Saudi Arabia and France signed an intergovernmental agreement in April 2018 on the sustainable development of the AlUla region and its transformation into a world-class cultural and tourism destination.
As a result of this agreement, the French Agency for AlUla Development (AFALULA) was created to mobilize all French know-how (experts, operators, companies) and to support its Saudi partner, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), in a spirit of collaborative development.
In developing AlUla, it is the joint desire of Saudi Arabia and France to implement a new model of economic and tourism development, focused on environmental conservation, respect for history and the land, and inclusion of the local population. This approach is at the heart of the bilateral agreement signed between the two governments.
On the occasion of the visit to Riyadh and AlUla of the French Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, on March 12, 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the RCU and the Centre Pompidou as part of the project to create a Contemporary Art Museum in AlUla.
On November 27, 2023, during the visit to Paris of H.H. Prince Badr bin Farhan Al Saud, Saudi Minister of Culture and Governor of the RCU, a partnership arising from this Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the French Ministry of Culture by Laurent Le Bon, President of the Centre Pompidou, and Amr AlMadani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla, in the presence of H.E. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Chairman of the French Agency for AlUla Development, and Nora Aldabal, RCU’s Executive Director of Arts & Creative Industries.
This partnership, facilitated by AFALULA, aims to support the enhancement and development of the cultural, artistic and creative aspects of the AlUla site. The Centre Pompidou will contribute its scientific and technical expertise in the training of staff, particularly in the areas of conservation management of collections and mediation. It may also provide support for the organisation of cultural and event programming.
The project to create a Contemporary Art Museum in AlUla has entered a new phase, marked by the selection of its architect, Lina Gotmeh. Chosen for her remarkable experience and ability to combine creativity and sustainability, the Franco-Lebanese architect will propose a design inspired by the site and guided by a responsible approach.
The museum will set new standards in sustainable design, showcasing how architecture can be a catalyst for urban regeneration and environmental renewal while offering opportunities for engagement with the community through a calendar of workshops, school programmes, and more.
With a defined artistic and curatorial strategy, the programme allows for the ongoing exchange, acquisition, loan, and display of art works and artefacts between RCU and Centre Pompidou, as well as the promotion of various scientific and cultural initiatives based around the sharing of unique items from each partner’s collection.
Centre Pompidou’s experience and expertise in creating a comprehensive strategy to attract international visitors, host major cultural events and productions, and in establishing opportunities for advocacy and audience development, will support RCU’s goal of transforming AlUla into the world’s largest living museum and a global hub for cultural and heritage tourism.
« I am delighted with the signing of this partnership which crowns the strengthening of Franco-Saudi cooperation in the fields of art and culture. France will bring to Saudi Arabia its world-renowned know-how regarding museums and contemporary creation. As a leading cultural institution, the Centre Pompidou will support the Royal Commission for AlUla, in a spirit of sharing experience and knowledge, in the development of cultural spaces, the museum management and in the implementation of an ambitious project: the creation of a Contemporary Art Museum in AlUla, whose influence will extend throughout the Middle East and beyond and which will contribute to making AlUla, with the support of AFALULA, a major cultural destination.» Jean-Yves LE DRIAN, Chairman of AFALULA