The Allure of a Ritual: Celebrating Hajj through the Arts
27 July 2020
DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia is expanding its traditional practices and embracing new forms of expression. Through the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), the Kingdom has fostered a new tide of creativity and knowledge. Ithra is now consistently encouraging the Saudi community to become more socially aware and open. The local public has found their new champion for knowledge and creativity.
Ithra Readers Club
Ancient tribes of Saudi Arabia gathered around bonfires on cold desert nights to share stories. Storytelling, often in the form of poetry and music, was passed from generation to generation. Stories have long been the life blood of Saudi heritage. The yearning to learn has shaped the reading habits of Saudi culture. Today, the Ithra Library stands as a monument to learning: It houses an extraordinary collection of tales and knowledge for public consumption. Ithra constantly encourages the Saudi community to read, inspiring readers with the spirit of traditional Saudi culture.
The Ithra Readers Club encourages members to read classic novels and today’s bestsellers and to then discuss the new ideas and perspectives raised by the texts. The Ithra Readers Club embraces today’s reader as tomorrow’s leader. By supporting creative thinking and open communication, club members introduce fresh and new conversations to the Saudi community. These new ideas and perspectives, in turn, influence Saudi Arabia’s cultural growth and support its growth as a global leader in today’s rapidly advancing world.
Club members gather and discuss a range of books, including world classics such as One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and thought-provoking local titles such as The Trees and the Assassination of Marzouq by Abdul Rahman Munif and Death Passes from Here by Abdo Khal.
To broaden the reading culture in the Kingdom, Ithra launched the annual iRead competition. iRead aims to celebrate and encourage young readers through several innovative reading and book-related events. On a competitive level, the program encourages young readers and ambitious writers to hone their craft and share their creative output. The program includes workshops, lectures, debates, film screenings and plays — all of which focus on reading, creative writing, research methodology and critical thinking.
iRead’s varying and engaging experiences are designed to foster knowledge, creativity and culture. Along with the Ithra Readers Club, iRead was developed to boost reading culture in Saudi Arabia. Youth and adults are encouraged to expand their horizons and reach for higher standards.
Content Commissioning Program
It is Ithra’s mission to foster a more productive and educated community through creativity-inspiring programs.
Through Ithra’s Content Commissioning Program, local freelancers and small to medium enterprises are provided with opportunities to develop creative content and raise the quality standards for all businesses in the Kingdom. This program not only encourages freelancers and SMEs to participate and be creative, it illustrates the nation’s potential for higher standards. Expanding content creation in the Kingdom means encouraging new ideas and more unique content for the newly energized Saudi cultural landscape.
Ithra wants to inspire the public to read, think broadly and create confidently. It is shaping the country to form new quality standards. Ithra wants to inspire the public to take advantage of Saudi Arabia’s current blank canvas, advance Saudi culture and expand its global recognition.