Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site

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Modern road in the middle of an ancient city. (SPA photo)
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The oasis of Madain Saleh. (SPA)
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The ancient city of Al-Ula. (SPA)
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Sandstones in Madain Saleh. (SPA)
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Ancient city of Al-Ula. (SPA)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site

  • Majida El-Roumi, Renaud Capuçon and Omar Khairat among top attractions at 8-week extravaganza
  • The last two weekends of “Winter at Tantora” will be headlined by Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli and Greek composer Yanni

JEDDAH: One of the most important historically preserved sites for culture and heritage in Saudi Arabia is set to experience an enchanting reawakening in the near future.

Dec. 20 will mark the first of a series of eight consecutive weekends of themed musical, sporting, and agricultural events. Each is headlined by some of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in the world, and all will perform under the desert stars of Al-Ula.

A truly magical destination unlike anywhere else in the world, Al-Ula offers historic monuments spanning generations and civilizations. Notably, it is also home to Madain Saleh, the first Saudi site to be nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, the eight-week extravaganza titled “Winter at Tantora” will offer festival-goers a once-in-a lifetime experience that includes culturally themed heritage events, a spectacular equestrian experience, and a celebration of the winter planting season.

Inspired by Al-Ula’s tradition of marking the beginning of the planting season, guests attending the event’s first weekend can experience Al-Ula’s authentic old town by shopping in a traditional souk, wandering through the temporary art installations, enjoying traditional cuisine, and being treated to the weekend’s first headliner by famed Saudi singer, Mohammed Abdo.

The international artists making up the first half of “Winter at Tantora” include Lebanese vocalist Majida El-Roumi, French violinist Renaud Capuçon, and multiple award-winning Egyptian composer Omar Khairat.

On Jan. 18, renowned pianist Lang Lang, a virtuoso performer who has worked with leading orchestras worldwide, will bring his talents to Al-Ula. On Jan. 25, guests will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as they experience the late and much-beloved Egyptian singer Um Kulthum, as her extraordinary image and vocals will be showcased via hologram in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever “virtual” concert.

The last two weekends of “Winter at Tantora” will be headlined by Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli and Greek composer Yanni. The former will be featured at the conclusion of “The Endurance Cup,” a demanding Arabian horse race that will bring competitors from the Middle East and Europe.  The Royal Commission for Al-Ula is constantly working with local, national and international experts as it continues to restore, preserve, and present Al-Ula’s rich natural heritage to the world.

“Winter at Tantora” aims to contribute by showcasing this destination to tourists. The festival, which runs from Dec. 20 to Feb. 9, will be all-inclusive. From transportation to accommodations, all ticket packages aim to ensure a relaxing, enjoyable, and unforgettable experience for all guests in attendance.

The reception area inside the hall will feature visual presentations of paintings by the world famous painter Van Gogh.


Saudi Arabia, UAE to attend US-led Palestine investment meeting

Updated 23 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia, UAE to attend US-led Palestine investment meeting

  • The Palestine Liberation Organization and Islamist group Hamas have called for an Arab boycott of the meeting
  • Saudi Arabia has assured Arab allies that it will not endorse any US plan that fails to meet key Palestinian demands

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE will participate in a conference next month in Bahrain aimed at encouraging investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as part of US President Donald Trump’s long–awaited Israel–Palestine peace plan. 

The Peace to Prosperity conference, to be hosted on June 25–26 in cooperation with the US, has already been rebuffed by Palestinian officials and business leaders, who want their political demands met by any proposed solution to the conflict.

The Palestine Liberation Organization and Islamist group Hamas have called for an Arab boycott of the meeting.

The Saudi minister of economy and planning, Mohammed bin Majid Al–Tuwaijri, will attend, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Abu Dhabi would also send a delegation.

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted American peace efforts since late 2017, when Trump decided to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized the latter as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of US policy.

The Trump administration has sought to enlist support from Arab governments.

But Saudi Arabia has assured Arab allies that it will not endorse any US plan that fails to meet key Palestinian demands, which include affirming East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, the right of return for refugees, and a freeze on Israeli settlement construction.