THE KINGDOM TO THE WORLD: EXPLORING SAUDI ARABIA’S CULTURAL INSTITUTES FOR THE TOURISM SECTOR

By Nora Al-Taha

Tourists head to Paris to experience art and culture at the Louvre Museum. London-goers will venture to the Barbican Centre for a variety of performances and the many museums available. Travelers who head to New York City’s bustling sites can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dubai’s visitors can discover the United Arab Emirates’ history at the Etihad Museum. Cities worldwide are filled with cultural institutes and museums that greet many travelers through their doors. Saudi Arabia is ready to welcome all curious visitors to explore the Kingdom.

From the capital city, Riyadh, to the artistic capital in the country, Jeddah, and the populous region of the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia is opening its creative and artistically fueled landscape with museums and cultural establishments for tourists and locals.

RIYADH – The heart of the Kingdom has experienced a tidal wave of creativity. As art flowed through and to the capital city, it welcomed an abundance of cultural projects. One of the anticipated institutes of 2020 is the Misk Art Institute. With its headquarters in Riyadh, the artist-led project will establish its exhibition spaces and artist studios. The Misk Art Institute promises to keep the cultural conversation alive in Saudi Arabia by supporting its effervescent creative community.

As the country anticipates a higher rate of tourists flooding the capital, a significant spot is the Misk Art Institute. The events and programs offer tourists a unique look into the creative side of Saudi Arabia that they may have never expected.

With the Kingdom’s vast lands and rich history, the Misk Art Institute is a vital point in the nation’s journey towards an expansive cultural mission. With its initiatives, exhibitions, educational programs, and public events, the institute inspires cultural engagement and promotes Saudi Arabia’s vibrant art scene.

EASTERN PROVINCE – The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is a cultural destination in the Eastern Province, a hub for creativity, art, and culture aimed to inspire passions and enrich minds. Ithra was built as a window to the world—for other countries to engage and explore Saudi Arabia’s rich culture and history through Ithra’s prestigious museums, programs, and events, and for Saudi Arabia to connect with and invite global cultures into the Kingdom. Ithra has been a meeting point, a platform for the world's cultures to mingle and learn about one another.

With Ithra’s architectural design winning the highestAmerican Concrete Institute (ACI) “Excellence” award in 2019, the real treasure lies within the building itself. The offerings found inside have fueled and ignited Ithra as a cultural phenomenon. The programs and events hosted in and by Ithra have coined a vibrant, creative, and culturally-rich atmosphere within the region for visitors and locals. The cultural institute has attracted not only global tourists but also neighboring countries and Saudi citizens from across the Kingdom. Ithra has been and continues to share culture, art, and rich knowledge to and for the country.

JEDDAH – The Bride of the Red Sea, the famous coral reefs, and the Gateway to Makkah all refer to Jeddah. Even though Jeddah was not always known as the artistic capital it is today, it has always been a bustling city filled with trade and history. As Jeddah attracts Hajj pilgrims and other tourists worldwide, it is a thriving city that reveals more prominent tourism activity.

Jeddah's busy business center also offers many museums, each filled with Jeddah’s vibrant culture and rich history. The museums explore artists, heritage, culture, and tradition, including Safeya Binzagr, Saudi Arabia’s prestigious female artist, with her museum Darat Safeya Binzagr which features her paintings and elaborates on Jeddah’s makeover over the past decades.

Other museums in Jeddah include Bait Al Balad, which houses a splendid variety of antiques from Islamic and pre-Islamic eras. The museum is a goldmine for passionate visitors who wish to discover distinctive antiques and architecture and learn more about one of the Kingdom’s prosperous cities. Along with that, other museums like the Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum—one of the oldest museums in Jeddah, utterly devoted to Saudi and Islamic heritage and cultures—are significant contributions to Saudi Arabia’s growing tourist sector.

The museums and cultural institutes across the Kingdom offer tourists and locals a look into Saudi Arabia’s past as the Kingdom rapidly escalates to its promising future.

As spring vacations are spent strolling in Paris, summer trips away at London, and quick getaways to Dubai, many cities have been marked on travel bucket lists. With its tourism sector open, many will flock to discover the rich treasures within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.