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.


Formula E’s Felipe Massa races ‘fastest animal on planet’ in Saudi Arabia

Updated 10 December 2018
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Formula E’s Felipe Massa races ‘fastest animal on planet’ in Saudi Arabia

  • ABB FIA Formula E Championship listens to fans by pitting Gen2 car and Felipe Massa in race against a peregrine falcon in Saudi Arabia
  • Spreading his wings for the first time in Formula E machinery, 90-kilometers south-west of the Ad Diriyah, Massa’s mirrors loomed large with the claws of the peregrine falcon

RIYADH: Formula E driver Felipe Massa behind the wheel of a Gen2 racing car has gone up against a peregrine falcon in a straight fight in Saudi Arabia to outrun the fastest animal on the planet.

It’s not the first time the fully-electric Formula E car has been pitted against a member of the animal kingdom, with reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne racing a cheetah on the Western Cape of South Africa last year.

Narrowly edging out the fastest land mammal in 2017, Formula E fans asked for a re-match — but this time together with more stern competition. Listening to the feedback of fans on social media, it was the turn of the peregrine falcon, capable of reaching speeds in excess of 350 km/h (217 mph) when diving through the skies above Saudi Arabia.

Massa was in the Kingdom ahead of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix, which will see the racing legend line-up on the Formula E starting grid for the first time on December 15 at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh.

For the battle of man and machine vs the natural world, the winged predator was trained to set its sights on a different kind of prey roaming through the desert — with a lure attached to the roll hoop of the advanced new-look Gen2 car.

Spreading his wings for the first time in Formula E machinery, 90-kilometers south-west of the Ad Diriyah, Massa’s mirrors loomed large with the claws of the peregrine falcon. But did he manage to shake off his opponent?

To watch Felipe and the falcon in flying formation, visit — https://youtu.be/ERxeaV60_7g

Felipe Massa, VENTURI Formula E Team driver, said: “It was an incredible experience for me to race against the fastest member of the animal kingdom — it’s not something I will forget in a hurry. I like the fact that this idea came from the fans, and Formula E listened and accepted the challenge.

“The footage from the drive is very special and it was a privilege to take part. I’m looking forward to returning to Ad Diriyah and to start racing. It’ll be my first race in Formula E and I’m eager to get behind the wheel again. I’ve missed racing and this series has shown to be one of the most competitive out there.”

The 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix is the opening round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the competitive debut of the Gen2 car and VENTURI Formula E Team driver Felipe Massa.

As well as Formula E action, exciting fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions, plus unique dining and retail experiences will be awaiting ticketholders at Ad Diriyah, across three days, starting December 13.

That evening, December 13, will see Enrique Iglesias and Jason Derulo kick off the first of three incredible nights of music concerts for fans. The following day, December 14, Arab music legend Amr Diab and globally-renowned pop band Black Eyed Peas will delight the audience. And, on December 15, race day, following the exhilarating 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E Prix, US smash hit OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta will bring the event to an electrifying finale.

Only fans holding tickets will be able to access the entire Ad Diriyah site, including all the action, fun, and thrilling complimentary concerts.

Tickets are on sale at http://fiaformulae.com/Ad-Diriyah and are also available at Point of Sale units at Riyadh Park Mall, Oud Square and Doos Carting (only Grandstand tickets from Doos) and Seven Car Lounge.