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Manal Al Dowayan, the origin of the world

The raven hair of Manal Al Dowayan reveals her deep look. The same intense contrast that you can find in her shoots in black and white, exploring women, memories and Saudi society.

Riyadh, 2005. At the time, only 3% of workforce were women although 60% of graduates at university were women. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia gave his inaugural speech as he took the throne in Saudi Arabia. In a part of his speech, he said that women will help men to build this country. This sentence

“In the following days, the opinion leaders of the country were exposing their points of view in the media: women will be able to work but only in jobs that suits their nature” remembers the Saudi Artist Manal Al Dowayan.

“Jobs that suit their nature”

Pushed by these words, she decided to react. She invited Saudi women already working in different fields: university professors, oil engineers, doctors, artists, film producers… to express themselves and creating a serie of portraits of women. She created the collection I am to question and witness the Saudi society of the time.


I am a Saudi citizen, by Manal Al Dowayan

I am a Saudi citizen, by Manal Al Dowayan


Developed during a residency in Project Space at the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha (Mathaf), the Crash explores the phenomena of women teachers from Saudi Arabia appointed to teach in remote villages across the country. These teachers are dying in gruesome car crashes for a variety of reasons, but because of local traditions linked to hiding women’s names to protect the honor of the tribe, the deceased women teachers’ names are never mentioned in the media.

Collecting data, maps and details about these accident become with Crahs a sublimation and a condemnation of this silent but widespread phenomenon.

100 Masterpieces

Raised in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, she continues her researches at the New York University (NYU) and at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. Her artworks have been hosted in the Venice Biennale (2009/11) and in The Victoria and Albert Museum in UK.


I am a UN Officer, by Manal Al Dowayan

I am a UN Officer, by Manal Al Dowayan


At the moment, Manal Al Dowayan lives in London, where she continues to explore the themes of the collective memory with a large focus on the state of Saudi women and their representation. Her work was recently exhibited at the Arab World Institute, in Paris, within the exhibition 100 Masterpieces of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art.

To learn more about Manal Al Dowayan’s work, click here.

Published on 16 October 2017