Oasis Magazine (issue 7)

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Our Team


Oasis Publishing House Ltd (UK)

Founder & Editor-in-Chief Munira Munir Al-Ajlani

Co-Founder & Creative Director Noura Bouzo

Co-Founder & Basma Bouzo


Editor and Writer Ahmad Dialdin

Business Development Sara Bouzo

Media & Advertising Rep. Sara Al-Tuwaijri

Advertising Coordinator Link & Marketing: Sulafa Sami Kurdi Rawan Yaqub


Graphics Consultant Nermin Moufti

Regular Contributors Dr. Geoffrey King Nora Alfaiz Rania Khalilieh Rashed Islam Reem Bouzo Samia Kanaan Sara Saab


Aarnout Helb, Abdullah Alkhtani, Abdulmohsen Al-Badr, Afaf Al-Harbi, Aljoud Lootah, Amanda E. Hunter, Amir Dossal, Dr. Th’ar bin Naif Mhaia, Erin Pelton, HRH Banderi bint Abdulrahman, HRH Banderi bint Khalid, HRH Faisal bin Khalid, HRH Reema bint Bandar, Kilmah, Lulwa Al-Homoud, Mariam Al Dabbagh, Marta Altes, Michael Kaiser, Peter HowarthLees, Rasha Khouri, Reem Askalan, Rima Zahran, Sally Khoury, Samuel Rothenberg, Sarah Baptiste, Yasmin Atassi.

Oasis Publishing House Ltd (UK) Brompton Road, SW3 2AT, London, UK Tel: + 44 7778866760

Oasis Publishing House Ltd (KSA Office) Link & Marketing Riyadh 11533, P.O.Box 50683, KSA Tel: 4646607, Fax: 4605632 Email: info@oasis-mag.com Website: www.oasis-mag.com


Al Watania Distribution P.O.Box 84540, Riyadh 11671, KSA Tel: 966 1 4871460 Printing Inc. Printers S.A.L. – Karantina P.O.Box 175750, Beirut, Lebanon Tel: 961 1 577770 Copyright Oasis Magazine is published quarterly. All rights reserved. All material published in Oasis Magazine may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the knowledge and permission of its publishers and founder. Oasis Magazine has ensured that all material included in the magazine is accurate, and will not be responsible for any error in submission from its contributors. All views expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of Oasis Magazine. All rights reserved. Oasis Magazine ©


Carol Fleming (Al-Ajroush): Carol is a former Ameri-

can diplomat who after 20 years of service resigned to marry her Saudi husband. She spent most of her career in South Asia and the Middle East region as well as having traveled to more than 75 countries. She has also worked in the private sector in the area of strategic communications and public relations. She now resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with her husband and their 2 cats. She immensely enjoys foreign cultures, customs and traditions as well as following international affairs and current events. She is a strong advocate for the education and empowerment of women and readily volunteers her skills to this cause. In addition to native English, Carol speaks Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Spanish. She loves golf as well as reading, hiking, traveling and making new friends. Carol is the Expat women mentor for Saudi Arabia and also maintains a blog where she shares her impressions, views and experiences as a woman in the Kingdom: http://americanbedu. com Carol enjoys writing and welcomes hearing from readers at: admin@americanbedu.com

Sara Saab:

Sara Saab came wailing into the world at Al Najjar Hospital, Beirut, Lebanon, in the winter of 1984. The proud parents recall but a single stand-out feature of this event: the worrying Klingon dent scoring the tiny nose of their ruddy and slick infant. The crease down her nose soon disappeared, but little Sara didn’t. Nowadays Sara works too hard and — embarrassingly — aches too much in the heart whenever confronted by rock anthems or perfect sentences. Every explanation for her actions can ultimately be traced back to her unruly fern of a hairstyle.

Hala Maziad Al-Tuwaijri:

As a PhD student in English Literature and a full time lecturer at King Saud University, Hala is known to be an eloquent writer who’s passionate about her work. Her exceptional talents and fervent abilities made her admired and sought after by many. We are very proud to have her on our team, and her contribution is highly valued.

Mohammed Al-Saadoun:

“This is the second time writing for Oasis Mag, each time is more exciting than the one before. Covering the comedy show was new and very interesting! In fact I missed the audition by being fashionably late.” Mohammed is currently a student at Al Yamama College. He is very social, down to earth (not just because of gravity), and ambitious. He travels a lot, and loves Europe. Some of his hobbies are playing the piano and being a DJ. He is part of a triplet, but they are all unidentical. Last, he is a musi-holic.

Abir Saud:

Since she was young she extremely loved to analyse everything and as she grew older her avocation grew along with her. A much loved teacher sensed her ‘obsessive’ analysis and encouraged her to learn about philosophy. Her favourite philosophy novel of all-time is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder which ‘enlightened’ her and answered some of her many questions. Abir lives with her family, cat (Shelby) and dog (M.J) in Riyadh. She loves taking photos of natural landscapes, her pets and horses. She collects antiques, is very interested in learning about different cultures, religions and languages. She’s a big fan of late 70’s and early 80’s music.


13 Editor’s Note 14 Behind the Scenes at Oasis Magazine

arts & culture what’s happening in our region

18 Art News: overview of the contemporary arts & artists of the region

20 Green Box Museum: the first museum dedicated solely to Saudi art

24 Arabesque: Arab art festival in Washington 28 Art Dubai 2009 32 Al Bastakiya Art Fair 33 Sahrjah Biennial 34 Unveiled: art from the Middle East at the Saatchi Gallery

in focus focused on Saudi Arabia 42 Responsible Competitiveness: highlights of the GCF 2009 50 King Khalid Foundation

our guide to a happening Saudi 58 Souks: Cities Store, Vibe Boutique, and Dia Diwan 66 Foodie: Behind the Scenes at Il Villagio 70 Spa: Yibreen’s New Cafe

72 Art Scene: Zaman Jassim, Ahmed Mater, and the Art in Ebamssies Program

74 Art Scene | Ahmed Ahmed Comedy Show & Exclusive Interview




7:26 AM

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Saudi Museum in Amsterdam!

+ Saudi artists at Christie’s & more :

King Khalid Foundation; initiatives and awards to follow

Travel to: the City of Zeros, London’s Saatchi gallery, New York, & Beirut

Aseer: a hub for tourism and investment + what you missed and what we caught in Our Guide

Comedy Cafes on Tahlia! SPRING ‘09

Bringing comedy to Saudi starting with Ahmed Ahmed live in Saudi

Oasis Magazine’s 7th issue: Saudi is Made by You, competition winners revealed

cover review

Seven: Oasis Magazine’s seventh issue. The number is associated with luck, religious connotations, and so many other things; our inspiration for the subjects of this issue. Cover by Nermin Moufti




76 Competition: SAUDI IS MADE BY YOU winners revealed! 78 Venture out of the Cities: Aseer: the Saudi Hub for Tourism & Investment

82 Till Next Time: reminder of events

healthy mind worldwide topics to enlighten

your mind

86 Ancient Wonders No More: the New 7 Wonders of the World

88 Child Safety & Protection: Innocence Lost 90 Richard of York Gave Batte in Vain: 7 Book Reviews 93 Dubai International Poetry Festival: Poetry Review 94 7 Website Reviews 96 Movie Review: Journey to Mecca


everybody needs a break every now and then... make it worthwhile

98 Take our “guided tours” through Beirut, Masdar, and New York

edgy gadgets and sweets that make us smile 109 The 7 Products We Love

118 Sweet Tooth: Barcelona’s Bubo 120 Where to Find Us

122 One Last Thing: Vote for King Abdullah for the Nobel Peace Prize

Editor’s note Far from his watery element, the man with the gills and competitive swimmer Michael Phelps made an appearance at the 3rd Global Competitiveness Forum held last January in Riyadh.

You will love the new GreenBox Museum. We take a whole and behind the scenes look at this museum entirely dedicated to Saudi art and artists making it the first of its kind. Don’t forget to also check out our new talents in Mashaweer, from the brains behind the Store Cities at Centria Mall, to our exclusive interview with comedian Ahmed Ahmed after his standup comedy show in Riyadh alongside talented Saudi standup comedians. Travel to Aseer and discover this new hub for investment and tour its seven heritage and archaeological sites. Then, take a stroll with us to Beirut and NewYork as we “tour” these cities from a different point of view. Finally, say goodbye to smog, waste, and even taxicabs; we are off to the future with the clean zero-emission city of Masdar right smack in the middle of Abu Dhabi’s desert. Our biggest congratulations to the winners of “SAUDI: IS MADE BY YOU.” Till next time- best of luck to all,

Munira Munir Al-Ajlani


From the excitement of producing Oasis’s seventh issue, we take a moment to revel in the number seven. Magical, lucky, whole, and symbolic in many religions and ancient mythologies. The number seven has even been voted to be the second most favorite number around the globe. In this issue, we explore our world in sevens: seven books to reflect the seven colors of the rainbow (as we judge the books by their cover); seven of our favorite products; seven journeys to different exhibitions through our seven arts & culture articles; and seven newly voted wonders of the world.

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The theme behind the Forum was Responsible Competitiveness, which was also the title of the first King Khalid Award ever to be presented. The award is just one of many initiatives of the King Khalid Foundation — also featured in this issue — that basically encourages and rewards responsible socially-progressive behavior in corporate Saudi Arabia.

Oasis Behind the Scenes

We take you behind the scenes at Oasis to see how the issues go from ideas to articles, design, cover selction, and printing.

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At the office...

Ideas are brought to the table by our team, contributors, freelancers, friends, and fans of Oasis :) A theme is chosen for the upcoming issue based on all the ideas.

Still at the office...

The Magazine Starts Coming Together... Everyone goes off and starts writing their articles and taking photographs. Some material starts arriving by email.. Feedback is given to the freelancers to either expand on their subject, edit, or change.




Final Editing...

The Ok-ed articles start forming the magazine's InDesign file. The creative team starts their work. According to the articles and the amount of photographs, graphics and title fonts are chosen to enhance the content. Then, a rough draft of the magzine is printed.

The editing and design teams come together to review the printed draft of the magazine. Changes are made to everything from fonts to layout. More trials of the magazine are printed until members of the team are satisfied with the final product. The cover goes through all these same stages, from concept to design to photography and final layout.

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At the Printer's...

We watch as all the weeks we've put into the magazine come to a few hours of printing. And voilĂ , Oasis Magazine is bound and ready.

In the Market...

Throughout the whole process of the magazine, the marketing team would have been scouting out the right venues to market Oasis. At this stages, Oasis Magazine finds its way to Boutiques, Bookshops, and Booksatnds across the Kingdom and the world!



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everyone who pitched in ideas is contacted by Oasis. Each is asked about how they're going to cover their story and to keep the theme of the magazine in mind. All this is done in person, over the phone, email, or even messages!

arts & culture

We cover seven subjects in our arts section...

From an overiew of the whole Middle Eastern arts scene, to the first Museum dedicated to Saudi art, to Arabesque, Art Dubai, Bastakiya, Sharjah Biennial, and the Saatchi Gallery

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Opposite page: Nadia Ayari’s WshhWshh, 2008 (oil on canvas) at Saatchi’s Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East. Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London © Nadia Ayari, 2009. Above: Ramin Haerizadeh’s Men of Allah, 2008 (C-Print) at Saatchi’s Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London © Ramin Haerizadeh, 2009.


Above: Belgium-based Compagnie Thor makes its Washington, D.C. debut at Arabesque. Kennedy Center ©. Below: The Green Box Museum ©.

Above: Ahmed Alsoudani, Courtesy of Goff + Rosenthal, New York at ArtDubai 2009 ©. Below: Kader Attia and Tala Madani’s art at Saatchi’s Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East. Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White ©.

Art News:

an overview of the contemporary arts & artists of the region, from what to see to what’s next...

Christie's Sales in Dubai include, for the first time, artwork by a group of Saudi Artists On Tuesday the 28th of April, 2009 at 7pm: Jewels and Watches (left image: diamond stud earings estimated at US$150,000 - 200,000) Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Dubai

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On Wednesday the 29th of April, 2009 at 7pm: International Modern & Contemporary Art (Includes six Saudi artists amongst them are: Ahmed Mater, Lulwah Al-Homoud, and Abdulnasser Gharem) Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Dubai



Sotheby's is coming to Riyadh! Sotheby’s, the world’s “premiere auction house,” is planning to expand its list of worldwide locations. It seems that soon to be on the list is none other than Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Since the Saudi market is the largest in the region, this all makes a lot of sense. Instead of the Saudi art buyers flying all the way to London or New York, they could purchase all the authentic artwork from their own hometown. This would also be a major step for the Saudi art scene. Regulation of the artwork produced and validation of their worth, by an esteemed auction house like Sotheby’s, would be priceless. In observing auctions and attending exhibitions, the Saudi general audience would also benefit from Sotheby’s as an art educator.

Espace Culturel: Louis Vuitton exhibits work by Middle Eastern artists On the top floor of Louis Vuitton’s Maison Champs–Elysées is the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton. Since January 2006, the “innovative space of cultural and artistic expression” has held three exhibitions per year. Each exhibition reflects Louis Vuitton’s vision of artistic creativity. In 2008, for their 7th exhibition, Louis Vuitton were inspired by the 1931 expedition of André Citroën. André loaded his Croisière Jaune vehicle with Louis Vuitton luggage and was on his way following the Silk Road which linked Lebanon to China. The exhibition fittingly included many artists from those regions. Amongst these artists were Middle Easterners: Amal Saade (Lebanon), Joana Hadjithomas et Khalil Joreige (Lebanon), Malekeh Nayiny (Iran), Bita Fayyazi (Iran), Adel Abidin (Iraq), and Lida Abdul (Afghanistan). The exhibition was called Orients Without Borders. Stop by the Espace Culturel for their latest exhibition: www.louisvuitton.com/espaceculturel

Afghanistan, Pakistan & Iran's Living Traditions The month of February kicked off with one of the most significant exhibitions in Islamabad. Under the title “Living Traditions,” the exhibition featured contemporary artists from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Artworks from all over the world including London, New York, Melbourne, Dubai, Tehran, and Kabul flew out to debut contemporary art from that region. Over 50 artworks using diverse media such as photography, calligraphy, print, sculpture and video animation drew on the rich cultural heritage of the region. There are takes on calligraphy by Afghan artists Sohaila Khalili and Ali Baba Aurang; innovative modern miniature paintings by Pakistani artists trained at National College of Arts in Lahore, such as Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid and Nusra Latif Qureshi; inventive graphics designed by Iranian artists from 5th Color as well as new works of art inspired by the beautiful Islamic geometric patterns found in textiles, tile-work and architecture across the Islamic world by Iranian artists Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian and YZ Kami. The exhibition presented the works of 14 artists in total. They ranged from established senior artists to young and emerging talent. The exhibition created an unprecedented opportunity for cultural dialogue and exchange across borders. The art in this exhibition explored issues of tradition, modernity and identity in the contemporary Islamic world, demonstrating that art is a vital forum for exploring contemporary ideas. Living Traditions was devised and organized by Jemima Montagu, Director of Culture and Heritage at Turquoise Mountain in Kabul, and was supported by the Canadian Government. The importance of this exhibition goes far above and beyond the pieces of art work; art in general is a huge part of a nation’s identity. Encouraging all outlets of art plays a major role in building bridges between countries and religions alike. It develops a sense of pride, confidence and culture. www.turquoisemountain.org

Emirati Expressions By Sara Saab

In the United Arab Emirates, the areas where indigenous art and contemporary art meet form a particularly electric focal point. There is a growing corps of Emirati artists whose mark on the culture of the UAE is becoming more and more visible day upon day, and whose collective excitement – about their country, their Arabian and Islamic culture, and their artistic contribution – is steadily building. It is into this germinating scene that the Emirati Expressions exhibition has unfolded. It is being hosted at Gallery One, Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi between January 20th and April 16th, 2009. Emirati Expressions is being curated by Anne Baldassari, Director of the Musée Picasso in Paris, and features among its 64 contributors some of the most established artists in the Arab World.

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Take Abdul Qader al Rais for example, whose striking abstract canvases are routinely sold via global auction houses. He is considered to be the most accomplished of Emirati painters. Also on exhibit is video and installation work by Ebtisam Abdul Aziz, a rising star on the UAE conceptual art scene, blending her scientific background with motivated artistic rebellion.

Lamya Gargash Salim (2005) 49.9 x 70 cm Digital photograph. Emarati Expressions ©

tary that is Emirati Expressions’ show reel, a fifteen minute introspective into the inspirations of the artists exhibited. “[We] carry the burden of conveying our messages to society,” says one artist, a young woman, “for art is a universal language.” The online gallery of works, a virtual counterpart to the journey through the real-life Gallery One spaces, captures evocative photography, sculpture, and installation art, and some of the artists’ statements are nothing short of breathtaking in their awareness of the questions of Arabian and Emirati identity. It is even more moving to see examples of the answers that result, in all their multi-sensory, multimedia glory. As well as capturing the struggles of a modern indigenous identity and catalyzing contemporary and future Emirati art, Emirati Expressions has also roused the wider world to the reality of art on the UAE scene – raw, experimental, and heartfelt. The layout of the gallery itself says as much. Fitted out in black carpets and blotted-out walls, and with mirrors crowding the far wall of the gallery, this feels like deep space, or a science experiment. “It’s not just an exhibition,” says Rita Aoun-Abdo, arts adviser to TDIC, “it’s a laboratory of experience.”

Dr. Najat Makki Sunrise (2008) 150 x 177 cm acrylic and watercolour on canvas. Emarati Expressions ©

That it certainly is, a laboratory of experience and a time capsule containing precursor genetic code to an art scene that is on the verge of exploding into life and vigour. Emirati Expressions: January, 20 - April,16, 2009. Gallery One, Emirates Palace (10am-10pm daily, Tuesday ladies only). Entry is free.


Arguably, however, it is the young and yet unknown talent, the artistic vanguard of the Emirates, that forms the real centerpiece to this exhibition. This is reflected in the video documen-

The Green Box Museum The first museum dedicated solely to Saudi art!

In the heart of Amsterdam lies the Green Box Museum. It is green because its owner wanted it to be more than just another “white cube” museum. The chosen name is also foremost in reference to Saudi Arabia. Here, we take a sneak peak into the museum as we interview the owner and curator Aarnout Helb, before the museum has even been opened to the public.

The Green Box Museum. Artworks included (from left to right) are by: Loulwa Al-Homoud, Reem Al-Fsisal, Abdulnasser Gharem, Ahmed Mater, and Maha Malluh. ©

How did the idea of the museum come to you? I was downloading pictures of Makkah from sites on the internet for a virtual visit. While doing so I perceived this was in some way similar to what scholars did at the ancient museum of Alexandria. They copied text from scrolls they found aboard ships that visited the harbour. This idea of a virtual visit came from seeing an exhibition of postcards sent from Makkah by students of an Islamic school in Rotterdam. I was at the time making an exhibition of modern art and started wondering which work of art would be appreciated in Saudi Arabia. So I started to research what art in Saudi Arabia is about.

When will the museum be officially open? When it is ready. I am taking pride in doing most things myself and not bothering too much about design. I would be unhappy if it is not open by the end of March. I should stress that the museum is very small. It is a museum in concept, but with the size of a modest gallery. Size is not the essence. Thousands visited the large Rijksmuseum last year just to see Damien Hirst’s human skull with diamonds. Think about that. I didn’t like it.

Is there a theme for the first exhibition to take place? There will be no exhibition other than the permanent collection and sometimes a new acquisition. I prefer to leave themes to art historians and for a later date. I am still working out the meaning of the individual works I bought. For the moment my intuition in acquiring them may be the only theme. They all made contact with something in my visual or literate memory. Some works I bought for the simple reason that I need to study them longer. For example: why does an artist make a photogram of Dental extractions?

You stress that GreenBox is a museum in concept and not a gallery. Why is that? What is the main difference between the two in showcasing art? I am not in the business of selling perfumes, but of buying ideas and sharing them with others. People will have to pay an entry fee to make it work and I want to achieve a sense of permanence. It has always given me solace to go back to paintings around the world that I enjoy and can count on to be there. I am a very conservative man. I will look in modern art for that explains Abraham. It would be nice if many years from now children in Amsterdam will learn in school about Van Gogh and Ahmed Mater and be able to see them both.


Because Saudi Arabia has custody over cities that are also important for many people in the Netherlands. You should know I am from a racially and religiously diverse family with roots in Europe, Asia and Africa. My grandfather for example had Chinese looks and was a Dutch ambassador. He had an uncle who was a general and was of Dutch-Javanese heritage. Somewhere I keep a postcard on which he wrote his name and rank in Arabic calligraphy with “Allah ta’ala” in all four corners. I like to honor this diverse heritage and collecting your art is just a way of doing so with pleasure.

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Why Saudi art in particular?

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arts & culture



“An overview of the museum when still in the making. I first had it painted in a desert colour but decided that it needed to be green." Aarnout Helb

You mentioned that you’d like GreenBox to become somewhat like the National Gallery in London, can you expand on that? It was a semantic thing. In British English there is less of a difference between ‘gallery’ and ‘museum’ than in the Netherlands or America. And there was a little vanity. An artist from Riyadh told me that I would be the ‘One & only museum for Saudi art.’ I had not realized that. People should again understand how small the museum is. They shouldn’t fly to Amsterdam because of it. It is just a side show. Perhaps it is a nice idea to have a museum for modern art in Riyadh. I felt a little embarrassed when I bought Abdulnasser Gharem’s large stamp which he made for Edge of Arabia. It is such a good work, it belongs in your country.

You’ve created a glossary/dictionary of Saudi artists, what is the significance of that? The ultimate goal? There was no goal. It was simply easy to put my research on the website instead of building my own database. Somehow I enjoyed sharing it. A similar published dictionary of Dutch artists spanning the 1750-1950 period was on my desk. The significance is that it should be objective and inclusive. Art that is there should be in it, while art in the collection is my choice and vision. It will take some time to achieve the level of quality that is needed for it to be a serious work of reference.

What is your favorite piece so far? Abdulnasser Gharem’s Restored Behavior which includes the oversized stamp that reads “have a bit of commitment, amen” in both English and Arabic. It has a meaning in Saudi Arabia, but I appreciate its universal qualities. I could take it around the New York Stock Exchange for example or I might invite McKinsey & Company to have it tour western banks.

Can you define Saudi Modern Art? Does it have a certain style that characterizes it?

I would think not everybody functions well in ‘economic cities’. It is typical that artists in my modest collection first had to achieve a position outside their station as an artist. The struggle is not new. You should perhaps ask Dia Aziz Dia. It is now differently fought. Less inspired by the Renaissance and more by concepts and ideas. The struggle is actually what makes your art interesting. And, there is a case to be made that art in the West has become too much separated from real life. What I see in my collection is the battleground: issues of generation and of what may be the ‘twin’ identity of your country. Both twins should work to find the essence. And I imagine it will not be in London or Dubai. Everybody seems to understand the value of performance art when it flies.

There are a lot of misperceptions about Saudi Arabia as a whole; do you consider the newly seen emergence of Saudi artists into the “art world” as a break to that perception? It is not that easy. Sometimes you defeat your own good intentions. You should worry less about the perception. Just make good art and be not afraid of it.

Green Box Museum location: Amsterdam’s central square Leidseplein at Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 12 Entry: € 10 (free on Friday) www.greenboxmuseum.com


There are many young Saudis that experience a struggle in identity; do you see that struggle in the paintings of the new generation of artists in Saudi Arabia?

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“Desperately optimistic,” is how a Saudi artist defined herself. I thought it might apply to the arts as a whole.


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Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts celebrated the arts and culture of the 22 Arab Countries with an amazing exhibition entitled Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World. By Sara Saab



Above: Lebanon’s Caracalla Dance Theatre. Below (clockwise from right): Belgium-based Compagnie Thor makes its Washington, D.C. debut with Artistic Director and choreographer Thierry Smits’s D’ORIENT. Ensemble Al-Kindi with Sheikh Habboush and the Whirling Dervishes of Aleppo, Syria. Lebanese artist Lara Baladi’s Roba Vecchia; “The installation presents image-fragments of the artist’s work recomposed into a shifting array of kaleidoscopic images.” Kennedy Center ©

It took programme directors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts years to pull together the roster for the festival that would come to be known as Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World. Equal parts artistic feast and epic feat, the three-week multimedia extravagance spanned every floor of the Kennedy Center, a landmark upon Washington DC’s cultural scene. Presided over by the League of Arab States, Arabesque ran from February 23rd to March 15th 2009, and featured a healthy jumble of ticketed and free events. Festivallong exhibitions and installations formed the backdrop to a hefty daily programme, with certain weekends offering dozens of Arabian-themed art panels, shows, and other spectacles to pick between. It is no easy task to bring together 800 artists to share their takes on the world in the best of cases. Unite your 800 artists with the thread of Arab heritage and vantage point – a thread that has perhaps in the past eluded the eye of the proverbial sewing needle enforcing cultural cross-pollination in America – and it is fair to wonder whether the results could ever be satisfactory, let alone representative. The worries were unfounded. Arabesque wowed spectators and critics with the immensity of its reach. The largest celebration of Arab art ever housed in one place, the festival put a tick in every imaginable box as far as artistic modes were concerned. Twenty-two nations contributed artists and artwork to Arabesque, with young Omani dancers featuring in a choreographed bonanza scored by a Grammy-award winning trumpeter, jewellery workshops for the crafty and literary debates for the bookish, and Bahraini oud nights and folkloric Palestinian ensembles leading festival-goers through traditional sonic landscapes. Arabic refreshments recharged the weary at the Kennedy Centre’s restaurant and café. And

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Above: Kuwait’s Sulayman Al–Bassam Theatre performs Shakespeare’s Richard III in a modern Arab twist. “The play unfolds within the hothouse, feudal atmosphere of desert palaces in an oil-rich Kingdom, the production gives a window into the often misunderstood world of the Arabian Gulf in all its richness: its social customs, musical heritage, and some of its darker mystical rituals.” Kennedy Center ©

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Above: Morocco’s Hoba Hoba Spirit perform their Hayha Music. “Performing reggae, rock, and gnawa (a mixture of African, Berber, and Arab religious songs and rhythms), Hoba Hoba Spirit was established in 1998 and is based in Casablanca, Morocco. Making its U.S. debut, the band is composed of Adil Hanine (drums), Anouar Zehouani (guitar), Saâd bouidi (Bass guitar), Reda Allali (vocals and guitar) and Mohamed Laâbidi (percussion).” Kennedy Center ©

Below: Lebanon’s Caracalla Dance Theatre perorm their Knights of the Moon. “Founded in 1968 by Abdel-Halim Caracalla, Caracalla Dance Theatre is the first and most prominent dance theater in the Middle East. Their unique language in movement draws on western-style technique fused with Arab traditions. As part of Arabesque, Caracalla performs Knights of the Moon, a theatrical extravaganza based on an epic story. The production is a tale of jealousy, hidden identities, and love. Songs performed in Arabic with English surtitles.” Kennedy Center ©

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Hip hop artist K’NAAN. “Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, hip hop artist K’NAAN spent his childhood in the district of Wardhiigleey during the Somali Civil War. His aunt, Magool, was one of Somalia’s most famous singers And his grandfather, Haji Mohamed, is a poet. K’NAAN’s father, Abdi, left the country along with many other intellectuals to settle in New York City. Despite speaking no English, the young K’NAAN taught himself hip hop and rap diction, copying the lyrics and style phonetically. Critics have said K’NAAN has “a sound that fuses Bob Marley, conscious American hip hop, and brilliant protest poetry.” His voice and style have been compared to Eminem, but his subject matter is very different. K’NAAN says he makes: “urgent music with a message”, talking about the situation in Somalia.” Kennedy Center ©

still, this was just a fraction of the impressive whole; Modern Arab theatre, dance, rap, installation art, marketplaces, costuming and film were all showcased generously. Star-power came in the form of such iconic performers and presenters as writer and living legend Ahdaf Soueif, Canadian-Somali rapper K’Naan, and the spirited Caracalla Dance Theatre. While much of the work at Arabesque could be classed as art for art’s sake, also present were hard-hitting commentaries and evocative portrayals on themes that have come to anchor Arab identity – peace, war, globalisation, and that sometimes awkward fit between East and West. A Ramallahbased theatre troupe brought a human face to grim newspaper headlines with the premier of Alive from Palestine: Stories Under Occupation, and on a disparate plain, a book panel entitled Women Writing Men, Men Writing Women sought to explore the abilities of Arab artists to cast themselves into the roles of opposite genders, with Palestinian, Lebanese, and Egyptian writers leading the discussion.

These serious examinations, just two of many, were welcomed and encouraged by Arabesque’s organisers. The Kennedy Center’s president, Michael M. Kaiser, was certainly ready to engage such themes. “I believe the arts create peace and provide a window into understanding people,” he noted. “I hope this festival will act as a catalyst towards achieving both between the Arab and Western worlds.” It is hard to conjure any creative showcase of the Arab world that has put more effort or heart into this question than Arabesque. Whatever its lasting effect, the dose is one to savour.

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arts & culture



Khaled Al-Saai, Memory of Samarkand, 150 x 155 cm, mixed media on canvas, 2008, Courtesy of Galerie Kashya Hildebrand, Geneva. ArtDubai Š

Art Dubai Down the rabbit hole we go…

“Working collaboratively with world-class art projects such as the Sharjah Biennial, The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha and the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, Art Dubai can create a focal point to understand the seriousness of the region’s cultural ambitions. 2009 will be a litmus test for the quality of contemporary art in the region and give substance to the claims that we are witnessing the creation of one of the most exciting and stimulating new centres for art in the world,” said John Martin, co-founder and Director of Art Dubai. With the rise of art collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts around the world, Art Dubai aimed to cement itself as a meeting place for the international art world. It is certainly the largest event of its kind in the Middle East, with over 300 international and regional galleries applying for a place in this annual event. Of those, 66 carefully selected galleries gathered in the beach resort of Madinat Jumeirah for the third edition of Art Dubai. Emphasis was placed on artists from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia (MENASA region) to exhibit alongside artists from the West. The participating galleries were chosen by an international selection committee that considered the merits of each individual exhibition proposal to create an innovative and diverse event, appealing to new and experienced collectors alike. “In an economic downturn, the best galleries still require a global presence and must take advantage of the opportunities that Art Dubai offers them to engage with the changing face of the regional and international collecting community,” said Martin. In its third year running, all the usuals were set up and ready to go, including: the Art Park, START programme, Bidoun Lounge and the Global Art Forum. The Global Art Forum kicked off its third year in Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art and moved on to its Dubai platform for three days of panel-packed lectures and discussions featur-


Welcome to a world created for you, to escape reality. The month of March has seen a collective outburst of art exhibitions, art fairs and launches. The overlapping of dates has created “Contemparabia,” a joint initiative of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH); Art Dubai; Sharjah Biennial; and the Qatar Museums Authority. It was a cultural and geographical excursion with one aim in mind: to focus both international and regional attention on the impressive quality and diversity of art and cultural projects in the Gulf. The programme included visits to Doha (the Museum of Islamic Art and special tours); Dubai (the Global Art Forum, Art Dubai, the exhibition of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize finalists’ works on Fort Island and Dubai’s famed gallery district); Sharjah (the Sharjah Biennial 9) and Abu Dhabi.

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Charcoal suspended by nylon threads making up the image of stairs, a chair and tables; hidden aesthetics in miniatures and dream like images; tightly packed rows of colorful material making up large-scale fiber constructions; a common thread misbehaving attempting to challenge expectations of comfort.

arts & culture

U-Ram Choe, Una Lumino, 2008, Courtesy of Bitforms, New York. ArtDubai Š

ing leading contemporary art thinkers such as: His Excellency Sheikh Abdulla Al-Thani; Hans Ulrich Obrist; Anish Kapoor; Maja Hoffmann; Sultan Al-Qassimi; Harald Falckenberg; Daniel Birnbaum; Mikhail Petrovsky; Thomas Krens; Bob Colacello; Jerome Sans; Simon de Pury; Dr Sami Al Masri; Catherine David; Manal Ataya; Alexandros J. Stanas; Josh Baer; Rem Koolhaas and many more. The forum continued to create links between East and West through the exploration of professional and public interests in art. It examined public support for the arts, corporate and private collecting and art patronage, all while taking into consideration the current climate.

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Located under the main halls of Art Dubai was Art Park; the underground site for experimental film. Amongst those features were many Middle Eastern artists and other dynamic performances, book launches and Art Park talks. Art Dubai has collaborated with leading Middle Eastern non-profit organisations such as ArteEast and Art School Palestine on a series of video programmes. Additionally, the space featured a film programme presented by Contemporary Practices and the Me series by Iranian artist Ghazel. There were also be performances by Roula Haj Ismail (supported by Maya and Ramzy Rasamny), Kirstie Macleod (supported by British Council), Shilpa Gupta (supported by ArtAsiaPacific), Susan Hefuna, Rabih Mroué (supported by Bidoun) and Monali Meher (supported by Mondriaan Foundation). This year’s Art Dubai witnessed its first unveiling of the very first recipients of the Abraj Capital Art Prize. Abraj Capital is a premier investment firm specializing in private equity investment in the MENASA region. The Abraj Capital Art Prize was established in 2008 and aims to raise awareness towards innovation and experimentation by artists working in the MENASA region. The three recipient curator/artist teams of its first competition are Cristiana Perrella & Kutlug Ataman; Carol Solomon & Zoulikha Bouabdellah; and Leyla Fakhr & Nazgol Ansarinia. The winners work alongside internationally renowned curators and come up with individual shows that exhibit in Art Dubai. The prize empowers the emerging artists from the region, allowing the winners to play a vital role in their societies and own cultural heritage.



For next year’s Abraj Capital Art Prize competition, three submissions will be selected and each of these will receive $200,000 to include production costs, installation costs, catalogue, shipping and travel for both curator and artist. Included in the budget will be a fixed fee of $15,000 for the curator. The committee will be looking for innovative ideas and use of medium; a reflection of regional and local cultural principles and experimental art production techniques. The deadline for submission is April 30th 2009. Last but not least, it’s hard to talk about Art Dubai without mentioning the START programme. Each year, the Art Dubai hosts an annual fundraising gala under the stars of Burj AlArab beach, attended by collectors, gallerists, artists and the region’s high society to raise funds for this great charity. START (www.startworld.org) is a unique initiative that links child development with arts education. Launched in 2007 with a partnership between Al Madad Foundation and Art Dubai, START is the very first charity in the Middle East to bring art to the younger generation in disadvantaged areas. It provides these children with an environment that allows them to engage in communities and with their peers; it also encourages artists to get involved in the field of art education.

Zena el Khalil, Queens of Sheba, 2006-ongoing, fabric and plastic dolls, courtesy of Galerie Tanit. ArtDubai ©

arts & culture

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Al Bastakiya Art Fair



In March 2008, over 10,000 visitors visited the Creek Art Fair, hosted in 18 houses in Bastakiya, Dubai’s oldest standing district, where a range of gallery and privately curated exhibitions took place. Undaunted by one of their major sponsors backing out in 2009, the fair took on the new name of Al Bastakiya Art Fair and promised to be “more fringe than ever.” Al Bastakiya Art Fair is an independent fringe art fair which focuses international attention on Dubai’s art and cultural agenda and is organized by XVA gallery. International, regional and local galleries as well as emerging artists’ work spilled out all over the corners of this well-preserved historic area of Dubai. Amongst exhibiting artists was a group of Middle Eastern artists from the Saatchi Online artists selected by Rebecca Wilson, Head of Development at Saatchi Online, and by Ana Finel Honigman, a critic and curator who contributes regularly to Saatchi’s online magazine. The work of these artists was promoted and sold at the fair on a non-commission basis; all the money from the sales went directly to the artists. The scene was busy with artists, curators and art appreciators buzzing around attending events, daily exhibitions and lectures. The uniqueness of the Bastakiya Art Fair really lies in its character. Its cozy feel allowed us to take our time in perusing the art and getting lost in the tiny alleyways. It was such a welcomed break from the running around of the week. Perhaps the most interesting part of the fair was the BAF Art School organized by ex-Tate curator Sara Raza. The BAF Art School was an organic five day free morning art school for members of the public, students, emerging artists, critics and collectors. The lectures took front stage between the 16th and the 20th of March, 2009; they covered a lively series of talks and artists’ presentations. The topics covered provided an alternative art curriculum with topics ranging from aesthetics of the contemporary art bazaar and blogging art to collecting and gossip. Our favorite session revolved around the global economy and its effect on the art world today. Many debated that this period in history will be an essential frame to sort out the good from the bad and ugly.

Scavenger Hunt: the Sharjah Biennial 2oo9

“The Sharjah Biennial 9, unlike many other Biennials, imposes no geographical classifications on displaying work,” says Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of the Sharjah Biennial 9. “We have also decided not to limit the selection process to a wish-list of participants, but have opted instead to consider work submitted by artists and non-artists alike, who were brave enough to take up the challenge and respond to an open invitation to realize their ideas.”

Above: Bait Al Serkal. Below: Arts Area- Al Shuwahiyeen Area Sharjah Biennial 2009 ©

The biennial is comprised of the exhibition program entitled “Provisions for the Future” curated by Isabel Carlos, and the performance and film program “Past of the Coming Days” curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh. Alongside the exhibitions is a whole range of activities; these include the March Meeting, a networking opportunity for regional art institutions; the Sharjah Biennial Production Program which explores various schemes and methodologies of artistic production through the provision of resources and know-how; and the Artist-inResidence Program, a scheme that hosts visiting artists in Sharjah with the goal of developing context-related work. Not unlike a scavenger hunt, and you know how much we love those, the exhibitions and activities of SB9 are taking place all over the city of Sharjah including the Sharjah Art Museum and the Heritage Area of Sharjah. “Sharjah is a geographic and cultural meeting place, where the notion of future is permanently evoked,” comments Isabel Carlos, Curator of the Sharjah Biennial 9. “More than a presentation of a global selection of art works, ‘Provisions For The Future’ aims to be a place of production and development of artworks in the context of the city of Sharjah.” Sharjah Biennial 9 March 16- May 16 2009 www.sharjahbiennial.org


Director Jack Persekian explains that, historically, biennials mapped out the horizon of the new trends in the art movement, be it by the classification of a country such as Venice Biennale or by a selection of a curator from a certain region or regions such as Documenta, and from that extrapolated that country or region’s artistic cartography and inferences. Biennials establish a “locality” of art in the region, but in order for them to be relevant in the international art scene, they must bring in international art pieces which are essential for that dialogue. This year, Sharjah Biennial’s theme will shift from being a surveyor of artistic trends from the region to that with a more eclectic and more open feel. More than 50 artists from around the world are exhibiting this year.

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The Sharjah Biennial was inaugurated in 1993 and quickly established itself as an art institution for the region, fostering and developing art production, presentation and experimentation. Since its inception, it has served to connect artists, institutions and organizations and to promote artistic dialogue and exchange. It ranks amongst the most established and prominent cultural events in the Middle East.


Art from the Middle East quenches the mind

The Middle East is bursting with artistic talent these days. Unveiling this artistic talent from the Middle East is the beautiful Saatchi Gallery in the heart of London. By Basma Bouzo



quenches the mind OASIS MAGAZINE


Diana Al-Hadid, The Tower of Infinite Problems, 2008 (Polymer gypsum, steel, plaster, fibreglass, wood, polystyrene, cardboard, wax and paint). Part 1: 241.3 x 442 x 251.5 cm. Part 2: 160 x 210.8 x 266.7 cm. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London Š Diana Al-Hadid , 2009.

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arts & culture

Rokni Haerizadeh (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White


36 Born in Baghdad, Charles Saatchi is an outspoken and pioneering collector; he led the young British artists’ movement in the nineties, ushering in talents such as Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. In October 2008, the Saatchi gallery re-opened in a 70,000 square-foot space at Duke of York’s Headquarters on King’s Road, right smack in the middle of London. Ushering in international, young, beautiful and political artists from China and the Middle East, Charles Saatchi is bringing contemporary art to the public. The contemporary art scene in the Arab world is a vibrant and flourishing atmosphere with a huge increase in artists, art critics, collectors, high-end galleries and art institutions alike. Artists from the region have been shattering misconceptions and developing their own distinct outlook on their societies and culture with a diverse range of artistic expression. Nigel Hurst, the gallery’s chief executive, found art flourishing in places he had not expected. “I only learned while this show was being put together that Tehran has over 100 commercial art galleries. These aren’t things you necessarily associate with that region.”

Exhibiting for the first time in Britain are 20 fiercely creative Middle Eastern artists half of whom are Iranian and under the age of 40. Challenging people’s perception are over 80 paintings, sculptures, and installations filling the Saatchi Gallery. The eclectic collection is witty, blunt, original and ambitious. If such works by artists from nations such as Lebanon and Syria surprise some visitors, then all the better, say organizers of the exhibition. “We normally just hear about wars and religious controversies in the Middle East,” said Rebecca Wilson, the gallery’s head of development. “We may not even have a picture in our minds of what artwork from Iraq or Tehran might look like.” You will find two groups of artists at Unveiled. There are those who are Middle Eastern artists but live in exile in New York or London with their work revolving around memories and recollection of their past. The other half comprises of artists who live and produce their art pieces in their native country; their work revolves around day to day society, customs and cultures. The latter are less exposed to the international scene but are nonetheless extremely talented. The combination makes for a distinguished collection of art pieces under one roof.

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Rokni Haerizadeh, above: Typical Iranian Wedding (left panel), below: Typical Iranian Wedding (right panel), 2008 (oil on canvas). 200 x 300 cm (each panel). 200 x 600 cm (overall). Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London. Š Rokni Haerizadeh, 2009.

arts & culture

Opening Unveiled is a piece by Marwan Reshmaoui entitled Beirut Caoutchouc. Beirut lies flattened in front of you; this eight by seven meter rubber floor mat lays out in absolute detail the roads and neighborhoods that make up the city of Beirut.

Marwan Rechmaoui (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London Photography credit: Stephen White

Fast forward to more than half a century; Qalandia, a refugee camp between Jerusalem and Ramallah is depicted in Wafa Hourani’s mixed media piece. Using photography and sculpture to create his piece Qalandia 2067; “Here you see lots of life,” Hourani said, “not death.” Tiny lights glow in tiny rooms, music tumbles over speeches in other rooms, there’s chanting, hectoring, and lamenting. F-16s lay waiting on the other side of a wall made out of cardboard. Though the buildings look as they do now, withered and smeared with graffiti, Hourani had created the tiny TV antennas from colorful thread that twist into joyful shapes of people dancing or playing instruments; symbolizing hope and potential. There are canvases so electric with energy and heat, you can hear them. There’s music, yelling, and waves lapping. Young Iranian artist, Rokni Haerizadeh depicts typical scenes in Iranian culture such as a wedding, a funeral, and a day at the beach. In Typical Iranian Funeral he shows the elaborate construction of the affair and the dichotomies of Iranian culture. In one canvas, he shows a meal shared by friends and family of the departed. In another he paints the public ritual of mourning: rented loudspeakers, and mourners for hire. The artist brilliantly constructs a society filled with intrinsic difficulties that are seen in day to day activities.

Ahmad Morshedloo and Wafa Hourani (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Wafa Hourani (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Developed through an intensive process in Laleh Khorramian’s Eden- 1st Generation. The piece is made of monoprints, original irreproducible images made without any direct contact by the artist. A monoprint is made by producing a painting on a sheet of glass that is transferred onto paper by pressing the sheet onto the glass while the paint is still wet. Graphic scenarios of imagined and impossible scenes are then created by drawing, wiping away and scratching into the prints that she created.

In blinding silver unison, facing the same direction, some bow at the neck while others face down on the floor. Rows and rows of 240-women made out of tin foil fill the entire room at the Saatchi gallery. Once you enter, you cannot help but fall silent, as if you’ve stumbled upon the women’s section at a mosque during prayer time. Ghost by Kader Attia is a moving piece of work so quiet you can almost hear the hum of prayer.

Kader Attia (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Hiding in Iraq’s desert for three years, Iraqi artist Halim AlKarim lived in a hole under piles of rocks and only survived through the kindness of a bedouin woman who brought him food and water. She also taught him about gypsy customs and mysticism. Al-Karim’s works at the Saatchi Gallery come in photographic triptychs. His photographs that come in threes evoke the history of his native Iraq. Each face seems to be blurred; going in and out of focus making it hard to tell whether the subject at hand is a real person, a Sumerian sculpture, or a newspaper photograph. Although Iraq features strongly in his art, Karim says that exhibiting in his home country is not a priority for the time being. “We have an ancient civilization that is 6000 years old, and have always been able to resurrect it from the rubble; resurrect our homes and our spirits. So the last thing I am thinking of right now is exhibiting in Baghdad. The priority is for so many other things that need to be resurrected. Before art and before exhibitions, we have to resurrect our spirits,” he said.

Halim Al-Karim (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Steel, plaster, wood and polystyrene come together to create abstract forms bristling with spikes and honeycombed with latticework. The Tower of Infinite Problems is a two-part sculpture by Diana Al-Hadid. The artist, born in Syria and now lives in Brooklyn, created two towers that sit side by side looking like two fallen skyscrapers that have been there so long they became an archaeological find. Describing her work as “impossible architecture,” the two fallen buildings are a monument to human fallibility.

Halim Al-Karim (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

arts & culture

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Diana Al-Hadid (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White



A broom, a colander, an iron, and a grater all make up the faces of everyday Iranian women in the series of photographs entitled Like Everyday created by Iranian artist Shadi Ghadirian. The objects which take the place of the women’s faces create fictional characters of hilarious proportion. In one photograph, the colander represents a woman who’s all mouth; the neighborhood gossip endlessly broadcasting like a loud speaker. Another series of photographs by Ghadirian entitled

Ahmad Morshedloo and Diana Al-Hadid (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Untitled from the Ghajar series depicts 19th century Ghajar inspired self portraits of beautiful Iranian women in their traditional robes. Each portrait is reconstructed with the opulence of that era, each scene clearly interrupted by contemporary products such as a vacuum cleaner, ghetto blaster and a modern day telephone. Ahmed Alsoudani turns a bombed-out Baghdad into a riotous Disney cartoon; Ali Banisadr fuses Persian mythology with his own memories in a fairytale Orientalism; Nadia Ayari

Shadi Ghadirian (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Ali Banisadr and Sara Rahbar (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

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expresses disembodied identity through symbolic representation and Hayv Kahraman uses layered patterns, intense colors and linen canvases to engage the issues of female identity in Iraq. There are many more powerful works of art in this exhibition, pieces that really capture the essence of newly emerging pieces from and about the Arab region. Pieces that are filled with overwhelming detail, modern influences, violence, nationalism, identity, mythology, displacement, memory, nostalgia and shrewd observation.

Ahmed Alsoudani (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Be sure to visit Unveiled which will be ongoing till May 6th 2009, or check their website to see a video footage of the exhibition. Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East February - May, 6, 2009 Saatchi Gallery Duke of York Square London www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk

Barbad Golshiri and Jeff Khaldi (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White

Shadi Ghadirian (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White


Tala Madani and Diana Al-Hadid (Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East). Courtesy of The Saatchi Gallery, London. Photography credit: Stephen White


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Responsible Competitiveness:

Highlights of the GCF 2OO9 Leaders

Ghosn concluded his speech by saying that “times of turmoil always present both risks and opportunities. The risks are found in the climate of uncertainty, in the tightening of resource. The opportunities can also be uncovered. When resources are limited you are pressed to examine the use of every resource, to question processes that you might otherwise accept as routine, and to improve your responsiveness and transparency. This kind of environment fosters opportunities for innovation.” He ended his motivational speech with these words: “We know crises always come to an end. If we use this time to become leaner, more focused, and innovative, we may emerge stronger on the other side. The future will belong to those who will fight for it. I am eager to join you all in the pursuit of responsible competitiveness and I look forward to exchanging ideas with you in the remaining time we have together. Shukran.” With that, the tone of the forum was set. 10:30 am Riz Khan, former CNN senior anchor and current host of Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan Show, was the moderator for the first day of the GCF 2009. He emphasized on the importance of the GCF to Saudi Arabia and all those attending it. He stated that the GCF, which is taking place annually in Riyadh, will follow up each year on the issues discussed the year before and the progresses that have been made since the last GCF.


It was 9:40 am. We arrived a few minutes late to the Four Seasons in Riyadh. Carlos Ghosn had already delved deep into his speech. Ghosn, the President & CEO of Nissan Motors, was talking about the economy. Obviously, what else would he be talking about at a forum dedicated to responsible competitiveness! The economy only became a snowball piling up as it is rolling downhill because of irresponsible practices. He emphasized that in this time of crisis. “Leaders have the responsibility to encourage people to take the leap from ‘What’s wrong today?’ to ‘What will we become?’ He talked about how this financial crisis brings a sense of déjà vu for Nissan and what it went through in the 1990s. Although the circumstances were completely different, his solution in the 1990s still applies today. The solution was not to restructure the company, it was to restructure the minds of the people in the company. To make them more responsible. And as a responsible leader, he was able to get his company out of crisis.

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“Like a snowball that grows and gains momentum as it rolls downhill, trouble piled upon trouble in the interconnected world we live in. The financial breakdown started rippling through one country after another.”

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Then, Fahd Hamidaddin, General Director of Marketing & Communications at SAGIA, comes up on stage and explains that an open letter (www.gcf.org.sa/en/content/open-letterleadership-G20-member-countries), which contains all the conclusions of how to get out of the current economic crisis concluded at the GCF 2009, will be sent to the leaders of the G20 at the G20 Summit. Responsible Competitiveness Riz Khan introduces the first panel of the day: Carlos Ghosn, HE Mohammed Hassan Omran (Chairman of Etisalat), Angel Cabrera (President of Thunderbird School of Global Management), Thomas Enders (CEO of Airbus SAS), William Amelio (President & CEO of Lenovo), and Rajat Gupta (Senior Partner Emeritus of McKinsey & Company). What this whole panel agreed upon is that it is the responsibility of leaders to enforce responsible practices in their companies, university classrooms, etc. Business laws, they said, should be taken as seriously as the oath taken by doctors. In doing so, business practices will become more sustainable. Take two! We could go on listing what the impressive list of CEOs, Presidents, and leaders in general said during each different panel at the GCF 2009, but you can read all of that anywhere. We’re going to tell you what caught our attention the most at this year’s GCF. Energy In a world where there are more than 1.6 billion people living without electricity, we need an “energy revolution rather than evolution.” - Bjorn Stigson (President of World Business Council for Sustainable Development) Energy was one of the topics discussed heatedly at the GCF. What caught our attention this year was that the audience that attended this panel and others was much larger than last year’s (it should be noted thought that the number of women attendees was much lower than the men’s - we hope this changes next year). In general, the number was great and it was a sign that people, here and abroad, are taking notice of the forum and the important topics discussed from oil to the arts. Energy was not only talked about and listened to, it was also seen in the coffee and cookie breaks. Hundreds (if not thousands) of business cards were exchanged between local CEOs, foreign leaders, local entrepreneurs, and everybody in between. Book signings, where authors/speakers autographed copies of their books, were also held. The books that were available were not enough for the unexpected number of people who stood in line. Food The world’s food crisis was discussed in conjunction with politics, fair trade issues, resources, water being the main scarce resource, and inefficiencies in the farming industry. In a land where we are blessed with an abundance of resources, we were inspired to think of ways to bridge the gap between countries like ours and less fortunate ones.

From top left (clockwise): HE Amr Al-Dabbagh, HRH Prince Mitib, and CEO of the GCF Abdulmohsen Al-Badr acknowledging Dr. Mahathir bin Mohammed’s (4th Prime Minister of Malaysia) contribution to the GCF. Dr. Shumeet Banerji (CEO of Booz and Comapny), answering questions from the 2nd day’s moderator Dr. Laura Tyson (professor at Berkeley and former Chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers). The sports panel which included Timothy Shriver, Dr. Johann Koss, Michael Phelps, and Carl Lewis. Gary Winnick (Chairman of the Board of Pacific Capital Group Inc.) talking about the impact of business on the environment, amongst a group of experts on that field in the the Sustaining the Green Agenda panel. The Porter Prizes for the 100 Fastest Growing Saudi Companies awarded during lunch. HE Amr Al-Dabbagh’s press confrence. HE Amr Al-Dabbagh and Fahd Al-Rasheed (CEO and Board Member, Emaar the Economic City). © GCF 2009.

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Lunch at the GCF was also a time for networking, moving speeches (Timothy Shriver the President of Special Olympics gave such a speech and was recognized for his efforts - last image on page 44), and award ceremonies (the Porter Prizes for the 100 Fastest Growing Saudi Companies were awarded). In short, the lunch program, and the food itself, kept the audience focused on the GCF spirit. The Arts, Creativity, Innovation, and Talent Artworks by Saudi artists lined the halls at the GCF. Saudi Art booklets and hardcover books were also available for whomever wanted a copy. During breaks, the audience was able to view more Saudi and international art at Hewar Gallery on the 52nd floor. The panels talked about how real estate combined with art enhance a city, its people’s quality of life, and the economic competitiveness of communities.

Saudi art lining the halls of the GCF 2009 ©

Jim Clifton (Chairman and CEO of the Gallup Organization) one of the art panel speakers. GCF 2009 ©

It is great to see that Middle Eastern artists are making their mark everywhere these days (just check our Arts & Culture section!). However, in the Kingdom itself we need to see more support for the arts. As Jim Clifton said: “nothing is invented in the state of mind of being miserable,” and the arts make people happy inspiring creativity and innovation. Only when talent, creativity, and innovation are fostered will we see a more responsibly competitive nation. Talent and responsible competitiveness also apply to sports. Carl Lewis, Michael Phelps, and Dr. Johan Koss were the athletes that made their way to the GCF. Along with Dr. Timothy Shriver, the panel talked about how sports teach you basic life skills from a healthy lifestyle to responsible competitiveness. Michael Phelps and Carl Lewis both talked about setting goals for oneself, never giving up, dealing with one’s own limitations (such as Michel Phelp’s ADHD) and the importance of being a team player. Entrepreneurship Michael Porter, the leading authority on competitiveness of nations, came back this year to Riyadh to reinstate his research findings on Saudi Arabia - from GDP to competitiveness. “When you think of Saudi Arabia, you don’t think of entrepreneurship” he said. That should change! Entrepreneurs are the ones that drive the economy forward. But, us entrepreneurs, here in the Kingdom, feel that we need much more support from investors and the like. Porter suggested that we should look to foreign as well as local investors. Because foreign investors bring with them the much needed guidance and training that we are short of in the Kingdom.

Michael Porter, University Professor at Harvard Business School, at the GCF 2009 ©

Also inspirational, when it came to entrepreneurship, was Barry Sternlicht. The Chairman & CEO of Starwood Capital Group recounted how he first borrowed money from family and friends to form his company - Starwood Hotels! Entrepreneurs like Sheikh Saleh Kamel, who’s speech got cheers from the audience, stressed that values are the core of responsible competitiveness. He said that this crisis would never have occurred if in business we treated each other, just as we should, with equality and justice. The King Khalid Award for Responsible Competitiveness

Books signed to Oasis Magazine by their authors at the GCF 2009 ©

HRH Prince Faisal bin Khalid, Governor of Aseer Region & Vice Chairman of the King Khalid Foundation, took the stage

Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohammed, the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia and the last speaker at the GCF 2009, walking through the halls of the GCF Š GCF 2009.

on the night of the inauguration of the GCF. We knew that he would be announcing the winners of the King Khalid Award for Responsible Competitiveness, but we were eager to know what it was all about and to know more about the King Khalid Foundation. Prince Faisal’s speech was direct to the point. He talked about how they collaborated with SAGIA and according to the Saudi RCI (Responsible Competitiveness Index - which was done by SAGIA through Tamkeen and supported by the King Khalid Foundation) were able to determine which three Saudi companies are the most responsibly competitive in Saudi Arabia.

at the GCF. He was diligently making sure that everything was running smoothly from the delegates on stage to the press on the ground.

SAGIA (Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority), headed by HE Amr Al-Dabbagh, of course was the brains behind the GCF as well as many other initiatives in the Kingdom. AlDabbagh gave press conferences and sat amongst the audience listening and networking between breaks. The CEO of the GCF, Abdulmohsen Al-Badr, was also seen everywhere

The Global Competitiveness Forum 2009 was a chance to meet with world leaders, to build networks, to always find ways to be responsibly competitive, and to be inspired.

The Global Competitiveness Forum was held under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. However, HRH Prince Mitib bin Abdulaziz (Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs) inaugurated the ceremony on behalf of the King. HRH Prince Mitib, HRH Prince Faisal, and HE Amr Al-Dabbagh (Governor of SAGIA) presented the King Khalid Award to the winners.

To read more about the GCF: www.gcf.org.sa To know more about SAGIA: www.sagia.gov.sa

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Above: the empty GCF stage after the forum had ended. GCF 2009 Š Below: The interior of Al-Athariyah where the GCF guests were able to experience Saudi heritage and hospitality.


traditional Saudi hospitality, traditions, and customs The Royal Al-Atheriyah Farm

Everybody attending the GCF was invited to HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah’s Royal Al-Atheriyah Farm. The guests loved the experience from the authentic Saudi mud palace itself, to drinking Saudi coffee, watching the traditional Saudi sword dance, and finally touring the farm. The tour consisted of walking through the surroundings of the Royal Atheriyah Farm that replicate the traditional lifestyle of Saudi Arabia. While touring you could see mud houses being built from scratch, traditional auctions held in the square, artisans going about their crafts, and school children being taught in traditional schools. Everybody loved this experience. We even heard some people say that other international forums should up their game to compete with this wonderful display of Saudi cultural heritage and hospitality. A must visit site in Saudi Arabia is Al-Atheriyah. (Check out our video taken of the tour at Al-Atheiryah: www. youtube.com/oasismag)

Above left: the walls of Al-Athariyah lined with photographs of King Abdulaziz. Above right: guests of the GCF, including Riz Khan, enjoying their time at Al-Athariyah. Below: an exterior view of the Royal Al-Athariyah Farm.

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in focus



King Khalid Foundation By Ahmad Dialdin

The King Khalid Foundation Although it has been almost 30 years since his passing, King Khalid is still remembered fondly for everything that he had done during his time as king of Saudi Arabia. Some have even taken his principles and values to heart — especially in the service of the individual and the society — which brings us to the King Khalid Foundation (KKF). KKF was established in 2001 as a royal, independent, national institution that is not only geared at enhancing social, educational, cultural and vocational standards, but also holds the vision of being the leader in philanthropic and developmental work within the Kingdom. The Foundation has been managed since its inception by the Director General, HRH Princess Banderi bint Abdulrahman Al Faisal. Holding the belief that all people have the inherent capacity to effect change in their lives and their communities, KKF uses its resources and expertise to make a positive impact in people’s lives, they also work in partnership with other organizations to provide innovative solutions to critical social and economic challenges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Think of the Foundation as a catalyst for change. Whether it funds social and economic development projects (including training, research, and policy development programs), or awards citizens and corporations for their contributions to the Kingdom, KKF is in the business of giving the people of the country the push and recognition they deserve for working to make our nation a better place. When Oasis met with HRH Princess Banderi, she spoke of the multitude of NGOs scattered all around the Kingdom. She spoke of the huge amounts donated by Saudis (other than zakat) to philanthropic societies. She also spoke of the heartbreaking scene of a 20 something year-old Saudi man going to collect unemployment compensation from a local NGO and having to leave a thumb print instead of his signature because of being illiterate. How could all these facts go together? A lack of proper networking between organizations and a lack of transparency or efficiency within an organization itself can result in a weak link between resources and those in need of the resources. Here, the King Khalid Foundation has stepped in to create proper links, a stirring committee, successful models that NGOs can easily follow, and becoming pioneers themselves in researching and developing proposals for the like of abuse prevention laws and creating awareness workshops.

in focus Actions and achievements Words are merely words, but actions speak volumes, and in the short time that the Foundation has been around, it has spoken abundantly loud and clear. The KKF Model for Community Development in the Qilwah Province marks the first time in the country that a local community has been involved in actively identifying and advocating for their own development needs by following the KKF Model.

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The Saudi Bee-Keepers Cooperative which was established by KKF as a model for small businesses. This model enables small businesses to work together towards their own mutual benefit.



The Warmth Campaign, held in the winter of 2008, was the first emergency relief project of its kind that focused on helping areas of the country that were affected by the extreme cold weather at the time. The campaign provided support and aid to the people of the northern regions of Saudi Arabia, bringing in more than 60,000 pieces of blankets and winter clothing and 3,000 bags of coal. The Capacity Building in the Social Participatory Development Field is one of a number of training and capacity building programs that KKF engaged in to transfer knowledge towards building reliable and sustainable development and governance within Saudi Arabia. Powerful research projects of the KKF include their pivotal work on the “Women and Child Abuse Prevention Law” which has been adopted by the government to deal with issues of physical violence, child marriages, and difficulties faced by divorced women in getting custody of their children. Setting yet another precedent, this is the first time a legislation that was developed and proposed by an NGO was taken up by the government!

The King Khalid Award As always, part of change is action, but it’s not enough to fund and undertake projects, you have to teach others to pursue change themselves and recognize those that do that and work towards a better life for the people and societies of the Kingdom. KKF conceived the King Khalid Award back in 2007 for just such a purpose. The awards break up into four categories: 1-National Achievement: related to improving social life in the Kingdom. 2-Social Sciences: related to the study of Saudi society and developing it within the realms of social science and service. 3-Responsible Competitiveness: related to private industries’ contributions to the Saudi society 4-Social Projects: related to projects directed at taking care of a group or groups of Saudi society that affects positive change in their lives and their community.

HRH Princess Banderi bint Khalid explains the King Khalid Foundation’s logo. KKF ©

Just this year, the National Commercial Bank was awarded the Responsible Competitiveness Award, at the 3rd Global Competitiveness Forum held last January in Riyadh, for the bank’s responsible communication. The second-place winner of this award was Al Zamil Industrial which were given the award for their product and service innovation, and the third was Al Fanar for their responsible supply chain.

Above: the first, second, and third place awards of the King Khalid Award for responsible competitiveness. The awards were designed by Quantum Ideas Company Š Below: HE Amr Al-Dabbagh, HRH Prince Mitib, and HRH Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz (far right) handing the second place winner of the King Khalid Award, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Zamil, with his award at the GCF 2009 Š.

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in focus



King Khalid ©

What the Future Holds Recognizing that we live in a dynamic, fast-moving world, KKF sees the need for a more in-depth understanding of the nature of development and philanthropic work; more responsible giving through rigorous selection, accountability, monitoring and evaluation; and the need for increased capacity building within the nonprofit sector in general. With that in mind, KKF has decided to focus its grant-making efforts on four program areas: training and capacity building of local nonprofit organizations and local development practitioners; encouraging community development and emergency relief projects; conducting research studies; and awarding the King Khalid Award to outstanding individuals and corporations for their contributions to the social and economic development of the Kingdom. The Foundation seeks to be the model for responsible giving that thinks strategically and maximizes collaborations with foundations, private companies and academic institutions to create joint quality programs for the benefit of the Saudi society. One such collaboration is with the Columbia Business School Executive Education division in the United States which will conduct a program in May for nonprofit leaders and teams in the Kingdom, covering general management courses that range from nonprofit management and strategic analysis to decision-making and acquiring and allocating resources. KKF’s Warmth Campaign mentioned earlier had a slogan, “Together, let’s make this winter warmer”. Seeing what the Foundation has done so far and what it plans to do in the future, that simple phrase could be adjusted slightly to encompass KKF’s ambitious and noble vision: “Together, let’s make this country better.”

quenches the mind OASIS MAGAZINE


King Khalid ©

The KKF is currently, amongst many projects, preparing for the King Khalid exhibition which will take place soon at the National Museum in Riyadh. For this exhibition, the foundation has already funded research to gather all information regarding King Khalid. They have also prepared for a coffee-table book about the door that King Khalid had ordered for the Ka’ba during his lifetime. The book, which will be done by Al Mansouria Foundation, will include original sketches of the Ka’ba door. For more info on the King Khalid Foundation and to volunteer with the foundation visit: www.kkf.org.sa

Mashaweer Our Happening guide to Saudi

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Follow our seven sections of the guide to: shopping the new spring items in souks, having a sneak peek inside the kitchen, relaxing at the spa, laughing it up at the comedy show, getting to know our Saudi is Made by You competition winners, travelling to Aseer, and not forgetting about the events to come.



“We shall never understand one another until we reduce the language to seven words� - Kahlil Gibran



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The design & lifestyle store to visit in Riyadh...



It is easy to imagine that you are in a million different places at once when you walk into Cities store, in Riyadh’s Centria Mall. It’s all here: from the aromatic candles that we had recently seen at Hotel Costes in Paris, those amazing wooden tables that combine traditional elements with a modern twist - that we had spotted in Beirut’s Orient boutique, and that Lekkerhome recycled-magazines vase we saw in NewYork, oh oh and those adorable Artecnica pop-up flowers we saw in Maui. Each item feels like a celebtration of the culture it comes from and the creativity of its designer all hand picked and brought back to Cities by its well-travelled team. Cities store first opened its doors in May 2008. The refreshing store, in the middle of Riyadh, is the brainchild of the design company Zoom Creative. The local and international designers, employed at the Riyadh-based company, are invloved in all fields of design, from interior design to product design. Arabesque-inspired boxes, cloth bags, and postcards designed by Zoom Creative are sold at Cities. Their design aesthetic is based on their appreciation of the arts and culture of the Arab world as well as their love for different cultures. At Cities, they believe that exposing clients to all these beautiful cultures opens up everybody’s minds and frees their spirits bringing everybody closer to achieving peace and harmony between each other. The search for that unique product, can be as simple as finding beautiful local hand-made jewelry and locally-made photgraphic postcards. Local designers are always represented at Cities and new local designers are encouraged to get intouch with the team at Cities to try and showcase their designs. For Cities, finding a product can also be pretty amusing. An object can travel all around the world before getting to be showcased in Riyadh. When we asked the team at Cities to describe one of their most exciting stories of finding a product they said: “A few months ago, we were in Houston, Texas. We were visiting a modern design gallery. We saw this beautiful big arabesque aluminum round pouf. They told us it was from a company in San Francisco. We contacted the company and they said that they had imported it from India. So, we ended up shipping this item to Riyadh from San Francisco, which they had brought from India and we saw it in Houston. Talk about different cities around the world exchanging design ideas.”

souks One of the newest items in store is a collection of Le Labo lamps. The Parisian lighting design company has come up with these refined metal lamps that look great and produce a beautiful lighting effect. Cities is not a thematic store, so you’ll find lots of new products from all over the world with completely different styles that would suit the multitude of different styles found in a city. You’ll be sure to find that perfect item that will complement your own personal style. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, the management team at the store will be more than happy to guide you through the store. Cities popularity has been growing steadily through word-ofmouth. Their clientele keep coming back for more and recommending the store to their friends. There are so many beautiful, quality, unique, and culturally-rich products that will make you want to come out of the store singing something like Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world...”

Cities Design & Lifestyle Store 1st Floor Centria Mall (Olaya & Tahlia intersection) Riyadh www.zoom-cities.com www.zoom-creative.com


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Vibe Boutique



Spring is here. It’s bright, it’s colorful, and it’s full of beautiful accessories. In the Spring 2009 fashion shows, we saw that amongst the must-have accessories of the season are: huge bangles piled up on top of each other, fantastic bib necklaces, and bright-colored sky-high heels that finish off spring’s burst of life. We found all the best accessories for spring 2009, by hip designers, at Vibe Boutique, in Riyadh’s Centria Mall. The beaded and braided handmade collection of Lizzie Fortunato Jewels (top left) is here. They are chunky necklaces and bracelets from their Spring/Summer 2009 summer-camp inspired collection. Not smiling yet? Disaya’s happy face bangles, piano bangles, and jeweled bangles (right and below) will make sure you’re always happy. The designer focused on the idea of finding joy and happiness especially in this time of economic crisis. The people at Disney always have something that makes us happy. Bright bangles with disney charms (left) are displayed at Vibe this spring. If cupcakes and fortune cookies are what make you smile, then Sydney Evan’s collection of necklaces (top right), earrings, and bead bracelets of cupcakes and lucky charms is what you need.

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You’re a shoe person. You must be. Then, peep-toe brightcolored high heel shoes are what you should be looking for this season. Davis shoes (this page) are as bright as they come. They’re just what you need this spring! Vibe boutique packs a punch with all you’ll ever need in terms of accessories, from bracelets to scarfs, by Redline Jewelry, Sabrina Dehoff, Sir Alistair (above), L. Ericson, Aurilie Bidermann, Lucy Hutchings, and Maloles.

Vibe Boutique 1st Floor Centria Mall (Olaya & Tahlia intersection) Riyadh



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64 Online Souk

Dia Diwan For designer items by Middle Eastern and North African designers, look no further than Dia Diwan. You can shop online at their Global Souk for everything from accessories to paintings and gourmet snacks. This season, they’ve chosen to highlight golden accessories. The items (clockwise from top) include a golden-faced Um Kulthoum brooch by designer Rana Salam, a Mashallah Ring in gold plated 925 silver, coral and seashell earings, rings (22 carat gold plated silver) by Nilufer Tarzi Kuran, and the Peace and Love bracelets by Heba Elawadi. This spring, even your lip balm can be blinged. The Swarovskiencrusted Labello necklaces (top left) come in raspberry and strawberry flavors.

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Most of the items this season include bright colors. So, it is perfect to find that WoolenStocks, the “fluffiest, warmest and most comfortable slippers,� are now sold at Diadiwan.com. The slippers are made by hand in the Himalayas by Himalayan artists. www.diadiwan.com/global-souk


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Behind the Scenes at Il Villaggio: The Man From Salerno By Rashed Islam I arrive on time and find Emanuele dressed in his pristine white chef’s uniform, waiting expectantly at the door, almost certain I would arrive on time. He tells me he thinks it is time to see the kitchen and meet some of the seventeen members of staff. We navigate the corridors that lead to the kitchen where we find his multinational team made up of Filipino, Egyptian, Indian, Saudi, Italian, Bengali and Syrian employees. Overall there are fifty five members of staff in the restaurant and around seventeen in the kitchen. I ask about the hierarchy and Emanuele explains, first there is the Executive Chef (himself), followed by an Egyptian Sous Chef (Nour Wahidi), Filipino Junior Master Cook (Amable Statna), Italian Pastry Chef (Vinchenzo Raschella), along with many more Assistant Pastry Chefs and Cooks. All are rated according to performance A, B, or C, with their performance reviewed every three to six months. Emanuele is particularly proud of his Junior Master Cook, “Before he came to the restaurant in 2006 he was just a waiter, now he does a great job. He is one of the few members of the team who started from the beginning of the restaurant. He spent twenty years as a waiter at other restaurants, and yet here, now, he can handle himself alone in the kitchen.” However working in the kitchen is no easy feat. The days can be long and hard where a typical day, which usually starts around 9am at the restaurant, will involve everything from re-

ceiving purchase orders, ingredient checks, receiving deliveries from suppliers and then preparing the food for storage. Two eight hour shifts divide the workload between the staff making it all the more manageable. Naturally some items and ingredients cannot be delivered right before the meal is prepared, so after receiving say a shipment of chicken, the portions are carefully divided up, and then vacuum packed for freshness before freezing or refrigerating. It was something I hadn’t expected to see, and made me realize how much forethought goes into everything. “75% of the items are imported, including many of the vegetables in use,” Emanuele said, showing me the large walk-in refrigerator. Have they had difficulties with any suppliers I ask? Do you ever get any bad vegetables from your supplier? “Well, sometimes, in the past, they used to put good vegetables on the top of the piles and hide bad vegetables underneath, however we would always send these back, so eventually they learnt only to send us high-quality produce. People might say we are expensive but we use the best ingredients, I personally don’t think we are expensive. If you buy a Ferrari it’s going to cost you. We focus on quality, and do not adjust our menu prices according to the season.” “Sometimes some items are not available,” he continued, describing how seasonal ingredient prices often double. “I

cannot change my prices every day, we have to maintain a standard. Often this means paying more for ingredients and absorbing this extra cost.” I am shown to the ordering system, a small machine which sits at the centre of the kitchen on the counter or ‘pass’. The machine receives orders from the restaurant floor and the pass is also where the food will be put down before being passed through to the waiters for delivery to customers. Chef Nour Wahidi (the Sous Chef) announces the order to the rest of the kitchen (just like on TV). Almost instantly the team get to work; all the staff know their duties and responsibilities. Emanuele explains the importance of communication. “Communication is key between the team, and because the pizza ovens are located on the other side of the restaurant, the kitchen staff must also talk to them by phone when they receive an order for pizza.” At the end of every week Emanuele sits down with his team and goes over all comments and issues raised in the week; mistakes, complaints and suggestions are all discussed. Everyone is involved. The Chef believes this makes for a much more successful team which he describes as a family. We move on to the Pasta area where an cook is rolling out green layers of spinach pasta, while another is working on some lasagne. A refrigerator is opened filled with lines of chilled lasagne resting across its shelves in preparation for a potential order. Vegetables, mushroom and classic varieties are all made the previous day in case someone might order one the next day.


On to the Pastry Chef’s area, where selections of cakes are being prepared, I catch a glimpse of fresh tiramisu on the side. I am tempted to grab a bite of it, or something, anything, but I somehow resist the temptation. The area is a dessert lovers’ dream. The smell of fresh meringues waft across the room, I see them in the oven and make a mental note to order these on my next visit. Next I was shown to the Gelato, or ice cream, making machine, (one of the highlights of the visit) where chocolate gelato was already spinning around. The ingredients were listed out precisely by Pastry Chef Vinchenzo Raschella as: milk, cream, glucose, inverted sugar, egg yolks, Italian hazelnut paste along with a form of pectin made from sea kelp. The process is by no means quick and although the spinning may last only 5 to 6 minutes, the recipe must spend one whole night in the fridge before being put in the pasteurization machine, where any bacteria from the eggs is killed. The last and final step involves the gelato being put for a night in the freezer at a low temperature of -22 degrees. The team dishes out over 20 gelato flavours in the restaurant including more creative ones you wouldn’t normally expect to find in Jeddah like rosemary, safron, and apple crumble. Back in the main area of the kitchen we hear Vinchenzo calling out more orders from the machine, the team sets to work, and Emanuele suggests I have a go at making some penne arrabiata. It’s one of their most popular dishes served up at Il Villaggio, and a breeze to make I am told. Before I realized what was happening, an assistant cook has brought out penne, tomatoe sauce, some chopped garlic, chili and oil. The penne is thrown in a pot of boiling water while we begin to shallow-fry the garlic, oil and chili. It is not long before the tomatoe sauce is added along with some fresh basil and a few minutes later the penne is done and it is all added in to the mix. Emanuele takes over and does a ‘pancake-like flip’ with all the pasta and sauce into the air. He suggests I have a go, (although I think it’s more likely I will flip the boiling sauce all over myself). I am almost right; my feeble attempt goes nowhere, “it looks easier than it is,” I say. “Yes,” Emanuele smiles. A few minutes standing over the pans and I have already built up a nice sweat. I realise this is something they must endure all day. Waiters suddenly rush in, hesitating over which order to take from the pass, Vinchenzo and Emanuele respond almost simultaneously, directing them to the correct trays, there is a sense of pressure building up in the air, the kitchen load is increasing. “Speed is very important,” Emanuele tells me, “we have to push the team here or when the orders get really busy, everyone just stops, they can’t cope, this is why we always keep them busy.”

Read the first part of “Behind the Scenes at Il Villagio” and get Chef Emanuele’s Penne Arrabiata recipe at our website: www.oasis-mag.com

FOOD YOU CAN TRUST ( Now Serving Fresh Reviews Day ) ) Saturday to Friday 24 Hours aPer Day




Yibreen Spa’s reopened coffee shop is getting rave reviews from its new and returning clients...

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These days it’s all about the fast life; drive-throughs, coffee to go, jetting in and out barely catching your breath… it all gets so tiring sometimes that you just want to toss those pesky paper coffee cups aside (we’re not crazy, the heat still penetrates through the cup sleeves). Luxury is all about slowing it all down a notch, or halt it all together.



After much demand, Yibreen Spa’s own coffee shop relaunched in January 2009 with a whole new menu of beverages and light snacks keeping in tow with the healthy lifestyle that you lead. The menu will puzzle you with its multitude of variety. Why don’t you try one of the many health-boosting, energizing or cleansing juices? A fresh blend of beetroot, orange, carrot and spinach will give you the right amount of energy before your workout. After all, beetroots are rich in iron, folic acid and antioxidants; it also stores high levels of nitrates which defend the body against hypertension and help the body protect itself against a whole myriad of diseases and infections. If you’re stepping out of your workout then stop by for your protein shake to give you that extra kick. The coffee shop, which is now located right across the swimming pool, is a haven to all its goers whether it is simply for coffee, after a great workout session or even while waiting to start a treatment at the spa. Close your eyes and imagine yourself immersed in an atmosphere oozing with relaxation, serenity and most of all privacy. You’re chilling outside looking onto the pool while the tentative staff polish and buff your cuticles in their specialized manicure and pedicure chairs. Have an urgent need to check your email? Then don’t fret as the center is equipped with free WiFi and with one click you are all set. Feel generous and want to share the secret of your new hot spot? Then why don’t you invite your friends for a morning coffee where you can just sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company without a care in the world. The fragrance of the spa will no doubt awaken your senses and leave you with a sense of joie de vivre while you slurp slowly on your coffee waiting for your next relaxing treatment. What’s the time you ask? Who cares; the world has stopped still. Relax Yibreen Spa Open Saturday to Thursday: 10am - 10pm P.O.Box: 53639, Riyadh 11593, K.S.A Tel: (01) 441-1115 Fax: (01) 441-1117 E- mail: Yibreen@yibreenspa.com www.yibreenspa.com


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art scene



Reflection by Zaman Jassim, 180 cm x 180 cm, acrylic on canvas.

Zaman Jassim

Reflection is the exhibiton of new works by the internationallyexhibited Saudi artist Zaman Jassim. This exhibition, which took place from the 11th till the 20th of March in Khobar’s Desert Designs, was a success. After having exhited in Paris and Bahrain, we were proud to see his works exhibited and recognized in his hometown. www. zaman.itgo.com

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Untitled by Ahmed Mater.


Ahmed Mater Al-Ziad Aseeri, the first Saudi artist to have his artwork bought by the British Museum, exhibits his new set of artwork in Dubai’s Art Space gallery. The exhibition is taking place from the 15th of March till the 15th of April, 2009. The venue is located in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), on the second floor of the third building of the Gate Village. The Saudi artist has had tremendous amounts of recognition from King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to European art collectors. His art focuses on identity and blends illuminations (used in Qur’ans and old Islamic manuscripts), the Ka’ba, and x-rays. Dr. Mater is the one to watch on the Saudi art scene. Mater studied art at Miftaha Village (flip to page 80 to know more about it). www.ahmedmater.com


Ahmed Mater

Art in Embassies

“The Art in Embassies Program is a unique blend of art, diplomacy, and culture.” - US Embassy At Quincy House, the residence of the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, art is displayed all over the place as part of the Art in Embassies Program. This program allows US ambassadors around the world to choose works of art from US museums, galleries, collections, etc, to be displayed at their temporary residences in an effort to foster relationships between the US and countries around the world. Recently, the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ford M. Fraker, hosted a group of Saudi artists from universities and high schools at Quincy House. They displayed their artwork amongst that of known US and Arab artists. This was a great opportunity not only for the Saudi artists to gain more exposure but also to create a stage for dialogue and to build links between individuals and institutions. http://aiep.state.gov

Ahmed Ahmed Live in Riyadh!

The comedian, born in Egypt and raised in California, stopped by Riyadh and Jeddah for the first time to do some stand-up comedy. 700 people attended one of his comedy shows in Riyadh. Here, Mohammed Al Saadoun covers that event...

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As the crowds piled up on the road, we were astonished by the number of people attending the show at the arena. There were more than 800 spectators in the audience. Excitement was in the air, as people jittered on Redbull waiting impatiently yet enthusiastically for the show to begin. Rumours started amongst the crowd that Ahmed Ahmed was running late because he would be making an entry on a Harley, but as he said later on in his act it was only because we as Arabs always start “according to AST (Arab Standard Timing).” As we settled in our seats, my colleague Sultan surprised us with what he said: “comedians use people in the first row as bait!” With these words nervous laughter broke out amongst us; the press in the first row.



Furthermore, no one else but the man himself, Peter HowarthsLee, organizer of this event and founder of Smiles Production, gave us an introduction and presented the first comedian. Fahad Fatani took to the stage as the first performer. He fascinated the audience with his quirky wit. So far so good. Next comedian up is Ibrahim. He jokes about the stereotypical scenes in Saudi. He emphasizes Tahlia Street, where guys “chase eyes” and the girls respond with the Arabic version of “like please:” “(Amanah…oh amanah.)” After Ibrahim, we have Khaled, who uses his experiences in a humorous way referring to Khobar as Riyadh’s “big gas station” because people stop there briefly for gas and food, then continue on to Bahrain. Sharif comes up next with passion and excitement in his eyes. He jokes about everything Egypt. One of his hit jokes that left people roaring with laughter was a fake translation of a phrase in a classic Egyptian film - “lailatna baida” became “our night is egg.” Then he introduced the fifth comedian Abdullah Al Soaidan as the big friendly bear. Abdullah joked that his deep voice matured over and over again then went on to make fun of accents. After his bit, Abdullah called for Feras Shafiq, referring to him as the Wackiest Paki. Just as some of the comedians have done, he uses Saudi lifestyle as an inspiration to his jokes, “it is easier here to buy a new car than find parking space.” After that, another comic with the same name of Fahad appears with jokes about gaming. Also, the always popular Rehman Akhtar cracked the people up with his anecdotes of experience and childhood. Right before Ahmed Ahmed’s anticipated act, Khaled Khalifa warms up the crowd. It is his second time performing stand-up in Riyadh and he already has hundred of fans craving for more. He uses inside jokes about Saudi, posing the question: “why refer to Riyadh as Rio?” and joking about the bun popping out of women’s veils: “What is in there!? Better yet, who are you hiding in there!?” Finally, the man of the hour Ahmed Ahmed appears on stage to a cheering crowd. His jokes, one after the other, left the audience roaring with laughter. He jokes saying that he’s planning to write a book called “101 haram jokes,” and lets his catch phrases “Shalala!” and “Arab is the new black” from his hit jokes sink in the crowd. As the show ended everyone went to the meet and greet to obtain autographs, photos, and souvenirs.

“Ahmed Ahmed, whose name is so nice they named him twice, delivers comedy like never before” - Ahmed Ahmed Naturally, I was quite excited to ask the comedian himself the questions I had prepared:

Ahmed, how and when did you establish Comedy Arabia?

I did it with a partner after Axis of Evil disbanded to have a more broad aim for the region. The site is made as a platform to promote and produce rising comedians.

Recalling last year, you said, and I quote: “If I’d perform in Riyadh, it would either be a huge hit or I’d end up in jail.” So, was Riyadh what you expected? No not at all, I was surprised. Most audiences around the Middle East are similar but the Saudi fans were more excited. They had a bigger hunger for laughter.

How is performing here in Riyadh different than your other shows around the Middle East? You almost talked about everything here, right?

My act in Dubai and Lebanon were similar to here. But, I pushed the envelope a little bit more over here. I think just being present here is funny enough, ha-ha but really it was great!

I’ve always wanted to know: how was working side by side with Vince Vaughn on 30 Days and 30 Nights? He’s an amazing guy, much as a renaissance man. He helped my career so much, and he’s also part Arab.


Yes, no wonder he’s funny! We were on tour for 30 Days and 30 Nights, it was like a movie recording on the road. We toured Middle America with three other American comedians. It was like a moving circus, he would always let me go out first, which was scary cause I was the only Arab among a mass of white American Christian audience. I’d go up and say: “Hi my name is Ahmed, I’m from Egypt…” then awkward silence. This is what we call in the comedy industry as taking a bullet for the team. Overall it was a great experience and I enjoyed it a lot. This is the third successful comedy show in Riyadh after the first two which occurred in May and August of 2008. So, we ask Peter some questions:

What inspired you to establish Smile Productions?

I’ve been in theatre and media for 11 years so I decided to bring these opportunities to Saudi Arabia by providing the chance for everyone to perform, cast, or act. If you create a demand for something that people go out of the country for, well why not make it happen here in Saudi Arabia.

Did you expect this night to be so successful?

I was pleasantly surprised. We didn’t need promotions because Ahmed Ahmed is a big name, it sells itself… the show for Thursday was sold out by the first week so we added one for Wednesday. Jeddah just as well. We are heading there in about 20 hours with no venue yet!

I heard you had plans of development for the future?

Yes, my dream is to open comedy cafes in Tahlia Street. I have already held auditions for local comedians. As you can see we had nine comedians perform tonight, and we have seven in Jeddah. So for the next show I am planning to switch the comedians by bringing the ones from Jeddah to perform in Riyadh and vice versa.


Saudi is Made by You

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In our last issue, we asked you: what does Saudi Arabia mean to you? What defines it in your eyes? Based on creativity, strength of message, and relativity to the subject-matter, we found our winners. And, the winners are:



Ayman Aljammaz

This 29 year-old Saudi photographer, got all our votes. His photograph, or rather 17 photohraphs in one, has all the elements we were looking for, plus it looks like a planet! Ayman explains his photo: “Riyadh is a beautiful city, and its beauty glows at night. This image, to me, tells a million stories about Riyadh and Saudi Arabia. It also stands as witness to the huge development in the country. Just the idea that almost 30 years ago, this area, shown here, was unpopulated is

unbelievable. With Allah’s help and the faith in our leaders and youth, the sky is the limit to my country’s development. This image is a photo composite of 17 images captured carefully to give a complete view of the surroundings of the location. This is a complete 360 degrees by a 180 degrees spherical projection.” Visit Ayman Aljammaz’s website: www.al-riyadh.org


Shibin Shamsudeen Sainudeen

Shibin combined a photograph he took of old mud houses with calligraphy, arabesque, and digital images to show us what Saudi is to him: a mix of heritage, traditions, and progress that is being made as we speak. (Top left image)

Anoud Al Saud

In her drawings, Anoud expresses her feelings towards Saudi society with slim figures overwhelmed with backgrounds full of texture. (Top middle image)

Alaa Al-Mizyen

Saudi pop art! Sarcastic, Alaa shows how the images of Saudi Arabia in the West is still camels and the like. Maybe a talking camel wil convince them otherwise. (Top right image)

Sarah Farhoud

ABBA’s songs seen through Saudi society? Didn’t think we’d ever see that. This fun video, on our youtube page, shows everyday images of young Saudis from a different perspective. (The image on the right is part of Sarah’s video)

Johara Almogbel

We couldn't just pick one video because Johara's video showed lots of images of what Saudi Arabia means to a lot of people, but then she settled on one, simple answer: home.

Zaina Inam

“A silence engulfed me as I stood there with my feet planted firmly in the ground and my arms loose by my side. A hot breeze blew around me as it touched my fingertips...” As promissing writer, Zaina reveals her emotions towards Saudi Arabia in her short essay.

To know more about our winners, and others who made an impression on us, and to see their art, videos, and writing, log onto: www.youtube.com/oasismag www.oasis-mag.blogspot.com

venture out of the cities

Aseer: the

Saudi Hub for Tourism & Investment

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By Carol Fleming Al-Ajroush



When one thinks of Saudi Arabia the initial images which come to mind are likely desert, camels, magic carpet rides, gold and oil. Some of these images were further perpetuated with classic movies such as ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ There is no doubt Saudi Arabia has a rich and diverse history with many hidden places having treasures to discover and explore. Aseer is among those treasures Aseer, which is located in the center of the south-western part of the Kingdom, is one of the leading regions in the Kingdom and ranked fourth among administrative regions in terms of population and is a fertile environment for investment opportunities. HRH Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Aseer, is aggressively promoting the investment opportunities in Aseer to have the region duly recognized as among the most competitive areas for investment not only in the Kingdom but also in the Gulf States. Aseer has been identified as a prime region for investment due to the plethora of natural resources available in the region.

Unlike other parts of the Kingdom, Aseer has an abundance of environmental and natural resources such as water, which makes the region distinct from elsewhere in the Kingdom. Aseer is one of the few places where rain falls in abundance. For example, the average rainfall in 2006 over Abha city was 182.5 mm which provided sufficient quantity for the Aseer region to facilitate establishment of many agricultural and industrial projects as well as foster tourism. Aseer’s natural resources open up opportunities in mining and the region has reserves of such minerals as precious marble and gold ore, in addition to nickel, iron ore and amanita. Furthermore, research findings led to the discovery of stone for construction with such components as lime, dolomite clay, feldspar, fluorite, silica sand and types of glass, bricks and various building materials necessary to establish industry projects in this region of the Kingdom. Conducive to promoting investment and tourism, the Aseer region has a solid infrastructure in place which includes a modern communications network for instant access between the regions and cities of the Kingdom as well as the rest of the world.

The Aseer Investment Board prepared its vision for the region through the Plan of Aseer 2030. The plan aims to develop a curriculum to upgrade the level of development in Aseer through a vision which also raises the living standards of most members of society in the region, and will continue to identify additional opportunities. The plan focuses on a set of themes such as industry, tourism, technology, population growth and cultural and social components. For each theme, the Aseer 2030 Plan has examples of development based upon mathematical and statistical models capable of evaluation and follow up of results. The regional plan for the Aseer region aims to identify trends and perceptions and develop a general framework for long term regional development which links the region with central plans at the national level and provides analysis of the potential of the local development in its natural, social, economic and environmental factors to reach a comprehensive overall development strategy for the region.

lid bin Abdul Aziz (Governor of Aseer & Chairman of Aseer Investment Board)

For anyone coming to Saudi Arabia, Aseer merits a visit. It is rich in its culture and heritage with many archeological and historical sites, industries and traditional arts which illustrate the many cultures that have lived in the region since ancient times. Aseer has a long history and a visit there provides one with the opportunity to learn firsthand about the rich history of the original Aseerian since old times and the diversity of the Kingdoms that reigned over the region. Archeological studies indicate that the region’s history dates back to the middle old stone age. Among the must see places of Aseer include its parks, heritage sites and archeological sites, all of which are in abundance. The Aseer National Park covers an estimated area of 455 thousand hectares and was inaugurated in 1999 as the first national park to preserve the natural environment of the region. There is a visitors center about two kilometers from downtown Abha and is considered as the starting point for a visit to the park. Other parks in Aseer worth visiting including Al-Sawda, Alfraa, the Cloud Park, Shahaf Al-Yemen, Prince Sultan Park, Al-Dahna Falls, Shafa Al-Masgi, Dalaghan and Riyadh natural protectorate, Al-Harabi, Al-Marath, Al-Habalah, Al-Morabaa, Areenah and Al-Harn. The Aseer region has more than 125 parks with a total area of about 150 km2 located mostly in and around Abha, Bilgarn and Alnamas.


"The region, one of the leading in the Kingdom, is ranked as the fourth among the administrative regions in terms of population and is a fertile environment for investment opportunities yet to be exploited." Faisal bin Kha-

Aseer is surrounded by the five administrative regions of Riyadh, Makkah, Al-Baha, Najran and Jizan. The estimated total area of Aseer is 84 thousand km2 and consists of eleven major administrative sections. In addition there are more than 20 cities and 8,675 villages and hamlets affiliated with them. The region is known for its beautiful and varied climate due to the division of the mountainous terrain between Al-Sarawat Mountains and Tihama. In the summer months, the climate is quite moderate as compared to elsewhere in the Kingdom with temperatures ranging from 20 to 35 degrees Celsius. It is not unusual for there to be periods in Aseer during the summer where the skies are overcast and rain falls in the mountainous areas. The population of the regions according to the 2004 census is 1.6 million and expected to reach 1.9 million in 2008. The population is expected to have reached 3.2 million by 2020.

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There is the possibility for expansion projects in the areas of poultry, animal wealth, egg production and increasing the sieves and honey production which in turn increases productivity in the agricultural sector. The Aseer region also has part of its borders along the Red Sea coast and this provides further development of tourist and fishing activities. The Aseer Investment Board predicts that tourism in the Aseer region will increase in space from 156.4 kilometers in 2004 to reach 450 kilometers by the year 2030.

venture out of the cities

There are more than 100 heritage sites, mostly in the Eastern premises of Abha followed by Al-Namas, Ahad Rifaida and Khamis Mushayt. Popular sites include:


Shada Palace: One of the most important heritage features

in the town of Abha. Shada Palace was built in 1927 upon the recommendation of His Majesty the late King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud to His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Wahab Abu Milha, the financial director of Abha at that time. The Palace was the pulsating heart of the city of Abha for a period of time and the headquarters of the Prince of the region.

Below: Shada Palace and part of the Municipality building. Above: another heritage site is the Bin Aied Palace.

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Heritage Village of Ibn Hamsan: This is a scenic herit-



age village in the city of Khamis-Mushayt consisting of four floors of stone and a lounge where celebrations and performances such as public concerts are held. In addition there is a museum where one can see ancient holding documents of the Aseer region.


Al-Milha Palace: Al-Milha Palace is located at the edge of

the Sea Square in downtown Abha and is one of the defining structures of the region and is still standing. It was constructed from local material. The wood of the ceiling, doors and windows are from Juniper wood. The place was built by locals who specialized in the particular architectural style unique to Al-Milha Palace. It also differs from the other palaces in the region in that it is free of defensive barricades since it was built in an area of stability.


Castle of Shamasan: This castle is actually three defensive towers and each tower differs from the others in terms of its form and architectural style.


Al-Miftaha Village (King Fahd Cultural Center): this

is an old residential neighborhood consisting of a group of old adjacent buildings which had been abandoned by their owners. The city began encroaching on this village from all sides. For that reason the Principality of the region decided to establish a traditional village with a style mimicking the design of the old village and later renamed from Al-Miftaha Village to the King Fahd Center for Culture and Arts. The Center hosts heritage and modern arts along with photographs and handicrafts.


Village and the Museum of Rigal Alma: This village is

located to the West of Abha and is one of the most famous and distinctive heritage villages in the Arabian Peninsula. There are unique stone buildings which rise up to eight stories high. There is also the famous Alma Palace which dates back to 400 years. The Palace has been maintained and its heritage preserved. It contains more than 2000 pieces of antiques and is organized in 19 different sections. The museum receives more than 50 thousand visitors annually.


The Traditional Library of Rigal Alma: The library was

Al-Miftaha Village (King Fahd Cultural Center)

established in the year 2000 and focuses on manuscripts which document the cultural activities and features towards preserving the cultural heritage of Aseer. The library holds more than 700 documents, manuscript records, old stamps and coins.

This article would not be complete without identifying some of the archeological sites in Aseer that definitely merit a visit:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Jarash: Jarash is an ancient city which dates back to the pre-Islamic era and located 75 kilometers from the city of Abha. Jarash includes remnants of the architectural style left by its inhanbitants, the “Yashcarians,” as represented by the huge stones which were used in construction and inscriptions. Mount Humoma in is the center of Jarah. Stone Inscriptions in Rural Beni Amir: The rural area

of Beni Amir is located in Al-Namas governorate. The area is rich in ancient inscriptions dating back to the pre-Islamic area. The inscriptions are in three styles: the first is carved in Kufic on the surfaces of rocks and consist of mercy calls from the names found in these writings; the second date back to the 2nd Century (Hijra); and the third are drawings which represent military battles, animal hunting and drawings of different animals.

Al-Arous (the Bride) Plateau: The plateau is located in

the Dara village, five kilometers to the East of Abha. At the plateau one can view inscriptions of Thamudian writings and drawings of which the most prominent is a bride on Hawdag (the saddle on a camel). Additionally one will see some forts and mosques which date back to the Ottoman era.

The Valley of Tathleeth: This valley contains archaeologi-

cal sites with numerous rock inscriptions throughout. The Valley of Tathleeth also contains mines which date back to the ancient and new stone ages. It also contains sites of the old civilizations of the southern Arabian Peninsula.

Almakhamsa: This site hosts a wide range of stone tools and ancient buildings which were constructed of biomasses of stone of different sizes and forms which date back to the third millennium BC. The Village Compound of Al-Hayyan: The village compound is located in the Eastern region of Aseer. It is a large stone on which there is a drawing of a military battle. The large stone in turn is surrounded by other stones containing human and animal drawings. Aya’a Valley: This valley is located in Bisha governorate and is rich in archeological sites which are scattered on its sides such as Al-Safat, Al-Dahla, Al-Rakhwa and Al-Mala’a. These villages contain buildings, castles, fortresses, mosques and cemeteries. Two important historical routes also went through Aseer. These include the Ancient Trade Route, which traverses along the Eastern direction of Aseer at Dhahran Aljanoob, and the Road of the Elephant which is mentioned in the Quran as the route taken by Abraham’s elephants. The marks of these elephants are still evident in the region of Dhahran Aljanoob near Sarat Abeeda, on the eastern side.

till next time...

One of the many scenic views of Aseer region.

Don’t miss out on these events: Riyadh:

Alzheimer’s Association Event

(Facebook group: Saudi Alzheimer’s Disease Association) 12, April, 2009 Nayyara Riyadh


Gitex Saudi Arabia 2009

(The International Information Technology Exhibition for KSA) 19, April, 2009 - 23, April, 2009 Riyadh International Exhibition Center Riyadh


Attend Columbia Business School’s management program in Collabortaion with King Khalid Foundation (for nonprofit leaders and teams in the Kingdom) 23, May, 2009 - 27, May, 2009 Riyadh www.kkf.org.sa


Saudi Arabian art at Christie’s Contemporary Art Sale (Ahmed Mater, Abdulnasser Gharem,

Lulwah Al-Homoud, Reem Al-Faisal, Mahdi Al-Jeraibi, Ayman Yossri Daydban) 29, April, 2009 (7:00 pm) Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel Dubai


Art exhibition by Ahmed Mater Al-Ziad Aseeri 15, March, 2009 - 15, April, 2009 Art Space Gallery (DIFC) Dubai

THE CURRENCY OF IDEAS The work of the great creative minds causes us to reflect.The currency of art is the currency of ideas; and it is ideas that hold value. This season at Christie’s we once again present the work of the world’s most highly acclaimed artists, from both past and current times.

left: Reem Al-Faisal (Saudi, b. 1968) From the Series Hajj, Pilgimage to Makkah US$4,000–6,000 right: Mahdi Al-Jeraibi (Saudi, b.1969) Dialectics US$8,000-12,000

28 April 2009 Jewels and Watches:The Dubai Sale DUBAI Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel 29 April 2009 International Modern and Contemporary Art, Featuring Arab, Iranian,Turkish and Western Art DUBAI Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel christies.com Enquiries +44 (0)20 7389 9060 +971 (0)4 425 5647

Catalogues +44 (0)20 7389 2320

healthy mind

quenches the mind

The Seven Colors of the Rainbow...



We've sent our writers on a mission to find the number seven in all the hidden places. They brought us seven books following the seven colors of the rainbow, seven NEW wonders of the world, seven exhilarating websites, and a review about a movie that features the Kaaba which Muslims circumbulate seven times. The result is nothing less than seven times more spectacular articles than even before. To keep your mind on the number seven remember that: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey are: 1-Be proactive 2-Begin with the end 3-Put first things first 4-Think win-win 5-Seek first to understand, then to be understood 6-Synergise and 7-Sharpen the saw

healthy mind

Ancient Wonders No More:

of the world

By Abir Saud

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For centuries, people had shown a strong appreciation to the world’s great architectural monuments. More than 2000 years ago the Seven Wonders of the World — also known as the wonders of the ancient world — had been compiled from the perspective of the ancient Greeks. They believed that seven was a magical number.



The Pyramids of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Maussollos, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria were all located near the Mediterranean Sea. Six of these wonders have been razed and are only known through chronicles and memory, leaving the Great Pyramids of Giza as the only ancient wonder that stands today. In 1999, Bernard Weber, millionaire Swiss filmmaker and explorer and founder of the New 7 Wonders Foundation, came up with the idea of choosing seven new wonders of the world. He believes that the seven ancient wonders of the world were all man-made monuments and were concentrated in the same region around the Mediterranean basin, the thenknown world. “The renowned Ancient Wonders belong to antiquity and, with the exception of the Pyramids, none remains in existence,”said Weber. “There has never been any true public consensus of opinion on the last 2,000 years of human achievement. The beginning of the new millennium is a poignant historical moment for determining the official new seven wonders of the world. “The internet is perhaps the only democratic means of distributing information around the world since it is free to everyone who has access to a computer and telephone network. That is why we are urging the world’s population to participate in this free vote which pays tribute to our collective global cultural heritage.” On July 7, 2007, the list was updated and the seven wonders of the modern world were announced in a huge ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal. They were chosen from 200 nominees of marvelous monuments from all over the world. The idea behind the campaign was to promote the tourism and globalization. According to the organizers at New7wonders, more than 100 million votes were cast over the internet and via instant text. After the worldwide vote, the seven winners are:

the 7 new wonders

"On July 7, 2OO7, the list was updated and the seven wonders of the modern world were announced in a huge ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal. They were chosen from 2OO nominees of marvelous monuments from all over the world.” Abir Saud

Machu Picchu in Peru: Known as the old mountain, Machu Picchi is located halfway up the Andes Plateau, deep in the Amazon jungle and above the Urubamba River. Lost for three centuries and rediscovered in 1911, the city’s architectural style of deep mountains and precipices created a natural defense that was used as a military secret in ancient empires.

Jordan’s Petra: Petra is located on the edge of the Arabian Desert and is most famous for the colored structures carved into the rocks. As an added bit of fun trivia, Petra was once completely lost and later rediscovered by a Swiss traveler in 1812. The Great Wall of China: The largest man-made construction project is about 4,000 miles in length and can be seen from space. From a bird’s eye view, the wall looks like a dragon sleeping on the back of China. Christ the Redeemer’s Statue in Brazil: The 124-foot statue of Jesus, standing on top of Corcovado overlooking the bay of Rio Di Janeiro, symbolizes the warmth of the Brazilian people as they both welcome visitors with open arms. Finally, India’s Taj Mahal: This palace was built in the 17th century as one of the greatest symbols of love (at least, we think so). Muslim emperor Shah Jahan ordered for the Taj Mahal to be built in honor of his beloved wife. Surprisingly, the great Pyramids of Giza didn’t make the new list but was granted an honorary status by organizers of the foundation. The Wonders of the World recognize the beauty of the masterpieces that we as the human race have bestowed upon our planet. The alluring architectural designs reveal such remarkable man-made creations that have captivated the eyes of so many tourists throughout the ages. How about you? Have you seen them all?

"The Wonders of the World recognize the beauty of the masterpieces that we as the human race have bestowed upon our planet. The alluring architectural designs reveal such remarkable man-made creations that have captivated the eyes of so many tourists throughout the ages." Abir Saud


The Roman Colosseum in Italy: Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum has always been an iconic symbol of imperial Rome. Public spectacles and gladiator fights were witnessed in this massive structure that regularly seated 50,000 spectators.

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Chichen Itza in Mexico: Possibly the most memorable and powerful cities of the Mayan civilization, Chichen Itza is also among the most breathtaking. Its brilliant mathematical structures allow the eye to appreciate the scientific accomplishments of the ancient civilization. El Castillo, the most fascinating structure at Chichen Itza, experiences an unusual phenomenon that occurs in the spring and fall of every year: As the sun’s rays descend into the pyramid, they create an image of a snake that undulates down its stairs.

healthy mind Child Safety and Protection: Innocence Lost The third Arab ISPCAN (International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) Regional Conference on Child Protection took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The conference took place at the King Faisal Convention Center in Riyadh’s Intercontinental Hotel.

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Inspired by this event, our correspondent Rania tells us more about the issues of child safety and protection. By Rania Khalilieh



I remember, as a child, I used to play freely in the neighborhood and my parents were fine with it. We used to do so many things from riding bicycles in the streets to exploring for insects and even making up our own picnic, there in the bosom of nature. Children had no fear; they played freely and embraced their childhood. However, nowadays children are deprived of their basic right, which is to play freely. Childhood is being overlapped and playing is no longer intriguing to the wondering curious young souls. So what happened? Maybe people were better, or maybe the environment was safer; thus parenting was not as challenging as the case is these days. Where did all the safe places go? Outdoor playgrounds are infested with many strangers of different backgrounds; the world has become a melting pot where not everybody is known. The idea of a cozy and friendly neighborhood has vanished as a result of globalism. On the other hand, indoor playgrounds are infested with germs, which raises the issue of hygiene in addition to the fact that children need to play in the fresh air. Astonishingly, the idea that the best place is home is not necessarily true. Take for example the case of Polly Klaas, an American girl who was abducted from her own bedroom in 1993 during a slumber party, with two of her friends just watching as she was snatched away by a stranger while her mother was sleeping in the other room. Polly’s body was discovered later; she had been murdered by a man who was living in her neighborhood. The most painful story is the Adam Walsh one which took the media’s attention in 1983. When Adam’s mother accompanied the five-year-old to the mall, she was watching him play in the arcade with other boys, and she looked in the other direction for a couple of minutes only to discover that he was missing and nowhere to be found in the mall. At the end, the body of the child was found murdered by a convicted serial killer, Ottis Toole. As a result of this trauma, the bereaved parents decided to do something to ease their pain and the pain of other parents who suffered the loss of a child. Hence, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act came to exist and it was signed into law by the United States President, George W. Bush on July 2006.

Many people understand child abuse as a physical one, embodied in battering or torturing the children physically. However, child abuse could be manifested in different ways. Deprivation of the basic needs for living a decent life is one type of child abuse. Forced labor, another face for child abuse, is a very common phenomenon in poor countries. International Labor Organization (ILO) has conducted a survey which revealed terrifying statistics. An estimated 300 million children are exploited as child laborers. Around 200 million children are compelled to work in dangerous environments such as mines or factories. There is also the issue of child trafficking. Every year an estimated 1.2 million children are illegally trafficked for the purposes of cheap labor or sex. Nowadays, it is difficult to discuss the issue of child safety without mentioning the dangers of the internet. The whole world is open in front of the child in his own room through the Internet. Experts believe that today, the Internet is the major contributor in endangering the safety of children all over the world; a matter to be taken seriously by parents, guardians and educators. “The World is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Albert Einstein.

It is extremely difficult to remain a silent witness when facing issues such as ill-treatment, exploitation and brutality against children. Awareness should be raised in poor and uneducated regions concerning the safety and protection of children all over the world. People have to understand that whatever we plant in the future generation, we will eventually harvest. A vivid example of this is a survey that was carried by the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services which revealed that 74% of children who grow up in violent homes have a higher likelihood of committing criminal assaults. Another interesting fact manifested itself in the reports of UNICEF for the year 2007 which indicated that around 2 million children have died as a direct result of war and armed conflict over the last decade. Moreover, at least 6 million children are suffering from serious injuries or are permanently disabled. Consequently, many countries are taking serious measures to overcome this plague. One can consider Jordan River Foundation, chaired by Queen Rania, which has had considerable pioneering efforts in the field of child safety. In February 2004, Jordan hosted the Arab Regional Conference of International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). Another active country is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which has also participated noticeably in this domain. The Kingdom recently welcomed the 3rd Arab-ISPCAN Regional Conference on Child Protection: Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect in the Arab Countries. The conference was held under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and was organized by the National Family Safety Program (NFSP) in collaboration with ISPCAN and the National Guard Health Affairs. The conference involved more than 60 local, regional and international distinguished speakers. The topics included the causes of child abuse and neglect, responses, interventions and rehabilitation services. In addition, the conference discussed the prevention strategies and current data collection systems and the organization’s role in preventing child abuse and neglect.

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Parents warn their children about strangers because we believe by instinct that evil deeds come from strangers. I remember telling my kids not to talk to strangers and refuse to accompany them anywhere if they ask them to do, not to give information about themselves and a long endless list of DONTS. But we never tend to warn our children about relatives or close people to them, although many cases of child abuse fall under domestic violence which is inflicted by people whom the child trusts or holds dearly, such as the parents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, and others.


This legislation organizes sex offenders into three tiers and mandates that first tiers offenders (the most serious) update their whereabouts every three months. Second tier offenders should do that every six months and the third tier offenders every year. Failure to register and update information is considered a felony. This legislation creates sort of a registry for posting the offender’s data on the Internet such as the offender’s name, address, date of birth, photo and place of employment. All this information is vital to keep track of these offenders who might be again on the go.

“The World is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing.” - Albert Einstein

healthy mind Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain: book reviews

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Contrary to what you might expect, these recommended books have nothing to do with Richard of York (If they do, then it’s entirely coincidental. We swear!) The title is a mnemonic device to help you remember the arrangement of the colors of the rainbow. Just take the first letter of each word, and you’ll end up with: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. We thought we’d judge a book by its cover for a change. Sure, we picked these books according to how popular or good they are, but most importantly, we picked them according to their colors. Sometimes what you see is what you get! By Nora Alfaiz



The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth

Aranzi Aronzo Cute Dolls

With the stick-thin craze, people have been steering away from food and trying to have as little to do with it as possible. Being essential to our survival, however, it shouldn’t be looked at pessimistically as a half-empty glass. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth is a book that dots your i’s and crosses your t’s for you, and it does so by dividing its chapters into food groups. Each category informs you of its healthiest foods, its nutrients, if it’s been known to fight off any diseases, along with scientific knowledge to back everything up. It is entertaining to read all the surprising facts packed in this book; who would’ve guessed that cashews were of the poison ivy family? Highly organized, simplified, and with provided personal choices of top picks within each chapter, one can’t help but feel encouraged to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Are you a craft-maniac? Even if you’re rushing to the nearest dictionary to look up the word “craft” there’s still hope for you. If you’re unfamiliar with Aranzi Aronzo’s books, then this would be the best book to get hooked on. With easy to follow DIY instructions, you could easily make dolls of any of the Aranzi friends. We’re not kidding! The book is fully illustrated, so if you’re feeling too lazy to read the instructions you could understand from the pictures. However, it is recommended you read the instructions so you wouldn’t miss out on any of the characters’ cute commentary, like “Make us cute or we’ll be angry!” Whether you’re an adult or child you’ll still enjoy everything this book contains. This book would be a great gift and if your recepients aren’t much on reading you could always make them your pick of Aronzo dolls.

by Jonny Bowden

by Aranzi Aronzo

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Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl


by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons The story is set in an alternate reality on the verge of a nuclear war, where superheroes are unpopular and had been forced to retire. These ex-superheroes, known as the Watchmen, are getting discredited and killed off one by one. “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (Who watches the Watchmen?)” Apparently there’s no one to save them, so these heroes try to uncover their friends’ murderer and the reason behind it, and as things proceed you’ll learn about their previous lives and who they’ve become. A twelve-issue comic with a ninepanel grid format, Watchmen is everything but a typical superhero comic. It’s a winner of the Hugo Award and is one of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Novels. The movie is already out, so you’d better prepare yourself by reading the graphic novel. We always enjoy comparing movies to their novels when discussing such stories with our friends!

I guess you think you know this story. You don’t. The real one’s much more gory. The phony one, the one you know, Was cooked up years and years ago, And made to sound all soft and sappy Just to keep the children happy. And that’s how Dahl provides us with his twisted version of the most famous children stories: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and The Three Little Pigs. Each poem is several pages long and is illustrated by Quentin Blake, who is Dahl’s regular collaborator and whose paintings we have come to associate with Dahl’s famous stories. The poems are enjoyable to all who are familiar with the mentioned fairy tales. However, you’ll have to determine if the book is too “revolting” for your taste – or your child’s!



healthy mind

On Feathered Wings: Birds in Flight

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by Richard Ettlinger

How often have you seen pictures of birds soaring in the sky? Such photographs aren’t as common as you’d initially think and you wouldn’t find them lying just about anywhere. Seven photographers joined in the making of this book, and all the pictures are printed in high quality paper that’ll make it seem as if you’re gazing at the flying birds out of a window. The book is divided into four sections, according to bird types. When you take a look at the pictures, you’d find that each caption includes information regarding scientific and common names of the birds, habitat and range of species, where the picture was taken, and a short paragraph about the bird or its behavior in the photo. Leave this book lying innocently on a coffee table and you’ll be sure to entertain a few guests who might be bird lovers or appreciators of good photographs.



The White Tiger Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier

If you’ve been feeling unmotivated when it comes to working out, this might be your muse. Nothing could be better than actually seeing which muscles you’re strengthening by doing a specific workout. Strength Training Anatomy gives you that insight by providing you with over four hundred muscle illustrations of the exercises it provides. One hundred and forty-four pages are dedicated to strenghtening the following muscles: arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, buttocks, and abdomen. Each muscle group contains various general and particular muscle-illustrated exercises. Not only that, but the book also elaborates on common injuries one could get from these exercises and provides you with ways to help you exercise without getting these mentioned injuries. Hopefully, the book will motivate you more than a lazy afternoon!

by Aravind Adiga The murderer Balram Halwai writes a series of letters to the Premier of China, which is his way of attempting to show the leader the real India that he’s about to visit. To do so, Balram expoilts his environment, starting with his childhood in rural India and ending with his adulthood in Delhi. Social inequity also plays a big part of the story as he moves from a place dominated by four corrupted landlords to where he becomes a driver of a rich man. It is stated from the beginning of the novel that he murdered his employer, so it comes to no surprise that we learn about the circumstances that lead to turning him to a killer and, eventually, a successful entreprenuer. All in all, every character but Balram are uninterestingly flat and his offensive comments about religions and their believers might be hard to ignore. If none of the former bothers you, then you might want to give this Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2008 winner a try.

Dubai International Poetry Festival: poetry review By Hala Maziad Al-Tuwaijri

Moreover, the festival satisfied the different literary tastes of people; the selection of poets intended to gather poets from different schools of poetry. In fact, it was interesting to see a hybrid of poets—whether the term is taken to include poets from different nationalities, or different ideologies, or different schools of poetry—seated side by side, enjoying each other’s poetry and enriching the audience with an exotic mixture of their experiences. In the case of Arabic poetry, for instance, there were poets from the Traditional Arabic School, the Modern Free Poetry School, and the Nabati School (colloquial poetry of the Bedwins). Such a difference enabled poets and people to understand and appreciate different poetic genres from a variety of backgrounds. It familiarized poets from different parts of the Arabic region with the different branches of Arabic culture, language, and music. The festival, then, has certainly narrowed the gap between all kinds of genres, genders, languages, cultures and religions of the world. The event also included critical discussion of issues in poetry and literary theory, and some were dedicated to the celebration of famous poets, like Mahmoud Darwish, Omar AlKhayyam, or other influential figures in the world of poetry. Apart from that, the public felt the aura of culture and poetry even in the shopping malls, where they witnessed mini-


performances of Arabic poetry heritage. In fact, in those ten days of the Poetry International Festival, culture was pulsing in Dubai, and the sense and beauty of poetry reached people of every taste, from every background, at different places in the city. Finally, on its last day, the governor of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced the launch of two initiatives—‘Dubai Poetry Prize,’ and ‘The Global Association of Poets’—which were designated to strengthen the relationship between poets all around the world. The closing ceremony, indeed, was the crème de la crème of the festival; the Nigerian Poet Laureate Wole Soyinka addressed the Arab public for the first time in history, acknowledging their appreciation for poetry and poets. Yet, Soyinka noted his astonishment at the small number of female participants in the festival and expressed his hopes that more attention would be granted female poets the next time he joined the festival. Towards the end of his speech, he promised that he would endorse Dubai’s stature as a cultural and poetic icon to his fellow people in Nigeria. After such an event, Dubai has not only asserted its appreciation of culture and the arts, but has opened a huge gate through which worldwide nations have to pass to expand, assert or even represent their distinct cultures.


The state arranged an International Poetry Festival that was the first in a sequel of five, and the purpose was to host 1000 poets over the course of five years under the slogan “A Thousand Poets, One Language.” As the word “international” indicates, poets came from all over the world to recite their poems in their native languages, and the recitation was accompanied by live playing of different instruments from different musical heritages. The sight of a stage with poets from all over the world was the new mark Dubai was making on the face of the earth. Speaking from the position of the audience, it was a great opportunity to listen to the music of different languages, and respond intuitively to the feelings and rhythms of the various languages. Of course, the festival was designed to accommodate the needs of people from different parts of the world through the use of translated scripts on the screens, or headphones with multiple channels of different languages. Yet, it was the spirit of poetry that overwhelmed the entire city, translated or not.

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On a global level, the state of Dubai is known to be a record breaker: the tallest tower in the world, the fastest train, the highest number of internet users and so on. Amid this fast growing economy and speedy rise of skyscrapers and towers, the most common impression about Dubai is that it is an impressive urban sight without much of a culture. Many people claim, and I was one of them, that upon visiting Dubai, one hardly meets the native citizens or becomes familiar with the culture and tradition of the Emirates. Well, this spring I witnessed an event that has instigated a paradigm shift in my perspective of the state of Dubai and its culture.

healthy mind "Aaah, not again! They forgot to include my order of Chili Cheese Fries. If only there was an easier way to order": here are our seven website reviews, click away... 6alabat

Busy line… They’re not picking up! 20 minutes later, they pick up but now they don’t understand where your house is. Ever have the urge to just slam the phone and eat that last piece of cheese molding in your fridge? Sadly, we know the feeling all too well.

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6alabat.com.sa is a new web-based delivery service provider in Saudi Arabia (and soon in all Gulf countries). With a click of a button, you will be able to order your favorite meal without dealing with any phone business. Need help? No worries, there’s a live chat service on the website.



Cafe Blanc, HotDog Express, and Zaatar w Zeit are some of the places you can order from. You should keep in mind that each restaurant has a different minimum charge and the availability for delivery depends on where your home is located. One click and you are ready to go. www.6alabat.com.sa

Riyadh City Guide Moving to a new city is always a tough adjustment especially if you know nothing about where you are ending up. Riyadhcitiguide, provides a wealth of information for anyone traveling or living in Saudi Arabia’s capital. Created a few months ago by Nosaibah Alrajhi, a bright young Saudi female, the guide aims to provide its readers with information, resources, guides, tips to ease the transition for newcomers and most importantly help in understanding Saudi Arabia, its people, culture and lifestyle.

Keep Me Out! Facebook keeping you busy? Oh, yeah, I forgot. It is the “news” you’re checking every 5 seconds. Fret not, the brain power behind keepmeout.com have the answer to sort out your addictions for free. The dashing (geeky) duo Seyed Mohammadali Eslami and Khodor Fawaz were out on a serious two-week quest (told you they were geeky) to bring an end to all those website visits that keep you away from work and human interactions as those with family and friends (remember them?). And no, virtual-poking does not count as interaction. The way it works is pretty simple. Keepmeout.com creates an alias URL which will be used instead of the original URL of the website you frequently use. Each time the user navigates to the alias’ URL, the website looks at the identification number to figure out when it was last accessed. If the time since the last access is less than the alias’ settings, it prints a warning. If it isn’t, it redirects the user to the target URL. Keepmeout.com was launched on the 3rd of February, 2009 and has been gaining popularity ever since. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, so go on and click on the website you won’t be sorry. www.keepmeout.com

Welcome Home! http://riyadhciti.wordpress.com/

Recycle a Gift

Origami Club Had the sneaky notion that making fancy shapes from paper make you sophisticated? Wanted to go beyond the instructions of paper airplane making?

Gifts are joyous things. They make us sigh and become all warm and fuzzy, but every now and then we receive gifts that, well, we basically don’t care for or need. As the saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Want to cash in those unwanted gifts?

If you’ve got time and some showing off to do, follow these easy instructions on the origami-club website to create bunnies, picture frame, slippers and furniture. The site even gives figures that can be made from newspaper.

Recycleagift.com is simple and so easy. You just register the details of the product, decide on the price, pop it in the post and receive the cash. LOVE it.

Don’t know what to pick? The designs are ranked by difficulty, and include a diagram and an animated how-to that anyone can easily follow.



Save the WORDS Every year, hundreds of words are dropped from the dictionary to make room for newer and more noscible words. Words are endangered and some are going into extinction. Cormac McKeown, senior editor for Collins’s English dictionaries, said that he wanted to squeeze in as many words as possible but the influx of 2,000 new words every year meant there was not enough space. “We’ve been fiddling around with the typeface to try to get more in, but it is at saturation point. There is a trade-off between getting them in and legibility.” But no fear, some words are able to make a come back; Wheat grass is one of those words which returned after healthy eating became more and more popular. Lexicographers spend countless hours recording word usage by scanning publications and other means of communications; the more the word is used the more likely it will have its place in the dictionary. Show us your aeipathy towards the underdog which, without your help, will no doubt go into apathropinization. Adopt a word today and promise to use it on a hemerine basis in meetings, letters, games, graffiti, sign boards, sky writing, sms, email and wherever else you can think of. Move away from your pigritude and save a word today. Hopefully we saved five words just with this article! www.savethewords.org

Charity Water 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. That is a shocking and sad reality. Charity Water is a non-profit organization that aims to bring safe clean drinking water to people in developing nations. In 2001, founder of Charity Water, Scott Harrison, celebrated his 31st birthday by raising $ 15,000 to build six wells in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda, serving a population of more than 30,000 people. This year, the goal is to raise 1.5 million dollars to give more than 150,000 people in 333 villages in Ethiopia clean, safe water. If you’re a September baby, create a personal birthday page and ask your friends and family to donate your age in Dollars, Euros or Pounds. This year, your presents will come together to give clean water to a whole village. If you weren’t born in September, then why don’t you just log on and donate or create a new birthday in September ;) Join the cause, spread the word, raise awareness and help bring safe drinking water to thousands of people. 100% of all donations go directly to building wells. www.charitywater.org

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Poster of the movie: Journey to Mecca Š

Journey to Mecca: movie review

The year 1325, a two year journey, a 21 year old man, the road from Tangier to Mecca… Journey to Mecca.

The movie premiered on January 7, 2009, at an extraordinary, temporary outdoor IMAX theater, built just for the occasion, in Abu Dhabi. More than 8,000 people attended the movie over the course of three days, on the grounds of the Emirates Palace Hotel. Narrated by Oscar award-winning British actor Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Schindler’s List), “Journey to Mecca” stars Chems Eddine Zinoun (The Objective) as Ibn Battuta and Hassam Ghancy (Traitor, Rendition) as the Highwayman. This production is the only IMAX team ever granted permission to fly over and film aerials of Mecca and also given unprecedented ground access into the holy area of the Grand Mosque - the most sacred site in the Islamic world. More so, the film was directed by Bruce Neibaur (IMAX hits Mysteries of Egypt, Lewis & Clark) and produced by Dominic CunninghamReid and Taran Davies of Cosmic Picture and IMAX veteran Jonathan Barker of SK Films. The executive producer was Oscar award-winning Jake Eberts (Chariots of Fire, Driving Miss Daisy, and Dances with Wolves). Eberts, who is also chairman of National Geographic Feature Films, added: “‘Journey to Mecca’ is truly a huge cinematic achievement, not just in the careful planning and production behind it but also in its portrayal of one of the most significant acts of religious devotion in the world. IMAX is the only film format that could possibly capture the loneliness, the spectacle, and ultimately the grandeur of Ibn Battuta’s journey. This is a story that the whole world, regardless of religion, needs to witness.” www.journeytomeccagiantscreen.com


The movie, Journey to Mecca, is a mere 40 minutes but manages to follow Ibn Battuta on his journey to Mecca while presenting an unforgettable picture of the 14th century Islamic civilization. The main character is presented with several obstacles along the road from North Africa to Mecca, attacked by bandits, and rescued by Bedouins before finally joining the infamous Damascus Caravan that constituted of thousands of pilgrims. The ending seamlessly integrates the arrival of Ibn Battuta to Mecca with footage of the Hajj 700 years later with more than three million pilgrims.

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Ibn Battuta, and no we don’t mean the mall in Dubai, was a legendary scholar, traveler, and explorer; spending more than 30 years to travel more than 117,000 kilometers and visit more than 40 countries, including five trips to Mecca. Ibn Battuta traveled 3 times farther than Marco Polo! His legacy is one of the greatest travel journals ever recorded. His goal was to “see with his eyes what he has seen with his dreams.”


"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child...there are seven million." Traveling often makes one feel like a child again. So many things to do, and you want to do them all. In our travel section, we travel to three different cities guided by artistic creativity and innovation. Enjoy our guided tours. Masdar City. Foster and Partners Š

Beirut with Sally K

Walking around Beirut’s hippest areas, you will start noticing a striking resemblance between them; a common denominator in the shape of canvases scattered all over town. Stand before one of the canvases and I guarantee that you will be mesmerized and intrigued.

We meet up in her cozy work studio on Zalka highway in Beirut. The walls hold up her large colorful canvases, while all other canvases are lined up in a separate room, and in her office lies Sally’s folder of magazine cutouts that bring her inspiration of poses and expressions to life. Sally is quick to point out that, “It’s not about what they look like, it’s about the statement they make with their facial expressions and body language. It’s how they feel, and more importantly, how they make you feel.” She also points out that it’s important to have an inspiration whenever you first start any work of art. Your paintings are all over town. How did this all start? How did all these places end up displaying or buying your artwork? When I graduated from the Lebanese American University with a BA in Fine Arts, I researched places where they would exhibit an artist’s work for free for a month. Lina’s Café, Tribecca, and The Old Zinc were a few of these places. I realized that a lot of people don’t go to art galleries and I figured this was a good way to bring the art to the people. I researched all the hip places in the Jemayzeh area since that is where most of the younger generation go out, and spoke to the places where I felt held a certain look which matched my painting style. Right now you can see my work in Cloud 9 and Gauche Caviar in Jemayzeh. Are the women in your paintings Arab or Arab-inspired?

Sally Khoury ©

When I started painting, I was immediately drawn to women. For some reason, throughout my almost six years painting, nothing has intrigued me this much. The women I take inspiration from are mainly Arab. I would hate to think that


Once you meet Sally, you’ll wonder why you have always imagined artists as tortured souls in black berets holding a smoldering cigarette. Sally is a soft-spoken 27 year old Lebanese artist. She was brought up in Saudi Arabia and later continued her education in the Lebanese American University in Beirut where she discovered she was not meant to study Business but rather graphic design and later art. Graduated in 2005, Sally has been painting ever since. She is constantly finding new ways of expressing characteristics of women using different colors, textures and styles.

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Adorned obsessively on the canvases are women painted with vibrant layers of acrylic colors. The woman behind these women is artist Sally Khoury.


the women from this region are only portrayed as docile, traditional, subservient or oppressed. Women here are very strong, self-assured, exuberant and sensual. We heard that you made a painting for famed Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki. Is that true? It is true. Someone came to me wanting to buy Nadine a wedding gift, and we custom-made a painting of her. Unfortunately she still hasn’t received it! It was supposed to be a surprise. Are you thinking of expanding the subject matter of your paintings anytime soon? I’d actually like to go more into abstract work and explore that for a change. But, I think I’ll always stick to my women.

Where would you love to exhibit your work? I loved the idea of Jeff Koons’s exhibition in Versailles. Would you go for a place which would be a complete contrast with your work? I would love to exhibit my work in a large space, any large space alongside music, lights and a comfortable setting. I would definitely go for a place which would be a complete contrast to my work. I think it gives it a twist and pushes your idea even further. The Versailles or a beat-down building with unpainted cement walls; they are both places I would definitely work with. If you could give your input on any project, what would it be? If I could give my input on any project, I’d probably lean towards fashion; clothes and bags. I would love to do a bag collection and I’ve already actually started contemplating the process. There are so many different projects I’d love to get involved with! Where can we see your work next and where can people buy a Sally K from? People can always see my work at my workshop on the Zalka highway in Lebanon. I will be creating a new collection soon but I haven’t decided yet where I’d like to exhibit it. Also, people who are interested in the artwork can check out my website and contact me for purchasing. They also have the option of having a painting custom-made whether they’d like to paint themselves or their loved one as a gift. You can trace your way through Saifi, Jemayzeh, and other places in Beirut with the Sally K paintings you see from boutiques to restaurants. Sally Khoury ©



I don’t know. I would rather get feedback from a curator, although I would love to learn from Gustav Klimt, Jackson Pollock, Jennifer Scott McLaughlin, and a lot more! I have been influenced by them a lot in my art and it would be great to work alongside them one day — at least the ones still alive!

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If you could have any artist (dead or alive) give you feedback on your work, who would that artist be?


Foster and Partners Š

The City of Zeros: Masdar City By Ahmad Dialdin

Hi, and welcome to this virtual tour of Masdar City, an initiative established by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, driven by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, and planned by Foster + Partners. Walk with me a while and let me introduce you to the city of zeros. Due to be constructed over the next ten years, Masdar City will be home to 50,000 people, 1,500 businesses, all within the confines of this six square-kilometer walled city.

With special stations throughout the city such as the one we’re standing at now, people will be able to call upon the services of a fully electric and fully automated taxi system. You simply hop in, tell the pod where you want to go using its computerized screen (yes, there is no driver), and the vehicle will traverse a maze of roads to your destination. Let’s talk energy and utilities. Focused on renewable resources, Masdar will tap into every renewable source of energy around it. As we travel to one corner of the city, you can witness the largest grid-connected solar plant in the Middle East. Solar panels and collectors will be placed on rooftops throughout the city, wind farms will be established on the outskirts, even the earth itself will provide geothermal power, and finally there are plans to build one of the largest hydrogen plants in the world. On the flip-side of energy coming in is waste coming out, and with 50,000 people in the city, there’s bounds to be quite a bit of waste. This brings us to another of our zero goals: zero waste. The key to achieving that is composting and recycling materials. Nutrients can be recovered from much of the waste and be used to create soil, for example, and be used for landscaping. Some sewer sludge can go towards a waste-topower scheme that will be put into place. Otherwise, it’s all about recycling. Even the construction of the city is utilizing recycling as recyclable plastic will be used for site fencing that can be reused, resold, or recycled.


That is our first zero: zero cars. One of Masdar City’s principles is maintaining a zero-carbon ecology, and that means no cars. Visitors will utilize electric railways for commuting to and from the airport, Abu Dhabi city, and car parks located on the outskirts of the city. Masdar is built around the needs of pedestrians. You may have noticed that the streets feel much narrower than usual. The compact pathways and shaded walks reduce the need for air conditioning, encourage walking and cycling, and are complemented by a revolutionary personal rapid transit system known as podcars.

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As we walk, take a second to listen. Do you hear that? No engines humming or roaring past, not even a far-off drone of cars driving down an unseen highway in the distance.

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Foster and Partners Š

Foster and Partners Š

Speaking of recycling, although a solar-powered desalination facility will provide water, four fifths of the water actually used in the city will be recycled to maintain the focus on renewable resources. All right, enough of what goes in to run the city. There are exciting opportunities for what will come out of the city as well. As we near the center of this green oasis, we come across our centerpiece: the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. Developed with help from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this endeavor will establish a homegrown academic and scientific research institute aimed at renewable, sustainable forms of energy with the simple yet inspiring vision of making a meaningful contribution towards sustainable human development. Several Master of Science programs will be offered, including IT, water and environmental studies, engineering systems and management, materials science, and mechanical engineering. Rather than the brain of the city, consider the institute its heart, and research will be its lifeblood. Naturally, the campus will use the latest innovations in energy efficiency, sustainable practices, resource recycling, biodiversity, and green buildings. In the spirit of business, Masdar City offers not one, not two, but three zeros that will vitalize commerce and businesses. As a free zone clean-tech cluster, the city promotes zero taxes, zero import tariffs, zero restrictions on capital movement and among the strongest intellectual property protection in the region. General Electric has recently signed on to be one of the first tenants in the city, and the Swiss Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Swiss businesses have started up a “Swiss Village” project that will take up an area of the city to host a variety of Swiss-owned companies. As we reach the end of our tour, I would like to thank you all for joining us. Before you leave, a little bit of trivia for those of you that don’t speak Arabic. Masdar is the Arabic word for source, and that’s really what it all comes down to: a city that aims to become the source of energy, knowledge and innovation for the Middle East and the world. As the Chairman of the Masdar Initiative, Ahmed A. Al Sayegh, put it: “A new era is upon us, challenging us to venture beyond the achievements of the past and meet the needs of the future.” Welcome to the new era. Welcome to Masdar City.

Foster and Partners ©

New York with Kinan Azmeh By Sara Bouzo

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Kinan Azmeh, the internationally acclaimed Syrian composer and Clarinetist, who lives in New York, shares with Oasis Magazine a glimpse of his ‘Sounds of Music’. We discover that not only are his performances guaranteed to leave you spellbound but there’s more behind this charismatic performer’s music than what the ears grasp.



In 1982, the Arab conservatory of music in Damascus welcomed six year old Kinan Azmeh into its music teaching, from then on Azmeh went on to study at Damascus’s high institute of music perusing his BS at the faculty of electrical engineering at the University of Damascus. Moving to New York, he completed a Masters degree and graduate diploma at the Juilliard School, studying with none other than world famous clarinetist Charles Neidich, and is currently completing a doctoral music degree at the Graduate Centre, the City University of New York studying also with Charles Neidich. If you ever see him playing live, you will notice that there is an ease of manoeuvring between the different genres from classical, jazz, electronica and Arabic music. This ease is rooted deep in Azmeh’s deep understanding of his culture and root coupled with his solid classical training from the Juilliard School and gives his compositions and live performances a unique quality. Arabic Jazz I asked Kinan about the genre of his music, the evolutionary Arabic Jazz, whether such a mix between Arabic and Western music has occurred much in musical history, the two styles being merged or given popular attention before. He explained that he really didn’t think of music as being confined by geography. “Music is universal and belongs to the world,” he said. Arabic Jazz is perhaps just a label for that bridge where dialogue is incited, transcending any such confining labels. Azmeh sees his music and performances as a rich mix of cultural interactions and individual or collective dialogues that come into play during a particular performance Kinan grew up being classically trained on the clarinet yet his music is a reflection of the “wide palette of colours” that he’d been and is being exposed to. His ability to seamlessly harmonize different styles or rather different dialogues makes his compositions quite enchanting, unique and simply put rare. “His electrifying appearance at Musicians For Harmony’s 9/11/08 Concert For Peace was “the highlight of the evening,” and described him as a “virtuoso.” Commenting on one of Azmeh’s original compositions, journalist Vivien Schweitzer characterized it as follows: “a resigned clarinet melody tentatively rises above an anxious orchestral tapestry before breaking out into a victorious rhapsody.” The New York Times Kinan Azmeh ©


Kinan Azmeh Š

Performances As a performer, Azmeh has appeared as a soloist and composer worldwide, including the Opera Bastille in Paris, Tschikovsky grand hall in Moscow, Carnegie and Alice Tully halls in New York, Royal Albert hall in London, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Berlin Philharmonie Hall, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Damascus Opera house for its opening concert. He has played under reputed conductors such as Solhi alWadi, Roger Norrington and Daniel Barenboim, and shared the stage with artists such as Mari Kimura, Marcel Khalife, Elliott Sharp, Katia Tchemberdji, Kani Karaca and Kevork Mourad. His compositions include several works for live visual

arts, solo, orchestra, chamber music and electronics and his recordings include two albums with his ensemble, “Hewar”, and several sound tracks for film and dance. Finally, Azmeh is the artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Music Ensemble. It would take more than this article to delve into the details of his impressive resume, but just to give you a taste of his original works, Azmeh worked with the Syrian-Armenian painter, Kevork Mourad, to revive the ancient Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh in a marvellous melding of painting and music. The experimental performance allowed for a transformation of the epic into a relevant, multimedia event, featuring Azmeh’s spontaneous and improvised clarinet solos, played over a computer-assisted ensemble orchestra, and visualized by Mourad’s equally impromptu illustrations.

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As one reviewer of the performance put it; “The audience held its breath as the characters in the painting danced, violently battled, and then made peace and walked away hand-inhand, while coordinating carefully with Azmeh’s music.”



Music as a profession Kinan’s international success as a musician is of no doubt rewarding but was the choice of Music as a profession an arduous one - given his Syrian descent and music perhaps still seen as an unorthodox profession in some regions of the Arab world. Kinan’s reaction to my inquisition is a delightful story of his grandmother; over the years she had sent him greeting cards entitled “to my grandson, the engineer and musician” this however he tells me has recently been reversed and “I am now her grandson the musician and then the engineer”. More and more and with the increased dialogues and cultural interaction are such unorthodox professions being accepted and pursued, thereby filling a gap which had been kept void for as long. In essence, Kinan’s naturally formed self labeled musical band Hewar (Arabic for dialogue) fosters his mission of stimulating dialogue and transcending the barriers of cultural disparities and misconceptions. “Rather than focusing on the 10,000 things that hold us apart, we could simply embrace things that we share and connect through this common ground” as Azmeh simply puts it. Watch out Upcoming projects include: a new feature movie, a CD duo with Sri Lankan-born Canadian pianist Dinuk Wijeratne, the Hewar Japan CD, as well as a tour in Iran and Turkey later this year. New York To experience Kinan’s New York, listen to beautifully-composed music at places like Carnegie Hall. Then, enjoy your time at one of his favourite restaurants in New York’s Harlem. It’s a mexiacn restaurant where none of the waiters speak English.

Kinan Azmeh ©


Your Biggest Fans: products we love

As the days go by, we see an emergence of a fantastic group of talented Arab designers who not only easily compete with their western counterparts but produce products that are

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more and more entrenched in their identity, ultimately linking east and west through design.




The Designers

This larger than life fan is just beautiful to watch, inspired by 50’s futuristic thought and of course mother nature, the creators wanted to leave a lasting message through their product.

The Product

The on/off button is in fact a leather strap that you have to pull. The force used to bring it to life is a gentle reminder to

all of us that change especially towards something big (think global warming) takes a lot of effort. Much like this fan whose head drops down when it’s off; our earth is in a sad state and we as a collective body need to pull the “strap” to bring it back to its happy mode. We humbly present to you, Addi’s Our Biggest Fan. www.addi.se

“Kalimah’s clients like fashion without ever being caught in its dictature... they are switchers, well known for their eclectic tastes, their independence and their non conformism. They always go further, have the spirit of initiative, and that of individual dynamism.” Kalimah

Kalimah T-shirts The Product

There are the stuffed camels, the coffee, and of course the delicious dates that remind of us of Saudi Arabia and make for traditional gifts for our international friends. But, sometimes it just gets too predicatble and you want something fresh that represents today’s Saudi.

The Designers

Kalimah t-shirts, created by a group of talented young Saudis, are aimed to create a global impact by representing what Saudi culture is all about. The beautiful calligraphy, mixed with shimagh designs and traditional Saudi items are fresh, funky, and unmistakably Saudi. They’re youthful and cultural, the perfect blend we were looking for. www.kalimahbrand.com

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Poupée Couture

“And somehow the image of the eastern woman has become one of a rosy-cheeked, plump-lipped, almond-eyed, symmetrically cheek-boned, perfectly manicured, impeccably dolled-up, well… porcelain doll. A doll who is so beautiful yet often hides so much of the real her underneath. The real her, only revealed in tiny rays of color, in perfectly lined, adjacent, portions, segments, musing, hints of what could be underneath”

The Designer

Fashion is a bodily package, and the body in turn is the package of what’s inside, our thoughts, beliefs, and our true identity. The essence of the matter remains that the closer fashion and culture are, the more insightful the design. The Arab world has such a rich history, be it language, traditions, or art. Incorporating these elements in design is a means of celebrating them. It also gives us a fantastic opportunity to share our culture with the Western world. Armed with incredible experience, art director at Leo Burnett and creative manager at MTV Roula Ghalayini embarked on the mission to create her own brand; a brand whose theme and inspiration revolve around Arab women.

The product

In 2007, Poupée Couture was born. Describing her designs as modern Orientalism, Roula is fascinated and inspired by the matured role of Arab women today, as they symbolize the epitome of femininity, poise and elegance. Being an Arab woman living in an Arab society is nothing short

of an art form. Her designs in turn are inspired by this, and materialized into bags that have strong geometric forms on the outside but then on a closer look emit rays of brilliant colour from underneath. Colour always shines through, either by a material layering, perforated Arabesque metal, or in the form of frills peeking out from the bag’s interior the way in which the woman’s true colour radiates through changes with each and every model. And this has come to be the Poupée Couture trademark. The devil is in the details, or so the saying goes; Poupée bags are intricately designed, each handmade and created in a limited number to ensure exclusivity. Such details include ones seen in the “2 way tote” which functions as a casual day bag but, with one quick fold, it instantaneously turns into an elegant clutch suitable for the fanciest of outings. “One of the greatest things about Middle Eastern women is their joie de vivre and their eternal young spirit, inside and out. And so Poupée Couture is an ode to this, in its every shape and form.” - Roula www.poupeecouture.com

Narghile The Designer

Invented over 500 years ago, the narghile, also known as the chica, hooka or simply the arghile has been a favorite relaxing pastime amongst many Middle Easterners for centuries. Airdiem, the company created by Eric and Emmanuelle Gormand, was created with a centerpiece in mind, the Narghile. The couple collaborated with talented designers creating a narghile suitable for the 21st century. The creators stated that their narghile is “an object of illustrious style and functional excellence.” For one of their designs (left), Airdiem collaborated with award-winning Arab designer Nedda El-Asmar. Her sleek narghile design comes in 18 carat gold or silver.

The product

You’ll never want to part without your funky narghile. Thankfully each one comes with its own carrying case. www.airdiem.com


“To make the tradition alive, we have to go further. We decided to make the narghile easier to use as well as to develop new social behaviors.” - Tribu Design

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The designs go from simplistic, elegant to a touch of quirkiness- suiting every taste in mind.

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Rahala Board game The Designer

The game is designed by graphic designer Tarek Atrissi with entrepreneur Reem Askalan’s vision in mind. Reem combines her Middle Eastern background with her masters in Near Eastern studies (with a focus on art, architecture, and cities of the Middle East), to produce a one of a kind board game. Yes, a board game.

The Product

Move over Trivia Pursuit, Explorers: A game of travel through Arab civilizations, also known as Rahala, was created with the intent to expand the general knowledge of history taught in the educational systems. The game pinpoints the complexity and multiplicity of the different civilizations that crossed the Middle East and how their legacies continue to be an integral part of our culture and collective identity as people of the Middle East. The board game covers 4,000 years of Middle Eastern History divided into six eras.

The aim of the game is for the player to ‘travel’ between the eras via labyrinth paths while answering questions to gain ‘points of knowledge’. However, unlike most games, the winner is not the one who finishes the fastest but the one who collects the most points of knowledge. In other words, luck of the dice might help you in moving forward faster than everybody, but luck alone is not enough to make you a winner. For the competitive at heart, this game is highly addictive! You will soon delve into questions revolving around science, literature, poetry, art, architecture, philosophy, methodologies, politics, religion, wars, and even “open” questions that have no right answer, just the pressure to debate and convince your teammates that you know what you’re talking about. Your parents will soon find it hard to resist not challenging you to a game or two or three. Read the next page to get a glimpse of each era included in Rahala (written by Reem Askalan). www.rahala.net

Ancient Civilizations (20th Century B.C.- 4th Century B.C.): The era starts with the spread of writing until the death of Alexander. This timeframe includes each of the Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Jews, Phoenician, Zoroastrianism and Canaanite civilizations. The mustard yellow color was chosen to reflect the theme of ruins as the sites of legacies to these great civilizations. The graphics include the tablet of Hammurabi’s Laws, a wall carving of a Phoenician boat, and a wall painting of Pharonic art. Hellenism & Byzantine (4th Century B.C. – 5th Century A.D.): the main theme of the questions is the hegemony of Greek, Roman, and Christian empires over the East. The orange color characterizes this era for its widespread use on religious iconic paintings throughout the Byzantine rule. Images of Hannibal, Constantine, and Alexander reflect the figures that shaped and created the events of this period. Early Islam (5th Century A.D. – 8th Century A.D.): the main theme of the questions is the rise and spread of Islam. This period starts with events prior to Islam and ends with the fall of the Umayyad Dynasty. The questions cover Arabia before the rise of Islam, the Islamic conquests, the spread of the religion, and the making of new societies. The color green is chosen for an obvious reason since green is usually used to portray Islam, while the images of the Kaaba from an Ottoman manuscript and early kufi text of the Quran highlight the most significant icons of the period. Age of Discovery (8th Century A.D. – 12th Century A.D.): the main theme of the questions is the high cultural milieu that characterized the early period of the Abbasid rule in the East and the Umayyad rule in Andalusia. The questions cover scientific discoveries, inventions and innovations in art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy. The color blue was chosen because of the blue lapize stone that started to be included in the architecture during this period. The images of Idrissi’s world map, the astrolabe, and the mathematical development of algebra all are witnesses to an exceptional period of human ingenious. Mamluks & Ottomans (12th Century A.D. – 19th Century A.D.): the main theme of the questions is non-Arab dynasties ruling the Arab-Muslim world. This period covers the rule of the Ayyubids, Mamluks and Ottomans which also include wars against the Mongols and the Crusades. It also covers the making of new social systems and endless bloody internal disputes and external wars. The color red was chosen for this period to reflect upon the intensity of the bloody wars and assassinations that continued for hundreds of years under the rule of Anatolian origin dynasties. Also, the images of an Ottoman manuscript of a battle, war map, and a war shield are all icons of a horrific period for Middle Eastern societies. Modern Times (19th Century A.D. – 20th Century A.D.): the main theme of the questions is the beginnings of modernization in education, literature, music, transportation, media, and politics. This period covers the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, the rise of modern Arab States, and the oil boom. The color gray represents the rise of the most important commodity in the world, oil. Also, the color gray signifies the pollution that has become part of our modern history. The image of Muhammad Ali meeting with French engineers signifies the start of modernization in the Middle East, along with oil refineries and the founding of the Arab League.

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Niftee Shawls The Designer

Launched in February of 2007, Niftee’s first collection of limited edition, handmade, hip, trendy and collectible tees made it into the hearts of many admirers. No wonder that Niftee’s designs, created by Aljoud Lootah, have been recognized and published in the book Arabesque. Niftee’s products are made from the best fabrics and embellished manually, giving each design the individuality and uniqueness that everyone looks for.

The product

Joining these fab creations are Niftee’s latest additions, cashmere silk shawls topped with 125 Swarovski crystals and of course a beautifully inspired arabesque print. www.niftee.ae

Gaza Hope Scarf The Designer

Exploding into the fashion scene in 2006 are none other than the duo Rima and Dina Zahran, the masterminds behind Dinz Clothing. Born to Palestinian parents in Spain, the girls are known for their line of colorful tees and silk Ghutra shawls.

The product

The events that took place recently affected everyone worldwide, and as such the sisters decided to produce “a traditional black and white keffiyeh with a bright red heart appliqué.” They named it the Gaza Hope Scarf. All proceeds from this scarf will go to aid of the Gaza Victims. Show your support. www.dinzclothing.com


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bubo A couple of hours of nonstop walking, sightseeing and shopping will inevitably turn anyone’s happy fuzzy side sour. Guilty as charged. Hiding away at a cozy corner of the El Born neighborhood just across the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona is the haven of Bubo patisserie. I spotted this escape while relaxing my tired feet at the steps of the cathedral and was automatically drawn to this nestled corner. Looking almost like a jewelry store, Bubo does not fail to impress. Delicately placed under low glass cases are the sweet creations made by the chef, including chocolate bonbons, mousse, petit fours, macaroons and so much more. Opened in June 2005, Bubo’s Chef Carles Mampel brought this tiny store to life with sweet little concoctions that just melt in your mouth. The chef, who has many awards to his name, joined Bubo with the highly regarded Relais Desserts, a professional international Pastry Association, which just happens to include the best pastry chefs in the world. There’s no wonder that this shop is going to expand in 2009 into Europe and the Middle East. Now that your smile has been restored, it’s time to hit the road with one or two chocolaty souvenirs; the packaging alone is inspired.

Bubo Caputxes 10, Barcelona www.bubo.ws

where to find us Saudi Arabia

Boutiques: Cities | Design & Lifestyle Store Centria Mall (First Floor) Tel : 966 1 218 0007 Riyadh

DNA Boutique

Takhasussi Street Tel: 966 1 4199966 Riyadh

Life & Sid Boutiques Nujoud Center Riyadh

Al Rawdah Street Tel: 966 2 6642188 Jeddah

Bookstores & Magazine Stands: Carrefour Nationwide



Farm Supermarkets Eastern Province

Jarir Bookstores Nationwide

Panda / Hyper Panda Nationwide

Safeway Tamimi Supermarkets Nationwide


Kingdom Mall or Tahliya Street Tel: 217 8244 Riyadh

Galleries: Hewar Gallery

Kingdom Center (52nd floor) Tel: 966 1 2111 200/300 Riyadh

Gallery O

Al Khozama Center Tel: 966 553011084 Riyadh

Spa: Yibreen Spa

Takhasussi Street Tel: 966 1 441 1115 Riyadh

Airport & Hotel Bookstores: King Khalid International Airport Airport Bookstore Riyadh

King Abdulaziz International Airport Airport Bookstore Jeddah

Intercontinental Hotel Hotel Bookstore Riyadh

Meridien Hotel Hotel Bookstore Khobar

Cafes: Java Time Riyadh

Hotels: Al Faisaliah Rosewood Hotel Tel: 966 1 273 2000 King Fahd Road, Riyadh

International Boutiques, galleries, and exclusive bookstores: Bahrain: La Fontaine Beirut: Art Lounge Berlin: Do You Read Me?! Dubai: Green Art Gallery Five Green Amman: Dar Al Anda Paris: Colette London: AlSaqi Bookstore Edinburgh: Adam’s NewYork: Coming Soon Tokyo: Coming Soon

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One Last Thing

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Vote for King Abdullah for the Nobel Peace Prize



Calling for a UN Interfaith Conference and being able to gather the world's religious and political leaders for a "Peace Summit" was no easy task for one man. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz pushed for a great dialogue between different faiths. To unite against intolerence and extremism was his goal. The world has taken notice of his efforts. These efforts could win him a Nobel Prize for Peace, an honour bestowed upon many great individuals. Through blogs, Facebook, and websites, the Saudi youth have shown their support and enthusiasm for King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. They are voting in great numbers and so should you! www.votefornobelprize.com

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