Saudi Arabia’s newly acquired digital culture has allowed it to digitize its traditional culture which has, by default, motivated Saudi cultural creatives into advancing and showcasing their talents through digital multimedia platforms.
As Saudi Arabia’s outlook on life, culture and the economy changes, the public’s interest in cultural expression grows and diversifies. A 2019 report by the Ministry of Culture has proven that Vision 2030’s measures have spread cultural vocabulary and practices far beyond just the elites to the public at large.
That same year, the kingdom inaugurated 16 new cultural development authorities - one for each sector (i.e. film, heritage, language, music, etc.) - to further support, sponsor, and promote Saudi talents. Aside from its own tasks and strategies, the Ministry of Culture was commissioned with guiding and directing these authorities on the path to a brighter 2030.
“Culture, with its civilizational value, its social weight, and its effective developmental role today occupies the place it deserves. Thanks to the inspiring and ambitious national vision, the Saudi Vision 2030, which restored culture as a basic pillar in building society. Anchored by the national identity and aspects of pride in the history and civilization of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” - Vice Minister of Culture, Hamed M. Fayez.
Recognizing and rewarding talents
The Saudi Ministry of Culture appointed TAM’s expertise in an effort to publicly introduce its first ever National Culture Awards (NCA) event. The aim of the event was to celebrate the cultural accomplishments and productions of talented locals, with a focus on encouraging the creation of culture-conveying content.
NCA’s awareness campaign kicked off with a simple tweet, posted from the initiative's independent Twitter account, announcing the commencement of nominee submissions. With the help of retweets from the ministry itself as well as other significant Saudi individuals, that single post gained enough traction to be viewed millions of times throughout the three-month registration period ending September 30, 2020.
The event was picked up by both local and international leading online news platforms - such as Saudi Press Agency, Arab News, and Al Arabiya - garnering the attention of millions of readers. Between the news platforms, Twitter, and other digital media, the campaign earned over 180 million reposts and hashtags, seven million clicks and reactions, and 35 million views. Alongside the digital angle, direct marketing was able to bring in tens of thousands of website visits.
After a successful initial campaign, the public began the process of nominating their work or that of others, through the newly dedicated NCA website, for the chance to receive one of the 14 awards categorized based on skill sets, achievements, and contributions to the Saudi cultural society. The total number of registered nominees reached approximately 30,000.
“These intellectuals and creative minds are our cultural capital. With whom we will reach, with them and with their help, a cultural renaissance fitting the stature of our country.” - Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud.
A criteria-based digital sorting system provided by TAM eased the process of separating the valid from the invalid submissions to extract around 1,150 viable proposals. They then made their way through a council of category experts and specialists who made the final winning decisions using the same aforementioned sorting system.
This project was one of the many initiatives the Ministry of Culture has taken to engage the community in and bring awareness to the Saudi culture. The registration of tens of thousands of people just goes to show how immensely talented Saudi locals are and their willingness to participate in events that showcase their individual culture-based talents. This has also proven the extent to which the many cultural sectors have broadened within a mere four-year timespan, pandemic-filled year and all.