RIYADH: International artists will be offered the chance for the first time to take up residency in Saudi Arabia.
The new “cultural residency” scheme was among a raft of initiatives announced at a glittering event in Riyadh on Wednesday to launch the Ministry of Culture’s vision and strategy for the future.
They include arts prizes, scholarship programs and a culture fund to support artists.
“Today marks a turning point in the history of our nation,” said the Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. “It is rare that a nation undergoes such a massive revival of its culture.
“The transformation of arts and culture will benefit all Saudis, young and old, from every corner of our country. It will help build bridges of understanding. And for our children, we will build a Saudi Arabia where their creative spirits can flourish.”
#HappeningNow: Newly launched @MOCSaudi logo focused on #SaudiArabia’s traditional colors and displayed on screens as Saudi performers including Mohammed Abdo (below), Rashid Al Faris and more took center stage #OurCultureOurIdentity #MinistryOfCulturehttps://t.co/LRCiecm6R5 pic.twitter.com/bMq9PAR79z— Arab News (@arabnews) March 27, 2019
On the ministry’s Twitter account, the minister said a priority was to support Saudi talent.
“The Ministry will work to enable creatives and intellectuals and harness their potential,” Prince Badr said.
“We will work to promote culture as an enabler of coexistence and peaceful dialogue, and we are marching confidently towards a promising future.”
During the ceremony, the new Culture Ministry logo, focused on Saudi Arabia’s traditional colors, was displayed on screens as Saudi performers including Mohammed Abdo and Rashid Al-Faris took center stage.
The Culture Ministry tweeted a statement from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman saying: “We take immense pride in the historical and cultural legacy of our Saudi, Arab, and Islamic heritage.
“Our land was, and continues to be, known for its ancient civilizations and trade routes at the crossroads of global trade.
“This heritage has given our society the cultural richness and diversity it is known for today.”
Abdulnasser Gharem, one of Saudi Arabia’s top conceptual artists, applauded the initiatives.
“For us artists, the Ministry of Culture is a symbol of national pride,” he said. “It’s a vital social tool of intercultural dialogue that also serves as a platform contributing to the expansion of the dialogue and convergence between both cultural and intellectual capacities.”
An early contributor to the Saudi art scene, Gharem helped found the non-profit arts organization Edge of Arabia, which promotes arts education and provides an international platform to contemporary Saudi artists.
Aram Kabbani, one of the Kingdom’s top stylists and fashion consultants, commended the ministry’s efforts in supporting young Saudi talents, not only in the arts and fashion scene, but also in other sectors.
“The ministry has been doing an important and amazing job supporting entrepreneurs and local talents, providing them with the proper resources and care to allow them to thrive,” she told Arab News.
The cultural reinvigoration of Saudi Arabia began with the launch of Vision 2030 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016.
The plan outlines 24 goals in economic, political and societal development, with specific initiatives that include culture. “Our vision is a strong, thriving and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all,” the crown prince said.