Reforms raise the curtain on Saudi Arabia’s theater revival

The play, ‘Life of an Emperor,’ is acted out on stage in Riyadh. AN file photo
Updated 17 April 2018
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Reforms raise the curtain on Saudi Arabia’s theater revival

  • In the early 1960s, Arabic theater became popular in Saudi Arabia
  • Theater activities in the Kingdom can be traced back to 1928

JEDDAH: All the world’s a stage, wrote Shakespeare — and that is certainly true of Saudi Arabia, where theater life is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the country’s social reforms.
Theater in the Kingdom is embarking on a leap forward, Bakheet Al-Amri, chairman of the theater committee for the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts (SASCA) told Arab News.
“Thanks to Vision 2030’s reforms, a strong theatrical movement is on the way,” he said.
Theater activities in the Kingdom can be traced back to 1928, when one of the earliest plays, “Dialogue Between the Ignorant and Educated,” was staged for King Abdul Aziz in Qassim.
In the early 1960s, Arabic theater became popular in the Kingdom after Sheikh Ahmed Alsibaai created a stage group in Makkah and established the Quraish House of Islamic Storytelling.
More recently, the General Entertainment Authority has sponsored productions such as “Khawatir Shabaha: Memoirs of a Ghost,” which was staged at Dar Al-Hekma University.
Al-Amri said that plays have always been popular in the Kingdom.
SASCA, based in Riyadh, has 16 branches, with groups in Jeddah, Madinah and Al-Baha.
“These groups create various theatrical activities, be it social, experimental, melodramatic or duodramatic — there are so many types,” he said.
“All these schools of theater offer an experience. There are no clubs, just theatrical groups performing in different places.”
Theater life has always been active in the Kingdom, Al-Amri said, with children’s plays, women’s plays and light shows.
“The Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Art will have a stage that matches Saudi Vision 2030 standards, and there will be plays in Jeddah on a monthly basis,” said Al-Amri
SASCA has been active for about 40 years, fostering different artistic fields, such as literature and visual arts.
Saudi actor Naif Al-Daferi, 29, said that theater is making a strong comeback in the Kingdom.
“When you want food, you go to a restaurant; when you want to check on your health, you go to the hospital; and when you want entertainment, you go to the theater,” he said. “It is something that unites all members of the family.”
The young Saudi actor developed his passion for theater while studying with leading Egyptian performer Ashraf Abdel Baqi.
“Theater is life. As Shakespeare said: ‘All the world’s a stage.’ Life is big, and the stage gathers it all in one place,” Al-Daferi said.
“The stage is a place to express your feelings. It means everything to me. Even in my free time, I visit the theater.
“And once I’m on stage, I feel like the whole world is mine.”


41 job types designated as Saudi-only

Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi. (SPA)
Updated 7 min 51 sec ago
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41 job types designated as Saudi-only

  • The ministry of labor announced the job types and activities limited to Saudis

JEDDAH: Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi has issued a decree to limit work in 41 activities in Madinah to Saudi men and women starting April 7, 2019, for nongovernmental organizations and June 10, 2019, for hospitality and tourism sectors.
The ministry announced the job types and activities limited to Saudis in closed markets, commercial centers, malls, NGOs and the hospitality and tourism sector which include: Light-vehicle driver, order taker, safety and security officer, food service employee, telephone operator, data-entry clerk, administrative clerk, secretary, general services supervisor, room service supervisor, maintenance supervisor, sales and marketing supervisor, safety and security supervisor, tourism programs supervisor, front office supervisor, supervisor of telephone operators, overseer, director of security and safety, acting director, maintenance manager, room service manager, customer service manager, administrative manager, sales and marketing representative, director of tourism programs, director of the front office and director of staff relations.