Shara Art Fair brings together Saudi artists

Cutouts hang from the ceiling of the gallery symbolize the urban landscaping and the style of the houses. (Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 25 November 2020

Shara Art Fair brings together Saudi artists

  • With the global pandemic closing art galleries and canceling live events, artists took a hit like many other workers

JEDDAH: The Saudi Art Council brought together a wide range of local artists after the months-long lockdown for the 6th Shara Art Fair, which was recently launched in Jeddah at the council’s headquarters.

With the global pandemic closing art galleries and canceling live events, artists took a hit like many other workers. The Shara Art Fair, however, allowed artists from all across the country to exhibit their talents in seven art galleries.

The participating galleries included Athr Gallery, Hafez Gallery, 6th Sense Art, Noor Gallery, Tasami Creative Lab, BHAC, and Visual Stations.

Heba Abed, a visual artist and painter, said that her life during the pandemic was a combination of “watching TV, eating, and painting.”

Inspired by her surroundings, Abed’s artwork was a collection of one hundred paintings that exhibit the emotions she felt during the hundred days of quarantine.

“Some of the paintings express the feelings I had while in quarantine, while others are inspired by fairy tales because there was a lot of time for our minds to wander while we were stuck at home,” she told Arab News. 

Heba Abed

She added: “I would sometimes paint more than one painting a day during the lockdown. While we were all bored, I decided to practice the thing I loved most. I found inspiration in my life, in society and in everything that happened around me.”

Artist Elham Dawsari, on the other hand, used the 1990s as inspiration for her artwork, “Nefa,” which means a spacious place with few to no walls. The installation, featuring clay women set over acrylic boxes with mirrors inside, is meant to symbolize the women’s untold stories.

“The idea behind the piece was to represent the lives of the women in the 90s,” she said.

Cutouts hang from the ceiling of the gallery around the art, which according to Dawsari, symbolize the urban landscaping at the time and the style of the houses.


• The Shara Art Fair allowed artists from all across the country to exhibit their talents in seven art galleries.

• The participating galleries included Athr Gallery, Hafez Gallery, 6th Sense Art, Noor Gallery, Tasami Creative Lab, BHAC, and Visual Stations.

“They also show how those designs imposed themselves on our lives,” she said. “They show certain aspects of society and how we behaved and how our bodies looked because of the limited space we had to walk around in; they were fuller but also more muscular because of all the hard work the women used to do.”

The clay figures of the women are based on Dawsari’s memory and the collective memory of her family.

Another piece featured large wooden dolls perched on a table. As time passed, the artist painted more dolls. The founder of Dar Malak, Malak Masallati, was the designer and director of the project and expressed the hope that her wooden dolls would become the next “Saudi Wooden Dolls.”

“I wanted to create wooden dolls that represent our country and its culture and that could become an icon. I called the project ‘Nasana’,” she told Arab News.

Dar Malak worked with designers and artisans to translate the idea of Masallati into actual objects.

Masallati worked with a wood factory that handled the woodturning and scaling for her.

“I did my research on the proportions of the human body, using examples of different bodies to create the variety you see here,” she added.

Saudi women making their mark in science

Updated 19 January 2021

Saudi women making their mark in science

JEDDAH: Just 30 percent of women worldwide work in science, but Saudis are challenging this long-standing trend.
Women represent 58 percent of university students in Saudi Arabia, with many studying in science, technology and engineering and furthering their careers with studies overseas.
In a report by the Saudi Education Ministry, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology, mathematics, statistics, and physics.
Universities and research centers have adopted measures to support the inclusion of female scientists.
Ambitious, driven and facing challenges along the way to their success, here are the Saudi women scientists who have made a mark in the field for their extraordinary work.
Suha Kayum
Research engineer

With a career spanning 10 years, Kayum — a research engineer with Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center — was tasked with accelerating the evolution of software algorithms to enhance Aramco’s reservoir simulator, which helped the company cut costs.
Kayum was a developer for the company’s in-house basin and seismic simulators. In 2016, she designed and received a patent for an algorithm that enabled the first 1-billion cell basin simulation run.

Dr. Elaf Ahmed
Lab scientist

With a keen research interest in nano-organisms, Ahmed’s main focus while conducting postdoctoral work at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology was synthesis of environmental nano materials using electrochemically active biofilms.
She later joined the company’s Oil and Gas Treatment Division at Aramco’s Research and Development Center.
Her main focus at the division is to conduct research projects for water treatment technologies and find new ways to treat water found in oil and gas reservoirs.

Dr. Ilham Abuljadayel

In what could be one of the most profound achievements by a Saudi scientist, Dr. Ilham discovered the process of retrodifferentiation, a method also known as retrograde differentiation that treats blood diseases.
A common process for the maintenance of cell integrity against damaging agents, Dr. Ilham applied her findings in the first preclinical study in 2000 in collaboration with George Washington Medical Center, US, in two animal models of human diseases to study the utility of retrodifferentiated stem cells.
Her research has helped treat 390 patients with diseases ranging from sickle cell anaemia, multiple sclerosis, thalassaemia, and hepatitis C among others.
Dr. Abeer Al-Olayan
Petroleum scientist

With an academic and industrial background in various fields of chemistry spanning over 20 years, Dr. Abeer is a research scientist at Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center and is responsible for leading its chemicals development initiative.
As a fellow at MIT, she submitted a fellowship research abstract that focuses on reducing dependency on food-based chemicals to tackle drilling and subsurface challenges. She has 10 registered patents with the US Patent Office for the development of methods, materials and compositions in drilling and fluid transfer.

Dr. Malak Abed Althagafi

Diagnosed with a rare genetic disease at a young age, Althagafi got a first glimpse of what her future could be during her treatment. Her educational path started with the study of genetic diseases in children and led to molecular pathology before she focused on surgical oncology, molecular genetics and neuropathology.
Dr. Malak is one of the few American board-certified molecular neuropathologists in the world and has conducted research that focuses on decoding genetic mutations in tumors, specifically brain tumors in children.
She became part of the Saudi Human Genome Program in 2014. Her clinical and research interests are mainly in surgical oncology, pathology, molecular genetics pathology and neuropathology, especially its application for treating brain cancers.

Dr. Hind Al-Johani
Scientist of physical chemistry

Her research interest is in nano-catalysis. In 2017, this Saudi scientist discovered that by using the simple molecule of citrate ions (from citric acid) you could stabilize and control the structure of gold nanoparticles.
Using this new discovery, the findings showed that gold can carry drugs through the body without chemical side effects. Attaching antibodies can guide the nanoparticles to specific cells that need treatment. Her findings have had an impact on environmental chemistry where it may also be used for water purification or methods for capturing CO2 emissions.

Dr. Nouf Al-Numair
Molecular bioinformatics scientist
Dubbed the DNA decoder, her research focuses on predicting the early emergence of diseases through genetic mutations.
She has achieved this by merging molecular genetics and computer programming to predict the effects of mutations and provide patients with a personalized medical approach to treatment.
Using more than seven programming languages to analyze human genes, she has successfully published a number of papers with the findings.
Dr. Nouf pursued her career in STEM and is the first Saudi scientist to major in molecular genetics and programming biological information.