That’s a wrap: Sharqiah Season delights 730,000 visitors

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Architect Omar Abduljawad’s “Thuluth,” explores time and space. (Supplied)
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The Bollywood Festival was a hit with audiences. (upplied)
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Ahmad Angawi displays transparent tubes of pulsating water. (Supplied)
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F1H2O World champion Shaun Torrente, above, expresses his excitement as Saudi Arabia enters a new stage of extreme sport. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Saudi artist Muhannad Shono, left, exhibits his work. (Supplied)
Updated 01 April 2019

That’s a wrap: Sharqiah Season delights 730,000 visitors

  • More than 80 events over 17 days in nine cities covering entertainment, culture and sports
  • Bad weather forces power-boat postponement but fails to dampen enthusiasm of crowds

With an expert eye, Norah Al-Rumaih scanned the one-off dining options that have appeared all over the Eastern Province during the Sharqiyah Season. When you own a restaurant, there is always something you can learn.

As the season’s 83 events covering culture, education and sports wound down, Al-Rumaih was one of thousands of residents and visitors who found the whole spectacle exceptional.

“We were all amazed by the variety of events,” she told Arab News. “I couldn’t believe that international artists were coming from all over the world like Akon and French Montana, it was a great opportunity to get to see such talents in the comfort of our own city. 

“As a restaurant owner I was really excited about the pop-up restaurants, it was a great opportunity for me to get inspired and get updated about what is new in the industry.  

“Of course none of this would be possible without a great vision from a great visionary , we are all excited to be living in the age of Vision 2030 under the rule of a great leader and an amazing crown prince who are leading us into the future right now.”

The season has ended, but some attractions continue. Zamakan — a merging of the Arabic words Zaman (time) and Makan (place/space) — opened at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Thursday, and continues until September. 


700,000 plus visitors

More than 720,000 visitors entered the Eastern Province since the beginning of the Sharqiyah Season on March 14, according to the passport control department

Zamakan showcases the work of 11 Saudi and Saudi-based artists; each work of art ponders universal questions revolving around space and time, the future and how space and time influence an individual’s view, which results in unique and individual outlooks to life.

What all these artists have in common is their location, but each interprets time and space in their own way; some through nature, some through numbers, some through sound waves and more.

Speaking to Arab News, division head of communications and partnerships at Ithra Ashraf Fagih said  Zamakan is one of four galleries at the Ithra museum.

“This one is dedicated to contemporary art. and the mission of this place as is the mission of Ithra, is to nurture and to support Saudi talent and and Saudi national content as well.”

Highliting Ithra’s dedication in spreading knowledge, Fagih said “I myself am so proud of Ithra’s role in brining these 11 different artists through a public call. The collage of beauty that is there is rewarding to the mind and heart to say the least. It is part of Ithra’s mission to disseminate knowledge, to ignite inspiration  and to create a bridge between world cultures. There are a lot of expat and international visitors, international media, we believe this revealed another colorful dimension of the Saudi identity through the works of Saudi artists.”

“I was delighted to attend Al-Ahsa Investment Forum, as part of the Sharqiya Season 2019, where the industry meet tradition and agriculture, it was also amazing to see the area glowing between entertainments and business events in a very well organized implementations, Saudi Arabia is reborn again with rich history heading toward a promising future called Vision 2030,” said Hassan Al-Shakhs

Ahmed Al-Buainain who visited the East Cost Festival said there were many entertainment activities “the Eastern Province events has the best events for the whole family. From concerts to shows to sport activities, there is always something for each family member.” 

Moudhi Al-Hazzaa’ said “The events of the Sharqiya Season were very diverse; in the fields of art, entertainment, culture and history, sports and many other fields and that suits all family members, citizens and residents alike.

“One of the most prominent events that caught my attention is how dedicated the entertainment authority is, they used the strategic location in the Corniche of Al-Khobar in an ideal way and creating areas for games, food and international entertainment performances and concerts for artists from Saudi Arabia and abroad,” she added.

Not even the postponement of a key event on Friday could dampen visitors enthusiasm.

Qualifying for the F1H2O power boat grand prix was a victim of the weather. “The weather conditions here in Dammam are unfortunately very extreme, strong winds and the open sea, we are exposed to the waves and to the wind,” race director Lois Ribeiro told Arab News.

“Unfortunately it was combination of wind direction and wind intensity that was coming from sea to land which is worse.

“We have to keep in mind, this is a dangerous sport, these boats are like little weapons, in one second something very bad could happen that we surely don’t want.”

World champion Shaun Torrente, a participant in this year’s event, told Arab News: “It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia, it’s always great to see a new country. 

“I know Saudi Arabia is doing a lot to move forward now and to be more inclusive and be a part of the world sporting scene for sure. It’s great to be here and start that off. The crown prince is very forward thinking, and it’s exciting.”

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 15 September 2019

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war.
But the Wall Street Journal has reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.