Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, April, 19, 2023
The Diriyah Biennale Foundation is proud to announce the extension of the inaugural edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale until May 23, 2023. Hosted at the Hajj Terminal of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah under the theme of ‘Awwal Bait’, meaning ‘First House’, in reference to the Holy Ka’bah in Makkah, the Biennale was initially set to conclude on April 23, 2023, but driven by popular demand will now be open for visitors for an additional month.
Aya AlBakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation said:
“As the Diriyah Biennale Foundation it is our ambition to create cultural experiences that nurture cultural expression and fosters cultural exchange. The response to the first-ever Islamic Arts Biennale has left us feeling humbled and honoured. The positive reception from our local, regional and international audiences and the popularity of the exhibition made an extension a natural step and we would like to take this opportunity to encourage those who have yet to visit to take this immersive, multi-sensory journey through the past, present and future of the Islamic Arts. For repeat visitors, there will be an engaging line up of public programming during the additional month to discover newer dimensions associated with Islamic Arts.”
Since its opening on January 23, 2023, the Biennale has welcomed over 390,000 visitors to experience its exceptional curation of contemporary commissions, artefacts, events, and activities, including over 3,000 pilgrims who started their sacred journey from the Eastern Hajj Terminal opposite the Biennale site. Distinguished guests included Her Highness, Queen Rania of Jordan, the Archbishop of Vienna, His Eminence Cardinal Dr. Christoph Schönbrunn, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, His Excellency Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah along with footballer Patrice Evra.
During the extension period, visitors from far and wide can continue to experience the Biennale in its entirety and can look forward to gathering under its infinite canopies and embark on a journey that uniquely mirrors the voyage of the soul through the Islamic arts. Featuring over 40 established and emerging artists from around the world, over 50 new commissions, 280 artefacts and over 15 never-before-exhibited artefacts across four galleries, two pavilions and an outdoor space, the exhibition explores the sense of belonging, community and deep spirituality punctuated through the Hajj Terminal as a meeting place with meaning and significance.
If you are a first-time visitor, here’s everything you need to know to plan your visit to this first-of-its-kind exhibition.
Entrance to the Biennale is free and accessible to all, however, ticket registration is required and can be done either online on the Islamic Arts Biennale website ahead of your visit or with the guest relations team on arrival at the Biennale’s main reception. Once registration is completed, bring your unique QR code to access the exhibition.
The Biennale is located at the Western Hajj Terminal of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport – which is accessible by car, as well as taxi services. If visiting directly from the airport, signages at the terminal will guide you to the quickest route to the entrance.
The Biennale venue is open from 11am – 11pm from Saturday - Thursday, and 2pm – 11pm on Fridays, with closures on the first and second day of Eid al-Fitr (expected to fall on April, 21 and April, 22 2023 depending on the sighting of the moon) to mark the holy occasion.
There are a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces located within the Biennale venue – each purpose-built to create a cohesive journey for visitors. The experience broadly encompasses two sections: Qiblah, an inward journey that explores the practice of being Muslim and its role in shaping people on a personal and communal level; and Hijrah, which showcases an outward journey and takes on multiple interpretations of migration and connection in Islam.
Within the Biennale galleries various exhibits are arranged to take visitors on a journey of rituals practiced by millions of muslims around the world – including Adhan, the call to prayer, Wudu’ (ablution), Salah (prayer) and more. “Hijrah”, the second part of the Biennale, is spread across a wider open space under the award-winning canopy of the Hajj Terminal alongside the must-see pavilions, Makkah Al-Mukarramah and Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah pavilions, which comprise a selection of items from the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and the Hujra al-Sharifa in Madinah respectively.
“AlMadar”, the satellite exhibition housed in gallery five at the Biennale is also set to extend its opening. The largest gallery on the Biennale grounds, AlMadar features exhibits from twelve highly acclaimed cultural institutions from across the globe, including the al-Sabah Kuwait collection of 100 objects paying homage to its late owner, Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. With the objective of establishing a stage for thought-provoking discussions and research on the Islamic arts, the pioneering initiative currently has participating institutions from Middle Eastern nations such as Egypt, Tunisia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman; as well as countries such as Mali, Greece, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
One of the Biennale’s most popular offerings is its public program. As an integral part of the world’s first biennale dedicated to the Islamic arts, the program has hosted approximately 26,800 guests at over 380 events and around 290 school and university visits, designed to engage children, young adults, local artists, and professionals. The set of programs is broad and varied, and has included film scoring workshops, kids camps, glass tile making, traditional embroidery, along panel discussions such as curator Dr. Omniya Abdel Barr’s panel conversation in partnership with the V&A Museum. It’s main aim is to provide participants with the opportunity to explore and experience the Islamic arts by bringing local and international experts to contribute to educational workshops, talks and panels, creative arts and crafts experiences, daily school visits and Art 101s.
Through the program, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the Islamic Arts, explore traditional subjects in novel ways, and immerse themselves in cultural experiences by trying their hand at authentic craftsmanship and culinary classes.
The public programming department expects to host an additional 65+ activities during the upcoming extension. Be sure to visit the public programming list and book your sessions at
For more information on the biennale, exhibits and programming, please visit



Notes to Editors


Established in 2020 by the Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia and inspired by Kingdom’s rich cultural heritage and its artists and makers, Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF) assumes a critical and catalyzing role in nurturing creative expression and instilling an appreciation for the transformative power of the arts. Central to the Foundation’s mandate is to stage two recurring world-class biennales in contemporary and Islamic arts, alongside year-round interactive educational programs focused on engaging public audiences. The Foundation’s Contemporary Art Biennale held at the JAX district of Diriyah in 2021/2 was the Kingdom’s first biennale dedicated to contemporary art, providing a platform for discovery of and connection with Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning cultural scene and creative communities.

The inaugural edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale will be hosted at the Western Hajj Terminal of the King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah from January 2023 to April 2023 and is the first-of-its-kind in the world, interweaving contemporary works and never-seen-before historic artefacts.

For more information and latest updates, visit To join our conversation, follow Diriyah Biennale Foundation on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and follow #DiriyahBiennaleFoundation.


Diriyah Biennale Foundation’s Islamic Arts Biennale provides a holistic platform for new discourse around the Islamic arts, offering an unparalleled platform for learning, research, and insight into the genre. The exhibition will take place every two years and will be hosted at the Aga Khan award-winning Western Hajj Terminal in the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, a city that for centuries has represented a junction point for cultural exchange and a venue that acts a port of entry for millions of pilgrims on their journey to Mecca and Medina.
For more information, visit To join our conversation, follow Diriyah Biennale Foundation on Youtube Twitter Instagram and Facebook and follow the hashtags #IslamicArtsBiennale #DiriyahBiennaleFoundation.