Noor Riyadh Comes to An End, But The Citywide Exhibition Continues to Enchant

noor riyadh
Noor Riyadh, recently opened in the Saudi capital, is the world's most exciting art and light festival, combining the most distinguished quality of luminous artworks in the most notable footprint in the city.

The citywide light show of Noor Riyadh has come to a close. Residents celebrate the festival’s positive impact on the city and its community; with more than 300,000 people have enjoyed the event to date.

The Royal Commission for Riyadh City kicked off the Noor Riyadh festival illuminating the Saudi capital with multiple light shows dazzling its visitors.

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The capital appeared in a transformation of a canvas of Lights; achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal and ambition of Riyadh becoming a global top ten city.

Festival of Noor Riyadh

The Noor Riyadh festival was the first event organized by the Riyadh Art Programme as one of four major projects launched by HRH King Salman in March 2019.

In its first iteration, it ran from March 18 – April 3 under the supervision of the Committee of Grand Projects chaired by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The event was divided into two central locations in Riyadh, the King Abdulaziz Historical Center in Al Murabba and the King Abdullah Financial District. 

The theme of “Noor Riyadh” is “Under One Sky,” which was based on the universal human impulse to gaze at light and illuminations; as in the flames of a campfire or a tranced gaze upon the stars in the heavens.

The recently concluded festival included over 270 special activities of tours, talks, workshops, family activities, film screenings, and music; many of which were available online and allowed a wider audience outside of Riyadh and Saudi Arabia to participate in and enjoy the festival.

The Noor Riyadh festival featured 33 citywide light art installations encompassing sculptures, interactive shows, projections; kinetic and immersive pieces placed in various locations across the city to the residents and visitors’ delight and entertainment.

Upon its opening on March 18, Noor Riyadh’s 2021 theme of ‘Under One Sky’ brought together 60 artists from more than 20 countries and Riyadh residents; domestic tourists, and international visitors, displaying inclusivity and shared humanity through art and culture activity.

While the citywide two weeks of fascinating light art exhibition may have ended, the excitement has not concluded yet.

The exhibition ‘Light Upon Light: Light Art since the 1960s’ will remain open till June 12, at the KAFD (King Abdullah Financial District).

Speaking after the festival, Khaled Al-Hazani, Director of Riyadh Art, said, Noor Riyadh united the local and global communities. 

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Art transcends boundaries and nurtures universal dialogue, providing an accessible platform to the citizens of the world. The Saudi capital’s festival of light and art left a lasting impression on the Saudi-based foreign diplomats. 

The French ambassador to the Saudi Kingdom, The Honourable Ludovic Pouille, posted a photo with Saudi artist Marwah Al-Mugait and tweeted; “Glad to have participated in the official inauguration of the light installations of Noor Riyadh Festival.”

The Danish envoy, The Honourable Ole E. Moesby, applauded the festival as “beautiful and successful.”

At present, the festival continues through the exhibition ‘Light Upon Light: Light art since the 1960s’; as the Kingdom looks forward to the community’s continued engagement through the upcoming programs under the umbrella of Riyadh Art.


Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival thrived through special activities, in-person and online.

Noor Riyadh offered maximized participation and community engagement through safe, creative, personal, and immersive experiences. 

The residents and non-residents of Riyadh had the opportunity to participate in various inspiring talks; tours, workshops, musical and cinematic performances, and family activities.

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By continuing the light art exhibition at KAFD, the citizens and visitors can continue to enjoy the workshops and tours up-till the mid of June; pre-booking is mandatory for these events.

Riyadh Art turned the city into an open-air gallery infusing art within the social fabric of the capital. The festival’s theme, “Under the Sky,” expressed hope for a brighter future as the world continues to recover from the pandemic. 

Lighting artists from across 20 countries participated in the festival, and the participants from the Kingdom were; Ayman Zidani, Ahmed Mater, Lulwah Al Homoud, Rashed Al Shashai, and Maha Mallouh.

Prominent among the international artists that took part in the event were Daniel Buren, Carsten Holler, Tom and Lien Dekyvere, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Yayoi Kusama, and Dan Flavin.

Celebrated Belgian artist couple Tom and Lien Dekyvere were among the artists’ roster to display their work at the festival.

Since 2012, the couple has traveled the world designing and installing light art installations; in public spaces for events and exhibitions, visualizing the world through light, sound, and materials. 

Their art piece “Rhizome” at the Palm Oasis featured a web made of hundreds of meters of illuminated rope; symbolizing a house, a cocoon, to meditate within, on the contemporary society’s (dis)connectedness. 

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Tom Dekyvere explained that the concept “Rhizome” was specific to Riyadh’s sights and sounds; Tom built the idea of Rhizome into the palm trees; so the visitors contemplate its geometric patterns and reflect upon the connection the artwork has with the broader world.

Noor Riyadh has been a groundbreaking phenomenon in the city’s cultural development and a witness to the public’s love for both the festival and the participating artists.

In addition to the awe-inspiring light art installations, the festival engaged over 200 volunteers; allowing them to enter the creative industries and gain professional experience.

The project’s direct engagement with the community and the participants imparted unique positive changes to Riyadh’s arts and culture landscape.

A hundred percent of Noor Riyadh’s ticket revenue of over SR300,000 to date is to be donated to the two nominated charities; Saudi Autistic Society and Kafeef, a charity for the visually impaired and their families.

Noor Riyadh, the first initiative of Riyadh Art, consisted of more than 1,000 public art installations across Riyadh city; and was supported through the annual festival and an international sculpture symposium.

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