Highlights from the fifth annual Saudi Design Week

Art of heritage pieces. (Supplied)
Updated 11 October 2018

Highlights from the fifth annual Saudi Design Week

  • Saudi design week showcased a variety of different designers and artists

DUBAI: Saudi Design Week wrapped up last week and offered visitors a wealth of innovative creations. We picked out some of our favorites just in case you missed the show.

The theme of Saudi Design Week this year was “Sustainability in Design.” While each exhibitor interpreted that concept in their own way, Desert Designs was already a natural fit. The Khobar-based company creates upcycled homeware and —  for Design Week —  focused on using “heritage and heirloom pieces,” including a wooden door that the designers transformed into a glass-topped coffee table.

The Saudi Arabian luxury fashion brand uses traditional techniques including embroidery and sadu to create its womenswear, in keeping with its mission to “celebrate culture and preserve craftsmanship” in contemporary design. It’s feminine take on the farwa —  originally an oversized coat worn by desert nomads in the winter, adapted by Abadia for “the contemporary global woman,” is its most celebrated garment.

This beautifully crafted take on the traditional Khaleeji zamzamiah water canteen comes from Jeddah-based Efreez Studio. The designers claim that this version, handmade from red clay, is a healthy option, being free of the “harmful lead and chemicals found in the majority of plastic water bottles.” Each piece, the studio claims, is unique, thanks to the handcrafted top section, and the fact that this “mix of functional art and hydration” is made on a potter’s wheel and corked means it fits well with the sustainability theme of Design Week.

A Design Week veteran, Kabli —  an “interior architect” —  creates furniture with a twist. Sometimes literally. The main concept behind her “Kappa” collection, she has said, is “to present the beauty of geometric design by creating harmony and illusion of movement.”

Old Castle founder Amal bint Bandar Alsudairy combines her love of art, antiques and design in her contemporary homeware and furniture pieces. Her design is predominantly based, she says, on “modern arabesque.” Alsudairy is currently studying for a master’s degree in architectural design.

Riyadh-based Art of Heritage displayed handmade pottery and gifts from its non-profit organization Yadawy, so all the pieces are created by Saudi Arabian women with physical disabilities, all are unique, and all are stamped and signed by their makers, some of whom are now able to make a living from their art.

Bouzo is one of the co-founders of Saudi Design Week, and interpreted the ‘sustainability’ theme to mean “sustaining our heritage” as well as using sustainable materials. As such, her eye-catching miniatures are recreations of historical Islamic art painted on reclaimed wood and recycled material.

It might look like a fancy food blender or juicer, but Nota Nota is actually a machine that allows users to design their own perfume. Created by Saudi Arabian entrepreneur Abdullah Bahabri, Nota Nota comes with its own app (of course it does), which enables users to share their fragrant (or not) recipes with others. Earlier this summer, talking about his creation to Kawa News, Bahabri said, “In Arabia, perfume has been part of the culture for centuries. The famous scent codes are built on oudh, particularly. And nowadays French perfumery is also very common in Saudi, people do love to wear both French perfume and scents that come from the region.”

Ranin Kurdi and Sufanah Dairi create handmade wooden art that draws inspiration from their Arabic and Islamic heritage, with influences including calligraphy, particularly Kufic design. Their machine-free craftsmanship results in striking pieces of art that rely heavily on history while retaining a modern touch.


Lindsay Lohan expecting first child with Kuwaiti husband Bader Shammas

Updated 15 March 2023

Lindsay Lohan expecting first child with Kuwaiti husband Bader Shammas

  • Lohan married financier Bader Shammas in 2022, People magazine reported

LOS ANGELES: Lindsay Lohan is expecting her first child.

The “Mean Girls” star announced her pregnancy in an Instagram post on Tuesday, sharing an image of a baby onesie with “Coming soon...” written on it. The post was captioned “We are blessed and excited!”

Lohan married financier Bader Shammas in 2022, People magazine reported.

A message sent to Lohan’s representative was not immediately returned.

The 36-year-old actor, who was once a tabloid mainstay, has lived overseas for several years and kept a lower public profile.

She recently returned to acting, starring in Netflix’s “Falling for Christmas” last year, and stars in the streaming service’s upcoming romantic comedy “Irish Wish.”

The Dubai-based actress and Shammas, who is a financier, were first spotted together at a music festival in Dubai shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020. They got engaged in 2021 and tied the knot in 2022.  

Arab stars, including her long-time friend Dubai-based Lebanese influencer and entrepreneur Karen Wazen, took to social media to congratulate the mom-to-be.  


Intermix Residency artworks embrace multicultural identities within Saudi Arabia

Updated 03 March 2023

Intermix Residency artworks embrace multicultural identities within Saudi Arabia

  • The two-day residency showcase, which concluded on February 28, aimed to encourage local and international artists to bridge gaps between various disciplines through innovation, transformation and sustainability

RIYADH: The second cycle of the Intermix Residency program challenged stereotypes related to multicultural identities within Saudi Arabia in its Open Studio event, creating a safe space for artists to discuss displacement, immigration and belonging in a showcase themed “Bodies as Landscapes.” 

The two-day residency showcase, which concluded on February 28, was a collaborative output of the Visual Arts and Fashion Commissions, both subsectors of the Ministry of Culture, aiming to encourage local and international artists to bridge gaps between various disciplines through innovation, transformation and sustainability.

The showcase invited public engagement with the works of the residents, including Omnia Abdelkader, Hatem Al-Ahmad, Safa Al-Belushi, Khadija Arif, Maria Florencia Carranza, Eduardo Cassina, Somaya Fallatah, Tamara Kalo, Sadaf Khan, Tra My Nguyen, Hayat Osama, Adrian Pepe and Angelo Plessas.

Resident artist Adrian Pepe displays a lifesize caste made of sheep's wool in his artwork "Sheddings," portraying funeral rituals as a form of rebirth. (Supplied)

Tara Al-Dughaither, the curator of the two cycles, told Arab News: “Saudi is a diverse place, and the diversity makes us special…I think any space that is thoughtful of the artists (and their) personal stories is a space where different conversations and dialogue can happen. Personal narratives, in general, are important themes in all of my work.”

Al-Dughaither is behind the platform Sawt Asura, a research project dedicated to archiving the history of Saudi women through vocal heritage. She said that much of the curation and ideation of the theme stems back to that. 

“Art is (curation),” she said. “I think that that’s a rare opportunity and a privilege to be able to bridge my own personal practice with my curatorial practice, which also comes from my personal narrative. And I think that’s why I can connect to artists.”

It is important for artists, especially those early on in their career, to embrace their identities before moving on to larger conceptual spaces, Al-Dughaither said. 

In “Looking Over,” visual artist and photographer Fallatah presents a series of self-portraits taken as part of an ongoing process to discover and understand her Nigerian heritage and culture, one that was shuttered from her growing up.

“I’m a third-generation Nigerian Saudi,” Fallatah told Arab News. “I became interested in understanding and learning more about the culture and heritage because it frustrated me how my family has distanced from the culture. I was always interested in colonialism, slavery, African art, and all of that, and I felt it was really important to understand that this is me. This makes me.”

In “Looking Over,” visual artist and photographer Somaya Fallatah presents a series of self portraits taken as an ongoing process of discovering her Nigerian heritage and culture, one that was shuttered from her growing up within Saudi. (Supplied)

Her studio is draped in a wall collage of fabrics printed with Nigerian designs and collected over the years, some of them passed down from family members.  

Al-Dughaither said of the curatorial process: “I told (Fallatah), ‘Don’t go too deep into your route — that’s a lifelong journey. Just express yourself where you are now so that you have a good start and express it through the medium that you want to perfect.’”

Using the fabrics as a means to further explore her heritage, Fallatah had some of the other residents drape them around her, as if she were seated within the cloth’s embrace, all documented in a series also displayed on the studio’s walls. 

Nearby was a display of images capturing her dancing to Hausa music, a genre native to Nigeria.

Interdisciplinary artist Kalo presented “Grounding Alysar,” a performative multimedia video deconstructing the idea of home and displacement. The artist used found pieces of fabric to create a rope the length of her childhood compound’s parameters.

Interdisciplinary artist Tamara Kalo presents “Grounding Alysar,” a performative multimedia video deconstructing the idea of home, displacement, and home creation. The artist used found pieces of fabric to create a rope the length of her childhood compound’s parameters. (Supplied)

“I think being in this residency has definitely helped me reflect a lot on my practice and the topics and ideas I’m interested in, but also it was a beautiful container for (the) cultural exchange of ideas and techniques,” Kalo told Arab News. 

The story is in conversation with Alysar, the Queen of Tyre, or modern-day Lebanon. She was exiled from her home after her brother murdered her husband, which led her to bring her people to a new land across the Mediterranean, landing in modern-day Tunisia and establishing Carthage. 

“This was a story that my grandmother told me and that got passed down from person to person, and somehow it’s something that I felt called to expand on and (relate) to my own experience...growing up in Riyadh in a compound called Cordoba, the compound where my parents (established) their own new community and recreated their own home,” she said. 

In the video, her mother wraps the rope, measured using the length of the artist’s arm, around her daughter. In comprehending her ownership of the space, Kalo uses the ritualistic act of movement and migration to gain agency over her own place in the world. 

In her video installation, artist Tamara Kalo uses the ritualistic act of movement and migration to gain agency over her own place in the world. (Supplied)

As a textile designer, Arif presents the hurdles of a new chapter in her life in the shape of a gown titled “Hool,” embellished with six types of flora found in the region: cactus, lily, jasmine, goldenrod, marigold, and baby’s-breath. 

In navigating motherhood, migration from Pakistan to Saudi, and the discovery of new land and culture, each flower is a qualitative piece within the mosaic of her journey: Cacti symbolize hardships, while marigolds stand for protection and support.

Arif told Arab News: “I’m a body here, and Saudi Arabia is the landscape…If we don’t go through the difficult parts, we can’t achieve happiness. Having a kid, being displaced and having the support of my husband is beautiful. 

“I’m extremely happy to see this conversion and transformation in Saudi Arabia. We’ve seen the negative depictions of Saudi…but one of the main reasons I’m showing flora is to show people it’s beautiful. I’m so grateful to be here and (grow).”


Bruce Willis has frontotemporal dementia, condition worsens

Updated 17 February 2023

Bruce Willis has frontotemporal dementia, condition worsens

  • The 67-year-old actor's family said Willis has a more specific diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia
  • “While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis,” the statement read

NEW YORK: Nearly a year after Bruce Willis’ family announced that he would step away from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, his family says his “condition has progressed.”
In a statement posted Thursday, the 67-year-old actor’s family said Willis has a more specific diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia.
“While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis,” the statement read. “FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone.”
Last March, Willis’ family said his aphasia had affected his cognitive abilities. The condition causes loss of the ability to understand or express speech.
In Thursday’s statement, his family said communication challenges were just one symptom of frontotemporal dementia.
“Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead,” the statement read. “As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.”
The statement was posted on the website for The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration and signed by Willis’ wife, Emma Heming Willis, his ex-wife Demi Moore, and his five children, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn.
Over a four-decade career, Willis’ movies had earned more than $5 billion at the worldwide box office. While beloved for hits like “Die Hard” and “The Sixth Sense,” the prolific actor had in recent years primarily featured in direct-to-video thrillers.

Pakistan prevents organizers from screening hit Indian movie 'Pathaan' in Karachi

Updated 02 February 2023

Pakistan prevents organizers from screening hit Indian movie 'Pathaan' in Karachi

  • Social media users informed Sindh censors ‘Firework Events’ was organizing Pathaan screening in Karachi
  • Censor board sent notices to events management company, which canceled screening and refunded ticket money

KARACHI: A provincial censor board in Pakistan said on Wednesday it had stopped a private group from screening the Bollywood blockbuster Pathaan in Karachi, after social media users drew attention to online sale of tickets for the event.

The Hindi spy thriller starring megastar Shah Rukh Khan, wildly popular in both India and Pakistan, has been playing to packed movie theaters in India since its release last month. The film, however, has not been released in Pakistan, which banned the screening of Indian movies after ties with New Delhi reached a new low in 2019 over the disputed Kashmir region.

India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed neighbors, have fought two out of three wars over Kashmir. Both claim the region in full but control it in part.

Chairman of the Sindh Board of Film Censors (SBFC), Khalid Bin Shaheen, told Arab News social media users informed the board that an event management company called Firework Events was organizing a public screening of Pathaan on February 4, 2023, in Karachi’s Khayaban-e-Shahbaz area.

The board then reached out to the company with a warning and was informed that the event had been canceled.

“However, a social media post surfaced again [later] which read that the group was hosting two new fresh slots on Feb. 5, Sunday, after Saturday’s [Feb. 4] tickets were sold out,” Shaheen told Arab News.

He said the SBFC then issued a notice to the company.

“The screening was canceled after our notice, violation of which may lead to strict action under the law,” Shaheen said.

The notice served to Firework Events and seen by Arab News directs the company to “immediately” cancel the screening, and informed it that screening a film without certification was a punishable offense with a jail term of up to three years and a fine of Rs100,000 ($374) or both.

As per Pakistani law, private parties and individuals are not allowed to arrange a public or private exhibition of a film unless the censor board issues a certificate for its exhibition.

“At present, Pathaan’s screening has been categorically restricted by the concerned authority in light of the law,” Shaheen said.

A member of the organizing team who requested anonymity told Arab News the issue was resolved after the censor board physically went to the location of the screening. Consequently, she said, all related social media posts were taken down and the event was canceled.

“We wanted to do it as a private family event which was just hyped up,” the organizer said, adding that the company had refunded ticket money and apologized to buyers.

“But we have the right to ask why action wasn’t taken [against Bollywood screenings] when it was commercially happening since [so] long,” she asked, referring to what she called “Bollywood Nights” at educational institutes and restaurants.

Speaking to Arab News, Umar Khitab Khan, a member of the censor board, said authorities had issued similar notices when such events were organized in the past:

“This has happened in the past and when it was brought to our notice, the board took notice. But whether [the screening was] commercial or not, the screening of an Indian film is illegal.”

Syed Asad Raza, senior superintendent of police, said police took action only after a complaint was registered.

“No complaint has been registered with us,” he said, about plans for the Pathaan screening.

Pakistan, where Bollywood films enjoy massive popularity, first banned Indian movies in 1965, when the two countries went to war. The ban lasted for four decades until 2006 when it was lifted by former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

No Indian movie has been screened in Pakistan for the last four years.

Mummy of King Ramses II to go on show in Jeddah

Updated 19 January 2023

Mummy of King Ramses II to go on show in Jeddah

  • Exhibition of ancient Egyptian artifacts coincides with first Biennale of Islamic Arts
  • Traveling show ‘highlights the value of our ancient civilization,’ Egypt says

CAIRO: The mummy of Egypt’s King Ramses II will go on show in Saudi Arabia from next week as part of a global tour of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

The traveling exhibition, titled “Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs,” is organized by the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences and its arrival in the Kingdom coincides with the inaugural Biennale of Islamic Arts.

The remains of the famous pharaoh will be on display at the Hajj Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah from Jan. 23 to April 23.

The exhibition will give visitors an insight into the life and accomplishments of Ramses II, dubbed Ramses the Great, who was one of the most remarkable and celebrated rulers of ancient history.

As well as his mummy, the display will feature more than 180 Egyptian artifacts, including sculptures and treasures, and state-of-the-art multimedia reproductions that demonstrate the opulence and beauty of ancient Egyptian civilization.

There will also be a number of more recently discovered animal mummies and treasures from the royal tombs of Dahshur and Tanis.

The exhibition was inaugurated in Houston in November 2021 before moving on to San Francisco in August last year. In the Kingdom, the artifacts will be shown as part of the biennale alongside items of Islamic art relating to the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah.

The touring exhibition is being staged with the approval of the Egyptian government, which said it “highlights the value of our ancient civilization.”

After Saudi Arabia, the show will travel to Paris, where it will remain from April 1 until Sept. 17, before moving on to Sydney.