Saudi hospital staff win trip to FIFA World Cup

The Green Falcons open their World Cup account against the hosts Russia. (AP)
Updated 14 June 2018
0

Saudi hospital staff win trip to FIFA World Cup

  • The KFSHRC launched the sports tourism program for their Saudi staff members to take part in the mega-event by traveling to the host country
  • More than 400 employees took part in the contest

RIYADH: The Saudi national football team, the Green Falcons, play against the host country in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 — a tantalizing clash, with the match being seen by many as a big honor to kick off the world’s most-watched sporting event.

The KFSHRC launched the sports tourism program for their Saudi staff members to take part in the mega-event by traveling to the host country.

Dr. Majid Al Fayyadh, CEO of the KFSHRC, announced a free package containing return flights, accommodation and tickets for the matches to be played by the Green Falcons, for eight employees, who were selected through an electronic draw.

More than 400 employees took part in the contest. 

“In the past six months, Saudi Arabia ranks second globally in the number of tweets about the World Cup, with Japan in first place and Brazil in third,” Benjamin Ampen, managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at Twitter, told Arab News. 

With people all over the Kingdom looking forward to the World Cup, coffee shops and restaurants are gearing up to host more customers.

Special arrangements have been made by a number of local cafes and restaurants that will air the matches live for customers. Abdullah Alotaibi, a football fan at a local cafe, told Arab News: “Watching matches live with friends makes it more exciting, and filled with patriotic fervor.”

FIFA 2018 will be the fifth appearance for Saudi Arabia in the World Cup finals after qualifying for the first time in 1994.

Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco have also secured their places in the competition.


EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

Updated 22 June 2018
0

EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam has released a music video to coincide with the day her fellow countrywomen make history
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

JEDDAH: With the long-awaited day when Saudi women can finally drive drawing near, a Saudi singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles has written a song to mark the historic occasion.

Called simply “Drive,” Tamtam’s take on the breakthrough reform covers a range of emotions: Happiness, pride and even surprise.

Millions around the world shared the news that Saudi women would be allowed to drive when it was announced last fall, and with all the preparations taking place, the singer wanted to take part in the best way she could. So she wrote the lyrics to a song that mirrored the exciting events ahead.

Tamtam’s release focuses on the themes of freedom, equality and empowerment that she has explored in her music since the start of her career in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

“If I had to use one word to describe the feeling, it would be hope. Women in Saudi are ready to have a bigger voice and become more independent.

“This is a huge step forward for all of us. The country is showing us that they know we are ready, and they are here to support us and help launch us forward,” said Tamtam. 

Her song’s lyrics include the words: “We know what we want, we know it’s our time, let go of past perceptions, tomorrow is mine, we got drive” — suggesting that it’s time to look forward and stop looking back at what once was.

The verse mirrors the narrative many Saudis are sharing with the world, empowered by the dramatic changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accomplishing with Vision 2030 and beyond. 

Tamtam, inspired by the late Michael Jackson, started singing aged 15. She wrote her first single, “Little Girl,” while attending high school in California after her family moved to the US from Riyadh. Her singing and songwriting have been influenced by events around her, always related to current issues with a twist of optimism. 

Whether it’s her strong vocals or hauntingly beautiful voice, Tamtam’s music transcends expectations. This young Saudi is singing and making a name for herself in the City of Angels, and her positive energy is reflected in her music.

As Saudis embrace a host of reforms, Tamtam believes many Westerners are shocked by the news. Yet people forget that Saudi is a relatively young country and more good changes will come, she said. 

“With hope comes more aspirations, dreams, new achievements and positive energy.”

The “Drive” video is uplifting, with playful, artistic imagery, and soulful and empowering vocals. The singer and her friends wear white, representing peace and femininity, and drive a yellow Ford Mustang convertible (Tamtam’s dream car). 

“Whenever I’m in a car, especially if there is traffic or it’s a long drive, I always turn on music to put me in a better mood. Driving is so much more enjoyable with music,” said Tamtam. “I hope that this song will be blasting through car speakers everywhere.” 

So the question is: Will Tamtam get her Saudi license, too?

“Yes, I can’t wait,” is the answer, obviously.