Balqees Fathi shines at Saudi Arabia's first female-only concert

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Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi presented a scintillating performance at the Jeddah Hilton on Wednesday. (Photo/GEA)
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Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi presented a scintillating performance at the Jeddah Hilton on Wednesday. (Photo/GEA)
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Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi presented a scintillating performance at the Jeddah Hilton on Wednesday. (Photo/GEA)
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Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi presented a scintillating performance at the Jeddah Hilton on Wednesday. (Photo/GEA)
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Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi presented a scintillating performance at the Jeddah Hilton on Wednesday. (Photo/GEA)
Updated 01 December 2017
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Balqees Fathi shines at Saudi Arabia's first female-only concert

JEDDAH: The Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees Fathi captivated the audience during the first female-only concert in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

“Good evening, in the good land where my husband was born and my son will be from,” she told the crowd at the Jeddah waterfront.

The concert began with the Saudi national anthem followed by the Emirati anthem. Balqees then sang national songs of Saudi Arabia, including traditional numbers, as well as her own songs.

The General Entertainment Authority (GEA) had announced in advance of the concert at the Hilton Hotel in Jeddah that it was part of the celebrations of the 46th National Day of the UAE, under the slogan “Together Forever.”

Ghada Ghazzawi, owner of GAG, the concert organizing company, told Arab News that 3,000 tickets had been sold, with ticket prices varying between SR2,500, SR600, SR400 and SR300.

“Ten days before the concert, we started selling tickets, and during the first six hours a very large number of them were sold,” Ghazzawi said.

“As for the organizing, we had some reservations as it was the first-ever female-only concert in Saudi Arabia. We prevented mobile phones from being brought to the concert hall to create a comfortable environment for the women to have a good time,” she said.

Ghazzawi said that the turnout was huge. “We hope to have more upcoming parties,” she said.

Randa Al-Sheikh, a broadcaster at Radio Jeddah, described the event as historic. "It’s a radical change. I feel that we have broken a barrier that existed in Saudi Arabia.”

“The ladies were very happy and we wish for more concerts in the future. The start with Balqees was a great success. The organization was good and we want more such events,” Al-Sheikh said.

Khairiyya Abu Laban, a social media influencer, said: “I felt cold at the beginning of the concert but I could not stay still when the second song started. I got so excited. The atmosphere was pleasant and the songs were beautiful.”

Samar Mohammed, a 24-year-old media graduate, said that she did not feel that this was strange or new experience. “The atmosphere was like any traditional Saudi wedding party, but the new thing was the presence of a famous singer, the purchase of tickets and thousands of fans who were shouting enthusiastically.“

Captain Rima, a broadcaster and presenter of radio and television programs, said: “I feel that it's a dream to see this concert in Saudi Arabia.”

“We had so much fun. The audience did not want to leave because they enjoyed it so much. What proves the success of the entertainment body (GEA) is that today is Wednesday and tomorrow is a working day. However, the hall is crowded, and the time is very late. The audience is ready to go to work the next day without sleep because they are attending an event they had hoped for in Saudi Arabia for a long time,” Rima said. “I hope to attend a concert by Nawal Al-Kuwaitia in the future,” she said.

Randa Turkistani, a presenter at MixFM Radio, said that she had expected many women would attend the concert, “but to be so enjoyable that the audience sings half of the songs with Balqees is not what I ever expected,” she said.
 


Putin welcomes Saudi delegation at St. Petersburg cultural forum

Updated 18 November 2018
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Putin welcomes Saudi delegation at St. Petersburg cultural forum

JEDDAH: Russian President Vladimir Putin warmly welcomed Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the 7th St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum as one of the main guest countries attending the annual event.
The delegation was headed by Saudi Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, who posted a selfie with Putin on his Twitter account.
“We responded to the invitation from our friends in Russia to participate in the St. Petersburg cultural forum, and it was an opportunity to meet with officials to promote cultural cooperation,” the post said.


The forum, which ran from Nov. 15-17, was held under the theme “Culture as a Strategic Potential of the Country,” was attended by visitors from 101 countries.
Opening the forum, the Russian president expressed hope that the event would develop fruitful dialogue between society and the state.
Putin said the forum gives others a chance to get to know Russia more closely, stressed that “what distinguishes his country is the diversity of languages and traditions.”
During the visit the Saudi minister held talks with the Russian president on the sidelines of the event.
He also met his Italian counterpart, Alberto Bonisoli, on the sidelines of the forum to discuss areas of joint cooperation between the two countries and means of enhancing Saudi-Italian cultural relations.
“I was delighted to meet with the Italian Minister of Culture and we have many opportunities for a future of strong cooperation between the two countries,” Prince Badr tweeted.

Bonisoli said that culture is “a means of communication” for politics, even when serious international crises occur.
“If there are problems between two or more countries, according to their positions, culture is still a way to convey the messages of partnerships, communities, politicians, and sometimes to promote fundamental values,” he added.
The St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum annually attracts thousands of experts in the field of culture from all over the world.
Stars of theater, opera and ballet, renowned directors and musicians, public figures, representatives of and academic communities, all attend the event.
The year’s program includes 14 pavilions, including museums, circuses, theaters, cinema, literature, tourism, folklore and popular culture.