Hayy Jameel’s bustling Ramadan Nights embraces community, culture

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Ramadan Nights takes place every Wednesday to Saturday over 14 nights during Ramadan catering to all ages and backgrounds. (Instagram/hayyjameel)
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Abdullah Alsilani, a carpenter and the founder of NBR Carpentry. (AN photo)
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Hadeel Alabbasi, the founder of Qanaateer with a kid teaching Arabic fonts. (AN photo)
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Carlota Martin. (AN photo)
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Updated 01 April 2024
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Hayy Jameel’s bustling Ramadan Nights embraces community, culture

  • Vibrant program ‘by the community, for the community’ offers evenings of reflection and joy

JEDDAH: The inaugural Ramadan Nights at Jeddah’s Hayy Jameel cultural center features a range of activities including workshops, film screenings, dining experiences, and shopping options.

Highlighting the importance of community, culture, and well-being, the event will take place every Wednesday to Saturday over 14 nights during Ramadan catering for all ages and backgrounds.




Ramadan Nights takes place every Wednesday to Saturday over 14 nights during Ramadan catering to all ages and backgrounds. (Instagram/hayyjameel)

Ramadan Nights includes local artisanal crafts, books, organic seasonal produce, accessories, clothing, and gifts at Hayy Markets. The platform provides the creative community with a space to exhibit their products, engage with customers, and raise awareness about local initiatives that champion sustainability, well-being, and artistic practices.

Rahma Al-Harbi, founder of Sigo and a first-time participant at Hayy Markets, told Arab News: “I am selling souvenirs that are locally authentic and reflect the rich culture of Saudi Arabia and its various cities.




Ramadan Nights takes place every Wednesday to Saturday over 14 nights during Ramadan catering to all ages and backgrounds. (Instagram/hayyjameel)

“We also offer traditional games that have been reimagined in a modern style, each representing different aspects of cities such as Diriyah and AlUla. The interaction with customers is truly unique, and we manage to sell all our products every week.”

Samar Allarakia, an artist and designer, said: “I create limited-edition abayas by painting and printing on fabrics exclusively for Hayy Jameel. Each time I sell out, I restock.




Hadeel Al-Abbasi, Qanaateer founder

“I also offer handmade items specifically for this bazaar. The response has been incredible, and customers have shown great love for my work. I look forward to collaborating further with Hayy Jameel.”

Raghad Bawazir, the founder of FouZentric, said: “Our brand features 100 percent handmade abayas, dresses, and bags in a boho style. The crowd’s response has been incredible, and people truly appreciate our trendy boho designs.”

I am thrilled to be a part of this initiative and to share Islamic and cultural traditions with children.

Hadeel Al-Abbasi, Qanaateer founder

Carlota Martin, founder of Root Spain and Kids at the Patio, said: “We are showcasing two unique brands at this market. The Root specializes in gourmet Spanish food, including exceptional products like extra virgin olive oil, artisanal flower petal jams, and marron glace (candied chestnuts).




Ramadan Nights takes place every Wednesday to Saturday over 14 nights during Ramadan catering to all ages and backgrounds. (Instagram/hayyjameel)

“We also offer elegant marble bowl and spoon hampers to complement our offerings.

“Our kids’ brand features stylish clothing for newborns to children, catering to both boys and girls. Visitors are loving our products and are eager to learn more. I am grateful for the invitation from Hayy Jameel.”




Eiman Elnaiem, Hayy Jameel public programs manager

Abdullah Alsilani, a carpenter and the founder of NBR Carpentry, presents wood-carving sessions. He said his business focused on creating custom designs based on requests and its product range included tables, candle stands, kitchen items, and keychains.

Anas Bukhari and Kholoud Faqih, the founders of JED Board Games who frequently collaborate with Hayy Jameel. Faqih said: “We provide a diverse array of challenging board games, offering over 150 options for this Ramadan Nights program.

Ramadan Nights has community at the heart of it all … and it is incredible to see Hayy Jameel buzzing at every corner.

Eiman Elnaiem, Hayy Jameel public programs manager

“Our community has been thriving as we aim to educate individuals about the world of board games. By spreading awareness and knowledge about these games, we hope to encourage more people to step away from electronic devices.

“During Ramadan, it’s a perfect opportunity for families and friends to come together, spend quality time, and enjoy the experience of playing board games.”

During Ramadan, Hayy Cinema presents a selection of local and international films, offering the opportunity to unwind and relax after iftar until midnight.

The program also features Hayy Explorer which provides children with a chance to dig into Islamic arts, participate in games, and discover culinary traditions from different regions in Saudi Arabia.

Hadeel Felemban, who oversees Hayy Explorer, said: “We have storytellers sharing tales of food from Baha and Aseer. We’ve partnered with Akwan to host a fun games night for kids, featuring memory card games for Ramadan and activities to build Arabic alphabets.

“Kids can also enjoy hands-on activities like making mamoul (dates cookies), drawing sessions, and art projects. Each session lasts for one hour and can accommodate up to 20 children.”

The Arabic language institute, Qanaateer, has been highlighting the traditions and history of the Arabian Peninsula through art, stories, and culture for kids.

Qanaateer founder, Hadeel Al-Abbasi, said: “We are collaborating on weekends to teach artwork, Arabic fonts, creating Eid carpets, crafting Ramadan lanterns with wishes and prayers, and more.

“Everything is thoughtfully organized at Hayy Jameel. I am thrilled to be a part of this initiative and to share Islamic and cultural traditions with children.”

At a session hosted at Project Space by Hayy Learning’s teaching artists Nayla Attar and Sahrish Ali, participants explored the Holy Qur’an, and shared stories, recipes, and memories.

Maria Alem, senior manager at Hayy Jameel’s learning program, said: “For Ramadan Nights, we immersed ourselves in discussions about the fruits mentioned in the Qur’an, expressing gratitude for their blessings. This was followed by a creative printmaking session where participants crafted prints inspired by these fruits.

“They also reflected on personal recipes that hold special meaning, translating them into beautiful lino prints.”

Regarding a workshop on making a sobia blend using sourdough and dates, a healthier alternative to the staple Hejazi drink, Maram Murad, from Health in a Jar, said: “I came to Saudi Arabia with an idea to revive the art of fermented foods and started Health in a Jar six years ago, specializing in fermented food.

“We conduct workshops on fermented foods like sourdough, kombucha, kimchi, and during Ramadan, we focus on sobia.

“Collaborating with Hayy Jameel, we offered a healthy version of sobia during Ramadan with dates, raisins, and sourdough bread. It’s amazing to see the community’s growing interest in learning the process of making sobia is truly inspiring.”

Public programs manager, Eiman Elnaiem, said that the inaugural cultural Ramadan program was all about celebrating togetherness, community spirit, and well-being.

“The program has been developed with something for anyone and everyone in mind — from Hayy Markets and its selection of artisanal crafts, books, design, gifts, and local produce by entrepreneurs and creatives from across Saudi Arabia to film screenings at Hayy Cinema, children’s activities centered on storytelling, games, and reminders of the meaning of Ramadan and reflective and inspiring talks, workshops, live calligraphy, and performances celebrating tradition, customs, and shared values,” Elnaiem added.

She also noted the variety of food and beverage options available across Hayy Jameel.

“Ramadan Nights has community at the heart of it all. It is for the community, by the community, and it is incredible to see Hayy Jameel buzzing at every corner, including those curious to explore our current exhibition ‘At the Edge of Land’ in Hayy Arts, as well as Hayy residents in their spaces.

“The Ramadan program has been such a success, introducing us and bringing new audiences to Hayy Jameel. We hope it continues to grow and become the place to be each and every Ramadan for the years to come.

“We feel proud at Hayy Jameel to work with and support local collaborators and participants through the program, allowing them to share their passion, creativity, and connect with the wider community,” Elnaiem said.

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Beehives of Saudi Arabia’s Maysan believed to be over 1,000 years old

Updated 22 June 2024
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Beehives of Saudi Arabia’s Maysan believed to be over 1,000 years old

  • Located between the Sarawat and Tihamah mountains, the apiaries feature beautiful engineering with remarkable design specifications for honey production

TAIF: Maysan governorate, located in western Saudi Arabia's Sarawat mountain range, showcases stunning archaeological scenes of some of the most important and impressive environmental engineering formations. These include approximately 1,200 beehives that were a major source of daily sustenance for the early inhabitants of the place.

The apiaries in Maysan have become a primary source for the production and sale of Saudi honey, which is deeply embedded in the Kingdom’s culture and trade. These sites date back to ancient history, highlighting the community’s longstanding interest in honey in Maysan.

Abdul Wahab Al-Khudaidi, a history enthusiast, confirmed that the Al-Kharafi apiaries are situated between the Sarawat and Tihamah mountains and are believed to be over 1,000 years old.

The beehives of Maysan are paved with stones in intricate geometric patterns, spanning up to four levels. (SPA)

These apiaries feature beautiful engineering with remarkable design specifications for honey production. The structures are paved with stones in intricate geometric patterns, spanning up to four levels.

The site is difficult to access, requiring navigation through a designated path by an experienced individual. The honeycombs are reinforced with solid stones and columns to support the floors, which are constructed from large, closely positioned stones in balanced shapes.

Al-Khudaidi noted that the ancient beehives in the villages of Maysan and Bani Al-Harith, which are part of Makkah province, are intricately designed with multiple levels and floors nestled between steep, solid mountains.

The hives, dating back over 10 centuries, serve as evidence of the place’s authenticity and deep-rooted history. The famous mountains are a summer resort for visitors and locals, a historical legacy celebrated in their poems, and home to towering forts and castles that highlight the importance of the villages' history.

An ancient tower overlooks the Sarawat mountains in Maysan governorate of Makkah province. (SPA)

The structures testify to the rare profession practiced by the ancestors in beekeeping and honey extraction, producing various types of honey such as Acacia, Summer, and Seyal.

Al-Khudaidi pointed out that the initial apiaries were carefully located between mountain peaks to benefit from the diverse array of local aromatic plants.

These mountains host more than 50 species, including Rue, Basil, Marjoram, Lavender, among other wildflowers.
 


Saudi Arabia concludes participation at Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris

Updated 22 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia concludes participation at Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris

  • The pavilion, organized by the General Authority for Military Industries, sought to welcome investors from all over the world

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia concluded its participation in the global defense and security exhibition Eurosatory 2024 in Paris on Friday, where officials sought to boost partnerships with France, the state news agency SPA reported.

The Saudi pavilion participating in the exhibition, which started on Monday, saw wide interaction and a large presence to view the latest achievements, products and developments of the military industries sector in the Kingdom, SPA reported.

The pavilion, organized by the General Authority for Military Industries, sought to welcome investors from all over the world looking to invest in the military industries sector, and the efforts made to develop research and innovation in the sector.

It also reviewed the most prominent policies, legislation and incentives in Saudi Arabia that contributed to stimulating the process of localization and empowerment of the sector, enhancing supply chains and investment opportunities, and the importance of concerted efforts to achieve the military industries sector strategy.

On the sidelines of Eurosatory 2024, the governor of GAMI, Ahmed Al-Ohali, took part in the activities of a Saudi-French Day, where he spoke about building industrial and defense partnerships between Saudi Arabia and France, while the deputy governor of the authority’s empowerment sector, Saleh Al-Aqili, touched on the regulatory framework and organization of local content policy in the Kingdom.

Several meetings were also held at the pavilion with other entities participating in the exhibition, where a number of initiatives and partnerships were instigated.

Many parties from the public and private sectors joined forces to showcase at the pavilion, including the Ministry of Investment, represented by the Invest in Saudi Arabia platform (Invest Saudi), the General Authority for Defense Development, and a number of Saudi national institutions and companies specializing in the field of military industries.

They included the Saudi Arabian Military Industries, Saudia Technic, Life Shield, Scopa, the Arabian International Company, the Saudi Leather Industries Company, the Al-Esnad Military Industries Group, KRMC, and the World Defense Show.

The Kingdom’s military industries are localizing and empowering the sector in “attracting qualitative investments that will effectively contribute to building a prosperous economy and a sustainable industry,” SPA reported.


Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity

Updated 22 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity

  • The Kingdom’s representative to the UN says this is particularly important given the role of cybersecurity in protecting vital national interests and security
  • He tells the UN Security Council the sector has developed rapidly and dynamically, and helped to advance the field domestically, regionally and globally

LONDON: The need for a safe and reliable cyberspace that can help enable growth and prosperity is more urgent than ever, Saudi Arabia said as it urged all nations to prioritize efforts to strengthen cybersecurity.

Abdulaziz Al-Wasel, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, said it was time for the international community to adopt a serious and practical approach, in collaboration with the UN, to unifying international efforts to combat threats. This is particularly important given the role cybersecurity plays in protecting the vital interests of countries and national security, he explained.

His comments came on Thursday during a UN Security Council debate about evolving cyberspace threats under the heading “maintenance of international peace and security,” the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

Al-Wasel highlighted the work and rapid progress of the Kingdom’s cybersecurity sector, which he said was established as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan for national development and diversification. The sector has developed rapidly and dynamically, he added, helping to advance the field domestically, regionally and globally.

The Kingdom began its transformative journey by developing a model for cybersecurity that is based on centralized governance and decentralized operability, he said, and falls under the responsibility of national authorities. The model is distinguished by its comprehensive framework for dealing with all aspects related to cybersecurity, whether legislative, security-focused, economic or developmental.

In 2017, Saudi authorities established the National Institute for Cybersecurity, and the Kingdom’s efforts in the field have resulted in several international achievements, one of the most most notable of which was earning second place globally, and first in the Arab world, the Middle East and Asia, in the International Telecommunication Union’s 2020 Global Cybersecurity Index.

And this week Saudi Arabia topped the global cybersecurity rankings in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2024, which is compiled by the World Competitiveness Center of the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. In the overall World Competitiveness Index for 2024, the country climbed to 16th place, having ranked 24th in 2022 and 17th last year.

Al-Wasel also noted the launch in 2020 of the Global Cybersecurity Forum in the Kingdom, an international platform that brings together decision-makers from around the world to discuss strategic issues related to cybersecurity. More than 120 countries attended the forum last year, during which the International Cybersecurity Forum Foundation was established, with its headquarters in Riyadh, to aid the enhancement of cybersecurity at an international level.

“The Kingdom is keen to unify regional efforts to cooperate in enhancing regional cybersecurity, which resulted in the establishment of a specialized ministerial committee for cybersecurity under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council, based on a proposal from the Kingdom,” Al-Wasel said.

Another proposal by the Kingdom led to the establishment in September last year of the Council of Arab Cybersecurity Ministers, under the aegis of the Arab League, with its general secretariat and executive offices in Riyadh.

The UN welcomed the work of the Kingdom in the sector and said: “Saudi Arabia also provides capacity-building exercises worldwide, with over 40 states and organizations participating in such training.”


How solar-powered desalination allows Saudi Arabia to produce potable water sustainably

Updated 22 June 2024
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How solar-powered desalination allows Saudi Arabia to produce potable water sustainably

  • Desalination of seawater allows parched Gulf nations to access plentiful water for farming and human consumption
  • To cut emissions, the Kingdom is adopting renewable energy sources to power its filtration and treatment plants

RIYADH: In regions with limited rainfall, desalination is a practical means of sourcing plentiful water for farming and human consumption. However, the process of turning seawater into freshwater is notoriously energy intensive.

Indeed, desalination is a significant contributor to carbon emissions in the water-scarce Arabian Peninsula. That is why Saudi Arabia has been investing in green energy sources to power its desalination plants.

“Using renewable energies for desalination is crucial as it contributes to reducing the operation’s carbon footprint and water production costs,” Sultan Al-Rajhi, spokesperson for the Saudi Water Authority, told Arab News.

 

 

Due to the scarcity of freshwater resources in a region with a rapidly growing population, seawater desalination is essential to keep pace with demand, he added.

“Saudi Arabia depends on desalination of seawater due to the nature of the desert climate, in which the presence of surface water and natural rivers is rare,” Al-Rajhi said.

In fact, desalination accounts for about 75 percent of the Kingdom’s water supply.

“Therefore, investment is being made in desalination of seawater to meet the demand for population and economic growth witnessed in the Gulf region as a whole.”

Each year, the Kingdom requires an average of 5.5 billion cubic meters of freshwater. The need for water is especially high during the Hajj and Umrah seasons, when well over a million pilgrims arrive from around the world.

Home to more than 37 million people, the Kingdom is the world’s third-largest consumer of water per head of population. Agriculture alone accounts for around 84 percent of total water consumption.

An alfalfa farm in Riyadh region's Wadi Ad-Dawasir governorate. (Supplied)

Desalination is a complex process that involves removing salt and other impurities from seawater. Since the process requires a significant amount of energy, adopting renewables such as solar to power these facilities has become a top priority.

“To develop climate-resilient infrastructure for sustainable desalination, Saudi Arabia should prioritize innovative and renewable technologies,” Abdulaziz Daghestani, area sales director of water utilities and country director at Grundfos, told Arab News.

Grundfos is a Danish company that is working with regional states to provide innovative pumping solutions for water supply, wastewater management, heating and cooling, and industrial processes. 

According to Daghestani, integrating advanced monitoring systems can help optimize desalination operations and enhance efficiency.

“Using real-time data and analytics, we can improve water management practices and make timely adjustments to meet the varying increasing demand for human consumption and agriculture,” he said.

The Qatrah program, which means “droplet” in Arabic, was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture in 2020, and aims to reduce excess water usage by eliminating waste, and encouraging the conservation and reuse of existing freshwater.

Its objective is to lower daily per-capita water consumption from 263 liters to 150 liters by 2030. To do this, the ministry has created a unified framework, known as the National Water Strategy, for the country.

However, despite these efforts to improve the sustainability of water systems, desalination remains a crucial means of meeting water demand, making the adoption of clean energy sources and efficient production techniques a critical priority.

DID YOUKNOW?

• In 2023, Saudi Arabia had a desalination capacity of 13.2m cubic meters per day.

• 7 million cubic meters of desalinated water have been generated by the Al-Khafji plant.

• Desalination accounts for 60 percent of the urban water supply in Saudi Arabia.

• Agriculture makes up 84 percent of the Kingdom’s water needs.

Al-Khafji Desalination Plant, located in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, is the world’s largest solar-powered water desalination project, providing the region’s water requirements through an innovative and environmentally friendly approach.

The plant can generate up to 90,000 cubic meters of freshwater per day using innovative technology created by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. 

Its new Solar Saline Water Reverse Osmosis method uses a process known as ultra-filtration during the pre-treatment phase.

A view of the Ras al-Khair water desalination plant, owned by the Saudi government's Saline Water Conversion Corporation, along the Gulf coast in eastern Saudi Arabia. (AFP)

The method involves forcing seawater through a semipermeable membrane that only allows water molecules to pass, while blocking the salt and other contaminants. The resulting purified water is then collected for distribution.

Since its launch in 2018, more than 7 million cubic meters of freshwater produced by the plant have already been utilized.

“Using reverse osmosis technology is considered to have the lowest rates of carbon emissions as a result of the increase in energy efficiency through the development of this field in recent years,” said Al-Rajhi.

“The rate of carbon emissions per cubic meter in some desalination systems has been reduced to 91 percent compared with thermal desalination systems.”

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Solar is not the only source of renewable energy that can be adopted to power the desalination process.

“This is in addition to the prospective use of hydraulic turbines to convert the kinetic energy resulting from the flow of water into electricity to generate clean energy,” said Al-Rajhi.

This shift toward renewables not only addresses the high energy costs associated with desalination but also supports Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainable development. 

Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, has praised the Kingdom’s water conservation agenda, which is part and parcel with its environmental mission, the Saudi Green Initiative.

A farm in Wadi bin Hashbal, Saudi Arabia, was recently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest sustainable farm in the world. (Supplied)

Saudi Arabia is correct to prioritize “not over-extracting and being very wise around environmental management.”

“That is why we are quite impressed by the Saudi Green Initiative,” she told Arab News.

This transition to cleaner energy sources reflects a strategic decision to enhance the Kingdom’s energy efficiency and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, while simultaneously addressing the challenges posed by climate change.

Integrating renewable energy into desalination processes marks a significant step toward achieving a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious approach to water production.
 

 


The Saudi artist’s gallery celebrates unbounded imagination

Saudi artist Mohammed Abubshait. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)
Updated 21 June 2024
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The Saudi artist’s gallery celebrates unbounded imagination

  • Mohammed Abubshait’s ‘Living in Wonderland’ is a treasure trove of imaginative expression

RIYADH: Saudi artist Mohammed Abubshait has created a haven for other artists in Riyadh. His gallery, Living in Wonderland, is a treasure trove of imaginative artistic expression.

“Art has always been in my blood, and I believe it is in everyone’s blood. I used to mess around with my clothes, accessories, goods, cars, and whatever else. I don’t like the way things are,” Abubshait told Arab News.

After 10 years as an employee at an oil company, he chose to switch gears and pursue his passion for creating art out of various materials including metal, wood, and resin.  

“When COVID-19 hit, I decided work on my art and I ended up with 150 pieces … I decided to open a gallery in Riyadh to showcase them,” he explained. “It was kind of risky at the time because, as you see, this is not a typical art gallery. It’s different — a lot of pop art, street art and things that are a bit outside-of-the-box.”

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

Abubshait opened Living in Wonderland in 2020. “Many of us have seen and grew up with ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ It’s an escape to another world — unrealistic, creative, no boundaries,” he said. “So, I thought it would fit the creative idea and concept that we’re looking for. (The gallery) takes you down the rabbit hole to another world.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The gallery supports many local artists, work created in a variety of mediums, with a particular focus on modern and pop art.

• It also currently includes work by artists from Mali, Italy, the UK and the US. Prices range from SR2 (50 cents), to more than SR20,000.

The gallery supports — and sells the work of — many local artists, work created in a variety of mediums, with a particular focus on modern and pop art. It also currently includes work by artists from Mali, Italy, the UK and the US. Prices range from SR2 (50 cents), to more than SR20,000.

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

“We’ve got something for everyone,” Abubshait said. “I believe we introduced something unique and different to the market.”

From paintings and sculptures to installations and interactive displays, the gallery features an eclectic mix of work that pushes boundaries, giving visitors an intriguing and thought-provoking experience.

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

Abubshait is also known for incorporating currency — both real and virtual — into his work.

“The majority of my art features money in the background, whether Saudi riyals or American dollars,” he said. “And the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is one of my signature backgrounds. People ask me why I use money and I’m, like, ‘Well, we use money in our everyday lives.’ Everyone can manifest money.”

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

The gallery also offers a variety of workshops including resin, rug tufting, and painting.

“If you haven’t been to Living in Wonderland yet, even if you’re not an art fan, you should come and socialize. People (often come here) to work. If you’re looking for a distinct feel, a different ambience, and something exciting, then you must visit,” Abubshait said.