The Ithra Art Prize-winning artwork “Palms in Eternal Embrace” by Obaid Alsafi was unveiled at AlUla Arts Festival
Ithra Art Prize-winning artwork unveiled as AlUla Arts Festival kicks off in Saudi Arabia
ArtDayME: On Friday, Saudi artist Obaid Alsafi unveiled his Ithra Art Prize-winning artwork “Palms in Eternal Embrace” in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla during a jam-packed schedule at the AlUla Arts Festival.
The 6th edition of the annual prize run by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is the first in collaboration with Arts AlUla. This year’s theme, Art in the Landscape, called for submissions of public artwork proposals that are site-specific to AlUla and that present interpretations of AlUla’s unique landscape and natural heritage. Alsafi’s winning installation will be exhibited for six weeks amid the 2.3 million date palms of the AlUla Oasis.
The unveiling took place amid a wider schedule of events in AlUla, including Desert X AlUla 2024, Wadi AlFann, the “More than Meets the Eye” show, the AlUla Artists’ Residency, and “AlUla 1445.”
This year’s edition of Desert X AlUla sees contemporary artworks by Saudi and international artists placed in the desert landscape of AlUla. Under the curatorial guidance of Maya El-Khalil and Marcello Dantas – with artistic direction from Raneem Farsi and Neville Wakefield – the exhibition features 15 newly commissioned artworks.
Wadi AlFann explores the work of Saudi artist Manal Al-Dowayan in the lead-up to her land art commission, “Oasis of Stories,” which will be unveiled in 2026. During the ongoing AlUla Arts Festival, two exhibitions will explore the artist’s work. The first exhibition features hundreds of drawings gathered from the artist’s workshops with communities across AlUla. These drawings and stories will eventually be inscribed into the walls of “Oasis of Stories.” A parallel exhibition presented in collaboration with Sabrina Amrani Gallery, titled Their Love Is Like All Loves, Their Death Is Like All Deaths,” delves further into AlDowayan’s practice, with works including soft sculptures made of tussar silk printed with images related to AlUla’s heritage.
“More than Meets the Eye” is an exhibition of contemporary works by Saudi artists on loan from collectors in Saudi Arabia, hosted at the Maraya concert hall.
Arts AlUla is also presenting two Artist Residency exhibitions: The Visual Art Residency exhibition “The Shadow Over Everything,” and the Design Residency exhibition “Unguessed Kinships,” which will run until April 30.
AlUla 1445 features images by Moroccan pop artist Hassan Hajjaj. He photographed local residents in February 2023 in an outdoor studio in AlUla and those photographs form the basis of this exhibition.
AlUla 1445 features images by Moroccan pop artist Hassan Hajjaj. (Supplied)
Meanwhile, Design Space AlUla will host an exhibition titled “Mawrid: Celebrating Inspired Design,” curated by Sara Ghani.