Why Are Saudi Artists ‘Beautifying’ Riyadh With Arabic Calligraphy?

Why Are Saudi Artists 'Beautifying' Riyadh With Arabic Calligraphy?

Saudi artists are decorating Riyadh with Arabic calligraphy, as part of the municipality’s efforts to beautify the capital.

The capital is witnessing a transformation, with several development projects underway that aim to improve people’s standards of living and ensure a sustainable environment in line with international standards.

There are efforts underway to make Riyadh greener, in addition to gracing the city’s infrastructure with artwork.

One of the people involved in the calligraphy initiative, graffiti artist Noura bin Saidan, said she wanted the city to be the most beautiful in the world in terms of art and design.

“The initiative was launched in March 2020,” she told Arab News. “I designed the place and chose the appropriate colors for the tunnel on King Khalid Road, which is near the heritage city of Diriyah. The colors I used are also inspired by the city’s heritage. We took advantage of this opportunity to participate in the Year of Arabic Calligraphy 2020, which is led by the Ministry of Culture.”

She used the Thuluth font to write the words of Saudi Arabia’s national anthem as the country’s National Day was approaching, and said the idea was to open up a wider space for artists to participate in such projects.

“After getting approval for the design, we selected several artists based on their experience in this type of art.”

Bin Saidan is vice president of the arts and architecture division of the Omran Society and owns a studio called ns4art. Her passion for graffiti and murals began with her master’s thesis about the role of art in beautifying roads and tunnels.

“10 years later the dream came true and I started coloring Riyadh,” she said.

The artists have moved to the next tunnel, on King Fahd Road, named Cairo Square, which was one of the activities of Saudi Arabia’s 90th National Day. She said the tunnel project took seven days to complete.

Bin Saidan said that people were happy about the final result and that she had been contacted by municipalities from different parts of the Kingdom about working with them.

Riyadh’s weather and the location of the projects were among the challenges that Bin Saidan and her team faced, as most of the sites were on highways.

And, while beautifying roads and tunnels is not her first project, she considered it one of her major ones.

“There are more projects to come, but we are waiting for the final approval.”

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