KAUST Social Responsibility  

Celebrate Saudi Arabia Art Competition 2018

The Dawn of Jeddah - Kristiana Smith 2018

The KAUST community answered this year’s call to artists for the 5th annual Celebrate Saudi Arabia Art Competition with yet another vibrant array of inspiration. Some 68 pieces were submitted by 60 artists, in a variety of media – paintings, photographs and mixed media including pencil drawing, mosaic and an original Lego sculpture. This year’s show once again brought together artists of all nationalities across KAUST with a common purpose of sharing their view of this extraordinary country. The unique perspective of each artist created a fascinating exhibition of the familiar and the not so, giving each visitor to the exhibition the opportunity to see Saudi Arabia in myriad ways.

Our judges, volunteers from the KAUST community, are professionals in their own artistic field and gave positive feedback on the caliber and breadth of the entries. Xavier Pita, a scientific illustrator at KAUST, said, “The variety of media and concepts of the submissions was refreshing to see. However, it also made the task of jurying this contest extremely challenging, as comparing such different entries was not easy.  Although the overall level of quality of the submissions was quite high, in the end some of the entries stood out due to their creativity, skillful execution and uniqueness of the point of view presented.”   Silvia Salvador, a professional photographer and member of the judging panel commented  “I felt very honored to be a part of this panel and the KAUST Community. I was impressed with a lot of art work that was submitted. As a photographer the art piece has to wow me. I look at it and it has to thrill me. It has to make me stop and think about it. Why did the artist choose this scenery, why in color, why in black and white, what was the artist thinking about when he/she decided to make this art or to take this picture?  We have an amazing talented Community in KAUST. Can’t wait to see more!”

The judges awarded 1st place to Kristiana Smith for her mixed-media painting The Dawn of Jeddah – a piece that celebrates the city’s history while anticipating its future. “Having lived in the Middle East for the past 15 years, I have come to deeply appreciate the beauty of the Arabic culture language and art. The Celebrate Saudi Arabia Art Competition put on by the KAUST Social Responsibility department gives artists an opportunity to express the beauty they have seen in this country and in turn gives the community an opportunity to observe these expressions and develop a greater appreciation of the land they are living in.  Working on my two pieces Tariiq Inoor- The Path of Light and Fajr Jeddah -The Dawn of Jeddah gave me an opportunity to share with others what I see in this land,” Smith reflected.

Second place was awarded to Amani Habadi for Sayidat Al Qassim and Filip Hanzely’s photograph Shepherd and Dunes was awarded 3rd place, with the community vote going to Abdulrahman El Labban. The four winners and a further six pieces selected by the judges will be reproduced in postcard form, available in packs or individually from Matjar. Funds from the sale of these postcards will benefit the Social Responsibility programs in Thuwal.

Social Responsibility was very pleased to be able to work with the KAUST Museum; their assistance in hosting the show and associated workshops is invaluable. Each year, alongside the exhibition, an area of Saudi Arabia is represented by additional workshops and displays to reflect aspects of the culture from the different regions. This year the Al Qatt Al Asiri workshop delivered by The Sleysla Center from Jeddah, offered community members insight into the traditional decorating style, colours and patterns of the Asir province in south west Saudi Arabia. Workshop participants of all ages were able to recreate the strong colours and geometric patterns on individual canvases while teenage and older community members worked together to add colour to a 5m x 2m mural panel.


Thank you again to all the artists that submitted their artwork – it has been fascinating to view Saudi Arabia through your eyes. Thank you also to the judges for their time and expertise and thank you to the community for viewing and voting. We look forward to seeing how you Celebrate Saudi Arabia in 2019.

1st prize   Kristiana Smith – The Dawn of Jeddah
2nd prize Amani Habadi – Al Sayiddat Al Qassim
3rd prize  Filip Hanzely – Shepherd and Dunes

Community Vote Winner – Abdulraham El Labban – Meditation under the cold sun of Abha

Raheena Abdurehim – A Walk in Balad
Shireen Hamoud – Behind the Windows
Victoria Hansford – A Weekend Stroll, Thee Ain Village, Al Baha
Lee Hen Yan – Al Balad
Marion Petherbridge – Calm at the KAM
Kristiana Smith – Tariiq Inoor
Gabriel Wittum – Dancing Jinns

The 5th Annual Celebrate Saudi Arabia Art Competition was administered by the Social Responsibility Department of Saudi Affairs in collaboration with KAUST Museum.

Further reading