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Ithra Center to Host Young XR Talent Exhibit in London


Ithra, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, is set to showcase five creative projects on Tuesday from young artists across the United Kingdom.

The event, which aims to exhibit Saudi Arabia’s immersive content creators under the Center’s Creative Solutions initiative, will take place at the prestigious County Hall in London.

Many content creators at the event are women and will display prototyped content using virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR), location-based immersive content, and interactive gaming, covering many sectors such as health and wellness, training, art, education, culture, entertainment and others.

The project is the culmination of years of work via the Center’s “Digital Immersive Content Creation” theme, featuring 30 ideas across nearly 60 content creators.

The Center has selected five projects from the theme for a global bootcamp initiative offering grants and other funding to develop the winning contributions.

Meaning ‘enrichment,’ Ithra’s initiative hopes to foster growth in emerging markets, via emerging technologies. According to figures from the Government’s Cultural and Creative Index research report, creative solutions earned Riyadh 1.5 percent of its GDP in 2018, or a 13 percent annual growth.

Ithra’s initial launch showcased the work of 27 young content creators working with British tech giants such as Maddalena Crosti, Programme Lead at Digital Catapult, Simon Benson, Tech Consultant and Former Director of Immersive Technology at Sony, and Anthony Geffen, Documentary Filmmaker and Immersive Storyteller.

Miznah Alzamil, Head of Creativity and Innovation at Ithra, said in a statement the UK was a “global hub of innovation” where young content creators benefitted from working with industry leaders.

She continued, stating,

“Ithra is at the center of the Kingdom’s cultural and creative ecosystem, and Creative Solutions is [a] testament to our commitment to building a sustainable creative industry in Saudi Arabia. The 2021 participants demonstrated truly innovative thinking and we are excited to see how they perform in front of our industry experts and investors at the Demo Day”

Featured Ithra Projects

Finalist projects at the esteemed event will include the following:

  • Alqatt XR, an immersive experience created by Layla A and colleagues features the Kingdom’s culture and history based on traditional al-Qatt art in southern Saudi Arabia.
  • Jawaab, an augmented reality-based interactive museum using technologies from Nouf AlSughier. The experience explores how facilities such as galleries, museums, and others can improve the user experience with gamified content.
  • Anticipation of Rain, based Naima Karim, whose work on the ‘relationship of rain’ to several cultures, including Bangladash, Saudi Arabia, and the Nethderlands, uses olfactory devices to replicate precipitation from Switzerland.
  • History of Science, Abdullah Al-Arfaj’s recollection of the world’s greatest scientists and storytellers. The experience merges the creator’s love of science with immersive content such as immersive audio, holograms, game engine design, and VR.
  • Wamdah, Abdullah Ba Mashmos’s film about a character on a journey to locate his lost brother in the deserts, covering 1950s Saudi Arabia to the nation’s modern-day Neom project in 2040, based on the immersive works of app developers in Jeddah.

The news comes as the Middle East-North African (MENA) region has begun to reach fresh milestones in XR with new immersive solutions amid a growing creator economy led by several key nations.

Saudi Arabia is set continue such trends as it is set to host Ithra’s Sync Digital Wellbeing Summit, which will host an immense lineup of experts on digital health and wellness at the Dhahran-based Center in a two-day event, 29-30 March.

Qatar’s National Museum announced in June last year it had struck a Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft to digitally transform its assets for use in extended reality (XR) exhibitions.

The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) also developed the world’s first healthcare Metaverse portal for providing services to citizens, namely amid the ongoing pandemic as well as for groups unable to reach facilities due to circumstances.

Dubai-based real estate firm DAMAC Properties also revealed plans to launch a world-first Metaverse project on The Sandbox, complete with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and virtual assets.


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