Swizz Beatz Is Launching a Creative Agency in Saudi Arabia
Despite the controversy that continues to hover around Saudi Arabia, the record producer and art collector’s latest endeavor seeks to give a platform to the Middle Eastern country’s unsung crop of creative talents.
Many know Swizz Beatz as an award-winning record producer and music industry titan; fewer know him and his wife, Alicia Keys, as some of the world’s foremost stewards of the arts. In addition to their expansive arts trove, The Dean Collection underway in Upstate New York, and the recent unveiling of their Modernist home overlooking the Pacific Ocean that designer Kelly Behun packed with blue-chip art and design objects, the duo has been working on their next major move within the creative space.
Earlier this month, Swizz Beatz announced the launch of Good Intentions, a creative agency based in Riyadh. He and his business partner, Noor Taher, plan to assemble a roster of creative talents to spearhead ambitious projects that will bolster the cultural sector, which is estimated to contribute $23 billion to the Saudi economy over the next decade. Beatz was drawn to the country for its emerging talents—two-thirds of the Saudi population is under 35, which the duo describes as a “Creative Voltron.” Their first project? Four monumental sculptures at the Jeddah Art Promenade during the F1 Saudi Formula Grand Prix (Dec. 3–5). The duo enlisted DRIFT, Kwest, Javid Jah, and Janet Echelman for the series of installations, produced by Far Right Productions and curated by Umbereen Inayet.
Good Intentions joins larger domestic initiatives aimed at reframing the nation’s image, such as Vision 2030, a hyper-ambitious framework for Saudi Arabia to end economic reliance on oil, reform the government, and grow tourism to diversify its economy. The proposal includes a $500 billion smart city and a “groundbreaking” resort by Jean Nouvel integrated into the desert landscape. Previous efforts by the cultural sector to engage with Saudi Arabia—a country mired in human rights violations, particularly the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—have sparked controversy. Despite attracting a blue-chip crowd, Desert X AlUla’s 2020 edition was deemed “morally corrupt,” leading to the resignation of three board members.
Despite the controversy that continues to hover around Saudi Arabia, Beatz remains optimistic. “I’m there for the creative part,” he told WWD. “We can’t stop from moving forward and working with creatives and great people, and leading by example. There are a lot of changes happening in Saudi. Hopefully the world will get to see that side.”