‘The Magic Dream’ — inspiring the love of nature in the age of digital technology

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The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 09 July 2019

‘The Magic Dream’ — inspiring the love of nature in the age of digital technology

  • Yet another fantastic fun-filled event at Jeddah Season suitable for all family members
  • German Holger Ehlers from Berlin, the show’s creator, has toured Europe’s biggest arenas for over 10 years with his international extravaganzas

JEDDAH: Saudis in Jeddah had an enchanting experience at “The Magic Dream,” run by Mondwind Entertainment GMBH, on Sunday as part of the city’s Jeddah Season festival.

“The story is about traveling throughout the world, throughout different nationalities, and finding love — the eternal requirement for humans,” the show’s coordinator, Claudine Attard, told Arab News. 

“The message of the magic dream is that in a world becoming more digital and technical, humanity should not forget the beauty of nature and the love it inspires. 

IN NUMBERS

  • 40 horses
  • 17 riders
  • 8 dancers
  • 35 crew members

“‘The Magic Dream’ is geared to be a family show so anyone can come to see it, all ages are able to enjoy it. There’s so much in it for everyone. The idea of this particular story is that in today’s world, there’s so much digital technology, everybody is taken away by it, but we as humans need to still appreciate all the nature around us, so we can go back to looking out at it and maybe less into our digital world. This is something that brings us all together and also helps keep the family environment as strong as possible,” Attard said.

 

‘Wonderful experience’

The creator, Berlin’s Holger Ehlers, has been touring Europe for over 10 years with his international arena shows.

“It’s been a wonderful experience, it was incredible. We never thought that this (performing in the Kingdom) would be possible but this happened, and the hospitality that we have received, the love that has been given by all the people that helped us, the local companies that are involved, this huge fantastic season, Jeddah Season has been out of our expectations. We’re really grateful to be here and we are so happy.”

Saudi painter Rakan Kurdi attended the event and said he was impressed by the performance and the event’s special needs facilities. 

 “I was amazed by the organization of the event and delighted to see international performances such as this in Saudi Arabia. All the attendees are happy, people with special needs are happy. The story was beautiful, I was happy from the moment I arrived until the end of the show.”

 

Appreciation

Italian dancer Giuseppe Salomone shared his experience performing in the Kingdom for the first time.

“It was amazing. It is so nice to meet such friendly people. They are very nice and very warm,” he told Arab News




The ‘Magic Dream’ is a family show. The performers travel worldwide to spread happiness through their art. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Spanish rider Alejandro Barrionuevo said: “We’re here in Saudi Arabia for the first time, and we are happy because the atmosphere is fantastic. 

“It’s a really big pleasure to be part of this, for me and my team. We are coming here with all our hearts, to give our best, and I think we did it. We looked into the eyes of the public, and the public speak with their eyes, they were happy.” 

Austrian horse trainer Kerstin Brein said performing in the Kingdom for the first time was wonderful.

“I got goosebumps. I couldn’t imagine that I’m so far away, in this country. I never thought it would be possible that we would come here. It’s incredible,” she told Arab News.

Show announcer Leo Raddatz said preparations had been ongoing for months.

“It’s been working quite well, it’s been a good experience for everyone, there has been a lot of work and long nights, but it’s worth it. Tonight’s show was very good, very solid, and I think the audience enjoyed it. The atmosphere was amazing, we had an amazing audience in a great country, it has been a lot of fun.

“It’s amazing to be in a country like this, where this couldn’t have been imagined a couple of years ago. It’s a really cool experience and everything is very different here but also very cool to experience new things. 

“I think from all the shows that I’ve done so far this was one of the coolest because it’s such a different experience. You have to learn new things and experience everything again and I think that’s very enjoyable for the whole crew, be it backstage or onstage.”

Decoder

Horse Riding Terms

"Trick riding" refers to performing stunts while riding a horse. Liberty horse training is the interaction between horse and human, developing a connection, without saddles or reins.


Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

  • Agreement between agriculture ministry and Dubai's ICBA aimed at conserving natural resources
  • Kingdom's biosaline agriculture research and systems stands to benefit from ICBA's expertise

DUBAI: Agricultural development and environmental sustainability in Saudi Arabia will receive a boost in the coming years, thanks to a new agreement between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai and the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The agreement aims to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve its goal of preservation and sustainable management of its natural resources by raising the quality of biosaline agriculture research and systems.

The ministry says that the agreement will make use of the ICBA’s expertise in capacity development besides agricultural and environmental research, especially in the fields of vegetation development, combating desertification and climate change adaptation.

“It also includes training programs for Saudi technicians and farmers,” the ministry said. “In addition, it will localize, implement and develop biosaline agriculture research and production systems for both crops and forestation, which contributes to environmental and agricultural integration.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the ICBA’s director general, told Arab News: “The agreement had been in the making for about two years. That was when we were approached by the Saudi government.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA Director General, at the center's Quinoa fields in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

She said: “We put forward a proposal to demonstrate how the ICBA can help the Saudi government to implement its Green Kingdom Initiative, through which the ministry is trying to restore green coverage in the country and revive old conservation practices.”

Geographical features and climatic conditions very greatly from one part of the country to the other.

In the past, experimentation with such crops as potatoes, wheat and alfalfa proved detrimental to the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources due to faster rates of groundwater withdrawal.

“The ministry wanted to put a halt to over-abstraction of water, so they went through different policies,” Elouafi said.

“They made sure, for example, that farmers stopped producing wheat because about 2,400 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of wheat. It was a huge amount,” she added.

“The new strategy is to find more appropriate crops for the farming community, which is quite large in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has been trying to grow its own food on a large scale since the 1980s. 

The objective of the Green Kingdom Initiative is to reduce the agricultural sector’s water demand by finding alternatives to thirsty crops.

The agreement will require the ICBA, over the next five years, to build for Saudi Arabia a new biosaline agriculture sector. 

As part of this shift, cultivation of a number of crops, notably quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum, will be piloted in high-salinity regions and then scaled up.

“The crops did very well in the UAE,” Elouafi said. “We’re looking at Sabkha regions, which have very high salinity and wetlands, and are on the ministry’s environmental agenda.”

Another objective is “smart” agriculture, which will involve raising water productivity, controlling irrigation water consumption and changing farming behavior.

Elouafi said that getting farmers in the Kingdom to stop cultivating wheat took some time as they had become accustomed to heavy government subsidies. In 2015, wheat production was phased out, followed by potatoes a year later and then alfalfa. 

“Farmers were provided everything to the point where they got used to a very good income and a very easy system,” she said.

“Now farmers are being asked to start producing something else, but the income won’t be the same, so it’s very important at this stage that the ministry has a plan and it’s fully understood.”

The agreement envisages preparation of proposals for ministry projects that involve plant production, drought monitoring, development of promising local crop and forestation varieties, and conservation of plant genetic resources.

“We’re also discussing capacity building because the ministry is big and has many entities. Because Saudi Arabia is a large country and has the capacity to meet some of its food requirements internally, what’s required is a better understanding of the country’s natural capabilities in terms of production of the crops it needs, like certain cereals,” Elouafi said.

“The way the authorities are going about it right now is more organized and more holistic. They’re trying to plan it properly.”

Elouafi said that having a better understanding of Saudi Arabia’s water constraints and managing the precious resource is essential.

 

Although almost the entire country is arid, there is rainfall in the north and along the mountain range to the west, especially in the far southwest, which receives monsoon rains in summer.

 

Sporadic rain may also occur elsewhere. Sometimes it is very heavy, causing serious flooding, including in Riyadh.

“They (the government) are very interested in drought management systems. The Kingdom has a long history of agriculture,” Elouafi said.

“It has large quantities of water in terms of rainfall, and certain regions have mountainous conditions, which are conducive to agriculture.”

Clearly, preservation of water resources is a priority for the Saudi government. But no less urgent is the task of conversion of green waste to improve soil quality, increase soil productivity and water retention, and reduce demand for irrigation.

The Kingdom is one of at least three Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework for the recycling of waste into compost.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are respectively aiming to recycle 85 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent of their municipal solid waste over the next decade, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Global Food Trends to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank in the bottom quartile of the 34 countries covered by the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index, with low scores for nutrition and food loss and waste. 

The answer, according to many farmers, policymakers and food-industry experts, is a shift toward more sustainable management of each country’s natural resources.