Where to spend New Year’s Eve in Saudi Arabia

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During the celebrations, food trucks, coffee stands, fashion and handicrafts will be on offer, as well as theatrical performances at many places across the Kingdom. (Photos/Supplied)
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During the celebrations, food trucks, coffee stands, fashion and handicrafts will be on offer, as well as theatrical performances at many places across the Kingdom. (Photos/Supplied)
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During the celebrations, food trucks, coffee stands, fashion and handicrafts will be on offer, as well as theatrical performances at many places across the Kingdom. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 31 December 2018

Where to spend New Year’s Eve in Saudi Arabia

  • A suspense-filled storyline will be narrated during a series of acrobatic performances, including tightrope walkers, swinging displays and synchronized acrobats
  • Alkhobar will embark on a five-day outdoor food and entertainment expo that will also begin on New Year’s Eve

JEDDAH: New Year’s Eve falls on a Monday this year, which is reason enough for jubilation. Thankfully for residents across the Kingdom looking for a bit of action, entertainment options are aplenty.
Western Sky Aviation in Jeddah will host a festival for families, which will include a fine arts section, a horror maze, a Hello Kitty-themed children’s corner and an Alice in Wonderland-themed theatrical play.
Food trucks and carnival treats will also be on offer throughout the night. This festival will run on Monday and Tuesday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Along Jeddah’s waterfront, “X JED,” an outdoor concert-like event, will include live musical performances, light shows, a children’s play area and plenty of good food.
In addition, an internationally acclaimed circus act will perform at Jeddah’s Jungle Land Theme Park.
A suspense-filled storyline will be narrated during a series of acrobatic performances, including tightrope walkers, swinging displays and synchronized acrobats.
This show will be held on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from 8:30 p.m. in Jeddah’s Mersal Village.
Riyadh’s street walk, meanwhile, will host an outdoor art festival in which visitors can marvel at the artistic accomplishments of talented local and international artists.
Talent shows will also run and artistic merchandise will be available for purchase, along with food and beverages, throughout the night.
Marine enthusiasts in Dammam can visit an aquarium that will showcase the marvels of the marine world at Dareen Mall on New Year’s Eve. Audio and visual guides will be available.
Neighboring Alkhobar will embark on a five-day outdoor food and entertainment expo that will also begin on New Year’s Eve.
Food trucks, coffee stands and fashion handicraft will be on offer at the festival, as well as a theatrical performance and traditional music stall.
Doors to the event open at 4 p.m. in Alkhobar’s main park along the corniche.
In Jeddah’s Khalediya district, singers will perform live at The Courtyard, while Ghazal cafe in Rawdah is hosting a week of live singing performances beginning from Monday.
Noor Al-Omar, Abdullah Al-Rifai and Mohammed Al-Sultan will perform on Monday, Sameh Al-Sadeq on Tuesday, Ammar Al-Shami on Wednesday, Zakaria Kharoub and Maher Al-Marstani on Thursday and Mohammed Bassam and Mishari Al-Hamad on Friday.
A Ghazal manager, Amro Mohammed, said singers would perform between 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. every night.
“Sameh Al-Sadeq will perform Levantine, Egyptian and Khaleeji music,” Mohammed told Arab News. “The musical atmosphere will be unique, as it offers both classical and modern music.”
Finally, the annual Winter Wonderland Festival at the Aja amusement park in Hail will include makeshift snow pits, an ice skating ring and live musical and theatrical performances, among other winter-themed activities. This event will also run on New Year’s Day from 4 p.m. onwards.


A Saudi app that promotes Arabic reading

Updated 37 min 38 sec ago

A Saudi app that promotes Arabic reading

  • Lamsa was launched in Saudi Arabia in 2012
  • It provides an innovative way of motivating children to learn

DUBAI: The most crucial year in a child’s education may be the age of 8, or third grade, according to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.The organization, which focuses on improving the wellbeing of American children, found this to be the developmental phase when children transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

The research also established that third graders who lack proficiency in reading are four times as likely to become high-school dropouts.

The significance of this pivotal point in early childhood development is what drives Badr Ward, CEO of Arabic edutainment app Lamsa, to develop innovative ways of motivating kids in the Arab world to read and learn in their language.

“If we don’t encourage reading at that age, we could be taking the risk of them having a life-long issue with catching up,” Ward said.

Since children already spend a considerable amount of their time on connected devices, Ward is convinced that edutainment — media designed to educate through entertainment — is the best way to make screen time “relevant and meaningful.”

Badr Ward, CEO of Lamsa. (Supplied Photo)

Launched in Saudi Arabia in 2012, Lamsa provides an ad-free platform featuring animated literature, rhymes, songs, interactive games and educational videos in Arabic for children aged between 2 and 8.

Ward said: “We have to face reality. Education systems across the world are legacy systems. Whether we like it or not, technology has changed the way we consume information. Children today have access to devices from the moment they are born. So whether it’s reading on paper or e-books or interactive storytelling, we need to look at encouraging them to read, and to love to read and learn.”

Ward explains that much like a favorite teacher impacts a child’s interest in a subject, edutainment has a significant effect on their curiosity about a topic.

He modelled the characters in the edutainment app after his daughter Joory and son Adam, whose lack of interest in reading prompted him to start Lamsa.

Ward sought advice from his friend Leonard Marcus, an author, historian and expert on English language children’s literature. Marcus recommended taking the kids to a comic book store and letting them explore without forcing them to buy anything.

“So I did that,” Ward said. “We went to the comic book store, and I let them roam around. They were fascinated by the images.”

“Arabic is not just a language. It’s so important for children to understand their heritage and culture.”

Badr Ward, CEO of Arabic edutainment app Lamsa

He then asked his kids if they wanted anything, and they asked to have some of the comics. “In the evening, I found my children opening the comic book and just laughing,” he said.

“Because of that start three years ago, they can’t let go of books now.”

Ward said seeing the power of images and illustrations has made him support using pictures to captivate children.

The lack of quality and culturally relevant educational material in Arabic remains a challenge, he said. For this reason, Lamsa’s content library has been developed to celebrate Arabic not just as a language but as a source of heritage, culture, literature, music and food. The app team works in partnership with Arab authors, illustrators and organizations.

“Arabic is not just a language,” Ward said, adding that for Arab children everywhere, understanding cultural context is crucial to their values, beliefs and identity.

“It’s so important in the development of children to have a clear understanding of where they come from. In order to establish understanding of other cultures and learn tolerance, you need to start with your own. It’s fundamental to confidence, identity and heritage.”

 

 The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.