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The Pilgrimage & The Pandemic



20 NOV 2020

The Pilgrimage & The Pandemic brings together voices from the world of Art and Health to discuss this year’s Hajj in the context of COVID-19 and the role of creativity in faith and spirituality during times of societal anxiety. The panel will also discuss how the the city of Mecca successfully managed the challenge of a mass gathering during a global pandemic.

The discussion is part of The Future is Unwritten Healing Arts Initiative and is set against the sale of Dr Ahmed Mater’s Mecca-inspired Magnetism installation (pictured above) to raise funds for a global COVID-19 response through the arts.


Christopher Bailey
Christopher Bailey Moderator

Arts & Health Lead, World Health Organization

Christopher Bailey is the Art & Health lead at the World Health Organization, based in in Geneva, Switzerland. His newly established program looks at the research agenda around the health benefits of the arts, in everyday life as well as an instrument in the field. Educated at Columbia and Oxford Universities, as well at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, before entering Global Health and Philanthropy, Bailey was a professional actor and playwright. He is presently engaged heavily in using the arts in the COVID-19 global response.

Ahmed Mater
Ahmed Mater

Artist, Physician & Advisor to Saudi Ministry of Culture

Ahmed Mater trained as a community doctor on the Saudi/Yemeni border, before rising to become one of the most significant Arab artists of his generation. He uses photography, film, sculpture and performance to map, document and analyze rapid cultural developments, considering their psychological impact on the individual, the community, urban environments and society at large.

Dr. Hanan Balkhy
Dr. Hanan Balkhy

Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance to WHO

Dr Hanan Balkhy is a graduate of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She completed her paediatric residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston USA 1993-1996 followed by a paediatric infectious diseases fellowship from 1996-1999 from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Hamza Serafi
Hamza Serafi

Artist & Co-founder of ATHR, Jeddah

Hamza Serafi is a self-taught conceptual artist who explores his surroundings from his own perspective. His work ventures into the socio-political realm, unveiling underlying humanitarian issues. Such work is born specific to the Middle Eastern region but can be applied globally. Hamza's interventions with objets trouves present personal commentaries on various issues in and around his environment.Hamza is a co-founder of Athr gallery in Jeddah.