Saudi Arabia’s Ithra Art Prize—Which Awards $100,000 to an Artist From the Arab World—Returns for Its Sixth Edition

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First launched in 2017, the annual Ithra Art Prize funds exceptional artists from or based in one of 22 Arab countries, or international artists who have resided in one of the countries for at least a decade. One of the most prestigious regional awards, the winning artist will receive $100,000 to pursue their artistic proposal and vision. Established contemporary artists and art collectives are invited to submit their proposals—with submissions open through September 30—which are then judged by a panel of prominent international experts comprised of artists, curators, and art historians. The winner of the 2023 Ithra Art Prize will be announced on October 19.

Courtesy of King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Ithra. Photo: Ahmad Alnaji.

The establishment of the Ithra Art Prize is a reflection of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) mission and ethos, to offer an elevated platform and foster talent for contemporary artists. As the leading arts and culture destination in the Kingdom, Ithra offers ongoing opportunities for the public to participate in workshops and experience performances, events, and art exhibitions. The sixth iteration of the prize is a special themed edition, “Art in the Landscape,” and presented in collaboration with the Royal Commission for AlUla. The Royal Commission for AlUla was founded with the aim of protecting and promoting the natural and cultural value of AIUIa in North-Western Saudi Arabia.

Following the selection and announcement of the 6th Ithra Art Prize winner, the successful artwork will be revealed as part of the Alula Arts Festival starting February 8, 2024, where it will be displayed for six weeks before it is inducted into Ithra’s permanent art collection. The AIUIa Arts Festival is itself a premier event to discover a breadth of art and culture, with contemporary art masterworks going on view alongside large-scale installations situated within the landscape’s natural terrain, as well as opportunities to attend workshops, seminars, and more.

Installation view of “Hundred Best Arabic Posters” (2023). Courtesy of Arts AlUla.

For the 2023 edition of the Ithra Art Prize, Iraqi-Finnish artist Adel Abidin was named the winner for his work , which investigated the complex relationships between history, memory, and identity. With prior recipients including Berlin-based Tunisian-Ukrainian artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke with and Saudi-based Fahad bin Naif for his installation in 2020, there is much excitement surrounding who will be named the 6th Ithra Art Prize winner. Together, the lineage of artists awarded the prize has established the event as a seminal moment both for the institution’s mission as well as for discovering leading artists from the region.

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