First Saudi opera house to open in Jeddah

In this file photo, musicians perform at the Royal Opera House in Muscat during a women's celebration in Oman. Saudi Arabia will soon have its own opera house, to be located in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. (Photo courtesy of the Royal Opera House in Muscat)
Updated 23 February 2018

First Saudi opera house to open in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s first opera house is set to open in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, Ahmed Al-Khatib, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), announced on Thursday.
The announcement was part of the launch of the 2018 entertainment calendar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, where Al-Khatib revealed a budget of $64 billion for the entertainment sector over the coming decade. More than 5,000 events in 56 cities in the Kingdom are planned for 2018.
Al-Khatib told Reuters last April of Saudi Arabia’s plan to open “a world-class opera house” as part of the Kingdom’s entertainment reforms.
The Saudi General Culture Authority will handle the establishment of the new opera house, Al-Khatib, who declined to give further information, told Arab News.
The General Culture Authority could not be immediately reached for comment.
According to Reuters, the opera house to be completed around 2022.
Speaking to Arab News, Sultan Al-Bazie, former president of the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the announcement as a significant step toward enriching the Kingdom’s cultural scene and said it deserved “a warm welcome.”
Al-Bazie wondered, however, about the fate of the Royal Arts Complex and whether the opera house would be a substitute for it.
In 1869 the Egyptian Khedivial Opera House in Cairo became the first opera house in Africa and the Middle East. Designed by architects Pietro Avoscani (from Livorno) and Rossi, the opera house was built on the orders of Khedive Ismail to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.
In 2011, Oman opened the Royal Opera House in Muscat becoming the second Arab and first Gulf country to have an opera house. Other Gulf countries such as Dubai and Kuwait later opened opera houses.


Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

Updated 18 October 2019

Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

  • The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date

RIYADH: More than 1,500 performers and 25 floats took part in a parade and carnival on Thursday night that officially launched Riyadh Season’s Boulevard zone. The crowds that gathered for the fun-packed event were also treated to motorcycle displays, fireworks and other surprises.

The Boulevard lit up at 9 p.m. for the start of the 90-minute event, which featured some of the international artists who will perform as part of Riyadh Season. Afterwards, the zone’s food and drink outlets, outdoor cinema and fountain shows officially opened.

The audience watched the parade, performances and displays from specially constructed stands. Food trucks offered a selection of tasty snacks, and organizers also provided prayer rooms, toilets, first-aid stations and other facilities.



In addition to the opening-night festivities, the Boulevard zone, which covers 400,000 square meters, will host a wide range of entertainment options and activities for all ages, including the outdoor cinema, restaurants, and sports, music and theatrical events. It has three main venues: The 22,000-seat Mohammed Abdu Theater, the 6,000-seat Abu Bakr Salem Theater, and the 2,000-seat Baker Al-Sheddi Theater.

The parade is just one of more than 100 events featuring local, regional and international performers taking place during the Riyadh Season festival, which continues until mid-December at 12 zones across the city: the Boulevard; the Front; Riyadh Car Show; Winter Wonderland; Riyadh Stadiums; the Diplomatic Quarter; Al-Muraba’a; Al-Malaz; Wadi Namar; Nabd Al-Riyadh; Riyadh Safari; and Riyadh Sahara. It has been organized with the support of Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority and president of Riyadh Season.

The audience watched the parade from specially built stands. (Supplied)

 

The ambitious 2019 Saudi Seasons initiative, the first of its kind in the region, was launched in February and includes 11 local seasons covering most parts of the Kingdom. Designed to promote the fledgling Saudi entertainment sector and boost tourism, it is attracting some of the biggest names in world entertainment.

The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date. It follows a folklore parade at the Mawtni (My Nation) cultural event in Yanbu to mark Saudi National Day this year, and a parade during the Jeddah Season festivities in the city’s Obhur district.