Saudi Arabia to inaugurate National Theater Initiative

1 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity. (Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
2 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity.(Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
3 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity. (Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
4 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity. (Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
5 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity. (Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
6 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity. (Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
7 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity. (Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
8 / 8
The National Theater initiative is one of many projects from the Ministry of Culture which aims to advance Saudi cultural activity. (Sarah Al-Suhaimai/Arab News)
Short Url
Updated 29 January 2020

Saudi Arabia to inaugurate National Theater Initiative

  • The ceremony will see the opening performance of the play Daraish Al-Nour (Windows of Light)
  • The initiative is one of many projects from the Saudi Ministry of Culture

RIYADH: The curtain has risen on an ambitious new era for Saudi theater — and its future looks bright, if the launch of the National Theater Initiative at the King Fahd Cultural Center on Tuesday night is any indication. The evening’s entertainment began with a speech from Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, in which he offered his thanks for the “unprecedented” level of support for the theatrical arts the ministry has received, especially from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. “The theater is the father of arts, and we have great expectations regarding the future of the art of theater in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We want Saudi Arabia to be a leader in the field.”

 

Abdulaziz Ismail, president of the National Theater Initiative, highlighted the importance of theater in Saudi culture and said that the new scheme represents a great step forward for the art form. “Our culture will be reborn through this historic moment,” he said. “We are going to express our culture through our theater.” The event continued with the first staging of the musical play “Daraish Al-Nour” (Windows of Light). Written by poet Saleh Zamanan and directed by Fatees Baqna, it features a cast of local actors including Naif Khalaf, Khaled Saqr and Ibrahim Al-Hassawi. The play explores Saudi culture, past and present, and includes a number of pop-culture and historical references that older audiences in particular will appreciate. The music evokes feelings of nostalgia without seeming overly dated, and even the style of directing recalls and pays tribute to the glory days of Saudi theater. The cast perform their roles beautifully, and if the audience’s reaction on Tuesday night was anything to go by, they made a great impression. Applause, cheers and whistles rang out through the theater at the end of every act, whether the scene on stage was a cheerful, traditional Saudi dance, or a more intense, dramatic scene full of angst. Lovers of Arabic theater, and especially of old Saudi plays, will delight in this spectacular first offering from the theater initiative. The stage of the King Fahd Cultural Center is used to its absolute fullest potential, with light, sound, color and space all perfectly employed. The script balances humor and lightheartedness with bittersweet and even tragic moments. One scene features a wedding celebration that is interrupted by the once-terrifying religious police, who storm into the celebration and, in a shocking moment, destroy an oud. But even before they saw the play, many people were already moved by the promise of the evening and what it represents as another step in the resurgence of art and culture in the Kingdom, and the wider development of the country. Bader Al-Zahrani immediately volunteered to be an organizer for the initiative when he read about it on Twitter. “I think it’s a wonderful initiative from the Ministry of Culture,” he said. “Seeing the adverts on Twitter, I knew that this play was something I definitely wanted to see. I want to thank the ministry for this great initiative.” There is a second performance of “Daraish Al-Nour” at 8 p.m. tonight, and free tickets are available from www.moc.gov.sa. Theater is one of one of 16 areas in which the ministry is working to preserve and advance Saudi culture. The theater initiative aims to provide Saudi directors, playwrights and actors with a high-quality integrated system that will offer better opportunities and improve standards of quality.


Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia ready to confront health epidemics

Updated 26 min 30 sec ago

Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia ready to confront health epidemics

  • The Kingdom has gained experience in dealing with millions of peoples, says crowd expert

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has announced its readiness to deal with any epidemic cases. It said that it will provide all necessary information to pilgrims and has doubled cleaning times of the courtyards and corridors of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

The presidency said that it is raising media awareness in all languages and through informative screens to distribute the latest medical instructions and emergency developments.

Abdulhamid Al-Maliki, assistant undersecretary for services affairs at the presidency, told Arab News that the Two Holy Mosques are collaborating with public health authorities to face all possible situations.

Al-Maliki said that he has been working hand-in-hand with governmental and private agencies to distribute masks and hand sanitizer.

He added that coordination has been made with public health-related bodies to mobilize the necessary media coverage to inform all pilgrims of different nationalities wherever they may be.

The assistant undersecretary said that responding to all instructions and advice is necessary for the best handling of health issues.

Crowd expert Akram Jan said that Saudi Arabia has gained experience in dealing with crowds and millions of people, and that it was prepared to handle several sudden scenarios as well as the most difficult situations with success.

Jan said that the difficulties that accompany the presence of viruses — such as the new coronavirus — are their ability to spread and infect through contact or sneezing. He added that the Kingdom is taking precautionary measures to prevent a disaster from happening.

 

Disinfection

The floors of Makkah’s Grand Mosque are washed and disinfected four times daily as part of measures to ensure the safety of pilgrims and visitors.

Highly qualified cadres use the best technology and cleaning and sanitizing tools, said Jaber Widaani, director of the mosque’s department of disinfection and carpets. 

There are 13,500 prayer rugs at the mosque, all of which are swept and fragranced on a daily basis, he added.

Since the new coronavirus emerged in December 2019 in central China, it has sickened 82,000 people globally, with more than 2,700 deaths. The illness it causes was named COVID-19, a reference to its origin late last year.

Middle East countries have been implementing measures to protect their citizens and residents from the rising coronavirus cases.

On Thursday, Dubai’s Emirates announced a temporary ban on carrying Umrah pilgrims and tourists from nearly two dozen countries to Saudi Arabia.

The announcement came after the Kingdom placed a temporary ban on pilgrims from entering the country to perform Umrah, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Nearly 7 million Umrah pilgrims visit the Kingdom each year, the majority of whom arrive at airports in Jeddah and Madinah.