Lina Lazaar has entered the spotlight recently, simply being that she is the ex-wife of Rihanna’s boyfriend of two years, Saudi billionaire businessman Hassan Jameel.
Although he has been noticeably absent from her social media platforms, Rihanna and Hassan have been spotted out and about together many times. They are pictured above on vacation in Italy with their families. They have also been seen at a Lakers game, on a balcony in Paris, and out grabbing a coffee.
Jameel’s family owns the Abdul Latif Jameel Co., which has the exclusive rights to distribute Toyota in Saudi Arabia, making them the 12th richest family, according to Forbes Middle East.
Lina Lazaar was married to Jameel for five years, from 2012 until their divorce in 2017. The 36-year-old Tunisian art critic and curator is originally from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lazaar is an Art Critic & Curator
Lazaar has an MA degree in Statistics from the London School of Economics and an MA in Art History from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Throughout her career in London, where she curated the first auction of Arab and Iranian Contemporary art with Sotheby’s in 2007, she supported the emergence of contemporary Arab art on the international scene.
In 2017, the art expert curated The Absence of Paths, and exhibition for the Tunisian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. On its website, the exhibition is described as, “a human performance staged across Venice which, for the duration of the Biennial, represents an idyllic microcosm of the world: a place where human beings may still flow freely from one nation to the next. This is represented in a physical travel document called a Freesa, produced with the help of Veridos, a leader in producing secure identification papers for countries and companies around the world.”
In 2011, Lazaar curated The Future of a Promise exhibition at the 54th Venice Biennale, the largest pan-Arab show of contemporary art at the international art exhibition.
“Through the artworks selected, I wanted to investigate how artists from this diverse, fragmented region have responded to the often contradictory promises that have defined our history,” she told Edge of Arabia.
2. Lina Lazaar Has Been Heavily Influenced by Her Father, Kamel Lazaar
Tunisian philanthropist and international financier Kamel Lazaar created the Kamel Lazaar Foundation in 2005. The foundation is headquartered in Geneva and has offices in London and Tunis.
According to its website, “KLF produces and supports artistic and cultural projects in the MENA region. Although it is mainly specialized in culture and contemporary visual arts, KLF is becoming increasingly involved in the projects linked to heritage and education.”
Lina is the Vice-President of the Kamel Lazaar Foundation, the curator of the Kamel Lazaar Foundation’s Collection, as well as the the co-editor-in-chief of the foundation’s online magazine Ibraaz, the leading critical forum on visual culture in North Africa and the Middle East.”
3. Lazaar Founded Jeddah Art Week
Jeddah Art Week was a ground-breaking week of arts events and cultural activities in Saudi Arabia, having taken place between February 26 and February 27th, 2013 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
According to its Facebook page, “JAW comes at a time when the world is increasingly looking toward the Middle East for emerging creativity. In bringing together local talent, with the support of international participants, JAW will deliver a week of events that will engage the community in a celebration of the variety of visual and cultural practices that Jeddah’s art scene has to offer.”
4. Lazaar Founded Jaou Tunis, Inspired by Jeddah Art Week
Lina launched Jaou Tunis in 2013 by gathering artists, collectors, gallery owners, academics, art specialists, and more, around exhibitions, conferences, and seminars on culture and contemporary art.
According to its Facebook page, Jaou Tunis is a participatory cultural event, free and open to all audiences. The purpose of the event is to promote the culture and art of the Maghreb and the Middle East.
“Although the letters in the acronym are different, JAOU was born out of an initiative that I started in Saudi Arabia, JAW; Jeddah Art Week,” Lazaar tells Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.
5. Lazaar Believes Confidence is Key in the Art World
“It appears that we are all guilty of constantly beating the drum of a ‘half-empty glass’ when considering our current state,” Lazaar tells Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. “But if one scratches beneath the surface, some of the largest buyers of art are from the MENA region, some of the most ambitious art infrastructure projects are from the MENA region, and without a doubt, some of the most daring artists are from within the MENA region,” continues Lazaar. “We just have to believe in the natural process that we are going through, and remind ourselves that this is a renaissance, and not a beginning.”