Saudi Arabia readies for its first-ever Islamic Arts Biennale

Ahram Online , Tuesday 7 Jun 2022

Saudi Arabia announced its first-ever Islamic Arts Biennale to take place at the Hajj Terminal at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah between 23 January and 23 April 2023.

Islamic Art Biennale


Taking place at the Hajj Terminal, known as the Canopy Terminal, the inaugural biennale will carry a theme of Awwal Bayt (First House).

Awwal Bayt is a term derived from the Quran and refers to the Muslims' sacred site, the Kaaba, the Black Stone of Mecca at center of Islam's most important mosque, the Masjid Al-Haram (The Great Mosque), and the Qiblah, which is the direction of prayer to the Kaaba. 

The aim of the biennale is to showcase and celebrate the riches of the Islamic arts while creating an emphasis on a strong connection between all Muslims around the world as well as underscoring the links between the spiritual and the artistic aesthetics. 

The details about the participating artists and the works are yet to be revealed.

Built in 1981, and located at the at the King Abdulaziz International Airport, the Hajj Termina receives millions of pilgrims coming to Saudi Arabia to take part in the rituals associated with the annual Hajj. In 1983, the building was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The 70,000 square-metre location will host a large exhibition space in addition to spaces for creative workshops, theatre, and dining venues, the Islamic Arts Biennale will also extend to other locations

The event is organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, the same entity that organised the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, the Kingdom’s first international contemporary art biennale which took place between 11 December 2021 and 11 March 2022 at the outskirts of Riyadh.

Established in 2020, the foundation presents itself on their website as "a catalyst for global dialogue between the growing, diverse art communities in Saudi Arabia and across the world. Inspired by the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia, the Foundation assumes a pivotal role in nurturing creative expression and instilling an appreciation for culture, the arts, and their transformative power."

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