20240211 alula arts festival
The AlUla Arts Festival features an exciting mix of creativity, including local, regional, and international artists, performers, curators, collectors, and more. Image Credit: SPA/X(formerly Twitter)

The third annual AlUla Arts Festival will take place across 22 days in the stunning landscape of the ancient oasis of AlUla with an expansive program of events, exhibitions, and creative initiatives under its new banner Art Unframed.

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Inaugurated in 2022 and part of the annual AlUla Moments calendar, the AlUla Arts Festival features an exciting mix of creativity, showcasing local, regional, and international artists, performers, curators, collectors, and more.

Obaid Alsafi, winner of the largest art prize in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), unveils his winning artwork, 'Palms in Eternal Embrace.' This marks the sixth year of the prize, run by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), and the first in collaboration with Arts AlUla, as part of a wider partnership between both organizations to support creativity.

Wadi Al Fann presents Manal Al Dowayan, one of Saudi Arabia's most significant contemporary artists, in the lead-up to her new land-art commission, 'Oasis of Stories.' This large-scale labyrinthine installation, inspired by AlUla Old Town, will find a permanent home in AlUla's desert landscape in 2026. During the festival, two adjacent exhibitions featuring drawing, ceramics, soft sculpture, paintings, and weaving will take place in the AlJadidah Arts District, heart of AlUla's community.

The first exhibition marks a milestone in the development of "Oasis of Stories." On display are hundreds of drawings gathered from the artist's participatory workshops with AlUla communities. These drawings and stories will eventually be inscribed into the walls of the installation, allowing residents to leave their permanent mark in Wadi Al Fann.

A parallel exhibition, titled 'Their Love Is Like All Loves, Their Death Is Like All Deaths,' presented in collaboration with Sabrina Amrani Gallery, delves further into AlDowayan's practice. Works include soft sculptures made of tussar silk printed with AlUla's heritage imagery, labyrinth-like drawings inspired by the Old Town, engraved clay works made with local mud, and wall pieces featuring traditional Bedouin Sadu textile weaving.

Emphasizing AlUla's emerging role as a hub for cultural exchange and artistic innovation, the festival presents two Artist Residency exhibitions: 'The Shadow Over Everything' and 'Unguessed Kinships', running until April 30th.

Images by artist Hassan Hajja, renowned for merging contemporary art, fashion, and cultural identity, will be featured. He photographed local residents in an outdoor studio at Madrasat Addeera in February 2023.

Maraya hosts an exhibition of contemporary works by Saudi artists on loan from collectors within the kingdom. Curated by Dr. Effat Abdullah Fadag, the exhibition aims to re-canonize the history of contemporary art movements in Saudi Arabia, documenting the story of artists and the role of collectors. Running from February 9 to April 27, the exhibition serves as a pre-opening program for the future contemporary art museum in AlUla.

The third edition of the international open-air art exhibition Desert X AlUla returns, placing visionary contemporary artworks by Saudi and international artists amidst the extraordinary desert landscape. The exhibition runs from February 9 to March 23.