Eid celebrations begin with zeal

Updated 19 July 2015
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Eid celebrations begin with zeal

RIYADH: Eid Al-Fitr was celebrated with zeal and fervor in the capital on Friday, with nationals and expatriates seen exchanging greetings and children being blessed and presented with gifts.

The Eid prayers were offered early in the morning at about 650 designated mosques and grounds with special arrangements, including improvised partitions for women.
The Riyadh Police have made an elaborate security arrangement for the week-long celebrations and also foiled a terror attempt on the eve of Eid. The bomber, identified as Abdullah Fahd Abdullah Al-Rasheed, blew himself up after he was stopped by police in Al-Hair neighborhood.
Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar congratulated the people on the occasion of Eid, praying that Almighty Allah accept their fasting and night prayers.
The prince also received a number of princes, scholars, senior civil and security officials and citizens who came to greet him. He also visited patients in the hospital and wished them speedy recovery, joy and peace.
According to Riyadh municipality four locations including Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Malaz district and King Fahd International Stadium in Naseem district have been selected to welcome the much awaited festival with dazzling fireworks display starting at 11:15 pm.
The spectacular firework show arranged geographically across the city will continue for three days.
A huge number of Saudis and expatriates have also planned to use the week-long holiday for the private sector and 12-day break for the public sector to head for their favorite destinations in the Kingdom and abroad.
Many of them said they were heading for the picturesque hill station of Abha and the resort city of Taif, while others were heading for local destinations developed by the the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH).


Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

AD DIRIYAH: The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”