This Female Saudi Artist Is Leaving Gifts for Strangers at a Riyadh Cafe

For many years, Saudi Arabian women have been at the forefront of developing the arts and cultural landscape of the country, from largely feminist works that pose questions and spark conversations to smaller community-centric projects.

Within this environment, moving art projects have been popping up across the country such as that of Fatima Al-Daoud, a 27-year-old artist based in Riyadh whose work has been making many people smile. Al-Daoud has been hanging out in a café in Riyadh using her art skills to connect to customers. Whenever she’s at the café, she paints cups and drawings at her table, leaving them behind for random guests to enjoy.

Speaking to Al Arabiya English, the artist said, "When I go to the cafe to read or work, I noticed that I had missed my art projects, so I decided to buy a sketchbook and paint. I practiced painting while I was going to the cafes […] The idea came to me to leave the drawings on the table and leave a message to the next person that it was gifted to. The idea came to fruition in early July.”

When asked why she decided to dedicate time from her day to create these unique works of art for people she didn’t know, the artist explained that it made her feel great to do something that could be shared and that also allowed her to leave a part of herself behind.

“I also want to convey a message not to stick to the things that we love. When you get used to not owning it, leaving the worked on with hours of energy to make others happy makes you feel good […] This is a style of drawing I first adopted five years ago. The human face is the part of one's body that expresses personality and feelings the most. Complementing it tends to be coupled with unrealistic facial expressions. This way, we see them in a different light and are able to express feelings," she explained.

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