Riyadh to host Arab music legends in first Wasla festival

Special Riyadh to host Arab music legends in first Wasla festival
1 / 4
Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi. (Supplied)
Special Riyadh to host Arab music legends in first Wasla festival
2 / 4
Wasla Music Festival is coming to Riyadh for the first time and features alternative artists from the region. (Wasla)
Special Riyadh to host Arab music legends in first Wasla festival
3 / 4
Jordanian rock and jazz singer Aziz Maraka. (Supplied)
Special Riyadh to host Arab music legends in first Wasla festival
4 / 4
Egyptian rock band Cairokee. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 08 February 2022

Riyadh to host Arab music legends in first Wasla festival

Riyadh to host Arab music legends in first Wasla festival
  • The first Wasla festival in Saudi Arabia will take place next month on March 4-5, and will feature Arab and Saudi alternative and indie talents
  • It will feature Egyptian rock legends Cairokee, indie pop and folklore sensation Hamza Namira and world-famous Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi

RIYADH: Wasla Music Festival, the leading Arab alternative music and arts event, is coming to Riyadh after three years of success in Dubai.

The event is supported by the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA).

The first Wasla festival in Saudi Arabia will take place next month on March 4-5, and will feature Arab and Saudi alternative and indie talents, including headline acts that have dominated the Middle East and North Africa music scene over the last decade.

It will feature Egyptian rock legends Cairokee, indie pop and folklore sensation Hamza Namira, world-famous Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi, and renowned Jordanian rock and jazz singer Aziz Maraka, all in the Kingdom for the first time.

With more than 15 bands playing live music each day, the festival will feature hard rock, alternative and indie rock, indie pop, jazz, soul, funk, electro pop and fusion. Many of the performances will be in Arabic, but a minority will be in English.

The festival will host a total of 32 bands from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Algeria, Sudan, Bahrain and Austria.

This year, most of the acts are Saudi-based bands, representing some the brightest voices from the Kingdom’s underground music scene, including Al Farabi, Hajaj, Statues of Sinking Men and Fulana.

The festival will be held outdoors in a grass valley outside Riyadh. It will include a barbecue brunch, many food and beverage offerings, workshops, children’s activities, local designer art and fashion installations, and boutiques that all reflect Saudi and Arab cultures from across the region.

On hosting Wasla in the Kingdom for the first time, Omar Ayat, co-founder and music director of the festival, said: “This is the first Wasla is in Saudi Arabia, and we are proud of our diverse lineup this year. We have four regional headliners coming for the first time to Saudi and over 20 Saudi bands that we have scouted over the past two years that cover mostly Arabic and some English pop, rock, jazz and fusion. Almost half of these talents are women, and most of them are Saudi.”

Amr Ramadan, co-founder and CEO of Wasla, said: “For our first festival in Saudi, we are focusing on creating what we call the Wasla experience. There is much more talent on offer than just music. We have a program for the whole family ... that will start from 3 p.m.”

Chairman of the board of Wasla Entertainment Ahmed Halwani said: “We invested in Wasla to bring it to Saudi from Dubai as part of an ecosystem we are building for the Saudi alternative and indie music scene. We moved our headquarters from Dubai to Riyadh for a reason: The amount of talent in our country is incredible and diverse, and we believe that the next big thing in the Arab music world will come from right here.

“This Riyadh edition is a step in the right direction to achieve our vision of making Wasla the biggest Arab alternative music festival in the region. We are already planning the next shows in Jeddah, Dubai and Egypt.”

The maiden Saudi festival will feature diverse indie headliners that have made it to the top of regional music charts for years, including legendary Egyptian rock band Cairokee.

The band will take part in Wasla for the third time, after two extraordinary performances in Dubai during 2018 and 2019. Cairokee’s unique and eccentric Arabic rock music has earned them huge popularity in the Kingdom and the region at large, as well as millions of fans and more than 500 million views on YouTube.

Also on the lineup is Hamza Namira, an artist who reshaped the Arabic pop and folklore scene to develop new and innovative genres. He is an Egyptian (born in Saudi Arabia) singer-songwriter and instrumentalist with many albums and songs that have hundreds of millions of views on YouTube, including “Fadhi Showya,” “Ehlam Maya,” “Esmaani” and “Hatyeer Men Tani.”

Hamza Namira is known for his distinguished style, tackling many realistic and relevant issues in society through his lyrics.

The festival is also proud to present one of the leading artists in Arabic indie and alternative music, Souad Massi. She is a singer-songwriter known for blending traditional tribal music that represents her Algerian upbringing with different styles like rock, country, Portuguese fado and more.

Massi started her singing career in the mid-90s, performing in both Arabic and French. She is known for hit album “Raoui,” which was received positively by critics worldwide.

In addition, the Wasla crowd will get the first chance in Saudi Arabia to see Jordanian singer-songwriter Aziz Maraka, known for creating his own unique music genre, razz, which combines elements of rock and jazz. Amongst his most famous songs are “Meen Allek,” a ballad that made it to the hearts of millions of fans, and “Wa’aef,” which had an emotional impact on fans with its lyrics, which call on people to take a stand against bullying.

Building on the commitment of the GEA and Wasla to support local Saudi talent, the festival will host more than 20 Saudi artists and bands. It will also feature 14 female artists.

Tickets are now on sale at waslafestival.com.


Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge
Updated 32 sec ago

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge
  • Natalia Bayona of the UN World Tourism Organization said that Saudi Arabia is a “priority because of how the country is committed to creating tourism as a public policy and as an economic sector” 
  • Bayona added that goals in the country’s Vision 2030 for “youth empowerment, women’s empowerment, sustainability, and tourism” are central to the UNWTO’s mission

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s blossoming tourism industry is being offered the chance to grow even faster through a UN challenge that helps nurture the best businesses.

Natalia Bayona of the UN World Tourism Organization has said she wants Saudi entrepreneurs to enter her agency’s Awake Tourism Challenge, whose previous winners have gained international experience and expert advice, and raised $350 million of investment over the four years it has run.

Bayona, the agency’s director of innovation, education and investments, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is a “priority because of how the country is committed to creating tourism as a public policy and as an economic sector.” 

She added that goals in the country’s Vision 2030 for “youth empowerment, women’s empowerment, sustainability, and tourism” are central to the UNWTO’s mission.

“We’d like to give visibility and promote Saudi Arabia as a country making a strong effort in the tourism sector,” she said.

The challenge is a perfect opportunity to identify Saudi-based entrepreneurs trying to solve challenges they face in the sector, Bayona added.

Entrants are judged in one or more categories, including local community involvement, environmental work, good use of technology, employee development and the empowerment of women in business.

Bayona said the UNWTO is pushing for enterprises to employ locally to help develop rural economies.

“Eighty percent of people living in extreme poverty live in rural areas. Tourism can be part of the way rural areas can be developed,” she said.

Bayona added that women’s empowerment is important “because they have the lowest salaries, the lowest-status jobs. Nonetheless, tourism is the sector that hires the most women worldwide.”

She said the basing of her agency’s regional office in Saudi Arabia shows how seriously it takes the country’s efforts to expand tourism.

The UNWTO’s partners include tourism bodies from more than 160 countries, 100 universities, more than 400 investors and around 500 corporations.

The Awake Tourism Challenge has helped winners raise more than $350 million and helped create more than 100 pilot projects. The deadline to enter this year’s initiative is Oct. 15.


Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons

Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons
Updated 41 min 7 sec ago

Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons

Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have seized 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in a watermelon shipment in Riyadh.
Five people – two citizens and three Syrians – were arrested in the security operation and have been referred to relevant authorities for further action, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Saudi Arabia has intensified its crackdown on drug smuggling networks.
Recently, authorities carried out a major security operation to thwart the smuggling of about 47 million amphetamine tablets, with a street value of up to $1 billion, in what was described as the Kingdom’s biggest drug bust ever.


Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister
  • Walid bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, received the message from the Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, received a written message on Wednesday from Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s Prime Minister.
In the letter, Andersson expressed her appreciation for the Crown Prince’s role in ‘mediating the exchange of prisoners in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis’, according to Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA.
She added that Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts reflected ‘keenness to support all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis politically and mitigating its impacts’.
Walid bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, received the message from the Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia, Petra Menander, who delivered it at the Ministry's headquarters.
The pair reviewed bilateral ties between the two nations during their meeting, and exchanged viewpoints regarding issues of common interest.


Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

RIYADH: Saudi police arrested four citizens for counterfeiting banknotes in Riyadh, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The suspects used houses located east of Riyadh as their headquarters to make fake money.

At the site, police found tools for counterfeiting money, counterfeit money and a stolen vehicle.
All items were sized and the vehicle was recovered.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense
  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his gratitude and appreciate for ministry of defense’s efforts
  • The event was attended by commanders from the ministry of defense and the armed forces

JEDDAH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, met with the Kingdom’s Minister of Defense and commanders, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his gratitude and appreciate for ministry of defense’s efforts and the progress achieved in the development program.
The Crown Prince also commended the increase in internal self-sufficiency of military industries, which saw a 13-percent rise from two percent to 15 percent, hoping it reaches 50 percent under the supervision of the minister of defense and the military personnel.
Prince Khalid highlighted the ministry of defense’s achievements throughout the various development programs in addition to the achievements they wish to fulfill in the future.
The event was attended by commanders from the ministry of defense and the armed forces.