Jordanian artist sells the Arab world‘s most expensive NFT yet

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(Photos: Handout from Raya Almufleh)
Last April, Jordanian artist Raya Almufleh’s “Royal KSA” became the “most expensive NFT sold in the Arab World” with a price tag of $7,500.

The artwork is a collage of Saudi Arabian cultural trademarks, including the Gulf nation’s flag, camels, and coffee called, and is Almufleh’s first attempt at an NFT, she told Jordan News.اضافة اعلان

An intrinsic drive to seize opportunities drew the artist into the emerging world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The concept was and still is novel in the region, but with encouragement from her sister, Dina, and technical support from Ahmad Alsharkatly, a blockchain expert, she decided to give it a try.

The debut was inspired by the artist’s name, Raya, which means “flag”. 

“When you google images of flags, they were all very basic and typical. So, we started adding more of the country’s culture. We made it very artistic and pop-culture inspired and we came up with a design that is simple but also unique,” she explained.

“We thought to build upon that structure for every Arab country. People would learn from the piece about the country’s culture, landmarks, food, and so on,” Almufleh added.

The goal for Almufleh and her team is to introduce the Arab world to this new concept that has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for artists. She said that they were very happy with the response, and that they planned to drop their next NFT on May 8.

“We just want educate people and artists about the technology and empower women. This opens up a whole new platform for us,” she said.

Almufleh says she has never followed the “traditional course” set by society, which often undervalues art as a profession. The local artist forged her own creative path, rejecting the notion that success is limited to STEM professions.

“I wanted to send this message: We need to think outside of the box. We don’t (all) have to be engineers or doctors,” she contested, adding: “In our community, they tell you that you won’t find a good job in a field like this. But I was able to do that and it was amazing.”

At some point during her career, Almufleh realized she had put aside her own artistic projects and plans. The global pandemic, however, gave her the chance to rethink her priorities.

“I learned to become my own boss and to manage my own time. I’m surrounded by calendars and it’s all up to me. I started making more time for my art and I created an Instagram account. I wanted to take it more seriously because it helps me in terms of work, and it works as a portfolio.”

Back in school, her favorite subject was art and she jumped at every opportunity she had to work in the field. Almufleh then continued her artistic journey at SAE Institute in Jordan, where she enrolled in the institute’s animation program.

Almufleh later moved to Ottowa, Canada to pursue a degree in animation and design.

She was able to land a job before she even graduated from college and she went on to work with companies like Disney, Nickelodeon, and Kharabeesh.

Her main goal was to make a name for herself in the corporate world and to continue learning.

When it comes to her creative process, Almufleh views it as an experience to be shared. Every art piece is a portrayal of the emotion she is feeling at that moment.

Nature, Almufleh said, is among her greatest sources of inspiration; adding that she is bemused by garden flowers and the colors of the fall season.

“I want to have my own touch but still reach a number of people who would like my art. I love for it to be something unusual, bold, and eye-catching,” Almufleh added.

Though she does not have a preferred style or medium, she does have an eye for detail, which she employs in both her traditional and digital art. Whether it is on a canvas or on a screen, this quality makes her artwork stand out.

“I am better at complicated drawings than simple ones. I dive deep into the work and get lost in the details.”

The artist does not limit herself to anything. She is an opportunist who is always ready to take on new projects. As long as the work tells a story in good quality, she is open to it.

“I don’t want to restrict myself and close doors on great opportunities. Whatever pops, I take it as a chance to progress. Everything can be a learning opportunity,” Almufleh said.

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