Saudi Arabia’s debut Islamic Arts Biennale spotlights 18 local artists

DUBAI (Arabnews): The Kingdom’s inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale, hosted by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, announced on Thursday that it would showcase the work of 18 Saudi artists.

The event, set to “Bridge the Past, Present, and Future,” will take place at the iconic Aga Khan award-winning Western Hajj Terminal in Jeddah from Jan. 23 to Apr. 23. 

The participating artists include Abdelrahman El-Shahed, Sarah Al-Abdali, Sarah Brahim, Sultan bin Fahad, Ayman Zedani, Basmah Felemban and Leen Ajlan.

The biennale will feature over 40 artworks and more than 200 artefacts from Saudi institutions.

Held under the theme “Awwal Bait,” meaning “First House,” referencing the Holy Kaaba in Makkah, the biennale aims to highlight the beauty and diversity of the Muslim experience. 

The event is being curated by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts, including Dr. Saad Al-Rashid, a leading Saudi scholar and archaeologist; Dr. Omniya Abdel Barr, Barakat Trust Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Dr. Julian Raby, director emeritus of the National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; and Artistic Director Sumayya Vally, principal of Counterspace, and honorary professor of practice, UCL.

Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, said in a statement: “The Diriyah Biennale Foundation has placed a special emphasis on nurturing and providing a platform for homegrown talent in its inaugural edition.

“It’s an exciting, first-of-its kind new stage for the local, regional and international art community to get inspired by fresh, thought-provoking perspectives on the diversity of the past, present, and future of the Islamic arts from around the world,” she added.

“Local artists from Saudi Arabia have done an incredible job in bringing the sacred aspects of Islam to life through indigenous and modern techniques and media. We are keen for people to join the dialogue and experience, firsthand, the sense of community that the faith can evoke, through art.”