Exodus to urban areas does not augur well for Saudi heritage

Updated 23 February 2015
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Exodus to urban areas does not augur well for Saudi heritage

Modern life and progress could be driving Saudis away from their identity. This was stated in a recent paper published by a German scholar on the Kingdom’s growing urbanization.
In her paper, Professor Ulrike Freitag warns about the disenfranchisement of Saudis with their local identity because of their preference for a more urban lifestyle. The academic is well acquainted with the Saudi situation, as she is a lecturer and professor at Berlin’s Center for Modern Oriental Studies.
Freitag, who teaches Islamic studies, explained her views to an audience at an event organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and Dar Al-Hekma University. The symposium revolved about heritage, traditions and arts and was held at Al-Akkas heritage village in Abha.
Expressing her appreciation for the authorities’ efforts in keeping the flames of traditional arts alive, Freitag highlighted recent statistics according to which 88 percent of Saudis will be living in cities by 2050. The German scholar lamented these grim numbers, as in her view moving away from traditional Saudi dwellings could lead to a loss of identity.
Freitag stressed the importance of the Saudi people’s role to preserve their traditions and history. According to the academic, it is even more critical that Saudi citizens get involved to preserve their heritage than the authorities themselves. Residents can play an invaluable role in assuming responsibility to rehabilitate and develop buildings as venues for celebrations, tourism or even for educational purposes, she said.
Freitag lauded Saudi Arabia’s numerous provinces and locations that enhance and strengthen the country’s national identity. “The homeland as a whole benefits from the different values and experiences in each city or region,” she explained.
Freitag’s country was one of the top nations in the world to have heritage buildings razed to the ground. However, according to the scholar, Germany stepped up efforts in the past 30 or 40 years to renovate and develop old buildings, such as the ancient Berlin castle.
German architect Andreas Lipik also stressed during the event that global architecture has deviated from its real goal of serving the community in favor of a more glamorous approach to design.
“Small buildings may change the society’s perspective on architecture, as they have a huge value on so many levels,” Lipik said, praising the initiative of Dar Al-Hekma University students for choosing Asir, one of the most traditional places in the Kingdom.


Pitbull and Akon wow crowds at Saudi Arabia’s Asharqiah Music Festival

Updated 18 min 26 sec ago
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Pitbull and Akon wow crowds at Saudi Arabia’s Asharqiah Music Festival

  • Earlier on Friday, planes raced over the waters of the Dammam Corniche, thrilling the crowd who had gathered to see the Red Bull Race
  • Although not the actual championship itself, the demonstration did not disappoint, with pilots pulling their aircraft through barrel rolls and high G-force turns along a floating obstacle course

DAMMAM: Week two of Sharqiah Season started with a bang as US rapper Pitbull performed at Dammam’s Life Park as part of the Asharqiah Music Festival on Friday afternoon.
Although his Thursday night concert was canceled, fans were certainly not disappointed when he took the stage at 4 p.m. An energy-filled Pitbull hyped-up the crowd in minutes, and soon enough everyone was singing along to some of his most famous songs, including “Taxi,” “Timber,” “On The Floor” and more.
The rapper even teased a short sample of his newest song, “Cinco de Mayo,” leading the crowd in the opening chant before launching into the song’s intro.
He thanked his fans multiple times for their understanding over the delay of the concert, telling them how happy he was to have made it.
“I want you to be able to tell people, ‘I went to a Pitbull concert, and I had the time of my life, Saudi Arabia!’” he shouted, before launching into a rendition of “Time of Our Lives.”


Fireworks, confetti and a wildly enthusiastic audience made for a memorable experience.
Arab News caught up with Pitbull backstage after the show. When asked if he had something to say to his fans, he replied: “To everyone in Saudi I wanna say thank you for the love, I appreciate the opportunity. Great crowd, great energy.”
The performance was hastily rescheduled due to the rapper’s delay in Iceland on his way to Saudi Arabia for the festival.
Due to technical difficulties, his plane was grounded and unable to fly until a spare part was delivered from the US, causing him to miss the initial date.
Pitbull posted an apology video on Twitter, in which he promised fans an unforgettable experience at the rescheduled show. “Make sure you keep your tickets,” he told his fans.
Safa Hukrdoh, from Dammam, said she would have preferred to experience the concert at night, but had no complaints. “I think it was amazing. I have been to other concerts outside (of Saudi Arabia), but this is the first time inside.”
The festivities at Life Park continue today as Akon, French Montana and Amr Diab all take the stage for the second evening of the Asharqiah Music Festival.

It is one of 83 events planned for the Sharqiah Season, the first of 11 Saudi Seasons taking place across the country in 2019.
Earlier on Friday, planes raced over the waters of the Dammam Corniche, thrilling the crowd who had gathered to see the Red Bull Race. Although not the actual championship itself, the demonstration did not disappoint, with pilots pulling their aircraft through barrel rolls and high G-force turns along a floating obstacle course.
“It’s been a nice day for the family,” said Mohammed Saleh Al-Ghamdi, who had come out with his wife, his mother-in-law and his three children. “We come here every weekend, and every weekend there is a new surprise waiting.
“This time it is these air races, which my son, Hussam, found really exciting. We all had our photos taken with the planes and ate hamburgers, and now we are going to have some ice cream before the next plane comes out to perform.”
Sharqiah Season is the first of 11 cultural events organized by the General Entertainment Authority, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, The General Sports Authority and General Culture Authority.
The initiative falls in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program, which aims to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom by providing enriching cultural pursuits and shows. The 83 activities planned for the festival, which is being held in 9 different cities, feature entertainment, educational activities, sports events and culture.
Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with the weekends ahead also featuring the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Deadmau5 among others.