Women flock to join top violinist’s new Saudi music institute 

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Egyptian violinist Mahmoud Sorour has opened a music institute in the Kingdom.
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Mahmoud Sorour with General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh.
Updated 27 January 2019

Women flock to join top violinist’s new Saudi music institute 

RIYADH: Popular Egyptian violinist Mahmoud Sorour has added another string to his bow by opening a new music institute in Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds of the artist’s fans have already signed up to learn how to play the wooden string instrument at the first dedicated center of its kind for Riyadh.
Sorour said he had been overwhelmed by the level of interest shown by Saudis, especially among women.
The musician, who has become a major star in Saudi Arabia after taking part in concerts staged throughout the Kingdom during 2018, said he was amazed at how many women wanted to register for the institute with some even hoping to make a career out of playing the violin.
Business analyst, Mariam Al-Hazmi, said she could not wait to sign up to join Sorour’s classes. “I started learning to play the violin at home as a hobby, but I didn’t have very good learning resources and couldn’t find any music teachers in Riyadh to train me. This is a dream come true.” she said.
At the request of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Sorour aims to train 50 Saudi violinists to a level that will allow them to perform at a new opera house in Jeddah, due to be completed by 2022. And Al-Hazmi would love to become one of those violinists.
“I had never considered making a career out of playing the violin, but now there is the institute it becomes a real possibility. I can see myself part of the violin band playing at the new opera house three years from now,” she said.
Noura S., a Saudi art education PhD candidate, also expressed her excitement about the new institute. 
“I will definitely register once I graduate and return from the US, especially if they have evening classes that do not interfere with my job,” she said.
 She added that playing the violin was not as easy as it looked. “Violinists dazzle me, especially when they dance while playing the instrument. I feel it creates an intimacy between the musician and the violin, and that is why I want to learn to play. It would be nice to one day play as a professional in public.”
Sorour said he got the idea to open the institute in the capital from his adoring followers. 
“A lot of people were saying how much they loved my music, and they started asking me through social media to teach them how to play the violin,” he told Arab News.
As a result, he decided to set up the music institute in Riyadh, with support and sponsorship from the Saudi Arabian government.
Sorour already hopes to expand the project by teaching instruments such as the flute, oud and piano and to run singing and songwriting classes. 
Meanwhile, he said that more than 250 people had registered to join the institute and he expected that number to double.  
The institute is open for all age groups, but Sorour is particularly looking for budding talent aged between 10 to 20 years old. 
Sorour expressed his thanks to the Kingdom’s General Authority for Entertainment and the General Culture Authority for their support in establishing the institute.
He added that plans were in the pipeline for his music institute in Riyadh to collaborate with a similar venture at Taif University.

Saudi camel racing no longer an all-male affair, says Princess Jamila

Updated 23 March 2019

Saudi camel racing no longer an all-male affair, says Princess Jamila

  • Princess Jamila’s camel will compete in a race marking the conclusion of the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival
  • King Salman will attend the grand finale of the 46-day event

JEDDAH: A camel owned by a woman will compete in an official race in Saudi Arabia for the first time, a senior figure in the sport said on Friday.

Fahd bin Hithleen, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Camel Club and the newly appointed president of the International Camel Organization (ICO), said the race is part of the closing day of the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, which began on Feb. 5 and ends on March 23.

“The camel race will end this Saturday with the participation of the first female in camel racing,” Hithleen said on his official Twitter account. “I congratulate Princess Jamila Bint Abdulmajeed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz for breaking into the camel world and wish her all the success.”

The festival finale will take place in the presence of King Salman.

Princess Jamila said that camel racing is no longer exclusively the preserve of men, as the ongoing reforms in the country continue to empower Saudi women and open up new opportunities for them across the Kingdom.

The Kingdom established the ICO, the first global group of its kind for camels, on Thursday with the participation of representatives from 96 countries. Riyadh was chosen as the location for its headquarters and Hithleen was appointed to serve a five-year term as its first president.