Youth-oriented programs highlight of Abha festival

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Hayat Al-Ghamdi | Arab News

Published — Friday 11 July 2008

Last Update 11 July 2008 3:00 am

ABHA: Muhammad Abdu and Khaled Abdul Rahman will join other Arab pop stars at the Abha summer festival beginning tomorrow in the southern Asir province.

Abdullah Mutaen, executive director of the Tourism Promotion Council for the province, said the festival is dedicated to the Kingdom’s young people and will feature concerts and operetta on its opening day.

“People in Abha, which has the distinction of hosting the first musical event in the Kingdom, love songs and musicians,” Mutaen said.

Festival organizers say they are boosting efforts to increase the participation of women, admitting that in the past (the festival is 10 years old) they have not been as successful in this effort. The festival will also include family-oriented films.

“Cinema is a new experiment in the Kingdom and like any other novel things it draws criticism from society,” said Mutaen.

The festival will include youth-oriented activities, including sailing competitions, horse race, football and something called “car tahjir,” a peculiar contest where young Saudi men stack small rocks under their cars until they lift them up — the final product resembles a car embedded into a stone platform.

The members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice will be given special seats to watch the events. The festival organizers have received several recommendations from the commission on the matters to be taken care of when conducting certain events, the director said.

He added that the commission members understand the concept behind conducting festivals and that they have their own perception of the events.

Mutaen said that the festival gives special consideration for the tastes of families. It has also drawn up its programs with a view to keep the Saudi youth from being tempted by amusements abroad.

More than 100 Saudis have been trained to man various tourist facilities for the festival. They have undergone two-week intensive training in various tourist-related services at the Prince Sultan College of Tourism and Hotels.

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