“What I really want want is for my time here to really make achievable, lasting difference.”
- Hani Farsi, MSFF Founder and Chair
Dr. Farsi was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies in Alexandria, he returned to his hometown of Jeddah as a qualified architect and entered government service in 1963.
Dr. Farsi rose rapidly through government, and just two years later he was appointed ‘Planning Officer for the Kingdom of Western Saudi Arabia’. In 1972, he became Mayor of Jeddah. These positions afforded him capacity for great change, presiding over the significant development of Jeddah, Makkah and Medinah.
In the midst of creating much needed infrastructure in Jeddah as Mayor, Dr. Farsi drew on his own talents as a draftsman and created a city that was as beautiful as it was functional. This allowed Jeddah to enjoy spectacular and unprecedented growth, with population growing five-fold during his tenure. The carefully preserved historic centre, the city’s charming parks and the gracious Corniche reclaimed from the ocean were all creations of Dr. Farsi that are still being enjoyed today.
As a collector of Islamic and Western Art, Dr. Farsi’s vision as a city planner was to integrate important contemporary art into public spaces. He believed these sculptures would enrich the lives of the inhabitants and reflect the ongoing cultural significance of the city both globally and within the Kingdom. He commissioned works from the great modern masters, including Henry Moore, Victor Vasarely and Cesar that still remain.
At the time he stepped down from public office in 1986 Jeddah boasted over 400 pieces of public Art. In 2010 Dr. Farsi was recognised for his efforts by being made a Patron of the Arts for the Middle East.
Dr. Farsi had always been conscious of the advantages and opportunities that he has enjoyed. Throughout his life he gave generously to numerous and varied charitable causes, hoping to improve the lives of those less fortunate than him.
His son and founder of the MSFF, Hani, explains, “I was brought up in a house where my father would wake up in the morning open his newspaper and read about a train crash. He would give a call to get the names of every single family who suffered the loss of a loved one and those who became orphans, and would then ensure that those families would be looked after financially. Those families would be taken care of by my father. He never mentioned it and very few people knew of it, but I have so much admiration for him and for those countless acts of charity and kindness.”