MOSCOW, October 5. /TASS/. Events of the Week of Saudi Culture that began at the New Manege exhibition center in Moscow on October 2 in the run-up to the first-ever state visit to Russia by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud are inviting a highly favorable response from the Muscovites, organizers of the week told TASS on Wednesday.
"After two days of admittance, we can say for sure the events timed for the week have invited an encouraging reaction from Muscovites," a spokesman for the press service of the project said. "We didn’t expect so many visitors."
Right from the entrance of the New Manege the guests of the exhibition can scent the dense and spicy aroma of oriental perfume that drifts alongside with them from one hall to another.
"This is the traditional perfume widely used by Saudi men," culture expert Ajaher Musa told TASS. "It contains gris-amber, which imparts the very special nuance to it."
Folk music groups rehearse in one of the halls. They perform Saudi melodies on traditional musical instruments - the qanun, which is a trapezium-shaped bandore, the oud that used to a forerunner of the lute, and darbuka, a kind of drum widely spread in the Middle East and North Africa.
The musicians give full-fledged concerts at nighttime.
The exhibition titled ‘Kingdom: a Look from the Inside’ is the main event of the week. Two halls of the New Manege where white walls are placed to form a labyrinth show the works of Saudi Arabia’s best artists, painters and sculptors likewise, as well as photos and digital installations.
The organizers have also put up for a display the everyday household items used by people in Saudi Arabia. School desks, the tops of which are decorated with intricate figurines and where their owns have scribbled personal names, as well as rugs for prayers occupy a separate place at the exhibition.
"Take care, please don’t step on it," Ajaher Musa explains. "Carved on this rug are the positions for the feet, knees, arms and the head during the sujud - the prostration to God directed towards Mecca, which is done during the daily prayers."
Placed on the wall is a huge photo demonstrating a bird eye’s view of Mecca. "Very soon hotels and apartment houses will be towering around the main mosque of the Kaaba. There’s a need for building hem because the number of hajjis is increasing from one year to another and running into tens of millions of people," Musa says.
The artists’ works strike the visitors with the diversity of materials. One of them, Raeda Ashour, has used pure gold, while Ahmad Angawi laid out a highly complicated geometric pattern with wooden tablets taken off the windows of urban houses. Once in the past, these tablets played the role of window grates safeguarding women from the inquisitive looks of the passersby.
Long strings of beads hanging right from the ceiling are also on display. Contrary to the first impression one may get, written on them are not the 99 names of the Almighty but names of women.
"Traditionally, the Saudis have believed it was a shame to pronounce the name of your mother, wife or sister in public but one women decided to put an end to this practice in 2015," Musa says. "These beads symbolize the emancipation of women in today’s Saudi Arabia."
The exhibition ‘Kingdom: a Look from the Inside’ gives the visitors an opportunity to see Saudi Arabia with their own eyes with the aid of virtual reality technologies. The display includes virtual tour helping guests to visit the famous sites of the kingdom, to see sculptures and art installations, and to look into the ancient districts of traditional cultural centers of the region.