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5 reasons why you should have a guilt trip for not going to Edge of Arabia Jeddah


We rarely pitch an event with a guilt trip for not going to it, but rare events call for rare measures, we guess. Edge of Arabia comes full circle in Jeddah, returning home after successfully showcasing contemporary Saudi art in London, Istanbul, Venice, and Berlin. You can read up on it at www.edgeofarabia.com and come informed, or simply walk in and prepare to be surprised. But just in case you waver about going, we run you through our five reasons.

  1. The world has long pandered to stereotypes and half-truths about Saudi Arabia, in particular its cultural side. The simplistic stereotypes of camels, deserts, and women imprisoned in their homes are not funny, they are so ignorant they verge on cruelty. You are right in the thick of the action. People outside still gape when you say ‘an exhibition of Saudi art’ to them, because they are so confirmed in their false simplistic assumptions that they might never have the opportunity to adjust or overhaul. You are lucky enough to be right in the scene of the action. You can see it all with your very own eyes, and have your false notions blown away forever. We can guarantee that the truth is so far from the stereotype it will alter your mindscape forever. If you trust us, grab this opportunity for a cultural education.

 

(Left) Manal AlDowayan with Princess Ameera Altaweel for her participatory artwork ‘My name’ about the importance of names for Saudi women. Picture credit: Corinne Martin blog. (Right) Voices of Jeddah, a performance art exhibit involving the lives and stories of  people living in Jeddah. Picture credit: Oasis Unedited

2.  In my mother tongue Urdu, there is a saying that goes “The well doesn’t come to the thirsty man, the thirsty man must go to the well.” In this case, the well has literally come to you. All you have to do is step out and quench your thirst.

 

  1. Do you feel the vibe of urgency in the title? It’s a call for the world to come to this date with Saudi art, the real deal, the truth of it. Past the notion that ‘There is no art in Saudi Arabia’, past the notion that ‘Saudi art is only calligraphy’, past the notion that there are no female artists in Saudi Arabia (yawn, seriously!), and past other irrelevant brainchow. If you’re like us, anything said with courage, conviction, and a sense of urgency should strike a chord with you.

 

 

What do you think of when you think of Jeddah? The official poster of Edge of Arabia has a very unconventional choice of image for Jeddah. The first of many surprises, perhaps?

  1. We love the unexpected choice of image for the official poster. A small kiosk lining the Corniche.

 

  1. Mostly, as you’ll see with the title, the exhibition is conceived as a mental conversation, in which your voice matters. You are invited to a dialogue at several levels, a dialogue with your own set of beliefs, a dialogue with the current state of Saudi art, a dialogue with the artists you will meet at the exhibition. A meaningful exchange awaits you. Are you going to accept the invitation or refuse it?
A meaningful exchange: your call really.
– Naima Rashid

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