How reopening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia has proved a film-industry game-changer

Special Saudis, young and old, attend a Red Carpet event during the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah last December. (Supplied)
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Stars of the film ‘Champions’ pose on the red carpet at the Red Sea International Film Festival. (Supplied)
Special Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled bin Faisal with movie fans in Jeddah. (Supplied/File photo)
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Prince Turki Al-Faisal attends the premiere of the Saudi remake of the Spanish box office hit ‘Campeones.’ (Supplied)
Special Sara Al-Munef, a young film director whose short feature screened at the Saudi International Film Festival at Ithra in Dhahran last year. (Supplied)
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Sara Al-Munef, a young film director whose short feature screened at the Saudi International Film Festival at Ithra in Dhahran last year. (Supplied)
Special By  2030, the number of theaters in the Kingdom is expected to swell to 2,600. (AFP photo)
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By  2030, the number of theaters in the Kingdom is expected to swell to 2,600. (AFP photo)
Special A Saudi woman takes a
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A Saudi woman takes a "selfie" photo next to a sign showing the logo of the Red Sea Film Festival at the entrance of old Jeddah on Dec. 8, 2021. (Red Sea Film Festival / AFP)
Special Young ones count among the growing number of movie fans in the Kingdom. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Young ones count among the growing number of movie fans in the Kingdom. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Special Inside view of a packed cinema in Jeddah during the screening of the Champions. (Supplied)
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Inside view of a packed cinema in Jeddah during the screening of the Champions. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 March 2022

How reopening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia has proved a film-industry game-changer

How reopening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia has proved a film-industry game-changer
  • Ban on movie screening was lifted four years ago as part of reforms aimed at improving quality of life
  • The Kingdom has since become a major market for cinema chains and a potential hub of content creation

JEDDAH: When Saudi Arabia first announced it was lifting its 35-year ban on movie screening four years ago, few predicted the strides the Kingdom’s fledgling film industry would soon make.

Since April 18, 2018, Saudis have been free to visit local cinemas, a completely new experience for many.

“I watch a movie at least twice or three times a month and wouldn’t mind going more if not for my frequent travels,” Jawaher Abdullatif, a 35-year-old private sector worker from Riyadh, told Arab News.

“You’re transformed into the world of the film. It’s an amazing feeling and I love that I can finally do that in the comfort of a cinema nearby.” 

The change was announced in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to improve quality of life in the Kingdom through entertainment.

For older generations who remember the days before the ban, the return of movie theaters was a heartening moment. Mostafa Zain, a retired engineer from Jeddah, recalls being captivated by cinema as a boy.

“I was good friends with the Jamjoums who established the first cinemas in the city,” Zain told Arab News.

“Even after the ban, I would always find the time to go watch a movie as I frequented Cairo a few times a year in the 1980s and ‘90s, and later on to the US. We’d always find the time for a movie. Today, I can wake up and check the movie listings and I book my film in no time. I don’t need to fly anywhere to watch a movie anymore.”

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The General Commission for Audiovisual Media, one of the governing authorities established to regulate and operate cinemas in the Kingdom, estimates there will be 2,600 movie screens in Saudi Arabia by 2030, in an industry worth around $1.2 billion. 

More than 50 movie theaters, operating some 430 screens, have been established across the Kingdom, managed by Vox Cinemas, Muvi, Cinepolis, AMC, and Empire. “It takes less than five minutes to book a seat at a movie theater today,” Zain added.




By  2030, the number of theaters in the Kingdom is expected to swell to 2,600. (AFP photo)

Saudi Arabia’s first cinemas appeared in the Eastern Province in the 1930s, established by Westerner oil workers. 

By the 1960s and ‘70s, cinemas had sprung up in major cities across the country. Films were screened in football clubs, backyards, courtyards and hotels. 

But in the early 1980s, in the aftermath of the 1979 terrorist attack on Makkah’s Grand Mosque, religious conservatism began to gain traction in the Kingdom, discouraging public entertainment including cinema-going. 

To get around the ban, many Saudis would regularly visit Bahrain or the UAE.




The opening of theaters in the Kingdom has been widely welcomed by the Saudis, who used to flock to Bahrain or Dubai to for entertainment. (Photo Courtesy: Red Sea Film Festival)

Nahar Al-Hamrani, a producer and managing director of AlMaha Films in Jeddah, would fly two-and-a-half-hours to Dubai to catch a film. 

“Sometimes I’d only go to watch a film, grab a bite to eat, and head back home again,” he told Arab News.

“As soon as cinemas opened in Saudi Arabia, everything changed. Even the experience changed. It’s fun, convenient, and, for some odd reason, there’s just something different about going to the cinemas here. It’s right in our backyard. 

“For many of us who traveled abroad during summer holidays, we’d have to wait for months just so we can go and experience the full movie experience. Now, it’s simply through a click on our screen and not part of our travel plans anymore.”

For a time, Western movies appeared on television via MBC2 or via direct satellite networks such as Orbit, which later merged with Showtime to become the Orbit Showtime Network. 

Most Saudis could only access Western movies on smuggled VHS. When DVDs appeared, they would watch blurry knock-offs bought from street-hawkers or from behind the counter at local stores.




Hollywood actor John Travolta attending a special event organized by the Kingdom's General Authority for Entertainment in Riyadh in 2017. (AFP)

Speaking at a special event at Riyadh’s Apex Convention Center in December 2017, organized by the General Authority for Entertainment to mark the lifting of the ban, Hollywood actor John Travolta hailed the historic move.

“I think it’s an important moment and history, because it’s my understanding that this is the only country in the world that doesn’t have cinema and the idea that it is now happening again after 35 years, I feel like I am part of a celebration of freedom that is connected to a beautiful thing in humanity, so that’s a good thing,” Travolta said.

Cinema giants have begun pouring into the country. 

Owned and operated by Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas, VOX Cinemas is the cinema arm of Emirati retail and leisure giant Majid Al-Futtaim and one of the fastest growing in the region, operating 149 cinema screens in Saudi Arabia alone.  

Mohamed Al-Hashemi, country head of Majid Al-Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment, Cinemas and Lifestyle in Saudi Arabia, said: “Since the beginning, we have differentiated ourselves from our competitors with our holistic approach. 

“VOX Cinemas is a leisure and entertainment concept that seamlessly integrates state-of-the-art cinema, interactive attractions such as bowling and arcade games and signature food and beverage concepts into one enriched experience.”




Young ones count among the growing number of movie fans in the Kingdom. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Cinema’s return to Saudi Arabia has reinvigorated the domestic industry and inspired new festivals to showcase and celebrate it.

The industry saw theatrical box office market growth worth $238 million in 2021 — more than double the previous year’s takings of $122 million, dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The year was capped off by the Red Sea International Film Festival in December, which saw the big names of Arab cinema, Hollywood, and Bollywood grace the red carpet at Jeddah’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al-Balad.




Sara Al-Munef, a young film director whose short feature screened at the Saudi International Film Festival at Ithra in Dhahran last year. (Supplied)

There, on three big screens erected by VOX Cinemas, some 30,000 film fans enjoyed 138 films originating from 67 countries, including 48 Arab premieres and 27 Saudi films.

“Cinemas and content production offer enormous potential for economic growth,” said Al-Hashemi of Majid Al-Futtaim. “We recently announced ambitious plans to bring 25 local movies to the big screen in the next five years.

“Our goal to boost regional film production reiterates our commitment to realize the goals of Vision 2030 and is aligned with the Film Commission’s strategy to establish the Kingdom as a world-class film hub.” 


KSRelief continues aid efforts in Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen

KSRelief continues aid efforts in Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen
Updated 29 November 2022

KSRelief continues aid efforts in Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen

KSRelief continues aid efforts in Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen
  • The relief center distributed nearly 102 tons of food aid to those in-need in Al Mudhaffar District in the Taiz

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) delivered 2,464 winter bags to people in Pakistan. 
The relief items benefited 17,248 people affected by floods in Shahdadkot, Badin, Dadu and Jamshoro regions of Sindh province, state agency SPA reported. 
KSRelief also continued its aid efforts in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, by distributing 265 food packages to families in-need. 
Meanwhile, the relief center concluded its volunteer medical program Mukalla city in Yemen’s Hadhramaut governorate. 
The program saw 17 volunteer doctors perform 35 orthopedic and joint replacement surgery in coordination with the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population. 
Moreover, the relief center distributed nearly 102 tons of food aid to those in-need in Al Mudhaffar District in the Taiz governorate. 
This comes as part of KSRelief's food security project in the country, which aims to distribute more than 20,000 tons of food aid to low-income families in 15 Yemeni governorates.


Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4

Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4
Updated 29 November 2022

Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4

Diriyah officially opens its gates to the public on December 4
  • DGDA Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo told Arab News: “Three hundred years ago, the birthplace of the Kingdom was At-Turaif

RIYADH: Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb inaugurated the UNESCO World Heritage sites At-Turaif and the Bujairi Terrace in Diriyah on Monday.

The DGDA held a special gala dinner for a number of World Travel and Tourism Council delegates who were present in Riyadh for the 22nd WTTC Global Summit.

The summit is taking place for the first time in the Kingdom in Riyadh from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center.

Uniting a wide range of key industry players, this year’s edition of the WTTC Summit showcased Saudi Arabia’s pioneering efforts to reshape the world’s tourism map in a still-recovering, post-COVID world. As one of the industry’s largest events, the annual forum aspires to implement travel sustainability on a global scale.

The At-Turaif and Bujairi Terrace opening gala dinner was attended by Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Chair of WTTC Arnold Donald, President and CEO of WTTC Julia Simpson, Group Chief Executive Officer of DGDA Jerry Inzerillo, and a broad list of other high profile industry leaders.

HIGHLIGHT

As a part of its opening, At- Turaif will offer 75-minute guided walking tours in both Arabic and English that will take visitors through the original seat of power, built in the 1700s, of the Kingdom’s Al-Saud family.

In the upcoming week, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, the home of the first Saudi State, and dine at some of the world’s finest Michelin-star restaurants at the Bujairi Terrace.

Visitors will take a step back in time as they walk through the mudbrick palaces and pathways of At-Turaif that perfectly highlight the traditional Najdi architecture.

As a part of its opening, At-Turaif will offer 75-minute guided walking tours in both Arabic and English that will take visitors through the original seat of power, built in the 1700s, of the Kingdom’s Al-Saud family.

Upon its opening, visitors will be able to explore At-Turaif's Salwa Palace, a 10,000-square-meter complex whose first phases were built by Mohammed ibn Saud, the first ruler of the First Saudi State.

At-Turaif's palaces, pathways and detailed carvings in the Najdi architecture provide a glimpse into the past and a reminder of the origin of Saudi Arabia.

Along with the announcement of At-Turaif's opening, the DGDA will also host a variety of activities for the public, including theatrical performances, an Arabian horse show, calligraphy sessions, mudbrick-making shows and Saudi coffee experiences.

On Al-Nuzul Street, 13 buildings will host daily immersive theatrical performances that will take visitors back in time to experience life in At-Turaif during the First Saudi State.

Following the opening At-Turaif, Diriyah is also set to host a calendar full of events and activities for the public during the winter 2022 season.

Bujairi Terrace is also set to open its doors to the public on Dec. 4 with the aim of becoming the foremost luxury dining destination in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Located in Wadi Hanifah, Bujairi Terrace will offer 20 restaurants and coffee shops, several of which are Michelin-star restaurants, including Chez Bruno, Hakkasan, Long Chim and Tatel, overlooking At-Turaif.

Some of the international brands located in Bujairi Terrace include Angelina, Brunch & Cake, Café De Lésplanade, Cova / Cova Pasticceria, Flamingo Room, Joe & the Juice, Sarabeth’s and Villa Mamas.

Some of the local brands include TAKYA, Altopiano, Somewhere / Somewhere Dessert Bae, Sum + Things, and Hi.

Built from the same mud, water and straw used to construct At-Turaif, Bujairi Terrace will merge culture, history and luxury through live shows, historical programs, interactive entertainment and traditional performances from Saudi artists and musicians.

Earlier this week, some 1,500 employees at the DGDA put their signatures on mud bricks to be used to restore At-Turaif, the original home of the Saudi royal family and the country’s first capital.

DGDA Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo told Arab News: “Three hundred years ago, the birthplace of the Kingdom was At-Turaif. We give all our love and praise to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, to restore At-Turaif, which was built by Saudis brick by brick, but no one knows their names.

“Now we are building the new Diriyah, transforming it, using the same material, same mud, same straw, same palm trees, but now we know everybody’s name.

“So the next 300 years of this will be built by all these people and will remain very emotional and very special to them.”

The DGDA aims to develop the birthplace of the Kingdom into a world-class tourism, entertainment and cultural destination. Upon its completion, Diriyah will be a $50 billion giga-project featuring some of the world’s most luxurious restaurants and hotels built in the traditional Najdi architectural style.

This is merely the first phase of Diryah’s opening. Once complete, Diriyah will offer more than 150 fine-dining restaurants and premium cafes, 28 luxury hotels and resorts, and 400 luxury and lifestyle brands.


Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable

Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable
Updated 28 November 2022

Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable

Dress to impress: The Saudi designer on a mission to make fashion sustainable
  • Raneem Shaban, 27, aims to encourage change in the Kingdom’s fashion industry through creations that transform used clothing into something new
  • ‘I was worried people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed,’ she said.

JEDDAH: A recent trend in global fashion has been an attempt to make the industry more environmentally friendly and sustainable. As a result, some designers have been inspired to create ready-to-wear clothing from recycled materials.

One of them is Saudi fashion designer Raneem Shaban from Jeddah. The 27-year-old launched her own custom-clothing label R*3 in 2021 with the aim of reducing “fashion waste” in the Kingdom’s fashion industry through upcycled and reconstructed creations that transform used or vintage clothing into something new.

“At first, I was worried that people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something that has been created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed and people are more adaptable,” she said.

Shaban, who graduated from Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, said she developed a fascination with creating clothes in early childhood.

“From a very young age, I had a passion to design clothes from the used materials that I found in my basement and one of my biggest joys was going through my mother’s wardrobe, which influenced me immensely toward a classic sense of style,” she said.

Shaban’s bold and daring designs are designed to be unique, challenging for the masses, and attention grabbing.

“As a designer, I believe it’s very essential to get out of your comfort zone and make a statement, for which I worked hard to reach out to people and make them understand the fashion-forward trend,” she said.

I was worried people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed.

Raneem Shaban, Saudi fashion designer

Shaban has been involved in a number of projects, including collaborations on runway styling projects and editorial fashion shoots with Harpers Bazaar Arabia and Vogue Fashion Experience by Rubaiyat, and styling Nasibah Hafiz’s spring/summer 2022 collection, powered by La Macarena, among others.

She also participated in Fashion Star Arabia, a fashion-design competitive reality series broadcast on Dubai One. She recently showcased her collection at the Light Exhibition in Riyadh alongside other young, fashion designers.

“A fashion designer has the possibility to influence people and the way they dress; it’s a big responsibility to take the role seriously and be driven,” Shaban said.

“My work journey has been very rewarding. I have had the opportunity to meet distinguished fashion personalities and clients that acknowledged and appreciated my ready-to-wear collection. It feels great when people relate to my collection on a deeper and personal level.”

As part of her design process, Shaban creates fashion “mood boards” from images in old magazines that help to inspire her to create interesting new looks and styling options.

“I didn’t aim to adopt a sustainable approach because it’s ‘on-trend,’” she said. “Instead, I always had a passion for creating styles using recycled fabric or materials and converting it into a brand new, wearable outfit.”

In her role as a sustainable fashion designer, Shaban said she strives to always be mindful of the resources her label consumes and wastes, while at the same time ensuring her designs meet the demands of the marketplace. Feedback from her customers also helps her understand the needs of the market on a range of issues, including the materials and textures of fabric people prefer.

Shaban said she continually learns new things and tries to further explore sustainable materials and fashion trends. She plans to launch a line of accessories alongside her custom-made clothing in the near future.

“It’s important for me to be consistent in designing new collections from used fabrics, while making sure it matches the current fashion trends,” she explained. “The market in Saudi Arabia has changed dramatically and people are more open to bold and narrative style.

“It’s a lot to manage but when you aim to build a unique concept fashion style and receive encouragement for the work. It really makes you feel alive.

“The response to my custom-made designs has always been positive. It pumps the energy and pushes me to work hard and ignore the demands and challenges.”

Shaban said she finds it interesting that people who wear her brand are so aware of the benefits of eco-friendly fashion, and so she considers it her responsibility to help initiate a shift toward a more sustainable industry in the region.

“Under Saudi Vision 2030, I aim to bring more awareness and longevity toward sustainable fashion in the Saudi Arabia marketplace,” she added.

Asked what advice she could offer to aspiring young designers, she said she would encourage them to take time to figure out what it is that they really love and are good at, follow their passion, take risks and enjoy the challenges along the way.

 


UN food body backs Saudi green climate, energy commitments

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa
Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa
Updated 29 November 2022

UN food body backs Saudi green climate, energy commitments

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa
  • FAO signs pact to boost dates industry by 2027
  • Aid efforts strengthened with KSrelief globally

RIYADH: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has lauded the Kingdom for its its climate change commitments such as the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, environment protection and energy transition programs.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the FAO’s Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa Abdulhakim Elwaer said that this was the view of FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu.
Elwaer said the FAO’s director general, who had recently visited the Kingdom, had signed an agreement with the International Date Council headquartered in Riyadh to boost the industry in preparation for the International Year of the Date Palm 2027.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu met KSRelief Supervisor General Abdullah Al Rabeeah at the Center in Riyadh. (Photo/FAO)

 “The partnership between the FAO and Saudi Arabia is strong, strategic and growing since the Kingdom joined the FAO in 1948,” said Elwaer.
Elwaer said Dongyu had held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley to discuss the FAO’s technical support for the Kingdom on food security, agriculture-led rural transformation and climate change.

The partnership between the FAO and Saudi Arabia is strong, strategic and growing since the Kingdom joined the FAO in 1948.

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s assistant director general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa

 “In November 2020, the G20 launched The Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats. Under this global initiative, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched two initiatives, the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative. The FAO has been closely engaged in the two initiatives,” said Elwaer.
“The pressures on land and water resources are pushing the productive capacity of agricultural, forestry and pastoral ecosystems to the limit, and significantly contributing to the increasing trend of acute food insecurity. The Middle East region is particularly constrained in terms of its agricultural resources.

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director-General & Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa and Abdul Rahman Al Habib, Executive Director of the International Dates Council signing MoU under the patronage of Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, Minister for Environment, Water and Agriculture in Riyadh. (Photo/FAO)

“The region is most scarce globally in terms of agricultural land (an average of 1.07 hectares per capita) and water availability (9 percent of the global average) and is the only region in the world where harvest area shrinkage is expected by 2050,” he said.
“The MGI presents an excellent opportunity to address land degradation through a holistic, landscape and cross-sectoral approach, which is crucial for food security and resilient livelihoods,” said Elwaer.
He said the FAO has vast technical expertise and strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in these areas, to provide the Kingdom with the support it needs. This is part of the UN’s 2021–2030 Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Elwaer said Dongyu also had a meeting with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah. The FAO and KSrelief are close partners, having signed a five-year collaboration agreement in 2021 to boost aid efforts globally, including in countries such as Yemen and Somalia, he added.
The two officials had also discussed the FAO’s contribution to some of KSrelief’s strategic initiatives including the Global Humanitarian Hub on the Red Sea.

 


Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World
Updated 28 November 2022

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World

Moroccan culture: Explore the wonders of Europe and Africa at Riyadh’s Boulevard World
  • The beauty of the Moroccan subzone comes from the country’s traditional architecture, cultural and geographical influences

RIYADH: Riyadh Season’s Boulevard World, which opened last week, brings together the cultures of 10 countries in a single location on the largest artificial lake in the world.

The Morocco subzone is one of them. Due to its location between Europe and Africa and its border with the Sahara in the south, Morocco has a lot of different cultural and geographical influences. This makes the Morocco subzone one of the best examples of physical and symbolic heritage in Riyadh Season.

The subzone shows a beautiful and fantastic image that reflects the traditions of the Moroccan people in their unique clothing, music, and food, thanks to the variety of options and elements based on a range of different colors, designs, and patterns in creating spaces.

Walking into the subzone, you will see beautiful Moroccan women wearing the traditional kaftan dress. They greet you with their Moroccan accents, and you see the decorations in a mix of different Moroccan cities. Visitors can shop for kaftan dresses and different Moroccan products and authentic food.

Riyadh Season shows how the Arab, Amazigh, African, and Mediterranean civilizations influenced each other. Many opulent facades have beautiful designs based on unusual blending and harmony.

The streets of the Morocco subzone in Boulevard World, which is the season's crown jewel, smell just like those of old Fes, Tangier, rich Oujda, and charming red Marrakech.

This makes it a delight for the soul and a civilization that dwells in the hearts of visitors in Riyadh’s winter while educating them about numerous Moroccan cities and cultures that subtly keep pace with different eras.

The beauty of the Moroccan subzone comes from the country’s traditional architecture, which has many curved entrances and round arches, as well as wool-based rugs and warm, classic velvet furniture in the rooms.

Mosaic tiles and pieces of pottery are used to decorate the walls and ceilings of Moroccan cafes and restaurants in Boulevard World.

The area has a strong cultural feel because it has a lot of high-quality sculptures, visual arts, cinema, and music. There are also a lot of fountains and sidewalks in the area.

Visitors of Boulevard World can also learn about different cultures across the world through several subzones inspired by China, Italy, France, India, Spain, America, Japan, Greece and Mexico.

For both families and individuals, Boulevard World is a premier entertainment destination, featuring a host of experiences, including rides in hot air balloons, submarines and boats.

It has the largest man-made lake in the world, where boats can travel between cities through 11 stations.
It also offers the Area 15 experience from Las Vegas; The Sphere, the biggest spherical theater in the world; a city for game fans; comic book and anime-themed activities; and plenty of family-friendly entertainment options.

Visitors can enjoy a ride in a Venetian gondola, taste American cuisine, stroll through live Hollywood shows, shop for the best Spanish products, and watch flamenco shows.

The third Riyadh Season kicked off on Oct. 21 with more than 8,500 activities. This year’s event offers people a wide range of entertainment options, combining exclusivity and modernity to promote the capital as a major incubator and popular destination for tourism. It also promotes the Saudi entertainment sector and consolidates the Kingdom’s position as a prominent regional and global entertainment destination.

The new season include 15 zones: Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland, Al-Murabaa, Sky Riyadh, Via Riyadh, Riyadh Zoo, Little Riyadh, The Groves, Imagination Park, Al-Suwaidi Park, Souq Al-Zel, Qariat Zaman, Fan Festival and Riyadh Front.