pic.twitter.com/CJ9pCkcwVD
RIYADH: Saudi music producer, rapper, and composer Bander Al-Fahad has started a podcast in Arabic to provide the latest updates on the Kingdom’s hip hop scene.
In his first podcast “Pure Hip Hop,” released on YouTube in August, other Saudi and Arab rappers shed light on the hip hop culture in the country, its relationship with Saudi society, and the history of the music genre.
Al-Fahad told Arab News: “I am a big supporter of the hip hop culture in the Kingdom. I wish to have a unique style. I am keen for hip hop to appear with Saudi rhythms that distinguish it as Saudi music.”
He first discovered his passion for music while pursuing an undergraduate degree in media communication and revealed that he would soon be dropping two more episodes.
• Bander Al-Fahad first discovered his passion for music while pursuing an undergraduate degree in media communication and revealed that he would soon be dropping two more episodes.
• He collaborates with other Saudi YouTubers such as Ibrahim Basha, Dyler, Faisal Tiger, and Fahad Al- Dokhei to create music and jingles for local organizations. And he also aims to create a go-to platform for the genre.
“Podcasting is the way that I think is best to deliver my message. I had many questions about hip hop, and that’s when I decided to deliver information on it to a Saudi audience,” he said.
Al-Fahad collaborates with other Saudi YouTubers such as Ibrahim Basha, Dyler, Faisal Tiger, and Fahad Al-Dokhei to create music and jingles for local organizations. And he also aims to create a go-to platform for the genre.
“When I receive a campaign, I use their idea and begin creating the music and beats. If they don’t have a specific idea, we begin the creative process, and I initially draw the idea on a piano keyboard before transferring it to the studio, where we can use live instruments and musicians,” he added.
The musician said he was thankful that the Kingdom was placing increased focus on the music industry, especially via the recently established Music Commission.
“With the help of education services in the field of music, the young generation can now turn their passion for music into a career. Musicians can now learn, produce, and have people hear their voice,” he added.
Al-Fahad, who at first could only perform for friends and family, would like to have a lasting impact on the Kingdom’s music scene.
“My future projects include working on my company about content and music production. I’m also working on three singles and a mini album.”
He is also among the cast of “Rise of the Witches,” a Saudi fantasy series being filmed in AlUla.
RIYADH: Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs and Minister of Oil Hayan Abdul Ghani Al-Swad visited the Kingdom after receiving an invitation from Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed matters of common interest in the field of energy and agreed to continue to carry out important projects in gas, petrochemicals, electricity and renewables. They also reviewed ways to enhance communication between Riyadh and Baghdad to further explore shared opportunities in these fields and transform them into tangible partnerships.
Education Led Lighting RIYADH: Old school books, telephones without touchscreens and classic cars are the kind of things that you will find at Riyadh’s tribute to how we once lived. Qariat Zaman, or “the old village”, launched on Nov. 24 as a living record of the country’s history for Riyadh Season 2022. The zone is a time machine that transports visitors back to the glory of the past and the significant events through stalls, traditional markets, and demonstrations of the old lifestyles. Visitors can explore Dakakin Al-Awwalin, Al-Meydan, Saudia Channel 1, Wadi Al-Masaqil, Al-Taybeen Theatre, Al-Hosh Playground, and Beit Muzna. Qariat Zaman is an example of how the past is mixed with the present. It is a place where people can learn about old times while listening to traditional music and buying antiques. Its activities bring together a wide range of talented people in the theater and arts. Visitors can learn old stories and tales related to Saudi traditions and heritage. The zone recreates the life of the older generation, with workers dressed in traditional clothing and living in mudbrick houses. There are displays of traditional artworks, old crafts and dance shows. During the previous seasons, the village garnered great admiration from visitors and received wide interest in its various recreational activities, which were enjoyed by the artistic, musical, and interactive atmosphere in an area that highlighted the Saudi heritage and its traditional elements and revived the past with excellence.