Ithra’s summer program sees talented teenagers present their visionary ideas

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DHAHRAN: The inaugural summer youth program, held at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran, ended yesterday.

For the first time, Ithra offered teenagers from the Eastern Province a chance to be selected to join the program, showcasing their original projects on cultural interpretation and receiving feedback from experts.

Starting August 8, 17 talented teenagers from Sharqiyya, aged between 13 and 18, had three weeks to immerse themselves in Ithra’s cultural offer and create an innovative concept before presenting it to visitors during the evening. Closing.

This initiative was Ithra’s way of extending its resources to enable the next generation of thinkers and dreamers to use their summer vacation productively.

At the closing party, each teenager stood by their project and talked to curious onlookers about their concept, which was printed in English and Arabic. Project ideas varied as widely as the teenagers themselves.

Most chose a project that meant something to them personally – Athba Al-Qahtani explored ancestral dwellings in tribute to the urban walls of the village of Khumrah in the south of the Kingdom in his “Uninterrupted Voices” project, Ghassan Al-Salom immersed in the ocean for his film “Pearl”. Each project was personal but also kept in mind the broader Saudi cultural aspect.

15-year-old Layan Al-Sunaid’s project “The Past Art” used traditional Sadu, a form of embroidery with geometric shapes, to modernize everyday objects, such as a mirror or an abaya. She took inspiration from the colors of the Sadu, which are usually prominent in the central region, and manually added small shiny crystals to add a bit of glamor to the humble fabric.

“Sadu is the past of our culture – it is the most popular in Najd. Although this is not where my family is from, I am Saudi and proud of it. The most popular colors are red, orange, green and white and black. It helped people in the past to make clothes and pillows, like several things. It is a durable material, but it is soft. I was inspired by Ithra and hope to sell some soon,” Al-Sunaid told Arab News.

She collaborated with different tailors and carpenters for her project. The program also helped her in a different way – by helping her deal with her social anxiety, fight self-doubt and fight what she called “laziness”.

For six hours a day, participants had Ithra as their personal educational playground. They had access to resources, to the library, to mentors — and each other.

Another participant, Aya Al-Ramadhan from Qatif, picked up her digital brush and started drawing during the pandemic. For her, the iPad was a tool that allowed her to “break into life, into art, into painting”, and gave her the opportunity to use an electronic device to generate an image that can be appreciated and shared. Ithra’s experience was rewarding as it allowed her to mingle with other creative minds and allowed her to grow as a person and an artist.

“Basically, every face is new to me right now. And hardly anyone lives in my area, so I was really nervous. Meeting new people is interesting. The camp was in Arabic. I struggled a bit because I speak more English than Arabic – I understand, and I speak Arabic but sometimes I struggle to read, but I found people to bond with,” Al-Ramadhan told Arab News.

Of the 17 participants, only four were selected to receive a one-year mentorship for their project.

“Vine” by Reman Al-Mulla was selected as one of the top four of the cohort. Her project was born by taking a walk around the parking lot of Ithra and deciding that she could help find a sustainable way to improve the quality of life by using the natural elements and developing what already exists. She used lego pieces to create a replica of how she hopes it will eventually grow. Al-Mulla is now counting on Ithra to adopt his idea, and she wants to be part of this process.

To learn more about all of the entrants and finalists, visit Ithra’s website for details. Information on how qualified teenagers can apply next year will also be available on the website.

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