CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

What Saudi Arabia’s Vibrant Art Scene Says About Its Internal Struggles

Artists Are Using Ambiguity to Probe the Fault Line Between Modernity and Conservative Islam

When I first saw Ajlan Gharem’s video, “Paradise Has Many Gates,” at an art studio in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I was amazed.

It opens with a small single-story structure made of chain-link fence standing alone in a flat expanse of sand, crowned by a small dome and a gold crescent moon. A minaret rises above one corner of the building, while a semicircular niche in one wall marks the direction of Mecca. When the call to prayer sounds, a group of men and boys enter. They kneel to pray; then …

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