Biennale underscores the role of private-public sector partnerships in value creation for the culture and creative sector


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 27th April, 2023: Fifteen renowned private and public entities have joined forces with Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF) for the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale (IAB), which is being hosted at the Aga Khan Award-winning Western Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Taking place until April 23, the first-of-its-kind exhibition is designed to take visitors on a multi-sensorial experience through the past, present and future of the Islamic Arts. Themed ‘Awwal Bait’, meaning the ‘First House’ in reference to the Holy Ka’bah in Makkah, the Biennale features over 40 established and emerging artists from around the globe, over 50 new commissions, 280 artefacts and over 15 never-before-exhibited works.

One of the key highlights of the biennale is the involvement and cooperation of a diverse set of private and public sector entities who have come together and contributed to the Foundation’s focus on nurturing creative expression and instilling appreciation for the transformative power of art and culture. These organizations represent a wide variety of industries including automotive, real estate, aviation, banking, cinema, education, healthcare, transport, and tourism.

ROSHN, the renowned Saudi real estate developer backed by the Kingdom's Public Investment Fund, is a multi-year Foundation Partner of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, not only supporting the organization across both the Islamic Arts Biennale and Contemporary Art Biennale in 2024, but year-round through the commissioning of art and development of programs at the host’s venues and within its own communities. Owing to its focus on honoring the rich architectural legacy of the Kingdom, ROSHN's involvement extends beyond the biennales to encompass all events and programs planned by Diriyah Biennale Foundation.

Fulfilling its vision to champion the arts and culture scene globally and in Saudi Arabia, the luxury automotive brand Lexus is the exhibition’s official Lead Partner. Lexus has a two-year commitment to be the primary sponsor for the biennales hosted by the Foundation. In addition to being the automotive partner to the recently opened Islamic Arts Biennale, assigning their cars to the event’s guests, the Japanese automotive brand is also looking at opportunities to support Saudi Arabia’s local artistic talent participating in future editions of the Biennale.

Principal Partner Saudia Airlines surprised the public by landing a historic Boeing 777-300ER aircraft featuring a retro livery design, at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, celebrating the official opening of the world-first exhibition. As the national carrier, the airline has brought speakers, guests and art enthusiasts from around the world to Jeddah to visit the historic Biennale. Through this show of collaboration and unity, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier yet again highlights its commitment to Vision 2030 by bringing the world to Saudi Arabia.

Banque Saudi Fransi, also a Principal Partner, is also lending its support to the largest art event in the Kingdom, as part of being a committed partner of the Kingdom’s path to Vision 2030, of which culture and art form an integral pillar. It will use the terminal venue to host employees and clients across the three-month event period.  

Arwa Al Ali, Senior Advisor, Strategy and Partnerships at the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, said, “These partnerships highlight the significant role played by the private and public sectors in advancing Saudi Arabia’s arts and culture vision. The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is a one-of-its-kind event in its scale and depth of perspective, and our partners have been vital in making it a reality. The expertise of these partners is extremely valuable and enhances the infrastructure that is central to an event like the Islamic Arts Biennale, whilst also attracting more visitors. Through these collaborations, we hope to further encourage the local, regional, and international art communities and enthusiasts to witness this unique moment in time, as we put Saudi Arabia on the global arts and culture map”.

Among other notable sponsors are our Supporting Partners Sotheby’s, which has a rich history of endorsing cultural initiatives around the world, and is making a significant contribution to the event’s public program through the delivery of multiple talks and workshops, Saudi Tourism Authority, which is deeply invested in promoting Saudi destinations and events including the Islamic Arts Biennale, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), which is supporting the development of art in the Kingdom, through both a monetary contribution and public programing engagement.

Additionally, Contributing Partners include: PepsiCo, a global leading food and beverages company, which has called Saudi Arabia home for more than 65 years, and has a growing interest in supporting the arts and culture movement in KSA as part of their ‘Proudly Saudi’ narrative; Careem, a popular ride-hailing and delivery service in the Gulf region, which will support the event by marketing it heavily across their platform, making it more accessible to those in Jeddah; Tamer Group, a leading healthcare and consumer goods company with strong ties to the arts community and the aim of empowering Saudi artists; Assila, a Luxury Collection Hotel hosts culture and tradition that’s ideally suited to welcoming guests and visitors to Jeddah for the event; My Clinic, a healthcare clinic owned by the renowned Nazer Group in the Kingdom which will provide an outstanding patient experience to visitors and staff at the biennale’s inaugural edition; Kabli Holding, a leading confectionery brand which will supply sweets, snacks and biscuits to benefit the event’s public program attendees, school trips, hosted guests and guided tours; Zahid Group, an industrial conglomerate providing power, equipment and catering services for the public program, during the three month event, and Muvi, which will be operating the cinema throughout the Biennale, bringing a variety of films to its audience.

The public is invited to experience the thoughtfully conceptualized journey put together by the esteemed multi-disciplinary curatorial team and brought to life through the diversity of work on display, which includes photography, installations, video, sculptures, paintings, fabric works, and more. Audiences will be encouraged to seek inspiration and novel perspectives through the course of the exhibition, which highlights common themes of spirituality, collectivity, and belonging across all five galleries.




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Established in 2020 by the Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia and inspired by Kingdom’s rich cultural heritage and its artists and makers, the Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF) assumes a critical and catalyzing role in nurturing creative expression and instilling an appreciation for the transformative power of the arts. Central to the Foundation’s mandate is to stage two recurring world-class biennales in contemporary and Islamic arts, alongside year-round interactive educational programs focused on engaging public audiences. The Foundation’s Contemporary Art Biennale held at the JAX district of Diriyah in 2021/2 was the Kingdom’s first biennale dedicated to contemporary art, providing a platform for discovery of and connection with Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning cultural scene and creative communities.

The inaugural edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale will be hosted at the Western Hajj Terminal of the King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah from January 2023 to April 2023 and is the first-of-its-kind in the world, interweaving contemporary works and never-seen-before historic artefacts. 

For more information and latest updates, visit To join our conversation, follow Diriyah Biennale Foundation on YouTube Twitter Instagram and Facebook, and follow #DiriyahBiennaleFoundation.



The Diriyah Biennale Foundation’s Islamic Arts Biennale provides a holistic platform for new discourse around the Islamic arts, offering an unparalleled platform for learning, research, and insight into the genre. The exhibition will take place every two years and will be hosted at the Aga Khan award-winning Western Hajj Terminal in the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, a city that for centuries has represented a junction point for cultural exchange and a venue that acts a port of entry for millions of pilgrims on their journey to Mecca and Medina. 

For more information, visit To join our conversation follow Diriyah Biennale Foundation on YouTube Twitter Instagram and Facebook and follow the hashtags #IslamicArtsBiennale #DiriyahBiennaleFoundation.

28 April 2023