GEA to launch Joy Forum19 in bid to make Saudi Arabia entertainment industry leader

General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh. (Supplied)
Updated 06 October 2019

GEA to launch Joy Forum19 in bid to make Saudi Arabia entertainment industry leader

  • The two-day forum is part of a push to put Saudi Arabia on the international map as an entertainment industry leader

RIYADH: Entertainment pioneers from around the world get together as General Entertainment Authority’s (GEA) event Joy Forum19 opens on Oct. 13 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

The two-day forum, to be launched by GEA Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh, is part of a push to put Saudi Arabia on the global map as an entertainment industry leader.

It will host speakers, experts, CEOs, international academics and companies involved in knowledge-based entertainment sectors from within and outside the Kingdom. A-list Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities are also set to attend.

Among the attendees include Clement Wong, Vice President at Huawei Global Product Marketing; Bill Ernest, CEO of SEVEN; Marco Balich, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Balich World Shows; Mohammad Al-Abbar, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Emaar; Mohammad Al-Zaabi, CEO of Miral Asset Management; Sultan Al-Hokair, Fawaz Al-Hokair Group Vice President for Food and Entertainment.

Also in the list of attendees are Fahad Hamidaddin, General Supervisor of Investment, Strategy, Marketing and Programs at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage; Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Ad Diriyah Gate Development Authority; Scott Givens, President and CEO of Five Currents; and Martin McDonnell, CEO and co-founder of Sublime and the founder of Soluis.

There will be international case studies on successful entertainment sectors, design strategies, and the ability to implement change.

Growth opportunities for the local economy, the role of social behaviors, interaction with innovation and technology, and the creation of happiness and well-being will be discussed.

There will be an entertainment exhibition workshop that will bring together researchers, designers, developers and businessmen who are interested in designing, developing, evaluating and marketing events for the Saudi market.

GEA CEO Amr bin Banaja said Saudi Arabia is moving forward confidently toward building a competitive entertainment industry where local and international talent and business will intersect, setting the stage for a first-rate entertainment industry hub.

FASTFACT

It will host speakers, experts, CEOs, international academics, and companies involved in knowledge-based entertainment sectors from within and outside the Kingdom. A-list Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities are also set to attend.

The innovate initiative, launched earlier this year under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, forms an integral part of the Vision 2030 strategy.

The GEA is committed to supporting and nurturing local talent, developing a thriving entertainment industry that will create truly exciting employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of young Saudis, and further extending and preserving the Kingdom’s centuries-old cultural legacy.

The entertainment authority has taken several steps to strengthen collaboration with the private sector. 

The recently concluded National Day Season is a testimony to the efforts the GEA is making to change the entertainment landscape of the Kingdom. 

The five-day Saudi National Day celebrations, which concluded on Monday evening, attracted more than 3.7 million people to various events organized across the Kingdom.

This year more than 40 events took place between Sept. 19 and 23. These events ranged from festivals, concerts, and fireworks, to youth forums, accompanied by celebrations on the streets as well as in public places and squares.

According to GEA chairman Al-Sheikh, more than 6,800 jobs were created for the successful execution of National Day celebrations activities.


Saudi aerial photographer reveals secrets of AlUla Old Town to global audience

Updated 25 November 2020

Saudi aerial photographer reveals secrets of AlUla Old Town to global audience

  • Use of drones by cameraman brings history to life in one of KSA’s most famous archaeological sites

MAKKAH: A Saudi aerial photographer’s passion for history has won him global acclaim for images revealing the secrets of AlUla Old Town.

Ali Al-Suhaimi’s eye-in-the-sky portrayal of the famous Islamic city has helped to provide a fresh insight into the past lives of the inhabitants of the now deserted settlement.

AlUla Old Town, located in the north of the Kingdom about 20 km from the archaeological site of Mada’in Salih, is seven centuries old and filled with mosques and markets that reflect its beauty and heritage.

Rich in history, the region was an ancient trade station linking the north and south of the peninsula and one of the main stopping-off points for pilgrims traveling between Syria and Makkah.

Al-Suhaimi told Arab News that his inspiration to photograph the area from the air came from his deep-rooted desire to find out more about the country’s ancient civilizations.

“The idea from the onset revolved around simulating the history of AlUla region, which has become one of the most important heritage attractions on a local and international level.

“The location includes stone landmarks and high mountains which set a breathtaking rocky harmony depicted by the drones of aerial photographers.

“It was the place of people who set the link with us on architectural and human levels. 

The region is one of the great forgotten treasures of antiquity. (Social media)

They built a town which bears witness to the magnificence and cultural depth and momentum of its human legacy,” he said. Studies of AlUla’s castles have proved that the site was once a thriving community, Al-Suhaimi added. “Photographing these places in all their detail only adds to my enthusiasm for transmitting images to a world craving for the secrets of these places of old times to be unveiled.”

The high-flying lensman has snapped all of AlUla Old Town’s castles and villages, as well as the castle of Musa bin Nusayr, and the Aja and Salma mountains which rise to 1,000 meters.

By using drones, Al-Suhaimi has been able to get close-up pictures of the houses and buildings that occupy the site. “There are monolithic houses that reflect the depth of relationships that linked those people who fused with each other as if they were one family.”

HIGHLIGHT

AlUla Old Town, located in the north of the Kingdom about 20 km from the archaeological site of Mada’in Salih, is seven centuries old and filled with mosques and markets that reflect its beauty and heritage.

He pointed out that although the houses seemed to be randomly clustered together, they were actually “architectural enigmas” which had been cleverly designed to ensure a smooth flow of air in and around them.

Aerial photographs of the town had also raised questions about how its people had been able to move around from building to building in such a close-knit environment.

Al-Suhaimi said he had gained all the necessary licenses to operate drones in the area. “We were keen on taking pictures and transmitting them to the whole world, as internationally it is one of the most outstanding Islamic cities. Its mud houses are living witnesses that resisted time.”

He added that he had been astonished by the positive global feedback from his photographs of the region. One notable feature of AlUla Old Town is the Tantora sundial. The shadow that it cast was used to mark the beginning of the winter planting season.

“They set stones atop one another so that the shadow would be projected on the tip of the stone once per year, which is evidence of the astronomy legacy of the people of the region,” said Al-Suhaimi.