Alicia Keys returns to AlUla for concert and 2nd annual Women to Women discussions

Alicia Keys returns to AlUla for concert and 2nd annual Women to Women discussions
Alicia Keys. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 February 2023

Alicia Keys returns to AlUla for concert and 2nd annual Women to Women discussions

Alicia Keys returns to AlUla for concert and 2nd annual Women to Women discussions
  • 15-time Grammy winner returned to AlUla’s mesmerizing Maraya for a concert on Friday
  • On Saturday, she will host Women to Women where the focus will be on the pioneering women in the Kingdom

RIYADH: American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, a 15-time Grammy winner, returned to AlUla’s mesmerizing Maraya for a concert on Friday.

On Saturday, she will host the second annual Women to Women discussion. Princess Reema bint Bandar, who joined Keys and other creative Saudi women at last year’s inaugural conversation, will not be appearing on stage this year but she sent her best wishes for the follow-up.

This year’s event, at Wadi Ashar in Alula, follows the same template set last year: A concert by Keys in the evening followed by a sit-down discussion the following day during which the singer will pass the mic to Saudi women for a frank and open discussion.

The focus will be on pioneering women who have carve paths in the landscape of the Kingdom and digital spaces, paving the way for their peers, with the aim of providing inspiration and mentorship.

Organizers said “speakers will transfer their legacies and wisdom to encourage women’s collective growth and a future-forward mindset.”

The event will begin with what is described as a sound healing session, followed by a number of sessions. The participants will have a chance to interact with Keys and the other speakers during a candid question-and-answer segment.

Moderator Hala Al-Hedaithy, a lawyer and performance poet, will be joined by: Rasha Alkhamis, Saudi Arabia’s first female boxer; Mashael Alobeidan, a professional rally driver; Nada Altuwaijri, a journalist and founder of arts and entertainment factory MERWAS, which holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest music production studio; and Hafsa Alkhudairi, a writer and arts and culture initiatives lead at the Royal Commission for AlUla.

Alkhudairi told Arab News she is honored to be part of the event and looking forward to joining the other women on stage and in the audience.

“It is my privilege and honor to be part of the Women to Women (event),” she said. “I’ve always been influenced by women and impacted by them; it’s only natural that I would love to be part of this panel and discuss the things we will be discussing with this group of amazing women.

“It’s just so overwhelming — in such a good way — because I feel like the accumulation of my work and the accumulation of my understanding of the world is part of this kind of conversation and I’m really excited about it.”

The concert and the Women to Women event are part of a collaboration between the RCU and Good Intentions, a global, Saudi-based creative consultancy co-founded last year by Keys’s husband, producer and creative mogul Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, and Saudi native Noor Taher.

This year’s event is once again supported by another powerhouse duo from the US that recently established a presence in the Kingdom. Luxury lifestyle and culture public relations agency Wunderlich Kaplan Communications, which worked with GI on the inaugural Women to Women event, will do the same this year, with founders Gwen Wunderlich and Dara Kaplan on hand in AlUla to assist GI in its mission to amplify the voices of Saudi women.

Nora Aldabal, executive director of arts and creative industries at the Royal Commission for AlUla, will deliver the closing remarks at the Women to Women event.

“We are delighted to be hosting the second edition of Women to Women with Alicia Keys,” she told Arab News. “It’s important to nurture these collaborations and networks of support and creativity to enable inspirational women to flourish in the context of AlUla’s thriving cultural landscape.”

Keys, meanwhile, said she feels right at home in AlUla.

“There is no denying the beauty and history of AlUla but there is something more,” she said. “As an artist, I feel a sense of belonging and connection — with nature, with humanity, with the past and the future. I love it here and I am excited to make magic again in AlUla.”

Products from Keys newly launched lifestyle beauty brand, “Keys Soulcare,” will be available at the women-owned Base and Boon x AURA salon and spa at Al-Jadidah in AlUla.