Saudi Arabia’s holiday season full of ‘Summer Vibes’


Tourists who are longing for outings but have to forgo foreign trips due to the pandemic are encouraged to explore the diversity of Saudi destinations — from the clear water beaches to rugged mountain tops to bustling cities. (Supplied)

  • Saudi Tourism Authority’s program, bringing 500 rich and fun experiences across 11 destinations, runs until September end

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s “Summer Vibes” is bringing 500 tourist experiences across 11 destinations to Saudi residents this summer in what promises to be a rich and fun experience for all.

The Saudi Tourism Authority has launched its Saudi Summer Program 2021, running from June 24 until the end of September, offering tourist experiences through the Visit Saudi platform alongside 250 private-sector partners.

The “Summer Vibes” program targets local and international tourists with some of the best destinations available — from the shores of Jeddah and Yanbu to Umluj and King Abdullah Economic City, to the cooler mountainous regions of Taif, Baha and Asir. Experiences can also be enjoyed across the historical and heritage areas of Tabuk, AlUla and Al-Ahsa, and the Kingdom’s beating heart, Riyadh.

Dania Al-Ali, a 33-year-old mother of two, decided to forgo any international trips with her family this summer due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news of the program excited her as the long summer will need to be filled with some sort of activities for her young children.

“We’ve made it a habit to travel every summer but things changed since last summer and we don’t really want to risk it this year,” she told Arab News. “It’s better to be closer to home and to experience something new, and there’s so much to see here. I think this is going to be a good one just like every other summer vacation.”

“The launch of the Saudi summer program this year highlights the determination of the tourism sector in the Kingdom, despite the ongoing challenges facing the global tourism sector, to edge closer to achieving our ambitious goals,” said Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Tourism Authority.

“In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which seeks to cement Saudi’s position as one of the most important tourist destinations in the region, the launch of the Saudi summer program is a key contributor to strengthening the efforts of the tourism sector, to develop our destinations, provide investment opportunities, create permanent and seasonal jobs for local communities, and contribute to advancing economic and social development in the Kingdom,” he said.

CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority Fahd Hamidaddin said: “Once again, we encourage tourists to explore the diversity of Saudi’s summer destinations, from the clear water beaches to rugged mountain tops to bustling cities. The efforts of the Saudi Tourism Authority are supported by our partners in the public and private sectors and are key to the creation, implementation and success of all programs,” he said.

Information is available on the Visit Saudi website and phone app (search “Visit Saudi” in the app store), with details available in several languages. Tourists can also contact the Tourist Care Center (930) and speak to the dedicated team working around the clock to answer all inquiries.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Art Jameel announces opening date for Hayy Jameel cultural complex in Jeddah


The long-awaited Hayy Jameel has announced it will finally open the doors this winter. Supplied

  • The 17,000-square-meter cultural complex will open in Jeddah this winter, 2021

DUBAI: In another win for the Saudi art scene, the long-awaited Hayy Jameel has announced it will finally open the doors to its sprawling 17,000-square-meter cultural complex in Jeddah in winter 2021. Hayy Jameel, which derives its name from the Arabic word for “neighborhood,” intends to be exactly such — a space for collaboration and creative exchange. The new cultural complex adds to the growing list of new cultural enterprises launched in the Kingdom over the last several years as Saudi Arabia continues its mission to push for a “creative economy.”

“Hayy Jameel is set to be a home-from-home for Jeddah’s creative community — a dynamic, multidisciplinary complex created specifically to support the art scene and nurture next-generation talent,” Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, told Arab News.

Hayy Jameel three-storey render. Supplied

“This is a hugely exciting, new era for Saudi culture, in general. Now, complementing and supporting the dynamic and large-scale developments led by the Ministry of Culture and government-affiliated entities, we have the first major not-for-profit, private sector contribution and one with a wholly civic purpose,” she added.

Located in a three-story edifice in the residential area of Al-Mohammadiyyah in north Jeddah, Hayy Jameel will include the launch of Hayy Cinema, a 200-seat cinema that marks Saudi Arabia’s first independent cinema; Hayy Arts, a 700-square-meter exhibition center; Hayy Studio, an artists’ studio; Feta Hayy, a multi-purpose space for performances, workshops and talks; Hayy Learning, a community-focused education platform featuring a program that offers in-person and virtual learning, research and apprenticeships; and Hayy Residents, a space that will bring together pioneering creative businesses from Jeddah, ranging from contemporary art and performance to design and publishing, as well as baking institutes, new cafes and restaurants.

The the interior space is open and centered around Saha. Supplied

The complex is designed by waiwai, a Dubai and Tokyo-based architectural studio, also the creator of the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park in front of Dubai’s Jameel Arts Center. The cinema is designed by Jeddah-based Bricklab, a commission awarded to the firm after an international design competition staged by Art Jameel.

Jeddah has long been known for its creative scene, with its annual 21’39 festival that has taken place throughout the city since 2013; its Athr Gallery and Hafez Gallery, two of the Kingdom’s most renowned art galleries; and its host of emerging and established Saudi artists. The city will also play host to the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival in November 2021. What has been lacking in the scene, however, are spaces in which to create and incubate artistic production.

Hayy Arts render. Supplied

In many ways, Hayy Jameel has arrived as the missing ingredient in Jeddah’s cultural mission. It is distinct from Dubai’s Jameel Arts Center in that its purpose is not solely to act as a museum or place to exhibit the Jameel family collection but to nurture cross-cultural dialogue and creative production.

“We think of Jameel Arts Center as a contemporary visual arts museum and Hayy as a multidisciplinary creative hub,” added Carver. “Both embrace creative dialogue, while Hayy focuses more on artistic production.”

Hayy Cinema render. Supplied

Such ideas are reflected in its architecture. Its three-story structure is characterized by tall façades that reflect the intimacy of a private home, while the interior space is open and centered around Saha, a communal courtyard meant to be a re-interpretation of the traditional courtyard typology with surrounding landscaping rooted in sustainable and green practices. The structure’s airy ambiance is supported by natural light, which streams in from all sides, further enhancing the space as a place for easy dialogue and creation. The building uses a steel structure with aluminum cladding and concrete flooring — elements that offer flexibility to the spaces, allowing them to be used in a versatile fashion for exhibitions, events, workshops and more.

Saha, a communal courtyard meant to be a re-interpretation of the traditional courtyard. Supplied

Hayy’s architecture and design are already the recipients of numerous architectural accolades, including Gold in the Hong Kong Design Awards; Silver in the New York Design Awards; and the Honor Award for Exceptional Design by the American Institute of Architects’ Middle East chapter. It has also been nominated for the 2A Continental Architectural Award as well as the London Design Awards.

Hayy’s inaugural show titled “Staple: What’s on your plate?” is co-curated with London-based partner the Delfina Foundation. Inspired by Jeddah’s diverse demographic, the exhibition will explore the relationship between food and memory, ecology, and place through the works of over 30 artists, thinkers, performers, researchers, filmmakers, and other creative practitioners.

The kickoff date for such conversations is set for November 2021 and will continue until April 2022, supported by a public program of talks, performances, and educational and film programs, with contributions from regional and international artists. Workshops will also be held for people of all ages, from children to the elderly, proving how art is accessible to all and the creative journey and knowledge acquired through it long-lasting.

Abdul Latif Jameel (center) with management, 1980s. Supplied

Hayy Jameel also marks the 75th anniversary of the Jameel family’s global philanthropy.

Headquartered in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Jameel family has long been one of the Arab world’s biggest patrons. For decades, Art Jameel has supported artists and creative communities across the Middle East through exhibitions, commissions, research, and community-building, propelled by the belief that the arts can be open and accessible to all. Hayy is the next chapter in Art Jameel’s journey.

“Art Jameel was born in Jeddah, and Hayy is our most ambitious project to date,” Fady Jameel, chairman of Art Jameel, told Arab News. “This homecoming, at a time of unprecedented local interest and investment in the arts, is such a significant milestone moment for our family.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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