Our landmark voluntary sustainability community initiative is carried out by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), which promotes award-winning youth education initiatives for our communities in Saudi Arabia.
We support literacy through the popular nation-wide iRead competition. Tanween is an annual 17-day celebration dedicated to fostering STEM education through engaging interactive entertainment. The Southern Border Program promotes STEM skills by engaging students and educators across the Kingdom through hands-on learning experiences. Our Tanween Challenges offer the opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs to create products, and actually bring them to market under the mentorship of professionals. Ithra also offers educational camps and back to school programs.
The Ithra Museum has four galleries that feature exhibitions of national and international contemporary art, Saudi and Islamic cultural heritage, and the natural history of the Arabian Peninsula. It has also mounted major exhibitions of important international artists, such as Edvard Munch and Leonardo da Vinci. Ithra is home to the Kingdom’s first Children’s Museum, and the ever-popular Energy Exhibit. Ithra’s Idea Lab is an active space for innovation and entrepreneurship. The Cinema and Theater bring world culture to the region, and serve as a launching point for the creative economy. In addition to co-hosting the annual Saudi Film Festival, to date, Ithra has produced 20 films that have won 15 regional and international awards.
The flagship of Ithra’s quarantine-time efforts was Ithra Connect, an online initiative that has presented more than 50 programs to the public. Ithra Talks features guests such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, actor Idris Elba, and architect Kjetil Thorsen — whose firm Snøhetta designed Ithra. Other offerings range from the collective Covid-19 Diary to quiz shows and live society meetups on Zoom. Ithra Library membership was made free so its digital books could be accessed by anyone. Ithra Connect includes offerings for children: DIY project videos, storytelling podcasts, and even a virtual summer camp. For art audiences, Ithra launched a virtual tour, videos about exhibition objects, SME interviews, and a live international ResiliArt debate in partnership with UNESCO about the significance of art and creativity during COVID-19.
Ithra’s recent community efforts include The Market, an artistic intervention of the central farmers market in Khobar that upgrades the farmers’ sales kiosks and adds spaces for art, music, and public seating. A forthcoming 2021 highlight is the Immersive Creative Solutions Initiative that will focus on developing new talent in immersive technologies, a key aspect of our focus on digital transformation.
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture
The company’s flagship citizenship initiative, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), is working to make a tangible, positive impact on the Kingdom’s future by inspiring a passion for knowledge, creativity, and innovation, while delivering world-class, cross‐cultural experiences. Ithra and the renovated Energy Exhibit opened in 2018. The Center features a museum, library, cinema, theater, Children’s Museum, innovation lab, education center, production studio, restaurants, and both indoor and outdoor spaces for festivals, exhibitions, conferences, and performances.