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MAKKAH: Saudi artists are turning blank, empty walls across the country into beautiful and creative murals, using graffiti and street art to complete their vision.

Graffiti is writing or drawing done on a wall or other surface, usually without permission and within the public eye. In many western cultures, it is considered illegal as famous graffiti artists like Banksy remain elusive. But in the Kingdom, inscriptions are an accepted art form.
The Saudi Ministry of Culture has launched initiatives and programs to support street artists, with city-specific locations selected so that they can express themselves using spray paint, brush paint, markers, stencils, etc.
Graffiti is an excellent art form that has become one of the modern ways of decorating public spaces, Zainab Al-Mahoozi, a Saudi graffiti artist, told Arab News.
Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire. But in Saudi Arabia, the art form began 20 years ago. At first, most of the Kingdom inscriptions were presented in a distorted way.
The art form began to evolve in 2009 when a group of young men and boys in Jeddah called the Dad Family sought to establish an Arab touch to what was then seen as Western art.

I want my art to give messages to society and be the voice of those who have no voice.

Zainab Al-Mahoozi, Saudi graffiti artist

Originally inspired by Arab characters and Islamic motifs, the Dad family avoided political statements and began promoting a message of love through its inscriptions.
The art form later spread to Qatif, Al-Ahsa and Riyadh as the number of street artists in the country continued to grow.
Al-Mahoozi noted that each artist is unique and has his own style, while gloomy or empty walls along with cafes, gyms or garages can be brought back to life with graffiti.
What sets this art apart is the strong messages it carries to people as if it were an open and free exhibition, said Al-Mahoozi, who began making inscriptions in the Kingdom more than 10 years ago.

HIGHLIGHTS

Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire. But in Saudi Arabia, the art form began 20 years ago. At first, most of the Kingdom inscriptions were presented in a distorted way.

The art form began to evolve in 2009 when a group of young men and boys in Jeddah called the Dad Family sought to establish an Arab touch to what was then seen as Western art.

Children have also shown great interest in this art on social media, where murals have become the perfect backdrop for their photos.
The locations chosen for the inscriptions are usually near a traffic light or within a public place, to maximize the possible viewing of the art form.
I deliberately seek to find unusual places in order to improve and bring them back to life, said street artist Houssam Al-Hassan, who prefers to use spray paint for his graffiti.


I want my art to give messages to society and be the voice of those who have no voice.
Al-Hassan said there are about 50 graffiti artists in Saudi Arabia because the art form is not easy to create. Artists have to deal with different types of walls that may not be smooth, have holes or exist in places poorly equipped for drawing. So the art form is not for everyone.
Graffiti combines the local culture of the society with modern visions and various international schools, Al-Hassan said. Artists rely on simple drawings and styles that can reach anyone.
With support from the Saudi Ministry of Culture, the future is bright for street artists in the Kingdom.
Graffiti is a natural development of culture and progress, Riyadh street artist Walid Al-Subaihi told Arab News. Used for advertising, to give messages, to express thoughts and ideas.

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