Creating a globally-renowned land of song, literature and film


“All the world’s a stage”. This is one of the most often-quoted lines by playwright William Shakespeare. While it is true, much of the rich heritage and diverse culture of the Kingdom’s 13 regions has long been hidden away from a wider gaze.

Writers, poets, actors, singers and architects have, for centuries, been carving out our unique and distinctive Saudi identity. Their talents have been enjoyed by people in our towns and cities. But few others around the world have had the pleasure of experiencing them.

This should soon change.

The announcement of a foreign scholarship program for culture means that these amazing talents will be given a far greater stage. Its mission, outlined by Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan, is: “To support and enable a vibrant Saudi Arabian culture that is true to its past and looks to the future by cherishing heritage and unleashing new and inspiring forms of expression for all.”

When registration for the scholarship program opens on Jan. 19, qualified young Saudis will be able to pursue higher studies at world-class universities around the globe in areas such as music, theater, filmmaking and literature.

I think this is significant, for three main reasons:

Education and culture

Arts and culture are some of the most precious things we possess. They are at the heart of our society and an expression of who we are. But they are also in danger of being lost because of changes in attitudes and outlooks through the generations.

Education is, therefore, as important to the survival of arts and culture as these things are to the preservation of our society. In that sense, I believe the two cannot and should not be separated from each other.

The scholarship scheme means their values and principles will be taught to our youngsters. This will happen through cadres that will be set up - small groups of experts in their field who will impart their wisdom.

Our brightest minds will be able to add insights gained at universities abroad to their already considerable talents and pass these on. As well as preserving our heritage, the move will give our next generation the skills to light up our creative industries, fill roles in the labor market and open up their own opportunities.

Global stage

It will not only ensure our arts continue to form the bedrock of our society, but will mean that the world will see Saudi Arabia’s true creative side. We will be able to present our ever-evolving national identity globally. In every part of the country there are poets, architects, dancers and actors that can help promote, preserve and enhance our arts.

Films made in the Kingdom can be enjoyed by people around the world, as well as artwork depicting modern life and songs about our beautiful country.

Cultural exchanges

The program can enrich all of our lives in many ways. Courses that come under its umbrella include archaeology, design, museums, music, filmmaking, theater, and literary, visual and culinary arts.

Through undertaking scholarships at universities around the world, creative and talented Saudis can take part in cultural exchanges and dialogue. It will bring the best of international culture to Saudi Arabia - as well as enabling the Kingdom to export its unique and diverse culture to the world.

This can create fusions with creative people from other countries, taking our arts in exciting new directions. It means the world truly is the oyster of our many talented young people.