About us

Who we are

The Ruya Foundation is an Iraqi registered non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2012 with the aim of aiding and enriching culture in Iraq, and building cultural bridges with the world.

Ruya was officially registered by the Iraq Commission for Civil Society Enterprises (reg no. 1B75468).


Ruya’s initial goal is to promote culture in Iraq at a time when priorities are focused elsewhere, and to build a platform that will enable Iraqis in the arts, the young in particular, to benefit from, and participate in international events. In addition to supporting local projects, its aim is to create a network of intercultural events that can contribute to the development of civil society in Iraq. It is also committed to nurturing a multicultural dialogue through the arts.


Ruya’s flagship project is the National Pavilion of Iraq at the Venice Biennale. The Foundation has been the commissioner of the Pavilion for the 55th, 56th and 57th Venice Biennales in 2013, 2015 and 2017 respectively. The 2015 Pavilion exhibition, ‘Invisible Beauty’, transferred to S.M.A.K. (Museum for Contemporary Art), Ghent (2016) and the Erbil Citadel, Iraq (2017) and was accompanied by the publication ofTRACES OF SURVIVAL: Drawings by refugees in Iraq selected by Ai Weiwei (2015), produced in collaboration with renowned contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. The 2017 Pavilion exhibition was curated by the Foundation’s Chair and Co-founder, Tamara Chalabi, and featured Iraqi antiquities that had never before left Iraq.

In March 2015, Ruya launched the first drama therapy project in Baghdad, supported by the Prince Claus Fund. Ruya has also co-produced films by young and emerging Iraqi filmmakers, including Furat al Jamil’s Baghdad Night, Sherko Abbas’s Music in the Bush Era and Luay Fadhil’s The Scribe. In 2017 the Foundation launched a new educational publishing initiative, Ruya Notebooks, and also co-published a monograph on the work of Iraqi photographer Latif Al Ani.

Following its mission to support and promote culture within Iraq, Ruya holds an extensive and unique database of artists working within Iraq, spanning all disciplines from visual arts to theatre and music. Established in 2016, it was the first publically accessible online database of contemporary Iraqi artists and the Foundation continually strives to promote these artists through collaborative efforts with cultural institutions globally.

In addition, the Ruya blog is a live platform for Iraqi art. Interviews with emerging and established artists both in Iraq and the diaspora are published regularly to encourage dialogue, the exchange of ideas and promote the possibility of collaboration.

For more information about our activities or our artists, or to submit a portfolio, please contact us on [email protected]

Sponsors and Supporters

As a non-profit, we rely on donations. Below are the organisations and individuals who have generously sponsored our activities:

H.E. Mr. Nechirvan Barzani

Mr. Khalid Khoshnaw








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We would also like to thank the following organisations for their support:

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