Singer Arif Lohar regales Pakistanis in Riyadh

Updated 30 March 2013

Singer Arif Lohar regales Pakistanis in Riyadh

The king of Punjabi folk songs and Pakistani heartthrob, Arif Lohar, delivered an enthralling performance for fellow nationals here on Thursday.
The show was held at the King Fahd Cultural Hall and organized by the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh under the patronage of its ambassador, Muhammed Naeem Khan.
Lohar used a native musical instrument resembling steel tongs (called Chimta) — a traditional tool used by blacksmiths — to belt out some of his most popular numbers. He is the son of the famous folk singer, the late Alam Lohar.
Introducing Lohar, Minister and Deputy Chief of the Mission at the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh, Khayyam Akbar, recalled that in 2005 Lohar was awarded the Pride of Performance Award from the government of Pakistan — the highest civil award in the country.
“Lohar has more than 150 albums to his credit with more than 3,000 recorded songs mostly in the Punjabi language. In 2006, he made headlines in the Punjabi music world by releasing his album 21st Century Jugni, which took him to the peak of his popularity amongst his fans worldwide,” Akbar added.
The diplomat said that in June 2010, Lohar participated in Coke-Studio — a live Pakistani session program by Rohail Hayat.
Lohar is the only South Asian artist to have performed in North Korea — as part of an international delegation of peace and goodwill — before the late President Kim Jong-il.
Lohar has had over 50 foreign tours around the world during the last two decades, including to the United Kingdom, United States and the United Arab Emirates.
Lohar has also played multiple lead roles in Punjabi movies, and sang and produced three songs for the soundtrack of Syed Noor's film Jugni, the highest grossing Pakistani film of 2012.
During the performance, Lohar sang Jugni dee to huge cheers from the crowd. His band had a drummer, keyboard players, lead guitarist and chorus singers including a woman.
During the performance, the crowd urged him to sing some of his popular songs. He responded by singing each requested song. While performing, he mingled with the crowd who cheered, clapped and whistled.
Lohar sang his famous numbers including Meriya Jugne O Naam Ali Da, Aj Kaala Jora Paya Teri Furmaish Te, Meriya Jugnee Jee, Alif Allah (Jugni), Ek Pal, Bol Mitti Da, Sher Punjab Da, Soniye, Aakhian – and many more.
Winding up the program, Khan said he was happy to have organized such a cultural event and promised more in future.

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”