Top 5 Destinations For Art & Design Lovers In Saudi Arabia

Graffiti and public art are popping up, music festivals are becoming a thing, and art and music lovers are allowed to enjoy themselves without many century-old restrictions. If you are a lover of art and design, you surely would love to witness this historical moment firsthand.
Graffiti and public art are popping up, music festivals are becoming a thing, and art and music lovers are allowed to enjoy themselves without many century-old restrictions. If you are a lover of art and design, you surely would love to witness this historical moment firsthand (Photo by darylfigueroa via Unsplash)
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is gaining global recognition for its rich cultural history, archaeological, and architectural revolution. However, when you think of the top destinations for art and design in the world, chances are that this Middle East nation will be the last to come to mind. African countries, South America, the USA, and some Western European countries will definitely be the first to spring to mind. However, you will be surprised to learn that Saudi Arabia has almost as vibrant an art sector as the cities you consider to be leading for their art. The art scene in the kingdom is contemporary, but there are seasoned artists who call Saudi home.

Saudi Arabia is changing exponentially. There are rapid reforms within the art scene that will claim a place for KSA as one of the top art and design destinations in the whole world. New, modern cinemas are coming up now, opera houses are opening, and a KSA version of Las Vegas dubbed “the entertainment city” is already being built a few miles from the capital, Riyadh.

Unlike in the past, graffiti and public art is popping up in the capital, music festivals are becoming a thing now, and art and music lovers are being allowed to enjoy themselves without the many restrictions that have existed for centuries. If you are a lover of art and design, you surely would love to witness this historical moment firsthand.


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1. Darat Safeya Binzagr

The Darat Safeya Binzagr is an art gallery in Jeddah named after the great Saudi artist Safeya Binzagr. After growing up in Egypt, Safeya returned to her motherland, Jeddah, in 1995 and opened her private art museum. Visiting here will give you a chance to view her artworks, some of which date back to 25 years ago. Her exhibition is popular across KSA particularly due to her unique ability to depict Jeddah’s and the entire KSA’s architectural prowess in her art. Her art will tell you some of the most significant stories of the Saudi people and their culture, both written and unwritten.

The building itself is exceptional because of its innovative architecture. You’ll also notice that the exterior is similar to the facades of Nabatean Mada’in Saleh. Its walls are pretty simple in the sense that they mirror the windows and doors that are made of engraved wood.


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2. Arabian Wings Gallery

This gallery has been showcasing the talents of Saudi artists for the last 15 years. It was established by a man and his wife, both of whom shared a common love for Middle Eastern art. Since its inception in 2006, the gallery has curated multiple art seminars and conferences, artistic exchanges, and art festivals, bringing on board thousands of artists from across the Middle East and beyond. It has also sponsored multiple international artist exchanges, playing a pivotal rule in advancing the artistic and cultural background of Arab artists.

Looking to hunt for some prized art a little closer to home? We’ve got you covered: Fine Art In Asia – Where To Shop, Where To Look


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3. Hafez Gallery

This is one of the newest art galleries in KSA. Hafez Gallery in Jeddah is an art space that has brought together talented Saudi artists with the aim of telling the Saudi story through art. Although the gallery is only six years old, it has managed to nurture the country’s visual identity, especially in the eyes of international observers. Some of the recent exhibitions that have taken place in the gallery are Intimate Dimensions Exhibition – 39’21, Neighbours Exhibition, MNWR 5th Edition, MNWR 4th Edition, and so on. All these seek to share the art culture in local and foreign forums and all the money gathered goes to investing in cultural and educational programmes.


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4. Desert Designs

Featuring heritage gifts, Bedouin art, and custom furniture among other things, this family-owned art space in Khobar has been around for almost three decades now. It got its name from the fact that its first gallery was housed in a desert tent. Some 30 years later, Desert Designs stands out as one of the most iconic art showplaces in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East as a whole. The store has a multitude of products ranging from home decor (furniture, lighting, tableware, linens, storage, and organising materials) to accessories (fashion, books, stationery, and products for kids). This institution also has a section with traditional artwork, sculptures, and digital art.


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5. Al Alamia Gallery

Established in 1995 in Jeddah, this fine art gallery is considered one of the kingdom’s pioneer art venues. It remains popular among local art lovers for its dedication to promoting local works, notably oil paintings and Islamic art. It’s also KSA’s foremost gallery when it comes to delivering fine art pieces. The gallery boasts art courses for people of all ages, and keeps its focus on Islamic art and landscapes. Some of the featured artists here are Yasser Khattar, Mahamood Gharbawi, Abdullah Hammas, and Samir Trabulsi.

With the exponential growth KSA is experiencing as a whole, you can look forward to seeing a new entrant in the global art discussion real soon.

What do you need to visit Saudi Arabia?

A valid visa and a valid passport, not unless your home country is among the KSA’s visa-exempt countries. If you are an American, you will need to apply for a Saudi Arabia eVisa that allows you to tour the country for 90 days at most, after which you will need to reapply for another eVisa. UK citizens and another specified 52 countries are eligible for this eVisa as well.

If your country is not among the visa-exempt countries and neither is it among the eVisa eligible countries, then you will need to apply for a regular visa before booking your tickets. The KSA high commission in your country will help you with that. Note that you will not be admitted into KSA without a valid visa and a passport with at least six months validity from the day you arrive.

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Ariana is an ambitious girl who has been researching self-development for the past two years and is now off travelling the world. Her mission is to inspire others to live their dreams.

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