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)
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The oasis of Madain Saleh. (SPA)
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The ancient city of Al-Ula. (SPA)
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Sandstones in Madain Saleh. (SPA)
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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

  • 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.

Saudi Arabia, Russia sign agreements during Vladimir Putin visit to Riyadh

Updated 14 October 2019

Saudi Arabia, Russia sign agreements during Vladimir Putin visit to Riyadh

  • King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcome Russian leader at Al-Yamamah Palace
  • 20 deals of cooperation were signed between the two countries

DUBAI: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Riyadh on Monday on his first visit since 2007, and was welcomed to Al-Yamamah Palace by Saudi King Salman as well as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar earlier personally welcomed the Russian leader as he disembarked from his aircraft at King Khalid International Airport.

An official welcoming ceremony was held in honor of Putin and various agreements were signed between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Russia including an oil cooperation pact.


READ MORE: Dedicated Arab News ‘Putin in Saudi Arabia’ spotlight


Some 20 agreements were signed between the two countries, in a ceremony overseen by the king, crown prince, Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF and Saudi Arabia's SALIC signed an agreement to team up in searching for investment projects in the Russian agricultural sector, RDIF said in a statement on Monday.

A string of multi-million-dollar investment contracts were also signed in the aerospace, culture, health and advanced technology sectors.

Putin’s “long-awaited” visit will include discussions on “further cooperation to stabilize prices on the world carbohydrate market” as well as the situation in Syria, the Gulf and Yemen.

The Russian leader, in an interview with Arab broadcasters and aired on Sunday ahead of his arrival, described the “very good relations” with the Saudi leadership.

“We consider Saudi Arabia a friendly nation. I have very good relations with both the King and the Crown Prince,” Putin said, and noted the improved bilateral relations between both countries.


PHOTO GALLERY: Vladimir Putin visits Saudi Arabia


Putin in the interview likewise condemned the Sept. 14 attacks on Aramco facilities, and said “such actions do not bring any positive results to anybody, including perpetrators,” as they do not have a strong effect on the market.

“We condemn any such actions, end of story. This is the official position … regardless of who stood behind the incident,” the Russian president commented.

A forum attended by Saudi Arabian and Russian business leaders and government officials earlier Monday resulted in the signing of several agreements between companies of both countries.