Source of Light: Towering Italian sculpture unveiled in Dhahran

The 90-foot tall artwork consists of three towering bronze ‘trees’ that ‘grow’ from the base of the Source, the physical core of Ithra. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 06 May 2019

Source of Light: Towering Italian sculpture unveiled in Dhahran

  • Ithra is a Saudi Aramco initiative and was designed by Oslo-based architects Snohetta

DHAHRAN: Towering metallic “trees” in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province have been unveiled at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran.
The sculpture, from Italian artist Giuseppe Penone, is called “Source of Light” and marks the symbolic location near where Saudi Arabia first discovered oil in 1938.
The 90-foot tall artwork consists of three towering bronze trees that grow from the base of the Source, the physical core of Ithra.
It is Ithra’s largest permanent art commission.
“We are delighted to have Giuseppe Penone’s iconic work, ‘Source of Light,’ at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture,” said Ithra director Ali Al-Mutairi. “His poignant integration of ideas and materials located at the core of our built environment resonates deeply while creating space for contemplation. In our quest to foster cross-cultural exchange, this work offers visitors a unique and tangible example of global artistic expression. With the Source, Penone has synthesized memory and nature in dialogue with architecture to inspire our consideration of what has yet to be discovered. We are honored to present such work to the world.”
Penone is inspired by organic systems and natural forms — including wood, stone, resin, and the human body — believing in the connection between humans and nature. This commission responds both to the Source and to the natural forms and sustainable materials of Ithra itself, which evoke rocks and mountain ranges. The sculpture connects the earth below with the sky above, forming a symbolic link between these two sources of energy.
“‘Source of Light’ emphasizes and represents the energy extracted from the earth that helps life and growth,” the artist said in a statement. “It symbolizes the Source, where oil needed for the growth and development of the world’s economy was discovered. It celebrates with its own form and materials, including the gold that covers the central tree’s inner surface, the elevation of life.”
Ithra is a Saudi Aramco initiative and was designed by Oslo-based architects Snohetta. The buildings form four giant futuristic rock-like structures which support one another. At its center lies a deep and open square well — the symbolic location of the Source, where oil was first discovered in the region.
The journey to the Source takes visitors down a spiral ramp that gives different views of Penone’s artwork.


G20 ready to limit effects of coronavirus on global economy, Saudi finance minister

Updated 10 min 48 sec ago

G20 ready to limit effects of coronavirus on global economy, Saudi finance minister

  • G20 will continue to take joint action to strengthen international co-operation and frameworks
  • Finance ministers agree measures to tackle global problems, coronavirus

RIYADH: The meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors ended in Saudi Arabia with a determination to tackle pressing global concerns such as geopolitical and trade confrontations, as well as the challenge of the coronavirus outbreak.
The official communique — hammered out among the G20 policy-makers gathered in Riyadh over two days of discussions — said that global economic growth was expected to pick up “modestly” this year and next, on signs of improving financial conditions and some signs of easing trade tensions.
“However, global economic growth remains slow, and downside risks to the outlook persist, inching those arising from geopolitical and remaining trade tensions, and policy uncertainty. We will enhance global risk monitoring, including the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus). We stand ready to take further action to address those risks,” the communique said.

On so-called “trade wars” between the US and China — which was not represented at the Riyadh meeting because of the outbreak — the communiqué said: “We will continue to take joint action to strengthen international co-operation and frameworks, and also reaffirm our commitments on exchange rates.”
There was general agreement by the ministers on measures on infrastructure investment, technology development, and plans to boost domestic capital markets across the world, especially in emerging and developing countries.
But a note of caution was also sounded in several areas.The G20 finance ministers said that “we are facing a global landscape that is being rapidly transformed by economic, social, environmental, technological and demographic changes.”
Apart from that mention of the environment, there was little attention given to the contentious issue of climate change. Towards the end of the communique, the ministers and governors said: “The financial stability board (of the G20) is examining the financial stability implications of climate change.”
The finance ministers’ gathering is the first formal event in preparation for the summit of world leaders that will take place in Saudi Arabia in November, with the three key aims of empowering people, safeguarding the planet and shaping new frontiers in technology and innovation.
The international taxation system was an area of focus at the finance ministers meeting, with some countries threatening a controversial digital tax. The communique said that “we continue to support tax capacity building in developing countries,” and called on all countries to sign multilateral agreements on tax matters. “We remain committed to the full, timely and consistent implementation of the agreed financial reforms,” it added.
Other big themes of the financial G20 meeting included inclusion of youth and women in the financial process. “We support the emphasis on digital financial inclusion of under-served groups, especially youth, women and small businesses,” the communique said.
There was also strong support for the work of the global Financial Action Task Force in combating money laundering and terrorism finance. “We reiterate our strong commitment to tackle all sources, techniques and channels of these threats,” the G20 ministers said, also backing measures to tackle the financing of nuclear proliferation. “We ask the FATF to remain vigilant with respect to emerging financial technologies that may allow for new methods of illicit financing,” it added.