US auction house Sotheby’s is reportedly in talks with Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to build a cultural centre in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, Constrction Week Online reported.
According to Bloomberg, the move is part of a plan by the Saudi Crown Prince to turn the kingdom into a major cultural destination, one of his many ambitious plans for Saudi Arabia.
The centre would, the news outlet added, be built in the archaeologically rich Al-Ula region in the northwest of the country – an area where the Nabeteans, a formerly nomadic tribe of skilled craftsman and traders, carved elaborate buildings out of sandstone more than 2,000 years ago.
Allan Schwartzman, co-chairman of Sotheby’s fine art division, reportedly has a two-fold connection with the project. Serving on the advisory board of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, he also leads Art Agency Partners, the auction giant’s advisory arm, which has submitted a plan for a sprawling contemporary art initiate on the site.
The collaboration with Sotheby’s is in an “exploratory phase,” Rosie Marsh, a spokeswoman for the royal commission, said in an emailed statement to the news outlet.
The news comes as the kingdom looks to diversify its economy away from oil through its Vision 2030 agenda, positioning itself as a tourism and cultural destination through various high profile projects like the $500bn (SAR1.9tn) Neom megacity and the Qiddiya entertainment city.