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Alexandre Assouline on how Saudi Arabia inspired a series of luxury coffee table books

DUBAI: For nearly three decades, luxury book publisher Assouline has pioneered sophisticated coffee table books on travel, culture, arts and lifestyle. Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been of great interest to the publishing house, which resulted in the creation of 18 books devoted to various aspects of the Kingdom. Arab News sat down with Alexandre Assouline — chief of operations, brand and strategy — to discuss their work with Saudi Arabia and learn more about their outlet in Dubai’s THAT Concept Store.

“It’s a country with so much to offer regarding heritage, and I haven’t seen many publications shining light on every piece of that heritage. So we became very interested when the Kingdom first approached us,” explained Assouline. Their website has a dedicated section to books on the country spanning various subjects, including lesser-known parts of the culture — for instance, there’s a book on ‘Flower Men’ delving into the tribe’s past and present. Elsewhere, the books cover other topics, including dates, archeological mysteries, Makkah, the Red Sea, crafts and AlUla.

“We started working with the Royal Commission for AlUla about a book that piqued our interest and started learning more about the country and its development. We also work closely with the Ministry of Culture, which led to some wonderful partnerships,” Assouline said.

“I visited Diriyah, and when you see these projects and the Kingdom’s vision, you just want to be a part of it. And I hope that with the contribution to culture through our publications, we are a part of it and help tell that story. It’s very inspiring,” he added. In the near future, two seasonal pop-ups will be seen in the Kingdom – one at Bujairi Terrace and another in Old Town, AlUla.

For their latest store opening in the GCC, Assouline chose a location in Dubai’s THAT Concept Store – an experiential shopping destination for fashion, lifestyle and beauty. “Our brand is about curation, and that’s what THAT Concept store has – a concept of decoration and a point of view. I am thrilled to be in a place where you can’t find all the same brands. Here, you can find labels you like and ones you should know about. And it can change periodically, and I like that aspect of curation and style.”

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