Saudi Arabia  - The Diriyah Gate Development Authority is showcasing a line of traditional bisht garments at the contemporary art biennale to demonstrate to visitors the sartorial heritage and cultural significance of Diriyah in collaborations with the local Diriyah Businesses as part of their mission to empower the community.

The line has been set up in collaboration with Pattern concept stores and Al-Majhid, a local Diriyah business, and will be available for purchase by anyone with an interest in traditional Saudi clothing.

The bisht, known in some Arabic spoken dialects as a traditional men’s cloak popular in the Arab world, is often worn over a thobe.

Most varieties are made from camel hair and goat wool. This material is then spun into a fabric, which is ready to be used in weaving the bisht. The fabric has a soft yarn for the summer months and is coarse-haired for winter.

The bisht Al-Barqa, in particular, holds a special place in the cultural history of Diriyah. This variation of the bisht is hand-knitted with goat wool, providing protection from the cold desert nights and winters. It was made famous by Imam Abdullah bin Saud, who wore it while serving as the last emir of the first Saudi state from 1814 to 1818.

Sara AlHussaini, a community engagement senior officer at DGDA, was pleased to see the bisht Al-Barqa line on display, and said: “I cannot wait for visitors to the contemporary art biennale to come and see our line of traditional clothing. Clothing is an enormous part of Saudi culture and educating people about this cultural legacy is one of DGDA’s long-term objectives.

“For those who want to buy a bisht for themselves, they will receive a personalized note with all sorts of interesting information about the item,” AlHussaini added.

The display will run from Jan. 25 until the end of March.

DGDA’s role in setting up the bisht display is part of a broader effort by the authority to ensure Diriyah’s historical legacy is preserved and celebrated as it oversees the transformation of the area into a world-class hub for culture, heritage and tourism.

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