This season, all eyes are on Jeddah’s Al Balad, as a series of cultural events such as Balad Al-Fann breathe life into the city’s oldest neighborhood.
Jeddah‘s Al Balad district, the same Unesco World Heritage Site where Vogue Arabia staged its first-ever public event Hai Vogue, is undergoing a cultural transformation. The Balad Al-Fann program, in particular, was founded with the aim of reshaping the neighborhood into a cultural hub while celebrating its artistic roots. Running until March 9 under the theme Past Forward, Balad Al-Fann was organized by the non-profit Athr Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and seeks to celebrate the heritage of the district by bringing along the burgeoning local talent in the Kingdom.
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Balad Al-Fann sees the neighborhood come alive with remarkable artworks that bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary, in a series of exhibitions, creative workshops, and unique performances. Alongside public art dotting the lanes lined with colorful buildings, some of the highlights of Balad Al-Fann include ‘Nass AlBalad’, a community initiative by Zawiya 97 that simulates several topics related to Historic Jeddah, more than 16 craft shops to explore while interacting with the shop owner or participating in their workshops, and Souq Albado, which [rovides and opportunity for artists to create unique and distinctive pieces of art using recycled paper.
Balad Al-Fann is part of the larger Jeddah Historic District Program which seeks to “strengthen the tourism sector, develop the local economy, and increase awareness of the area’s cultural heritage, which is listed on the Unesco World Heritage List.” According to Abdulaziz Ibrahim Al-Issa, the general supervisor of the program, the events are aimed at developing artistic skills and entrepreneurship in the sectors, in line with the Kingdom’s larger Vision 2030 plan.