Popstar Jason Derulo lauds AlUla’s unique ‘blend of worlds’

American popstar Jason Derulo enthralls Saudi audience at the Azimuth Festival in AlUla last week as part of Kingdom’s 92nd National Day celebrations. (AN photos Huda Bashatah)
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American popstar Jason Derulo enthralls Saudi audience at the Azimuth Festival in AlUla last week as part of Kingdom’s 92nd National Day celebrations. (AN photos Huda Bashatah)
Popstar Jason Derulo lauds AlUla’s unique ‘blend of worlds’
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American Popstar Jason Derulo performing to a Saudi audience in celebration of the 92nd National Day at the Azimuth festival in AlUla, which took place from Sept. 22-24. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 01 October 2022

Popstar Jason Derulo lauds AlUla’s unique ‘blend of worlds’

Popstar Jason Derulo lauds AlUla’s unique ‘blend of worlds’
  • Singer says Saudi Arabia becoming world’s most attractive destination

ALULA: In the historical epicenter for cross-cultural exchange, between the majestic mountains of AlUla, popstar Jason Derulo took the stage to deliver a performance unlike any other at the second edition of the Azimuth music festival on Saudi National Day last weekend.

The American artist entranced the crowd with some of his most recent hits, including “Swalla” and “Jelebi Baby,” as well as some of his older fan favorites such as “Ridin’ Solo” and “In My Head.”

The concert took place in the same valley that hosted the contemporary art exhibition Desert X earlier this year, ensuring a special music experience for nationals and visitors alike in celebration of the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day.




American Popstar Jason Derulo performing to a Saudi audience in celebration of the 92nd National Day at the Azimuth festival in AlUla, which took place from Sept. 22-24. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“Any time you can come to a place and have an experience … it makes the show so much better because it’s something that’s completely different that you can’t get anywhere else,” Derulo told Arab News in an exclusive interview.

Historically known as a strategic crossroads for trade and pilgrimage routes, the settlement conceals hidden gems such as the narrow valley oasis and the unique Elephant Rock. As part of the Madinah province, AlUla is a symbol of the cultural richness found throughout the eastern region of Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Any time that I can spread the word about how incredible this place is, I jump at the opportunity, and this is another one of those opportunities.

Jason Derulo

“Coming through the rock and all the sand, it’s almost like it’s a hideaway from everything, and to bring all of this luxury to the middle of the desert is unlike any other experience,” he said.

“Here you get to really see all the stars, you get to see all the rock, the mountains, you get a piece of that world. Then you bring the highest level of luxury to it and it’s just a blend of worlds that you can’t get anywhere else,” Derulo added.




American Popstar Jason Derulo performing to a Saudi audience in celebration of the 92nd National Day at the Azimuth festival in AlUla, which took place from Sept. 22-24. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Derulo has performed throughout the region, headlining in Saudi for the first time in 2018 at the Saudia Diriyah E-Prix alongside Enrique Iglesias, The Black Eyed Peas, and Egypt’s Amr Diab.

“I’ve been performing for a very long time and I can say that this experience was unique, unlike any experience I’ve ever had. I’ve performed all over the world and even coming here today, I pulled out my phone — I was like, ‘this is amazing,’” he said.

The three-day Azimuth festival is one of several initiatives, forming part of Vision 2030, to position the Kingdom as a tourism hub.

FASTFACTS

• The American artist entranced the crowd with some of his most recent hits, including ‘Swalla’ and ‘Jelebi Baby,’ as well as some of his older fan favorites such as ‘Solo’ and ‘In My Head.’

• The concert took place in the same valley that hosted the contemporary art exhibition Desert X earlier this year, ensuring a special music experience for nationals and visitors alike in celebration of the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day.

• Jason Derulo commended the efforts made to globalize local talent and create new avenues for entertainment, recalling his performance during the professional LIV Golf tour, financed by the Public Investment Fund.

“I was actually one of the first performers, if not the first performer, that performed with an integrated crowd between men and women here, and I feel honored and blessed to be a small piece of history.”

“Any time that I can spread the word about how incredible this place is, I jump at the opportunity, and this is another one of those opportunities,” Derulo said.

“I love that people from across the world have come here and made this home because it really is a special place. They have a sense of pride, a small piece of ownership even, you would think that they were from here and they know so much about the history,” he added.

The artist believes that Saudi Arabia is on the verge of becoming one of the “biggest” attractions in the world.

“This is something that’s just starting, though people are just now starting to see it, I’m sure this has been in the works for such a long time. There’s still so much room for growth, but it’s already incredible,” he said.

Bringing in a diverse lineup of both local and international artists was a key goal for the event, collaborated by entertainment festival MDLBEAST and the Royal Commission for AlUla.

Ahmed Alammary, the Saudi DJ and chief creative at MDLBEAST, told Arab News that this celebration was a chance to create cultural exchange opportunities with international artists while also catering to a local audience.

Derulo commended the efforts made to globalize local talent and create new avenues for entertainment, recalling his performance during the professional LIV Golf tour, financed by the Public Investment Fund.

“This is becoming a melting pot, and it’s beautiful to see … I think Saudi is really pushing the envelope in terms of tourism and technology. When you think of arts when you think of entertainment, Saudi has become really high up on the list because they really took a stand and really took a giant leap in that world,” Derulo said.


Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’

Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’

Saudi boutique festivals create home for party ‘freaks’

 

RIYADH: Since its first event in December last year, Freaks of Nature has created a community of EDM/dance-music lovers as part of the Kingdom’s growing music scene. 

The multi-stage concept is unlike any other community-based offering in the Kingdom. 

Freaks of Nature, organized by Saudi creative agency Disrupt, is a series of boutique festivals hosted two or three times a year with 1,000 to 5,000 “freak” attendees per day, trumping most local events, which average about 1,000. 

The boutique event series promotes new talent as well as creative culture in the region. As competition increases, event organizers strive to find new ways to offer innovative experiences. 

The “sub-genre” concept was born out of the unusual culture associated with variations of EDM and house music.

Instead of accepting the resistance of some Saudi communities to the music, Yazeed Alhashim, founder of Disrupt Group and DJ Sound of Yaz, embraced the genre, dubbing their attendees “freaks.”

On the anniversary of its first full-capacity warehouse performance one year ago at XP Music Festival, the precursor to the largest regional music festival MDL Beast, the group celebrated with a timely return to showcase its vision. 

“Events and music festivals (are) always the output of a music industry. And what we’re doing in Disruptors is we’re trying to build that infrastructure, which is supporting artists, developing talent and doing all the services that make the music industry happen,” Alhashim told Arab News. 

The “episodes” usually host multiple stages, including the main stage and underground venue, each presenting a different sub genre of EDM and dance music. (Supplied)

Last month, the group held its third edition of the “Freaks of Nature” series titled “Freaks of ARAVEIA,” bringing several emerging DJs from Europe, including Mesto, Seth Hills, Kaaze and Toby Romeo, to headline two nights of music, art and entertainment. 

The “episodes” usually host multiple stages, each presenting a different sub-genre of EDM and dance music, in order to appeal to a wider audience compared with niche concept events. 

“We find things in between to entertain more people and have a much more friendly community that will understand each other,” DJ Rash, who performed at the first edition of the festival, told Arab News. 

“As the underground party scene in Saudi grew, more people were refining their taste in music, preferring sub-genres, such as minimal house over dark techno, or vice versa. Regardless of taste, there’s a place for you at Freaks of Nature,” he said. 

“If you put it in a box, and then you bring our community, the traditional Saudi community, they would call us freaks. So we’re already freaks, but we don’t care.”  

Alhashim said: “We’re at the phase where all the DJs are understanding music, they’re widening their minds to music tastes. They experiment with different sub-genres. 

“House music has its own rhythm, style, and beat using more euphoric tones and certain rhythms, and we don’t have to change that, we just have to kind of enjoy it, as well as add our own fingerprints to it.”

According to DJ Rash: “We started thinking about adapting and bringing in international artists for each event. If you bring in an artist, the artist will bring crowds. And yet again, he will introduce himself and teach us something. That’s the idea of bringing international artists because they reached a really high level of competition (globally). When you bring them here, we’re like, you know what, we are competing.”

In a year since music festival Freaks of Nature had their first event in December 2021, the group has managed to create a community for ‘Freaks’ and EDM/dance music lovers in a growing music scene. (Supplied)

Dutch DJ WeDamnz performed at this year’s Freaks of Nature XP showcase and also headlined their first episode alongside “mashup-king” English DJ James Hype, who was one of the top streaming dance artists of the year. 

When WeDamz first received the invitation to perform on a Saudi stage, he was nervous, having performed only in Europe and parts of Canada.

“I didn’t know what to expect and what people listened to over here,” he told Arab News. “I didn’t even know EDM or dance music was a thing. During 15 minutes, I was like, ‘Wow, people really like it.’ I was surprised how many songs got recognized.”. 

The artist said that music in the Arab region may well be next on the global charts.

“I think Saudi Arabia is doing such a good job in just managing (to bridge cultures), so I want to say they’re really doing everything to get everybody together. 

“At the gig I’ve had (at XP), you can see the appreciation of people that really enjoy the difference (in genres). And it’s really cool to bring that as a Dutchy to Saudi.”


Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands

Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands
Updated 9 min 23 sec ago

Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands

Saudi Jewelry Show sparkles with $53m gem suite, more than 100 global luxury brands

RIYADH: The Saudi Jewelry Show opened its doors on Tuesday in Riyadh featuring more than 100 luxury brands from around the world.

Under the title “Be’Jeweled,” the event, that runs until Dec. 10, has attracted collectors, designers, enthusiasts, and industry professionals, and includes workshops, panel discussions, a gem laboratory, and experiential events.

The exhibition was opened by Fahd Al-Rasheed, the chief executive officer of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and chairman of the show’s organizing body the Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions General Authority.

Luxury brands from countries including the UAE, Bahrain, India, Switzerland, France, Turkey, Italy, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and the US, are exhibiting at the show alongside unique collections from Switzerland’s Jahan Jewellery, and the UK’s Yoko London.

(Photo by Saleh Al-Ghannam)

North-Carolina-based BFT Gems was displaying its dazzling $53 million Paraiba Tourmaline suite created by the company’s owner Peter Delisi in partnership with the designer from Port Royal Jewelry Inc. based in Naples, Florida.

Delisi told Arab News: “The stones are basically invaluable. There are seven match pairs on the necklace made of paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique, Africa; they were only found in two places in the world.

“The set was built in platinum with 5,000 melee, or really small, diamonds at a total carat weight of around 100 carats, all set in platinum.

“It has three different looks. It has a drop pendant with a chain as a ring. And the earrings are convertible. So, you can wear the tops and the studs or just the pendants. So, you have three pendants, two earrings, a choker collar, and the ring,” he said.

He noted that what made a paraiba tourmaline gemstone different was the presence of copper and manganese, which gave it a glowing look. “It will sparkle without any natural light. And it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon,” Delisi added.

 (Photo by Saleh Al-Ghannam)

SCEGA’s acting CEO, Amjad Shacker, said the show was an important platform that brought together luxury jewelry companies, traders, and brands under one roof to share knowledge and expertise.

The show aims to support Saudi designers, entrepreneurs, and startup brands, with 15 local jewelers featured, including Rutile Jewellery, Joory Diamonds, Al-Nukhba, and Renad Al-Amoudi’s one-piece-made watch inspired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Jewels of Arabia booth houses a collection crafted by nine local designers and is a collaboration between Nuun Jewels, founded by Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, and Yasmeen Marzouq Jewelry.

Each designer has presented a piece of jewelry representing the reviving of the archeological treasures of the Arabian Peninsula and inspired by the Dadan civilization.


Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
Updated 43 min 55 sec ago

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
  • Xi Jinping’s Saudi visit is expected to result in new strategic partnerships worth $29 billion
  • Plans are underway to harmonize Saudi Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China have both embraced technological innovation and digital transformation as a means of broadening their economies, creating new ways of doing business, and competing globally in what has been termed the fourth industrial revolution.

As an emerging tech giant, China has made immense strides in robotics, artificial intelligence, and space science, as well as internet and 5G connectivity, construction and engineering, and green renewable technologies, particularly solar.

Although several developed and emerging economies have made similar bounds in science, engineering, computing, and technology, few have matched the pace and the extent of change seen in China over the past decade alone.

China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade, and a robust digital economy, which has increased in value from 11 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) to 45.5 trillion yuan.

China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade. (AFP)

China’s success is a reflection of its clearly set societal goals, which include attaining and sustaining economic growth, implementing a mass campaign of domestic poverty alleviation, and promoting technological innovation.

Utilizing technology and embracing digital transformation are widely viewed as effective means with which to accelerate economic and social development in an inclusive, dynamic, and cybersecure fashion.

Saudi Arabia has adopted this model, shifting several government and private-sector functions online with a view to providing seamless service delivery, improve end-user experiences, and to foster innovation.

Similarly, after four decades of technological and digital advancement, Chinese consumers have become a hyper-adaptive and hyper-adoptive community, making China one of the world’s most competitive markets on the digital frontier.

In Saudi Arabia, the government has developed a series of five-year plans to replace traditional processes with secure, efficient, and accountable digital platforms to provide high-quality public services, from licensing and permits to welfare and charitable donations.

Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025, the highest in the world, accounting for 21.7 percent of national spending, according to the Digital Government Authority.

This year, China spent 2.44 percent of its gross domestic product, approximately $441 billion, on research and development, and is aiming for 10 percent of its GDP to come from the digital economy by 2025 — up from 7.8 percent in 2020.

Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025. (AFP)

In its own race to become a regional tech hub and global leader in innovation, Saudi Arabia was also set to add nearly $16 billion to its GDP by 2040 through its research and development program.

In September, speaking at the G20 Digital Economy Ministers’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Abdullah Al-Swaha, the Saudi minister of communications and information technology, said investment in these areas was crucial to sustainable economic development.

One of the Kingdom’s goals, outlined in its social reform and economic diversification agenda, Vision 2030, was to become one of the world’s top 10 countries in the Global Competitive Index by the end of the decade, rising from its current position of 24th.

Although China was already Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, this week’s visit by President Xi Jinping was expected to see a flurry of new deals and strategic partnerships worth $29 billion and a plan to harmonize Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Digital Silk Road is the technological arm of the Belt and Road Initiative, which has been forecast to add $255 billion to regional GDP and create 600,000 technology-related jobs across the Gulf Cooperation Council area.

Earlier this year, China issued its 14th five-year plan for the development of the digital economy, setting out proposals to actively engage with the EU, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, African countries, and Belt and Road countries on digital economy policy.

Analysts consider the Middle East and North Africa region a critical commercial link to European and African markets, making Saudi Arabia and its GCC neighbors vital strategic partners for China’s digital expansion.
 


Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday

Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday
Updated 07 December 2022

Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday

Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday
  • The conference aims to inspire and empower talented youth from around the world to shape the future
  • Young creatives from all over the world are expected to participate in the conference alongside their Saudi peers

JEDDAH: On behalf of King Salman, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah, will inaugurate on Saturday the second edition of the Global Conference for Giftedness and Creativity, which Jeddah will be hosting from Dec. 10 to 14.
The conference, organized by the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, known as Mawhiba, will be held under the theme “Journey Toward the New Future.”
The conference aims to inspire and empower talented youth from around the world to shape the future and to engage them in building a platform to address global challenges.
Young creatives from all over the world are expected to participate in the conference alongside their Saudi peers, where they will work in teams to come up with solutions to the world’s sustainable development challenges.
Mawhiba Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa said that the conference seeks to develop the Kingdom’s global leadership in supporting and nurturing talented youth.
Many world experts are participating, along with representatives from leading companies and universities, including the Saudi Basic Industries Corp., Aramco, NEOM, the King Abdullah University and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.
A selection of keynote speakers will deliver lectures, including Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan, Saudi minister of education; Dr. Robert Lee Satcher Jr. an American physician, chemical engineer and former NASA astronaut; and Sir Geoff Mulgan, professor of collective intelligence, public policy and social innovation at University College London.
Among the panelists are Prof. Tony Chan, president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen, president of the European Council for High Ability; Dr. Andreas Cangellaris, president of NEOM University; and Dr. Arif Ansari, a transformational leader and foresight business analytics expert.
In a short video posted on Twitter by Mawhiba, Mulgan, who also was CEO of the UK’s innovation foundation Nesta from 2011 to 2019, said that he will be speaking about how collective intelligence can support gifted people to realize their ideas and contribute to solving the world’s biggest challenges.
The conference will feature an “idea-thon” aimed at developing an idea-generating platform that will contribute qualitative solutions to the different problems facing societies in the future.
The first edition of the conference was held in the Saudi capital under the theme “Imagine the Future 2020” and was inaugurated by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz.
The 2020 conference tackled virtual reality and its impact on human development. It also focused on expanding international cooperation with the aim of developing human capital to confront global challenges.
 


Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah

Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah
Updated 07 December 2022

Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah

Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah
  • Athletes Viki Gomez, Kenny Belaey and Senad Grosic put on exceptional performances
  • BMX stars expressed their admiration for ‘magnificence of Saudi cities’

JEDDAH: Residents of Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah enjoyed an unforgettable three-day event thanks to Red Bull athletes Viki Gomez, Kenny Belaey and Senad Grosic, who participated in an international BMX biking show hosted by Saudi Arabia from Nov. 17-19.
Rally champion and media personality Sultan Hamdi hosted the event, while international DJ Mosaken performed a high-energy set.
On the first day, the shows were held in front of the Red Bull Mobile store in Al-Gosaibi Village in Alkhobar, while on the following day, they moved to the U Walk in Riyadh. The closing ceremony took place in Jeddah, in front of the Red Bull Mobile store at Le Prestige Mall.
During the second leg of the event, held in the capital, the three athletes expressed their delight at coming to the Kingdom and interacting with the crowds.
Gomez spoke of the “magnificence of the Saudi cities” that he visited.
“I’m in awe of this place. The audience was amazing,” he said, adding that the enthusiasm of the public raised the “caliber of the performances.”
He said: “It’s sad the event has come to an end and time has gone by so quickly, and I will miss Saudi Arabia very much.”
Meanwhile, Belaey expressed his admiration for the commercial center in Riyadh, which he visited several times, pointing to the great growth the Kingdom has witnessed.
He said: “Traveling around Saudi Arabia is a wonderful thing, and especially putting on shows in front of diverse people and cultures, and getting immersed in the vibe of different, interesting cities and sites.”