Sharqiah Season kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

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Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (AN photo)
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Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (AN photo)
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Visitors arrive as Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (Sharqiah Season)
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Sharqiah Season officially begins on Thursday 14 March, 2019. (AN photo)
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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.


Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

Updated 1 min 43 sec ago

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

TOKYO: Taro Kono, the defense minister of Japan, said that threats to his country’s oil supply was the “most worrying scenario” he could imagine in international relations, in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities. 

“The most pessimistic scenario right now is that something happens in the Straits of Hormuz and the oil supply gets cut down, and that would send a shock wave through the global economy. I think the price of oil is already rising after this attack on Saudi facilities, so that’s the most worrying scenario right now,” he told a conference in Tokyo, Japan.

However, speaking on the sidelines to Arab News, he insisted that Saudi Arabia would remain a reliable partner of Japan - which imports around 40 per cent of its crude from the Kingdom - and downplayed concerns about long-term supply problems.

“Saudi has been and will be an important source of our energy supply. We have international co-ordination, and we have reserves, so we are not really worried about that,” he said. 

Kono, who was until recently Japan’s foreign minister, said that his country would be seeking to promote diplomatic solutions to the latest Middle East conflagration. "We definitely need to ease the tension between those countries. As Foreign Minister, the last thing I was doing was calling the Iranian Foreign Minister and the French Foreign Minister to ease the tension the region through diplomatic actions, and I think it's important to continue doing it.

“This Houthi attack on Saudi is a little different, because it's a terrorist attack. I think we may require some kind of military operation against those drone attacks, and that's something out of Japan's constitutional boundary. I think Japan will be focusing on diplomatic efforts in easing tension in the region.”

He raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophistication in the recent attacks. “If it is really drones, that is a lot cheaper than any form of conventional missile,” he said.