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Rare Middle Eastern Artwork, Artifacts Showcased in US

The Olayan Group is sponsoring two projects that are showcasing rare artwork and artifacts from Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East for American audiences. The separate projects are being carried out by two premier cultural institutions in Washington and New York -- the Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition "Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" opened Nov. 17 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC. It was mounted jointly by the Smithsonian, which runs Sackler, and the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities headed by Prince Sultan bin Salman.

The organizers state: "Over 200 objects from 10 recently excavated archaeological sites reveal previously unknown hubs of vibrant cultural exchange, influenced by distant Egyptian, Syrian, Babylonian and Greco-Roman civilizations as well as later pilgrimage routes when Mecca became the heart of Islamic spirituality."


Museum Director Julian Raby describes the exhibit as "a new window onto a country whose pre-Islamic past is little known to anyone other than a handful of scholars today, and whose Islamic history is often misunderstood."


The Olayan Group is a major co-sponsor of the exhibit.


The exhibition will be at the Sackler Gallery through Feb. 24, 2013. It is then expected to travel to venues in Pittsburgh, Houston, and San Francisco through 2014.


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The Olayan Group also is the exclusive sponsor of a teaching enrichment tool on Islamic art developed and just released by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

"Art of the Islamic World: A Resource for Educators" is being distributed free to educators in grades K-12 in New York City to allow them, as well as educators worldwide, to bring the museum's Islamic art treasures into the classroom.

Of course students can also visit the actual art objects displayed in this famous museum. They are contained in 15 galleries devoted to Islamic art. The galleries reopened in November 2011 after an eight-year renovation. Objects from the museum's vast collection frequently rotate through the galleries. The collection ranges from the 7th to 19th century and contains nearly 12,000 objects from as far west as Spain and Morocco, as far east as Central Asia and India, and many lands in between.

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