Programme Overview Riyadh 2001- 2002
With its spectacular and recently opened centrepiece – the 265 meter tall Al-Faisaliah Tower – designed by leading British architect Lord Foster now dominating Riyadh’s skyline, no greater building could best serve to illustrate the achievements of the longstanding and warm partnership between the Saudi Arabian and British people.
In February 2001 the second Painting & Patronage event proved to be no exception in its ability to draw in thousands of people from all walks of life in a large scale appreciation of the art and culture of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom as expressed through the artwork of two royal princes.
Central to the initiative’s launch in Riyadh was a major exhibition of paintings by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. On display where 24 watercolours by The Prince of Wales made whilst on an earlier trip to Saudi Arabia, and also trips to Turkey, Greece, Scotland and France. – Alongside these were 24 oil paintings by HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. The majority of these featured Asir’s legendary and mountainous landscapes whilst others featured traditional and colourful dressed Asiri tribesmen. Asir, situated in the south western corner of the kingdom and whose governor Prince Khalid Al-Faisal has been since 1968, was shown for what it really is: a mountainous paradise, with plateaus, outcrops, and green valleys leading directly to the edge of the beautiful Red Sea.
The second exhibition was opened HRH Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia. Many other senior members of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family were also present during the Crown Prince’s visit including the Governor of Riyadh, HRH Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal (brother of HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal) and the kingdom’s Interior Minister, HRH Prince Naief bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.
Accompanying the future King around the exhibition were its two principal artists HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.
The Crown Prince greatly admired the works of art on display and seemed familiar with many of the scenes portrayed. Detailed discussions were held as to the techniques used in the artwork from the bold brush of Prince Khalid Al-Faisal to the softer watercolours of the British Heir to the Throne.
The Crown Prince used his visit to warmly applaud and offer his support to the Painting & Patronage’s wider agenda of furthering of cultural and educational ties between both countries. His Royal Highness was especially interested to learn of the creation of the free entry summer school for artists in London as well as the wider exchange programme, which had been established between the King Faisal Foundation and The Prince’s Foundation.
Earlier that same evening, over 1000 people including The Prince of Wales attended the annual King Faisal International Prize ceremony and banquet. The Prize is considered one of the most prestigious philanthropic prizes in the world. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal is the Managing Director of the Prize. The prizes are awarded in the categories of Medicine, Services to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arab language & literature and Science. Many of these awards have been made to prominent Europeans and North Americans over the years. At the 2001 ceremony the medicine prize was won by the leading organ transplant specialist Professor Sir Roy Calne from the University of Cambridge.
Many members of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family and Government attended the formal opening of the Painting & Patronage exhibition. A number of European personalities also attended including the King and Queen of Bulgaria, The Duke and Duchess of Calabria, the heads of The Prince of Venice Foundation and the Espirito Santo Foundation and many diplomatic, business and society figures.
As the Royal Standard of The Prince of Wales and the Saudi Arabian National flag were raised to the playing on the Saudi Arabian and British National Anthems, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal warmly greeted The Prince of Wales at the main entrance to the Al-Faisaliah Centre. The two royal artists made speeches that had been preceded by a welcome address by the Chairman of Painting & Patronage, Mr Anthony Bailey.
Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who is also a renowned poet, and with The Prince of Wales at his side, began proceedings with the words ” In the name of the rain drops falling on the floors of the desert I welcome Your Royal Highness as a guest of Allah “. Prince Charles in his reply was equally sincere when he remarked “I am deeply touched that His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al-Faisal should organise another exhibition and I am even more touched that as an unworthy amateur artist, who isn’t even a poet, I should be honoured in this way. None of this would have been possible without the initiative’s chairman, Anthony Bailey nor the support from BAE Systems, Shell, and Eligo International which have ensured that this exhibition provides a highly welcomed symbol of Saudi and British endeavour. Our cultures are different, but we share an appreciation of beauty and art and all that it stands for.”
Organised by Eligo International and the King Faisal Foundation and sponsored by BAE Systems, Shell and the Tourism Authority of Asir Province, both Princes formally thanked them for their support. Among those present were: HH Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid Al-Saud and Farid Warsi of the King Faisal Foundation; Sir Richard Evans, Chairman of BAE Systems; Sir Mark Moody Stuart, Chairman of Shell, and Philip Watts, Managing Director of Shell and Dr Harold Elletson, Senior Counsellor of Eligo International.
To celebrate the occasion, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal hosted a banquet in honour of The Prince of Wales at the King Faisal Royal Palace – the Riyadh home of his late Father built in the late 1960’s, for over 110 guests.
In his welcoming speech, Prince Khalid al-Faisal remarked, ” On behalf of all those concerned people of this country thank you for giving me the honour of making my day. Your Royal Highness has the feel of humanity and his work and goodwill and experience in serving his country through his humanitarian work have made it a better world to living in.”
The Prince of Wales replied, “In 1999 I had the chance to visit Asir again. It was a most magical two days to that part of the kingdom and not only did I have the chance to walk and paint, but Your Royal Highness showed me your studio. I have not had the chance to show you mine, which is perhaps just as well!
“What a marvelous friend you have been to me and my country, I know how much you do to strengthen the ties between Britain and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps your time at New College, Oxford all those years ago helped you realize that the British weren’t as bad as all that “.
“You do so much to encourage artistic endeavour and traditional Arabic poetry. Last night there was a reading of an Arabic poem. I did not understand the Arabic words, but I could feel it. It had such resonance, such heart, such soul.” Both Prince’s ended by renewing their commitment to continuing the initiative and the co-operation between their two philanthropic foundations.
The following day, many of the overseas guests also took the opportunity to visit the King Faisal Foundation and its many associated projects including the King Faisal Gallery, the King Faisal Research Centre, and the Al-Faisaliah Tower. Many of the guests remarked at the huge number of worthy and ground breaking activities and initiatives undertaken across the world by this philanthropic and non-for-profit foundation, established to maintain the legacy of the late King.
HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal attended this event together with other members of the Saudi Arabian Royal Families and the visiting representatives of some of Europe ‘s non-reigning royal houses. The Ambassadors of Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada were also present.
To mark the closure of the Riyadh exhibition, the Secretary General of the King Faisal Foundation, HH Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid Al-Saud hosted a dinner at his private residence outside Riyadh which is carved into rock and guests sat in a traditional Bedouin tent by an open fire drinking tea.