Sharqiah Season kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

1 / 5
Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (AN photo)
2 / 5
Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (AN photo)
3 / 5
Visitors arrive as Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (Sharqiah Season)
4 / 5
Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (AN photo)
5 / 5
Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (AN photo)
Updated 18 March 2019

Sharqiah Season kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

  • Sharqiah Season is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned for Saudi Arabia in 2019
  • The festival features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail

ALKHOBAR: The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

“What’s happening in Sharqiah is humongous, to tell you the truth, and it’s only the first day,” said Labeed Assidmi, who was selling nostalgic Saudi pins under his label Pinnizer at a booth in the Crystal Market near the front gate.

“Everyone is so excited to see what’s going to happen next. People are almost overwhelmed, hardly sure of where to go first with all the choices that they have. They don’t want to miss anything. It’s a great vibe.”

Farther along the Corniche, another gate led into the Cultural Village, which featured booths representing the different provinces of Saudi Arabia, with craftsmen weaving baskets and making clay zamzam jars. 

Families enjoyed picnics on the grass, waiting for the light show to be projected onto the Khobar Water Tower.

See more photos from Sharqiah Season’s opening weekend here

Hind Mubarak, who visited the corniche with her Bahrain-based sister, said: “We came at 7 p.m. with the children to see the Sharqiyah Season. We all wanted to see the fireworks, but they were canceled because of high winds, which we found out on Twitter.”

Mubarak added: “It is a little disappointing, especially for the children. But the light show was fun to watch. We will check when the next firework display will be held and we will come out for that. Now the kids want to go home because they’re afraid of the lightning.”

Earlier in the day, the Sharqiah Season began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Leonardo’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

While many of the events during the 17-day festival take place in the evening, Ithra is hosting a few daytime exhibits, including an interactive show featuring another great master, Vincent van Gogh, the opening of which was delayed.

Sharqiah Season is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned for Saudi Arabia in 2019. In a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority, the project aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the kingdom.

The festival features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries. 

He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.


Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

Updated 36 min 25 sec ago

Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

  • The visit comes days after Pentagon said it was bolstering its forces in the Kingdom amid tensions with Iran
  • In October, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia following attacks on Saudi oil plants

RIYADH: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with tensions simmering between the United States and Iran, and Russia seeking to increase its regional influence.
Al-Ekhbariyah television gave no details on the previously unannounced visit, which comes after Esper visited Afghanistan.
Esper is likely to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his first trip to the key Middle East ally since he took office this summer, a visit intended partly to reassure Riyadh over bilateral ties.

US-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
The United States has deployed military forces to Saudi Arabia to bolster the Kingdom’s defenses after an attack on oil sites last month.
The Sept. 14 attack knocked out two major processing facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Khurais and Abqaiq, roughly halving Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
Washington condemned the attacks as a “act of war” but neither the Saudis nor the United States have overtly retaliated.

Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed there since last month.
Despite the additional troops, there are questions about the US commitment to allies in the region after Trump announced a sudden withdrawal from northeastern Syria, opening the door for Russia to increase its influence in the Middle East.
A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States still wanted to be seen as the partner of choice in the region and Russia was not as dependable, whether it be the level of training or the military equipment it can provide.
President Vladimir Putin signalled Moscow’s growing Middle East clout last week on his first visit to Saudi Arabia in over a decade, buoyed by Russian military gains in Syria, strong ties with Riyadh’s regional rivals and energy cooperation.
(With Reuters and AFP)