Abdul Latif Jameel to build SR100 million arts center

Updated 12 February 2014

Abdul Latif Jameel to build SR100 million arts center

Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) plans to build a SR100 million center for artists and art lovers in Jeddah.
An international architectural firm is currently designing the “Beyt Jameel” or "Art Jameel" project over 7,000 square meters, which would feature an exhibition space specifically for the work of artists who entered the Jameel Prize, an Islamic arts contest, and local and international exhibitions.
Other areas would be designed for educational purposes, including an art laboratory, training rooms for lectures, events hall, cafeteria and retail outlets.
The plan is for the center to become a home for artists in all areas including Islamic civilization, drawings, paintings, calligraphy and design.
Fadi Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, president of ALJCI International, said Art Jameel is the new name for the organization's arts and culture initiatives that had been ongoing for the last 10 years. The initiative’s sole purpose would be to nurture art and cultural programs, just like ALJCI’s Bab Rizq Jameel initiative was set up to create jobs for people in the region.
He said the initiative would support Saudi artists, particularly young men and women, discover talent and foster skills, while giving them a platform to promote their creative work. He said Art Jameel would offer Saudis international scholarships to study with renowned artists at major international training centers.
He called on the Saudi business community to launch more initiatives to support artists across the Kingdom. He thanked the Ministry of Culture and Information and the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts for their continued support.
Speaking at a press conference earlier, Ibrahim Mohammed Badawood, managing director of ALJCI, said the organization had bought the land for the project and an international firm was designing the center.
Badawood said Art Jameel would be a sustainable nonprofit organization with operational expenses of the first year covered by events and programs.
Ten years ago, the ALJCI started renovating the Islamic Art Gallery at the famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Later, the gallery was renamed the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art. In 2006, the ALJCI launched the bi-annual Jameel Prize for Islamic Art, which has now been held three times.
This was followed by the launch of the Art Jameel Photography Award and an Art Center in Dubai. Other initiatives include "First Edition" and the "ALJ Art Olympics," and partnerships with art institutions including Edge of Arabia, Arabian Wings and the Crossway Foundation. The ALJCI was also part of a project to restore sculptures in Jeddah.


Morocco’s Gnawa musical culture listed by UNESCO

Updated 13 December 2019

Morocco’s Gnawa musical culture listed by UNESCO

  • The tradition, which includes the veneration of Islamic holy men, dates back to at least the 16th century

RABAT: Gnawa culture, a centuries-old Moroccan practice rooted in music, African rituals and Sufi traditions, was on Thursday added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Gnawa refers to a “set of musical productions, fraternal practices and therapeutic rituals where the secular mixes with the sacred,” according to the nomination submitted by Morocco.

Often dressed in colorful outfits, Gnawa musicians play the guenbri, a type of lute with three strings, accompanied by steel castanets called krakebs.

They practice “a therapeutic ritual of possession ... which takes the form of all-night ceremonies of rhythms and trance combining ancestral African practices, Arab-Muslim influences and native Berber cultural performances,” the nomination document reads.

The tradition, which includes the veneration of Islamic holy men, dates back to at least the 16th century.

“Originally practiced and transmitted by groups and individuals from slavery and the slave trade,” today it is one of the many facets of Moroccan culture and identity.

Gnawa was popularized by a festival that started in 1997 in the southern port city of Essaouira.Until then, Gnawa brotherhoods had been little known, even marginalized.

Now, they attract waves of fans each year from across the globe to the Gnawa and World Music Festival in Essaouira that highlights a unique mix of musical styles.

Essaouira has seen greats such as Pat Metheny, Didier Lockwood and Marcus Miller perform with the most famous masters of Gnawa music, fusing the genre with other styles such as blues and jazz.

The number of brotherhoods and master musicians “is constantly growing in Morocco’s villages and major cities,” according to the nomination.

Gnawa groups “form associations and organize festivals” year-round, which enable the younger generation “to have knowledge of both the lyrics and musical instruments as well as practices and rituals” linked to Gnawa culture.