Greenbox dictionary of Saudi Arabian artists

Home   Index

Manal Dowayan (1973)from Dhahran is not the only artist who has enjoyed looking at boats moving on an Amsterdam canal as is evident in her photo series Summer. She is surely, however, the only such artist who can and will say: I am a citizen of Saudi Arabia, not speaking on her own behalf, but informing the world of her private experiences in the general context of being a professionally working woman in Saudi Arabia. She does so with several series of black and white photographs of women she meets dealing with their Saudi heritage and daily life. I am a Mother and I am a Petroleum Engineer are self evident titles in her I am series. Dowayan, being a freelance photographer with an education in information technology, works for an oil company. She is now its creative director. In her series Beyond the veil and The Choice again women pose in front of Dowayan's camera. The choices Dowayan deals with are not mentioned but shown and numbered. The Choice V shows, for example, a woman in traditional dress holding a tennis racket. Or in Choice II, perhaps the most daring in terms of the question it seems to ask, a female hand holds a pen which has just crossed out a word on a page full of repetition. Her photographs are very popular with collectors, is what I was told by Edge of Arabia, in which exhibition she participated in both London (2008) and Venice (2009). A The Choice photo of a Saudi woman holding a steering wheel was printed in Dutch magazine Kunstbeeld as an iconic image of the exhibition, providing well for the notions people have in the Netherlands about Saudi Arabia. But, one should also have a look at her close up of feet dancing in Spanish Scenes and admire simply the elegant black and white forms beyond any context of meaning; fingers that fly like swans and do not point to any future. On the future of art in Saudi Arabia however, Dowayan has sound ideas which she expressed in Arab News. She told the paper that there should be more patronage of the arts in the Kingdom itself and not just by a government system of prizes. The country needs homegrown private foundations to sustain the arts and crafts. Says Manal Dowayan, who listens well to King Abdullah. The custodian of mosques said of Saudi women: that they are citizens of Saudi Arabia. And some of them even travel to Amsterdam. (2009).

April 19, 2006
We are One World, Says Straw by Mohammed Rasooldeen.
August 28, 2007
Click to Broaden Your View by Molouk Y. Ba-Isa
May 8, 2008:
Manal Dowayan: Creative Representative for Her Heritage by Salma Shakir.

 All rights reserved.

From top to bottom: I am a Computer Scientist, I am a citizen of Saudi Arabia.