Saudi Ministry of Culture launches first artist residency in Jeddah

Artists, writers and curators can apply to the open call for the six-week residency

The historic town of Al Balad is the site of the first international artist residency in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy Saudi Ministry of Culture 
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The Saudi Ministry of Culture has announced an open call for its inaugural artist residency initiative Art Residency Al Balad. The residency is the first-of-its-kind in the kingdom, hosted entirely in Jeddah and open to both Saudi and international artists, writers and curators.

Seven participants – four Saudi nationals and three international – will be selected for the programme, which takes place over six weeks in Jeddah’s historical district or Al Balad. The old town is known for its traditional architecture and houses paneled with intricate wooden windows and doors. Former houses have been turned into heritage sites, such as the Rubat Al Khuniji, a 207-year-old guesthouse where the residents will work.

Art Residency Al Balad is the first of a series of residencies launched by the ministry. It is part of a larger vision by the kingdom to grow the local arts scene and foster cultural exchange.

In a statement, Abdulkarim Alhumaid, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture said: “We hope that this, and other similar initiatives, will further develop the cultural ecosystem in Saudi Arabia and provide platforms for those in the sector to engage with their peers around the world.”

The Al Balad residency will provide participants with open format studios and living spaces within the district. They will also have access to a library, wood workshops and innovation labs at universities and partner institutions.

Athr Gallery, one of the kingdom’s leading contemporary galleries, will operate the programme for this cycle. It has run an art residency of its own, sending Saudi artists to partners in New York, Paris, Barcelon and Beirut last year.

Saudi's Art Residency Al Balad aims to foster cultural exchange. Courtesy Saudi Ministry of Culture 
Saudi's Art Residency Al Balad aims to foster cultural exchange. Courtesy Saudi Ministry of Culture 

Applicants can submit their portfolio online, along with a proposal for a project they will work on during the residency. The names of the selection committee have not yet been announced, but they will be responsible for choosing five artists, one writer and one curator for the programme.

Deadline for applications is Saturday, February 29, and the selection will be announced on Wednesday, March 25. The residency will begin in May.

Details can be found on