Umm Kulthum returns virtually for Tantora show in Al-Ula

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AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib
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Umm Kulthum’s fans, who flocked to the Winter in Tantora festival in Al-Ula on Friday, visited nearby archaeological sites as part of their trip. (AN photos by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Photo: Supplied
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Updated 27 January 2019

Umm Kulthum returns virtually for Tantora show in Al-Ula

  • Appearing as a hologram, late Egyptian singer enthralled music buffs 44 years after her death

AL-ULA: Though it has been 44 years since Umm Kulthum, the iconic Egyptian singer and actress, passed away at her home in Cairo, she was brought back to life on Friday in stunning fashion, performing in virtual reality to a full house at the Winter in Tantora festival in Al-Ula.
Appearing as a hologram, accompanied by an orchestra and bedecked in flowing, full-length gowns as she had when debuting in the 1920s, Kulthum gave fans the first chance to see her in concert since her death in 1975.
“I was born in the 1970s after Umm Kulthum died,” said Egyptian Nabila Yaseen, who had traveled from Jeddah to attend.
“I grew up listening to her on the radio, and I used to watch her in black and white on TV with my parents.
“To listen to her as if she were really in front of us is something I wish my mother could have seen. It brought back many memories from my childhood, and would have probably brought back many fond memories for my parents from their younger days, too.”
Dana Daham, a Saudi banker, saw Umm Kulthum’s concert with a group of friends. “We heard about what was going on in Tantora and decided to try it out. We went on the website, found tickets, took the train from Jeddah to Madinah and then we drove to Al-Ula. It’s been great, I highly recommend trying it!”
As part of their trip to Tantora, Daham and her friends also visited a nearby archaeological site, featuring Nabataean ruins dating back to the 1st century AD.
“This is one of the few classical period sites with a lot of Nabataean, Roman and Greek influences,” said Zbigniew Fiema, a senior archaeologist with the Saudi-French Archaeological Mission.
“It is of particular importance, because you can really see the influences, and the interactions between the East and West.”
The Nabataeans were an Arab people living in antiquity around Petra, but whose settlements extended down to Hejaz.
“This site existed here between the 1st century BC and the 4th century AD,” Fiema added. “It is relatively unknown to the public, but the archaeological importance of it is tremendous.”
Winter in Tantora will continue until Feb. 2, with performances by Andrea Bocelli next weekend, and new-age musician Yanni the weekend after. Tickets offering various packages can be purchased at www.winterattantora.com.

Decoder

Winter at Tantora Festival

It's a music festival being held at Saudi Arabia's archaeological site Al-Ula, the capital of the ancient Arabian kingdom of Lihyan. Hosted by the residents of Al-Ula in Madinah province, the festival runs from December 20, 2018 until February 9, 2019, with performances by Andrea Bocelli next weekend, and new-age musician Yanni the weekend after.


Saudi Arabia reaffirms support for Afghanistan during donor conference

Updated 58 min 4 sec ago

Saudi Arabia reaffirms support for Afghanistan during donor conference

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has reaffirmed its support for Afghanistan during a pledging conference for the war-torn nation. 
The event, co-hosted by Finland and the United Nations in Geneva, saw the US, the European Union and other donors pledge billions of dollars in funding for Afghanistan.
Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said the Kingdom has supported more than 35 projects in Afghanistan in various sectors, at a cost of more than $24m. 
The projects covered the humanitarian, health, education, water and food security fields. 
Al-Wasel said the Kingdom participated in all donor conferences held for Afghanistan out of its sense of responsibly towards Afghanistan and hopes for the country to achieve security and prosperity. 
He said the Kingdom believes that achieving stability in Afghanistan requires collective support through several steps, including conciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban, as well as the group’s commitment to renounce violence and engage in the political process. 
Countries like Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States and Canada stepped forward with hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of pledges for Afghanistan, after speeches from officials like Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.