DHAHRAN: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Thursday launched its plan for 2020, highlighting new programs as well as old favorites getting an encore.
Ithra was inaugurated by King Salman on Dec. 1, 2017, and was developed by Saudi Aramco. The striking building was designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snohetta, which also designed the award-winning Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Oslo Opera House.
Its mission is to make an impact on human development by inspiring a passion for knowledge, creativity, and cross-cultural engagement.
“The start of this decade is particularly exciting for Ithra as we gear up to deliver a great slate of new programs and events in 2020 for our audiences,” said Ithra director Hussain Hanbazazah. “We are pleased to bring back favorites like our annual Tanween festival, in addition to new enriching programming as well as our other popular seasonal events.”
He said the team was ready to face the year with optimism, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective. They were working to deliver the best possible offerings, including cutting-edge theater, insightful exhibitions, culturally significant events and plenty of creative activities, he added. “Impact has consistently been at the forefront of everything we deliver at Ithra, as we continue on our dedication to broaden horizons, share knowledge and nurture potential.”
The launch of a new Twitter account, @VisitIthra, was also announced at the launch. It will document everything related to the center’s ongoing and upcoming activities.
Ithra also shared visitor numbers from the previous year. More than a million people visited the center in 2019 from more than 100 cities around the world, and 3,000 people contributed 250,000 hours of volunteer work. The center provided two million hours of teaching and education.
This year there will be over 40 plays from 13 different countries staged at Ithra. The center also aims to support local cinema with 23 films next year.
As Saudi Arabia diversifies its economy under the Vision 2030 reform plan, Ithra has reinforced its offerings with five key pillars: Creativity, culture, knowledge, art and community.
Last month saw the inauguration of the Ithra Content Commissioning Program, an opportunity for local creatives, freelancers and small businesses to develop new content, as well as the first Ithra Cultural Days festival that celebrated Vietnamese culture. Vietnam Cultural Days was a huge success, with over 45,000 visitors enjoying the festivities and experiencing authentic food, art, activities and performances.
From March onward, the schedule features programs, events, and activities that combine entertainment and education. The Saudi Film Festival will also celebrate its sixth edition in partnership with Ithra.
The year will culminate with Ithra’s flagship creativity season Tanween, which is in its third edition. It will have a new theme, workshops and international guests.
Last year Tanween featured 232 cultural, artistic and scientific events that ranged from art exhibitions, theatrical performances, workshops and seminars about the concept of playing as a tool that brings together education and recreation.