The Mosque conference: The world meets for an in-depth exploration of the masjid, its culture and its arts

- The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture partners with the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture for this unique event

- The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function takes place at Ithra, and focuses on the historical meaning, culture, evolution and functions of the mosque

- Over 25 International and regional experts from diverse fields explore innovative approaches towards the study of these places of worship from November 23-25

- Opening event includes keynote addresses by HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman and Dr. Stefano Carboni, CEO of the Saudi Museums Commission;

DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA, November 23rd, 2021 The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is pleased to announce “The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function,” a conference exploring how the unique history of mosques can be understood through their art. Committed to inspiring creative thought, broadening cultural horizons and providing truly global experiences, Ithra is collaborating with the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture to host this three-day event, focusing on the historical meaning, culture, evolution and functions of the mosque, at Ithra’s iconic building from November 23-25, 2021.

“The history of mosques is uniquely diverse, especially when viewed through the lens of art and architecture,” said Abdullah K. Al-Rashid, Director of Ithra. “It reflects our identity and culture, and deserves to be studied, preserved and presented for posterity.

“The mosque is ubiquitous to Arabia, but these buildings are much more than mere spaces. Places of worship, they play a significant role in Islamic communities today but they served an even wider purpose historically, forming the social and cultural heart of society. Through the conference ‘The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function,’ we aim to share knowledge and broaden people’s understanding of the mosque’s historical meaning, evolution and function. The complementing exhibition “Shatr AlMasjid: The Art of Orientation” further reinforces this ideal.”

Presented in conjunction with Ithra’s “Shatr AlMasjid: The Art of Orientation” exhibition, the conference brings together architects, designers, archaeologists, artists, writers, historians and curators to explore innovative approaches towards the study of mosques through the presentation of original research and insight about mosque-related cultural objects as well as the display of a range of items, from architectural ornament such as calligraphy and arabesque tiles to mosque furniture including lamps, prayer rugs and Qur’an stands.

Dr. Mashary Al Naim Secretary General of Abdulatif Alfozan Award for Mosque Architecture has stated that “The joint organized conference between AlFozan and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) comes within the framework of the award’s objectives in developing mosque architecture.” Dr, Al Naim also added that “the Award possess an international database for mosque architecture data, as well as a global professional network for all architects, researchers and professionals working in mosque architecture.”

The opening night gala dinner features keynote addresses by HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture; Stefano Carboni, CEO of the Saudi Museums Commission; Abdullah Abdullatif Al Fozan, Chairman of Al Fozan Group; and Al-Rashid.

“The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function” features over 25 international, local, and regional experts, including Robert Hillenbrand, professor emeritus of Islamic Architecture, University of Edinburgh Yannick Lintz, director of Islamic arts at the Louvre Museum Paris; architect and historian Sami Angawi, founder and director of the Hajj Research Center in Saudi Arabia; Mounia Chekhab Abudaya, curator of Islamic art at Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art; and Mohamed Abdel Salam, deputy director and senior textiles curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo. The conference papers and recordings will be published by leading academic publisher Routledge, and will be available online on Ithra’s website.

The conference facilitates a deeper discussion on the historical development of mosques with a special focus on Islamic art and the preservation and revitalization of culture and heritage through six themes:

  • Evolution of the mosque
  • Beauty and function of mosque objects
  • Aesthetics of the mosque
  • Traditional architecture: contemporary applications
  • Preservation and revival of the mosque
  • From mosque to museum

In addition, a side exhibit will showcase contemporary works related to mosques from around the world through special collaborations with Turquoise Mountain, Art Jameel and the Kiswah Factory of the Holy Ka’aba. Ithra also takes the conversation into communities with an outreach project, where the public can share their photos and stories for publication on Ithra’s platform.

Please refer to the bios and agenda attached here, and let us know if you would like us to arrange an interview with the guests.

For more information on “The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function” and the “Shatr AlMasjid: The Art of Orientation” exhibition as well as Ithra’s regular programs, visit www.ithra.com.