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Saudi Arabia Opens New Cultural Center This Summer

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture

Since 2008, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture has been under construction with no set opening date in sight. However, a decade later, the Aramco-backed cultural hub in Dhahran is finally expected to open its doors this year to the general public.

As detailed in a recent Harper’s Bazaar article, visitors will be able to explore parts of the center by March. Halls such as Funoon and Kunooz will be accessible, the former hosting Saudi and Middle Eastern Modern and contemporary art, and the latter offering a look at Islamic design and heritage.

“The centre is undergoing its soft opening phase after [it was] officially inaugurated by the Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, on 1 December. We’re ramping up for full operations during the first half of this year,” a museum spokesperson told The Art Newspaper.

According to its website, the Center “is the first incubator of knowledge of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It brings together under its roof many programs that aim to create a positive and tangible impact in the fields of knowledge and culture by preparing the national talents for the knowledge-based and innovation-based creative industries.”

Late last year, reported that Oslo-based firm Snøhetta won a competition to design the new cultural center in 2007, and began construction of the project the following year, a $400 million complex marked by bulbous, pebble-shaped forms covered in lengths of metal piping.

The center comprises 100,000 square meters of cultural facilities, including a 930-seat auditorium; a smaller auditorium for a cinema; a 200,000-book library; the Idea Lab offering design exhibitions and workshops; Knowledge Tower, a multi-room venue; a museum; and archives.

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