A series of stunning sculptures have been unveiled in Al Balad, Jeddah’s historic district and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some 20 artists, from Saudi Arabia and different corners of the world, including Europe and Asia, created the sculptures during the inaugural Red Sea International Sculpture Symposium, which ran between 20 November and 10 December. What’s more, the bespoke artworks were created from scratch in real time.
Hosted by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture, the symposium highlights the ministry’s commitment to develop the Saudi arts scene and create platforms for local artists to engage with international counterparts.
“The inaugural Red Sea International Sculpture Symposium welcomed sculptors from Saudi Arabia and around the world in one of the Kingdom’s cultural treasures, Jeddah Historical District. We are proud of our heritage and delighted it could be a source of inspiration for such talented artists,” Abdulkarim Alhumaid, the Ministry of Culture’s spokesperson, said.
He added the symposium is an integral part of the ministry’s work to back and develop the Kingdom’s arts scene. The spokesperson also said the aim is to “make arts and culture accessible to all and part of everyday lives.”
Three Saudi artists took part in the symposium, and one of them, Rida Alalawi, said, “I had the pleasure of participating in the inaugural Red Sea Sculpture Symposium, particularly because it brought together some of the world’s best sculptors in one place, to bring to life an inspiring idea with many fingerprints.”
German artist Jo Klay found the symposium’s concept “inspiring and powerful.” He also said, “I have learned a lot about Saudi Arabia and its nature during my first visit, and I hope the people of Jeddah like the work we have done here.”
The Kingdom has a flourishing visual arts scene, which is part of a wider cultural transformation. Jeddah, often described as the “Bride of the Red Sea” has particularly vibrant cultural offerings, including the outdoor Jeddah Sculpture Museum at the Red Sea city’s Corniche. The museum exhibits around 20 sculptures, ranging from traditional Arabic designs by local artists to more abstract works created by Europeans.