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.


$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

Updated 06 July 2020

$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

  • Saudi capital’s planning chief unveils ambitious strategy ahead of G20 urban development summit

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.