Crowds throng Saudi Arabia’s first jazz festival

1 / 2
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)
2 / 2
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
0

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.”


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
0

Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.