Geometry and Art in the Modern Middle East: Artist Spotlight


As part of the Al Burda initiatives, the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development is delighted to invite you to the book launch of Geometry and Art in the Modern Middle East.

The publication celebrates the work of 24 distinguished contemporary artists from across the Middle East whose work reflects the intersection of modern and traditional elements.

The launch event features a panel discussion moderated by Roxane Zand, in which artists Samia Halaby and Lulwah Al Homoud will engage in an in-depth exploration of contemporary artistic practices and the role of heritage as a source of inspiration in shaping visual arts from Islamic cultures.



Roxane Zand, Author, Deputy Chairman, Middle East and Gulf Region, Sotheby’s

Harvard and Oxford educated, Roxane Zand began a career in museum and arts administration after three years in UNESCO. She left Iran after the Revolution to resume professional activities in London in the field of education and the arts, and as one of the founding members of the Harvard Club of London.
Ms Zand was an officer of the Iran Heritage Foundation before moving to Asia House, as well as a freelance consultant for numerous projects for the British Museum and elsewhere in the art world before joining Sotheby’s in 2006 where she is now Deputy Chairman for the Middle East. Currently she sits on the Advisory Council of the Pictet Art Prize, the Development Board of the University of the Arts London, and has been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London for her services to Middle Eastern art and culture. She is also arts editor for the Encyclopedia Islamica.
At Sotheby’s she has played an instrumental role in developing and contributing to sales of Arab and Iranian art, and has conducted a number of charity auctions to benefit causes in the MENA region.


Samia Halaby, Abstract Painter and Scholar

Born in Jerusalem in 1936, Samia Halaby is a leading abstract painter and an influential scholar of Palestinian art. Although based in the United States since 1951, Halaby is recognised as a pioneer of contemporary abstraction in the Arab world.

Halaby began her career in the early 1960s, shortly after graduating from Indiana University with a MFA in Painting. While teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1964, she travelled to the Eastern Mediterranean as part of a faculty research grant and studied the geometric abstraction of the region’s Islamic architecture, which has continuously factored into her work. During this time, Halaby launched a series of experiments that would initiate a career-long investigation of the materialist principles of abstraction: how reality can be represented through form.

Also influenced by the abstract movements of the Russian avant-garde, Halaby works with the conviction that new approaches to painting can redirect ways of seeing and thinking not only within the realm of aesthetics but also as contributions to technological and social advancement. This underlying notion has led to additional experiments in drawing, printmaking, computer-based kinetic art, and free-from-the- stretcher painting.

Halaby has been collected by international institutions since the 1970s, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art (New York and Abu Dhabi); Yale University Art Gallery; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Museum of Art; Institut du Monde Arabe; and the British Museum.


Lulwah Al Homoud, Multimedia Artist

The first Saudi to acclaim MA from Central Saint Martins, 2000, College of Art and Design, London. Area of research, Arabic calligraphy and Islamic geometry. Earlier in 1996, she finished a BA degree in visual communication design with Cum Laude

Developed a personal approach emerging calligraphy and geometry and based her early work on a mathematical concept.

Her work is currently illustrated and taught as part of the GCSE (year9) of the Saudi Curriculum

Representation of Saudi Arabia, The London Design Biennial 2018.

Her work was exhibited and acquired by international museums among them LACMA (Los Angles County Museum of Art), Jeju Museum of modern art in Korea and Five Continent Museum in Munich, Germany and The Green Box Museum in Holland.

The only artist from the Middle East in the inauguration exhibition that included 36 renowned international artists at Jeju Museum of Modern Art, Korea 2009.

Her work was exhibited in prestigious institutes around the world in Russia, China, USA, Europe and Middle East.

Invited for a solo Exhibition at Sharjah Calligraphy Museum during the art biennial 2015, Islamic Art Festival 2015 and Calligraphy Biennial 2016 at Sharjah Art Museum

Designer of many logos including The Saudi Arabian pavilion Logo and designer of 118 calligraphic wall panels inside The Saudi Pavilion, World Expo, Shanghai 2010

9 Major solo exhibitions among them Sharjah Art Museum, ArtSpace, Dubai and Naila Gallery, Riyadh

4 times in Sotheby’s, Christies, Bonham’s auctions and all pieces are sold.

Was Invited and participated in the celebration of 300 years anniversary of Meisen with international contemporary artists in Germany.

Worked with British Museum 2007 to introduce Arabic/Islamic art and design to British GCSE students.

Curator of international exhibitions since 1999, including Master Stokes, London 2003 at October Gallery. The first Saudi Arabian group art exhibition  2008, London Brunei Gallery.

Nabatt: a sense of being, Duolun Museum, Shanghai 2010 and Beirut 2010.

Co-Founder of Cube Arts in London 2010-2017 and Dubai 2012-2015, an initiative for cultural exchange programs and to promote art from the region internationally

She works with major museums in the region as an art consultant.

She is currently a member of board of directors of the Art and Design Association in Saudi Arabia.


Abdalla Almulla, Architect and Designer

Abdallah Almulla is an Emirati architect and designer based in Dubai. In 2014, Abdalla recieved his Bachelor in Architecture from Woodbury University in San Diego, USA. Where he was awarded, the Grand Critique Faculty Choice Award and the Best Degree Project Award in Architectural Design graduation research based on geometric explorations.

During his University years in San Diego, Abdalla was selected to speak and exhibit his architectural projects in “Next Fresno” Master Plan 2013 exhibition, The San Diego Art walk and Dwell on Design. While studying a semester in the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, Abdalla was involved in an in-depth analysis of Sustainable Energy Design program “Active Cities Active Buildings”. In 2018, Almulla founded MULA, a design studio that employs patterns and geometry as regulators in setting the design guidelines.

Time: 3-4pm

Location: Mina A’Salam Lounge