In the heart of Saudi Arabia, a remarkable cultural renaissance is underway, where creativity and innovation are flourishing against the backdrop of tradition. This Saudi National Day, we embark on a journey to uncover the extraordinary talents and achievements of Saudi creatives who are shaping the future while honoring their heritage.
1. Bayan Yasien.
Saudi illustrator Bayan Yasien is a visual storyteller and a master at weaving her rich heritage into her art. Yasien has not only illustrated a children’s book called “Habib the Camel,” but she has also bagged collaborations with the likes of Starbucks, Faces, and Bobbi Brown, among others.
2. Noura Buozo.
Noura Buozo, the recipient of the Arab Women’s Award for Artist of The Year 2015, is a woman with many hats. In the world of art, she stands out with her distinctive sandstone sculptors and her specialization in crafting installation pieces. Buozo’s art–which also includes painted crockery–triumphantly infuses Islamic history and 14th-century Islamic artifacts with modern subjects. That’s not all; Buozo is also the co-founder of the Saudi Design Festival.
3. Yara Al Namlah.
While many of us may know Yara Al Namlah as a prominent digital content creator and beauty enthusiast, she transcends these roles. This trailblazing entrepreneur has founded not just one but three distinct ventures, including the popular So Matcha beverage brand and her recently launched skincare line and salon, both named Treat.
4. Hayat Osama.
Saudi photographer Hayat Osama is a self-taught woman. It was in 2009 when she embarked upon a journey to learn fashion photography on her own with her newly purchased “point and shoot” digital camera. Over the years, Hayat established a distinctive aesthetic of her own, making her one of the most imaginative photographers in the country. In 2019, she was selected by the Ministry of Culture as one of the speakers at Saudi Arabia’s first Fashion platform Fashion Futures, 2019.
5. Nouf Sufyani aka Cosmicat.
The first female DJ to come out of Saudi Arabia, Nouf Sufyani–popularly known as Cosmicat– is, quite literally, making the world dance to her tunes. Specializing in electronic music, Cosmicat emerges as a trailblazing force in the Saudi music and arts scene. With her genre-defying soundscapes and immersive live performances, she has become a symbol of innovation and artistic expression. Beyond her musical prowess, Cosmicat champions inclusivity and diversity within the Saudi arts community, using her platform to inspire the next generation of creatives. As we celebrate Saudi National Day, we are shining the spotlight on Nour Sufiyani, aka Cosmicat, who amplifies the nation’s rising influence in the international art world and inspires those who dare to dream beyond boundaries.
6. Fatima Al-Banawi.
On the creative landscape of Saudi Arabia, few names shine as brightly as that of Fatima Al Banawi. As an actress, writer, and director, she has left an indelible mark on both the regional and international stages. Renowned for her captivating performances in groundbreaking Saudi films like “Barakah Meets Barakah,” Al Banawi has not only garnered critical acclaim but also helped reshape the narrative of Saudi cinema. Her talent extends beyond the silver screen, as she is a prominent advocate for gender equality and a driving force behind the burgeoning creative scene in the Kingdom. In 2018, she was named by Time magazine as a Next Generation Leader for co-founding The Other Story Project in Saudi Arabia. As we celebrate Saudi National Day, Fatima Al Banawi stands as a testament to the nation’s artistic prowess and unwavering commitment to progress.
7. Arwa Al Banawi.
Arwa Al Banawi‘s creative contributions to the fashion industry and her dedication to preserving and promoting Saudi culture stand as a testament to the nation’s artistic talent and its unwavering commitment to her culture. Her work uniquely fuses elements of Saudi culture with modern aesthetics, resulting in a collection of clothing that resonates with a diverse and global audience. Her collaboration with adidas–where she incorporated the traditional keffiyeh design onto sneakers–is a glowing example of Al Banwai’s creative genius. Beyond her accomplishments in fashion, she is a cultural ambassador who utilizes her platform to celebrate Saudi heritage and empower women and creative talent in the Kingdom.
8. Raha Moharrak.
Raha Moharrak is a woman who needs little introduction. Moharrak made history as the youngest Arab and first Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, in 2013. Her extraordinary feat broke barriers and inspired countless individuals, both in Saudi Arabia and worldwide. Beyond her mountaineering accomplishments, Raha Moharrak is an advocate for gender equality and empowerment. She has used her platform to encourage women to pursue their dreams fearlessly, regardless of societal norms or expectations. Her journey and achievements reflect the resilience, determination, and pioneering spirit of Saudi women. As we celebrate Saudi National Day, Moharrak’s exceptional achievements shine as an example of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to breaking barriers and forging new paths in diverse fields.
9. Haifaa Al Mansour.
Haifaa Al Mansour is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker who has left an indelible mark on the Saudi cinematic realm. As the first female Saudi director, Haifaa Al Mansour’s groundbreaking work has garnered widespread recognition and accolades. Her feature film, Wadjda, made history as the first-ever Saudi film to be submitted for consideration under the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category at the Academy Awards.Throughout her career, Haifaa Al Mansour has consistently addressed critical social issues through her films, shedding light on topics such as gender inequality and the changing role of women in Saudi society.
10. Mohammed Ashi.
Mohammed Ashi is a renowned Saudi designer who has made a significant impact on the international fashion industry. Loved by fashion enthusiasts and celebrities alike, his designs have crossed the borders of the Kingdom, gracing runways and celebrity closets around the world. His work is characterized by its elegance, innovation, and meticulous attention to detail, reflecting his commitment to excellence in the realm of haute couture.
Almost a decade ago, Saudi Arabian songstress Tamtam rose to popularity when she released her song Gender Game,which immediately went viral, courtesy of its catchy and powerful lyrics. The rest, as they say it, is history. Since then, Tamtam has evolved into an influential Saudi figure who has made significant contributions to the world of music and entertainment. As a singer, songwriter, and performer, she has captivated audiences not only in Saudi Arabia but also on a global scale. Tamtam’s musical journey is marked by her unique blend of diverse genres, seamlessly fusing elements of pop, R&B, and electronic music into her captivating compositions. Her soulful voice and poignant lyrics have resonated with fans worldwide, earning her a dedicated following.
12. Norah Sahman.
Norah Sahman is a Saudi illustrator who often seeks inspiration for her work in the rich culture of the Kingdom. Sahman was recently tapped by the Fashion Commission at the Saudi Ministry of Culture to highlight Saudi heritage fashion through digital illustrations.
13. Noura Binsaidan.
You might not have heard her name, but there is a reasonably strong chance that you have seen–and maybe even posed against–Noura Bin Saidan‘s art. The Saudi Arabian graffiti artist has used walla across the nation as her canvas, painting them with vibrant, larger-than-life murals, some of which take days, if not weeks, to complete. Her most notable work includes gigantic murals of famous Arabian musicians painted across the walls of Riyadh City Boulevard, which involved hoisting herself up on a self-operated crane.
14. Sawsan Al Bahiti.
Sawsan Al Bahiti, the first professional Saudi Opera Singer, shattered stereotypes and set a resounding example of perseverance and passion. Her remarkable journey began in 2008 when she discovered her operatic talent during an elective singing course while pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication at the American University of Sharjah. Undaunted by challenges, she mastered her craft, performing seamlessly in Italian, French, German, and English. Her unwavering dedication led her to become a certified vocal coach at the New York Coaching Vocal Centre, culminating in the establishment of her own studio, The Soulful Voice, in Jeddah. Her powerful, well-trained voice has entranced audiences, including an operatic rendition of the Saudi national anthem in Riyadh and performances at Expo 2020 in Dubai, symbolizing resilience and artistic excellence.
15. Tasneem Al Sultan.
Saudi photographer Tasneem Al Sultan, a global ambassador for Canon and mentor for their “Women Who Empower” campaign, captures deeply resonant moments, often challenging conventional narratives. Her work, exhibited internationally, focuses on identity, cultural heritage, and the human experience. Through her lens and storytelling, Tasneem empowers photographers to address societal issues, making her an artistic visionary and a catalyst for change on a global scale.
16. Saud Al Turki.
Saud Al Turki, the founder of Brij Entertainment, a record label spanning Riyadh and Los Angeles, embarked on his musical journey while studying in Los Angeles. His label, initially a platform for his music, evolved to support and mentor local Saudi artists. Passionate about exporting Saudi culture and bridging cultural gaps through music, Al Turki plays a pivotal role in nurturing the emerging Saudi music scene.
17. Shahad Salman.
You might recognize Shahad Salman from her cover shoot and campaign images. The 24-year-old model from Makkah, Saudi Arabia, was diagnosed with vitiligo, a skin condition characterized by the loss of pigment at the age of four. Despite her challenges, Shahad found inspiration in the success of model Winnie Harlow, who also has vitiligo. For Shahad, it wasn’t just about her success but about representation and breaking down barriers. She embarked on her modeling career three years ago, defying expectations and embracing her unique identity.
18. Amira Al Zuhair.
Amira al Zuhair, a Saudi woman making waves in the modeling industry, recognizes her dual role as a role model and a barrier breaker. However, her journey into the world of modeling began unexpectedly during a lunch in Paris when a scout from Elite approached the 15-year-old. With her family’s unwavering support, she signed with Elite, launching her remarkable career. Her multicultural upbringing in Paris, London, and Riyadh has enriched her perspective, and she holds her Saudi culture and religion close to her heart. Proud of her identity and inspired by the ongoing transformation in Saudi Arabia, Amira is poised to make a meaningful impact in the fashion world while championing her heritage and faith.
19. Rex Chouk.
Rex Chouk, the enigmatic artist known for his vibrant and thought-provoking art pieces, has left an indelible mark on the Saudi art scene. Much like Banksy, Rex keeps his identity a closely guarded secret, but his candy-colored artworks speak volumes. Drawing inspiration from Saudi culture and blending it with a modern Arab sensibility, Rex’s work delves beneath the surface, revealing multiple layers of messaging. Rex Chouk’s creative talents have also been celebrated in collaborations, such as his partnership with Lacoste to depict the essence of Ramadan through captivating animations.
20. Amy Roko.
Amy Roko, the Saudi Arabian comedian, rapper, and multi-brand ambassador, has emerged as a powerful voice challenging stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding women from the GCC region, particularly those who wear the niqab. Over the years, Amy Roko has collaborated with renowned brands like Benefit Cosmetics and Levi’s, demonstrating the evolving role of modern Saudi Arabian women while staying true to cultural traditions and faith.