The cultural motion in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has occupied a leading position among the countries of the world, due to the qualitative shift experienced by the local cultural scene.
This motion represents one of the most important manifestations of the great developmental and civilizational transformation that the Kingdom has witnessed since the launch of its ambitious vision “Kingdom 2030.”
Start of Unprecedented Cultural Motion
The launch began on June 2, 2018, with the birth of the Ministry of Culture by royal order, to be chaired by His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan as its first minister, concerned with the cultural scene at the local and international levels.
The Saudi Ministry of Culture is keen to preserve the historical heritage of the Kingdom while striving to build a rich cultural future in which different types of culture and arts flourish.
Ten months after the establishment, the Ministry of Culture launched its strategy and identified 16 sub-sectors on which its efforts and activities focus, namely: heritage, museums, cultural and archaeological sites, theater and performing arts, festivals and cultural events, books and publishing, architecture and design, natural heritage, films , fashion, language, and translation, culinary arts, literature, libraries, visual arts, music.
Through the first package of 27 initiatives, the Ministry of Culture reflected its role and presence and translated its strategy through practical steps and a comprehensive plan represented in King Salman International Complex for the Arabic Language, Nomu Cultural Fund, Red Sea International Film Festival, Cultural Scholarship Program, Biennial Diriyah, the National Theater Company, the National Music Band, and a unified center for cultural services and licenses.
This is in addition to the culture houses, art academies, the Book for All initiative, cultural awards, literature and art magazines, specialized museums, the National Film Archives, the cultural sabbatical program, the translation program, cultural festivals, the children’s culture program, oral heritage documentation, the annual contemporary art exhibition, Development of public libraries, fashion weeks, national culinary festival, art in public spaces, artist residency and Saudi City of Culture.
Newly Established Cultural Bodies
On February 4, 2020, the Saudi Council of Ministers approved the establishment of 11 new cultural bodies to be responsible for managing the Saudi cultural sector with its various specializations and trends.
The new bodies are the Literature, Publishing and Translation Authority, the Fashion Authority, the Film Authority, the Heritage Authority, the Architecture and Design Arts Authority, the Visual Arts Authority, the Museums Authority, the Theater and Performing Arts Authority, the Library Authority, the Music Authority, and the Culinary Arts Authority.
Since its establishment, the Saudi Ministry of Culture has presented many qualitative initiatives, most notably the designation of 2020 as the year of Arabic calligraphy in celebration of the Arabic calligraphy and the importance it represents in expressing the stock of the Arabic language, its history and aesthetics in its architecture, details, and forms, then it was extended to include the year 2021, due to the pandemic.
During the years 2020 and 2021, several initiatives were launched to serve Arabic calligraphy.
Intellectuals in the Arab world are awaiting, this October, the most prominent event, the 2021 Riyadh International Book Fair, which constitutes an important cultural event in the book and publishing industry.
The Ministry of Culture had indicated that the new session of the exhibition will witness a doubling of the capacity, to attract the best local, Arab and international publishing houses, and to provide distinguished content to the exhibition’s audience. The exhibition will host an international conference for publishers for the first time.
The year 2020 witnessed an unprecedented qualitative leap in the field of music, after the establishment of the “Music Authority”, its work began in cooperation with a specialized company, and it launched the “Ibdaa” platform, which grants licenses to practice cultural and artistic professions.
Besides affording a platform for training institutes, it also announced the start of receiving requests for musicians and instrumentalists wishing to join the National Music Ensemble.
Translation, Archeology & Tourism
After the establishment of the Literary, Publishing, and Translation Authority, it announced its initiative to enrich Arabic content and promote cultural exchange between the Arabic language and its counterparts in the world through the “Tarjem” initiative.
It was also announced the launch of the “Arab Translation Observatory” initiative and the establishment of the Saudi Publishing House. The authority also organized a series of virtual literary meetings.
For its part, the Heritage Authority approved the registration of 624 new archaeological sites in the National Antiquities Register, during the first quarter of the year 2021, bringing the total of archaeological sites that have been registered in the register since its inception to 8,176 sites in various regions of the Kingdom.
The Heritage Authority has created the concept of “Antiquities Register” to document immovable and movable antiquities, historical sites, and folklore pieces.
The most notable achievement this year 2021 was the registration of the “Abar Hima” site, which is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Najran region.
Saudi Arabia has also begun to invest in tourism and culture in ancient archaeological sites such as Al-Ula. The new cultural strategy also focused on the rehabilitation and training of talented and creative people, so the Ministry of Culture launched the “Cultural Scholarships” program and the “Experts” program.
On the local level, the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts offers intensive training courses in the arts of wickerwork, weaving (Sadu), hand embroidery, and pottery.