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Rashed AlShashai, A Concise Passage, 2019. Photo: Lance Gerber. Courtesy of the artist and Desert X
AlUla.

Desert X Site in Saudi Arabia to Become Permanent Arts Hub

After the close of the inaugural edition of Desert X AlUla, a free, site-responsive exhibition held in the Al-Ula region of northwestern of Saudi Arabia from January 31 to March 7, the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) announced that it plans to turn the area into a permanent cultural destination.

Desert X AlUla was part of a wider, long-term development plan, outlined in a cultural manifesto issued by RCU last fall, to reinvigorate, protect, and preserve Al-Ula. The RCU’s vision for the area includes building new open-air museums, galleries, and exhibition spaces that will highlight the rich heritage of the area, which is home to the ancient city of Mada’in Salih, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.

Cocurated by Saudi curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza with Desert X artistic director Neville Wakefield, the exhibition welcomed more than nine thousand visitors over the course of its five-week run and features the work of Manal AlDowayan, Nasser AlSalem, Gisela Colon, Nadim Karam, eL Seed, and Superflex. Desert X has also invited artists hailing from Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region to show work at its next exhibition in California’s Coachella Valley in 2021.

Muhannad Shono, The Lost Path, 2020. Photo: Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist, Athr Gallery, and Desert X AlUla.

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