As part of Saudi Arabia’s nation-wide events calendar, Desert X AlUla has been providing all the Kingdom has been promising its residents and visitors, proving itself to be a world-class event offering the best in arts, culture, music, and more, right at home. Desert X, an international, contemporary art exhibition that focuses attention on and creates conversation about environmental, social, and cultural conditions of the 21st century, launched its AlUla edition this year, inviting top-notch artists from across the region and beyond to take part.
The monumental program set in the historic region of AlUla, Desert X AlUla offers site-specific works dotted around the region’s oasis valley and sandstone mountains, such as Manal AlDowayan’s trampoline installation “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t.” The captivating work, which has been laid out to resemble puddles of water, was created by the Saudi Arabian artist to address water scarcity in AlUla, the home of Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Speaking to The National, the artist explained, “Puddles are humble, beautiful things, and they used to have a longer life on Earth […] Al Ula was founded because it had plentiful springs, it was this oasis in the desert, but as the climate changed these local communities had to start tapping into the underground reserves, so even when it does rain, puddles disappear almost instantly.”
Other participants in the exhibition include Zarah Al Ghamdi and Nasser Al Salem of Saudi Arabia, Egyptian-born Wael Shawky, the Danish collective Superflex, and the Dubai-based artist eL Seed, who is renowned for his contemporary Arabic calligraphy. Desert X AlUla is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for Al-Ula and is set to run until March 7, scheduled to coincide with Al-Ula’s annual Winter at Tantora festival. The art exhibition has been co-curated by Desert X’s artistic director Neville Wakefield and two Saudi Arabian women, Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza.