Visual Dhikr™
returning to remembrance

Global artists compete to beautify Mecca

Hundreds of artists from all over the world are competing in a contest for the beautification of Islam’s holiest city, Mecca.

"The objective of the competition is to spread the art culture through paintings that depict the Islamic heritage of the holy city," said Dr. Osama Fadl al-Bar, Mecca’s mayor and supervisor of the first Islamic competition to beautify Mecca.

Dr. al-Bar also added that the competition aims to bring Islamic artists together to exchange expertise.

There are 442 registered artists and 306 art works have been submitted, however only 12 paintings will be chosen. Al-Bar said that all participants will work together under the competition’s slogan "In love of Mecca we gather” to make the corners of the holy city an open museum for Islamic art with a view to beautify the city and enhance society’s aesthetic tastes.

The 12 paintings to be chosen will follow a fair process, as each artwork had been classed by a secret code so that the names of the artists could not be seen.

Tough competition

Despite the registration of 442 pieces of art work only 306 were submitted, and around half of these paintings were found to be just substandard, said Dr. Mohammad Saeed Farsi, former mayor of Jeddah.
"A total of 152 paintings were discarded because they were not up to the standard," Dr. al-Bar said.

Dr. Farsi said the artists who submitted entries were from: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Mauritania, Somalia, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, India, Italy and the U.S.. The judging panel consisted of renowned artists, designers and experts in philosophy and fine art from Egypt, Morocco, Malaysia and Cote d'Ivoire.

The names of the winners will be announced on September 27 during a special function and will receive prizes totaling $300,000.

Mecca should be the most developed city: Saudi Prince

Mecca Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has launched the competition in Jeddah Wednesday evening and said Saudi Arabia has a responsibility to present Mecca as a model of beauty and development.

He said Saudi leaders were determined to make Mecca one of the cleanest and most developed cities in the world.

"Had it not been for Mecca, the region would not have occupied this high civilized, political and cultural position," he said.

"We are responsible for serving the Grand Mosque and making Mecca a safe haven for pilgrims and visitors."

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal is the sponsor of the art contest and has asked private companies and businessmen to support the first international competition to beautify Mecca.

Recently Saudi Arabia has activated the tallest clock tower in the world in the first day of Ramadan.


Monday, August 16, 2010 |

Long wait over as Cairo Islamic art museum reopens

Egyptian Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni and Secretary General of The Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Farouk Hosni went on a tour of the archaeological Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) at Bab El-Khalq area, to inspect the progress of the latest restoration projects.

Several years ago the MIA was closed for comprehensive rehabilitation, not only of its building and interior design, but also of its exhibition design and displays. Over the last six years, massive renovation work has been completed to the tune of LE90 million.

The MIA first opened in 1881 in the arcades of the mosque of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim, displaying 111 objects gathered from mosques and mausoleums across Egypt.

Due to the rapid increase in size of the collection, a new building was constructed in the courtyard of the mosque in 1883. In 1899, the government began the construction on the present building at Bab El-Khalq, and in 1903 the Islamic Museum opened with a collection of 3,154 objects originating from Egypt and other countries.

Since its inception, the museum had never once been renovated, except for an attempt to clean the walls and renovate the displays in 1983. Attempts at a more comprehensive renovation were frustrated in part by the building's upper floor being occupied by a separate institution, the Dar Al-Kotob Al-Masreya.

In 2003, the Ministry of Culture launched a major restoration project with the goal of returning the museum to its former glory. The master plan for the renovation work and the new exhibition design was drawn up by French designer and museographer, Adrien Gardère, in cooperation with the Islamic Department of the Louvre Museum in Paris, which has advised on the re-organization of the museum's collections.

The museum's main entrance, located on Port Said Street, includes an introductory gallery that discusses Islamic art and the Middle East through a mixed media display of panels, maps and objects from the collection. The geography of historic Cairo and the early Islamic city of Fustat, the oldest Islamic settlement in Egypt, is also discussed here.

Mohamed Abdel Fatah, Head of the Museums Department at the SCA, said that the renovated museum is divided into two large wings. The right wing is devoted to the chronological exhibition of Islamic artifacts taken mainly from monuments in historic Cairo located just a few steps away from the museum. The left wing will display materials from other countries besides Egypt, including calligraphy, manuscripts, ceramics, mosaics, textiles, grave stones, mashrabiya, woodwork, metal and glass vessels, incense burners and caskets, pottery, metalwork and glass lamps dating from different periods in Islamic history. These objects will be displayed both according to chronology and according to theme, provenance and material.

In addition to its renovated exhibition space, the museum is now equipped with a state-of-the art security and lighting system, as well as a fully-equipped conservation laboratory, a children's museum and library.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 |