Saudi Arabia’s flagship creative and cultural destination, The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture – or Ithra– presents a major new exhibition on The Prophet’s journey from Mecca to Medina. Curated by Ithra’s in-house experts in collaboration with Dr Abdullah Hussein Alkadi, Hjrah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet, comprises historic artefacts and newly commissioned works by leading artists.
The exhibition explores the religious, cultural and historic significance of The Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) 400km, 8-day journey from Mecca to Medina. Known as the ‘Hijrah’, meaning migration, The Prophet undertook the journey to escape persecution, and on arrival he negotiated the Constitution of Medina. This, in 622 CE, marks the first establishment of the Muslim community as a socio-political entity. The Ithra re-imagines the human story of The Prophet’s Hijrah, drawing on timeless themes of freedom, courage, love and companionship in an immersive, multidisciplinary experience. Specially commissioned works, historic artefacts and cutting-edge research by world-leading scholars bring to life an age-old story for the modern world through art, film, theatre and calligraphy.
Contributors include curator, Dr Abdullah Hussein Alkadi, renowned for his ground-breaking research on the travel routes used by The Prophet and his Companions, as well as Hamza Yusuf Hanson, president of the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, Zaytuna College, California. Numerous partner organisations have collaborated with Ithra in the development of this project, including: The National Museum of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, and the House of Islamic Arts, Jeddah. In addition, The Prince of Wales Turquoise Mountain, an HRH charity that supports arts and heritage work across the Middle East, has also contributed. These partner organisations have loaned artefacts for inclusion in the exhibition.
Commissioned artists include Nasser Al Salem, an internationally renowned Saudi artist whose work in calligraphy is featured in collections at the British Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well in the Ithra collection itself. The Moroccan artist, Younes Rahmoun, who explores Islamic culture and spirituality features alongside Saudi artist, Zahrah Al Ghamadi, whose work has been shown at the Venice Biennale. Maryam Omar, a British-Afghan artist who works with Turquoise Mountain, features with master stone carver Mohammed Siddique Bhati and carpenter Maher Darwish.
The exhibition takes place in Ithra’s Great Hall, a 1600 square meter space that hosted the 29th Arab League Summit. Hijrah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet runs for 9 months at the Ithra, before embarking on a 3-year tour of Saudi Arabia, beginning with The National Museum in Riyadh in April 2023. Beyond that, the exhibition will tour internationally for a further 2 years.
Ithra opened in June 2018 and was listed in TIME magazines top 100 places to visit that year. A corporate citizen initiative of Aramco, Ithra is a cultural and creative destination focused on bringing together and celebrating the creative industries of Saudi Arabia. The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture comprises the Idea Lab, library, theatre, museum and the Knowledge Tower, all spread across 80,000 square metres. Ithra has collaborated with international museums and organisations to bring Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch and Leonardo da Vinci to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time. Hijrah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet opens to the public on 31 July 2022.
Hijrah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet, Ithra, Dhahran, until 30th April 2023.
Featured Image: Installation View, Hirah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet, Ithra, 2022.