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Dhahran, from Oil to Culture | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture

King Salman inaugurated King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as Ithraa, which was built by Aramco to spread culture – not only in Saudi Arabia – but also in the Arabian Peninsula and many other regions through its interaction with local and international humanitarian cultures.

The center is located in the same place the first oil well was discovered in 1938 to change the life of this region through energy; one of the main and constant demands of people across the globe.

Ithraa is a big architecture project designed by a Norwegian architect, who presented the best design among six others introduced by local and international architecture offices.

The center was established to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Aramco, the Arab company was first launched with a U.S. partnership, then became a 100% Saudi company owned by the Saudi government in 1980.

In fact, ever since King Abdul Aziz approved the oil excavation authorization of the U.S. Company Standard Oil and Aramco, this latter has played a significant role in the Kingdom’s development that has gone beyond economy to contribute in the advancement of the social and cultural life. The Saudi history cannot be written without highlighting Aramco’s influence on the life of Saudis over generations. In fact, Aramco has almost left its mark on the majority of Saudis.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture seems an expansion and dedication for Armco’s role over decades. One of the center’s brochures says that it seeks to link sciences and arts, which was actually emphasized through the building’s design. The center includes a library that comprises 500,000 Arabic and English books along with digital books and means of interactive learning. It also includes the “tower of knowledge”, which features a first-of-its-kind laboratory that aims at building future skills among youth by using modern scientific concepts – the lab’s profile says that it also aims to support creative youths and to allow them to develop their ideas and to find solutions for the challenges they face.

The center also embraces a museum for children, which is also the first of its kind in the kingdom and aims to develop mental skills among children at their early age through exhibitions and amusement events; it also shed lights on different phases of the Saudi heritage and history.