Maria Mahdaly co-founded Rumman, a media and publishing house in Jeddah, with Enas Hashani and Bayan Abuzinadah in 2007. The company now publishes three monthly city magazines, featuring Jeddah, Riyadh, and Sharqiya.
Basma and Noura Bouzo founded Oasis Culture and Arts magazine to highlight creative talent in Saudi Arabia and the broader Gulf region. By 2014, the Bouzo sisters were ready to showcase that talent in real life, launching Saudi Design Week, now an established fixture in the region’s cultural events calendar.
The four-day event is now in its fifth year and attracted 20,000 visitors in 2017 in Riyadh, the country’s largest city with a population of over 7 million. Female designers and creatives made up 65 percent of the fair’s participants, as well as the majority of its attendees over the past four years.
The fair focuses on regional and international art and design in a multitude of mediums, and features an array of interactive exhibits, installations, workshops, and exclusive talks. The sisters have gone on to curate exhibitions at Dubai Design Week and the London Design Biennale, expanding the influence of the contemporary Saudi design scene in the global design arena.
“Our aim is to expose the design talents of Saudi Arabia, and get them both a local and international platform to be included in the overall design discussion,” said Basma Bouzo. “It is important for the international design scene to acknowledge the existence of a Saudi design scene, and also equally important for Saudi designers to learn and expand their knowledge with more exposure.”
Platforms that aim to provide a supportive creative ecosystem are found throughout the country. In Al Khobar, a port city on the Arabian Gulf, Raneen Bukhari, a Saudi curator and creative entrepreneur, has long been working on a variety of projects that focus on creating opportunities in the country’s creative art and cultural economy.
In 2012, Bukhari started LOUD Art, partnering with NTI & Co., a female-led creative agency. The platform focuses on emerging artists who want to showcase experimental art in the country. Each annual edition of LOUD Art is based on a broad theme and opens annually each May in Desert Designs Art Gallery
in Al Khobar, before traveling around Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.