The Saudi Cultural Week took place in Moscow on Oct. 2-8, bringing the Kingdom’s warm spirit to a cold and rainy autumn in Russia’s capital.
The cultural week aims to inform the Russian public about Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage, and to engage in cultural dialogue between the two countries.
Though it started on Monday, the official opening took place on Thursday, after King Salman and his delegation arrived in Moscow.
Russian guests were excited to see Saudis in traditional dress, and journalists were eager to interview officials. Both countries’ culture ministers gave speeches during the opening ceremony.
Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad said the king’s visit is historic, and both countries are interested in cooperation.
Russia and Saudi Arabia have much to do together in the cultural field, Al-Awwad added, expressing hope that the visit will upgrade bilateral relations. Events such as the cultural week enable bridges to be built between the two nations, he said.
Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky called Saudi Arabia a cradle of Arab civilization and a spiritual and cultural center of the Arab world. He lamented that Russians only know about the Kingdom’s history, not its modern life.
Medinsky praised the cultural week for enabling Russians to see Saudi Arabia through the eyes of its artists. He also declared that both countries’ culture ministries signed an agreement on cooperation.
Medinsky used virtual reality devices, which are offered to visitors of the cultural week, to see Saudi landmarks, and expressed his willingness to see them first-hand.
The cultural week presents a wide range of works by modern Saudi artists — painters, photographers, sculptors and film directors.
Entry is free, and every 30 minutes a guide makes a tour for anyone who wants to learn more about the works.
The official opening concluded with a performance of Saudi music and traditional dance with swords and drums. The guests also enjoyed traditional Saudi cuisine.
Saudi Cultural Week activities and events include “Into the Kingdom”, an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, photography, installations and digital art and a virtual-reality tour of Makkah, Islam’s holiest city. The show is divided into four sections – Spiritual Art, Social Art, Socioeconomic Art and Landscape – and includes the work of an array of Saudi artists, both young and upcoming and older and established.
A public discussion entitled “Moscow-Riyadh – Perspectives of Cooperation” takes place on October 6. Participants will discuss various paths of cultural cooperation between the two countries.
A number of strategists and intellectuals from both countries are participating in this seminar to come up with a roadmap to strengthen the Saudi-Russian partnership. The participants are Dr. Saleh Al-Khathlan; Dr. Nourah AlYousef; Dr. Basma Omair; Badr AlHomoud; Shameley Aditoline; Dmitry Buck; Andrei Volos and Andre Schörgreen.
Saudi Movie Nights took place on October 6 and 7 when three Saudi films will be screened for the public. Departure is an award-winning short film that focuses on combating extremism among young people, while Complain focuses on a health worker from a broken family, who navigates life with much difficulty. Another film, The Bliss of Being No One, which won the Best Film Award at Dubai International Film Festival, follows a young man grieving his lost family when he encounters an older man who helps him gain perspective on his losses.
The opening ceremony included musicals and musical performances, as well as folklore performances from Saudi heritage. Visitors also had the opportunity to sample Saudi cuisine, an event that drew a large number of attendees.
For more information, please visit www.saudiweek.ru/en