Artists see bright future for Saudi Arabia’s entertainment sector

The Record-breaking ‘Spirit of Dance’ show heralds an entertainment bonanza as the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (File photo)
Updated 16 March 2018
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Artists see bright future for Saudi Arabia’s entertainment sector

RIYADH: The future for the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia is bright as the Kingdom witnesses rapid transformations. The major cities — Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam — have recently seen big crowds turn up for events organized by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which partners with various national and international organizations.
The GEA has organized events such as the Spirit of the Dance global band’s show at the King Fahd Cultural Center last week; the first ever Groovz Jazz Festival at the Golf Club, InterContinental Hotel; an opera show at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University; and a talk session with Hollywood superstar John Travolta at the iconic APEX Convention Center in the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center.
These events will help to develop the entertainment industry in the Kingdom to provide quality entertainment as proposed under Vision 2030.
A feature-length animated children’s film was screened at a makeshift cinema in a cultural hall in Jeddah in January and full-scale movie theaters could open soon as authorities finalize regulations.
Speaking to Arab News on Tuesday, Raif Al-Bukhari, manager of Mizan, a Saudi band from Alkhobar that only started last October and performed at the Kingdom’s first-ever jazz festival, described these initiatives as “very encouraging” for the entertainment industry as well as for budding artists.
“I am extremely grateful for this rapid transformation allowing us to perform before our people,” he said. “Our band has all the opportunities to grow and carve a niche for ourselves. The doors are finally open, and it is really exciting to foresee a rising star in us, and a bright future for the entertainment sector in the Kingdom.
“Thanks to the GEA-supported events last month, we have been performing almost every week now,” said the Mizan manager.
“Hopefully this momentum will continue in the long term and offer more opportunities for all artists to practice their passion for music,” he said. “The creative community in Saudi Arabia has so much to offer to the world. I do hope to perform outside the Kingdom sooner rather than later.”
Saudi artist Kamal Almualem told Arab News: “I am very happy to see these changes in the Kingdom to help promote art and culture. There is a lot more coming, a number of activities and exhibitions are planned for this year.” Almualem is a painter and sculptor who has participated in various international art exhibitions including the Changcheng and Chongqing International Sculpture exhibition in China.
The GEA last month announced that it will host an unprecedented number of events throughout the Kingdom this year — the most diverse lineup of entertainment ever seen in Saudi Arabia with more than 5,000 live shows, festivals and concerts planned across 56 cities.
Ahmed Al-Khatib, GEA chairman, said: “Our objective is to provide quality entertainment at a world level.”
The 2018 entertainment calendar is the most diverse line-up of live entertainment ever seen in the Kingdom, ranging from musicals and shows for all the family to stand-up comedy and live performances from some of the biggest names in the world, he said. “We very successfully organized various entertainment events in Riyadh and Jeddah in 2017 and will continue to do so in a much better way in 2018.”


Four killed in failed terrorist attack on interior ministry building north of Riyadh

Updated 21 April 2019
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Four killed in failed terrorist attack on interior ministry building north of Riyadh

  • Three government security personnel suffered minor injuries during the exchange of fire
  • The identities of the four gunmen are still being determined

RIYADH: Four heavily armed attackers were killed in a failed terrorist attack on an interior ministry building in Zulfi, north of Riyadh.

A spokesperson from the Kingdom’s Presidency of State Security also said that three government security personnel suffered minor injuries during the exchange of fire, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

Al-Arabiya reported that the assailants belonged to Daesh, but the group had not claimed responsibility for the attack and there was no official confirmation from Saudi authorities as to the identity of the attackers on Sunday afternoon.

“The security authorities in the Presidency managed to thwart the terrorist act targeting the center of investigations ... and dealt with them as required by the situation,” the spokesman was quoted by SPA as saying.

The identities of the four gunmen are still being determined by government authorities, the news agency added.

Special security personnel were still working on the site to assess and identify the explosive materials that the terrorists had in their possession, the spokesperson said, and the findings would be announced later.

The suspects, who were on board a car, tried to crash through the main entrance of the General Directorate of Investigation’s Center in Riyadh, but were intercepted by security to prevent the vehicle from gaining access into the compund.

Two gunmen died during the initial exchange of fire with the security forces, while one was killed as he attempted to flee. The fourth attacker died as he tried to blow up an explosive belt,  pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported. 

The Kingdom of Bahrain condemned the actions of the suspects and the terrorist attack on Sunday, the country's news agency said.