Saudi desert art expo puts AlUla’s natural, cultural gems under global spotlight

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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area. (SPA photos)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Saudi desert art expo puts AlUla’s natural, cultural gems under global spotlight

  • The exhibition has taken its cue from the extraordinary landscape of the ancient site

RIYADH: A Saudi desert exhibition inspired by AlUla’s natural and historic surroundings has been taking the art world by storm.
Desert X AlUla, the first site-responsive contemporary art display of its kind in the Kingdom, has brought together an international collaboration of artists for a cross-cultural exploration of desert culture.
The expo, which runs until March 7, has taken its cue from the extraordinary landscape and historical significance of the ancient site.
Some of the artists taking part in the project have been involved in the creation of Desert X installations in California, and their experience has helped produce stunning artworks based on AlUla’s ancient civilizations, natural beauty, sands and rock formations.
The expo, which has been held in cooperation between the Royal Commission for AlUla and Desert X, is part of the Kingdom’s push to promote Saudi art and culture on the international stage.

The exhibition represents AlUla’s cultural spirit as we continue to preserve and promote its natural and historical marvels.

Amr Al-Madani, CEO of Royal Commission for AlUla

Over the past year AlUla has been welcoming artists to the desert site, and their art creations are aimed at providing visitors with works that reflect the rich culture of the area, where caravans once traveled the old incense road.
AlUla was built by successive civilizations over thousands of years and was a place for cultural exchange due to its location at the confluence of three continents, serving as a link between the East and the West. Desert X AlUla has been designed to bring that cultural heritage back to life.
Amr Al-Madani, the CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “Desert X AlUla has become a new element of AlUla’s heritage through the use of art’s transformative power. Through it, we can promote the link between different points of view and find new fruitful cultural exchange opportunities to enhance friendliness and understanding among people.
“The exhibition represents AlUla’s cultural spirit as we continue to preserve and promote its natural and historical marvels. Culture and heritage are of big importance and we are proud to have a royal commission that supports creativity and unleashes new forms of interaction between society and the world.”
The commission is working to revitalize, protect and preserve the region through a fundamental and sustainable transformation with the participation of the local population.
American artist Lita Albuquerque has taken part in Desert X AlUla with an installation called “Al-Najma” (Star), which recalls the cosmic myth of an astronaut that landed on Earth to spread light and knowledge as a symbol of the return of life and the birth of astronomy.

FASTFACTS

• The expo, which has been held in cooperation between the Royal Commission for AlUla and Desert X, is part of the Kingdom’s push to promote Saudi art and culture on the international stage.

• The exhibition will continue until March 7.

• Some of the artists taking part in the project have been involved in the creation of Desert X installations in California.

Rashed Al-Shashai, an artist from Saudi Arabia, has created an artwork titled “Concise Passage” that tells the story of the commercial caravans that have passed through the region down the ages.
Using 40 steel rings, Lebanese artist Ryan Tabet’s work focuses on the pipelines of the Arabian Pipeline and Services Co. which connect the Arabian Peninsula.
Riyadh-based Muhannad Shono’s “The Lost Path” display represents the Kingdom’s youth as the source of new energy flowing through the country along a decomposed pipeline semi-submerged under moving sand.
Saudi visual and land artist Zahrah Al-Ghamdi has produced “Glimpse from the Past,” a feature that highlights a sparkling flash from thousands of date boxes, once the agricultural treasure of AlUla.
Sarab’s art piece throws the spotlight on the fertility and generosity of AlUla’s oasis toward traders crossing the arid landscape, while Manal Al-Sawayan’s work features artificial lakes where objects and images fade into the natural landscape.


World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

Updated 06 April 2020

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

  • Be strong, Pope Francis says
  • US faces ‘Pearl Harbor moment’

JEDDAH: World leaders urged people on Sunday to show courage and strength in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as the global death toll approached 70,000 from more than 1.25 million cases of infection.

Pope Francis described the outbreak as a tragedy, Queen Elizabeth of the UK offered her personal thanks to frontline health workers, and Americans were warned that they faced the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives.

Saudi Arabia reported five more deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 34. The number of confirmed cases rose by 206 to 2,385, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

The Foreign Ministry will register requests this week from Saudis abroad who want to return home, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and people in countries most affected by the pandemic. Those who return are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and about 11,000 hotel rooms have been set aside for them.

The Health Ministry warned that too many people were ignoring advice to stay at home. “Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent mobility in shopping and outdoor activities. This is a very alarming percentage,”ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“We are all in this boat together, and those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too.”

The six Gulf states have reported 6,757 cases of infection and 54 deaths from the coronavirus. The UAE, where 1,505 people have been infected and 10 have died, will increase its stockpile of strategic goods and waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year, said the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In Rome, on Palm Sunday, a Christian religious festival, Pope Francis celebrated mass by live stream with St.Peter’s Square empty of the usual huge crowds.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love’,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth gave a rare special address to the British people, only the fourth in her 68-year reign. She praised frontline health workers and more than 750,000 people who volunteered to help the state-run National Health Service.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

In the US, as the death toll approached 10,000, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives … our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”