Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture, Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, announced that the Kingdom is preparing to add music, theatre, and art departments in its universities.

The decision, the first of its kind in the Gulf country’s history, was revealed by the minister on his Twitter account. The minister said that the inclusion of art departments at universities is an important step in Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance.

[L] King Saud University (Riyadh) and [R] large court at the King Abdulaziz University (Jeddah)

The initial steps in the initiative involve launching an Arts and Culture Department at the King Saud University (Riyadh), a Bachelor of Science in Cinematic Arts at Effat University (Jeddah), and a Master’s in the Literature of Theatrical Arts at King Abdulaziz University (Jeddah).

This is the second big move to include arts in Saudi curricula.

In November 2019, the minister announced the introduction of music, theatre, and art lessons at public and private schools across the country.

Art education is part of the Kingdom’s larger “cultural renaissance” initiative implemented in recent years, which has included cultural activities being held in numerous Saudi cities.

Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia had announced its first-ever film festival, the Red Sea International Film Festival, which was scheduled to take place between the 12 and 21 of March 2020 and was to feature hand-picked local, regional, and international films and filmmakers. The festival has been postponed due to the general shutdown of activities to prevent the spread of the virus.

Between December 2019 and March 2020, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula governorate held “Winter at Tantora,” a large-scale music carnival featuring musicians including Enrique Iglesias, Lionel Richie, Yanni, and the Caracalla Dance Theatre.

In late 2019, the two-month-long “Riyadh Season” festival gave the capital a variety of entertainment activities, including music, exhibitions, and culinary showcases. The event brought to Jeddah the biggest names in the Arab music industry as well as numerous international performers.

This article was originally posted on Ahram Online on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. To read the full article, click here

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