Ithra presents new ways to experience and learn about KSA’s cultural heritage at the Islamic Arts Biennale

Ithra presents new ways to experience and learn about KSA’s cultural heritage at the Islamic Arts Biennale

  • The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture takes a multidisciplinary approach at the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale bringing together centuries of faith and artistic expression
  • Traditional and contemporary artworks complemented by videos, VR experiences, and workshops and masterclasses
  • The Hijrah-based documentary film ‘In the Footsteps of the Prophet’ has its world premiere at the Biennale

DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA, JANUARY 25, 2022 –The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) champions knowledge exploration and scientific discovery at the inaugural edition of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation’s Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah, held from January 23 – April 23, 2023. One of Saudi Arabia’s premiere cultural institutions, Ithra highlights a reexamination of the relationship between culture and Islamic civilization at the event, taking a multidisciplinary approach to presenting original content an accessible format.

Ithra, the beating heart of the Kingdom’s cultural and creative ecosystem, is where imagination is powered, ideas are born, knowledge shared and culture celebrated. All these elements are on display through a range of activities at the Islamic Arts Biennale, including the art exhibition A Journey of Understanding, an academic offering and the world premiere of In the Footsteps of the Prophet, a documentary film based on more than two decades of research into the Prophet Muhammad’s hijrah from Makkah to Yathrib in 622CE.

The film will be screened publicly for the first time on March 9, 2023. It is based on Ithra’s ongoing Hijrah exhibition, aimed at expanding the public’s knowledge of the event that saw Islam catapulted from a small, persecuted minority to becoming a major religion that would give rise to a great civilization. Dr. Abdallah Alkadi, the world’s greatest mind on the topic, takes audiences on a captivating journey retracing the Prophet’s steps through pristine landscapes, pointing out actual locations the party visited, and offering invaluable insight.

A Journey of Understanding is based on a reevaluation of Islamic visual culture in light of audience research at Ithra, drawing on a representative cross-section of Saudi society to better understand their reception, knowledge and preconceptions of Islamic visual culture in its broadest sense. It includes culturally significant items such as a historic kiswa (the curtain of the Kaʼba door), a one-of-a-kind mahmal, ancient Qur’ans and manuscripts, and other artifacts related to the region’s cultural heritage. The exhibition is enriched by the video Story Behind Object Series: Ithra’s Oldest Qur’an Manuscript, and two VR experiences offering visitors walkthroughs of two mosques from around the world.

Ithra also loaned contemporary art pieces from its prestigious collection to the Diriyah Biennale Foundation’s Hajj exhibition.

The Ithra Academy is presenting a series of workshops and masterclasses to support creatives and art enthusiasts in developing their skills – Artist Portfolio: Strategies to Showcase your Work; The Art of Looking at Art; and Traditional Islamic Illumination, where participants recreate biomorphic patterns from historic manuscripts and learn to paint it following traditional methods.

“At Ithra we ignite cultural curiosity, stimulate knowledge exploration, and inspire creativity through the power of ideas, imagination and innovation,” said Farah Abushullaih, Head of Ithra Museum. “Our Islamic Arts Biennale participation takes an innovative approach to capturing and showcasing the Kingdom’s cultural heritage. We present a range of significant historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind objects in a way that would appeal to a global audience, while our multidisciplinary approach is designed to elevate audiences’ understanding of Islamic art.”

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation’s Islamic Arts Biennale runs at the iconic Hajj Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah until April 23, 2023.

For more information on Ithra and its programs, visit For Ithra’s media kit, visit


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