Saudi Arabia hosted the first digital art forum in the Middle East, and its non-fungible token showcase made its debut in the region. Taking place in Riyadh between February 25 and 27, the event was organized by auction house Sotheby’s. In partnership with the Visual Arts Commission of the Saudi Ministry of Culture.
Saudi and international artists gather at the biennale to celebrate contemporary culture. But a slightly different audience attended the digital art forum. Therefore, visitors were able to get real-time updates on what was happening in the world of NFTs, learn about digital wallet security, and take part fully in the Metaverse. Through a series of panel events and workshops with leaders in the NFT space.
An NFT represents a real-world object like a work of art digitally. Blockchain proves that it is one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated. Moreover, it protects artists and their work that has been minted as an NFT by everyone worldwide.
The forum promotes the thriving NFT community
At the forum, ten prominent NFTs were hosted in the offline space. The purpose of the dedicated program was to bring together artists, curators, and collectors. From the NFT’s beginnings seven years ago. “Digital art enables artists and collectors to experience, collect, and create with peers around the world,” explained commission CEO Dina Amin. With the Kingdom’s visual arts sector flourishing, we’re delighted to partner with leading global experts. Experts like Sotheby’s to bring this unique opportunity to engage with NFTs and digital art to Riyadh.
During the 10-second video “The Mirage” by Saudi artist Ahaad Al-Amoudi, a dog runs and a man rides a horse while an Arab man speaks in English on a loop. He said: “The dogs, the more they love you, the harder they will run for you on the day of the race. It’s about relationships—it’s not all about training”. In addition to scanning the QR codes accompanying each piece. Visitors could also purchase them online using an app called OpenSea, which bills itself as “the world’s largest NFT marketplace”.
How the lockdown played a vital role?
During the early days of the pandemic, when Saudi Arabia was on lockdown. There was a buzz about NFTs, but it was reserved mostly for “crypto bros” and people with too much free time on their hands. Towards the end of 2022, the metaverse became a reality possibly worth exploring. Sebastian Fahey, managing director of Sotheby’s Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said Saudi Arabia’s proximity to the world and high smartphone usage made hosting the first NFT conference there an ideal choice.
Arab News reported that he thought it was a perfect marriage of the local community. Plus the digitally native community they is building. It is evident from the questions raised in the panel today. That there is already a thriving community of digital art appreciators and collectors in Riyadh and in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian economy is very connected, so it makes sense that we are here.
278 Year Old Auction House
We’re seeing it from the perspective of an auction house, in that Sotheby’s has been an auction house for 278 years. And we’ve been using our DNA of curating the best of a specific genre. This movement, this digital medium, NFTs, have had a meteoric rise recently, more particularly in the last year and a half.
His exhibition was world-class and included, as he put it, “some of the most important and historically significant artists in the NFT space. Including the very first NFT minted, the seminal piece called Quantum by Kevin McCoy issued on May 3, 2014.”
According to Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East and India, focusing on NFTs was a “natural next step”. In the auction house’s history of supporting innovative cultural programs and a testament to its longtime relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Diriyah Biennale Foundation is delighted to host the first of its kind project in association with the Visual Arts Commission and Sotheby’s, stated Aya Al-Bakree, CEO at the Diriyah Biennale Foundation. In conclusion, the biennale is a place of arts engagement and learning. That inspires the exchange of ideas across cultures while developing the local ecosystem. The biennale will run until March 11 and will showcase some of the world’s greatest artistic talents.
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