HH Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan
Al Saud Minister of Culture

When the Ministry of Culture of Saudi Arabia was established by royal decree on Ramadan 9, 1439/ June 2, 2018, the magnitude and opportunity of this moment in the modern history of the Kingdom were immediately evident. Not only would the Ministry play a crucial role in supporting the delivery of Vision 2030—the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, led by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud—but it would also support the transformation of the cultural life of the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is blessed with a rich and varied artistic history, evident in finds from the past uncovered in archaeological explorations through to the contemporary performances and artistic practices flourishing in the Kingdom today. It is the Ministry of Culture’s mission to catalyze these achievements to contribute to the economic and social life of the people of Saudi Arabia, as well as the world, through an ambitious program of cultural exchange. Since the establishment of the Ministry, it has been my pleasure to see what great strides we have taken to showcase our heritage and talent both in the Kingdom and abroad.

Diriyah Biennale Foundation was created as a platform to bring together all the Kingdom’s different artistic resources, historical and contemporary. Its mission is to link the past to the present, strengthening Saudi connections to Muslim countries and communities around the world, and to inspire future generations. In the inaugural edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale, held at the Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the gateway to the Hajj, we highlight the role of the Kingdom as a focal point for Islamic life, and most of all, creativity. In the newly built galleries and pavilions, the Biennale displays immensely significant examples of Islamic art, representing partnerships with some of the most prestigious museums and institutions in Saudi Arabia.

We bring the collections of the Haramain Authority in Makkah al-Mukarramah and Al Madinah Al-Munawwarah to a wider audience for the first time, inviting visitors to see treasures from the holiest sites in Islam.

The magnificent historic collections of this and other Saudi institutions not only demonstrate the beautiful artistry of the Kingdom but also shine a spotlight on their importance as beacons of knowledge. Through them, we are able to tell the stories of the people of Saudi Arabia and of the multitude of pilgrims that we have welcomed throughout the centuries.

Special commissions of contemporary artworks by Saudi and international artists form an integral part of the Biennale narrative. These new artworks express the life and practice of the Muslim community today, and consider Islamic art’s far-reaching and dynamic role within the global art scene. The commissions program of the Biennale emphasizes the Ministry of Culture’s contribution in not only showcasing art and culture, but also creating unique new collections, furthering opportunities for the production of knowledge, and taking a leading part in the conversation around Islamic arts all over the world.

Partnerships with international institutions also mark the first time that many of the historic objects on loan are being shown in the Kingdom. Brought together here, they celebrate artistic practices from all over the globe in the heart of the Islamic community. These historic objects, in dialogue with the contemporary artworks, represent chains of knowledge linking traditional practices to those of the present day, bringing the story of the Islamic arts in Saudi Arabia full circle.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for his patronage of this historic event. I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to the Diriyah Biennale Foundation team, and all of the institutions and artists who have participated so generously. It is an honor to welcome both Saudi and international visitors to the Islamic Arts Biennale to appreciate and learn from the ever expanding body of artistic achievement inspired by Islam.

Aya Albakree, CEO
Diriyah Biennale Foundation

When the Diriyah Biennale Foundation embarked upon organizing the Islamic Arts Biennale, the first of its kind, we knew that it required a new way of thinking about how art speaks to the life of Muslims, both in the past and today. For much too long, discussions about Islamic art have been confined to questions of aesthetics, materiality, and function by academics and institutions. With the inaugural edition of the Biennale, commissioned by His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Culture and Chair of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, this conversation has fundamentally shifted back to what makes art made in or inspired by the Islamic world so interesting and dynamic—its connection to the religious practices and identity of Muslim people, no matter when or where it was created. This new focus makes the Islamic Arts Biennale an important component of Vision 2030’s program of cultural transformation—launched by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and led by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud—with its mission to elevate the status and visibility of the arts in Saudi Arabia.

We want to create a discourse around Islamic art as part of a way of life, and to make a lasting impact on how people consider it in the future. We seek to celebrate the tradition of craftsmanship in the Muslim world as well as the influence of Muslim thinkers upon it, with their emphasis on mathematics, cartography, and timekeeping. We also want to highlight the more intimate moments of life among family and community and, above all, personal devotion to Islam through practices shared by Muslims everywhere. This was and is our challenge—to reflect the beauty and diversity of Muslim experience.

To create the right context for this first edition of the Biennale, we wanted to start at the beginning, the core, of Islam. This is how we came to focus on the Ka’bah in Makkah—Awwal Bait (“First House”)—the spiritual home of Muslims and the geographic center of the faith, and the role of Saudi Arabia as its custodian. To represent the many aspects of this concept, the Biennale places historical objects from prestigious institutions in Saudi Arabia and around the world in conversation with contemporary artworks that reflect on the same themes. By integrating, rather than simply juxtaposing, the historic and contemporary, we are able to trace connections from past to present and comprehend how Islamic art has always been of its moment.

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. As the arrival point for pilgrims going to either Makkah or Madinah, it receives a confluence of people from all over the world, and is a place of cultural diversity and exchange. Over time, large numbers of these visitors have made Jeddah their home, and this is evident in many aspects of life in the city—commerce, food, family, community, architecture, and urban space. This vibrant intermingling, echoing the dynamic mix of people that the Muslim world encompasses, has inspired many of the artists contributing to the Biennale.

This spirit of diversity, community, and exchange is also evident in the group of curators we commissioned to examine the theme of Awwal Bait through different lenses. Dr. Saad Al-Rashid is a renowned archaeologist who has devoted his life to telling the stories of the Darb Zubaidah, the pilgrimage route from Iraq to Makkah. Dr. Omniya Abdel Barr is a historian of Islamic art and architecture who has selected treasures from Saudi and international institutions that have never before been shown together publicly, and are housed here in pavilions celebrating the cities of Makkah and Madinah. Dr. Julian Raby, a scholar and museum director emeritus with decades of experience in interpreting Islamic art for global audiences, has brought his vast knowledge to the presentation of the historic collections throughout the Biennale. Sumayya Vally, the Biennale’s creative director, is an architect and curator of contemporary art and design, and a prominent advocate for challenging modes of thought, practice, aesthetics, and space within her disciplines and beyond, who has brought the contemporary artists together to illuminate the exhibition’s various narratives. We are grateful to all the curators for their wholehearted commitment. The team at the Diriyah Biennale Foundation and its advisors have worked tirelessly to support the curatorial vision. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed their time, energy, and hard work to this exhibition, and in particular to the artists who have joined us on this journey. Without their dedication to the project, none of this would have been possible.

Regional and global institutions at the forefront of collecting Islamic art have contributed to a special exhibition that complements the Biennale. AlMadar (“The Orbit”) highlights the important roles that these institutions have played in both preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Central to this exhibition is a celebration of 40 years of Dar al-Athar al- Islamiyyah under the patronage of Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah of Kuwait, who devoted his life to collecting and sharing treasures of the Islamic world. Another special focus is the Hajj Terminal, and the multiple parties who collaborated on the creation of this innovative, architectural marvel. Here we also pay tribute to the millions of pilgrims who have walked beneath its iconic canopy, bringing it to life. It is our ambition that this inaugural event will contribute to the establishment of long-term partnerships, and I would like to thank each of the institutions for their enthusiasm in participating.

It is my true pleasure to welcome people from all around the globe to the Islamic Arts Biennale. Just as the Hajj Terminal and the city of Jeddah have always embraced pilgrims preparing for their journey of faith and devotion, we hope that the Biennale will provide a gateway to a new understanding and respect for the evolving artistic identity of the Muslim world, and its deep spiritual roots. Most of all, we hope all our visitors see themselves reflected and celebrated in the artworks and objects we have brought together here.

This Biennale celebrates
the art of Islam – the art of being a Muslim.

Julian Raby

It is not just about inanimate objects from distant centuries, but about living practice, about the timeless rituals that have defined Islam from the beginning. It is not about the often agenda-driven particularities of the past, but about a universal and eternal verity.

The rituals involve few objects—instead they are about movement, sound, and invisible lines of direction. Museums rarely attempt to communicate these except in dry descriptive terms, but this Biennale has allowed us to commission artists to convey even the invisible, in ways that heighten consciousness and magnify respect. Both daily rituals and annual pilgrimage focus on Makkah, and the Biennale is thus also about the central place that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds in Islam, as the protector of the Haramain and, most importantly, custodian of the Ka‘bah, the First House of Allah—Awwal Bait.

Treasures from the Haramain

Aya Albakree, CEO
Diriyah Biennale Foundation

Makkah al-Mukarramah is the honored city, the mother of all towns, known to be the peaceful land and Allah’s First House: Awwal Bait. Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah is the radiant city and the land of refuge. To these two cities, Muslims are rooted and oriented, and seek to return—to a haven of peace, reconciliation, and tranquillity.

From the home of Islam sprang one of the world’s most important manifestations of arts and culture, spanning fourteen centuries and lands from China to Morocco. What connects Muslims to Makkah and Madinah? What rituals evoke their presence in our hearts? How have we embraced these places, physically and spiritually? How did we translate our feelings into visual artistic expression, now and in the past? The Islamic Arts Biennale explores these questions through the presentation of carefully selected historical objects in juxtaposition with works by artists and makers from around the world.

Islamic arts are not tied to time or place. They are linked across the ages through practices generated around one faith, through centuries of repeated rituals. The achievement lies not just in the objects produced, but also in the beliefs and philosophies that they embody. Yet the unique characteristic of this material culture is its diversity.

Objects are also expressions of a legacy of knowledge and traditional skills. The copying of a Qur’an manuscript or the chiseling of a candlestick is the result of years of experience perfected through hours of training and repetition. In the course of preparing this exhibition, it was particularly exciting for me to work closely with two institutions, the King Abdulaziz Kiswah Factory in Makkah and the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. I witnessed the monumental efforts made—on a yearly basis—to present the Ka‘bah with its sacred covers, and gift millions of copies of the Qur’an to the Haramain’s guests, in Arabic and many other languages. These two institutions are employing the latest technologies and research in order to perfect their mission, while remaining deeply grounded in the traditional methods of making. At the Islamic Arts Biennale we celebrate their remarkable achievements in two exhibition pavilions devoted to Makkah and Madinah.

I am also delighted that we are able to show historic treasures from Saudi Arabian national collections, and extremely rare Qur’an manuscripts and textiles, which once adorned the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, from the King Abdulaziz Complex for Endowment Libraries. Most of these have never been seen in public before. In an exceptional setting, we are reuniting these Saudi treasures with others from international collections. These historic objects reflect on the universal practices connecting Muslims to the Haramain. Their importance lies not only in their artistic value, but also in the role they once played in Islam’s most sacred holy sites. In my opinion, the greatest achievement of their makers was not their artistic perfection, but the sincere acts of gifting them to the Haram Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. This dedication, felt in every detail, is a beautiful expression of devotion and selflessness.

Over the centuries, illustrations of the Two Holy Mosques have been extremely popular. They are found in wood, marble, textile, paper, and ceramics, and have been carved, painted, sketched, and even woven. This exhibition presents its own wide selection of images of the Haramain, on Hajj certificates, in manuscripts, and on beautiful Iznik tiles. In addition, we show an iconic representation of Makkah engraved in Paris in 1201/1787 and, for the first time, a rare watercolor of the Haram Mosque, probably made in the 13th century/19th century and found in a mosque in Cairo. Nearby you will see the earliest photographs taken of Makkah, during the Hajj season of 1297/1880. Accompanying these historic representations are contemporary images by renowned Saudi photographers.
King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, his sons, and other members of the royal family have given great care and attention to the Haramain. The holy sites are continuously restored, expanded, and maintained, and over the years

some historical architectural elements have been removed and stored. We are extremely grateful that the Haramain Authority has granted us the privilege of borrowing some of these iconic items to be shown and admired for the first time outside Makkah.
The Biennale is a new experience, impossible to contain within the walls of one museum exhibition or art gallery. This spectacular large-scale event is being housed at the Hajj Terminal, an architectural monument in its own right, and positions the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the city of Jeddah on the international cultural scene. We are truly honored to launch the first Islamic Arts Biennale from the modern gateway to the Haramain.

This Biennale celebrates
the art of Islam – the art of being a Muslim.

Julian Raby

In its inaugural iteration, this Biennale celebrates the Art of Islam – the art of being a Muslim. It is not simply about inanimate objects from faraway lands and distant centuries, but about living the artistic practice, and the timeless rituals that have defined Islam from the beginning. It is not about the often agenda-driven particularities of the past, but about a universal and eternal verity.

These rituals involve few objects. Instead, they are about movement, sound, and invisible lines of direction. No museum has attempted to convey these before, except in dry descriptive terms. Meanwhile, this Biennale allows artists to convey even the invisible, in ways that heighten consciousness and magnify respect.

Both daily prayers and the annual pilgrimage focus on Makkah, and this Biennale is thus about the central place that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds in Islam, as the protector of the Haramain and, more importantly, the custodian of the Ka`bah, the First House of Allah, ‘Awwal Bait’.

“Awwal Bayt Home is a verb, a set of acts, practices and rituals.”

As the source of Islam, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holy mosques and the sacred landscapes surrounding them – a spiritual home for muslims from across the world. Awwal Bayt (literally meaning “first house”) references the Kaabah in Makkah, to which we all face in prayer, as the first home of Islam.

The theme of the first Islamic Arts Biennale looks inward to this source. Situated within the historic Hajj terminal in Jeddah (the southern gate of the Haramayn); a monumental site layered with meaning, memory and significance for muslims for its position as the gateway to the pilgrimage – and two satellite locations in the city, the biennale recognises this site as a home for the rest of the world.

Over time, billions have passed through this region (called the Hijaz), for pilgrimage and in pursuit of knowledge – making it one of the most hybrid sites of cultural exchange on earth. This plurality of the ummah is expressed in rituals, crafts, traditions, and embodied knowledge in different regions around the world.

However diverse, and wherever we are; Awwal Bayt – Makkah (and Medinah, the city Prophet Muhammad PBUH migrated to) – are present in our rituals of worship. It is present through invisible lines of direction, reverence through study and memory; or through our daily rituals and forms of cultural life. It is held in the hearts of all muslims. This shared source manifests unity in core philosophies of Islam, an understanding that we are connected to each other through our shared rituals, as we physically and metaphorically turn toward our shared home.

The Development of Cultural Heritage in Saudi Arabia
Dr. Saad al-Rashid

Thousands of historical and archaeological sites have remained intact in Saudi Arabia to the present day, including petroglyphs, stone circles, cemeteries and tombstones, pilgrimage and trade routes, mosques, castles, and other buildings. After the unification of Saudi Arabia in 1351/1932, King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud undertook the rebuilding and improvement of endowment libraries and of the Two Holy Mosques, taking care of the ancient water facilities in Makkah and Madinah, and building drinking- water fountains and service stations on the pilgrimage roads between Makkah, Jeddah, and Riyadh. The king also encouraged the publication of early Islamic historical sources that dealt with the history of Makkah and Madinah, and with the Hajj and its rites, thus paving the way for a cultural renaissance in Saudi Arabia.

The state’s recognition of the importance of antiquities and the need to preserve them led to the creation in 1383/1962 of a Department of Antiquities, linked to the Ministry of Education. The department would serve as a bridge between the past and the present, and as a national economic resource, and keep pace with developments in other countries, where special governmental departments of this kind had already been established. Initial archaeological activities in Saudi Arabia had been conducted by foreign experts, and had demonstrated the need for a controlled and systematic approach to the Kingdom’s archaeology. In 1395/1975, the Department of Antiquities had only a few employees and just one Saudi archaeologist, Dr Abdullah Hasan Masri. The adoption of ambitious development plans in the early 1390s/1970s enabled the department to enlarge its scope of action and it initiated a “Comprehensive Archaeological Survey,” which would map and explore archaeological sites, then document and protect them. Carried out between 1396/1976 and 1415/1994, this research project achieved important results, producing an inventory of nearly four thousand archaeological sites and historical landmarks throughout the Kingdom, both visible and buried. These included the locations of rock drawings and pre-Islamic and Islamic inscriptions, landmarks on ancient in the rapidly expanding Department of Antiquities and as a lecturer at the University of Riyadh, where the first Department of Archaeology and Museology was established in 1398/1978, led by Professor Al Ansary. It played a key role in the development of archaeological research in the in Riyadh in 1398/1977, and was Kingdom, later undertaking extensive sponsored by the Custodian of the excavations, including at the site Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin trade and pilgrimage routes, with their lodges, defensive forts, residential buildings, and water facilities, and the remains of ancient ports along the coasts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

The initial results of this immense undertaking were published in 1395/1975 in a book, An Introduction to Saudi Arabian Antiquities. This bilingual publication, in Arabic and English, was the first such work of the Islamic city of Al-Rabadhah. Abdulaziz (governor of the Riyadh devoted to the topic. The journal of These operations contributed to the Saudi Arabian archaeology, Atlal, was education of students, promoted founded a couple of years later, in 1398/1977. region at the time). Despite the museum’s relatively small size and limited number of exhibits, the information it presented—on the civilizations that had existed in the land of Saudi Arabia, reflecting the importance of its historical and geographical location to the world—was of great value to scholars, researchers, and visitors. Following the progress made in archaeological studies, the state recognized the importance of establishing a larger national museum in a suitable place in the heart of Riyadh. The National Museum near Al-Murabba Palace was inaugurated by King Fahd bin Abdulaziz in 1419/1999. Spread over 18 route from Kufa in Iraq to Makkah. For this I made a comprehensive survey and photographic record of the remaining traces of the road. I had hopes that the main sites on the road might be restored, partly to make good the damage done over the years and partly to develop the Another of the Department of country’s consciousness of its past. Antiquities and Museums’ first In the meantime, however, I worked priorities was the establishment of scientific research, and encouraged more in-depth archaeological projects, and in the course of them many important artifacts were discovered that now enrich the collections of museums all over the country.

As a history undergraduate at the University of Riyadh (later King Saud University), I had been taught by Professor Abdulrahman Al Ansary, the first Professor of Archaeology in the Arabian Peninsula and considered the father of the discipline in Saudi Arabia, and had been inspired to devote my own studies to the archaeology of my country. This had resulted in my PhD thesis, prepared at the University of Leeds where I graduated in September 1397/1977, on the subject of the Darb Zubaidah, the important pilgrim activities, we now have a much better hectares, its nine galleries represent all In addition to the initial survey, other specialized study projects were carried out in the Kingdom, on ancient trade and pilgrimage routes and mines, rock art and epigraphy, and on Paleolithic and paleontological remains. Several other small-scale regional surveys were also conducted between 1405/1985 and 1426/2005. As a result of all these understanding of the archaeology of Saudi Arabia, which reveals the continuous presence of man in the Peninsula from the beginning of the Palaeolithic to the present day, a period of more than one million years.

Eepochs of Saudi archaeology from the Lower Paleolithic through the Islamic Period and the Saudi dynasties to the modern age of Arabia.
In the early stages of its comprehensive archaeological mapping project, the Deputy Ministry of Antiquities and Museums also initiated a plan to establish a number of local and a national museum to display the archeological and cultural artifacts already in its care, in addition to the antiquities discovered during the mapping project and archaeological excavations. The first official national museum of the Kingdom was opened regional museums in various parts of the country. It started with six local museums in Hofuf, Al-Jouf, Taima, Al- Ula, Najran, and Sabya, each of which played a major role in introducing Saudi Arabia’s culture and history to visitors from all over the Kingdom. The department made a point of locating the museums near the archaeological sites in each of these cities. A number of other museums have been established in regions and governorates around the Kingdom, each fully equipped with modern research facilities for the documentation and conservation of the antiquities of the area.

In the face of rapid development of towns and cities across the Kingdom, the Ministry also made a great effort to pre
serve archaeological sites and historical monuments, with the aim of keeping them intact until they could be examined scientifically. Between 1416/1995 and 1426/2005 it fenced off 200 sites to protect them in this way. It also undertook the maintenance and restoration of a number of historical palaces and other buildings. One of its major projects was the preservation of the historic city of Al-Diriyah, with its walls and towers, and the restoration of a number of architectural districts within it.

By this body and its successors was the 1429/2008 resolution to ensure the preservation of Islamic historical sites in Makkah and Madinah. The Commission has registered several sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, including Historic Jeddah and rock drawings in the Haʼil region, and more have been nominated, including sites that relate to episodes in the life of the Prophet (pbuH), Arabic literary heritage, and the history of the Saudi state and King Abdulaziz. The drive to nourish Saudi citizens’ interest in their national heritage has also led to the development of “heritage villages” as tourist destinations, and the launch of an initiative for the improvement of historic city centres.

With the initiation of the Vision 2030 project in 1437/2016, the Ministry of Culture was established to take charge of the preservation of Saudi Arabia’s historical heritage, develop the Kingdom’s cultural sector and export its local culture to the world. One of the most significant recent developments has been the transfer of the supervision of the National Museum at the King Abdulaziz Historical Center to the Ministry of Culture. The museum is witnessing a revolutionary leap in terms of its form and activities, enriching education, raising cultural awareness, and nurturing a sense of national belonging.
have a large body of graduate Saudi archaeologists, and Saudi experts have led an increasing number of archaeological excavations, along with specialists from international institutions. It is my hope that future investigations will shed further light on the hidden treasures of our past, and in conjunction with innovative international showcases such as the Islamic Arts Biennale, introduce the world to the ancient history of the Arabian Peninsula and the eternal message of Islam.

City of Tents: The Hajj Terminal

Barker Langham
No building could be a more fitting venue for the Islamic Arts Biennale than the iconic Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The terminal building symbolizes the centrality of pilgrimage among Islamic rituals and the pivotal place the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds in Islam as the custodian of the Haramain, two ideas around which the Biennale has been structured. As a place that brings Muslims together to prepare for Hajj, it resonates with the themes of gathering, spirituality, and movement that are also intertwined throughout the Biennale. Just as it has welcomed millions of Muslims from all over the world to share the experience of pilgrimage, the Hajj Terminal now welcomes international artists and audiences to celebrate not only the Islamic arts but also the art of being a Muslim.

The terminal was designed as a space to provide a welcome and respite for pilgrims arriving in Jeddah prior to their 45-mile journey to Makkah. Architect Gordon Bunshaft and engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) were the project’s lead design team. Khan’s own experience of the pilgrimage in 1976 was influential on the design of a building intended to evoke the communal spirit of the Hajj and a sense of continuity and transition to Makkah, the travelers’ ultimate destination. Inspired by the traditional Bedouin tents set up along the pilgrimage routes during the Hajj season, he designed a pioneering canopy structure sheltering a vast outdoor area. According to Khan, the seemingly limitless space afforded by the openness of the terminal was designed to shift the visitors’ perspective and prepare them for the life-changing experience they were about to undergo. The particular form of the roof in combination with the surrounding landscape recalled the prospect of a city of tents, a familiar sight to nomadic desert dwellers during the Hajj, and provided a sense of comfort, especially to many travelers separated from their accustomed surroundings for the first time. The provision of expansive areas with cooking, ablution, and changing facilities, souks, and areas where people could rest and pray communally transformed the Hajj Terminal into one large

The Saudi state also took to promoting tourism as a basic requirement for development, establishing a new I am proud of what has been achieved Commission for Tourism in 1421/2000. Among the important decisions taken in the last 50 years in all fields of archaeology in Saudi Arabia.

We now village, creating an intimate experience (despite the huge size of the venue) and one closely bound to the spirit of pilgrimage. SOM completed the project in 1981 and in 1983 the Hajj Terminal won the prestigious Aga Khan award for Architecture (AKAA) for its visionary design, which maintained traditional Islamic ideals while furthering building technology. It is immense in size, covering an area of 40.5 hectares, with two identical halves each consisting of five modules. The Teflon-coated fabric roof for each module is made up of 21 semi-conical units supported by steel columns on four sides, set out on a square grid of 45 meters. The ingenious design and engineering address many issues of function. The height of the tent structures and the openings at the top draw the hotter air up and out of the terminal space, while ventilation towers on the ground deliver fresh air and help reduce high temperatures. The white roof blocks the glare and up to 76 percent of solar radiation without absorbing and re-radiating that heat at night. The canopy also transmits about 7 percent of sunlight, making artificial daytime lighting unnecessary. Potential acoustic issues in a space filled with thousands of people are diminished by the height and material of the roof, making the terminal a suitable place for rest, reflection, and prayer.

The Hajj Terminal’s visionary design, as well as its functional and spiritual relevance to Muslim pilgrimage, can now be appreciated by an even wider audience. One part of the area under the canopy has been adapted to a hub for events celebrating Islamic arts and culture, and thanks to cooperation between the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Transport, and the General Authority of Civil Aviation it will now support the local and national art ecosystems throughout the year. The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale invites visitors to expand their experience of the Hajj Terminal beyond the visual: to feel its vastness, the temperature under its canopy, the light filtering through the fabric roof—in other words, to be immersed in the atmosphere of anticipation and reflection that surrounds the Hajj. By interacting with the artworks under its roof—some of which have themselves been inspired by the terminal’s design and scale—visitors will gain a sense of the emotions and memories of the millions of Muslims from all over the world who have passed through this unforgettable space during the most important journey of their lives.