Hajj Terminal in Jeddah will host the first Islamic Arts Biennale

The exhibition will celebrate Islamic arts and culture…

Millions of Muslim pilgrims will be familiar with Hajj Terminal, but it’s now being transformed into an artistic hub, thanks to the Islamic Arts Biennale. The Diriyah Biennale Foundation has announced that the inaugural edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale will take place at the iconic terminal in Jeddah from January 23 to April 23, 2023.

Saudi Arabia is no stranger to major art festivals, as The Diriyah Biennale took place in Riyadh last year and now the first Islamic Arts Biennale is taking place next year. The theme of the Biennale is Awwal Bayt (First House) – the phrase comes from the Qur’an and refers to the Kaaba in Makkah, which is the most sacred site in Islam and the direction that Muslims face in their prayers.

The Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Transport and General Authority of Civil Aviation have collaborated to make the new venue a success. The biennale will be located in the Canopy Terminal, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1981 and received the 1983 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Plus, there will also be a purpose built 70,000 square meter venue that will include exhibition spaces, a theatre, mosque, workshops, shops and restaurants.

If you’ve been curious about Islam or are looking to brush up on your knowledge, this should be on your cultural radar. The exhibition aims to celebrate and enrich the cultural and artistic exchange between Saudi Arabia, as the birthplace of Islam, and communities around the world. The themes during the biennale will range from sacred direction (qiblah) to migration (hijrah), and it will explore how Muslims look at the Kaaba as their spiritual home.

Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of Diriyah Biennale Foundation, said: “The first Islamic Arts Biennale will be a pioneering event. Developed in a purpose-built venue at the extraordinary Hajj Terminal in Jeddah, it will provide a dynamic contemporary setting for Islamic arts featuring leading practitioners from Saudi Arabia and around the world. Presented by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, this inaugural edition builds on the success of Saudi Arabia’s first contemporary art biennale. Local and international audiences are invited to join the dialogue and to experience the work of leading artists in a unique setting.”

Sumayya Vally, Architect, Designer and Principal of Counterspace, is working as a curator on the project. Vally added: “It is an honour to develop the first Islamic Arts Biennale within this iconic, culturally symbolic and welcoming structure. The theme of Awwal Bayt invites contemplation of belonging. As curators, we are excited by the opportunity to create a temporary home, an entirely new physical setting in this context of the Muslim pilgrim’s journey, in which to invite artists and audiences to reflect on ritual, the sacred,ga the personal and the communal.”

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation will host a biennale every year, which will alternate between the Contemporary Art Biennale and the Islamic Arts Biennale. So put this on your cultural calendars.

Images: Provided