Nurturing Saudi Arabia’s creativity and innovation potential

Contributing to the country's GDP, the creative industry has been hailed as a significant contributor to Saudi Arabia's economy.

Nurturing Saudi Arabia’s creativity and innovation potential
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

No country can underestimate the value of art output in global branding and wealth generation. After all, which other sectors can do all of the following: Help improve social mobility, help repair societal rifts, drive exports, grow the economy and define the country internationally?

In Saudi Arabia, the creative industry has been the fastest-growing component of the economy for the past few years. They play exactly into Saudi Vision 2030 priorities – a new industrial strategy and greater social cohesion. The kingdom’s TV and film companies, video games, digital creative, designers, fashion, publishers, museums and galleries, architects, advertisers, and universities all play a key role.

Many of the country’s companies are shining examples of ingenuity and entrepreneurship. The link between culture, tech and science is strong and growing.

The future of any country depends on the tools of innovation and creativity embedded in its people, and innovators are leaving no stone unturned to lay a strong foundation for a mindful, more sustainable future.

Globally, the cultural and creative industries (CCI) generate $2,250 billion yearly and support 30 million employment, which makes them important economic forces changing the course of both developed and developing nations. And Saudi Arabia is expected to be one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world in 2022.

According to recent projections, the Kingdom will outpace the competitive Asian giants China, India and others, with its GDP expanding by 7.5%, its fastest growth since 2011, led by a cultural force and diversity.


Moreover, the creative industry has been hailed as a major contributor to the cultural scene in KSA, providing richness and diversity. The government has named it a key pillar of its Vision 2030 plan to highlight the importance of this emerging industry.

For a country, it’s important to ensure that the fruits of increased productivity are passed on to the people.

To develop a global hub for knowledge sharing, building interest in innovation and the industry, and developing local talent and creative professionals, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has launched the 5th edition of its Tanween creativity season. It also presents outstanding visitor experiences under the “Collaborate to Create” tagline.

Being a part of the creative process, collaboration is integral but is perhaps dismissed, with its power forgotten. Tanween 2022 will address the diverse collaboration application across the critical subjects of business, graphics, and architecture.

Held over three weeks, featuring discussions and panels, exhibitions, networking sessions, masterclasses, keynote addresses, and demonstrations, Ithra aims to empower creative professionals and the creative industry to reflect on the value of teamwork and uniting concepts to create something greater together.

The first week would focus on the creativity business, exploring how creative collaboration will help solve challenges, create new opportunities and implement innovative ideas using brand crossovers. The second week is about graphics and communication – a track for visual communicators, examining who is collaborating with whom across design, art, and branding. The final week explores collaborations between architecture, the environment, society, and culture for creating innovative designs.

The event, to be held from October 27 to November 12 at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, aims to offer an experience that fuels creativity, inspiration, and passion for learning to the creative minds in Saudi Arabia.

The Tanween Hub hosts several public activities, including interactive creative exercises, where visitors engage in brief, hands-on activities related to architecture, fashion, nature, and technology.

The Weaving Wall encourages people to come together to consider the importance of managing textile waste by weaving on large-scale looms using recycled textiles. Furthermore, the space is open for local and regional creative minds to host engaging gatherings with creative meetups.

Lastly, the Tanween Challenges exhibition will showcase the skills of the next generation of designers who have developed practical solutions to real-world issues.

Since 2018, Tanween has hosted over 75,000 participants and welcomed over 200,000 visitors – in person and virtually. Targeting creatives and innovators contributing to the Kingdom’s creative industry each year Tanween’s offerings encompass communications, design, tech, fashion, architecture, the arts, professional development, entrepreneurship, marketing, and more.


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