Saudi artist wins global recognition for work celebrating GCC Summit

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The GCC logo appears at the center of the piece surrounded by inscriptions resembling the rock art and carvings of the Lihyan civilization. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 January 2021

Saudi artist wins global recognition for work celebrating GCC Summit

  • Basma Al-Balawi’s piece depicting AlUla history has gone viral after leaders signed deal to end rift with Qatar

JEDDAH: A young Saudi artist has attracted global attention with her eye-catching piece of artwork to mark the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit held in AlUla.

Basma Al-Balawi’s piece depicting the history of AlUla has been the talk of social media since Gulf leaders signed a normalization agreement at the conference to end a three-year rift with Qatar.

Twitter users in the Gulf region widely shared images of the artwork which celebrated the important summit meeting.

“I first thought of this work when AlUla was announced to be the host of the 41st GCC summit. I wanted to celebrate my city’s rich historic and archaeological heritage using elements from our nature and monuments,” Al-Balawi told Arab News.

She said that the choice of AlUla to host the event had been a source of great pride for her community.

“In this artwork, I merged the GCC logo, using different colors of sand from the AlUla area, with symbols and drawings that resemble AlUla’s ancient cultures,” she added.

The GCC logo appears at the center of the piece surrounded by inscriptions resembling the rock art and carvings of the Lihyan civilization. Al-Balawi also added the summit’s title using the ancient south Arabian script Al-Musnad, found in the ruins of the Lihyan capital Dedan, which is modern-day AlUla.

Her work is around 100 square centimeters in size and took four days to produce.

A tourism graduate and self-taught artist, Al-Balawi began working with sand in 2019. After finding success with several pieces, she decided to carry on with her artistic career concentrating on sand-modeling and painting.

Her first piece was inspired by one of Madain Saleh’s gates in AlUla. “I have done six pieces so far inspired by AlUla and its fascinating archaeological sites, and I’m very happy with the results and will continue working with sand,” she said.

“I want to dedicate my art to embrace the beauty of our city and its ancient history, and I am really happy that my latest piece received such huge attention.”

Mada’in Salih is the most iconic historical site of Saudi Arabia and was listed as a UNESCO Word Heritage Site, back in 2008.

“I used to play with sand with children and we created sculptures and models with water, then I realized I should employ this material in my art and I really enjoy it,” Al-Balawi added.

“AlUla is an amazing place of inspiration for any artist. I hope that we, as the people of AlUla, especially the artists, get a chance to learn more about its culture and civilizational history.”

Located in the north of Madinah province, AlUla has one of the most important concentrations of rock art and carved inscriptions in the Middle East.


Crown prince announces new 5-year strategy for kingdom’s economy

Updated 46 min 50 sec ago

Crown prince announces new 5-year strategy for kingdom’s economy

  • Crown prince pledges 1.8m new jobs
  • PIF to invest $40bn a year until 2025

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday launched a new five-year strategy for the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund as Saudi Arabia drives toward achieving its Vision 2030 goal to diversify the economy away from dependence on oil.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) will pump at least $40 billion a year into the local economy, double its assets to $1.07 trillion, contribute U$320 billion to non-oil GDP and create 1.8 million jobs by 2025, said the crown prince, the fund’s chairman.

“We’ve launched many vital sectors and investment projects in Saudi Arabia and the private sector is a strategic partner for the PIF,” he said.

“The new strategy comes to represent a major pillar in achieving the aspirations of our country and aims to achieve the concept of comprehensive development.”

The 2021-2025 strategy will focus on launching new sectors, empowering the private sector, developing the PIF’s portfolio, achieving effective long-term investments, supporting the localization of sectors and building strategic economic partnerships.

“Our goal is to make our country a pioneer for the new human civilization,” the crown prince said. The PIF would “contribute to supporting development and economic diversification efforts in the Kingdom, in addition to consolidating its position as the preferred global investment partner.”

PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said: “Over the past four years, PIF has demonstrated its important role in contributing to the Kingdom’s economy, in line with the ambitions of Vision 2030. Up to the end of 2020, we tripled assets under management to nearly $400 billion, created 10 new sectors and generated 331,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“And as part of our strategy, we will continue to drive the economic transformation of Saudi Arabia and enable the private sector. We also partner with innovative, transformative and disruptive companies around the world to consistently serve as an important catalyst for the development of the industries and opportunities of the future.

“Core to our strategy is our focus on funding new human futures by improving quality of life, driving environmental and economic sustainability, and developing new sectors and jobs.”

Meanwhile Fahad Al-Mubarak was appointed governor of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) on Sunday, replacing  Ahmed Al-Kholifey, who becomes an adviser at the royal court.