Energising the next knowledge economy of Saudi Arabia

The Situation

The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture –– iThra –– is a landmark cultural learning centre in Saudi Arabia. The Centre is the first centre of its kind in the Kingdom or the Middle East, and is housed in an iconic building. Its facilities include a library, theatre, cinema, museum, children's museum, energy exhibit and archives, amongst others. The objective of The Centre is that it will be a beacon for transforming the cultural landscape in Saudi Arabia and beyond, attracting audiences from all around the world and encouraging cultural exchange at all levels. Additionally, The Centre focuses on encouraging and developing the cultural enrichment of youth, providing them with unique learning and exploring opportunities.

When The Centre was still in development phase, Siegel+Gale was asked to devise not only a brand but also a complete brand experience that reflects the magnitude and significance of such a project both in Saudi Arabia and abroad.

The Solution

We conducted extensive research and immersed ourselves in the local culture to create a unique positioning –– The Journey of Enrichment. This positioning informs and drives every aspect of the brand, from tone of voice, to architecture, to wayfinding.

Further to the positioning and honouring iThra's commitment to the enrichment of youth, and cultural exchange, we ran a competition in Saudi Arabia for the best young designers. The ten winners came to the Siegel+Gale UK office, where they spent two weeks rotating through each of our practices. We provided sessions on specifics such as typography, and in return they ran a session for us on Arabic calligraphy.

The positioning translates into the visual identity with a very rich and maximised approach to design. Every element of the visual identity represents creativity and enrichment, from the large colour palette to the journey graphic that can be brought into and out of everything.

We commissioned bespoke typefaces in both English and Arabic, and we changed the symbol, which pre-existed, from chrome to flat, tidying it up to sit within the new identity.

We developed a name for The Centre –– iThra, the Arabic word for enrichment.

The brand translates into a comprehensive brand experience, with every touchpoint carefully curated to fully immerse every visitor.

The Results

Some of iThra's prominent programs to date include:

–– iRead, the national reading competition, which since its launch has received more than 50,000 applicants, and focuses on promoting a passion for literature, reading and education.

–– The Saudi Film Festival, which provides a platform to support and showcase Saudi's thriving filmmaking industry.

–– Seasonal family-focused events celebrating heritage and culture such as Saudi National Day, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha festivities, which welcome on average between 30,000-80,000 visitors

iThra is immensely proud to have achieved its one millionth visitor mark. This milestone represents a million enriching experiences in knowledge, creativity and culture delivered to individuals who have walked through our doors, as part of iThra's promise to broaden cultural horizons and offer new experiences to audiences in the Kingdom and visitors from abroad.

Fatmah Al-Rashid, iThra Acting Director

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iThra: energising the next knowledge economy of Saudi Arabia

When the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture - Ithra - was still in the development phase, Siegel+Gale was asked to devise not only a brand but also a complete brand experience that reflects the magnitude and significance of such a project both in Saudi Arabia and abroad.

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