VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination
ROME: One of the most famous Italian artistic directors and producers is looking to organize a festival of Saudi culture to celebrate its unique identity.
Valerio Festi envisages open-air events and installations in several cities to help mark the Kingdom’s history and culture, and its vision for the future.
Bologna-born Festi has been responsible for many international open-air celebrations based on the traditions of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
For years he has created these spectacular events, in Europe and the Arab world, including his latest, when lights, dance, water and a huge hot air balloon were utilized to mark the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar.
The artist lived in Saudi Arabia for a few months in 2020 to work on the opening event for the G20 summit in Riyadh, but it was canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions.
He told Arab News: “I had the opportunity of getting to know Saudi Arabia and its people directly, and to appreciate its extraordinary background of culture and traditions, an immense treasury which I believe is not known enough about abroad.
“That memory, that treasury must be publicized and become as well-known as the huge achievements of the Kingdom throughout the years. A story of success could not happen without such a background.”
He added that he is convinced that “the fashion of the Saudi past was father to the country’s present success.”
He added: “That’s a story which must be told, with a festival.
“I propose myself to be the art director of that festival, which will be held in Saudi cities and brought alive by local and international artists who would perform and make their mark with lights, music, dance and other works of artistic merit.
“It would bring intensity to such a complex and rich past, which is the basis for a spectacular future.”
Festi is now looking for a patron, someone he describes as a mecenate, for his project.
He said: “I’m looking for someone who wants to organize a series of shows going on at least for one month in several Saudi cities.
“This would be a unique festival for everyone to enjoy. It would be held in open spaces and enriched with installations of Saudi artworks which would mark the dialogue of the Kingdom with its future.”
Festi is supported in his quest by the Italian Saudi Business Group, a not-for-profit association based in Milan. It has operated since 2013 in Jeddah under the patronage of the Italian Consulate General and the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
ISBG President Alessandra Serafini said: “Festi represents one of the Italian excellences in his field, and we are happy to collaborate and promote his work in Saudi Arabia.”