Unveiling a sprawling 17,000-square-metre arts complex developed by independent organisation Art Jameel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Hayy Jameel has opened its doors as the city’s first bespoke home for the arts and creativity.

Complemented by a colourful commissioned façade by Saudi artist Nasser Almulhim, the new centre boasts a contemporary and brightly lit design by UAE-based architectural studio waiwai with an expansive courtyard and maze-like staircases connecting three floors of galleries, art and design studios as well as the kingdom's first independent picture house, Hayy Cinema. The audiovisual centre, conceived by Jeddah-based architectural practice Bricklab, will include a 165-seat theatre, screening room, multimedia library and an educational space when it opens in April 2022.

A number of studios will also be available on the top floor of the centre for artists to use. In addition, Hayy Learning will serve as an educational platform that will offer courses that can stretch from four months to two years.

For its opening season, the centre is presenting a group exhibition titled, ‘Staple: What’s on your Plate?’, which looks at the ecological and social relationships around food, and how it is linked to trade, labour, tradition and colonialism.

The showcase presents works by more than 30 artists from the Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of Congo Germany, Thailand, India, Spain, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, UAE and Bangladesh. Other highlights of the new arts complex include a range of inspiring works, such as the multimedia installation by Bricklab and Misht Studio called “Absent Dinner” (2021), which can be found on the ground floor. The piece incorporates 100 percent cotton muslin hanging from the ceiling colored with dyes made from turmeric, Galangal, nutmeg and fennel seeds.

Art Jameel has established prominent projects across the region, including the annual Jameel Art Prize, an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, as well as Jameel Arts Center in Dubai, with Hayy Jameel the largest space for the organization yet.