Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site

Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site
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Modern road in the middle of an ancient city. (SPA photo)
Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site
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The oasis of Madain Saleh. (SPA)
Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site
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The ancient city of Al-Ula. (SPA)
Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site
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Sandstones in Madain Saleh. (SPA)
Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site
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Ancient city of Al-Ula. (SPA)
Updated 07 December 2018

Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site

Winter at Tantora: Musical extravaganza at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula heritage site
  • Majida El-Roumi, Renaud Capuçon and Omar Khairat among top attractions at 8-week extravaganza
  • The last two weekends of “Winter at Tantora” will be headlined by Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli and Greek composer Yanni

JEDDAH: One of the most important historically preserved sites for culture and heritage in Saudi Arabia is set to experience an enchanting reawakening in the near future.

Dec. 20 will mark the first of a series of eight consecutive weekends of themed musical, sporting, and agricultural events. Each is headlined by some of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in the world, and all will perform under the desert stars of Al-Ula.

A truly magical destination unlike anywhere else in the world, Al-Ula offers historic monuments spanning generations and civilizations. Notably, it is also home to Madain Saleh, the first Saudi site to be nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, the eight-week extravaganza titled “Winter at Tantora” will offer festival-goers a once-in-a lifetime experience that includes culturally themed heritage events, a spectacular equestrian experience, and a celebration of the winter planting season.

Inspired by Al-Ula’s tradition of marking the beginning of the planting season, guests attending the event’s first weekend can experience Al-Ula’s authentic old town by shopping in a traditional souk, wandering through the temporary art installations, enjoying traditional cuisine, and being treated to the weekend’s first headliner by famed Saudi singer, Mohammed Abdo.

The international artists making up the first half of “Winter at Tantora” include Lebanese vocalist Majida El-Roumi, French violinist Renaud Capuçon, and multiple award-winning Egyptian composer Omar Khairat.

On Jan. 18, renowned pianist Lang Lang, a virtuoso performer who has worked with leading orchestras worldwide, will bring his talents to Al-Ula. On Jan. 25, guests will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as they experience the late and much-beloved Egyptian singer Um Kulthum, as her extraordinary image and vocals will be showcased via hologram in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever “virtual” concert.

The last two weekends of “Winter at Tantora” will be headlined by Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli and Greek composer Yanni. The former will be featured at the conclusion of “The Endurance Cup,” a demanding Arabian horse race that will bring competitors from the Middle East and Europe.  The Royal Commission for Al-Ula is constantly working with local, national and international experts as it continues to restore, preserve, and present Al-Ula’s rich natural heritage to the world.

“Winter at Tantora” aims to contribute by showcasing this destination to tourists. The festival, which runs from Dec. 20 to Feb. 9, will be all-inclusive. From transportation to accommodations, all ticket packages aim to ensure a relaxing, enjoyable, and unforgettable experience for all guests in attendance.

The reception area inside the hall will feature visual presentations of paintings by the world famous painter Van Gogh.


British resident of Eastern Province rewarded for environmental work

Updated 20 min 53 sec ago

British resident of Eastern Province rewarded for environmental work

British resident of Eastern Province rewarded for environmental work
  • Neil Walker honored for his efforts to keep beaches of Alkhobar clean over past 27 years

RIYADH: British expat and longtime resident of Saudi Arabia Neil Walker was last week awarded with a certificate of recognition for his efforts to keep the beaches of Alkhobar clean over the past 27 years.

Eastern Province Mayor Fahd Al-Jubair presented Walker — who is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia — with his certificate and thanked him for his service to the Kingdom’s environment.

“We hope this message gets across to residents of the Eastern Province. We are keen to honor all efforts to protect the environment and to recognize creative initiatives aimed at preserving the environment whether from Saudi nationals or expatriate residents,” Al-Jubair told Arab News, urging all members of the public to work together to protect the environment.

Neil Walker — who  is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia — ‘is deeply humbled to be recognized for his cleanup drive’. (Supplied)

Walker explained to Arab News that his beach-cleaning activities have been focused on an area to the south of Half Moon Bay since he moved to the area.

“For the last 27 years I have been visiting a stretch of beach in that area on my day off to spend the day on a potentially lovely beach looking out on the glorious Arabian Gulf,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Eastern Province Mayor Fahd Al-Jubair presented Neil Walker with his certificate.
  • The mayor thanked Walker for his service to the Kingdom’s environment.
  • Walker is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia.
  • Eastern Province municipality has previously recognized the efforts of 200 Filipinos over the years for helping to clean the beaches and to promote awareness among other residents.
  • It has launched a number of initiatives intended to involve the public in keeping public areas free of waste.

“Unfortunately, it was marred by litter and manmade rubbish, either brought in by the tides or dumped by previous visitors, so I took it upon myself to clean the beach before settling down and then in the late afternoon to extend my cleaning activities to either side of my camping spot.”

The diverse ecosystem of the Arabian Gulf supports a range of coastal and marine life, including mangroves, sea grass, coral reefs and more.

Neil Walker has inspired creative environmental initiatives in Alkhobar. (Supplied)

The rapid industrialization of the area has introduced many environmental challenges that require human intervention.

Something as simple as a beach cleanup is necessary from time to time to ensure the environment is preserved and protected.

“Although I have seen a slight improvement, a lot still needs to be done and hopefully the publicity I have received will be of value to this end,” Walker said.

“As I see it, the problem is that the majority of the public are unaware and are used to having other people cleaning up for them, they automatically think that it is somebody else’s responsibility. This needs to change,” Walker said, adding that he was deeply humbled and honored to be recognized for his limited contribution in cleaning up the beaches.

Neil Walker has inspired creative environmental initiatives in Alkhobar. (Supplied)

“A few years ago, I assume there was a change in management in the municipality, resulting in a new logo and cleaning crew, which has led to a greatly improved street cleaning and public area routine and the introduction of many waste bins, which are now being used by the public,” he continued.

Eastern Province municipality has previously recognized the efforts of 200 Filipinos over the years for helping to clean the beaches and to promote awareness among other residents.

Like several other municipalities nationwide, it has launched a number of initiatives intended to involve the public in keeping public areas free of waste in order to better preserve the environment.