Saudi Arabia’s megaprojects in spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair

The fair continues until March 23 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. (SPA)
Updated 19 March 2019

Saudi Arabia’s megaprojects in spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair

  • UN-recognized Saudi cultural heritage showcased
  • The Red Sea gate shows a virtual image of the Kingdom’s coast in the future

RIYADH: Visitors arriving at the Riyadh International Book Fair 2019, one of the region’s largest cultural events, enter through four main gates bearing the names of the Saudi Vision 2030’s megaprojects: Neom, Qiddiyah, Red Sea and Amaala. The aim is to introduce visitors to the Kingdom’s hopes, ambitions and future plans.

The first gate leads visitors to virtual photos of the Qiddiya project. This is a cultural, sports and recreational project in Al-Qidiyya city, southwest of Riyadh. The city was named after the Aba Al-Qid road (Camel Trail) that used to connect Al-Yamama to Hijaz.
The second gate, Neom, contained a large electronic chip, alternative energy-based lighting and photos of Neom future projects. Neom is based in three countries, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, with a half-a-trillion-dollar investment and the support of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
Located in the northwest of the Kingdom, the project will stretch across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. Neom aims to transform the Kingdom into an international pioneering example, through the introduction of value chains of industry and technology.
The origin of the name is a combination of the word “neo” — Latin for “new,” and the first letter “m” of the Arabic word “mustaqbal” which translates as “future.”
The Red Sea gate shows a virtual image of the Kingdom’s coast in the future. This is a touristic project that includes more than 50 islands located between the cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh. It covers a number of the Red Sea’s untouched islands, as well as the archaeological site of Madain Saleh and a nature reserve containing regional flora and fauna.
The Amaala project displayed at the fourth gate of the fair will offer an ultra-luxurious touristic experience focused upon wellness, healthy living and meditation, thanks to the site’s moderate climate. The project will be within the Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve in the northwest of the Kingdom, to the south of the Neom project.

Cultural heritage
Saudi cultural heritage, that has been officially recognized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is being celebrated with an exhibition at the fair. The display includes official UNESCO certificates awarded in recognition of the importance of Arab and Saudi culture and traditions such as the mizmar flute; Arabic coffee; the majlis; Al-Qatt Al-Asiri interior wall decorations; the Ardeh, the Saudi folkloric dance; and falconry.
Falconry has been on UNESCOS’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2012. The Ardeh, which was added in 2016, combines poetry, swordplay and drums, and is one of the most prominent performing arts in the Kingdom.
Arabic coffee, added in 2015, has been an important part of life in the region for hundreds of years and has its own deeply rooted customs and traditions. Majlis, a gathering place for social events, discussions of social issues and honoring guests, was also added in 2015.
The mizmar flute, registered by UNESCO in 2016, is one of the best-known musical arts in the Hijaz region. Al-Qatt Al-Asiri was the most recent Saudi addition to the list, in 2017. It is a traditional form of art that women use to decorate the interior walls of Asiri homes.


Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

  • “I was transported into a completely different world”: Jay Kay

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”