Friday February 23rd, 2024
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Obaid Alsafi Wins MENA Region's Biggest Art Grant Ithra Art Prize

The artist’s award-winning installation will be revealed during the third instalment of the Arts AlUla Festival.

Farah Desouky

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has announced Saudi artist Obaid Alsafi as the winner of the 6th edition of the Ithra Art Prize, the largest art grant in the MENA region. Alsafi's winning submission, ‘Palms in Eternal Embrace’, is a large-scale sculptural installation that explores approaches to safeguarding the natural world, focusing on endangered palm trees—a powerful symbol of Arabian landscapes and heritage.

Alsafi, a multidisciplinary artist with a background in computer science, brings a scientific perspective to his creative process, investigating the impacts of the unseen on the visible environment and physical realities.

"I am honoured to receive this year's Ithra Art Prize and to shed light on the importance of preserving the natural world in the breathtaking setting of AlUla's natural heritage and oasis landscape," Alsafi tells SceneNowSaudi. "Challenging the boundaries between the organic and the synthetic, the natural and the cultural, and the human and the non-human. I hope that 'Palms in Eternal Embrace' will inspire audiences to reflect on the extinction of a plant group that is so characteristic of our region and foundational to our identity."

Established in 2017, the Ithra Art Prize provides MENA artists with the opportunity to receive a USD 100,000 award, along with up to $400,000 in funding to bring their ideas to life. This year's edition, titled "Art in the Landscape," is a collaboration with Arts AlUla, part of a broader strategic partnership with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU).

Alsafi's ‘Palms in Eternal Embrace’ is set to be revealed during the third instalment of the Arts AlUla Festival on February 8th. The unveiling will include a live performance art piece focusing on the conservation of the biological essence of the palm tree.