THE SAUDI CULTURAL CENTRE WOULD BE ESTABLISHED IN THE AL ULA REGION
SOTHEBY’S PLANS DESERT ART OASIS
SAUDI CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN HAS SET MULTIPLE AMBITIOUS AGENDAS for his desert kingdom. Turning it into a major cultural destination may end up being one of the highest-profile.
For part of the plan, the Saudi government has turned to Sotheby’s, the biggest US auction house, and Allan Schwartzman, the co-chairman of its fine art division. He rose to fame by creating an arts dreamland in the Brazilian jungle.
The Saudi cultural centre would take root in Al Ula, an archaeologically rich region in the northwest of the country. There, the Nabateans, a formerly nomadic tribe of skilled craftsman and traders, carved elaborate buildings out of sandstone more than 2,000 years ago.
The region contains an ancient city, Mada’in Salih, which was Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site. The collaboration with Sotheby’s is in an “exploratory phase,” Rosie Marsh, a spokeswoman for the royal commission, said in an emailed statement.
Vital industry The tourism sector is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plans