On 25 February, German Ambassador Jörg Ranau and his wife Heike Ranau hosted the opening reception of a contemporary art exhibition in their residence. The exhibition showcased the works of seven Saudi artists: the sculptors Talal Al Tokhais, Mohammed Al Thaqafi and Ali Al Tokhais, as well as the painters Najla Al Saleem, Fahad Al Naima, Shuruq Al Safran and Talal Al Zeid. The joyful and festive event brought together about 80 dignitaries, businesspeople, academics, artists as well as members of the German community and the Saudi civil society to celebrate the rich artistic scene in Saudi Arabia. Further opportunities for the general public to see the artworks are provided by two visitor’s days on 26 and 27 February.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Ranau referred to the rich cultural traditions of Saudi Arabia which have influenced the contemporary art works displayed at the exhibition. He also commended the artists for their success in reaching out to international audiences as many of them have already exhibited in the US, Europe and the Gulf region, some of them even in Germany.
Following his short speech, Ambassador Ranau moved on to unveil together with the artist Talal Al Zeid a so called Buddy Bear. The Bear which is a symbol of Berlin can be found in many places in Berlin and abroad. While their shape is identical, their design is usually made by a local artist, showing the connections between the two countries. Over the last weeks Talal Al Zeid worked on the bear which now features a street-art-design inspired by Saudi motives. It is the first Buddy Bear in Saudi Arabia. Following the exhibition the German Embassy seeks to display the bear at a location accessible to the general public.