June 23, 2021


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DUBAI: In another victory for the Saudi art scene, the long-awaited Hayy Jameel has announced that she will finally open the doors to her sprawling 17,000 square meter cultural complex in Jeddah in winter 2021. Hayy Jameel, who gets its name from the The Arabic word for “neighborhood” should be exactly like this – a space for collaboration and creative exchange. The new cultural complex complements the growing list of new cultural enterprises that have been formed in the kingdom in recent years as Saudi Arabia continues its mission of pushing for a “creative economy”.

“Hayy Jameel will be a home away from home for Jeddah’s creative community – a dynamic, multidisciplinary complex specially created to support the art scene and nurture the next generation of talent,” Art Jameel director Antonia Carver told Arab News.

Hayy Jameel three-story plaster. Delivered

“This is an extremely exciting new era for Saudi culture in general. Now we complement and support the dynamic and large-scale developments led by the Ministry of Culture and government-related agencies, and now we have the first major non-profit private sector contribution with an exclusively civic purpose, ”she added.

Located in a three-story building in the residential area of ​​Al-Mohammadiyyah in northern Jeddah, Hayy Jameel will include the opening of the Hayy Cinema, a 200-seater cinema that will be Saudi Arabia’s first independent cinema; Hayy Arts, a 700-square-foot exhibition center; Hayy Studio, an artist studio; Feta Hayy, a multi-purpose room for performances, workshops and talks; Hayy Learning, a community-based educational platform with a program that provides face-to-face and virtual learning, research, and training; and Hayy Residents, a space that brings together pioneering Jeddah creative companies, from contemporary art and performance to design and publishing, as well as bakery institutes, new cafes and restaurants.

The interior is open and centered around Saha. Delivered

The complex was designed by waiwai, a Dubai and Tokyo based architecture firm that also created the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park in front of the Jameel Arts Center in Dubai. The cinema was designed by Bricklab of Jeddah, an assignment the company won from Art Jameel after an international design competition.

Jeddah has long been known for its creative scene, with its annual 21’39 festival that has been held across the city since 2013; the Athr Gallery and Hafez Gallery, two of the most prestigious art galleries in the kingdom; and its hosts to emerging and established Saudi artists. The city will also host the first Red Sea International Film Festival in November 2021. What the scene lacks, however, are spaces in which artistic production is created and incubated.

Render Hayy Arts. Delivered

In many ways, Hayy Jameel has landed as a missing ingredient in Jeddah’s cultural mission. It differs from the Jameel Arts Center in Dubai in that it not only serves as a museum or exhibition space for the Jameel family’s collection, but also promotes intercultural dialogue and creative production.

“We see the Jameel Arts Center as a museum of contemporary visual arts and Hayy as a multidisciplinary creative center,” added Carver. “Both rely on creative dialogue, while Hayy focuses more on artistic production.”

Hayy Cinema rendering. Delivered

Such ideas are reflected in its architecture. Its three-story structure is characterized by tall facades that reflect the intimacy of a private home, while the interior is open and centered around Saha, a communal courtyard designed to be a reinterpretation of traditional courtyard typology with landscaping around sustainable and green practices. The airy ambience of the building is supported by natural light that flows in from all sides and further enhances the room as a place of dialogue and design. The building uses a steel structure with aluminum cladding and a concrete floor – elements that give the rooms flexibility and allow them to be used for exhibitions, events, workshops and more.

Saha, a communal courtyard that was meant to be a reinterpretation of the traditional courtyard. Delivered

Hayy’s architecture and design have won numerous architectural awards, including gold at the Hong Kong Design Awards; Silver at the New York Design Awards; and the Honor Award for Exceptional Design from the American Institute of Architects’ Middle East Chapter. It was also nominated for the 2A Continental Architectural Award as well as the London Design Awards.

Hayy’s opening show, titled “Staple: What’s on your plate?” is curated together with the London partner, the Delfina Foundation. Inspired by Jeddah’s diverse demographics, the exhibition examines the relationship between food and memory, ecology and place through the works of over 30 artists, thinkers, performers, researchers, filmmakers and other creative practitioners.

The start date for such talks is set for November 2021 and lasts until April 2022, supported by a public program of talks, performances, educational and film programs with contributions from regional and international artists. There will also be workshops for people of all ages, from children to seniors, that will prove how art is accessible to everyone and how the creative journey and knowledge gained through it are sustainable.

Abdul Latif Jameel (center) with management, 1980s. Delivered

Hayy Jameel also marks the 75th anniversary of the Jameel family’s global philanthropy.

The Jameel family, headquartered in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has long been one of the greatest patrons in the Arab world. For decades, Art Jameel has supported artists and creative communities across the Middle East through exhibitions, commissioned work, research, and community building, fueled by the belief that the arts can be open and accessible to all. Hayy is the next chapter in Art Jameel’s journey.

“Art Jameel was born in Jeddah and Hayy is our most ambitious project yet,” Fady Jameel, chairman of Art Jameel, told Arab News. “This homecoming at a time of unprecedented local interest and investment in the arts is such a significant milestone for our family.”


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