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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

Meet The Five Saudi Artists Who Won The Misk Art Grant.

Five Saudi artists were recently chosen as winners of the first Misk Art Grant, claiming prizes worth more than $25,000 each. The new grants come as artists are gaining new visibility and recognition in a kingdom experiencing social and cultural changes, and they signal significant new support for the creative arts.

The grants are a project of the Misk Art Institute, which is supported by the foundation of the kingdom’s crown prince, and which plans to award the grants annually.

Works by the artists who received the first grants went on display in early December during Misk Art Week, the institute’s flagship event. The exhibition is called Mukooth,” meaning to stay, dwell and sojourn—a theme chosen in reference to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which put many artists’ work and careers on hold.

Reem AlSultan, chief executive of the Misk Art Institute, explained: “The Covid-19 pandemic affected art production with the closure of studios due to limited resources and funding; research towards creative projects and the development of new ideas was also disrupted. Very simply, Misk Art Week felt compelled to support and continue the conversation.”

The winners of the inaugural prizes are Hmoud AlAttawi, Alaa AlGhufaili, Saad AlHowede, Muhannad Shono and Ayman Zedani, chosen from a field of more than 60 applicants.

The grant is one part of a critical turning point for the cultural scene in Saudi Arabia, Zedani said, ensuring artists are recognized for their role in a cultural revolution that’s an extension of the social changes being seen across the kingdom, including the 2018 decision that allowed women to drive—a freedom that sits uneasily alongside a continuing intolerance of political dissent.

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