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Islamic Arts Biennale 2023
Islamic Arts Biennale

23 Jan - 23 Apr, 2023

Islamic Arts Biennale 2023

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale 2023 is held From January 23- April 23, 2023 at Hajj Terminal, the historically significant gateway to the two holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah, for Muslims across the world.

By connecting the past, present and future, The Biennale seeks to inspire and captivate though a showcase of vibrant display of Islamic artistry spanning over four centuries of history. Expect to engage with artists and curators through a series of site specific installations and public programmes while touring cultural and heritage sites.///

This first edition starts by paying homage to patron Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah (1948–2020) and celebrates 40 years of the seminal al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait. Alongside this, objects from around the world are displayed in an unprecedented mingling of institutional collections from Mali, Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Oman, and Qatar.

The Islamic Arts Biennale is organized by Diriyah Biennale Foundation. Established in 2020 with the support of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, assumes a critical role in nurturing creative expression and instilling an appreciation for culture, the arts, and their transformative potential.

The Foundation aspires to be a catalyst for lifelong learning and serves Saudi Arabia’s communities by offering opportunities to engage with the burgeoning local art scene.

Diriyah Biennale Foundation is also the organizer of  Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale was held in Riyadh

This Biennale explores the timeless rituals that have defined Islam from its beginning through to the present day. These rituals are about movement, sound, and invisible lines of direction.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the two Holy Mosques and the sacred landscapes around them, is the spiritual focus for Muslims across the world.

Awwal Bait, literally meaning “First House,” refers to the Ka’bah in Makkah al-Mukarramah, the holiest site in Islam.
This Islamic Arts Biennale is situated at the gateway to Makkah, in the historic Hajj Terminal in Jeddah. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the terminal opened in 1981 and was the recipient of the 1983 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The architectural concept is inspired by the existing tent canopy structures and the traditional courtyard houses of the past. Each year this prestigious building welcomes millions of pilgrims making their way to the Ka’bah.

Over the centuries billions of people from around the world have passed through this region, the Hijaz—sharing their rituals, crafts, traditions, and knowledge—making it one of the greatest areas of cultural exchange on Earth.

However diverse Muslims across the globe may be, Awwal Bait, the First House of Allah in Makkah, is in all their hearts, and always present in the daily rituals of worship.

This shared source of faith, shared philosophies, and shared sense of belonging unite all Muslims. The Islamic Arts Biennale juxtaposes contemporary art and historical artifacts as expressions of this sense of belonging—of being at “home,” both at a personal, human level, and on the scale of the infinite and eternal. The Biennale is organized around two main themes: Qiblah and Hijrah.

The Biennale provides two main areas for exhibiting artworks and artefacts.

The first is a linear sequence of galleries, while the second consists of two pavilions, Makkah and Madinah, and an outdoor area under the award-winning canopy of the Hajj Terminal for the display of artworks and art installations. The filtered sunlight, long vistas and views of sky and desert create a very different experience from the closed galleries of the first part.