Super Junior fans welcome K-pop icons to Jeddah ahead of band’s first Saudi concert

Al Arabiya journalist Ashwaq Alatoli interacts with Korean pop band Super Junior in Jeddah. The teens are the first Korean artists to perform in Saudi Arabia. (Twitter photo)
Updated 14 July 2019

Super Junior fans welcome K-pop icons to Jeddah ahead of band’s first Saudi concert

  • Fans lucky enough to see the band in person spend a few moments with their stars at the airport

JEDDAH: South Korean boy band Super Junior arrived in Jeddah late on Thursday night ahead of their first-ever performance in Saudi Arabia on Friday night. The show, at King Abdullah Sports City, is part of the diverse international line up for Jeddah Season.

The group, which was put together by SM Entertainment in 2005, were pioneers of K-pop (Korean pop music). With hits such as “Sorry, Sorry,” “Bonamana” and “Mamacita,” they helped pave the way for other Korean artists to gain global recognition.

Super Junior were greeted upon arrival by a crowd of fans — known as E.L.F.s, or Ever Lasting Friends — who cheered and chanted as their musical heroes were ushered from the airport to waiting cars. The pop stars were also showered with dates and some extravagant gifts, including a Rolex watch and gold necklace containing a droplet of oil for band members Leeteuk and Heechul, who celebrated their birthdays this month.

Popularity

Fans lucky enough to see the band in person and spend a few moments with their stars at the airport quickly shared photos and videos of the experience on social media.

Twitter user @Haneul704 shared a video showing fans cheering in Korean as the band climbed into several cars. She wrote: “My interactions with (band member) Siwon are endless; he accepted my gift and held my lightstick, and when I lost sight of him, he popped up from behind me and I was startled and (he) was waving at us while waiting in the car.”

Another fan, @emoo11000, wrote: “E.L.F.s didn’t disappoint and greeted them most auspiciously with dates and Arabic coffee, gold and a Rolex; can’t wait to see what’s coming next.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Super Junior group, which was put together by SM Entertainment in 2005, are pioneers of Korean pop music.
  • With hits such as ‘Sorry, Sorry,’ ‘Bonamana’ and ‘Mamacita,’ they helped pave the way for other Korean artists to gain global recognition.
  • Super Junior were greeted upon arrival by a crowd of fans — known as E.L.F.s, or Ever Lasting Friends — who cheered and chanted as their musical heroes were ushered from the airport to waiting cars.
  • Super Junior is the first Korean group to perform 100 world tour concerts.
  • The pop stars were also showered with dates and some extravagant gifts, including a Rolex watch and gold necklace containing a droplet of oil for band members Leeteuk and Heechul, who celebrated their birthdays this month.

Wishes come true 

E.L.F.s in Saudi Arabia have been dreaming of a performance by the band in the Kingdom for a long time and when the concert was finally announced many shared photos of their tickets on social media, along with Super Junior merchandise such sweaters and official band lightsticks: Rods that light up and change color which fans wave during concerts. Some also promised to make banners to take to the show.

Twitter user @Kuwaile wrote: “They’re truly not celebrities for us. It’s like we’re childhood friends and we’re reuniting after years of not meeting.”

In another tweet, @hiiamash summed up how she felt about the concert by saying: “It’s a dream come true after 14 years.”

Another E.L.F., @Sheio407, praised fans for helping each other out to ensure they got tickets: “Seriously E.L.F.s are the best; lending each other money to afford tickets, and those who helped book tickets for others, girls who’ll be sharing hotel rooms or car rides. We’re literally like one big family squabbling before a huge feast.”

 

Teaser video

On Friday, just four hours before the concert was due to start, Super Junior teased fans with a 13-second video posted on the official Jeddah Season Twitter account, in which they said: “Thank you, Jeddah Season. See you tonight.” Then they added “Assalamu Alaikum, Jeddah.”

In addition to the main gig on Friday, several members of Super Junior will perform at the same venue in the band’s spin-off subgroups D & E, and K.R.Y on Saturday night, alongside K-pop group Stray Kids, also as part of Jeddah Season.

Jeddah Season aims to showcase and promote the Saudi city as a major tourist destination, and to encourage partnerships with local businesses. 

Organizers hope the event will generate up to 20,000 job and volunteering opportunities for young Saudis. The 41-day festival includes about 150 events and activities featuring local, regional and international acts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


‘American Sharqawia’: US Consul General Rachna Korhonen bids Saudi Arabia farewell

Updated 09 July 2020

‘American Sharqawia’: US Consul General Rachna Korhonen bids Saudi Arabia farewell

  • "There’s some magic in the water of the desert," says Korhonen

JEDDAH: As she reaches the end of her second mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, US Consul General Rachna Korhonen will soon be heading home, taking memories to last a lifetime.
Known for her love for culture and the Arabic language and for her vast knowledge of the region, Korhonen became well known as a constant supporter of Saudi women and youth in the region, participating in numerous cultural and social events in the Eastern Province and across the Kingdom.
After two more weeks in the Kingdom, Korhonen will return to the US capital to serve as the executive director of the Bureau of Near East Affairs (NEA) and the Bureau of South Central Asian Affairs (SCA) at the US State Department which supports the posts in the region, including Saudi Arabia, thus continuing her connection with the Kingdom.
With 14 years of experience as a US diplomat, she served 3 years in Riyadh in 2010, and then came back to serve as the consul general in Dhahran in August 2017. “I would say Riyadh was the start of my relationship with Saudi Arabia, and Dhahran and the Eastern Province is the culmination of the relationship,” said Korhonen told Arab News on a video call. She almost feels herself Sharqawia, a resident of the Eastern Province, Sharqia.
“Ana Sharqawia (‘I am a Sharqawia). The measure of any place is the people, it’s not about the place, it’s really about the people.”
As consul general, her role was to build relations and promote the interests of her home in the country where she was posted. Korhonen went the extra mile, she joined in the region’s celebrations and understood its traditions and culture.


Recalling her time in the Eastern Province, she said: “I’ve been getting to know Sharqawis, the people who live and work here, who have made this their home in the years since Aramco started or were born in Al-Ahsa. I think anyone who comes to the Eastern Province falls in love,” she said.
“The biggest reason I’ve gotten to enjoy myself here is (because) it has quite a bit of America here. I think it’s difficult to realize how much America exists in Saudi Arabia until you come to the Eastern Province,” she added.
As the drilling for oil began in 1935 with the help of the California Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC), which later became Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s oil capital has been home to thousands of Americans over the past 85 years, who have had a major influence on the region.
“Aramco is definitely a reminder of home, and you put that in with the people, the hospitality, the normal way of being Saudi which is to welcome your guests no matter who they are. You put those things together, you get the best of the United States and you get the best of Saudi Arabia.”
A native of New Jersey and big baseball fan, her love for the game didn’t stop her from supporting the Al-Ettifaq Football Club in Dammam, attending matches and singing their anthem.
Her trips to Al-Ahsa, a place she calls the most beautiful place in the Kingdom, allowed her to discover the region’s vast experiences.
Her appreciation of Al-Ahsa goes deep. Both the scenery and the hospitality of the people make it her favorite city — she even took Ambassador John Abizaid on a trip there in February.
“As you drive towards Al-Ahsa, you can see the sand changing color, from a bright yellow to a reddish color,” she said. “You start seeing the desert turning green, which is amazing to me. I’m a mountain and forest type of person and I can tell you that I now like the desert too, it’s beautiful.”
The uniqueness of Al-Ahsa called out to Korhonen and she recalls her first visit to the region in 2017. “The history, the people, the food, the culture, is very different from any place I’ve been to in Saudi Arabia, Hasawis (people of Al-Ahsa) are lovely. I think there’s some magic in the water of the desert,” she said.
Korhonen developed an interest in regional cultural events, visiting local markets picking out sheep for Eid, learning about the Saudi love for falconry and participating in the traditional celebratory dance of Al-Arda. She even has a Diwaniya, a parlor where guests are received, at her home.

When she returned to the Kingdom in 2017, Korhonen noticed the transformation of the Kingdom, noting that Vision 2030 has been the instigator for this noticeable change.
“The changes have been tremendous, I think Vision2030 is really going to really bring Saudi Arabia onto the world stage. I think some parts are already there. In the energy sector, Saudi Arabia has always been a leader,” she said. “I’m betting you right now that you’re going to see Saudi women, you’re going to see Saudi men, you’re going to see Saudi kids, Saudi art, culture and music, the traditional Saudi things, all starting to show up on the world stage.”
As the Kingdom heads towards diversifying its economy, Korhonen anticipates that the world will begin seeing more Saudi entrepreneurs with innovative ventures, as education is key. She noted that with the continuous flow of Saudi students on scholarships in the US, their return to the Kingdom will help bring forth a new business-like mindset with partnerships between the two countries that will help the Kingdom’s economy to flourish.
“It’s coming,” she noted. “I’ve seen some of the (US) businesses here, but I haven’t seen enough yet and I’d like to see more of that in the next 2-5 years, because Vision 2030 will be a success if we can get entrepreneurs to start businesses and hire more Saudis,” she added. “That to me is the key and that is what you should be bringing back from the US.”
As the end of her mission draws near, it's safe to say that we'll be seeing Korhonen back in the Kingdom in the near future.
“I’ll honestly come back because of the people, because of the friendships I’ve made here.”