The government of Saudi Arabia is spending more than $1.7bn on building 230 new museums as part of a programme to promote the country’s culture. At a conference held in Oxford early in April, entitled “Green Arabia”, the influential HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, nephew of King Abdullah and president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), said, “We have entered a new age; we have transitioned. Antiquities are the seat of a continuum to bring the life and history of Saudi Arabia closer to the hearts and minds of the people of the Kingdom — particularly the young.”
In March, at the Art Dubai fair, Saudi Aramco, the hugely powerful oil and natural gas company whose headquarters in Dhahran represent almost a kingdom within the Kingdom, announced further details of a cultural centre under construction. The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, named after Saudi Arabia’s first monarch, is to open in late 2015 and, according to Laila Hussain Al-Faddagh, the contemporary Middle Eastern art co-ordinator for Saudi Aramco, it will offer visitors an experience “unlike anything seen before in the Kingdom”.
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