Dr. Venetia Porter, curator of Islamic art at the British Museum, has won the award for her past and future achievements in presenting Islamic art, and Saudi art in particular, to the British public. She organised and was the inspiration behind the calligraphy exhibition “Word Into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East” at the British Museum in 2006. That exhibition later travelled to Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. She helped organise the “Edge of Arabia” exhibition of Saudi contemporary art which was held at the Brunei Gallery at SOAS in 2008. This too has travelled to other capitals and is currently in Berlin. Her current project is the exhibition to open at the British Museum in January 2012 called “The Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam”. This will bring to Britain many treasures from the pilgrimage routes in Saudi Arabia and will help explain the pilgrimage to people in the UK. It was her inspiration and she has been the main organiser of the exhibition. Dr. Porter has published many books on Islamic art. She has also bought contemporary Arab art for the British Museum, which was the first corporate investor in contemporary Saudi Arabian art.
Mr. Robert Lacey major book published in 1981 “The Kingdom” was a revelation to the outside world of a Saudi Arabia which was at that time shrouded in mystery to many. This was done in a subjective and sympathetic way. He has followed this up with a recent book “Inside the Kingdom” which he researched while living in the Kingdom for several months, as he did before publishing his first book. It has enhanced his reputation in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.