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AMBASSADORS

Mona Khashoggi

After completing an MA in Middle Eastern Studies, Saudi born Mona Khashoggi established an interior design consultancy and showroom in Jeddah, and soon co-founded the Mansoojat Foundation, a UK charity established to revive and preserve the traditional ethnic designs and costumes of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mona is now a prominent patron of the Arts, sponsoring young Arab artists, and is a consultant to Athr Gallery, as well as to various Art Fairs and Art Funds, including a role as the Middle East Ambassador to London’s Art14 Fair, and Photo London. She has served on the events committee of the English National Ballet, Save the Children, Barakat Trust, MAP (Medical Aid for Palestine) and the Madad Foundation. She is on the honorary board of AFAC (Arab Fund for Arts and Culture) and on the committee of Canvas magazine.

Q&A

If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?

One piece I would like to feature in is Kezban Betibaki’s Pulp Fiction diptych, which I own, and which I think represents ‘East vs West’. It shows one female in a long, beaded, traditional dress, with a gun pointed towards an opposite woman in a black bikini. I can relate to this struggle between Eastern and Western identity, with my being Arab of Turkish origin, with strong ties to my culture, but raised in London and Europe.

Who inspires you and why? an artist, a family member, someone current or historical?

I think I inspire myself. I am always learning and discovering. Many artists inspire me, but particularly Jumana Manaa, Manal Duwayian, and multimedia artist Ayman Yossri. I find Charles Saatchi inspiring for his work with young British artists, and his ability to introduce young international artists to the UK, giving Middle Eastern, Korean, Chinese, and Turkish artists a platform when no one else would. I find our late king Faisal inspiring too. I met him as a child and my late father was his private physician and advisor, I think he stood up for what is right against all, and I look up to him in the same way as Che Guevara. I also admire celebrities like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney for becoming activists, working with charities, and speaking out. Having worked with several charities myself, I know what a difference these voices make.

What are your cultural aspirations? what do you still want to see, do and achieve?

I would like to see further development of the art sector in Saudi Arabia, particularly a modern and contemporary art museum, and an international art fair, and I would like to continue to spread and share the work of more Middle Eastern artists. Separately, as a traveller and anthropologist, I would one day like to tour South America.

What are your favourite cultural cities in the world and why?

Marrakesh. London, for the ultimate cosmopolitan lifestyle. Madrid and Istanbul, for their history, beauty, and culture. The next city I want to visit is Berlin, because I keep meeting many great young Arab artists who come out of that city.

What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it?

I will be assisting with VIP relations and the Collector's Circle at major photography event, Photo London, in May, and hope to participate in 2139 next February. I'm also organising a small project to introduce art into hospitals in Jeddah. I will be the Middle Eastern Ambassador for Art 15 in London, and am currently working on a costume exhibition with the Mansoojat Foundation at the Ismaili Centre in London, opening on 25th November 2014 as part the annual Nour Festival. As always, I am trying to promote young emerging Arab artists when I can, introducing them to galleries and collectors to help with their practice. www.mansoojat.org September 2014.

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