King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture

Inspiring Hearts. Engaging Minds

Background  

Since its inception, Saudi Aramco has actively contributed to the betterment of the Kingdom and its society, including the dissemination of knowledge.

Over the decades the company has built schools and launched training, educational, and scholarship programs. Today, the concept of knowledge has evolved, and by inspiring imagination, encouraging creativity, and leveraging new technologies, we are able to activate the creative power of our people to enrich lives and transform society.

Saudi Aramco’s drive to maximize a new source of human energy and its belief in the potential of the Kingdom’s people are the basis for establishing the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, simply known as the center. From arts and culture to science and innovation, this bold initiative promises a continuous journey of enrichment designed to energize the next knowledge economy of Saudi Arabia. This is closely aligned with the objectives and ambitions of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in terms of cultural engagement and learning. The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 sets culture and entertainment as central elements for increasing the quality of life in society. That Vision promises support and encouragement for Saudi Arabia’s talented writers, filmmakers, artists and will also develop a palette of entertainment options to suit every taste. 

Honoring a Legacy 

King Abdulaziz Al Sa‘ud envisioned a nation blessed with prosperity for its people, which would also contribute to the wider world. Inspired by this vision, Saudi Aramco launched on its 75th anniversary the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, named for the founder of the Kingdom as a tribute to his role in the country’s unity and prosperity.

Saudi Aramco chose to build the Center near the Prosperity Well, the Kingdom’s first commercial oil well, signaling the Center’s objective of developing an even greater source of wealth: creative energy that feeds innovation, and eventually, transformation.

Our Mission

Ithra’s mission is to make a tangible and positive impact on human development by inspiring a passion for knowledge, creativity, and cross-cultural engagement for the future of the Kingdom.

A Beacon of Knowledge

Rising 90 meters above the Earth’s surface, the Center is the first institution of its kind in the Kingdom bringing together multiple offerings under one roof to make a positive and tangible impact on the knowledge and cultural scene by building local talents in the knowledge and creative industries. Blending iconic architectural design with advanced technology, and unique learning methods with enriching programs, the Center is an infinitely inspiring platform for explorers, learners, creators, and leaders. As a thriving hub of knowledge, creativity, and cross-cultural engagement, it will help support a nation rapidly transforming into a knowledge economy.

Our vision to foster creativity and innovation is based on the following:

  • Cultivating a Knowledge Society | Social Impact

The Center invests in people’s natural propensity to explore, discover, and learn. It is that curious nature that makes it possible for pioneers to succeed as innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, and business leaders. Recognizing the importance of nurturing and encouraging these instincts to promote research and innovation, the Center was built to stimulate curiosity, provide opportunity, and challenge minds through traditional and unconventional resources in the fields of science, the arts, innovation, and more.

  • Creating Economic Opportunities | Economic Impact

The global economic landscape is changing. At the heart of this creative economy are the industries at the crossroads of arts, culture, business, and technology. By providing the platform to embrace and develop a generation of innovative, original thinkers in Saudi Arabia, Ithra will help to equip society with exciting new economic opportunities, to become a nation of producers.

The Center builds knowledge capacity through artistic and cultural endeavors that promote creativity and innovation, and inspire and engage visitors. Through innovative knowledge acquisition, the Center is preparing our next generation of leaders in science, engineering, and the creative industries.

The Center is also an advanced learning facility, offering a vast array of cultural and educational outreach programs. By creating a hub for experimental and innovative thinking, the Center is a reference point and a platform for knowledge seekers aspiring to thrive intellectually. Walking the halls, listening to a presentation, attending a workshop or a class-wherever one looks, ideas abound.

The Center is a place to explore, master critical thinking, acquire new skills, interact and network with like-minded individuals. These are the keys to developing a generation of dynamic and original thinkers.

  • Outreach

The Center’s impact is Kingdom-wide, with an extensive array of cultural and educational outreach programs, including the award-winning Center Youth and Center Learning programs that bring the Center to the people. The Center’s online offerings cover a wide array of topics including virtual learning experiences and engaged interaction.

  • A Fusion of Art and Science

The Center encourages creativity and innovation in all of its programs and offerings. Scientific endeavors require new, daring ways of thinking, while creativity requires imagination and innovative problem solving.

Center Components

The Center provides a unique, diverse, and integrated experience through its multiple components:

  • Library

The Center’s Library is an interactive experience rather than simply a vast series of shelves full of books. The emphasis is on active learning.

Upon opening, the Library will have over 220,000 books in Arabic and English, with room for another 500,000 books, periodicals and reports in the digital archives. The library includes workstations for specialized academic research. Cultural initiatives such as the national iRead competition, which promotes a love of reading and literature across the nation, will be hosted alongside lectures and seminars by distinguished writers and thought leaders.

The library collection is dynamic and will continue to evolve to serve the public. The library team has completed and published a detailed analysis of Saudis’ reading habits, surveying 18,000 people from across the Kingdom. This research greatly informed the Center's resource acquisition policy and educational programming.

  • Knowledge Tower

Consisting of 18 floors of learning facilities, the Knowledge Tower will offer the latest courses in a variety of subjects. The Tower will host 2,000 workshops annually in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and in the arts, multimedia, and general skill building programs. The content offered in these workshops is developed in partnership with premier educational institutions from around the world, and specialized local institutions.

Although many workshops target youth, the Tower will also offer programs that cater to all age groups in different fields. It will reach 80,000 students by offering 500,000 hours of learning opportunities per year. The knowledge exchanges in the Tower will cultivate citizenship, celebrate diversity, promote volunteerism, nurture curiosity and an indelible yearning for knowledge.

  • IDEAlab

IDEAlab is an aspiring entrepreneur and inventor’s dream. It is where future entrepreneurs and inventors refine and develop their ideas and translate them into prototypes and marketable products. The space offers a project-based approach and provides working knowledge for those interested in careers in the arts, science, and technology. With training workshops, guidance, and mentorship, creative ideas can come to life as market-ready products and services.

  • Children’s Museum

The first museum in the Kingdom for children aged twelve and under, the Children’s Museum will help develop cognitive and personality skills during the formative years through exhibits, interactive and entertaining activities. Children will discover their unique selves and engage their curiosity through confidence-building and learning activities.

The Children’s Museum introduces the world to children by encouraging them to discover cultures across the globe using drama and role-playing within the Story Cave by listening to children from around the world telling their stories in the Our World exhibit; and through discoveries of the ecological and marine life exhibition featuring live animals and plants.

  • Museum

The Museum provides a panoramic view of the best of Saudi and global cultures through four galleries. Each focuses on a specific topic, opening minds to new ideas, forms of cultural expression, and understanding. Visitors transcend thousands of years in a journey of discovery beginning with contemporary Saudi art. This is followed by Saudi identity and heritage, Islamic art and legacy, and concludes with the natural history of the Arabian Peninsula.

The four exhibits are accompanied by programs, lectures, workshops, and guided tours that explore themes chronologically from modern times to ancient.

  • Great Hall

The Great Hall is our window to the world. This space will house international touring exhibitions, festivals, and museums, as well as conferences and events.

By offering visitors a chance to see what other societies have to offer, this space acts as a bridge connecting cultures and cultivating a creative and innovative community. It encourages visitors to aspire intellectually through new and groundbreaking ideas.

  • Performing Arts Theater

The 900-seat Theater will present live local productions alongside international offerings. The shows will reinforce Saudi social and cultural values, and provide training to local talent in the fields of theater, cinematic production, script writing, and the supporting arts.

  • Multimedia Theater

The Center includes a 300-seat auditorium offering a variety of programming from live lectures to films. Its primary purpose is to screen original works from the emerging Saudi film industry as well as educational and culturally insightful documentaries from across the globe.

  • Archives Gallery

The Archives Gallery is a guardian of the Kingdom’s heritage. Here vital and rare documents, records and elements of our history are managed, catalogued and preserved. Included in this gallery are the official archives of Saudi Aramco, documenting more than eight decades of the company’s history and achievements.

  • Energy Exhibit

The Energy Exhibit provides a hands-on, immersive experience of the world of petroleum, its sciences, energy and technology. Visitors follow oil’s journey from the ground to consumers while exploring the latest innovations, conservation and stewardship initiatives, as well as the emerging field of alternative energy sources.

Programs and Activities

The Center has been extending its reach and developing its programs prior to its official opening. These initiatives include iSpark, iDiscover, the national reading competition iRead, Center's new media award and the Center Youth gathering. Some of the most popular programs offered include FABLAB - Dhahran, Center's  program for theatrical and performing arts, and Ithra Knowledge.

  • Volunteering Opportunities

The Center offers thousands of enriching opportunities via its volunteer programs. Participation builds interpersonal skills, provides practical experiences, and supports core values of citizenship.

  • Inspiring Hearts and Engaging Minds

People will visit the Center for a variety of reasons. Some seek inspiration. Others yearn for knowledge, social interaction, opportunity, or amusement. Regardless of the motivation, the Center’s design and offerings ensure each visitor is taken on a journey that enriches at every step, sparks creativity, unlocks new possibilities, creates compelling experiences, and transforms..

The Center is also a collaborative environment, a place to explore, to gain knowledge, and explore creativity, to meet friends and family, and to discover oneself. Most of all, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is Saudi Arabia: our present, our past and our brilliant, inspiring future.  

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