‘Spirit of the Dance’ stars dazzle audiences in Riyadh with Irish, Falmenco fused rhythms

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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
Updated 10 March 2018

‘Spirit of the Dance’ stars dazzle audiences in Riyadh with Irish, Falmenco fused rhythms

RIYADH: Music-lovers took a dazzling journey from past to present at the King Fahd Cultural Center as “Spirit of the Dance” fused traditional Irish song and dance with fiery flamenco and sultry tango rhythms.
The award-winning dance performance — now in its 20th year — has been seen by more than 30 million people around the world and has broken box office records in more than 20 countries.
“Spirit of the Dance” is being staged in the Kingdom for the first time by the Knight Group together with the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which last month announced an entertainment bonanza, with more than 5,000 events scheduled this year.
Knight Group founder and CEO Fouad Halabi told Arab News: “The GEA has been very helpful showcasing this world-famous show. For us, as an organizer and producer, it was not feasible at the beginning to bring such a great show here, but the GEA was instrumental in understanding how the show should be organized to respect both the local and Irish culture.
“Now we are very excited about this breathtaking show. We hope after seeing the performances, people will learn about the Irish culture,
about this art.”
The GEA was established in line with the goals of Vision 2030 to diversify the entertainment sector and broaden the range of entertainment options. Opera and jazz have been featured recently.
“Spirit of the Dance” will travel to Jeddah for performances on March 15-16 at the King Abdullah Economic City.
The Irish ambassador in Riyadh, Tony Cotter, one of several diplomats at Thursday’s show, said: “I am happy to see the amount of social change taking place in Saudi Arabia — it is fantastic to see famous Irish dance being performed on stage in the Kingdom.”
Commenting on the Kingdom’s growing entertainment sector, Cotter said: “There is a huge development in this area. The GEA is doing a superb job bringing different forms of entertainment to the Kingdom — we have seen opera, jazz concert, now this ‘Spirit of the Dance’ show. I can see a bright future for the entertainment sector here.”
The “Spirit of the Dance” stars mesmerized their audience, delivering the powerful rhythms of Irish dance combined with the passionate Latino rhythms of tango, flamenco, and red-hot salsa.
Jameela Balahmar, a marketing specialist with Mobily, told Arab News: ” I am a big fan of the Irish dance, and was really excited to watch this event. Now, seeing it live, is truly an amazing experience for me and my generation, especially for women in Saudi Arabia.”
The show coincided with International Women’s Day.
“Earlier, we were having to watch it on YouTube and television or travel to experience it. Thanks to the GEA and the Knight Group for bringing it here — making a dream come true to watch it live in my hometown.”
Abdullah Ramadhan, a project manager with the IT giant Dell, said: “This show is absolutely amazing. Everybody applauds the efforts of the GEA. For a long time, we were not exposed to different cultures and lifestyles in the world, so it makes a lot of sense now as the world moves closer to be more and more connected. It is good that our authorities are now inviting famous groups from various parts of the world so we can experience their culture and learn about their society.
“Assimilation of cultures from different parts of the world with our local heritage is important. If you are exposed to different cultures, it is a good learning experience,” he said.


Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

Updated 10 December 2019

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.