Opera star Andrea Bocelli regales music lovers at Saudi Arabia’s Tantora Winter Festival

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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
Updated 01 February 2019

Opera star Andrea Bocelli regales music lovers at Saudi Arabia’s Tantora Winter Festival

  • Bocelli, 60, appeared to be in great spirits as he greeted the crowd with a rousing performance of “La Donna E Mobile”
  • Winter at Tantora, now in its seventh week, was recently extended with two more concert dates added to the roster

TANTORA: Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert.
The Tuscan tenor, known worldwide for his unique blend of modern pop and classic opera, delighted his audience with a truly spectacular performance at Al-Ula’s Maraya Concert Hall.
Bocelli told fans that he was delighted to be performing for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and that he hoped he would be able to return in the future to perform again.
“This is my first time to perform in Saudi Arabia, and I’m very pleased with the great reception and hospitality I received from the organizers and the wonderful audience here,” he said.
“Al-Ula is a great surprise. It’s a beautiful natural destination, and it has been an honor to sing in such majestic surroundings.”
The concert, conducted by Marcello Rota, featured the National Symphony Orchestra accompanying Bocelli, as well as performances by soprano Maria Aleida Rodriguez, violinist Anastasiya Petryshak and guest singer Ilaria Della Bidia.
The concert featured a variety of performances by Bocelli and his companions, including solos by Rodriguez, Della Bidia and Petryshak.
Bocelli, 60, appeared to be in great spirits as he greeted the crowd with a rousing performance of “La Donna E Mobile.”
Along with his companions, he performed some of his most popular hits, such as “Donna Non Vida Mai”, “Canto Della Terra” and “Granada,” as well as a selection of opera classics.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here for the first time. I’m very emotional about this,” he told fans. “It’s an honor to be here.”
He said he had a special connection to the Kingdom because it was his Saudi friend Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel who encouraged him to create the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, a charitable organization for music and science.
One of the biggest surprises of the night came when Bocelli stepped out onto the stage wearing a ghutra (a traditional Saudi men’s headdress), which garnered thunderous applause from the crowd.
Bocelli gained fame in the 1990s as an opera singer worthy of international attention. Blind since the age of 12, he has nonetheless managed to gain global fame as an opera singer and obtain a law degree from the University of Pisa.
He has received multiple accolades and awards over the course of his career, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He was made a Grand Officer of the Order of the Merit of the Italian Republic, and has performed with some of the biggest names in music, including Luciano Pavarotti, Ed Sheeran and Celine Dion.
Fans were delighted to see Bocelli in the Kingdom, with many of them tweeting their support for him and urging him to return in the future.
“Please come back, Andrea,” tweeted one fan. “You have audiences in multiple cities. Saudi Arabia would love to have you again.”
Winter at Tantora, now in its seventh week, was recently extended with two more concert dates added to the roster.
The festival has enjoyed massive success during its run, with every concert selling out within days of being announced.
Featured renowned artists include Kathem Al-Saher, Rashid Al-Majed and Majed Al-Mohandis, among others.


Saudi justice minister appoints first woman to senior position at alimony fund

Saudi Justice Ministry. (SPA)
Updated 52 min 35 sec ago

Saudi justice minister appoints first woman to senior position at alimony fund

  • More women are also working in the ministry’s digital transformation project, and in related fields such as computer science, software engineering and information systems

JEDDAH: The minister of justice and president of the Supreme Judicial Council, Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, has ordered the appointment of Shorooq bint Mohammed Al-Jadaan as deputy director-general for alimony affairs. She is the first woman to assume a leading position at the alimony fund.
The fund aims to ensure alimony is paid to beneficiaries as quickly as possible, and help achieve a financial balance for families, in fulfillment of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.
“This appointment is not surprising from a ministry and a country that has taken upon itself to ensure equity and empowerment for women in all governmental and private sectors,” said Saudi lawyer Nujood Qasim.
Such decisions strongly support efforts to raise the level of participation by women in the workforce, one of the goals of Vision 2030, by providing a wider range of career options and encouraging them to play a bigger role in the development of the country, Qasim added.
The second phase of the alimony fund was launched in November 2019. It has achieved a number of successes since its inception, in particular improving the speed of responses to requests and communication with applicants and beneficiaries through its online platform.
It has also reduced the time taken from final approval of applications to the payment of alimony, which can now be done in a matter of hours.
The Ministry of Justice has implemented a number of initiatives in the past few years to increase the number of female employees and improve their representation in promoted positions. In late 2017, it started to provide special sections for women in courts around the country and appoint female notaries. Previously it was rare for women to work in courts.
Women can now work as social researchers and administrative assistants. More women are also working in the ministry’s digital transformation project, and in related fields such as computer science, software engineering and information systems.
In addition, there has been a huge increase in the number of registered female lawyers, from only 10 in 2013 to 487 by November last year.