The earliest form of art is probably in the form of rock art. Most of this art depicted both humans and animals and their nomadic ways of life. Wusum, or tribal symbols, were carved by the Bedouins in many of the hills and throughout the deserts. During the latter part of the 1980s, there was a push to record where a lot of these sites are located and came up with nearly 1000 rock art sites!
Many of the handicrafts in Saudi Arabia have been passed down for generation. Nomadic tribes like the Bedouin have relied on weaving for their everyday lives. Woven rugs were not only for practical use, but the brightly colored strips were also for decoration. Other crafts include metalwork, jewelry, leatherwork, and pottery.
Architecture is also a form of art. In certain regions, the buildings are made from mud bricks, while buildings in different regions can be a couple stories tall with courtyards built into the center of the property. Islamic architecture is also very common and geometric in design. Arches and interconnected designs or tessellations are often used as decoration.Mosaic are also often used.
Pretty much all literature from Saudi Arabia is written in Arabic. Modern traditions rose out of traditional Bedouin poetry. This poetry played an important part in their society and was quite integrated into it. It was often oratory and passed down from generation to generation.
Today, authors face far more scrutiny and censorship from the government. Many publish their works outside of the country. And even some authors who are published still have issues with censorship.
A few Saudi Arabian authors of note include Haifaa al-Mansour (more known as a controversial female filmmaker), Abdul Rahman Munif (he has had his books banned and his citizenship revoked), Ghazi Abdul Rahman Al Gosaibi (poet, novelist, politician), Turki al-Hamad (known for his coming-of-age trilogy; he’s had a fatwa and death threats), Raja’a Alem (award-winning novelist known for her novel The Doves’ Necklace), and Rajaa Al Sanie (known for his novel Girls of Riyadh).
Up next: music and dance