Saudi art show dazzles despite snowstorm in Washington

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Updated 23 March 2018
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Saudi art show dazzles despite snowstorm in Washington

WASHINGTON: Three inches of snow fell on Wednesday, and the cherry blossoms shook with the weight. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for Washington to slow down — possibly even shut down — and enjoy a good snowstorm.
Keith Nahigian, one-time head of the Trump transition team, whose eponymous firm is escorting the new nonprofit Misk Arts Institute around town, had the awkward task of trying to explain to the delegation from Saudi Arabia that their well-laid plans for an evening art party at the Kennedy Center might go awry.
“It’s hard to explain that people here are afraid of the snow … they can shut down the government,” he said.
The delegation was a little confused, he reported. It snows in Saudi Arabia, but maybe not in the cities. And how can a government … shut down for a day? Kingdoms don’t. Can democracies?
As it turns out, no one needed to worry. Official Washington, at least the large part of it engaged in the Middle East, turned out in force, in snow boots, sipping mocktails as they jammed the art exhibit.
The Misk Arts Institute — an as yet amorphous but large new arts initiative supported by the Crown Prince — is launching a five-city tour, with stops in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston.
Saudi Arabia is the story of the week in Washington. They garnered some protests — giant security guards hauled small women in fuchsia who were protesting against the war in Yemen from the exhibit. On Wednesday evening, they drew a large panoply of well-to-do Middle East Institute members, professors, aid workers, business people and youngsters looking for their first step up on a career ladder that suddenly looks more promising now than it did under the previous administration, when Obama decided the best policy in the Middle East was as little as possible contact.
But there was substance beyond the Saudi story. Saudi Arabia, following in the path laid out by the Emirates with Art Dubai, plan to use high culture to establish their credentials in the world.
The Misk Arts Institute’s message: Art and innovation, especially by youth, are exploding in Saudi Arabia. The Misk Art Institute is likely to provide crucial support to many artists, including women who see the opportunity to make their narratives central as the arts grow in their country. “Now is the time to invest in driving schools in Saudi Arabia!” shouted one American woman over the crush.
The artwork in the popup display at the Kennedy Center, with work by 33 artists, included mural paintings by women artists from southern Saudi Arabia, commissioned by the Foundation, and Ahmad Angawi’s gaint ball of microphones, looking large and cutting edge under the low light.
On an evening when the other hot topic of conversation was whether to delete Facebook, that piece of art seemed less about Saudi Arabia and more about the world.


King cites center's role in enhancing national cohesion and promoting culture of dialogue

Updated 47 min 4 sec ago
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King cites center's role in enhancing national cohesion and promoting culture of dialogue

  • The Riyadh-based King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue was founded in 2003
  • It regularly organizes forums at the national level in different parts of the Kingdom

RIYADH: King Salman on Monday met Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohammad Al-Sabeel, chairman of Board of Trustees of the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue, and other members of the board at Al-Yamamah Palace. 

The king laid emphasis on the importance of the center’s role in serving the society, enhancing national cohesion and in promoting the culture of dialogue. 

The Riyadh-based center was founded in 2003 with the aim of strengthening national unity. 

One of the main objectives of the center is to formulate a correct Islamic discourse based on moderation and moderation.

It is a national organization that aims to spread the culture of dialogue and establish it as a norm for general conduct on the levels of the individual citizen. 

The center also undertakes the study and discussion of issues of national importance, which effect the lives of Saudi citizens.

It regularly organizes forums at the national level in different parts of the Kingdom. The topics covered at these meetings range from unity to youth’s expectations.