Bridging culture gaps for the better good

HRH Princess Lamia Bint Majed Saud AlSaud
HRH Princess Lamia Bint Majed Saud AlSaud
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From my coming of age, I have had a personal goal to harness the power of collaboration to build a more sustainable, resilient, tolerant, and united community. To achieve this goal, I came to the realization that this success is dependent considerably on bridging cultures. Beyond geographical spreads, bridging cultures is to rise above personal and professional challenges to provide foundational support systems. Essentially, it starts and extends with creating shared value formations within and beyond organizations to generate greater societal benefits.

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Worldwide, the Cultural and Creative industries are generating $2,250bn annually and creating 30 million jobs, with and approximately $15bn per year being generated in Saudi Arabia at an estimated 13 percent GDP growth rate. Saudi Arabia’s arts and culture scene is emerging quickly yet steadily.

There are six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom with 10 more on the tentative list. The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee concluded the Kingdom is home to the highest number of UNESCO Heritage landmarks in the Gulf. The Kingdom’s rich culture is shaped by the diversity of its people, social values and generosity, and Islamic values - all of which are the basis of Saudi Arabia’s cultural identity. We have seen incredible change and growth in Saudi Arabia’s cultural sector – especially with the country’s blueprint, Vision2030, to propel all-encompassing cross-sector infrastructural developments forward. An agile independent arts scene turns into a livelier international attraction by the day. There is a need and interest to share our heritage and values through education, art and culture.

From Saudi Arabia’s inaugural participation at the Venice Biennale in 2011 to the debut of the Kingdom’s first Ad-Diriyah Biennale marking Saudi Arabia as a significant player in contemporary art. With infinite pursuit, Saudi Arabia is now home to the world’s first-ever Islamic Arts Biennale - a ground-breaking platform, documenting under-documented histories and welding richly diverse cultures under the theme ‘Awwal Bait’ for its inaugural edition.

For us at Alwaleed Philanthropies, these developments simultaneous with intersecting global opportunities and challenges have led to deep self-reflection: how do we take our partnerships, projects and collaborations to bridge culture gaps, to a whole new level? Harnessing the power of academic and cultural education, we launched Alwaleed Cultural Network to spearhead tolerance and cross-cultural understanding on an economic, specialist, collegiate and cultural industries level in an era of great transformation and diversification in Saudi Arabia and beyond. The Alwaleed Cultural Network is an intercontinental platform for cascading knowledge shared by more than seven renowned educational and cultural institutions. A rudimentary understanding of culture is to discuss historical movements that have prompted global critical thinking and to explore the diversity of its role in relation to other disciplines and beliefs. It is what connects societies to the paradigm technological shifts we are living in today’s hybrid world.

As such, the transparency of governance structures must run non-sporadic, providing robust frameworks to fall back on when addressing risks and responsibly leveraging opportunities to benefit partnering entities, communities, and stakeholders. It takes a distinguished institutional reservoir of insights to engage in, build and maintain a solid foundational system for responsible governance – particularly when it comes to cross-cultural diplomacy and discourse. Our position as a philanthropic institution makes us agile in offering opportunities to those who may not have access to concrete resources otherwise.

Across the spectrum of inter-disciplines of the arts, culture, and education are seen with a universal viewpoint - promoting education, awareness, and tolerance to recognize that diverse cultures have remarkable histories and exchanges in common across the world. The shared dialogue is engrained in every geographical location, academic system, and cultural institution. This provides an immersion in cultural, societal, technological, and scientific developments worldwide, especially when discussed in adaptorial contexts and tours of repository cognitive artifacts. Platforms dedicated to driving cross-cultural discourse act as a conduit through which the world can explore different cultures, religions and beliefs and improve inclusive understanding.

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