Saudi Ithraa aims to be named the region’s premier cultural destination by 2023

Saudi Arabia

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithraa) has ambitions to become the “number one” cultural destination in the region by 2023.

Ithraa was inaugurated just two years ago, and is headquartered in Dhahran in the Eastern Province, and is a massive corporate social responsibility project by the oil giant Saudi Aramco that provides an environment for transformative experiences to unleash the power of potential through arts, science, literature, and innovation.

Since the opening of the superstructure center, located on the site of the first oil field, it has received more than 1.6 million visitors.

Hossein Hanbazza, Ithraa’s Director, said they want to be the region’s premier cultural destination by 2023. They want to be a talented hub for creativity also in the region. Also, to be known as a global destination where they can connect with the whole world through their components and brand, so that they can bring expertise, both national and international, to interact with their young population.

Facilities at Ithraa include the Idea Lab, Library, Ithraa Theater, Cinema, Enrichment Museum, Children’s Museum, Energy Gallery, Archives, Great Hall, and Knowledge Tower Like most places in Saudi Arabia, throughout the Middle East, and the wider world, Ethra has been forced to close its doors as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

However, the work of the center did not stop as the procedures were rapidly diverted online, allowing them to reach a much wider audience.

Hanbazazah explained that they had visitors coming virtually from Riyadh and Jeddah and different parts of the kingdom. They saw that Ithra could expand its footprint beyond the fence of the Eastern Province. Then they created several programs that keep the connection between them and their visitors and audience in the context of the Covid-19.

He revealed that a book club used to attract 20 people on a weekly basis and that there were more than 80 people in the region. The summer camp for children saw the participation of more than 1,600 people, including children from London, China, and Singapore.

Ethra has also worked closely with UNESCO and the World Economic Forum to produce content.

Ithraa will host the annual Tanween Creativity Festival from October 28-31. This ground-breaking event, currently in its third season, is held under the theme “The New Next – Creativity is the Way Forward” and features high-level speakers and a series of targeted workshops and classes aimed at supporting and developing the creative industries in the region.

Tanween 2020 expands the impact of the event by adding a virtual display for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.