Crowds throng Saudi Arabia’s first jazz festival

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Bands from the US, the UK and Lebanon performed alongside local bands at the Groovz jazz festival at the Golf Club at the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh. (Reuters)
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An estimated 3,000-plus visitors attended over the three days of Saudi Arabia’s first jazz festival in Riyadh. (Reuters)
Updated 24 February 2018
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Crowds throng Saudi Arabia’s first jazz festival

RIYADH: Organizers of Saudi Arabia’s first jazz festival were thrilled to see an estimated 3,000-plus visitors, including huge numbers of families, turn up on Friday.
Bands from the US, the UK and Lebanon performed alongside local bands at the Groovz jazz festival at the Golf Club at the Intercontinental Hotel.
It was organized by Time Entertainment in cooperation with the General Entertainment Authority as a mega three-day entertainment with food and other arts events to celebrate jazz culture.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Raif Bukhari, manager of Mizan, explained the event was a great opportunity for the band from Al-Khobar.
He said: “We are glad to get this golden opportunity to perform with international bands.
“With the people excited about the maiden jazz event, it is really a great feeling to be associated with it. We want to thank GEA, Time Entertainment for having this beautiful event. It’s great to be part of the local music scene here with international bands. I am really happy to be part of the big change in Saudi Arabia with some good, tasteful music.”
Asked what difference the event would make, he said: “I am very positive about it. Our aspiration as a band is to grow in a sustainable way, share our music with the world and to be able to reach a large audience, indeed to perform outside the Kingdom some time soon.
“We have entered the Riyadh market. Last week we came to the German Embassy and played at the open stage with music. That was our first performance in Riyadh, and a week after we are here at the first ever Groovz Jazz festival, so I am very hopeful we can expand our base.”
Ibrahim Mohammad, another member of Mizan, told Arab News: “We started as a band in October and had no idea we would be so popular in five months. Performing here is a big chance to grow up with the presence of international bands.”
Fahd Abdulrahman, a medical intern attending the event, said it was amazing to witness the jazz festival in Riyadh. “This is happening for the first time and we are dazzled with the jazz music which rocks the whole audience.”


Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium opens in Riyadh for the first time

Updated 3 min 51 sec ago
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Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium opens in Riyadh for the first time

  • Since their arrival, the international artists have enjoyed tours of the city, including to Al-Masmak Fortress, as well as newer landmarks such as Kingdom Tower
  • The symposium will run until March 22

RIYADH: The first Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium kicked off in Riyadh on Monday morning in the capital’s Diplomatic Quarter, featuring the works of 23 artists from 18 different countries.
Participants of note include South Korean sculptor So Dong Choe, Mexican artist Carlos Monge, and Japan’s Yoshin Ogata. The symposium’s three Saudi participants are Ali Al-Toukhais, his nephew Talal Altukhaes, and Mohammad Althagafi.
Altukhaes, an organizer as well as a participant, told Arab News that the goal of the symposium was to create an environment in which artists could share techniques, collaborate with one another, and promote a sense of camaraderie.
The sculptors will assist each other in creating their artworks despite the language barriers between them, but Altukhaes told Arab News that words were not as important as demonstrations of technique, given most of the sculptors would wear ear protection to guard against the constant buzz of heavy machinery anyway.
Since their arrival, the international artists have enjoyed tours of the city, including to Al-Masmak Fortress, as well as newer landmarks such as Kingdom Tower. “Everyone is happy, you can see it in their smiles as they’re working,” Altukhaes said.

New Zealander Anna Korver, covered from head to toe in white dust, grinned as she told Arab News how excited she was to be part of the symposium.
Ogata expressed how happy he was to be in Saudi Arabia for the first time, and that he was enjoying the new experience. “It’s a nice place. The dry climate is a little different to what I’m used to, but the heat is something I’m accustomed to. It’s always a pleasure to work with other sculptors — I usually work alone in my studio back home, so I enjoy seeing everyone here together, and being able to watch them work.”
“It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia, and I was always curious about what it would be like. I had no idea what to expect when I first came, but I’ve been having a great time so far. The symposium is perfect. It is great to work with people who really know what we need as artists — we have all the assistance we need.
“My work is always sort of a narrative about women, and I often like to use the dress form as a symbol of femininity. I’ve chosen to incorporate the hijab into my design. It should give a feeling of lightness when it’s viewed.”
Al-Toukhais, who has had work displayed all over the Arab world, said the secret to becoming an excellent sculptor was patience and commitment. “Sculpting is not for those who are looking for instant gratification, or to become famous overnight. You have to have passion, and drive, but most of all you have to be patient.”
Dr. Fahd bin Mushayt, the executive chairman of the General Authority of the Embassies, thanked the minister of culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah, for sponsoring the event. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, he added that more than 20 masterpieces would be produced by the end of the collaboration.
The symposium will run until March 22.