Setting the stage: The vital role of private art institutions in Saudi Arabia

Art Jameel, founded by Community Jameel's vice-chairman, Fady Jameel, is highlighted as one of the private art institutions that has played a vital role in forging the Saudi Arabian cultural scene by The Arab Gulf States in Washington. Founded in 2003, the vision of Art Jameel is to document, nurture and excavate cultural histories while also supporting the kingdom's younger, up-and-coming artists and aspiring practitioners through its arts and cultural centres in Jeddah, Cairo and Dubai.

“We exist independently, with thanks largely to Jameel family philanthropy, and work collaboratively with a range of partners, locally and globally,” said Antonia Carver, Art Jameel’s director. “Our mandate in Saudi Arabia is to help broaden access to the arts and to create opportunities for practitioners to engage in long-term research and considered thinking,” she added.


In 2003 other private initiatives came on the scene – many in the form of private patronage eager to encourage the growth of the Saudi art scene.

One was the Jameel family, among the Middle East’s most prominent and philanthropic art patrons. The family’s tradition of social entrepreneurship and community development stems from the late Sheik Abdul Latif Jameel who founded Abdul Latif Jameel, a family-owned diversified business, in 1945.

In 2003 Art Jameel was established by Fady Jameel, himself a collector and also the grandson of Abdul Latif Jameel, as part of Community Jameel, launched to continue the Jameel family’s tradition of supporting their community in Jeddah. Art Jameel supports similar communities around the Middle East, setting up art institutions, including artist residencies, art prizes, and art collecting, all of which support the growth of the region’s art scene.

As one of Saudi Arabia’s premier nongovernmental organizations dedicated to art and culture in the kingdom and throughout the Middle East, the vision of Art Jameel, which is funded primarily by the Jameel family (it receives no money from the Saudi state), is to document, nurture, and excavate cultural histories and the contemporary realities of the Arab world. Since its launch, it has established major cultural centers in Jeddah, Cairo, and Dubai. In 2021, it launched Hayy Jameel, a cultural center in Jeddah, which also includes an independent cinema.

The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington