Jeddah - City of Sculpture

Dr Mohamed Farsi overlooking installation of one of the sculptures, 1970s 

Jeddah is truly a city of sculpture. It has been estimated that there are up to 600 sculptures placed around the squares, streets and avenues of the city. Works from virtually every major movement and discipline from the past century have contributed to this city’s rich history. Some, like the famous Bicycle, are vast landmarks; others are more discrete but no less important to its residents. It is hard to think of another urban environment anywhere in the world in which art plays such a prominent role.

It was Dr Mohamed Farsi, mayor of Jeddah in the 1970s and 1980s, who first had the vision of beautifying the city’s environment in this way. He understood that development and progress need not be pursued at the expense of culture and beauty. Indeed, in a boldly unconventional move, he felt that art should be integral to the planning of newly developed areas of the city. He therefore invited the architect, Julio Lafuente, to work with him in commissioning and selecting the sculptures that we see today to enhance Jeddah’s urban spaces.

Dr Mohamed Farsi presenting his plans, 1970s