Arbab Al-Heraf, a budding movement for art and craft

Young Saudis take up the ambitious act of spreading the beauty of arts



ARBAB Al-Heraf , or the Masters of Crafts, is an art movement launched by a group of young people who work to pervade the beauty of art, craft and music in Saudi Arabia.

Arbab Al-Heraf was launched six months ago in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 to create a peaceful and positive environment to practice and enjoy art. The group wants to make the Kingdom a harmonious place for everyone to live and promote an environment of cultural reconciliation with the West.

Members of Arbab Al-Heraf gather at a coffee shop with the same name in Al-Salamah district, where they also have their own art gallery to showcase young and old Saudi artists and their works.

The gallery contains authentic portraits, beautiful handmade sculptures, various kind of crafts, artistically designed diaries with covers made of luxurious leather, paintings representing the Arabian culture and precious stone works, in addition to a large number of books for free reading.

All of that in a coffee shop, so that visitors can enjoy the splendor with the aroma of hot coffee while spending a lovely evening in the company of the finest artists in town.

Every week, the decor of the coffee shop is changed to highlight a new set of artists.

Not just that, Arbab Al-Heraf conducts various workshops, musical evenings, painting shows and even meditation sessions on a weekly basis.

At the music gathering, they provide a platform for Saudi musicians and singers to perform their favorite songs from classical to modern. They present songs from different cultures and languages such as the beautiful "Hotel California" by the Eagles.

At the music sessions they play various types of musical instruments such as the oud, jazz instruments, violin, piano and guitar.

Shatha Al-Thaqafi is a young Saudi woman who regularly participates in Arbab's musical events. She has been playing the piano on stage ever since Arbab Al-Heraf gave her an opportunity.

“I have been playing piano for six years. My love story with the piano started when I was a little girl. I began admiring it after watching a movie about a little girl playing piano. Then the idea of learning to play piano came to my mind and indeed I did. Now I have become a real pianist," Shatha told Saudi Gazette.

“I like to play piano because I become glad when I see the happy faces of people who watch my performance,” she added.

"Arbab Al-Heraf is a group of talented artists, and I love them for supporting me and supporting other artists and musicians,” Shatha said.

Arbab Al-Heraf organizes many events to promote various arts. They also train children in acting and presenting theatrical shows while delivering a positive massage to the audience.

Moreover, the coffee shop serves as a platform for community reading activities. People drop books they finished reading in the shop for others to read for free.

The founder of Arbab Al-Heraf, Abdullah Al-Hodaif, said: "We are a social movement that brings together young Saudis interested in arts and crafts. We welcome everyone who has a craft. Our future plan is to take the Saudi artistic movement to all its aspects: music, fine arts, theatrical shows and movies. Our goal is to spread art. We want a beautiful paint and a musician in every Saudi house; we want life in Saudi Arabia to be more humane.”

Al-Hodaif added: “We would like to be a platform for all young people who want to showcase their works. We will host them and will embrace them."

Hadeel Bahri, a member of Arbab Al-Heraf, is an artist. She started drawing pictures of animals in a natural setting just seven months ago. Since then she has always been a participant with Arbab Al-Heraf. She said she received great support from the group.

Bahri said: “Come to Arbab Al-Heraf to paint, draw, listen to music and have some coffee. You can socialize with people, see arts, read books — we have a lot of them for free in Arbab Al-Heraf coffee shop."

Lubna Al-Khumali, one of the regular visitors, expressed her happiness after attending a musical session. Lubna said: “Honestly Arbab Al-Heraf are amazing. It makes me proud to find these Saudi musicians and artists truly spectacular. When I came here I felt comfortable watching the art and craft and listening to the music. I am very happy for Arbab Al-Heraf."