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.
 


Ancient sport of tent-pegging returns to Saudi Arabia

In tent-pegging, a horseman uses lances or swords. The equipment used are standardized pegs with specific thickness, color, size and even angle. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 29 min 17 sec ago
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Ancient sport of tent-pegging returns to Saudi Arabia

  • The revival of a cavalry discipline adds to a number of equestrian events practiced in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Tent-pegging, an ancient cavalry equestrian sport, is making a return in the Kingdom with the establishment of tent-pegging teams and supporting competitions across the peninsula.
Many believe the sport originated in Central Asia and the Middle East, with top teams such as Egypt, Oman, Iraq, Jordan and Sudan competing in international championships, and Saudi Arabia’s recent participation drawing close attention.
For centuries, Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula and beyond were known for their equestrian skills, which were passed down through generations and recognized on a global scale. Historically renowned, Arabs and horses have shared a bond that helped shape many of today’s equestrian disciplines.
A mounted horseman and a team of four horsemen ride at a gallop and use swords and lances to pierce, pick up and carry away small targets inserted into or placed on the ground.

Saudi enthusiasts
For the past five years, Saudi equestrian enthusiasts have looked to tent-pegging as a rising sport in the region. With proper training and discipline, Saudis — both those with professional equestrian training and those without — have found added value in the sport with many taking part in international championships and tournaments.
Capt. Khalid Al-Suwaiket, founder of the Nomas tent-pegging team and an international judge, became interested in the sport in 2013 and became one of the first Saudis to go through formal intensive training in South Africa, a leader in the sport.
Since the introduction of tent-pegging recently, more people were turning to the sport than anticipated, he said.
“Tent-pegging is a sporting discipline that is one of the oldest in the region. Although show-jumping and polo are more common, it is making its way into the field slowly and professionally,” said Al-Suwaiket.
“There are about 15 teams across the Kingdom, and the numbers are rising. In 2015, tent-pegging teams turned from enthusiasts to professionals by participating in a championship in Oman. Various competitions took place in Al-Ula, Bgaig, Al-Qassim and other areas in Saudi Arabia, and points were gathered on equestrians to find the most qualified to participate in international competitions.”
Lances, swords and revolvers are used in tent-pegging. Each weapon has its own characteristics regulated by the international equestrian tent-pegging association, an international body that oversees competitions and all regulations related to the sport.
The equipment used are standardized pegs with specific thickness, color, size and even angle.
“With proper training, many of our riders were able to compete and find themselves in the top five, at least in some competitions. In my equestrian club, Al-Jawhara Stables, we train everyone and anyone willing to take up the sport. There is no age limit in tent-pegging, no weight limit and not even gender segregation,” said Al-Suwaiket.

Set of rules
“Unlike other equestrian disciplines, the rider takes command of the horse. Each host country provides the horses, unlike other disciplines, and the efficiency of each segment in the tournaments depends on the rider’s performance. Any points deducted or added are due to the performance.”
The sport depends on a specific set of rules that must be considered; the speed of a horse needs to be in a specific timeframe, a precise 60-degree angle of the peg, ring height, the length of a lance and sword as well as smooth finishing.
Each event consists of eight competitions, with a minimum of two runs.
Riders must perform each event as meticulously as possible to gather points. Overall, the four riders’ individual points in all competitions are added together to determine the winning team. Points are deducted if riders do not comply with the speed, the mount, the piercing of the target or other sets of regulations.
A number of young male and female equestrian enthusiasts are participating in various equestrian disciplines offered at the many stables around the Kingdom.