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RIYADH: Noor Riyadh, the largest global festival of light and art, returns to illuminate the Saudi capital from Nov. 30 following the resounding success of its previous two editions.

An initiative under Riyadh Art, it will host over 120 artworks by 100 artists from around the world, showcasing diverse practices and backgrounds such as performance art, architecture, engineering, graphic design and medicine.

Khaled Al-Hazani, executive director of the Riyadh Art Program, said: “Riyadh’s evolution into a dynamic global metropolis is tied to our country’s rich artistic tapestry. Riyadh Art and the Noor Riyadh festival enhance livability in Saudi Arabia’s capital city by celebrating local and international creativity and bringing art to the people. 

“From families to budding artists, students to established professionals, Noor Riyadh offers a platform for artistic exchange, unites residents and visitors in creative expression and weaves an intricate cultural narrative that resonates globally, bridging communities and transcending boundaries.”

“100 Million” by Saudi artist Rashed Al-Shashai at the 2022 Noor Riyadh festival. (SUPPLIED)

The event programming is twofold. The festival segment will take place at various hubs across the city until Dec. 16 under the theme “The Bright Side of the Desert Moon,” while an exhibition called “Refracted Identities, Shared Futures” will run until March 2. 

The festival explores the notion of the desert as a space for building bridges and reconnections, transcending human differences. The concept was conceived by a curatorial team led by world-renowned art director and critic Jerome Sans, along with curators Pedro Alonzo, Alaa Tarabzouni, and Fahad bin Naif.

The cross-city festival will showcase artworks by Saudi and international artists including Angelika Markul, Claudia Comte, Huda Alnasir, Marinella Senatore, Nevin Aladag, Sarah Abu Abdallah, Shilpa Gupta, Shoplifter, Sophie Laly, Vivian Caccuri and others.

Saudi artist Hana Almilli told Arab News: “As an artist participating in Noor Riyadh, I feel incredibly honored to be part of the biggest light festival in the world. It’s an exciting opportunity to showcase my work and engage with a diverse audience.

“The festival provides a platform for artists like myself to share their artistic vision and ideas through a challenging yet exciting medium. I am grateful for the chance to contribute to the festival’s rich tapestry of creativity.”

The collection also includes new site-specific commissions from artists such as Ayman Yossri Daydban, Aziz Jamal, Erwin Wurm, Jose Davila, and Younes Rahmoun.

Noor Riyadh will have five main hubs. The central location will be in King Abdullah Financial District, with the others in JAX District, Wadi Namar, Salam Park, and Wadi Hanifa.

Ahaad Alamoudi’s “Ghosts of Today and Tomorrow” displayed at the 2022 Noor Riyadh Festival. (SUPPLIED)

The accompanying exhibition, to be located in JAX District, was curated by Neville Wakefield and Maya Al-Athel. It brings together works by artists such as Abdulmohsen Albinali, Artur Weber, Bashaer Hawsawi, Cecilia Bengolea, Federico Acciardi, Leo Villareal, Shaikha Al-Mazrou and others to conceptualize various personifications of light as a constant throughout the artists’ diverse journeys.

The festival’s programming, as always, aims to enrich the community through both international and homegrown art. It will feature over 1,000 guided tours, 40 talks and 100 workshops, as well as family activities and school collaborations.

The light festival has become a staple in Riyadh’s cultural calendar. In 2022, Noor Riyadh marked several milestones, notably drawing in 2.8 million attendees and setting six Guinness World Records, one of which was for the largest celebration of light art in the world.

Riyadh Art, through its various initiatives, aims to drive cultural transformation and community involvement in the region by turning the city into a “gallery without walls,” made possible by its 1,000 public artworks across the city, two annual events and 10 community programs. 

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