Saudi Arabia’s leading cultural center Ithra launches exhibit with future-forward, sustainable approach to museums and exhibitions

-          Ithra launches Net Zero exhibit to pave the way for a low carbon and circular approach to museums and exhibitions

-          The exhibit showcases the artistic perspectives of international contemporary artists on global environmental challenges with sustainable curatorial practices and considerations

-          The exhibit will be complemented by an educational public program for regional audiences

DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA,  September 13, 2023 The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) launches Net Zero, an exhibit showcasing the work of sixteen international and two Saudi contemporary artists, based on their personal observations of global environmental challenges. The artworks will provide a creative and educational platform to drive awareness of and engagement around the global transition to Net Zero, especially for the emerging contemporary arts industry in the Middle East region.

The artworks, nine of which have been commissioned specifically for this exhibit, convey the contributing artists’ perspectives on a range of environmental issues, to spark dialogue and ideation. The exhibit includes new commissions by acclaimed Saudi artist Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Danish art collective Superflex and a site-specific multimedia installation by Jordanian designer and artist Dina Haddadin. These will be displayed alongside pieces by leading international contemporary artists from Ithra’s permanent collection, including works by British photographer Nick Brandt, US visual artist Emil Lukas and French multimedia artist Philippe Parreno.

Zahrah Al Ghamdi’s site-specific piece City of thorns, made entirely of thorns as a symbol of the resilience of nature, highlights the impact of climate change on our cities and future, underscoring the responsibility we bear to protect the natural environment for future generations.

Another new commission, entitled Honeycomb Collection, created by Canadian artist Ava Roth in collaboration with a colony of bees, who have created the organic comb that features in the piece. This is overlaid on embroidered patterns which draw inspiration from traditional Islamic art motifs and echo the geometric pattern of the honeycomb. The use of sapphire and gold colors pays homage to the jewel tones commonly found in Islamic art, complementing the deep gold of the organic comb and evidencing a harmony between art and nature.

With the Net Zero exhibit, Ithra has taken a leadership approach to the future of museums and exhibitions by developing sustainable measures towards exhibition design, fabrication, installation, exhibition collateral, vendors and logistics. Ithra has partnered with ACCIONA Cultura, a global company that specializes in the creation of museums, events, interiors and immersive experiences with an innovative and sustainable approach, to develop carbon tracking and offsetting solutions including the design, production, installation and operational phases of the exhibition.

Additionally, Ithra has applied the seven R's rule of circularity to the delivery of Net Zero, as an evolved approach from the traditional ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ model to include redesign, repair, renew and recovery of materials. All curatorial elements were developed or procured responsibly, ensuring optimal utility and value. It was essential for the overall creative concept for all design elements to take into account not only sustainable materials, but also production techniques and transportation, from large pieces such as the exhibition walls and artwork supports, all the way down to the labels and the accompanying tote bags, catalogues and other literature. Likewise the physical parts of the exhibition needed to have a pre-planned onwards use awaiting them, which have been explored from the very beginning. This includes low-carbon, 3D printed walls that will be repurposed within the Ithra facility and recyclable, compostable and plantable exhibit materials, such as the event catalog and art labels for the installations. This sustainable approach to the exhibition also means a sustainable investment in and impact on the community.

The exhibit takes an interactive approach to building awareness around sustainability, with a concurrent comprehensive public program that provides organic learning opportunities to complement the artworks and observations they raise. Audiences, particularly the arts and culture community, will be informed about the sustainable curatorial process, in order to ensure greater adoption of such practices across the wider industry. The public programming taking place throughout the nine-month long exhibition, will include workshops and sessions on recycling, and will provide practical tips for people to apply in their every-day lives.

Farah Abushullaih, Head of Museum at Ithra, said: “The Net Zero exhibit aims to raise awareness and educate our audiences on sustainability from an artistic perspective. Part of Ithra’s mission is to educate the community on artistic practices, how artists reflect the world and engage with important and topical areas of interest through creativity. Ithra is especially keen to create opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue between emerging Saudi artists and international creatives, to prompt enriching and synergic creative knowledge exchange.

In the case of the Net Zero exhibit, the artists’ perspectives are expected to encourage further dialogue and ideation in the region, which we hope will contribute to the global conversation around environmental challenges.”

The Net Zero exhibit will remain open for a period of nine months, ensuring sustainable operations throughout this period and circularity of all exhibit materials following the closing.

Noura Alzamil, Head of Programs at Ithra, said: “Ithra began as an environmentally responsible institution since inception with the construction and operations of the facility, which has received both LEED gold and EBOM certifications.

Our future forward, sustainable approach to exhibitions and museums aspires to be educational to all audiences - from industry professionals to museum-goers. The experience will also inform the curatorial approach for Ithra’s future exhibits and we hope that it will set a positive benchmark for the global museums and exhibitions industry.

Net Zero will open during Ithra’s contemporary art event, launching on September 13. The event will showcase the Center’s contemporary arts programming and initiatives to support regional and international artists and foster cross-cultural dialogue. The exhibitions of contemporary art include Ithra-curated shows as well as open-call exhibits, partnered projects and one of the largest art prize competitions in the world – the Ithra Art Prize. The winning artwork of the 5th edition of the Ithra Art prize, by Iraqi-Finnish artist Adel Abidin, will be unveiled during the event.

For Ithra’s media kit, visit




For more information, visit For media enquiries, contact Saskia Brown or Lizzie Hubbard



Notes to Editors

About Ithra

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is a beacon of change in Saudi Arabia, and symbolic of KSA’s shift towards human energy based in culture, creativity and innovation. Saudi at heart and multicultural by nature, Ithra is a gateway to the Kingdom and a connection to the world. The Center creates new opportunities while preparing the next generation of original thinkers to lead in the creative and cultural industries. Ithra enriches lives and unlocks talent through a focus on cross-cultural experiences while encouraging the development of original content. The heart of the creative economy, Ithra offers purpose-driven programs and initiatives that support the Kingdom’s ongoing cultural transformation across the arts, sciences, culture and innovation.

About Ithra’s contemporary art programming

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is an active supporter of contemporary visual art. One of the Ithra Museum’s five gallery spaces is permanently dedicated to contemporary art. The exhibitions of contemporary art include Ithra-curated shows as well as open-call exhibits, partnered project and one of the largest art prize competitions in the world – the Ithra Art Prize, which from the next cycle, will award up to $500,000 annually to an artist either from or working in an Arab country. Ithra highly values partnering for contemporary art programing: For example, Ithra partnered with the British Museum in developing Wasl, Ithra’s calligraphy-oriented inaugural exhibition of contemporary art; with L’Institut du Monde Arabe for 18 of the works in the photography-based Mara’ina; and worked with guest curator Venetia Porter and the Saudi Art Council’s annual 21,39 initiative to mount Amakin. A collecting institution, Ithra routinely commissions work for its exhibitions, both from established and emerging international and Saudi artists. Highlights of the contemporary collection include Giuseppe Penone’s largest-ever sculpture – The Source of Light – along with works by Michelangelo Pistoletto, Muhannad Shono, Robert Irwin, Lulwah Al-Homoud, Do Ho Suh, Robert Polidori and Nadia Kaabi-Linke’s E Pluribus Unum – A Modern Fossil, winner of the 2021 Ithra Art Prize.


About ACCIONA Cultura

ACCIONA is a global company and a leader in the provision of regenerative solutions for a decarbonized economy. Its business offer includes renewable energy, water treatment and management, eco-efficient transportation and mobility systems, resilient infrastructures, etc. The company has been carbon neutral since 2016. ACCIONA recorded sales of €11.2 billion in 2022 and has a business presence in more than 40 countries.

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