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Noura Bint Saidan at Humanity House

Last week, SAMA was honoured to be invited alongside our resident artist Noura Bint Saidan to an event hosted by Humanity House, and organized by the Middle East and North Africa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Handing her the mic: past, present and future of women in the Gulf,” was a lecture series by five women hailing from Gulf states – Fatemah al-Bader, Raya Abu Gulal, Frauke Heard-Bey and Hind Al-Ansari. Throughout the evening, these women with expertise in the fields of politics, education, business, law and the cultural sector were invited to share their knowledge regarding the shifting roles of women across several sectors in the Gulf region.

While each woman – true to the event’s name – took the mic, Saudi Arabian street artist and SAMA resident artist Noura Bint Saidan created a live artwork on stage. The piece featured her characteristic freehand style blended with Arabic calligraffiti, utilizing colours complimenting Humanity House’s signature red. Following the panelists' talks, and a lively Q&A period, Noura too was given the opportunity to speak about the distinct niche she has carved for herself as a street artist in Saudi Arabia.

“In Saudi Arabia it is not easy to be a graffiti artist, because it is not easy to draw outside. It was like a challenge for me. Now I have a lot of special places that the government ask me to do art – gardens, famous streets; and now we have made a huge project called Riyadh Art. It’s a vision to be the best city with art. So I think this is a great chance for us to do what we want in Saudi Arabia. My research was about how to use art in the street, because in my country – its desert, there’s no colours. The streets are boring with grey colours. We need colours. Because colour is part of your life; if you want to feel good, you need colours. So for me, the colour was the main point of this. To change our place to be more colourful and beautiful.”

Following an initial outline with brushes, the audience was invited to adjourn for drinks while Noura broke out her trusty spray cans, quickly finishing off her masterpiece. Many of the panelists came and spoke with her, connecting on their similar backgrounds and expressing interest in her journey from art and academia to street art. All in all, it was a fantastic conclusion to our week with this special artist, which featured a great deal of stimulating intercultural dialogue, workshops with locals and children, and discussions for future projects between SAMA and the Gulf region.

We wish Noura a safe journey home, and look forward to our continued partnership in the future!

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