10 Saudi Creatives Defining The Kingdom's Cultural Renaissance
Get to know the Kingdom's creative powerhouses.
Work by Nouf AlHimiary
Saudi Arabia is burgeoning with creative talent! In this list, we handpicked curators, artists, photographers and all-around female leaders that are fuelling this cultural renaissance. Let's celebrate art and Saudi talent. Click through to meet these brilliant artistic voices!
Lulwah Al Homoud
Lulwah Al Homoud is an artist and curator with a passion for abstract art. Her digital artworks famously combine elements such as shapes and patterns, many of which were inspired by Islamic art, while others feature elements that come together to produce words or portraits. She also serves as curator in exhibitions such as "What Lies Within," in addition to running the Lulwah Al Homoud Art Foundation.
Noura Bin Saidan
Saudi Arabian graffiti artist Noura Bin Saidan is not new to creating larger-than-life murals. Her works are seen occupying the walls of Khobar’s neighborhoods and most recently Riyadh Boulevard. A fine arts graduate, Bint Saidan has been passionate about street art right from high school. Indeed, it was during that time she first attempted to paint on a huge canvas using oil paints. Today, she is part of a small but growing community of Saudi female graffiti artists and when she is not working on putting her passion projects on walls across the Kingdom, she is working on branding and marketing projects, conducting art workshops, and showcasing her works in art galleries.
Zahra Dar Bundakji
Painter, artist, curator, and founder, Zahra Dar Bundakji is a woman who inspires. A Pakistani Saudi Arabian artist with a passion for art and discourses regarding Arab identity, as well as women and feminism in the region, Bundakji is also the founder of the Marginalized Middle East Arts Network (MMEAN), a network for promoting arts while encouraging dialogues.
Where academics meets art meets activism is where you will find Nouf Alhimiary, a Jeddah-based Saudi artist with a passion for art, poetry, multimedia, and group performances. A trailblazer and an inspiration to women across the Kingdom, Alhimiary uses her talent to call for social changes on behalf of Saudi women. In fact, her focus is on key subjects such as girlhood studies, gender performance, and digital media studies.
In addition, Alhimiary has also worked on poems, group performances and workshops, and multimedia projects such as “Sister” in 2017, and “Divided from You, Surrounded with You” and “Algorithmic Intimacies” in 2019. To learn more about her works, you can visit her official website at noufling.com.
In May 2021, Arwa Al-Banawi made headlines by teaming up with sportswear giant, Adidas, to produce a pair of sneakers that merge different parts of the world in a celebration of cultures. Part of Adidas Originals, and like most of her products, the sneakers reflect Al-Banawi’s signature combination of traditional and contemporary designs. Al-Banawi is the owner of her own brand of fashion products for “the woman on the go,” filling the gap between high-end fashion and streetwear. Her products such as shirts are often known to bear quotes and slogans that promote female empowerment. In fact, the Adidas collaboration had also resulted in a line of sporting shirts with Arabic quotes such as “Sassy” and “You say you get me but you don’t.”
Huda Beydoun is a Saudi artist and fashion photographer who had a career teaching children with autism before going on to explore her talents behind the lens of a camera. In 2013, she released a body of work entitled “Documenting The Undocumented,” which was a street photography series, that captured candid images of the lives of illegal immigrants in Saudi Arabia.
Her work gained the attention of the likes of anonymous street artist, Banksy. Beydoun now runs her own creative agency in the kingdom, “MishMosh,” which aims to provide a platform for local talent as she wishes to “see women lead the fashion photography scene in the Middle East.”
Known for her digital pieces that bring together stunning visual universes, Shahad Nazer is a Saudi Egyptian artist who uses art as a way to touch on several subjects, expressing them in unique ways to her audience, collage pieces she has described as dreamy, emotional, and empowering.
When she isn’t exhibiting unique artworks, she works as a freelance commercial artist for a number of clients. Earlier this year, she even collaborated with companies such as Adidas to mark Women's Day, and Dropkick x Nike for Airmax Day. Many of her digital works can be found on her Instagram account at @shahad.nazer.
The muralist/artist had some of her pieces showcased in the world’s longest graffiti wall, reimagining traditions from the Middle East and combining cultural codes along with her take on modern graffiti. You can admire her work in Jeddah’s Red Sea Mall and Obhur and she also presented a limited-edition collection of five creatively decorated bags with luxe brand MCM.
Kamal, also a singer, songwriter and composer, features unexpected yet stunning pairings of motifs in vibrant bursts of colour that inject fun into every piece. The creative force who goes by the art name ‘Pink In’ has crafted an ode to freedom and diversity and shares stories inspired by everyday life and culture in the Middle East.
Over the last 10 years, Laila Alfaddagh has made a name for herself by making significant contributions to Saudi Arabia’s museums and exhibitions. Currently the director general of the Kingdom’s national museum, Alfaddagh is indeed a pioneering figure in the field of museum and exhibits.
Her journey into the world of arts and culture began 2004, when enrolled as a student in the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, in the United States, graduating with a bachelors in 2006. In 2009, she then graduated with a master's degree in global studies.
A year after that, in December 2010, she would go on her first career in the field as curator for the King AbdulAziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), a social responsibility project of Aramco. During her time in this position, she would also play a role in establishing the Art Café, an educational program at the 2012 Saudi Aramco Cultural Program, receiving an average of 1,700 visitors a day.
With a passion for storytelling, Hala Alhaid is an Saudi Arabian animator renowned for her stop motion short "The Dark Cloud," and 3D animation "The Palm Witch," which were featured at high-profile film festivals such as the Red Sea Film Festival, the Saudi Film Festival, and others.
Manal Aldowayan, who showcased her work at Desert x AlUla, has been revered for her art installation with floating birds entitled, “Suspended Together” at the Burjeel Art Foundation in 2011. Her installation expressed her ideas of freedom. Manal Al Dwayan is also an avid photographer, and themes of her work include the role of women in Saudi society. Most recently, the Saudi female artist became the first Arab to craft her very own versions of the Lady Dior Bag.