creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs

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ITHRA pushes design boundaries

 

Embark on a journey into the heart of Saudi Arabia, where Ithra, also known as King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, pushes creative boundaries, immersive technologies, and transformative initiatives. The platform’s vibrant landscape expands through three key programs that not only shape cultural narratives but also redefine imagination. From the vibrancy of Tanween’s thematic explorations to the dynamic impact of AlSharqiya Gets Creative in the Eastern Province, and the groundbreaking Creative Solutions Residency Program, Ithra emerges as an incubator for creativity and innovation.

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs
the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) acts as a creative and interactive public space for workshops, performances, events, exhibitions and experiences | © Yasir Alqunais

all images courtesy of Salient

 

 

To break it down, Ithra, born as the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, stands as Saudi Aramco’s grand contribution and most ambitious Creative Solutions Residency initiative – a pulsating incubator of culture, innovation, and knowledge. Across its Idea Lab, Library, Theatre, Museum, Cinema, Great Hall, Energy Exhibit, Children’s Museum, and Knowledge Tower, the cultural center weaves world-class experiences that transcend boundaries and invite creators, change-makers, and original thinkers to converge and redefine the possibilities of tomorrow. Moreover, through three key programs Tanween, Creative Solutions, and AlSharqiya Gets Creative, Ithra pushes creative boundaries further. 

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs
Al Sharqiya Gets Creative | © Ahmed Al-Thani

 

 

the TANWEEN initiative targets education, food security & power

 

As with every year since its foundation in 2018, the largest creative platform of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tanween, seeks to deliver high-quality insights and original content through talks, workshops, masterclasses, exhibitions, installations, performances, and screenings. Held in collaboration with Gulf International Bank Saudi Arabia and the Architecture and Design Commission, the sixth edition of the conference introduced its first-ever Mega Challenge, inviting 64global innovators from a list of 381 applicants to design sustainable solutions improving the lives of disenfranchised people. Targeting education, food security, and power, this initiative showcases Ithra’s commitment to making a positive impact on a global scale.

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs
Ithra weaves world-class experiences across its Idea Lab, Library, Theatre, Museum, Cinema, Great Hall, Energy Exhibit, Children’s Museum, and Knowledge Tower | image © Yasir Alqunais

 

 

To support the Mega Challenge, Ithra brought in knowledge experts from the Kalimat Foundation, ACWA Power along with independent consultants to curate and select winning ideas that can potentially be implemented in refugee camps across six countries: Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Indonesia, Malawi and Bangladesh. Simultaneously, Italian design firm Isola, in collaboration with Ithra, presented the ‘Routes to Roots’ exhibition. This showcase, featuring works from 20 international designers, explored the power of scale in design to preserve cultural heritage and protect the environment.

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs
Al Sharqiya Gets Creative has rapidly become a transformative force in the region | © Ahmed Al-Thani

 

 

AlSharqiya Gets Creative: saudi arabia’s biggest creative movement

 

Launched in 2020 as the country’s largest creativity movement, AlSharqiya Gets Creative, also known as Eastern Province ‘EP’ Gets Creative, has rapidly become a transformative force in the region. This initiative runs in parallel with Tanween, under the patronage of HRH Prince Saud bin Nayef Al Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province. The community-engagement event has inspired creativity in collaboration with over 200 entities spanning various sectors and community groups across the Eastern Province (EP). The initiative, which ran November 1-25 this year, is integrated into the region’s major cities with the mission to enable the creative expression of the community and organizations through a combination of Ithra-generated events and community-led activations, annually attracting a remarkable lineup of supporting partners, including businesses, corporates, government institutes, non-profits, and community groups.

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs
Al Sharqiya Gets Creative launched in 2020 as the country’s largest creativity movement | © Ahmed Al-Thani

 

 

CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

 

Another one of Ithra’s key programmes is the Creative Solutions Residency Program (CSRP) – an eight-month journey into digital storytelling, spotlighting cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), immersive audio, and haptics. Facilitated by Ithra’s Idea Lab, the program is designed to shape the next generation of creators, equipping them with essential skills in Design thinking, Co-creation, and Open Innovation. At the end of the program, the finalists of the residency program  showcase their prototypes during a demonstration day attended by key stakeholders, investors and industry professionals. The goal to create a body of original, marketable content utilizing immersive technologies to enrich the reality ecosystem in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and support individuals in developing their technical and entrepreneurial skills in the world of immersive technology.

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Al Sharqiya Gets Creative | © Ahmed Al-Thani

 

CSRP kicks off with 15 masterclasses covering XR, entrepreneurial skills, and technical development, allowing residents to refine their project ideas and develop pitches, that are presented to an international judging panel. Selected finalists receive mentorship a total fund of $200,000 to develop a working prototype.

Throughout the program, participants benefit from mentorship and engage with strategic networks. To delve deeper into its potentials, the initiative has propelled 15 ground-breaking immersive technology concepts designed by emerging Saudi creatives one step closer to reality following a weeklong bootcamp hosted in Manchester and London, UK, in partnership with IN4 Group, a leading innovation and digital skills provider. Industry experts guide participants through a rigorous process, incubating ideas and addressing global issues like historical preservation.

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs
Tanween, seeks to deliver high-quality insights and original content through talks, workshops, masterclasses, exhibitions, installations, performances, and screenings | image © Yasir Alqunais

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Tanween | image © Yasir Alqunais

creative center ithra nurtures cultural narratives with three powerhouse programs
each program transcends boundaries and invites creators to converge and redefine the possibilities of tomorrow

 

 

project info:

 

name: King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture – Ithra | @ithra

key programs: Tanween; Creative Solutions; AlSharqiya Gets Creative

head of creativity and innovation: Mizna Al-Zamil

location: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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