Sharqiah Season’s opening weekend electrifies Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

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Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend as part of the first of 11 festivals planned across the Kingdom in 2019. Festivities are set to run until March 30. Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center
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Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend as part of the first of 11 festivals planned across the Kingdom in 2019. Festivities are set to run until March 30. Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center
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Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend as part of the first of 11 festivals planned across the Kingdom in 2019. Festivities are set to run until March 30. Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center
Updated 19 March 2019

Sharqiah Season’s opening weekend electrifies Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

  • Visitors to the first of 11 Saudi Seasons were treated to skateboarders, stilt walkers, concerts, forums and fireworks
  • The 17-day festival features more than 80 entertainment and sporting events and continues until March 30 

ALKHOBAR: You could feel the electricity in the air, and not just from the lightning on Thursday night. Visitors at the first Sharqiah Season turned out in their thousands all along the East Coast, despite high winds and the odd sprinkling of rain, and were treated to everything from skateboarders and stilt walkers to music, motorbikes, fireworks and concerts on the first weekend of the 17-day festival.

Sharqiah Season, featuring more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, is the first of 11 festivals planned for the Kingdom in 2019, organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, with the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority. 

It was impossible to miss the buzz in Alkhobar on the opening night, with searchlights in the sky marking the sites of two large areas set up on the Corniche: One for entertainment, the other for a cultural village. 

“What’s happening in Sharqiah is humongous, to tell you the truth, and it’s only the first day,” said Labeed Assidmi, a vendor in the Crystal Market zone near the entrance. “Saudi is changing for the better, and everyone is so excited.”

Assidmi said he had watched big events elsewhere in the Kingdom with anticipation. “I’m a huge fan of music, so when the concerts in Riyadh and Jeddah happened, like those at Formula E, I was  jealous. It feels so good to finally have Sharqiah recognized.”

While international music acts Pitbull, Akon and DJ Tiesto perform next weekend, big-name Arabic singers Mohammed Abdo and Rashed Al-Majed entertained the crowds this weekend.In Dammam’s Life Park, the Montreal troupe Cirque Eloize played to a packed house on opening night.

Strong winds put off the fireworks planned the night of the opening, but the crowds were still treated to a light show on the Khobar Water Tower. Hind Mubarak, who had come to the Corniche with her family, said: “It is a little disappointing, especially for the kids, but the light show was fun
to watch.”




Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend . (Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center)

See more photos from Sharqiah Season’s opening weekend here

Those who came out to watch the fireworks in Al-Ahsa on Friday night were not disappointed. Ghuneim Abdelatee, 57, was there with his granddaughter.

“She has never seen fireworks before,” he said. “In fact, there are many firsts that she is experiencing here now in Saudi. You can say the same for me, too. The music concerts, the cinemas, so much to see and do here now.

“People used to go to Bahrain for entertainment. Now I think they will be going less.”




Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend . (Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center)

Also taking place at King Abdullah Adventure Park was the FISE “Battle of the Champions,” bringing together the top 12 skateboarders in the world, all vying for the number one position.

“To practice on a ramp like this is a dream come true,” said Moaiyad Al-Salmi, 20. “We need a proper skate park built here, something that would bring the community of Saudi and non-Saudi skaters together. If we had events like this every weekend, and skate parks like this everywhere, we would find a Saudi competing for the World Series.”

The Ithra Forum, organized in various cities throughout the month, will provide people with more intellectual pursuits.

“Curiosity” was the opening

topic at Dhahran’s King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture, where speakers included Faisal Al-Saif, founder of TechPills, filmmaker Hakeem Jomah, and “Telfaz11” personalities Faris and Sohayb Godus.

While not all the events went as planned — Friday’s Naseer Shamma concert in Al-Ahsa’s Ibrahim Palace was rescheduled at the last minute — one thing is certain. If you were wondering what to do at the weekend, the coming weeks will give you plenty of choice.

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Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.


G20 ready to limit effects of coronavirus on global economy, Saudi finance minister

Updated 2 min 23 sec ago

G20 ready to limit effects of coronavirus on global economy, Saudi finance minister

  • G20 will continue to take joint action to strengthen international co-operation and frameworks
  • Finance ministers agree measures to tackle global problems, coronavirus

RIYADH: The meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors ended in Saudi Arabia with a determination to tackle pressing global concerns such as geopolitical and trade confrontations, as well as the challenge of the coronavirus outbreak.
The official communique — hammered out among the G20 policy-makers gathered in Riyadh over two days of discussions — said that global economic growth was expected to pick up “modestly” this year and next, on signs of improving financial conditions and some signs of easing trade tensions.
“However, global economic growth remains slow, and downside risks to the outlook persist, inching those arising from geopolitical and remaining trade tensions, and policy uncertainty. We will enhance global risk monitoring, including the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus). We stand ready to take further action to address those risks,” the communique said.

On so-called “trade wars” between the US and China — which was not represented at the Riyadh meeting because of the outbreak — the communiqué said: “We will continue to take joint action to strengthen international co-operation and frameworks, and also reaffirm our commitments on exchange rates.”
There was general agreement by the ministers on measures on infrastructure investment, technology development, and plans to boost domestic capital markets across the world, especially in emerging and developing countries.
But a note of caution was also sounded in several areas.The G20 finance ministers said that “we are facing a global landscape that is being rapidly transformed by economic, social, environmental, technological and demographic changes.”
Apart from that mention of the environment, there was little attention given to the contentious issue of climate change. Towards the end of the communique, the ministers and governors said: “The financial stability board (of the G20) is examining the financial stability implications of climate change.”
The finance ministers’ gathering is the first formal event in preparation for the summit of world leaders that will take place in Saudi Arabia in November, with the three key aims of empowering people, safeguarding the planet and shaping new frontiers in technology and innovation.
The international taxation system was an area of focus at the finance ministers meeting, with some countries threatening a controversial digital tax. The communique said that “we continue to support tax capacity building in developing countries,” and called on all countries to sign multilateral agreements on tax matters. “We remain committed to the full, timely and consistent implementation of the agreed financial reforms,” it added.
Other big themes of the financial G20 meeting included inclusion of youth and women in the financial process. “We support the emphasis on digital financial inclusion of under-served groups, especially youth, women and small businesses,” the communique said.
There was also strong support for the work of the global Financial Action Task Force in combating money laundering and terrorism finance. “We reiterate our strong commitment to tackle all sources, techniques and channels of these threats,” the G20 ministers said, also backing measures to tackle the financing of nuclear proliferation. “We ask the FATF to remain vigilant with respect to emerging financial technologies that may allow for new methods of illicit financing,” it added.