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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission has designated Diriyah’s JAX District, near Riyadh, as an industrial heritage site.

Its industrial days behind it, the district is now known as a creative arts hub in the heart of Diriyah, which is also where the UNESCO world heritage site of At-Turaif can be found.

The official recognition of its past role falls under the aims of the Industrial Heritage Preservation Program to protect and celebrate places of historical significance to the industrial sector in the Kingdom.

The designation highlights the district’s unique industrial architecture, officials said, and gives it a place alongside other sites in the Kingdom recognized for their roles in the evolution of industry in the country and its role in shaping Saudi society. Granting it heritage site status pays tribute to its history as a center for large-scale industrial projects and underscores its position as a national cultural landmark, they added.

JAX, named after the company that established the district in the 1970s, is home to a striking assembly of large warehouses that once formed an important industrial center in Riyadh region.

In the mid-2000s, commercial tenants started to move out and a group of graffiti artists began to use the walls of abandoned warehouses as their makeshift canvas. Young artists also established workshops and studios in the vacated spaces. In the years that followed, additional creative spaces, including art galleries, studios and cafes, were established, major cultural institutions opened, and office space was built for creative agencies that set up shop there.

JAX District now hosts numerous events, including the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, MDLBEAST XP Music Futures, the Hia Hub fashion, beauty and style conference, and light art festival Noor Riyadh. The Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art, the first museum of its kind in the Kingdom, is also located in the district.

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