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Here’s What’s Happening At Saudi Arabia’s Tanween

Running until November 12th 2022, Ithra’s Tanween has kicked off with an extensive program packed with innovation, creativity, exploration, with participants taking part in networking sessions, panels, workshops, exhibitions and interactive spaces.  

Tanween’s theme for its first week was “Business Of Creativity,” which is aimed at the exploration of unique and progressive partnerships that could potentially lead to opportunities, including within the likes of the AI and robotics industry. The “Robotic” experience was one that gained much traction at the event with Canadian duo Bill Vorn and Louie-Philippe Demers’s “Inferno,” in which attendees were invited to become just like robots. In a major first for Saudi Arabia, audience members were allowed to either “watch the show and take selfies — or become the show.” 

Each person willing to take part was made to sign a waiver before putting their hands into the exoskeleton in a darkened room with loud music playing. The result of this experience was something like a dance troupe where none of the humans knew what the next robotic moves could be.

Participants were strapped in 13kg of weight and were asked to move their legs to the rhythm of the music and their arms were controlled by two people who served as conductors, DJs and “puppet masters.”

“This was a project that we’ve been working on for about seven years and that we toured all around the world in different countries, and this is our first time in Saudi Arabia, here in Dammam,” said Vorn to a local news outlet. His partner Demers added, “So these things you wear, the exoskeletons on the outside of your body, and they make your arms move, so they kind of incite you to dance along and move along and perform in front of the audience on a bunch of soundtracks,” Demers added.

Ithra’s Miznah Al-Zamil, head of innovation and creativity, explained that Tanween “explores the creative process in all its means and forms,” and that in its 5th edition this year, the event is looking to explore collaborations with culture, nature, and biotechnology for society. Al Zamil added that Tanween allows “creatives and innovators to discuss, share their ideas together.” The event has included a Challenges Exhibition, which presented the results of a year-long program where a group of creatives were asked to solve a problem that had a marketable solution. One of the most noted submissions was a pavilion in which fashion products were created by designers using only sustainable materials.

Tanween was established and launched in 2018 and has since become a platform for creatives and innovators to connect with global experts, whilst allowing them to share unique concepts that show just how creativity is constantly evolving with the times. The event has welcomed over 75,000 participants from within Saudi Arabia and abroad, along with over 200,000 visitors. 

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