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Arab World Institute President Reveals Preparations for Mada'in Saleh 2019 Exhibition

Arab World Institute President Reveals Preparations for Mada'in Saleh 2019 Exhibition

Monday, 9 April, 2018 - 08:45
President of the Arab World Institute. Reuters file photo
Paris - Michel Abou Najm
President of the Arab World Institute (Institut du Monde Arabe) in Paris Jack Lang said Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 was the basis and source of all reforms in Saudi Arabia, describing it as a “community revolution.”

“We view this vision as the source of all reforms. It has been prepared with extensive insight and a long-term plan--one of its objectives to remove Saudi Arabia from dependence on oil and ambitiously open new horizons,” Lang said.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Lang noted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to France as an “extraordinary event reflecting friendly relations” shared between Paris and Riyadh.

“This visit is of exceptional importance as it showcases the deep friendship between Saudi Arabia and France,” Lang said.

More so, Lang stressed the importance of the decision to renovate and open the archeological and heritage sites in Saudi Arabia’s Mada'in Saleh, nestled west of the kingdom.

The location is registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

According to Lang, Paris can keep up with Saudi Arabia in many sectors the kingdom expressed a desire to develop.

“I would like to point out that the huge reform project launched in the higher education and vocational training sector reflects a genuine will and determination to modernize and open up Saudi Arabia,” Lang said.

“France in all these sectors has a leadership at the global level--therefore, we are ready to contribute in providing content and training of teams in France,” he added.

Commenting on the Crown Prince’s visit to Paris, Lang said it will be an opportune moment to sign a number of agreements to advance Kingdom Vision 2030 development projects.

“I believe that the visit by the Crown Prince will allow the signing of a series of contracts.”

Lang also acknowledged that the Saudi Crown Prince is leading the Kingdom with a strong will for implementing constructive change.

“Prince Mohammed bin Salman has a clear vision and his desire for change is strong, especially as he is aware of the need to lead reforms that have been revealed after years of stalemate.”

“It seems to me that the Saudi authorities are really determined to go on forth with their reform and modernization projects until the very end.”

Lang said that since taking over the responsibility of the Institute's management, strengthening relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries in general has been one of his chief priorities.

“Relations between the Institute and Saudi Arabia, and more broadly the Gulf countries, have been greatly strengthened since I took over as the Institute’s president. Among various other activities, we hosted a very beautiful exhibition on “Hajj, the pilgrimage to Makkah” in 2014, in partnership with the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh,” he said.

As for possible cooperation and joint projects, Lang said that an exhibition is well underway and will be launching in spring 2019.

“Currently, we are working, in cooperation with Prince Badr bin Abdullah and the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, on a very important exhibition dedicated to the fabulous heritage of Madain Saleh, or Hegra, to be inaugurated in the spring of 2019. The presence of Mojeb Al-Zahrani, our director general who is of Saudi origin, also helps us a lot. He is very active in the field of Arab thought,” Lang said.

“Also, financially, Saudi Arabia, along with a few other Gulf countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, has made a major donation to the Arab World Institute to finance the renovation of our building, designed by Jean Nouvel, who later was the architect of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. I want to use this occasion to thank the king of Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince for their generosity toward the Institute,” Lang noted on the contributions made by the Kingdom to the institute.

“This donation was mainly responsible for financing the renovation of the building’s spectacular Mashrabiya , or the wooden latticework. As for the operating budget of the Institute, only the French government gives us an annual subsidy. Arab countries have not contributed to this budget for nearly 20 years. We are, therefore, obviously ready to welcome any new Arab financial contribution to our annual budgets also.”

Explaining the institute’s objectives, Lang said that it is dedicated to “spreading Arabic culture and language—promoting them among the French and European public.”

Stating that the institute works diligently on promoting peace and tolerance, Lang said “it is more important today than ever before.”

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