Mariah Carey wows fans in Saudi Arabia with her first concert in the Kingdom

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Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
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Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
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Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
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Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
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Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
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Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
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Fans gather outside the venue where Carey is due to perform. (AN photo) 
Updated 04 February 2019
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Mariah Carey wows fans in Saudi Arabia with her first concert in the Kingdom

  • Singer becomes the highest profile star to perform in the Kingdom since the easing of entertainment restrictions
  • Fans tell Arab News of their excitement ahead of the performance in King Abdullah Economic City

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Mariah Carey took the stage in Saudi Arabia on Thursday to become the highest profile international artist to perform in the Kingdom since the easing of restrictions on entertainment.

"I'm so happy to see you guys all together tonight," the superstar told an exuberant crowd at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City. 

She then launched into a string of her hits including "Love Takes Time," and "Make it Happen."

Wearing a full length black sequined dress, Carey dedicated the song "Always Be My Baby," to the crowd.

Fans flocked to the concert to see Carey become the first female international artist to perform in the Kingdom since social reforms removed restrictions on entertainment and segregation of the sexes.

Faisal Mulla, 21, said it was his first time seeing a concert in the Kingdom.

“I’d just like to enjoy it as much as I can,” he told Arab News as he waited excitedly outside the venue.

Ahead of her performance, fans told Arab News of their excitement at seeing the star on stage.

Hundreds gathered at the event before she arrived and the mood was joyful and full of anticipation. The crowd included a mix of Saudis and foreigners, with quite a few in their 40s and above. For many it was their first concert experience.

When Carey performed one of her classic hits "Fantasy" the crowd erupted, singing along. The mixed crowd cheered and danced with many holding their smartphones in the air.

Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)

“I came to encourage more artists to come to Saudi Arabia and celebrate," said 22 year-old Hamza Gamaraldin. "We’re all big fans of pop music and as we’re huge fans of her music, I came to support her too.”

“She’s a legend. We love Mariah and we thank her for coming to Saudi! I feel good and more encouraged about the future of Saudi Arabia, I’m encouraging it to be more improved and more open to foreigners.”

Earlier, Carey said her concert was a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation.

"Presented with the offer to perform for an international and mixed gender audience in Saudi Arabia, Mariah accepted the opportunity as a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation," Carey's publicists told The Associated Press.

Mariah Carey performing at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)

"As the first female international artist to perform in Saudi Arabia, Mariah recognizes the cultural significance of this event and will continue to support global efforts towards equality for all," the publicists added.

DJ Dash warmed up the crowd before Carey took to the stage while Dutch DJ Tiesto was set to perform after Carey had finished.

Ahmad, a 29 year old Lebanese man who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, said that he was attending to see DJ Tiesto rather than Mariah Carey, and that “it's a great performance so far, it's just nice to see in Saudi.”

Fans gather outside the venue where Carey is due to perform. (AN photo) 

He added that it is the first time he has seen “something like this. I hope she comes again, and other artists.”

Carey's concert is taking place at the Kingdom's first major international golf tournament. Part of the European Tour, the inaugural Saudi International, powered by SBIA, has drawn several of golf's biggest stars. 

Ticket prices ranged from SR295 for the grandstand to almost SR800 for the "golden circle."

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Mariah Carey’s Saudi setlist 

I Like That

Shake It Off

Love Takes Time

Make it Happen

Fantasy

Always Be My baby

Dream Lover

My All

One Sweet Day

Honey

Don’t Forget About Us

We Belong Together

Hero


China's ambassador: Saudi Arabia a 'strategic partner and powerful ally'

Updated 21 February 2019
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China's ambassador: Saudi Arabia a 'strategic partner and powerful ally'

  • The two friendly countries enjoy a complete strategic partnership, Li said.
  • The China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee will meet during the crown prince's visit

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to China heralds a new era in the relationship between the two countries, according to Li Huaxin, the Chinese ambassador to the Kingdom.

“This is an important visit with a series of political exchanges at the highest level,” Li said.

“They are embracing this opportunity to hold a joint, bilateral, high-level committee meeting to guide and coordinate cooperation in all fields,” he said, referring to the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee established in January 2016. 

The committee met for the first time in August that year in Beijing and again, 12 months later, in Jeddah. 

Li’s comments came as the Saudi crown prince began a visit to China, the Kingdom’s biggest trading partner. The visit is the last leg of an Asia tour seeking to build economic ties, and strengthen social and cultural links.

“The two friendly countries enjoy a complete strategic partnership,” said Li. “Both parties are excited to move forward.”

China has responded enthusiastically to the visit, a recognition of the powerful position the Kingdom holds in the region and globally.

 “Saudi Arabia is a very important country that has a big impact, whether in the region or world,” said Li. “We consider the Kingdom to be a powerful ally in building (China’s Belt and Road initiative) and linking it with the Saudi Vision 2030, while preserving the stability and development of the region and the world.”

Since the crown prince’s launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, many in the Kingdom, including the ambassador, have witnessed the immense change it has brought to the country.

“I have seen, personally, the major developments taking place in Saudi Arabia,” said Li. “While there are changes in its cities and economy, the most important change is in the Saudi people. They are showing their enthusiasm and their abilities, which have grown on a large scale. They are playing a big role in building their country.

“I see a bright future for Saudi Arabia.”

Li highlighted the importance of the evolving strategic partnership between the two countries and their respective strengths, saying: “China is a large country in terms of its economy, and Saudi Arabia in its importance, whether in the Gulf, Arab and Muslim countries or the world. Therefore, direct meetings between the two leaderships are of vital importance.

“Both leaderships are on the same page and their stances on many issues are similar. I have attended many meetings where the two parties confirmed the similarity and conformity of their positions.”

On issues of particular importance to the Arab world, Li noted that China’s stance on Palestine has not changed in decades.

“We have called for a solution for the two sides and the creation of an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty, as well as Israel’s withdrawal from occupied lands, in keeping with UN Security Council resolutions, and the return of Palestinian refugees to their lands.”

Li said that both China and the Kingdom believe in the importance of sovereignty.

“Every country calls for sovereignty free from interference in its internal issues,” he said, adding that each nation has its own rules and social system, which must be respected.

“We both seek to find peaceful solutions to regional and world issues; in that respect we are similar,” he said.

The ambassador said that cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia is based on global principles and international law, and with the five principles of coexistence: Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.

These principles were first set out in a treaty between China and India in 1954.

Responding to the suggestion that some nations might be skeptical or critical of China, the envoy said: “When we discuss these relations with our brothers, we do not care what others think as long as it is good, normal cooperation between two brotherly nations and is based on global principles and law.

“Our cooperation is not aimed at any country, whether in the region or world. Some countries might be annoyed by it, but the forest is vast and the birds are many, and they may chirp as they please.”