Super Junior fans welcome K-pop icons to Jeddah ahead of band’s first Saudi concert

Al Arabiya journalist Ashwaq Alatoli interacts with Korean pop band Super Junior in Jeddah. The teens are the first Korean artists to perform in Saudi Arabia. (Twitter photo)
Updated 14 July 2019
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Super Junior fans welcome K-pop icons to Jeddah ahead of band’s first Saudi concert

  • Fans lucky enough to see the band in person spend a few moments with their stars at the airport

JEDDAH: South Korean boy band Super Junior arrived in Jeddah late on Thursday night ahead of their first-ever performance in Saudi Arabia on Friday night. The show, at King Abdullah Sports City, is part of the diverse international line up for Jeddah Season.

The group, which was put together by SM Entertainment in 2005, were pioneers of K-pop (Korean pop music). With hits such as “Sorry, Sorry,” “Bonamana” and “Mamacita,” they helped pave the way for other Korean artists to gain global recognition.

Super Junior were greeted upon arrival by a crowd of fans — known as E.L.F.s, or Ever Lasting Friends — who cheered and chanted as their musical heroes were ushered from the airport to waiting cars. The pop stars were also showered with dates and some extravagant gifts, including a Rolex watch and gold necklace containing a droplet of oil for band members Leeteuk and Heechul, who celebrated their birthdays this month.

Popularity

Fans lucky enough to see the band in person and spend a few moments with their stars at the airport quickly shared photos and videos of the experience on social media.

Twitter user @Haneul704 shared a video showing fans cheering in Korean as the band climbed into several cars. She wrote: “My interactions with (band member) Siwon are endless; he accepted my gift and held my lightstick, and when I lost sight of him, he popped up from behind me and I was startled and (he) was waving at us while waiting in the car.”

Another fan, @emoo11000, wrote: “E.L.F.s didn’t disappoint and greeted them most auspiciously with dates and Arabic coffee, gold and a Rolex; can’t wait to see what’s coming next.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Super Junior group, which was put together by SM Entertainment in 2005, are pioneers of Korean pop music.
  • With hits such as ‘Sorry, Sorry,’ ‘Bonamana’ and ‘Mamacita,’ they helped pave the way for other Korean artists to gain global recognition.
  • Super Junior were greeted upon arrival by a crowd of fans — known as E.L.F.s, or Ever Lasting Friends — who cheered and chanted as their musical heroes were ushered from the airport to waiting cars.
  • Super Junior is the first Korean group to perform 100 world tour concerts.
  • The pop stars were also showered with dates and some extravagant gifts, including a Rolex watch and gold necklace containing a droplet of oil for band members Leeteuk and Heechul, who celebrated their birthdays this month.

Wishes come true 

E.L.F.s in Saudi Arabia have been dreaming of a performance by the band in the Kingdom for a long time and when the concert was finally announced many shared photos of their tickets on social media, along with Super Junior merchandise such sweaters and official band lightsticks: Rods that light up and change color which fans wave during concerts. Some also promised to make banners to take to the show.

Twitter user @Kuwaile wrote: “They’re truly not celebrities for us. It’s like we’re childhood friends and we’re reuniting after years of not meeting.”

In another tweet, @hiiamash summed up how she felt about the concert by saying: “It’s a dream come true after 14 years.”

Another E.L.F., @Sheio407, praised fans for helping each other out to ensure they got tickets: “Seriously E.L.F.s are the best; lending each other money to afford tickets, and those who helped book tickets for others, girls who’ll be sharing hotel rooms or car rides. We’re literally like one big family squabbling before a huge feast.”

 

Teaser video

On Friday, just four hours before the concert was due to start, Super Junior teased fans with a 13-second video posted on the official Jeddah Season Twitter account, in which they said: “Thank you, Jeddah Season. See you tonight.” Then they added “Assalamu Alaikum, Jeddah.”

In addition to the main gig on Friday, several members of Super Junior will perform at the same venue in the band’s spin-off subgroups D & E, and K.R.Y on Saturday night, alongside K-pop group Stray Kids, also as part of Jeddah Season.

Jeddah Season aims to showcase and promote the Saudi city as a major tourist destination, and to encourage partnerships with local businesses. 

Organizers hope the event will generate up to 20,000 job and volunteering opportunities for young Saudis. The 41-day festival includes about 150 events and activities featuring local, regional and international acts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saudis recall history's greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 3 min 54 sec ago
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Saudis recall history's greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.