Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Beyond The Empty Quarter

Today we've got another post in the Ottawa Welcomes The World embassy series, and this one involves Saudi Arabia: land of sea, sand, and sky... and especially the Rub' al Khali- the Empty Quarter- which I'd love to work into a book.

Stepping inside the Horticulture Building, there was a Bedouin tent set up, as you might expect to see in the desert of the country.

I was surprised by the art, by both men and women artists (a split of half and half, a woman told me). The style is quite different from Western tradition, with something of an abstract feel to some works, but richly creative and beautiful, and rather dream-like. I chatted with one of the artists, who spoke of her creative process.

This particular one was my favourite of the set. I found it haunting.

The colour choice on this one stood out to me too.

Coffee finds its origins in this part of the world, and hospitality is a big part of Arab culture. I don't drink coffee, and I'd heard Arabian coffee is a good deal stronger than what you find in North America. So I thought I'd try it. Yes, it was stronger- and it tasted much better than what we have here (sorry, Tim Hortons and Starbucks, but what you call coffee is swill and tepid bathwater). Cardamom is sometimes added to Arab coffee; I expect that was the case. This is one of the coffee pots, quite formal in its look. There was also a good deal of food offered, from meals to desserts such as pastries, and I had some of that and liked it.

Jewelry was also on display, as well as items of clothing for formal occasions for both women and men. One of the women at these tables said that gold and silver are woven into thread form and embroidered into clothing like this for such occasions.

This curved knife, sheathed, was among the clothing items. Where men once used this for defence, these days it is largely a ceremonial addition to a formal outfit. 

There were a group of men singing in Arabic as I was here. They, along with a good number of men in the crowd, were in Arab robes. Since I've never been in the Middle East, this occasion marks the most Arab robes I've ever seen in a single place at once.


  1. Quite some culture there, not keen on Starbucks either, rather make my own in a peculator

  2. Very interesting post. Thank you.
    I'm partial to strong coffee. We get ours from Nespresso, the best I've yet to put my hands on in the U.S. I've not had any from the Middle East, though I've made espresso at home with cardamom.

  3. Very interesting to see all the crafts from different cultures. I like the coffee pot. I drink coffee but I don't stick to any particular brand.

  4. I would be in my glory at an exhibit/event like that.

  5. @Bill: the art in particular was unexpected.

    @Kay: you're welcome.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Nancy: thank you.

    @Marleen: they were.

    @Tom: very much so.

    @Janis: I enjoyed it.

  6. A place I would never visit. So nice to see your post, William

  7. Some very talented artists there!

  8. Hello, wonderful exhibit and artwork. Thanks for sharing. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!

  9. Interesting display. I really like that coffee pot.

  10. It's nice they allowed you to take photos...that's not always the case with artistic works. I'm with you on that "haunting" photo - very beautiful, though; as is that coffee pot. A wonderful look at the works of this country about which most of us know so little. I do have a problem with SA, though, considering their peculiar views on women and torture and the fact that it was Saudis that were the instigators of 9/11.

  11. A lot of beautiful stuff, the paintings are outstanding.

  12. There are some cultures we know very little about. I can tell you were surprised. Thanks for the tour and info.

  13. @Cloudia: I'd like to see the Empty Quarter- but not be dropped into it with no provisions. It's an unforgiving landscape!

    @Christine: definitely!

    @Eileen: you're welcome!

    @Lois: I do as well.

    @Lowell: I think events like this do help foster understanding.

    @Jan: they really are.

    @Red: it was a pleasure to attend.

  14. Wow! What a coffee pot. One almost needs another name to call it.

  15. cool vibrant material. i love the painting with the staircase running through it ... that is awesome!! ( ;

  16. Ooh I’d love to try Arabian coffee. Sounds tasty! And the coffee pot is very fancy!
    Great art works. They look dream-like indeed!

  17. Those fabrics are so beautiful!

  18. That must have been extremely interesting. Thank youf or sharing all the exhibits. I enjoyed them very much.

  19. @Revrunner: it is quite ornate.

    @Beth: that's my favourite.

    @Tamago: they were!

    @RedPat: yes, definitely not clothing for everyday occasions.

    @Denise: you're welcome. I did enjoy attending this. There are still three more of these events left in the calendar, and I have some stashed away in future posts.

  20. Very intriguing and creative post and great shots ~ ^_^

    A Shutter Bug Explores

  21. Lovely to see your collection of photographs.
    For some reason I am drawn to your third one. Just love the colours in it and the way the light shines.

    That coffee pot is rather special too.

    All the best Jan

  22. Some nice paintings there. My favorite is #8, the blue eye.

  23. I didn't expect to see so many womean artists. Beautiful jewelry and fabrics.

  24. Thanks for the great photo tour William. It appears there are talented artists everywhere. I am always envious, because I am not

  25. All lovely images! Have a great weekend!

  26. @Carol: thanks!

    @Jan: thank you!

    @Bill: it's a good one.

    @Jennifer: I enjoyed it.

    @Mari: women artists in that country were a surprise to me too.

    @Pat: you're welcome.

    @LC: thank you.

    @Klara: very much so.