2,500 prisoners set free

Updated 05 February 2015
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2,500 prisoners set free

More than 2,500 prisoners have been released from jails across the Kingdom following an amnesty declared by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Thursday.
Disclosing this figure, Maj. Abdullah Al-Harbi, spokesman for the Department of Prisons, said the committees appointed for the purpose of selecting prisoners qualifying for release in different regions are working around the clock to implement the amnesty.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, second deputy premier and interior minister, has instructed law-enforcement authorities to release public rights prisoners on the basis of certain conditions.
Prisoners held for 14 types of crimes such as murder, drug smuggling, crimes related to weapons and bombs, and money laundering would not benefit from the amnesty.
Other crimes that are not covered by amnesty are rape, kidnapping and highway robbery, opening fire at security officers, armed robbery, crimes that affect state security, forging Saudi currency or stamps of government, banks, signatures of officials and legal documents issued by courts or notaries.
On the basis of Prince Mohammed’s instruction, prisoners held for public rights as well as those who have not committed major crimes would be released and their fines up to SR500,000 written off and lashes would not be carried out.
Brig. Ahmed Al-Shahrani, director of prisons in Jeddah, said he was closely monitoring the measures taken for the release of prisoners qualified for the amnesty.
Al-Shahrani met with some of the released prisoners and told them to become good citizens, keeping away from crimes and engaging in constructive activities.
The prisoners, who have benefited from the amnesty, thanked King Salman as well as the prison authorities. “We have benefited a lot from the department’s cultural and vocational programs,” one Saudi said, adding that the programs also contributed to changing the mindset of prisoners.


Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

Updated 15 min 49 sec ago
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Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

RIYADH: A joint press conference between the MBC Group, the General Entertainment Authority, and Cirque du Soleil was held at King Fahd Stadium on Thursday afternoon to answer media questions and give some details about Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming special performance, part of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day celebrations. The show is slated to be one of the biggest performed by the Cirque and their first in Saudi Arabia. It is a one-night-only, exclusive event, designed especially for this occasion.
Daniel Fortin, vice president of Creation at Cirque du Soleil, teased the audience with a few details of the upcoming show. “With a cast and crew of over 300, this is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Without giving too much of the plot away, the story is centered around the sun, and takes place from sunset to sunrise. Everything from the costumes to the stage props was created as a homage to Saudi culture. You’ll see a lot of Bedouin influences in the staging and in the music. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, such as traditional Bedouin tents, desert scenery, even the stadium itself.”
The show has been in development for six months, and the cast and crew have been preparing for the show at the King Fahd International Stadium since the beginning of August.
The show will contain new technology, and 16 unprecedented acrobatic acts. However, Fortin refused to share too many details. “You’ll just have to see what we have planned at the show.” He said. “But I think you will be impressed. We’re doing things we’ve never done before.”
Tickets to the show sold out in less than 48 hours after their release; an incredible feat as the show has allocated more than 27,000 seats for the performance. Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, spokesperson for the General Entertainment Authority, was pleased— but not entirely surprised— by the public’s reaction to news of the show. “We felt that variety in the types of events we brought to Saudi Arabia was important,” he said, “and we conducted a number of research workshops to determine what sort of events would be well-received by the public. Cirque du Soleil was mentioned frequently in our research, so we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to bring them here.”
MBC head of events Omar Al Radi also expects a big response to the televising of the show, which he estimates will break records. “We’re broadcasting the show live on both our local and international channels, such as those in Europe and in America.” he said.
“We’re expecting over 200 million views. Probably record-breaking numbers. MBC is proud to have been part of bringing this historic event to Saudi Arabia, and we can’t wait for you to see it.”