PARIS: A unique exhibition opened its doors to art and history lovers on Monday evening on the banks of the river Seine in Paris.
The ‘Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition will present the treasures of the ancient cultural centre of the Saudi Aarabian region of the AlUla valley.
It was opened at the Institut du Monde Arabe (Institute of the Arab World) by the Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah and his French counterpart, Franck Riester, in a lavish ceremony.
Also present at the event were the director general of UNESCO Irina Bokova, IMA president Jack Lang and noted architect Jean Nouvel, as well as other guests hailing from the fields of archaeology, arts, history, culture, environmental and natural sciences.
The exhibition, occupying three floors in the Institute, takes the visitor through the valley — its nature, history, culture and the work being done by leading archaeologists from all over the world, but notably Saudis and the French.
Addressing a press conference about the exhibition and the AlUla region, Amr Al-Madani, chief executive officer of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said the first phase of the project, covering dozens of sites and spread over a large area, would be completed by the end of 2023.
‘’But from October 2020, visitors from all over the world will be able to see for themselves this cradle of civilization that has been at the historic crossroads connecting Europe, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Asia,’’ he added.
Talking about the importance of the site, Al-Madani said that AlUla represented an important piece of the history for the entire region and due to its strategic location and continuous inhabitation, saying it could unlock some of the mysteries that still surround the history of parts of the Middle East.
Lang, a former French Minister, said he was captivated when he discovered AlUla for himself the first time five years ago.
He said that it was then when he decided to enhance cooperation between French and Saudi researchers, historians and archaeologists to jointly present the jewel of AlUla to the rest of the world.
Visitors to the exhibition can also see impressive immersive photography shot by renowned photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
The exhibition in Paris will formally open its doors to the public on Wednesday October 9 and will run until January 19 next year. It has been jointly curated by Laila Nehmé and Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani.