SkyWatch: Swords of God Sculpture

Another of Jeddah’s remarkable sculptures, the Swords of God actually spell out “Allah” in Arabic calligraphy when seen from a certain angle. Aref El Rayess is the Lebanese artist who created this work. He originally planned to build it from marble, but at 30 meters tall, he decided that marble was not a practical choice of material for the piece. So instead he built the sculpture from a steel frame which was then clad in aluminum. The tall three piece sculpture soars into the sky, and El Rayess preferred to believe that, despite the sculpture’s name, his more peaceful interpretation of this piece of art was more suitable to its grace and beauty. He felt that the light which streams between the columns symbolizes the respect and love which was taught by the Prophet Mohammed. The Swords of God sculpture is situated in Jeddah at the corner of a busy intersection which also has an overpass from which passersby have a very good view.
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About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Art, Landmarks, Photo, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Sculptures and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to SkyWatch: Swords of God Sculpture

  1. Wonderful and informative post as always, Susie! Love your capture of the really stunning sculpture! And, of course, I love your blue skies! Hope all is going well with you and that you have a lovely weekend!


  2. Chiara says:

    Susie–this is a wonderful capture and text to go with it. It must be a particularly beautiful and interesting sculpture to view from a number of angles including from the overpass. Perhaps if you get shots from other angles you might included them here. Thanks for this one!

  3. Chiara says:

    Maui Mike–great comment and photo collection. Thanks!

  4. Maui Mike says:

    Sala’am, ya sayida Susie!

    I am VERY pleased to have found the online photo journal of your life in Jeddah. I lived there from 1986 through 1990. I was pleasantly surprised to see your photos of many of the places I frequented, especially in the souqs. I spent a good deal of time bargaining for antiques and old bedouin jewelry in Al Bilad, the Old Airport Souq, and Souq al Yemani. It is interesting to see how many things have changed in the local landscape, and how little the people themselves have changed since I lived there. I was particularly glad to find your gallery of images of the street sculptures of the city. I have been trying for years to find the name of the sculptor who did the Sunflower Field. Thanks for posting the information. If you want to know a little more about the sculptor who did The Fist (on the roundabout on Al Amir Sultan Street), go to the WIKIPEDIA website and enter “Cesar Baldaccini” in the search field. There’s lots of info about his life and career on that web page.

    I took hundreds of photos while in country, but that was before digital photography was available, and I have only been able to convert a few (when I briefly had access to the conversion technology) to upload to my Flickr website (

    My time in the Kingdom was wonderful, and it really helped lift the veil of provincial attitudes that most Americans seem to be born with. I learned to speak Yemeni Arabic so that I could move more freely in-country. Of course, it was also immensely easy for me being male and in possession of a US diplomatic passport; the latter saved me from a false arrest and stiff fine in a two-camel village outside of Taif! I don’t imagine it’s gotten any easier for an expat woman to get around on her own than it was twenty years ago, is it? In my day, the wives of all our staff scientists had too hire local full-time male drivers (women were not allowed to drive) and travel on foot in groups of other women escorted by at least one male. As the wife of a Saudi-born man, do you find it easier to move about?

    By the way (I’m smiling at this, friendly-like), “sheesha” is the concoction of tobacco and fruit extract that goes in the ubbly-bubbly pipe; the pipe itself was referred to as a “nargile” or just an “ubbly-bubbly” when I was there. Of course, when my Saudi friends would ring me up at 1 AM to go out on the town, it was always to go for a “sheesha pipe” or two. That was one of my favorite social activities, next to a traditional goat grab!

    I DO miss my old life and friends in the Kingdom, so your blog site was a real treasure for me! I will stop by from time to time to wander through your archives. Shukran kabir, Susie!

  5. ewok1993 says:

    this is a very informative post. did you know when the saudi govt implented beautifying the city with all these sculptural installations?

    • When I was posted to Jeddah (1986), there were far fewer street sculptures than there are at present. I was told by several knowledgeable locals that the current (at that time) mayor, a well-educated Egyptian gentleman (whose name escapes me) was responsible for much of the street and road improvement that occurred during the 1980s. These improvements included comprehensive english/arabic signage for all Jeddah’s districts. I believe he also did much to encourage “roadside beautification projects”, which included commissioning famous sculptors like Henry Moore to create the monumental sculpture so prominent today along the Corniche and elsewhere throughout Jeddah. That sense of esthetics for public consumption is, for some cultural reason, almost completely absent in most of the United States.

      • Hi Michael – The mayor you’re talking about was Mohammed Said Farsi, who is Saudi but attended university in Alexandria, Egypt. He began his career with the city of Jeddah of 1963 when he was 29 yrs old. He is credited with being the vision behind Jeddah’s extensive beautification project, which included commissioning most of the public artworks that adorn the city.

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