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Eye of Dubai
Business & Money | Sunday 14 April, 2024 5:50 pm |

Why putting art in the heart of our communities matters to ROSHN

Ghada AlRumayan

Whatever form it takes, art is about expressing emotion, communicating ideas, and stimulating thoughts through creativity. Free of necessity, it is perhaps one of the most truly human undertakings and is “indispensable to our quality of life” as noted in Saudi Vision 2030. This is a truth recognised around the world, with public art in many different forms and locations – from roundabouts and waterfronts to hilltops and beyond – elevating cities, landscapes, and communities. Art uplifts us, helps us to connect with each other, and it improves our well-being and transforms our communities for the better.


Saudi Arabia has a vibrant, growing arts scene, which is gaining increasing recognition around the world for both its traditional and modern public art. At ROSHN, we are actively supporting the emergence and enjoyment of this boundless form of human expression, enriching cultural engagement, dialogue, and access across the Kingdom as a way to enhancequality of life and make a meaningful, positive impact on society.


As part of this commitment, ROSHN sponsored two recent major cultural events in Saudi Arabia, the Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium and the Diriyah Biennale. As presenting partner of the 5th edition of the Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium, we were proud to host the event at ROSHN Front and in our neighbouring SEDRA community. We are foundationalpartners of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation and, as an Official Partner of the Contemporary Art Biennale, we held a series of arts-focused workshops, and panels presented by local and international artists, researchers, and professors, facilitating crucial cultural dialogue and exchange. Together, these two events showcased the depth, quality, and international stature of the Saudi arts scene and the incredible value and potential this sector offers the Kingdom and its people.


The Tuwaiq Sculpture symposium brought together 30 Saudi and international artists over three weeks to sculpt natural rock into large scale public art in a live setting. This year,artists sculpted within the theme of “Dimensions of Movement”, exploring the essence of progress and expansion. Moreover, the sculpting process was open – public art beingcreated in public, allowing people from all walks of life to observe creativity from around the world reshaping Saudi rock, just as Vision 2030 is reshaping Saudi life. This live creativity was coupled with interactive workshops that discussed the past, present, and future of public art, offering participants – no matter their background – the chance to learn more.


Both ROSHN and the Riyadh Art Program share values-led commitments to empowering diverse communities, bolstering opportunities for cultural exchange, and taking responsibility for enhancing quality of life in support of Vision 2030. Through the Tuwaiq partnership, we are together enriching and transforming the arts scene in ROSHN communities,Riyadh and across the whole of Saudi Arabia. Yet, this is not the only partnership through which our YUHYEEK Social Responsibility program boosts arts, culture, and quality of life in the Kingdom.


The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale’s second edition is titled ‘After Rain’, and explores built environments, landscapes, and histories with a focus on themes of revitalisation and renewal – themes that are particularly poignant for ROSHN in its role as the national real estate developer. The 12-week event will bring together multiple generations of artists working across mediums, involving writers, poets, botanist, architects, scientists, planners, and chefs, establishing a panoptic view of the overarching theme. We are playing our part in these conversations by organising a live and interactive tree planting, part of our wider regenerative Green Initiative, and reaffirming our commitment to empowering women by supporting an event where 62% of artists are women.


Over the past three years, we have helped bring to life events as diverse as the world’s first Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah, also through our partnership with the Diriyah Biennale Foundation; the Jeddah and Riyadh Book Fairs, where ascommunity partner we brought the joy and benefits of books and literature to new generations of readers and authors; the Al Bisht Al Hasawi Festival, to showcase and celebrate the artistry and craftsmanship of hand knitting bishts, the traditional Arabian cloak; and the renowned international celebration that is the Riyadh Season festival. We have also elevated the music scene, sponsoring concerts by renowned Saudi singers Mohammed Abdu and Abdulmajeed Abdullah that have brought joy to audiences from across the Kingdom and the region.


These partnerships enable us to bring arts into our ROSHN communities and into the wider Saudi society, offering the public more opportunities to engage with culture and creativity. And these partnerships are also enabling us to redefine and shape the future of the arts in Saudi Arabia, by uplifting the Kingdom’s cultural and entertainment sector to international standards, empowering new generations of artists, and energising new economic sectors. This is another goal which is central to Vision 2030, which aims to expand the horizons of many promising sectors that directly impact citizens, including arts, culture, and entertainment.  


We want to ensure that this commitment to culture and entertainment – to quality of life and empowering Vision 2030’s goals – is embedded deeply in our projects and communities themselves. The Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium has helped to establish SEDRA and ROSHN Front as transformational pillars and vibrant hubs for arts, creativity, and community engagement within Riyadh’s wider cultural landscape. Meanwhile, the Diriyah Biennale is quickly becoming the centre for contemporary art in the region, breaking down barriers between the public and the world of fine art, and opening the door to important dialogues and exchanges within and between cultures.


Fundamentally, at ROSHN we are taking practical steps to transform urban living coast-to-coast across the Kingdom and encourage a life beyond the walls which surround us. We are nurturing our society’s roots to embrace national pride in Saudi heritage and culture, while opening our doors to the world by attracting global artists. By supporting the DiriyahContemporary Art Biennale and Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium we are proud to be creating new opportunities for new artists and new conversations. Together as sponsors, convenors, and curators, artists and audiences, we will inspire and enable fulfilling lives for the Saudi public, the communities we are developing and for every ROSHN resident.




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