• Issue
  • Jan 02, 2024

Festivals of 2023: First Houses

Installation view of LUBNA CHOWDHARY’s Endless Iftar, 2023, wood, 1.7 × 40 m, at the Islamic Arts Biennale, "Awwal Bait," Jeddah, 2023. Courtesy the Diriyah Biennale Foundation. 

Biennials keep surfacing, reaching new audiences around the world. The first edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale debuted in Jeddah in January 2023, organized by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation. Titled “Awwal Bait,” or “First House,” after the sacred Kaaba in Mecca, the Biennale was held at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in the Western Hajj Terminal, a structure of tent-like canopies designed by the architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill that opened in 1981. During its four-month run, the event attracted more than 500,000 visitors who saw artworks by more than 60 artists from 30 countries, as well as 280 artifacts loaned from local and international museums, including the Louvre and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture.