DJEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture has published a comprehensive two-year study mapping the cultural and creative scene in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region.
Ithra, a leading cultural think tank in the region, commissioned three reports with the Economist Intelligence Unit and local partners to better understand the evolution of the arts and creative industry in the Kingdom and the Middle East and in North Africa. In a statement, the center said the research “has taken the pulse of the public” on their creative and cultural experiences as the sector undergoes a radical transformation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study includes responses from more than 5,000 people in 10 cities: Beirut, Cairo, Dammam, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Riyadh and Sharjah. It also features interviews with more than 20 regional experts from different fields, including policy makers, academics, artists and curators. The research also examined a wide range of reports to shed light on the most pressing issues in the region’s cultural and creative sector.
Fatmah Al-Rashid, head of strategy and partnerships at Ithra, said the center hopes the research will be “a resource for policymakers as well as the public, challenging perceptions and inspiring dialogue on the state. of an industry “.
She insisted on the importance of activating cultural participation in the region with an emphasis on ‘making it accessible to all’ in terms of providing the necessary platforms and contributing to the implementation of initiatives that will integrate the culture in public education programs.
The research reveals several thematic trends related to cultural demand and consumer preferences in the MENA region, with history and heritage becoming the most popular theme, followed by film and television.
He also points out several challenges hampering cultural engagement, such as limited public spending and support in some countries, economic and political instability in others, the limited presence of culture in the mainstream education system, lack of information and awareness, and a relative scarcity of family. oriented activities and facilities, with a particular need for content specific to children.
Accordingly, the study recommends policy measures to accelerate the cultural participation of policy makers and service providers, who should focus on making cultural participation more inclusive. The study further suggests that supporting the participation of low-income groups, governments and communities will promote lifelong cultural learning in the region. By placing a greater emphasis on education, cultural institutions in the MENA region can learn from strengths distinct from others to help stimulate participation in the sector.