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The Arab World Institute celebrates its 33rd anniversary

On November 30, 2020, the Arab World Institute blew out its 33rd candle. Inaugurated in 1987, KAWA News invites you to take a look back at the most outstanding temporary exhibitions it has had the opportunity to host.

The Thousand and One Nights

In 2012, the Arab World Institute devoted an exhibition to the history collection “The Thousand and One Nights. A formidable breeding ground for stories and tales, this literary masterpiece constitutes a considerable intangible human heritage. The stories and legends it contains have given material for daydreaming both to their contemporaries and also to Western civilizations who, as early as the Middle Ages, have been able to travel through it.

This masterpiece of world literature, which constitutes a link between East and West, has a history as curious, rich, and prodigious as the adventures of the tales it contains, whose sources are also multiple.

Through a dedicated exhibition, the IMA wished to pay tribute to a narrative made up of less than three hundred works: the exhibition route thus retraces the history of the work: its genesis and its Indo-Persian origins, as well as the Arab tales from the 9th century to the present day.

Once upon a time, the Orient Express

Once conceptualized as the pinnacle of human technological know-how in transport, the Orient Express line has gone down in history as one of the first train journeys between two continents: Europe and Asia. Two distant civilizations could thus be reached by both in a few days thanks to a means of locomotion that was revolutionary at the time: the steam train. More than a major technical advance, this initiative above all brought Western and Eastern civilizations closer together and encouraged the mutual discovery of the rich diversity of human cultures.

It is to this link that the IMA wished to pay tribute through a dedicated exhibition. During the exhibition time, travelers could admire a typical train next to a reconstructed station platform, before boarding it and traveling it, car after car, discovering the luxurious and hushed atmosphere that accompanied the traveler throughout a journey that culminated in the discovery of the Orient. An opportunity for the visitor to discover a real “museum” of the Orient Express, with objects, archival documents, posters, films, and photographs in support.

Adventurers of the Seas, from Sindbad to Marco Polo

The Middle Ages saw many famous travelers, explorers, and sailors explore a world that was then only partially known. Before the famous Marco Polo, whose stories are familiar to us, several explorers from the Arab world crisscrossed the world and helped to ensure that the whole of humanity knew the whole world in which it lives.

The exhibition retraces the journeys of these sometimes little-known explorers, from Sindbad the legendary sailor, to al-Idrîsî the geographer and Ibn Battûta the explorer, the IMA has paid tribute to the adventures of these pilgrims and their magnificent odysées. At a time when the Arabs reigned supreme over maritime techniques, the exhibition also retraces the progress of cartographic techniques and navigational instruments which have undoubtedly contributed to the emergence of exploration in the Arab world.

Al Ula, wonder of Arabia

The latest temporary exhibition on the program of the Institute of the Arab World, the exhibition “Al Ula, Wonder of Arabia” aims to retrace the history of a unique archaeological site in the world located in Saudi Arabia. Breathtaking remains, tools, and photos of the site could be admired by visitors as they wandered between the walls of the Parisian building. The institute offers its visitors the opportunity to discover the millenary history of this site and the different civilizations that have succeeded one another.

If you are interested in the plethoric history of this site, we will tell you more about it in an article here.