Art Jameel is set to open Hayy: Creative Hub, a roughly 55,800-square-foot complex in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that aims to be a community-based incubator for contemporary art, comedy, theater, and filmmaking. The three-story development, which will open in 2019, is designed by Dubai-based architecture firm ibda design and located in the city’s northern Al Mohamadeyah neighborhood.
Established in 2003, as the arts branch of the Jameel Family’s philanthropy, Art Jameel has maintained offices and programs in both Dubai and Jeddah since its founding. The organization will also open the Jameel Arts Centre, which will focus on research and organizing exhibitions, in Dubai later this year.
In regard to the two different spaces opening in Dubai and Jeddah, Art Jameel director Antonia Carver said the organization tried to respond to the different needs of the two cities. Carver called Jeddah “a fast-growing creative community” but one that is diffuse and spread across the city. The hope with Hayy is to bring together the diversity of the city’s artistic and cultural communities in one place. “Jeddah has always been a cosmopolitan city,” Carver told ARTnews by email. “It’s a port city and a gateway for pilgrims heading to Mecca and Medina. . . . The Jameel family comes from Jeddah, so this is a homecoming, too.”
Art Jameel is an international arts organization that has been integral to supporting art and artists from the Middle East, both within the region and internationally, most notably through its Jameel Prize, which it awards annually with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The organization also began a partnership last year with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to help the Met acquire modern and contemporary art from the Middle East.
The Hayy complex will include a 1,640-square-foot arts center for Art Jameel’s own programming, as well as four artists’ studios, a theater, and spaces for 12 partnering cultural organizations, among them labs focusing on entrepreneurship and filmmaking. Its tenants will be announced later this year.
“This is very much a community effort from the get-go. We see the tenants as collaborators in Hayy (which derives from the Arabic word for neighborhood), with each bringing its energy, expertise and audience,” Carver said. “Diversity is key, as is making sure each tenant brings something unique to the party—this way we can maximize cross-pollination between audiences and help make sure each tenant thrives.”
For its exhibition space in Hayy, Art Jameel will look to work with international artists and institutions to place them in dialogue with the other, more regionally focused tenants that will take up residence. The organization will also look to broaden its reach by exploring art in photography, film, and various new technologies.
The art scene of Saudi Arabia has received more international attention as of late, mostly recently when it was revealed that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was the buyer of the record-breaking $450.3 million Salvator Mundi, which sold at Christie’s in New York in November.
“There are the shorthand headlines complete with dollar signs, and then there’s the work of galleries and institutions that have been nurturing the scene for many years,” Carver said, when asked generally about increased attention to the country. “These are really exciting times for artists and creatives in Saudi Arabia; we hope initiatives like Hayy will keep eyes focused on the Kingdom’s cultural scene, in all its complexity.”