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Arts AlUla announces More than Meets the Eye, a contemporary art exhibition to re-canonise the history of art in Saudi Arabia

Installation view, More than Meets the Eye, February 9 – April 27, 2024, AlUla, Courtesy of The Royal Commission for AlUla

ALULA, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Arts AlUla announces More than Meets the Eye, an exhibition of contemporary works by Saudi artists on loan from collectors in Saudi Arabia, hosted at Maraya. Curated by Dr. Effat Abdullah Fadag, the exhibition will re-canonise the history of the contemporary art movements in Saudi Arabia, documenting the story of artists and the role of collectors in the development of the art scene. The exhibition will run from 9 February – 27 April 2024 at Maraya in AlUla alongside the AlUla Arts Festival (9 February – 2 March 2024). The exhibition is part of the pre-opening programme for the future contemporary art museum in AlUla and reflects the ambition of the planned museum.

With works by pioneering Saudi artists such as Abdulhalim Radwi, Mohammed Alsaleem and Mounirah Mously alongside leading contemporary Saudi artists such as Ahmed Mater, Muhannad Shono and Dana Awartani, the exhibition explores connections, influences and shared stories from across generations of Saudi artists, spanning multiple disciplines and mediums.

More than Meets the Eye celebrates the private collectors that patronised, supported and safeguarded the works of artists from the contemporary art movement in Saudi Arabia, while marking an important shift towards institutional collections, such as the planned contemporary art museum in AlUla, that will, once open, play a key role in documenting and supporting contemporary art in the Kingdom and beyond. The contemporary art museum in AlUla aims to be a core part of the ecosystem of collecting in Saudi Arabia, collaborating with collectors from across Saudi Arabia and working with guest curators, like Dr Effat Abdullah Fadag, to explore this topic. 

More than Meets the Eye is part of a series of exhibitions that initiate a long-term relationship between the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the patrons of the arts in Saudi Arabia. The first in this series of exhibitions was the 2022 exhibition What Lies Within from the private collection of Saudi female patron and collector Basma AlSulaiman. As well as being a historic cultural site, AlUla is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning arts scene. Arts AlUla is dedicated to creating a culturally enriched place to live and visit, to revive the rich legacy of arts in the region and to create opportunities for the community to experience art as a source of education and enrichment through job creation and skills development.

The works in the exhibition are divided into seven themes touching on poetic notions of homeland, identity, belonging, public privacy, love, metaphysics and social engagement. By encouraging the viewer to search for and interpret meaning, the exhibition will explore the national artistic ecosystem beyond a literal representation of the history of Saudi Arabia and allow the visitors to tap into the imagination, symbolism, and metaphorical thinking of the artists and collectors.

The exhibition will take place during the AlUla Arts Festival at Maraya. The AlUla Arts Festival runs between 9 February – 2 March 2024 and will immerse visitors in a vibrant celebration of contemporary visual and public art, design, art tours, and artist residencies. AlUla Arts Festival also includes Desert X AlUla, a recurring, site-responsive exhibition of outdoor art.

The full list of exhibiting artists in More than Meets the Eye are:

  • Alia Ahmad
  • Shadia Alem
  • Mohammed Al Faraj
  • Lulwah AlHomoud
  • Mahdi Al Jeraibi
  • Abdulsattar Al Mussa
  • Reem Al Nasser
  • Fahad Al Naymah
  • Adel Al Quraishi
  • Ali Alruzaiza
  • Mohammed Alsaleem
  • Nasser Al Salem
  • Abdulrahman Alsoliman
  • Dana Awartani
  • Sultan Bin Fahad
  • Fahad Hajailan
  • Ahmed Mater
  • Mounirah Mosley
  • Nawal Mossalli
  • Khalid Owais
  • Abdulhalim Radwi
  • Bakr Sheikhoun
  • Muhannad Shono
  • Ayman Yossri Daydban

Dr. Effat Abdullah Fadag, Curator

I am confident that More than Meets the Eye will re-canonise the history of art in Saudi Arabia while also celebrating the collectors that have supported these artists. I hope this exhibition will encourage national and international art communities to explore the depth and breadth of Saudi creativity and cultural output.

Nora Aldabal, Executive Director of Arts AlUla

We are delighted to be hosting More than Meets the Eye which celebrates pioneering contemporary artists in Saudi Arabia. This exhibition reflects our investment in the long-term relationship between AlUla and collectors and patrons of the arts across Saudi Arabia. AlUla is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s rapidly developing arts scene and will become a platform for our generation to develop its creative expression whilst learning about Saudi Arabia’s rich art historical practice.

Press contacts: 

Vicky Newark
Pelham Communications

Aloisia Rucellai
Pelham Communications


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


Arts AlUla announces More than Meets the Eye, a contemporary art exhibition to re-canonise the history of art in Saudi Arabia

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