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Ithra - The Sound Of Ithra

Even more so if they encourage creativity and innovation by operating at the intersection of knowledge, culture and curiosity.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as Ithra, is an architectural marvel situated in the middle of the desert near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and designed by award-winning architectural studio Snøhetta. It has an idea lab, a library, two museums, a cinema and a knowledge tower – all under one roof.

According to TIME Magazine, it's one of the greatest places on earth.

Now, you can either just let it be OR you can embrace that as a great opportunity for a tailor-made holistic sound world that could engage and delight visitors at every opportunity – which is exactly what Ithra did.

Since Ithra serves as a convergence point between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the world, the aim of the brand and marketing teams was also to bridge the gap between the immersive, physical experience and the online communication.

Before locking ourselves up in the studio, it was clear to us that the sonic identity had to be adapted for a vast range of contexts and occasions, whilst always maintaining the brand's identity. It also had to inspire the youth of the Middle East as well as be accessible to a global and more mature audience.

Taking inspiration from both the organic and pioneering new materials used to build Ithra – Arabic for ‘enrichment’, we recorded the actual sounds and reverbs of the building being tapped, knocked and brushed by human hands and other objects.

We then made use of traditional Middle Eastern instruments, such as the Oud and Ney flute, and wove them with modern electronic and orchestral production.

Ithra’s holistic sound world covers everything from music for content, national events, in-building music, games, theatre performances and much more. The core foundations of Ithra’s sound world are:

• A flexible sonic logo, the sign-off for all branded communications. It's a 5-note melody inspired by the five pebbles of the Ithra building.

• An original brand theme, with varying moments of discovery, matching the immersive experience when visiting Ithra. A sense of fluidity and evolution pervades the piece, influenced by the infinite loop of the visual logo.

• Various adaptations, including a Kids Zone version, an Innovation adaptation, a Cultural adaptation, a version to celebrate Saudi National Day, as well as ringtones, events music and building announcement sounds.

This is just the beginning of our journey as we work with Ithra to create new adaptations required to special functions, new touchpoints and content types.

Roscoe Williamson, Head of Branding at MassiveMusic London, says: 
“By translating the marriage between tradition and modernity into sound, we have created a global sonic brand for Ithra that is ownable and flexible enough to live both within the building itself, as well as across all marketing content.”

Rania Biltagi, Head of Marketing, Ithra, adds:
“One of the things that we were hoping for was to find a partner that would really understand us and also understand what we are trying to do here at Ithra. I believe we have found that partner in MassiveMusic: the product is the complete embodiment of the Ithra brand in sound.”

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