Zhao Li’s “Limitless Omnipresent” sculptures displayed at the latest edition of Tuwaiq Sculpture held in the Saudi capital in February. Image Credit: Riyadh Art

Cairo: Artwork and antique exports topped SR473 million in the first quarter of this year, up 229.6 per cent against the corresponding period last year amid a robust art movement in the kingdom spurred by tourism.

The value of such exports from Saudi Arabia reached SR473.6 million in the first quarter of 2024 against SR143.7 million in the first quarter of last year, according to the Saudi newspaper Al Watan.

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They are expected to soar to a record SR2 billion by the end of this year.

The exports range from paintings produced by Saudi artists and sculptures made from different materials including bronze, marble and wood.

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Exports also include hand-made items such as carpets, jewellery and copper objects as well as artefacts representing different civilisations that once thrived in the Arabian Peninsula, the report said.

Saudi artworks are mainly exported to the European countries including the UK, France and Italy, in addition to the US.

Destinations in the Arab world are mainly the UAE and Qatar.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has seen a thriving tourism industry that has played a major role in promoting interest in arts in the kingdom.

In the same vein, the kingdom has supported the growth of the arts sector by holding exhibitions and festivals.

A key annual art event in Riyadh is the Tuwaiq Sculpture, which attracted this year 30 artists from around the world.

Featuring an interactive programme of workshops, school visits and discussions, the event brings together Saudi and foreign artists to produce artworks in a live setting.