FORBES LIFE Creativity Through The Unique Lense Of Tanween
IN OCTOBER, DRAPED IN A NEW LOOK, DHAHRAN IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA WELCOMED VISITORS FROM ALL OVER THE KINGDOM AND ABROAD TO ATTEND TANWEEN’S SECOND ANNUAL CREATIVITY SEASON, ORGANIZED BY THE KING ABDULAZIZ CENTER FOR WORLD CULTURE, ITHRA.
In October, draped in a new look, Dhahran in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia welcomed visitors from all over the kingdom and abroad to attend Tanween’s second annual Creativity Season, organized by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Ithra.
Tanween Creativity Season is the most prominent event for creativity and innovation in the region. This year it hosted 232 programs displaying culture, arts and science, including exhibitions, theatrical performances, workshops and seminars, all focused on the concept of play as a tool to bring together learning and entertainment.
While visiting the city during the three-week event, you can’t help but notice the limestone mountain that the city is named after, towering 100 meters high in the heart of Dhahran, where the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals is currently located. Bringing together culture and science since 1932, when oil was discovered there for the first time, it has since become a global center of oil production. Saudi Aramco’s main headquarters is located here.
Dhahran is a cultural destination for visitors and businessmen from the Kingdom or abroad. “Tanween Season attracted more than 100,000 visitors and participants, who interacted with the experts and had a positive global experience,” said Abdullah Al-Rashid, Program director at Ithra. “It saw more than 70 workshops aiming to improve the design and creativity levels of all participants including designers, professionals, and students.
“Tanween reintroduced ‘play’ as a creative concept, with four categories—play and technology, play methods, play tools, and play space—as a unique and interactive theme in a motivational and encouraging environment of creativity.”
With many visitors, the halls were a flurry of activity. Panel discussions were held everywhere with more than 35 participating speakers and influencers in science, technology, creative thinking, and art. This included the Saudi investigative photographer and influencer, Tasneem Alsultan, who shared her experiences and told the stories behind a collection of her photos. “They tell the stories of mostly Arab women whom I met. Each woman tells her own story of joy and suffering through her picture,” said Alsultan. Lebanese designer and architect, Tarek ElKassouf, also shared his experience simplifying how to deal with complicated aspects of life through easy and fun architectural methods.
On the other side of the center, more than 13 interactive exhibitions were held, where an elite group of thought and culture makers gathered from all over the world to share their knowledge and experiences with visitors. In a meet and greet event, the audience had the chance to exclusively meet legendary footballer, Thierry Henry, and were offered the chance to listen and participate in his talk held on stage, under the name “Play”.
“Preparations for this season were carefully executed through a selected variety of workshops covering more than 23 fields. The ‘Play’ concept was adopted as this year’s theme, being a key component of creativity and ideas for creating content crafted locally with global value and impact, targeting specialists and professionals,” said Al-Rashid.
Tanween Season began with various art exhibitions by artists from all over the world, including in particular “The Luminarium” exhibition by British designer Alan Parkinson, showcasing structures inspired by Islamic architecture combining the creativity of architectural design and reflections of various colors. Another unique show was “Kaleidoscope” by Karina Smigla-Bobinski, which was a mixture of astounding art and detailed knowledge of colors and their connotations in an atmosphere reflecting the relationship between applied arts and visual effects.
Marked with diversity that doesn’t allow for boredom, the Tanween events offer targeted activities for all age groups, including a collection of theatrical and musical performances of a universal nature, such as “The Wizard of Oz,” adapted from the classic Hollywood film of the same title. There was also a "Giant Puppets" show, based on the works of the artist Miguel Ángel Martín, a creator of giant and mobile sculptures. The "Giant Puppets" show was also
held at the corniche of Khobar city.
Playing is synonymous with having fun, so we decided to share some scientific experiences offered for the children and the youth in a mixture of entertainment and quantitative games.
“ADA” was an interactive art game where air creatures filled with helium floated freely in a room, simulating the movements of the planets and galaxies in space. Greg Foot’s Extreme Sports Science Show, hosted by Greg Foot, took us on a journey watching sports and games varying from daring stunt performances and high jumps.
Once the game programs were finished, we went up to the 16th and last floor of the Ithra building to enjoy some fresh air filled with a sweet candy flavor. Up there, we enjoyed meringue made from the lightest air gelatin. It was a different and delicious experience.
Tanween Season curated many activities for children compared to other programs offered for other age groups. The event offered a collection of interactive and entertaining programs, such as the “Magic Boxes”—a puppet show presented in boxes using animation techniques. Other programs include “Box Wars”, where children had a cardboard battle filled with fun and excitement, on the final day of the event, with cardboard weapons, planes, and shields. There was also an Escape Room adventure, where children and their parents had to carry out various tasks in a specific amount of time while figuring out clues and searching for evidence to be able to escape the room.
The activities and programs designed for inclusion, didn’t neglect any segments of society. A number of programs were curated for the visually and hearing impaired. Blind Football was provided by Soccer Barcelona Youth Academy in celebration of World Sight Day. It included hours of deep professional football training followed by a match for the blind and visually impaired participants. As for the hearing impaired, the “Exploring Zamakan through Touch” program was provided, where they get to discover the dimensions of time and space through the works of modern Saudi artists.
By the time the curtains closed on Tanween, Ithra had welcomed around a million visitors from the Kingdom and abroad. “With a million visitors there are now a million-knowledge seekers who experienced hours of satisfying their cognitive curiosity and developing their skills while refining their sense of creativity and achieving a creative transformation in their thought method,” concluded Fatima Al-Rashid, Acting Director of the Ithra Center.
Tanween Season attracted over 100,000 visitors and participants in 2019.
The Wizard of Oz show
Footballer Thierry Henry meets his young fans.
ADA: an interactive art game