2 Saudi-Based Creatives Discuss What it Means to Be an Artist

Ali Cha’aban and Khalid Zahid shed light in Ounass’ new campaign

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“Art is propaganda, art is a voice and art is a means to seek change” declared Lebanese artist Ali Cha’aban in an interview with MILLE last February. And the artist evidently still lives by the very same statement.

Starring alongside Cha’aban is Khalid Zahid, Cha’aban’s long-time friend and sometimes-collaborator. The artist’s work is heavily inspired by his native country, Saudi Arabia. His practice began with calligraphy, later developing nuances that went beyond tradition to serve as reflection of modern Saudi culture. Most exemplary of his work is ‘Amal’, a barbie-like doll donning an abaya with wings made out of car doors. Created in 2017, one year prior to women gaining the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, Zahid hoped to bring awareness to the women’s rights in the nation. 

In a short film directed by Omani photographer and filmmaker Chndy, the Jeddah-based artists find themselves in the hot seat, probed by an unseen narrator who dives headfirst into their creative worlds, questioning their position as artists. 

OunassWhat is an artist? Who deserves to be an artist? And what does an artist wear? The online retailer digs deep into their conscious to get some answers. 

“Only some people deserve to be artists” says Zahid, while Cha’aban admits that he  “used to not consider myself an artist”. “I think with more practice and more development with my work, I feel like I’m still embodying that term.”

Seen wearing an exclusive edit curated by Ounass, the two creatives go on to describe what their sartorial choices mean to them. 

“Do you think what you wear represents who you are?” they’re asked. For Cha’aban, it’s all about individuality. Zahid on the other hand decides to shift the focus back to work. 

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