Saudi-US relationship will continue to grow, says charge d’affaires

Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar cuts a cake with Charge D’Affaires Christopher Henzel during US Independence Day celebration in Riyadh on Monday.
Updated 14 February 2018

Saudi-US relationship will continue to grow, says charge d’affaires

RIYADH: Christopher Henzel, the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Riyadh, reaffirmed on Monday that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US is based on fundamental shared interests including economic prosperity, security and stability.
Speaking at a function to celebrate the 242nd year of the independence of the US on Monday at Quincy House, the official residence of the US ambassador in the Diplomatic Quarter, Henzel said the US strongly supports Saudi Arabia’s ambitious goals.
“As the Saudi Arabian government implements its vision, we believe that both sides will continue to benefit from our unique bilateral relationship, and that partnership will continue to grow,” he said. “The government’s plans for the further development of the Kingdom continue at an impressive rate.”
Welcoming guests including Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, Henzel said, “2017 witnessed remarkable developments in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US, with Riyadh welcoming President Donald Trump on the first stop of his first overseas trip, which brought together 55 heads of state at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit.”
Henzel said security cooperation was one of the key areas of the partnership, both historically and at present.
“Countering violent extremism is a very high priority for both of our governments,” he added.
He went on to stress the strength of the two countries’ economic ties, pointing out that bilateral trade in goods between the US and the Kingdom amounted to $35 billion last year.
“Our two countries have long shared a strong economic relationship, with ties in trade and investment that have created jobs for thousands of Americans and Saudis,” he said.
Saudi citizens and companies hold major investments in the US that employ thousands of Americans. For example, Saudi Aramco now owns the largest refinery in the US states, in Port Arthur, Texas, Henzel explained, adding that US companies are working with Saudi partners on additional investment projects in energy, infrastructure, defense, health care, and many other sector.
Henzel also highlighted the increased cultural exchange over the past year, thanks in part to Vision 2030.
US performance artists including Blue Man Group, Nelly and Toby Keith, have all performed in the Kingdom recently, while events such as Monster Jam made history in the Kingdom as part of Saudi Arabia’s new initiative to offer more entertainment options to citizens and residents.
Meanwhile, the embassy has sent a number of Saudis to the US on cultural exchanges.
Another important facet of the US-Saudi relationship is cooperation in the field of education, Henzel pointed out.
“Right now, there are roughly 66,000 Saudi students in American universities,” he said. “The Saudi government is making an incredible investment in the future of its country and I am proud that American higher education is able to play such an important role in that effort.”


Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”