Riyadh, The Gulf Observer: The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated its first cultural center, Fenaa Alawwal (FAA), in the Diplomatic Quarter of Riyadh.The ministry is establishing FAA to create opportunities for global cultural exchange. Bringing together a diverse community of thinkers, creators and leading talents, the cultural center will offer a wide array of cultural activities and inspire cross-cultural collaboration and dialogue.

Additionally, the specialized art library, together with the “Circle 3 by Acoustic” Restaurant and Café, will offer relaxed public spaces where people can exchange ideas, have a good time, and socialize.

During the opening ceremony, FAA building – which previously hosted the Kingdom’s first commercial bank, Alawwal Bank – was brought to life by mesmerizing light projections that revealed the beauty of this distinctive building — a reinforced concrete cylindrical structure with a dominant, square-shaped canopy edifice, decorated with a geometrically patterned, high relief motif in traditional Saudi style.Besides being a multidisciplinary cultural center, FAA aims to be a space in the Kingdom where diverse communities come together, explore, discover more about themselves, and interact in different ways.

Director Rola Alghrair emphasized the cultural center’s mission: “FAA will gather diverse minds in a unique space that inspires cultural exploration and discovery through creative and artistic activities”. She added: “Starting next year, our programs aim to directly involve embassies; from ideation to implementation, all activities will be the product of cross-cultural collaboration and exchange”.

The opening of the cultural center coincided with the launch of an inaugural art exhibit titled “The Memory Deposit”. Inspired by the memory of the place as a bank, the exhibit presents the history of the Saudi currency through an artistic lens. Six local and international contemporary artists took inspiration from different landscapes and milestones of Saudi heritage, identity and culture depicted on the Kingdom’s coinage and banknotes.

The result goes beyond an exhibition about art and currency, embracing artistic representations of Saudis’ living national memory and collective identity.