An Exciting Art Programme Launches in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla District

Lindsay Judge   |   13-12-2021

The first ever art residency program in AlUla has kicked off this month.


Over a period of 11 weeks through to 14th January 2022 an exciting lineup of six artists are working on the ground at the Saudi destination, around the theme “rebirth of the oasis” to produce a catalogue of art pieces.


Outside of Mabiti AlUla ©Mae Woolworth


The programme which was commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the French Agency for AlUla Development (Afalula), is designed to foster dialogue and exchange not only between emerging and established artists and a community of experts working on the ground, but also with local practitioners, and members of the local community.


The 11-week programme invites six chosen artists to create artworks that are based around the theme “ The rebirth of the oasis”, with AlUla’s impressive landscape at the centre of the creations. Through their creative outlooks, artists will question the development of the oasis over time while (re)defining, in the specific context of a regeneration program.


First public program – 12 November with Laura Sellies ©Abdulmuhsin Bluwi


In addition to providing support to develop the artists’ research and production projects to be implemented in AlUla, a dynamic public program is organized in collaboration with the artists, the experts, and the local community on a weekly basis. It includes open studios, workshops, and meetings between the public and the artists about their work in progress at different stages of the residency.


The pilot edition is based in Mabiti AlUla, a palm-grove and a guest-house in the heart of AlUla’s oasis. It will subsequently be established in Madrasat AdDeera, an arts and design centre.


Dyeing workshop by the PTSA for AlUla art residency 17 November ©Anais Veignant


The shortlisted artists are:

  • Rashed AlShashai (b. 1977, Saudi Arabia, based in Riyadh) is a conceptual artist and arts educator. His work explores the purpose of human existence and the functions of society with everyday objects and imagery;


  • Sara Favriau (b. 1983, France, based in Paris) is a multidisciplinary artist. Her sculptures, installations and performances investigate the very permanence of self, nature, and works of art;


  • Talin Hazbar (b. 1988, Syria, based in Sharjah) is an architect and a visual artist. Her work and processes aim to showcase the overlapping boundaries in nature, history, and ecology;


  • Laura Sellies (b. 1989, France, based in Paris) is a multimedia artist. In her work, she finds new ways to understand the relationship between sculptures, bodies, images, and sounds;


  • Sofiane Si Merabet (b. 1981, France, based in Dubai) is a multimedia artist. His work interrogates memories, identities, and migration;


  • Muhannad Shono (b. 1977, Saudi Arabia, based in Riyadh,) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work interrogates what lies beneath the surface of the human experience.


Opening of AlUla art residency ©the Nabataean studio


The programme is an experimental project and the very first step towards building a larger program that regularly welcomes artists in residence in AlUla. In the long run, a thriving ecosystem for artists from all around the world will be embedded in AlUla and will give artists access to curatorial and artistic support in addition to production facilities.