Westlife dazzles AlUla with sparkling performance

Westlife dazzles AlUla with sparkling performance
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Westlife entertained audiences at Maraya in AlUla with some of their greatest hits. From left to right Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, and Shane Filan. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)
Westlife dazzles AlUla with sparkling performance
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The band delivered high energy performances throughout the concert, keeping the audience off their seats. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)
Westlife dazzles AlUla with sparkling performance
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Fans repeatedly clicked pictures and recorded videos to immortalize this memorable concert.(AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)
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Updated 30 September 2022

Westlife dazzles AlUla with sparkling performance

Westlife dazzles AlUla with sparkling performance
  • Maraya’s stunning mirror hall could not contain fan joy
  • Irish band played mix of old favorites and new songs

ALULA: Maraya’s stunning mirror concert hall here was the scene of wild excitement and lump-in-the-throat nostalgia on Wednesday when Westlife performed for what appeared to be some of their most dedicated fans from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.

The Irish boy band had the crowd cheering even before they came on stage in AlUla for their “Wild Dreams Tour.” The audience erupted when the four singers eventually emerged to play their most recent hit “Starlight,” with the fans then singing every line in unison.

It was impossible to keep them in their seats. And when the singers shouted “jump,” they were on their feet.

The vocalists Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne have been through thick and thin. In 2012 they disbanded temporarily, only to come back bigger and stronger in 2018.

Diana Philander from Cape Town said she has been following them since a teenager. “I was 17 back then and I’m 40 now, so this is one of my favorites. I have been practicing the songs for the whole week and I loved every minute of it.”




Westlife gave fans a chance to snap pictures of them, by posing in all direction. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)

“Thank you to the Saudi government for making all of this possible, there is just one word I can say and that is, it was just superb.”

The concert was a real treat for fans, with the band playing some of their biggest hits.

Before performing the very first song of their career, “Swear it Again,” Egan stepped forward and said: “Can you believe it? This song came out when we were little boys.”

Later Filan said: “We have played in a lot of places in the world, but honestly Maraya might be the coolest venue we have ever played in.”

“Everything was so beautiful, the ride here was absolutely stunning, and of course, you guys are so beautiful,” Filan said pointing toward the audience. “We have a beautiful family and we have always considered our fans as a part of this family, so thank you for being amazing.”

They also played “When you’re looking like that,” “Money, Money, Money” (originally sung by ABBA), and “Flying Without Wings.”

With fans calling for more, the band returned after briefly walking off the stage and performed “Hello My love” and several other songs.

Jessan Domingo Sanson from the Philippines said she traveled all the way from Dhahran to see the stars. “I have been a fan since I was in sixth grade, and I am now 34 years old.”




The band bid their fans a bittersweet good bye. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)

Sanson was so excited she could barely form coherent sentences, instead expressing herself with shrieks and gestures. Sitting in the front row, she was over the moon because the band members repeatedly moved forward to wave and make heart signs to her and the other audience members.

“I am just glad that it was their first time here in Saudi Arabia, and I didn’t miss a chance to see them,” she said.

Having been together on the road for 23 years, the singers seemed clearly comfortable on stage, bantering and laughing while performing. They applauded each other when hitting particularly expressive and beautiful notes.

Thomas Wallace Thompson, a Scot who lives in AlUla, said: “It was amazing, a boy band from the 90s was here, all the girls were screaming. I am a man who is nearly 60 years old and still found everything extremely enjoyable. I have so many friends who are fans of Westlife and they are so jealous of me.”

Aisha Ahmed, a Saudi fan who was present at the concert with her husband, said: “The band kept saying that they are taking us through their songs, but it really felt like I went back in time, suddenly I was 13 again and I was listening to them in my bedroom, suddenly I was back with my high school friends dancing with our hairbrushes to their songs.”

Her voice wavered: “I am so emotional right now.”


KSRelief distributes over 92 tons of food baskets in Marib

KSRelief distributes over 92 tons of food baskets in Marib
Updated 19 sec ago

KSRelief distributes over 92 tons of food baskets in Marib

KSRelief distributes over 92 tons of food baskets in Marib

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) distributed 92 tons and 127 kilograms of food baskets in Yemen’s Marib governorate, benefiting 5,166 people.
This is part of the Food Security Support Project 2022, which is being implemented by KSRelief in Yemen and aims to distribute more than 192,000 food baskets weighing more than 20,000 tons to needy and affected families in 15 Yemeni governorates.
KSRelief also continued to implement its voluntary medical project for specialized surgeries in Gambia, which is being carried out from Nov. 28 to Dec. 4.
Since the beginning of the campaign, the voluntary medical team has performed 105 surgeries.
Also, KSRelief distributed 1,644 winter bags in Pakistan, benefiting 11,508 people. 
This comes within the framework of the relief and humanitarian projects and voluntary programs being implemented by Saudi Arabia, represented by the KSRelief, for a number of brotherly and friendly countries.


HMS Hail commissioned into Saudi Arabia’s naval service

HMS Hail commissioned into Saudi Arabia’s naval service
Updated 05 December 2022

HMS Hail commissioned into Saudi Arabia’s naval service

HMS Hail commissioned into Saudi Arabia’s naval service
  • This is the third ship to be launched, following Al-Jubail and Al-Diriya, as part of the Sarawat project

SAN FERNANDO, Madrid: The Royal Saudi Naval Forces has commissioned into active service His Majesty’s Ship Hail at the Navantia shipyard in San Fernando, Spain, state news agency SPA reported.

This is the third ship to be launched, following Al-Jubail and Al-Diriya, as part of the Sarawat project of five combat ships aimed at improving the Kingdom’s maritime defense capabilities and interests.

Rear Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily, Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, together with other Saudi and Spanish officials hoisted the Saudi Arabian flag on the ship to mark its official commissioning into the naval service.

Sawarat is a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Military Industries company and Spain’s state-owned Navantia to build multi-purpose combat ships for the Saudi navy as well as localize 50 percent of military industries by 2030.

Under the joint venture, Saudi Arabia’s navy will also have its first Saudi system, nicknamed Hazm, that would contribute to localize military industries through transformation of technology and national staff intensive training

HMS Diriya, the second ship of the Sarawat project, is scheduled to reach Saudi Arabia early next year after having completed its training program in Spain.

The launch of the fourth and fifth ships, HMS Jazan and HMS Onaiza, will meanwhile take place in Saudi Arabia under the sponsorship of Saudi engineers who have received training in Spain.


Cross-cultural dialogue at heart of Riyadh Philosophy Conference

Cross-cultural dialogue at heart of Riyadh Philosophy Conference
Updated 05 December 2022

Cross-cultural dialogue at heart of Riyadh Philosophy Conference

Cross-cultural dialogue at heart of Riyadh Philosophy Conference
  • Event’s 2nd edition asked questions surrounding space exploration and impact on humanity

RIYADH: Over the course of three days, scientists, writers, historians, professors and philosophers from around the world gathered at the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh to discuss the major issues affecting humanity today.

The second edition of the conference, which concluded on Dec. 3, was dedicated to the theme of “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.”

A total of 71 speakers attended from more than 19 countries around the world, including the US, UK, UAE, Mexico, Italy, Singapore, Italy, Germany and Egypt, making the conference a diverse platform to discuss ideas and topics pertinent to our world today. Attendees numbered around 2,700.

The second edition of the conference was dedicated to questions revolving space exploration and its philosophical and social implications for humanity. (Photo/Huda Bashatah)

“A conference such as this has cross-cultural dialogue at its heart. Inviting and welcoming leading philosophers from all over the world is not a one-way thing,” Dr. Mohammed Hasan Alwan, CEO of the Literature, Publishing & Translation Commission, told Arab News. “It is, instead, a two-way dialogue, with international experts joining their Saudi and regional colleagues in a spirit of intellectual exploration that is far more profound and far-reaching because it is done in a spirit of partnership.”

This year’s conference continues the efforts of last year’s event, which was the first of its kind to take place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “Our conference has been bigger and more ambitious in many ways,” added Alwan.

The conference was established, he said, “because we believe in philosophy and its relevance in our world.”

The second edition of the conference, which concluded on Dec. 3, was dedicated to the theme of “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.” (Photo/Huda Bashatah)

The theme of the conference was highly topical to ongoing debates surrounding space exploration.

“The conference theme is, to coin a science fiction phrase, ‘going boldly where few conferences have gone before,” said Alwan. “We chose a theme that was challenging, and yet which also showed just how philosophical thinking is absolutely vital for humanity, because of its ability to map out entirely new intellectual territory that relates to space exploration, to humanity’s potential extra-terrestrial activities.”

The topic of space exploration is also reflective of Saudi Arabia’s own plans. In September 2022, the Kingdom announced that it had launched a new astronaut program. Its first journey, set for 2023, will carry a female Saudi astronaut, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Over the course of three days, scientists, writers, historians, professors, and philosophers from around the world gathered at the King Fahad National Library in Riyadh to discuss pressing major issues affecting humanity today. (Photo/Huda Bashatah)

“What has been impressive is the ability to speak to a diverse and large population here that you don’t find in academic conferences; attendees this year included even investment bankers and people working in the oil industry,” Nicolas de Warren, professor of philosophy at Penn State University in the US, who was attending the conference for the second time, told Arab News. “I was impressed again by the level of sophistication and questions from the diverse audience.”

De Warren chaired a panel titled “Exploring Space and Time Today.” His research looks at the impact of science fiction literature which, as he says, “imagines not only the exploration of space but what it would mean to enter into contact with other life forms or alien civilizations. It is what is called first contact narratives.”

Such ideas raise the fundamental philosophical question of if we as a species are alone in the universe? Are there other life forms? How do we know if there are other life forms? Why has there been no contact with these other life forms? And what would it really represent if, indeed, one day, there was the discovery that there are other intelligent life forms and civilizations?

De Warren discussed such questions in his panel but went a step further. According to his thesis, these questions do not really concern aliens but ourselves.

“It has to do with the way in which we project our planetary fears onto some imaginary alien to sublimate them,” he said. “From that perspective, it’s not fortuitous that during the 1950s and 1960s, one of the dominant genres of science fiction literature and films was invasion narratives — Martians are coming, and so on. That reflects the sort of sublimation one found during the Cold War.”

Apart from delving into pressing issues involving our world today and fostering cross-cultural dialogue, the conference also had a pedagogical aspect.

A pavilion area with workshops for children called Philosophers of Tomorrow, a Philosophical Camp for philosophical dialogue, and a debating competition for trained teams of college students called Reading Between the Lines Competition underlined the importance of fostering philosophy inquiry and thought within educational platforms, schools and communities in the Kingdom.

“We’ve done more than before to encourage children and young people to participate in the conference through a Philosopher’s Cafe, which has space for members of the audience to discuss philosophical topics with the conference’s speakers,” added Alwan.

This year the conference partnered with more organizations, ranging from international universities, the International Federation of Philosophical Societies, as well as the Saudi Space Commission, and several Saudi organizations engaged in promoting philosophical thinking, such as Baseera, the Saudi Center of Philosophy and Ethics, Mekal Philosophy Club and the Saudi Philosophy Association.

“We abstract the tools that philosophers use and try to invite teachers to apply those tools in their curriculum,” said Dalia Toonsi, educational consultant, founder and general manager of Baseera Educational Consultancy. Baseera, an institute that trains teachers to implement dialogical and philosophical teaching as well as learning methods into the curriculum of Saudi schools, was taking part in the event for the second time.

“People in the Arab world generally don’t think philosophy is an interesting subject,” said Toonsi. Baseera’s work emphasizes the importance of philosophical inquiry in schools.

Toonsi said: “Tools from philosophy entail critical thinking, examining assumptions, deduction and reduction, and inquiry and also caring thinking, related more to children, which gives children the ability to open their minds to different opinions related to philosophical inquiry.”

 

 


People with disabilities take the stage at Gulf Theatre Festival

People with disabilities take the stage at Gulf Theatre Festival
Updated 04 December 2022

People with disabilities take the stage at Gulf Theatre Festival

People with disabilities take the stage at Gulf Theatre Festival
  • Ahmad bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi said: “The initiatives, programs and projects offered to people with disabilities in the Kingdom reflect our wise leadership’s interest in this group … and the achievement of equal opportunities for them”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is currently hosting the sixth Gulf Theater Festival for People with Disabilities at the Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University Conference Center in Riyadh.

The nine-day festival, organized by the Authority for Persons with Disabilities, began on Friday, Dec. 2 and will feature six theatrical performances from the GCC alongside interactive events and theater workshops.

Eng. Ahmad bin Sulaiman AlRajhi, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, caressing a child with disability during the opening ceremony of the Sixth Gulf Theater Festival for People with Disabilities organized by the Authority of People with Disabilities in Riyadh. (SPA)

The festival aims to promote inclusivity, and boost awareness, of people with disabilities.

Ahmad bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, minister of human resources and social development, said: “The initiatives, programs and projects offered to people with disabilities in the Kingdom reflect our wise leadership’s interest in this group … and the achievement of equal opportunities for them.”  

The Kingdom is hosting this session for the first time, with the aim of discovering and developing the talents of our sons and daughters with disabilities in the GCC in the fields of arts and increasing their participation in cultural events.

Ahmad Al-Rajhi, Saudi minister of human resources and social development

He added: “The Kingdom is hosting this session for the first time, with the aim of discovering and developing the talents of our sons and daughters with disabilities in the GCC in the fields of arts and increasing their participation in cultural events.”

Alanoud Alfaqeer, the supervisor of the sixth Gulf Theatre Festival for People with Disabilities, General Manager of Partnerships and Cooperations at APD. (Supplied)

Alanoud Al-Faqeer, the supervisor of the festival, said: “Theater is one of the mechanisms through which the awareness of the public can be raised. Theater helps showcase talents and motivate people with disabilities to integrate into society.”

“Saudi Arabia welcomes all people with disabilities … all arrangements have been made to contribute to the festival’s success and provide support to all participants to showcase their performances in an amazing manner,” she added.

The director of the executive office of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr. Amer Al-Hajri, called for greater efforts to empower people with disabilities by providing them with appropriate opportunities of all kinds to show their talents.

 


Riyadh Season to launch ‘Ana Arabia’ on Saturday

Photo (@RiyadhSeason)
Photo (@RiyadhSeason)
Updated 04 December 2022

Riyadh Season to launch ‘Ana Arabia’ on Saturday

Photo (@RiyadhSeason)
  • The exhibition will feature exclusive and innovative products in fashion, jewelry, perfumes, leather and home accessories in an interactive environment

RIYADH: The exhibition “Ana Arabia” (Arabic for “I am an Arab Woman”), which highlights Arab women in design and fashion, will be launched on Saturday at Riyadh Front, one of the entertainment zones of Riyadh Season.

The exhibition will bring together Arab creators in what will be the largest gathering of its kind in the Middle East.

“Ana Arabia” will display the works of more than 200 designers from across the Arab world, allowing female designers and businesswomen to market their products and exchange experiences in the design sector.

The exhibition will feature exclusive and innovative products in fashion, jewelry, perfumes, leather and home accessories in an interactive environment.

It will also see exclusive meetings with top fashion and beauty experts to present their experiences.

The exhibition will open from 4 p.m. until midnight and will continue until Dec. 16. Tickets can be booked via the link: https://riyadhseason.sa/event-details-en.html?id=598/en_Ana_Arabiya