High-voltage thrills as roadshow sets stage for Formula E debut in Saudi Arabia

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E-prix enthusiasts will be the first to take advantage of the Kingdom’s new Sharek electronic visa system. (Suppllied)
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Updated 12 November 2018
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High-voltage thrills as roadshow sets stage for Formula E debut in Saudi Arabia

  • Hundreds of visitors from more than 50 countries are expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on tourist visas issued in conjunction with next month’s inaugural Saudi Ad Diriyah E-Prix weekend

ALKHOBAR: Saudi Arabia is revving up for the debut of Formula E racing in the Kingdom with a two-day roadshow promoting the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix drawing motorsports fans and families to the Alkhobar Corniche at the weekend.
The “Road to Ad Diriyah” event offered crowds a taste of the excitement of Formula E and showcased the next generation of electric-powered racing cars that will take to the track at the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix near Riyadh from Dec. 13-15.
Racing simulators and interactive displays gave participants a chance to test their high-speed driving skills as they joined in the motorsports action at Alkhobar.
Two contestants, Abdullah Al-Dousari and Faisal Al-Qahtani, claimed victory in the ABB FIA Formula E Road to Ad Diriyah Powered by Nissan esports tournament, and will represent Alkhobar in the finals at Ad Diriyah next month for a chance to win prizes worth SR1 million ($270,000).
Saiid Al-Gurair, who brought sons Raed and Ali to see the Formula E car, said: “It is an amazing setup and a new experience. I have seen Formula 1 on TV but have not known Formula E until now. This is the first time we have had the Formula E experience. I hope we get to go to the race in Ad Diriyah.”
The Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix will see cutting edge electric race cars twisting through the streets of the UNESCO site as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship makes its debut not only in the Kingdom but also the Gulf region.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “We are pleased with the impact that the Road to Ad Diriyah touring e-village had on the people of Alkhobar. Such activities are a key component of the success of the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix.”
E-prix events will massively contribute to achieving many objectives as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, he said.
“For example, the event brought cutting edge technology to Saudi Arabia and is helping the search for more sustainable solutions in all areas. The track was purpose built in cooperation with UNESCO and ensures that we protect the heritage in Ad Diriyah. Now it is attracting tourists to experience the culture of the Kingdom and the race itself,” he said.
The Road to Ad Diriyah will move to Jeddah from Thursday, Nov. 22 to Saturday, Nov. 24.
Hundreds of visitors from more than 50 countries are expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on tourist visas issued in conjunction with next month’s inaugural Saudi Ad Diriyah E-Prix weekend. It is the first time the Kingdom has issued tourist visas for an event apart from religious tourism and represents the first move to open its borders to international visitors.
So far, the US holds top spot for the largest number of visa holders, followed by the UK, Russia and Germany.
E-prix enthusiasts will be the first to take advantage of the Kingdom’s new Sharek electronic visa system. Visa applicants must buy E-prix tickets to secure a visa, which can be extended for 30 days after the Formula E festivities.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “We can promise a lineup both on the track, on stage and in a breathtaking historical setting that will excite fans across the world.”
Meanwhile, Ad Diriyah is bristling with activity to transform the ancient site into a race venue. With its characteristic clay architecture interspersed with palm trees, the site will offer a spectacular contrast of old and new as a backdrop to modern Formula E racing.
Tickets for the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix start from SR395 ($105) for grandstand seat and include concert access. International travelers are limited to one ticket per visa.


Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

Updated 30 min 52 sec ago
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Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

  • 40 works by Edvard Munch go on display for first time in Middle East

DHAHRAN: A dynamic Saudi cultural center is to showcase the works of one of the world’s most famous painters in an exhibition-first for the Middle East.

Forty pieces by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, best known for his iconic “The Scream” painting, will go on public display at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The special exhibition, titled “Landscapes of the Soul,” is the latest in a series of high-profile cultural events to be staged at the showpiece exhibition in Dhahran.

Developed by Saudi Aramco with the aim of stimulating knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement, Ithra’s theater, museum, exhibition hall and art gallery complex forms a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan to promote culture and entertainment.

The Munch exhibition, which runs until Sept. 3, portrays the artist’s personal life experiences of misery, love, despair, loneliness and reflections of the soul, through his distinctive works.

“It is such an honor to host and introduce to Saudi Arabia, and indeed, the Middle East, the work of the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch,” Rania Biltagi, Ithra’s head of communications and partnership, told Arab News.

Munch’s (1863-1944) original exhibition has been located in Oslo, Norway since 1963, and the Saudi display is being staged in Ithra’s Great Hall in partnership with the Munch Museum in Norway.

As well as a lithograph version of his most famous painting “The Scream,” other works on show will include “Summer Night. The Voice,” 1894, “Self-Portrait,” 1895, and “The Sick Child,” 1896.

“A moment that stood out from the opening was when speaking to a couple visiting the exhibit, they mentioned that they were Norwegian and working in Saudi,” Biltagi said. “They explained that they had never had the chance to visit the Munch Museum in their homeland and what an unexpected pleasure it was to be able to see Munch’s work in Saudi.”

Biltagi added that the event epitomized the aim of Ithra in providing a platform to bring together cultures as well as people.

The center, featured in Time magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 places to visit, is a pioneer on the Kingdom’s culture and arts scene, organizing a variety of events, performances, programs and experiences to suit all ages and backgrounds. Previous exhibitions have included a focus on Saudi contemporary art, Leonardo da Vinci, and installations symbolizing creativity and innovation.