Art In Unusual Places: Outdoor Exhibitions & Installations In The Arab World

From underwater sculpture parks to vast exhibitions in the desert, the Arab world has a growing number of unique and unusual outdoor exhibitions and installations showcasing art in diverse ways. We decided to take a look at some of these and how they’re shaking up the region’s art scene.

Desert X in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Desert X is an annual outdoor sculpture exhibition held in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla. Internationally recognized artists and emerging regional talents are given the opportunity to create sculptures and installations in the Saudi desert and winding canyons, resulting in some quite spectacular pieces. Since being established in 2017, this outdoor sculpture festival has done a lot to establish Saudi Arabia’s small but growing art scene. The wider area of AlUla has also been developed as the cultural hub of the country, with galleries, restaurants, and cultural events popping up all the time.

The International Symposium for Wall Murals at Burullus

Via Thomas Pinn

In a small fishing town on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, artists from Egypt, the wider region, and the world come once a year come to paint enormous and colorful murals. Often reflecting on the town’s presence as a fishing village, Egyptian history, and culture, or simply a celebration of the local community, the murals are varied in both their content and style. A good hour or two can be spent exploring the murals and it’s well worth the trip to find them.

Via Thomas Pinn

Dahab’s Underwater Sculpture Park

Hidden under the water just off the coast of Dahab in Egypt’s Sinai is a sculpture park accessible only to scuba divers and fish. With statues of Egyptian gods and others referencing the history of the country submerged underwater, you can explore the sculptures deep underwater. However, the sculptures also serve a dual purpose of providing a habitat for marine life to live in and for corals to establish themselves on. True to the ecologically aware approach of the underwater sculpture park, many of the artists used recycled objects thrown away in the trash.

GAL’RUE in Morocco’s Rabat

In 2021, artists and curators in the old town of Rabat in Morocco decided to create GAL’RUE. Both with a desire to show art outside as a way to get around COVID-19 concerns in enclosed spaces and to display art to a wider public; the founders of GAL’RUE decided to take over some of the narrow alleyways of their city. By painting murals and displaying art on the walls of the alleyway, they transformed it into a small makeshift gallery.

Forever is Now at the Giza Pyramids

Via Thomas Pinn

There may not be a more dramatic background to have for your sculptures or installations than that of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Now having just had its second edition, Forever is Now, which is organized by Art D’Egypte, is set to continue for many years to come after receiving 500,000 guests in just one month. With a mixture of Egyptian and international artists, the artists produce large-scale sculptures that are displayed on the Giza Plateau and often reference the Giza Pyramids and the history of the country.

Via Thomas Pinn

Jordan’s Baladk Street Art Festival

In Jordan’s capital of Amman, the Baladk Street Art Festival has since 2013 been adding color and excitement to the city’s streets and buildings. With both Jordanian and international artists coming together to celebrate the local community, murals are painted throughout the whole city. As part of a growing art scene in Amman, Baladk Street Art Festival has become an increasingly important fixture of the local art scene and has attracted the attention of graffiti artists worldwide.

Via Mille

Desert Breath in the Egyptian Desert

Along Egypt’s Red Sea coast between the sea and the mountains is a piece of land art by a team of Greek artists called Desert Breath. The colossal artwork that was made in 1997 was constructed by digging holes and piling sand following a pattern that spreads out over a million square feet. The piece feels entirely different when experienced from above or on the ground, and is intended by the artists to reference the universe and the idea of infinity. While wind and rain have slowly taken their toll on the piles of sand, the vast sculpture still stands and can be seen from both the air and the ground.

Have you been to any of these outdoor exhibitions and installations? And can you think of any incredible places in the region that would be the perfect place to have outdoor exhibitions in the region? If so, tell us the comments.

WE SAID THIS: Don’t Miss… Art D’Égypte Takes Over The Pyramids For Second Edition Of ‘Forever Is Now’

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