International comedians tickle the funny bone in Riyadh

Allyson Simth was the first female comedian to take the stage at a live stand-up show in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
Allyson Simth was the first female comedian to take the stage at a live stand-up show in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 August 2022

International comedians tickle the funny bone in Riyadh

Allyson Simth was the first female comedian to take the stage at a live stand-up show in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
  • Lineup had Allyson June Smith, Joe Jacobs, Rehman Akhtar
  • Saudi stand-up performers take to the stage next month

RIYADH: The first global movie operator in the Kingdom, AMC Cinema, lined up several top comedians to entertain audiences at the ongoing Stand-Up Comedy Night at King Abdullah Financial District last Thursday, for a fun night of laughter and community building.

The “Live at AMC” event, with a new alternative content platform, Smile Entertainment, welcomed Canada’s Allyson June Smith, Britain’s Joe Jacobs, and a surprise performance by Pakistani-born Briton Rehman Akhtar.

“I’m really excited because this gives them the opportunity to see something different. To see international people who are coming into Saudi Arabia to perform in the Kingdom. This is a huge opportunity for Saudi Arabia to get the average-circuit comedian to come to Saudi Arabia, have a great experience, and to give free publicity about the great experience that they’ve had here,” the event’s host, Saudi’s Mishal “Meesh” Samman, told Arab News before the show.

FASTFACT

AMC’s Stand-Up Comedy Night will return next month

 The event was yet another attempt by the General Entertainment Authority to bring a wide range of shows to the Saudi public. AMC’s Stand-Up Comedy Night will return next month, featuring acclaimed acts from the Kingdom and the wider region, as well as celebrated international performers.

"It will be ongoing inshallah. We have more shows planned at AMC and we now have multiple requests from other venues in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar to produce stand up regular comedy shows.

“We think the time is right to move forward and we want the international comedians we bring over to leave with positive impressions of receptive Saudi audiences and become Ambassadors for the Kingdom in spreading the word. The shared, joyful experience of laughing together really is a way to bridge differences and cultures and comedy is a wonderful medium to achieve this.




Abeer Al Fouti, Co-founder of Smile Entertainment.

We also want to work in parallel and in collaboration with the growing local stand up comedy circuit to support this form of popular entertainment and encourage Saudi youth to consider live performing art in all its forms as a potential career path,” said Peter Howarth-Lees, founder and partner of Smile Entertainment.

“I think it’s fantastic that Saudi Arabia has opened up so much that they’re allowing outside comedians to come into the country and perform their stand-up comedy in English,” Samman said. “Let’s not forget that there is a huge expat community here and people who do understand and like English comedy.”

The host introduced Smith, the first female comedian to take the stage at a live stand-up show in Saudi Arabia, who took jabs at popular singers, riffed on finding love, and warned against anyone with the name “Allyson.”

Smith said she was honored to be the first to bring female-centered comedy to the Kingdom, and hopes to inspire Saudi women with her work.  

“I’m very grateful that I get to be a part of this, that I get to be this person. I really hope that maybe someone saw what I did and realized that you can do that. It’s a profession and it’s a job,” she told Arab News.

“What was really nice was getting up on that stage and seeing so many other sisters looking at me and just laughing and loving it. This experience was just phenomenal and I hope that everyone appreciated it because the more support we get from people, the more we’ll be able to do more of this,” Smith said.

Smile Entertainment is one of the pioneers of live stand-up comedy in Saudi Arabia, having created an underground scene before entertainment was embraced by the nation.

HIGHLIGHT

Smile Entertainment is one of the pioneers of live stand-up comedy in Saudi Arabia, having created an underground scene before entertainment was embraced by the nation.

This was their second show in collaboration with the GEA, the first being before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today, coming back and doing our first show (after COVID-19), I must tell you, seeing how things are (so) smooth, how the General Entertainment Authority was beyond supportive. I remember the days when we couldn’t even apply for a permit to do the show and we had to do it underground, it’s like the difference between night and day,” co-founder of Smile Entertainment, Abeer Al-Fouti, told Arab News.

Bringing in seasoned international talent to perform on a Saudi stage and training local talent was a big goal for the AMC and Smile.

“We have a lot of talent that is not developed, so mixing, matching, and creating a space where people can always practice is important. This is how they grow and become big,” Al-Fouti said.

“In a time where division is really big, I’m happy to be part of a solution, which is culture, that brings people together. Through laughter, we can forget about all our problems and just be happy and be together … It’s important to us,” Al-Fouti added.

 


Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen
Updated 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen

Saudi Arabia sponsors $1bn economic reform in Yemen
  • AMF program to improve transparency in banking, financial and private sectors
  • Saudi Arabia has been lead donor to Yemen since 2001

RIYADH: Under the sponsorship of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Monetary Fund has signed a $1 billion agreement with the Yemeni government to revitalize its flagging economy.

The deal, signed in Riyadh, seeks to establish a comprehensive economic, financial and monetary reform program to improve governance and transparency, expand and diversify production and lower unemployment and poverty.

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the program will develop Yemen’s financial and banking sector, strengthen the role of the private sector and promote long-term economic development. 

The reform priorities for the government include developing public resources, controlling and rationalizing government spending, improving efficiency, and rehabilitating critical infrastructure in electricity, water and transport services. 

Priorities for the financial and banking sectors include developing a supervision system to improve transparency and accountability and bolstering services for small and medium businesses and youths and women in rural areas. It will also seek to boost digitalization and payment method flexibility.

The program says the private sector is a primary driver of sustainable economic growth, and key in paving the way for greater integration into the global economy, the flow of foreign investment, and the strengthening of international partnerships. 

The Yemeni government expressed interest in exploring opportunities for regional and international institutions to collaborate to support Yemeni economic reform. 

The agreement’s sponsorship by Saudi Arabia is an extension of the country's economic support for Yemen. The Kingdom gave the Central Bank of Yemen $1 billion in 2012 and $2 billion in 2018 to cover the import of basic food commodities. 

From 2001 to 2022, Saudi Arabia has led the list of donor countries to Yemen, providing 30 percent of total support.

 


Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh
Updated 32 min 57 sec ago

Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi, Egyptian interior ministers hold talks in Riyadh
  • Cooperation agreement signed to combat crime

RIYADH: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Mahmoud Tawfiq in Riyadh on Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

They discussed ways to improve security cooperation between their ministries. The talks also saw the signing of a cooperation agreement to combat crime.

Saudi attendees included Deputy Interior Minister Dr. Nasser bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood, Interior Ministry Undersecretary Dr. Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al-Faleh, Interior Ministry Undersecretary for Security Affairs Mohammed bin Muhanna Al-Muhanna, and Public Security Director Mohammed Al-Bassami.

Egyptian attendees included Adel Al-Sayed Abdulaziz Jaafar, head of the National Security Agency, and officials from the Interior Ministry.

 


Sustainable development of Saudi island will boost economy

Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in Eastern Province. (SPA)
Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in Eastern Province. (SPA)
Updated 29 min 7 sec ago

Sustainable development of Saudi island will boost economy

Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in Eastern Province. (SPA)
  • Dr. Saad Dahlawi: 'The Kingdom is witnessing unprecedented economic and developmental growth and following the standards of sustainable development'

RIYADH: Economists and environmentalists say sustainable investment is important for an island north of Dammam allocated billions of riyals for development.

Experts told Arab News that the SR2.64 billion ($703 million) granted to Darin and Tarout island by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week has much potential to boost the Eastern Province’s economy.

Darin and Tarout is among the most archaeologically significant islands in the region, with evidence of 5,000 years of continuous human habitation and around a dozen heritage sites, including a fortress dating back hundreds of years.

Officials aim to improve the quality of life for its 120,000 people while preserving its cultural and historical heritage, revitalizing its natural beauty sites and enhancing its tourism economy.

As much as 48 percent of its 32 sq. km area will be dedicated to public parks, waterfronts, roads, and facilities. The island hopes to boost the number of tourists to 1.36 million by 2030 and generate thousands of jobs.

HIGHLIGHT

Officials aim to improve the quality of life for its 120,000 people while preserving its cultural and historical heritage, revitalizing its natural beauty sites and enhancing its tourism economy.

“This project represents the first strategic works and initiatives done by the Eastern Region Development Authority,” said Eastern Province Development Authority CEO Fahad Al-Mutlaq.

He said that work would start next year on a program to gradually improve social and economic conditions after comprehensive studies were completed.

Fadhel Al-Buainain, a member of the Shura Council, said that the island had historical importance.

“Developing Darin Castle and Darin Airport as heritage tourist destinations will enhance the cultural side,” he said. “The establishment of the largest forest on the banks of the Gulf will contribute to enhancing the environmental goals of the Kingdom.

“If eco-hotels are developed in natural areas, this will be an important base for eco-tourism, which will support the economy of the island.”

Al-Buainain, who is also a member of the Saudi Economists Association, said that the development plan would make an important economic contribution to the region.

“Providing small and medium investment and employment opportunities will have an important socio-economic impact,” he said, adding that the development would contribute to achieving the goals of Vision 2030.

Dr. Saad Dahlawi, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Imam Abd al-Rahman bin Faisal University, said he believed that the development announcement came at the perfect time.

“The Kingdom is witnessing unprecedented economic and developmental growth and following the standards of sustainable development,” he said.

Dahlawi added however that project leaders needed to assess impacts on the environment and especially on marine life to ensure that endangered species are not put at further risk.

“Such a study would provide decision-makers with a clear picture of how to implement the project sustainably,” he said.

Dahlawi said it was important to follow international environmental standards, as well as the standards and requirements of the National Center for Environmental Compliance, to avoid any damage to the environment.

Abdullah Al-Khuzam, a member of The National Handicraft Development Program, said the intention to turn Darin Airport into a heritage museum “means that a new prosperity period is being written on one of the oldest inhabited islands in the Arabian Gulf.”

He said that the museum and planned art festivals would help present “our ancient culture and civilization to the world.”

 

 


University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness

University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness
Updated 27 November 2022

University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness

University signs deal to boost Saudi student fitness
  • The SFA is the main body responsible for promoting a healthy lifestyle in the Kingdom by providing sports activities

JEDDAH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation has signed a deal with the Arab Open University in Riyadh to cooperate on creating sports programs that will help build a healthy and active society.

Both organizations will also work together to promote sports culture and community sports to build a healthy lifestyle among the AOU’s students.

The federation will use the university’s sports facilities to launch initiatives and sports groups, organize community events and motivate students to take part.

SFA President Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal said the agreement was part of a strategy to work with partners and improve the health of the nation.

“We will also cooperate with the university in research, studies, data and statistics to attract a large number of university students to participate in sports and physical activities. This will help achieve our strategic objectives,” he said.

AOU Rector Ali Al-Shahrani said he was pleased to have signed the agreement.

“We seek to provide an integrated educational environment for our students by launching initiatives, sports events, and community programs within the university’s facilities. This agreement will help promote a sports culture among our students.

“We aim to provide multiple opportunities for people to participate in sports and physical activity in order to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent diseases.”

The SFA is the main body responsible for promoting a healthy lifestyle in the Kingdom by providing sports activities. Its priorities are education, community, volunteering, fitness and health, campaigns, and promotions for people of all ages.

The AOU operates in nine Arab countries. It was founded in 1996 by Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz as a nonprofit institution and a nontraditional education academic entity. It focuses on scientific, social and cultural subjects.

In 2002, it worked with the Open University in the UK to transform into an integrated institution.

 


Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh
Updated 34 min 29 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh
  • RUSH event allows video-game aficionados to experience latest tech

RIYADH: The RUSH festival, the largest event for virtual sports and games, opened at the Riyadh Front on Saturday as part of the Riyadh Season of activities.

Over five days, it will provide gamers with the best-known games and real-life experiences.

They will get the chance to play real games such as “Fortnite,” “FIFA,” and “Valorant.” The event will also bring together the best international teams so that the biggest tournaments and direct qualifiers can be held on the e-sports stage.

Representatives of the 25 E-Sport organization greeted fans at the event’s meet-and-greet booth.

Aoun, the organization’s director of operations, told Arab News: “We have content makers and professional players in all games, and we came to meet the audience here.”

HIGHLIGHT

Over five days, the RUSH festival will provide gamers with the best-known games and real-life experiences. They will get the chance to play real games such as ‘Fortnite,’ ‘FIFA,’ and ‘Valorant.’

The festival aims to provide fun video games, competitions, and challenges through direct tournaments with prizes, and includes live entertainment shows, DJ performances, an augmented reality experience, and a cosplay competition.

The Valar Club booth was promoting e-sports for women.

Malak Al-Qahtani, founder of Valar Club, told Arab News: “Valar Club is the first licensed women’s club from the federation’s electronic sports, and our goal is to help female Saudi players, as they aspire to the world, and help with their training.”

Saudi YouTuber Pika Loli travelled from Jeddah to attend the event.

“This event brings together most of the YouTubers and gamers, and it is a good opportunity to get to know each other, and it will increase our followers and grow the channel on YouTube.”

Some of the cosplayers were dressed as video game characters.

Abdulelah Al-Qahtani said: “Today we are dressed as characters from the ‘Genshin Impact’ game, and I think this is so good that Saudi Arabia brought up a hidden community, like cosplayers and gamers.”

With a focus on the whole of the gaming industry, from console and PC gaming to mobile and e-sports, the RUSH festival aims to give gaming aficionados the opportunity to access and experience the latest tech and the chance to interact with each other in real life, and online.

Tickets for the event are available via https://riyadhseason.sa/event-details-en.html?id=599/en_RUSH.