Nitro Circus provides action-themed weekend for Saudis in Riyadh

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The Nitro Circus team members are seen waving to the audience at the King Fahad International Stadium. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The Nitro Circus team member is seen waving to the audience after his performance at the King Fahad International Stadium. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The Nitro Circus team member is seen performing one of his tricks at the King Fahad International Stadium. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The Nitro Circus team members are seen performing one of their tricks at the King Fahad International Stadium. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 17 November 2017

Nitro Circus provides action-themed weekend for Saudis in Riyadh

RIYADH: With loud motorcycles, a good choice of music and flames, residents of Riyadh were treated to a spectacular weekend brought to them by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and the General Sports Authority (GSA).

Over 20,000 attendees arrived at the King Fahad International Stadium to be part of Saudi Arabia’s first-of-a-kind action sports show put on by the Nitro Circus crew.

Performing for the first time in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh was the international action sports team’s second stop after Dubai. “Dubai was the closest we have been to this area,” said Travis Pastrana, Nitro Circus ring master.

Nitro Circus performed some of the most difficult and dangerous tricks using a wide range of contraptions, such as freestyle motocross (FMX), BMX, scooter, skis, bikes, Barbie car, bathtub, lazy boy’s couch and performance pad.
(AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

The show was a big hit for both expats and locals. The family section included children who were given free tickets.

“This is the first time I have brought my family to the stadium. I’m thrilled to have such quality time together as a family. I even brought my six-month-old daughter today,” said Ahmed who attended the second day of the show. “I loved the show. My family enjoyed every minute.”

Obada Awad, executive director at Time Entertainment, said that arranging such events is a good step to engage the Western community in Saudi Arabia. “There are not many entertainment events happening here that attract Westerners and engage them, and this is part of Vision 2030 to include all people here and generate more revenue for the country.”

Prices started at SR50 ($13), and people with special needs were given free seats to enjoy the show. “The GSA announced the new prices, including the free tickets for people with special needs,” said Awad who promised the Saudi-based audience more events before the year ends.

“We have big things in 2017, so stay tuned. In one-and-a-half months, grand things will happen,” he added.

Bruce Robson, the group’s MC, is in Saudi Arabia for the third time. “I lived in Jeddah in 2005.”

He hoped the team could perform again in different parts of the country. “Hopefully we can get invited back. Hopefully we haven’t upset many people and they like us so we can come back again.”

The audience has been sensational, said Robson who was impressed by the people’s enthusiasm in the stadium. “So loud, so caring, so giving … you could feel the warmth as soon as you walked in the place. Everyone was just so excited.”
(AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Robson, who saw women for the first time inside the stadium, said that the audience showed him the opposite of what he and his team had in mind.

“This the first time women were allowed to come to such a show (in the stadium). We had our concerns and thought we would be kind of quiet not to offend the ladies, but it has been the complete opposite,” he said, adding: “You could see ladies just screaming and cheering and all of our team have just been blown away by it. They have just been impressed by the reception and the enthusiasm.”

Big Hass, radio host and founder of the Re-Volt blog and magazine and host of Saudi’s first FM Hip-Hop show, said that hosting such events helps changing perceptions in the West.

“I do believe that the guys are doing incredible jobs. All the tricks are amazing, but for me, what the General Entertainment Authority and the Entertainment have done is also changing perceptions of how we as Saudis are viewed in the West,” he said. “These guys step into Saudi for the first time. So, they are changing their perceptions. And we have already changed a lot of perceptions.”

“What they see on media and on TV is not what it is. Saudi Arabia is a beautiful country. They said people have been very loving, everyone has been great,” said Big Hass who co-presented the show and tried to add local flavor to the show.

Commenting on the changes Saudis are witnessing in the Kingdom, Big Hass said that as a young Saudi man, he is very proud to see these changes happening for the best. “Do you know why? Because Saudi people deserve it. Expats in Saudi also deserve it. We are an amazing country with an amazing leadership.”

How Saudis are adapting to fast-changing life in the Kingdom

Women and children attend Saudi Arabia’s first-ever jazz festival in Riyadh on Feb. 23. (Reuters)
Updated 16 July 2018

How Saudis are adapting to fast-changing life in the Kingdom

  • A retired psychologist Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sobihi, 53, explains why the recent big changes in the Saudi Arabia have been accepted so easily.
  • Umm Al-Qura instructor Abdulrahman Al-Haidari says what's even more amazing most of the Saudis who have taken up education abroad are returning to help in the Kingdom's modernization program.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is undergoing major changes to meet the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives. These significant changes have had an impact on locals socially and psychologically. 

A retired psychologist Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sobihi, 53, explains how humans adapt to change.

“Humans find it difficult to accept change. It is a human trait, humans face fear and anxiety when it comes to change, they want things to stay the way they are because they fear the changes may bring disadvantages and negative outcomes. For this reason, governments face many difficulties when implementing new programs and activities,” Al-Sobihi told Arab News.

To understand why the big changes in the Kingdom have been accepted so easily, Al-Sobihi said, one has to look at the social and psychological pressures before they occurred.

“What is beautiful and sad about this is that our society accepted this change so quickly. Why? because it went through a period called Al-Sahwa (awakening) and this period pressured society. Everything was forbidden, shameful and wrong, this long period pressured society psychologically and socially.

“So when the major changes happened, society found an outlet. Therefore, they accepted these changes so quickly. Not because our society adapts to change quickly, but because of the period spent in the “awakening” period. It delayed so many natural changes that happen in any other society. What happened to our society was that some things were permanent for so long — when the chance came to receive all these changes, most were very welcoming to these changes.”

Umm Al-Qura instructor Abdulrahman Al-Haidari said the Kingdom has changed amazingly in the last few years.

“The country keeps going from one amazing phase of development after another. Who would imagine that 70 years ago, this land had displayed the poorest statistics in terms of economy, population, life expectations, education, and individual rights. It’s amazing how one generation ago we went from teaching in ill-equipped huts, to reach some of the most advanced educational projects where our students get to send Saudi satellites to outer space.”

Al-Haidari explained that the country had welcomed women into their new empowered roles within a short period of time.

“Today, we are going even further and faster with neck-breaking speed. Saudi’s ability of modernizing, and yet keeping true to its own culture and origins makes this country the center of attention: In one day, Majlis Al-Shoura had third of its positions filled with Saudi women. Suddenly we had Saudi women as vice ministers, engineers, PhDs, doctors and nurses and in all other sorts of fields. 

“It’s amazing (when you consider) that my own generation was raised to not even allow a Saudi women to voice her thoughts in public, to let them share the wheel, steering the country’s march toward modernization.”

Saudis have embraced change, Al-Haidari added. “We can see how people are accepting change in the manner they approach the new festivals, we see musical events being sold out, (as well as) wrestling, cooking, even military and weapon production. However, I believe the most undeniable indicator for the Saudis’ welcoming attitude toward change is clearly displayed with the return of almost all overseas scholarship students.

“Just like myself, hundreds of thousands were sent overseas to learn, and almost none of them had any contract to be forced to come back to Saudi: But yet, they did, and still do. What could be more clearer than having the most elite and educated population of Saudi (if not even the world) wanting to come back home to advance both their careers and their country’s (future)?”

The majority of the nation adapted to the new social dynamics such as women working in the same fields and ranks as men, and the number of Saudi women in media, Al-Haidari added.

“Doubters were shown how much the community is longing to advance the role of the Saudi women. It would be so hard to even try to doubt that: Starting with Majles Al-Shoura having a third of its seats filled by Saudi women, having the issue of Saudi women’s right to drive as the first topic addressed, and now reaching the point where they will finally get some of their rights fulfilled finally. 

“You can also see the Saudi population welcoming this change: You can see that with the families that attended recent soccer matches in stadiums, families on YouTube supporting their wives, sisters, and mothers to drive, and not to forget: Thousands of Saudi girls going overseas to obtain their higher education. These are just a fraction of the current manifestations displayed by the Saudi community to show its welcome to Saudi women to take their rightful place, and to help the community grow with the help of all its members.”

Commenting about the General Entertainment Authority that changed much of the societal landscape, Al-Haidari said: “I find it to be amazing. Who would have thought a year ago that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) would come and have an event here? Who would have thought that we would get (Algerian musician) Cheb Khaled or (US hip-hop artist) Nelly to come and perform in Saudi? Who would have thought that it would have been this easy and quick to establish cinemas, female gyms, even a whole opera theater a year ago? Of course, we still want more, and much more. But the trend is going so quick and so fast showing that we are to expect great events and functions to come in the near future.”

YouTuber Rahaf Jambi, 27, described how the country’s economy has diversified. “We just don’t count on oil now, the economy is growing better. It’s true that we are at war with Yemen, but this didn’t stop the Kingdom from growing and there are a lot of improvements, there are a lot of human rights fulfilled. Women driving, this is one of the main important things that happened and it will be good for the Kingdom because it will improve the market.

“Women will not have to rely on drivers. It’s a better opportunity for Saudis to work in transportation companies such as Uber and Careem, even the girls can work in this field, and girls can become police officers,” Jambi told Arab News. 

“Having cinema in the Kingdom is a good thing — we will have more Saudi movies and movies that will be produced in Saudi Arabia. It’s going to be a good environment for Saudi talent.”

With women working in the same fields as men and reaching high ranks, and the many women emerging in the media, Jambi added: “I see a bright future for women.”

Jambi said he hoped big name world brands such as Apple would come to the Kingdom. “We need the Apple store in the Kingdom, we need a lot of brands to open in the Kingdom.”