The New Next: Bridging the Gap


“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

That memorable first line to L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between is as applicable to where humanity has been as it is to where we are going. One needs only look at our collective work history to get an idea of how quickly things can change – not only in what we do, but also in what we do it with.

Jobs that formed the backbone of the economy quickly become obsolete as development took hold at every stage of human advancement, and nowhere more so than with the industrial revolution. This trajectory heads ever forwards and upwards, and with the digital revolution society transforms at even faster rates, creating jobs we never could have imagined even a few years ago. Case in point: social media influencers. What began as a few bloggers a little more than a decade ago has morphed into a billion-dollar industry, built on creative content.

The development that drives us into the future would not be possible without creativity and innovation, and the two are intrinsically linked. You need to be creative before being innovative, but you cannot be creative without actually creating anything original.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture combines these two concepts into a powerful, unified force. Created as a supportive, experimental and creative environment, it is where small but potentially planet-changing work and ideas can germinate and grow.

Ithra is strategically positioned to be a catalyst of cultural change in the Kingdom, as Saudi Arabia rises as a new creative powerhouse in the Middle East. Through Tanween, Ithra provides a platform for local and international creative futurists to explore the different futures they imagine. It is home to those who want to try and find new things, play with new ideas and experiment with possibilities. It is where people interested in make a change in the world can come to prepare us all for the future.

Adapt or die applies to all forms of evolution, and it is indicative of humanity’s openness to adopt change socially that we can accept once-foreign concepts as our new normal. This places a bigger onus on our creatives to actively design in the present what will be accepted as normal in the future. We need to take what is “new” now – in everything from thinking to methods and materials – and build on that to create the “next”. Tanween 2020 bridges that gap.

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