Noura Al Kaabi attends inauguration of Islamic Arts Biennale ‘Awwal Bait’ in Saudi Arabia

ABU DHABI, 24th January, 2023 (WAM) — Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, attended the inauguration of the first Biennale of Islamic Arts being held at the Pilgrims Lounge at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She was joined by H.R.H. Prince Turki Al-Faisal, H.H. Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Jalawi, the Governor of Jeddah, the Deputy Minister of Culture, Hamed bin Muhammad Fayez, and a number of Saudi and international intellectuals and artists.

Organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation under the title “Awwal Bait”, the exhibition will run from January 23rd to April 23rd, 2023, and includes about 280 works by 40 artists. It features loaned artifacts from local and international institutions, providing unique opportunities for learning, research and reflection on various art genres, as well as valuable artistic dialogues.

Al Kaabi said, “The inaugural Biennale of Islamic Arts provides a window to celebrate Islamic civilisation and its manifestations represented in arts, architecture, music, and culture, as well as a cultural and creative dialogue that combines sacred sites and Islamic traditions. It provides artists with an opportunity to present their artistic and aesthetic reflection in their creations and communicate with the viewer uniquely.”

She added, “This event embodies an ideal platform to introduce the beauty and uniqueness of Arab and Islamic arts, and a forum for dialogue and exchange of cultures. We are proud of this experience hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is in line with the vision of the UAE in establishing the values of tolerance, love and coexistence.”

This year’s Biennial, “Awwal Bait, which t literally meaning “First House,” refers to the Ka’bah in Makkah al-Mukarramah, the holiest site in Islam, offers its visitors two linked sections, internal and external, embodying a state of harmony between the aesthetics of the holy places and the rituals of worship. The idea of internal art exhibitions revolves around Makkah, the centre of the Islamic world, while the external installations are more artistic productions that showcase the aesthetics, uniqueness and symbolism of the Holy Kaaba. A wide variety of contemporary works are displayed throughout the city and its historical holdings, the most important of which will be two wings containing archaeological highlights from the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.

The biennial is curated by an international team of curators including Saudi archaeologist Dr. Saad Al-Rashed, Victoria and Albert Museum London researcher Dr. Omnia Abdulbar, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Asian Art Honourary Director in Washington, D.C., and Co-founder of Counterspace Sumayya Vally, who was named on the Time100 Next list of people.