Saudi-initiated cultural talks take place during G20 meeting in Italy

The second Culture Ministerial Meeting (CMM) took place in Rome on Saturday, a Saudi-led initiative inaugurated in 2020, at the Italian G20 meeting.

The G20 members are expected to soon adopt a Ministerial Declaration on culture which would ensure mutual agreements to strengthen rules combatting illicit trafficking of cultural property and give greater prominence to the role of culture as a driver of climate action and the preservation of cultural heritage.

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At the meeting, they were also expected to promise greater investment in education, training and employment related to the cultural sector and to provide greater access to culture online, according to a statement released by Saudi Arabia’s culture ministry.

The CMM, which aims to tackle issues of critical importance to the global cultural and creative economy, was attended by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud.

A sector affected by the pandemic more than most, the cultural sector is estimated to be worth $2.3 trillion. Adding it to the G20 agenda was made in an effort to boost the sector through ensuring initiatives are developed by the Group of 20 countries which represent 60 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of global GDP, the statement revealed.

“For the last two years, G20 members have discussed the critical importance of culture – its preservation and development – as a driver of economic growth,” said Prince Badr.
“Saudi Arabia is seeing the benefits firsthand as we undergo a cultural transformation across the Kingdom – from the addition of the Ḥimā Cultural Area as our sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site, to celebrating home-grown talent on the global stage at world renowned events, such as the Venice Biennale and Cannes Film Festival,” he added.

Since 2016, the Kingdom has been undergoing a cultural transformation under Vision 2030. The country has made great strides in the cultural space, including the development of a world-leading center to preserve underwater cultural heritage in the Red Sea and the Gulf region, an initiative which was announced at last year’s CMM, and the establishment of new cultural festivals throughout Saudi Arabia, as well as the creation of a supportive ecosystem for Saudi creatives to explore more artistic ventures.

UNESCO celebrated the expected outcomes of the meeting, stating that “Italy has taken important steps with a view to integrating culture on a permanent basis in the G20… This dynamic is in line with the historic advance achieved at the initiative of Saudi Arabia, which put culture on the G20’s agenda in 2020.”

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