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From warehouses to a cultural hub, this district is transforming Riyadh’s art scene

The district aligns with the kingdom’s Vision 2030, aimed at building a thriving community of artists, creative industries, and cultural institutions.

From warehouses to a cultural hub, this district is transforming Riyadh’s art scene
[Source photo: JAX District]

Saudi Arabia is blossoming into a vibrant hub for artistic exploration, drawing inspiration from its rich history, diverse landscapes, and dynamic society. This artistic vibrancy manifests in various ways.

From established galleries in bustling cities to grassroots initiatives in remote communities, the kingdom provides a platform for seasoned and up-and-coming artists to showcase their talents.

Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the art scene is reflected in its Riyadh Art initiative. Introduced in 2019, this public art endeavor seeks to convert Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, into an expansive “gallery without walls,” spotlighting the creativity of local artists while nurturing the creative economy. 

Initially aiming to install 1,000 art installations across the capital, the initiative is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s commitment to fostering artistic expression and cultural development.


Part of the government’s efforts is also the establishment of JAX District. Originally a vibrant industrial area established in 1975, it  began to decline in the mid-2000s. However, the district’s fate turned when Khalah, a young graffiti artist, began painting murals, unknowingly paving the way for what would evolve into the kingdom’s epicenter of creativity. 

The district was officially launched in 2021 to build a thriving community of artists, creative industries, and cultural institutions. Spearheaded by the Saudi Ministry of Culture, this project revitalizes and transforms a warehouse cluster into a dynamic creative hub. The district is also strategically positioned to significantly attract 150 million visitors to the country by enhancing cultural and tourism offerings.

JAX District has drawn prominent artists and notable projects such as The Diriyah Biennale Foundation, SAMOCA (the inaugural Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art), Riyadh Art, galleries, creative agencies, and media platforms such as Vice, SMRG, and Snapchat. Additionally, JAX hosts numerous exhibitions and large-scale events, including the Noor Riyadh Light Festival, Hia Hub Fashion Conference, and the XP Music Conference by MDLBeast.


JAX District’s impact extends far beyond its physical boundaries, permeating various facets of the creative industry. The MDLBEAST XP Music Conference, alongside its sister event, the XP Music Conference, acts as a cultural melting pot, bringing together regional and international music industry leaders. This unique platform fosters connections, learning, and engagement between attendees and industry heavyweights.

The conferences also spotlight emerging regional talent, particularly those from the Gulf Cooperation Council and beyond. This focus and the planned recording studios, XP Headquarters, and Beast House further solidify JAX’s position as a powerhouse for music creation.

The district plays a crucial role in empowering the creator economy. It provides an ecosystem for artists, with studios, ateliers, production houses, and creative agencies. This close physical proximity fosters collaboration and connection, facilitating seamless creative processes from ideation to execution.

JAX’s commitment extends further through its involvement in government initiatives. The district opens doors for the emerging generation to gain valuable practical experience by offering internships, panel talks, and workshops. Additionally, residencies, ongoing exhibitions, and creative conferences serve as platforms that bridge the gap between creators and the public, ultimately nurturing the growth of the entire creative economy.

Understanding the evolving market is crucial for JAX District, where innovation thrives. This knowledge supports and nurtures creative practices in Saudi Arabia’s ever-changing cultural landscape. Fueled by Saudi youth and their demand for innovative expression, the district catalyzes local and global art scenes, builds authentic narratives, and fosters cultural exploration.

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