Therme Art Program


2023 welcomes the Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Sumayya Vally, Art Advisory Board Member at Therme Art and Co-Founder of the award-winning architecture and research practice Counterspace, was appointed as the Artistic Director of Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale. Taking place in Jeddah between 23 January – 23 April, the newly established Biennale fosters cultural exchanges between Saudi Arabia and international communities, showcasing leading artists and curators. 

“I have visited Jeddah as a pilgrim many times. The location has so much embodied meaning that speaks to both communal and individual experiences. Alongside my curatorial colleagues, I am inspired by the opportunity to present a range of works in this extraordinary setting. I hope many will join us in December for an exploration that is open to all.” — Sumayya Vally

Vally’s practice centres on expressing hybrid identities and territories, particularly for diasporic African and Islamic conditions. In 2021, Sumayya Vally designed the Serpentine Pavilion in London, commissioned by Therme Group. The Pavilion, with its fragmented architectural elements, was designed to call upon places of meeting, organising, and belonging that are particularly relevant to London’s migrant communities. 

Alongside Vally, the distinguished curatorial team includes Dr. Saad Alrashed, leading Saudi scholar and archaeologist, Dr. Omniya Abdel Barr, Barakat Trust Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum and  Dr. Julian Raby, Director Emeritus of the National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. 

The Islamic Arts Biennale follows Saudi Arabia’s first contemporary art biennale––the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale––held from December 2021 – March 2022, under the patronage of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.