France to lend Saudi Arabia its classical expertise

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The orchestra of the Opera of Lyon rehearses before the Victoires de la musique classique award event at the Grange au Lac auditorium in Evian-les-Bains in February. AFP
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French Minister of Culture Francoise Nyssen, right, and her counterpart Awwad Alawwad sign an agreement help Saudi Arabia set up a national orchestra and opera. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2018
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France to lend Saudi Arabia its classical expertise

  • Paris Opera is one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses
  • About 350 cinemas are expected to be in operation by 2030
PARIS: France is to help Saudi Arabia set up a national orchestra and opera as part of a series of agreements signed on Monday to boost cultural cooperation.
“Today an agreement was signed with the Paris Opera to help Saudi Arabia set up a national orchestra and an opera,” said French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen, during a joint press conference with Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad.
The deal will see the Paris Opera company help the Kingdom produce its own classical music and shows, AFP reported.
Founded in 1669 by the then king, Louis XIV, Paris Opera is one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses.
The agreement comes during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to France — the fourth leg of his foreign tour, and one focused on building relations through culture, the arts and heritage.
Nyssen said she had also discussed “the importance of translating books in both directions, from Arabic into French and French into Arabic.”
A key pillar of the visit is the collaboration with Paris to develop Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula, an area in the northwest packed with ancient archaeological sites, into a key attraction for visitors while using French expertise in its preservation.
The agreements in France highlight the importance of culture and the arts in the sweeping social and economic reform program being led by the crown prince.
Several other agreements were signed and events held related to cultural cooperation in Paris on Monday.
On Sunday, Arab News revealed that Saudi Arabia would officially participate for the first time in the Cannes Film Festival
Al-Awwad said the Kingdom would submit a selection of short films when the prestigious competition opens next month.
“With a rich tradition of storytelling, Saudi Arabia is embarking on the development of a sustainable and dynamic (film) industry,” Al-Awwad told AFP
The Kingdom is reopening cinemas on April 18 for the first time in more than 35 years. About 350 cinemas are expected to be in operation by 2030.
AMC, the largest cinema operator in the world, was awarded an operating license last week by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Last year, the heir to the throne set up the Misk Art Institute in Riyadh, aimed at the young and designed to encourage grassroots artistic productions in Saudi Arabia.
In Paris on Monday, the institute held a two-day “festival of culture” showcasing work from nine Saudi artists and featuring the VR documentary film Reframe Saudi.
MisKulturExpo, as it was named, takes place over two days at the prestigious famous Arab World Institute. Collectively, the documentary and exhibits demonstrate how art and the creative industries are an integral part of the change that is transforming Saudi Arabia,” Ahmed Mater, director of the Misk Art Institute, said.
“It is essential at this time that Saudi artists engage with audiences around the world, as they are here in Paris, to help to tell the continuing story of change in Saudi Arabia.”
Another exhibition titled the “Saudi Cultural Days” organized by the Kingdom’s General Culture Authority also got underway in the French capital on Monday.
The three-day event at the Tokyo Palace of Art will offer a variety of artistic and cultural activities, including cinematic performances and discussions held in the presence of artists and directors, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
It also includes art exhibitions dealing with heritage and modern art and panel discussions with the artists.


Saudi Red Sea project to offer visa on arrival for tourists

Updated 33 min 9 sec ago
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Saudi Red Sea project to offer visa on arrival for tourists

  • Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project has been registered as a standalone company
  • The venture will be will be headed by John Pagano, former director of London’s Canary Wharf business zone

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project will offer visas on arrival for overseas visitors following the creation of a company to deliver the ambitious project.
The project marked a milestone on Sunday with its incorporation as a standalone closed joint-stock company, The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), wholly owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The company, which in October announced Virgin Group founder Richard Branson as one of its board members, on Sunday said it had recruited John Pagano, the former managing director of development for the UK’s Canary Wharf Group as its chief executive.
The newly-incorporated company will now move forward with the creation of its Special Economic Zone, with its own regulatory framework, it said in a statement.
The framework will be separate from the base economy, with a special emphasis on environmental sustainability, and will offering visa on entry, relaxed social norms, and improved business regulations.
“The destination will provide a unique sense of place for visitors and offer nature lovers, adventurers, cultural explorers and guests looking to escape and rejuvenate, a wide range of exclusive experiences, combining luxury, tranquillity, adventure and beautiful landscapes,” said Pagano.
The first phase of The Red Sea Project — which will occupy an area greater than the size of Belgium between the cities of Al-Wajh and Umluj — will include hotels and residential units, along with a new costal town, an airport and a marina, and is due for completion by late 2022, the company said.
Authorities hope the project will create as many as 35,000 jobs and contribute SR15 billion ($3.99 billion) to the local economy.
The project, unveiled last July by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is one of the key developments in Saudi Arabia’s strategy to develop its tourism sector, alongside Qiddiya, an entertainment resort near Riyadh that will be two-and-a-half times the size of Disney World.
The country’s Vision 2030 economic development plan is targeting the creation of 1.2 million new jobs in the Saudi tourism sector by 2030.