Two Saudi artists to take part in major art exhibition in Russia

Saudi artists Daniah Al-Saleh (left) and Lulwah Al-Homoud
Updated 14 May 2019

Two Saudi artists to take part in major art exhibition in Russia

  • Al-Homoud has developed an abstract graphical form of language developed from the Arabic alphabet, which some predict could become a universal language

JEDDAH: Two Saudi artists are to take part in a major international exhibition aimed at exploring the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in modern art.
Lulwah Al-Homoud and Daniah Al-Saleh will be among the leading artists showcasing their work at the event in St. Petersburg, Russia, next month.
The new exhibition, organized by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the State Hermitage Museum, will be launched during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
The Saudi duo will join with artists from throughout the world for the expo, titled “Artificial Intelligence and Intercultural Dialogue,” which will open in the Hermitage’s general staff building (historical archive hall) on June 6, the first day of the SPIEF gathering and part of its cultural program.
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF, said: “The development of intercultural dialogue is RDIF’s important long-term mission. This exhibition is our new initiative aimed at promoting this dialogue and creating the trust needed for successful trade and investment.”
He added: “For this exhibition, we brought together artists of different nationalities, all of whom are using AI technologies. We are able to witness a new form of art being created. We hope that people from different nations will find it easier to understand each other through this art of the future.”
He said: “We are very pleased that the exhibition of the world’s best AI art is taking place during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the Hermitage, one of the most renowned museums in the world. This exhibition reiterates Russia’s cultural and technological leadership.”
The RDIF and its international partners are already investing in AI technologies which, according to experts, could add $13 trillion to the global economy by 2030, drastically transforming many sectors. Many countries are already developing their own AI programs.
Al-Homoud has developed an abstract graphical form of language developed from the Arabic alphabet, which some predict could become a universal language.
AI technology is used to process large volumes of data, including images. In recent years, the use of AI has helped to achieve revolutionary results in cybersecurity, banking and marketing, as a result of facial-recognition technology.

AI-based contemporary art has received global attention following “The portrait of Edmond Belami,” a painting created by the French art group Obvious which sold at Christie’s for $432,500 on Oct. 25, 2018.

Artists and computer programers from Obvious used generative-adversarial network (GAN) algorithms, designed in 2014 to create the painting. GAN is able to simultaneously run two algorithms. One algorithm constantly generates images, while the second one processes them, filtering out the failed images.

The invention of GAN has enabled AI systems to process information in a manner that is closer to that of the human brain. This enables it to use imagination and take a critical approach to the received information. The activity of both algorithms in GAN is balanced and excludes conflict, allowing for the best results.

Three artworks from Obvious, as well as pieces from other AI-based art specialists, will be exhibited for the first time in Russia. Most of the works are a result of creative processing by large AI algorithms.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, CEO of the Hermitage, said: “The Hermitage Museum always welcomes the experiments where art and science demonstrate their similarities and readiness to enrich each other. The artistic exploration of artificial intelligence continues the important process of humanization of science.”

An installation from Italian artist Davide Quayola will represent the AI “view” of French impressionist paintings, while the work by Turkey’s Refik Anadol, “Machine Hallucinations,” has been created using the latest GAN algorithm, which processed 100,000 photographs of Gothic and modern architecture. 

The work of Kostya Novoselov, who won the 2010 Nobel prize for physics after discovering the material graphene, will examine the limits of machine learning, drawing parallels with artworks created by humans.

The exhibition is the RDIF’s new initiative aimed at promoting dialogue between cultures. It builds on earlier successful cultural endeavors by the fund, including organizing concerts by the Mariinsky orchestra, and a Russian avant-guard art exhibition in Saudi Arabia in 2019, in partnership with Saudi Aramco and the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Exhibition participants also include Mario Klingemann from Germany, Chinese artists Sun Xun and Aaajiao, Russia’s Egor Kraft, ::Vtol::, and Novoselov in collaboration with Zhestkov Studio, Team Void from South Korea, American computer animator Jonathan Monaghan, and Norimichi Hirakawa of Japan.

Dmitry Ozerkov and Victoria Kondrashova are the curators of the exhibition, which will run until July 7.

Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

Updated 26 May 2019

Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

  • Umrah trip held as part of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah's “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative 

JEDDAH: Several Muslims with special needs have benefited from a special Umrah pilgrimage organized by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to statement from the ministry, the Umrah trip, was held on the 17th of Ramadan  (May 22) under the “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative in partnership with Sawt Alasm association in Jeddah.

A busload of 20 people with special needs were accompanied by 12 volunteers of Sadiq Almutamir, including sign language interpreters for the deaf pilgrims. 

The first stop was at Kuday area in Makkah, where pilgrims received the special gifts of Sadiq Almutamir, supported by the Establishment of Motawifs of South East Asian Pilgrims. Next was their arrival at the Grand Mosque, wherein the pilgrims performed Umrah, enjoyed Iftar meals, and received souvenirs from Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association. 

Volunteers assisted the pilgrims by communicating with them, providing instructions and directions in addition to sharing their feelings with the support of the sign language interpreters. 

Sadiq Almutamir also accompanied pilgrims during the performance of Umrah, providing wheelchairs for the elderly, sharing breakfast, and learning about their impressions of performing Umrah for their first time. 

Sadiq Almutamir is one of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s initiatives in Makkah’s Cultural Forum. It focuses on promoting the culture of giving and cooperation between the Saudi youth as well as elevating the volunteering services provided to Umrah pilgrims in order to enrich their experiences. It also provides optional tours to visit attractions, monuments, and places contribute to enriching experiences of Mutamirs and immortalizing beautiful memories in the Kingdom.

Launched late last year, the initiative aims to develop the spirit of volunteerism among Muslims and to invest in the youth by engaging young men and women in service and social responsibility.

“It focuses as well on improving the efficiency level of services provided to pilgrims, promoting the culture of volunteering, helping elderly and special needs’ people to perform Umrah rituals, and finally contributing to the realization of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 of reaching 1 million volunteers annually,” ministry statement said.

The trip was held in cooperation with the Western Fleet Transport, in coordination with the undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for pilgrims’ transportation affairs and Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association.