Saudi Arabia’s Ithra launches international COVID-19 Exhibit open for submissions

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Ithra started accepting visitors again since the end of the nationwide lockdown. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra launches international COVID-19 Exhibit open for submissions

  • The event will offer a collection of memories and reflections on people’s experience of pandemic through art

RIYADH: The King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has launched its international COVID-19 Exhibit, a collection of thoughts, memories and reflections on people’s pandemic experience that can be expressed through art.

Ithra started accepting visitors again since the end of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, but the effects of the pandemic remain on people’s minds and in their everyday lives.
Launched on June 28, the exhibit’s first phase consists of a virtual show highlighting objects that were particularly significant to members of the public during the pandemic.
Ithra is currently inviting submissions at https://www.ithra.com/en/covid-19-exhibit, and the gallery will go live to the public in July.
Examples of objects being sought by Ithra include newly made works of art or images of objects of particular importance: A pen, a photo of loved ones or relatives, a diary, a musical instrument, a book or a note from a family member.
In 2021, the second phase of the project will include objects selected by the curators from the online submissions, which will be on display at the Ithra building in Dhahran.
Ithra’s head of museums, Laila Faddagh, said that the exhibit was the perfect opportunity for the global community to tell their stories during a difficult and complicated time.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Launched on June 28, the exhibit’s first phase consists of a virtual show highlighting objects that were particularly significant to members of the public during the pandemic.

• Ithra is currently inviting submissions, and the gallery will go live to the public in July.

• Examples of objects being sought by Ithra include newly made works of art or images of objects of particular importance.

• In 2021, the second phase of the project will include objects selected by the curators from the online submissions, which will be on display at the Ithra building in Dhahran.

“While this is an unprecedented time, it is also an unprecedented moment of global solidarity,” she said. “Art is about connecting people through culture — and culture is based on the exchange of ideas and identities — but we connect maybe even more easily through common objects.”
She added that the exhibit was intended to be a forum for creativity and self-expression for everyone. “Ithra is in Saudi Arabia, but, as a leading center for global culture, we want to include people from around the world. In the spirit of welcome, warmth and empathy — especially now during the pandemic — it is an opportunity to connect with everyone, from anywhere.”
The exhibit aims to offer a platform to share objects that are meaningful to people and their stories, provide perspective on the effects of COVID-19 on people and their relationships with objects, connect cultures and create dialogue through international participation, encourage self-expression and creativity, and foster empathy and unity among people around the world.
Ithra, Saudi Aramco’s flagship initiative and the first institute of its kind in the Kingdom, is considered one of the country’s most culturally significant establishments.
During the pandemic, the center’s Ithra Connect initiative produced more than 50 ongoing programs for people nationwide to benefit from during lockdown.
Ithra Connect featured talks by prominent speakers such as British actor Idris Elba and US astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, full online access to Ithra’s library, and the “COVID-19 Journal,” an online collective diary where people from around the world shared their thoughts about the pandemic in Arabic and English.


Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

Updated 13 August 2020

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

  • Saudi Green Building Forum granted accreditation as an observer to UNEP governing body

RIYADH: A professional association from Saudi Arabia will play a key policymaking role at a UN governing body addressing the importance of environmental needs.
Following careful assessment and consideration of the commitments and engagements of the Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF), the nonprofit organization has been granted accreditation as an observer at the governing body of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). SGBF will play a role as an observer at all public meetings and sessions of the UNEP and its subsidiary organs.
Speaking to Arab News, Faisal Al-Fadl, founder of the nonprofit organization, said that the forum’s mission has been developing for the past 10 years and this accreditation was considered an important step in strengthening the role of Saudi civil society institutions, locally and internationally. This was in line with Vision 2030, which has not only played an integral role in the NGO’s mission but also paved the way for the Kingdom’s people to go the extra mile in building an advanced and resilient society.
SGBF was initiated in 2010 and established in 2014. In 2017, it became the first professional body from Saudi Arabia in consultative status with the UN.
“The Saudi Forum was an advocacy group with an honest voice to bridge the gap; through UNEP we now have the tools to become the policymakers,” Al-Fadl said. It is a challenge that the group founder says will be met by providing communities with the proper tools to implement commitments.
As the observing body on the environmental framework at the UNEP, SGBF’s role will include promoting its concepts and goals to be reflected within the community of change. For change to happen, people of a community at a grassroots level who have committed to the preservation of moral codes of conduct are key to changing mentality and behavior to guarantee a future for the next generations, Al-Fadl said.
“As an open platform, our role is being the honest voice of bridging the gap. Economic and social progress accompanied by environmental degradation and pandemics are endangering the very systems on which our future development and our survival depends,” he said.
SGBF represents the Kingdom and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development.
For the NGO, their next step is increasing the engagement of civil society, finding solutions to the problem of volunteer integration in societies, and to prioritize and address social challenges for women, youth and the elderly, calling on member states to increase their role in building and developing practices that minimize the negative impact on the planet.
Al-Fadl added that protecting the planet and building resilience was not easy. Without bolstering local action, including volunteers to accelerate the implementation, it would be a long time until goals were met and result seen, he said.
“UN member countries have the responsibility in confronting the human crisis of inestimable proportions, which impose its heaviest tolls on the supply chain for those marginalized and
most vulnerable in cities and communities around the world,” Al-Fadl said.