Intermix Residency artworks embrace multicultural identities within Saudi Arabia

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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)
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In "Seguir Respirando," Argentinian artist Maria Florencia Carranza takes an unconventional approach to dawning environmental issues. A collection of plastic bags have been morphed into a bacterium-like forms to raise awareness on our consumption's impact on even the smallest organisms. (Supplied)
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As a textile designer, Khadija Arif presents the hurdles of a new chapter in her life in the shape of a gown titled “Hool,” embellished with the six particular floras grown in the region: Cactus, Lilies, Jasmine, Goldenrod, Marigold, and Baby’s Breath. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 March 2023
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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).”


King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate King Abdullah II on Jordan’s national day

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King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate King Abdullah II on Jordan’s national day

RIYADH: King Salman sent a cable of congratulations to King Abdullah II of Jordan on the occasion of his country's independence day on Saturday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

King Salman wished King Abdullah continued good health and happiness, and the government and people of Jordan further progress and prosperity.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Jordanian king.

The messages from the Saudi leadership were among dozens sent by global leaders and heads of international organizations, including the speaker of the Arab Parliament.

Adel bin Abdulrahman Al-Asoumi wished Jordan and its people “more security, stability, and prosperity.”

He also praised the “civilizational achievements made by the kingdom under the leadership of King Abdullah II in all areas that have made the kingdom a leading regional and international model.”  


Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

RIYADH: The Saudi-Kosovo Parliamentary Friendship Committee, led by Khalid Al-Bawardi, the committee’s chairman and Saudi Shoura Council member, met with Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kreshnik Ahmeti and other officials in Pristina.

Discussions aimed to boost bilateral relations and parliamentary cooperation between the Shoura Council and Kosovo Parliament, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Faisal Hifzi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Albania and non-resident ambassador to Kosovo, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, attended the meeting.

Additionally, the committee met with Podujeva’s Mayor Shpejtim Bulliqi and discussed cooperation in municipal affairs. The mayor praised Saudi Arabia’s environmental conservation efforts.

The Shoura Council delegation also engaged with local companies, reviewing Kosovo’s future projects and discussing opportunities for economic cooperation.


Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 17,030 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 10,662 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 4,147 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,221 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 1,119 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 71 percent were Ethiopian, 27 percent Yemeni, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 65 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 17 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

Updated 25 May 2024
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KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief  continued its humanitarian projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen.
In Sudan, the agency distributed 950 personal hygiene kits to displaced and needy families in Kosti, benefiting 5,463 individuals. In Wad Sharifi, 330 food parcels were provided to displaced families, benefiting 1,710 individuals. 
Meanwhile in Lebanon, KSrelief continued its implementation of the Al-Amal Charitable Bakery Project in Akkar and Miniyeh. The project distributed 150,000 loaves of bread daily to Syrian and Palestinian refugee families, or about 62,500 individuals.
In Yemen, 897 food parcels were delivered in Al-Abr, benefiting 6,237 individuals, as part of the Kingdom’s humanitarian initiative.
in Somalia, KSrelief continued providing medical services in collaboration with the Kidney Dialysis Center at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu. The center catered to a total of 384 patients and assisted dialysis, medical examination and emergency sessions.


12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia

Updated 25 May 2024
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12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia

  • A separate smuggling attempt of 70kg of qat was thwarted in Jazan Region

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 12 Yemeni nationals for attempting to smuggle 266kg of qat through the borders of Asir region, state news agency SPA reported.
The items were seized and handed over to the relevant authority, SPA said on Friday.
A separate smuggling attempt of 70kg of qat was thwarted in Jazan region. Border authorities said the suspects were arrested and the seized items were transferred to relevant authorities for further action.

Mostly chewed by users, Qat is a mild stimulant and illegal across most of the Arab world.

The government has urged citizens and residents to report any information they have regarding drug smuggling or sales to the General Directorate of Narcotics Control. Reports can be made by calling 911 for Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and 999 for other regions. Alternatively, information can be emailed to [email protected]. All reports are treated confidentially.