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.”


Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. (Supplied)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

  • The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021
  • SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is fast catching up with the world’s ever-growing energy and technology scene ahead of 2030. In fact, the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) may soon prove a global destination for energy industry investors.

The new energy city mega-project is being developed by Saudi Aramco, which received authoritization to embark on the initiative in the summer, and is operated, managed and maintained in partnership with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON). 

With projections that the megacity will create more than 100,000 jobs, it is considered one of the most up-and-coming energy parks in the world.

SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower.

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. 

The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021, while the final phase of the project is set for completion in 2035. With all this on track, the 50-square-kilometer project is poised to be a magnet for foreign and domestic investment. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday. (SPA)

What’s more, Aramco’s espousal of SPARK will also help businesses indulge in technological development, manufacturing and exports channels and build a world-class energy supply chain. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Energy Minister and Aramco Chairman Khalid Al-Falih declared SPARK a special economic zone (SEZ) in which businesses can enjoy exclusive benefits. 

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our first anchor partners at SPARK,” said Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin Nasser.

SPARK has already attracted investment from foreign and local companies to produce and manufacture goods and services. The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $1.6 billion. 

The park is set to attract industrial investors in the water, power, petrochemical and wastewater sectors, among others. 

Facilities at SPARK will also help investors bridge gaps in local production back home, increasing competition in the long run. 

“This energy city is exciting because it brings together a multitude of businesses,” Mark McCollum, president and CEO of Weatherford Corp, told SPARK.

“We firmly believe that collaboration and cooperation among service companies and individual providers to the energy sector is vital in breaking new ground.”

The King Salman Energy Park is also set to promote small and medium-sized enterprises. With focus on energy production, it also provides opportunities for investment in residential and commercial real estate projects.

Nasser said that the “King Salman Energy Park will spur a new era of growth for one of the Kingdom’s already thriving sectors. What’s more, it will serve as a central gateway to the region’s economies since Aramco is at the heart of the global oil and gas industry.”