In what is projected to be a melting pot of art, culture and innovation, Saudi Arabia will host its first ever biennale in 2021. Titled Ad Diriyah Biennale, in honor of the 15th-century UNESCO listed site of At-Turaif, Ad Diriyah, the event will be organized by the Ad Diriyah Biennale Foundation for Contemporary Art, a subset of the country’s Ministry of Culture.
Lead by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan and Aya Habib Al-Bakri, who will operate as Head of the Board of Directors and CEO respectively, the primary objective of the event will be centered around solidifying Saudi’s place as leaders in the art world. In alignment with their 2030 goals, the Ministry of Culture’s vision for the Kingdom will be manifested in the biennale’s ability to connect the country’s most talented artists with international and local audiences alike.
— وزارة الإعلام (@media_ksa) May 28, 2018
With the first edition taking place in 2021, the biennale is set to alternate in theme. Beginning with contemporary art in 2021 and moving to Islamic art in 2022, the objective of the rotation is to ensure sufficient space is created for Saudi artists whose artistic pursuits are dynamic and varied. With a host of international artists also taking part in the festivities, the biennale will undoubtedly mirror the international flair of all the international biennales that have come before it, while championing the artistic excellence of a region that has so much to offer.
Meaning “every other year” in Italian, biennales of the artistic kind have long been synonymous with cities such as Prague, Copenhagen and of course, Venice. First held in 1895, the Venetian Biennale welcomed 224,000 visitors and soon after, became one of the most important events to grace the contemporary art world’s calendar. Showcasing the ground-breaking work of world-renowned artists, biennale’s have since evolved into spectacles that embody curiosity and intrigue; not only for the art world, but even for those who exist beyond it.