A romance for the ages thrills opera lovers in Riyadh

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The Opera Lebanon production of ‘Antar and Abla’ thrilled music lovers on Friday and Saturday at the Princess Noura University in Riyadh.
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The Opera Lebanon orchestra in full flow at the Princess Noura University in Riyadh. (AN Photo)
Updated 25 February 2018
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A romance for the ages thrills opera lovers in Riyadh

RIYADH: Opera came to Saudi Arabia at the weekend with performances of a classic Arabian love story in front of an enraptured audience in Riyadh.
The Opera Lebanon production of “Antar and Abla” thrilled a stadium full of music lovers on Friday and Saturday at the Princess Noura University.
“It was a wonderful initiative that portrayed Arabic culture and heritage through a musical interpretation, for the whole family to enjoy,” said Muna AbuSulayman, who saw the show on Friday.
And if the audience loved the performers, the performers were equally delighted with the audience. “You could feel the their energy. It was magnificent,” the Lebanese soprano Lara Jokhadar, who played Abla, told Arab News after the show.
The singer who played Antar, Wadih Abi Raad, also from Lebanon, told Arab News: “The audience were very responsive to the opera, even, if we may say, thirsty for the opera and this kind of classy entertainment.
“I love it and loved the audience’s honest response to our performance. They felt our performance wholeheartedly and we felt their earnest response. It’s a pleasure and an honor to perform for educated people, like the Saudi people, and they were earnest in their feelings. I am happy and joyful. I would do it again with pleasure, for the lovely Saudi people.”
The opera retells the legendary story of a sixth-century Arab warrior and poet, Antar, and his forbidden but undying love for his beautiful cousin, Abla. Composed by Maroun Al-Rahi, Antoine Maalouf and Nayer Nagui, it had its premiere in Beirut in July 2016, and has also been performed in Bahrain.
‘The General Entertainment Authority encouraged us to do an Arabic opera rather than an international one,” said Amira Al-Taweel, chief executive of the sponsors, TIME Entertainment.
“The story stems from our heritage and culture. I very much enjoyed it as did the audience. After the show, I asked the team of performers for their honest opinion of how it went, and they answered that this was the best audience they have performed in front of until now.
“We are so happy and proud!”


Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

A photo taken on July 5, 2018, shows Bader al-Ajmi, 38,(L) owner of "One Way Burger" serving customers from his truck at a main street in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

  • The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.