Ameera Abid, Riyadh
The theme of this year’s Saudi Design Week — a part of Riyadh Season — is “Design Happiness” and local jewelers are taking the opportunity to showcase and share their country’s rich culture and heritage in their work.
The Kingdom’s new tourism visa laws have opened up a new market for Saudi jewelers, who know that visitors will be looking for unique mementos of their travels, although those exhibiting at Saudi Design Week cater to the local market as well.
Ahmed Al-Abullatif is the creative mind behind Razeen — a brand inspired by Saudi culture, nature, social life and religion. Al-Abdullatif was originally an architect. “I have always created jewelry and I thought it was about time for me to spread the love and (let) everyone participate in what I believe in,” the designer, a trained architect, told Arab News. “Razeen is the product of a gap I have seen in the market: First, men have always been forgotten in terms of jewelry and fashion. Second, we have always been consuming and using products that we cannot relate to in terms (in cultural or religious terms).”
With Razeen, Al-Abdullatif is attempting to change that. His cufflinks in the shape of palm-tree trunks, for example, are “a dedication to the family man who takes care of his family and their lives.”
He asked: “We always celebrate the leaves of the palm tree, but who is standing and holding up the leaves?”
Among his other pieces are “Saif,” a double-edged sword that symbolizes a man who uses his power wisely and “Hajjr,” an imitation of the casing of the stone set in the eastern corner of the Kaaba.
The designer is bullish about his brand’s prospects. “I see Razeen as the top Saudi luxury brand and lifestyle product,” he said. “Right now, we just produce rings and cufflinks, however the vision is to create all types of accessories that a modern Saudi might need.”
Al-Abdullatif added that holding Saudi Design Week during Riyadh Season gives brands like his “an amazing opportunity,” saying that he believed there were almost three times as many visitors than there were at last year’s event.
Another local brand grabbing visitors’ attention was 27-year-old Rawan Al-Sehli’s Muse Rawan. Taking inspiration from geographical and archaeological discoveries from the Kingdom, in one piece she has recreated Ohain Mountain, while another takes inspiration from a 6,000-year-old sculpture discovered in Hail, “The Suffering Man” — considered one of the Kingdom’s most-important archaeological finds.
“I draw inspiration only from my Kingdom and show it to the world,” Al-Sehli — who has previously designed work based on the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah — told Arab News.
With her brand Youra, Rabaa Al-Angari focuses more on the personal. “The main idea is to merge spiritual stories and deep meanings,” she told Arab News. “I use colorful stones and leather to define happiness, and a gold chain to connect everything.
“I want people to understand the significance of jewelry; it isn’t just something you wear. It should have a story, a melody and a deep connection to the person,” she continued. “I want people to draw inspiration from my jewelry.”