Saudi rooftop event Fowg takes Riyadh nightlife to new heights

MDLBeast’s rooftop music event Fowg features local and international musicians and is one of the popular nightlife spots at Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. (Instagram/mdlbeast)
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MDLBeast’s rooftop music event Fowg features local and international musicians and is one of the popular nightlife spots at Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. (Instagram/mdlbeast)
Saudi rooftop event Fowg takes Riyadh nightlife to new heights
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MDLBeast’s rooftop music event Fowg features local and international musicians and is one of the popular nightlife spots at Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. (Instagram/mdlbeast)
Saudi rooftop event Fowg takes Riyadh nightlife to new heights
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Crowds rolled into a sold out show at a scenic rooftop this weekend in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), boasting lights, dance, and music headlined by Italian DJ Laher. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 December 2023
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Saudi rooftop event Fowg takes Riyadh nightlife to new heights

Saudi rooftop event Fowg takes Riyadh nightlife to new heights
  • Music fans dance the night away at rooftop event featuring Italian DJ Lehar
  • Saudi music events company helps build loyal community

RIYADH: At the weekend in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District, a rooftop event featuring dancing and music with Italian DJ Lehar at the forefront attracted a packed house.

A handful of years ago, a scene like this was only a distant possibility in Saudi Arabia, but today MDLBeast and local creatives have left no stone unturned to make it a reality.

“It’s something beautiful when you have this impact … It was a dream, and now we see it on the rooftops,” Ayman Al-Zurayer told Arab News. He is the founder of the local music events company Desert Sound Entertainment, which brought the festivities to life.




Italian DJ Lehar headlined at Fowg during his third visit to Saudi Arabia. (Instagram/leharmusic)

Lehar, the well-known Italian DJ and producer who grew up in Venice and has performed at events like Tomorrowland, debuted some new tracks as well as ones from his labels. Having performed in Jeddah and Riyadh during his third visit to Saudi Arabia, Lehar said that even Europeans can learn from the booming music scene in the Kingdom.

“In just three years, I have to tell you I see things changing, especially the electronic music scene. It’s become one of the top capitals in the Middle East,” Lehar told Arab News. “The crowd understands everything; they can’t wait to dance. It’s a fantastic crowd.”

For the past few months, MDLBeast, the region’s music and entertainment platform, has made Thursdays a staple for weekly nights out at a unique location overlooking skyscrapers and eye-catching architecture through its first small venue activation Fowg, the Arabic word for “up” or “above.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Fowg music venue by MDLBeast is a unique location overlooking skyscrapers.

• For event updates check the Instagram @desertsound.co and @mdlbeast.

Rayan Al-Rasheed, senior artist booking and operations manager at MDLBeast, told Arab News: “We’re really trying to show that there’s a nightlife here in Riyadh … it’s been amazing. We collaborated with a lot of local brands to make this happen. We really wanted to integrate rather than compete with small businesses that are already on the ground and have communities.

“Desert Sound’s reputation (precedes them) — the amount of activations, the quality, the standard that they deliver. It just made sense to have them as the closing of this edition of Fowg.”

While MDLBeast has been pushing the envelope in the region to host international names, such as headlining its flagship annual music festival Soundstorm, this event sheds light on the locals, Al-Rasheed said.




Rayan Al-Rasheed, MDLBeast senior artist booking and operations manager

Desert Sound champions the same goal through smaller venues that host various artists within the EDM (electronic dance music) genre.

Unlucky partygoers were turned away at the gate of the sold-out show due to the enormous turnout, despite the event only being announced five days previously.

But it was not by accident that the house filled up. The majority of participants are ardent fans of Desert Sound, which distinguished itself by refusing to limit itself to a single-sound brand.

We really wanted to integrate rather than compete with small businesses that are already on the ground and have communities.

Rayan Al-Rasheed, MDLBeast senior artist booking and operations manager

Al-Zurayer added: “Since day one we’ve been trying to provide different experiences for people to trust the brand itself. No matter what we bring, where we go they will follow, and come because they know they’re going to have fun.”

Inaugural event Mars Escape headlined Dutch artist Satori and transported around 1,000 attendees to another dimension made distinct by live art, festival makeup and fire performances within a valley in Riyadh.

Reema Al-Saud, the brand’s co-founder, told Arab News:  “We started small (with) whatever we could handle in order to make people safe, so we could control and see the community and make girls and guys feel safe. You can’t do that with a big number so we started there and slowly evolved until we reached 2,500 — and it’s not going to stop there.”

Al-Zurayer added: “Music is education. It connects people from different languages, different cultures, and here in Saudi Arabia developing our culture in this way … that’s such an amazing way to use music.”

Desert Sound’s next event will take place on Jan. 5 in yet another distinct location. The company champions bringing new names, whether local or international, to the stage through the platform it has created.

Al-Saud said: “We want to orchestrate every preference … Every day someone new comes up but they don’t get the chance because they’re not famous enough, or whatever. But when you give them the opportunity, they exceed in every way.”

Artist and DJ Joj was looking for a medium a year ago to focus on and she eventually found her calling to music. At Desert Sound’s milestone Fowg event, she opened up the night.

“I was going through a tough time and I needed this thing (music) to keep me going ... Tonight, I loved that there were a lot of women on the dance floor who gave me the push to go further,” she told Arab News.

Her set preceded musicians ANT. and Misha Saied, who played back to back before handing gears over to Lehar.

Desert Sound brings the underground scene to the public. It built its brand by hosting acclaimed international names, who are also part of the change to leverage the local scene.

Al-Zurayer said: “This is one of the keys to unlocking internationals to seeing Saudi Arabia as a country that has love and peace. We’ve been a secret country for many years, but now is the time to show them this love. Come and discover us.”

While Fowg has just concluded its gleaming nightlife series, Al-Rasheed said that other experiences will soon surface, including one to be held in the abandoned Irqah Hospital.

To keep up with updates and upcoming events, check the Instagram @desertsound.co.


Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week
Updated 24 min 24 sec ago
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Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

Kingdom arrests 14,955 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 14,955 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 9,080 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 3,088 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,787 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 849 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 42 percent were Yemeni, 56 percent Ethiopian, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 99 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and six were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression

OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression
Updated 02 March 2024
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OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression

OIC to host meeting on Israeli aggression
  • The session will be held at the headquarters of the OIC in Jeddah on Tuesday

Jeddah: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold an extraordinary meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

The session will be held at the headquarters of the OIC in Jeddah on Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha is expected to address the opening session, which will be preceded by a preparatory senior officials’ meeting on March 4 to discuss and adopt the draft agenda and work program, and consider the draft resolution before submitting it to the Council of Foreign Ministers the following day.

On Oct. 11, 2023, Saudi Arabia hosted the extraordinary Joint Arab and Islamic Summit in Riyadh, organized by the OIC and the Arab League. The conference adopted several decisions, in particular assigning a committee of foreign ministers of member states to tour world capitals and international organizations in an effort to stop the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

As part of its continued efforts to stop the brutal Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people since Oct. 7, the OIC held an open-ended executive committee extraordinary meeting at the level of foreign ministers at its headquarters on Oct. 18.

The OIC has also renewed its urgent call for the international community to intervene urgently to stop the crimes of genocide committed by the Israeli occupation, provide international protection for Palestinian civilians, and ensure the arrival of basic supplies and permanent urgent humanitarian relief.


Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation

Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation
Updated 02 March 2024
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Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation

Saudi academy signs deal with Thai university to promote language cooperation
  • Agreement was signed as part of the Human Capability Initiative Conferenc

Riyadh: The King Salman Global Academy for the Arabic Language signed a memorandum of understanding in Riyadh with Prince of Songkla University, Thailand, “to enhance mutual cooperation in dissemination of the Arabic language.”

The agreement was signed as part of the Human Capability Initiative Conference, which began on Wednesday under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

KSGAAL was represented by its Secretary-General, Abdullah Al-Washmi, while Prince Songkla University was represented by its President, Niwat Keawpradub.

The MoU is also aimed at strengthening “teaching, preservation, and fostering scientific and practical relations to mutually benefit and achieve strategic objectives.”

Collaboration will also take place in: Arabic language and its sciences, Arabic language computing, building digital dictionaries, linguistic blogs, developing assistive digital solutions, cooperation in curricula and tools related to teaching Arabic to non-native speakers, administering proficiency tests in Arabic for non-native speakers, and sharing linguistic services and consultations in areas of mutual interest.

The agreement comes within the strategic objectives of the KSGAAL in spreading the Arabic language at the local and international levels, said Al-Washmi.

He told Arab News that Thailand is one of the targeted countries to open Arabic language education centers in coming years as part of KSGAAL’s strategy, which includes establishing a number of centers in countries around the world.

A high-level delegation from the KSGAAL recently visited Thailand and conducted a program that included seminars and discussion sessions to study the status of the Arabic language in the country, he added.

The MoU falls within the initiatives of the KSGAAL, its strategic partnerships with entities concerned with local and international Arabic linguistic development.

These initiatives aim to enhance the level of usage of the Arabic language, strengthen its presence, and preserve it in line with the Human Capability Development Program, one of the programs realizing Saudi Vision 2030.

KSGAAL was established by a decision of the Council of Ministers and is one of the initiatives of the Ministry of Culture aimed at enhancing the role of the Arabic language regionally and globally.

It was established in September 2020 to highlight the status of the Arabic language and activate its role regionally and globally, as well as to enhance its value as an expression of the linguistic depth of Arab and Islamic culture.

KSGAAL works on spreading the Arabic language and ensuring the integrity of its usage in various fields, revitalizing its heritage through study, research, and dissemination, in addition to unifying scientific reference internally regarding the Arabic language and its sciences, and working to achieve this externally.


Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era

Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era
Updated 01 March 2024
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Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era

Jeddah Al-Balad’s new heritage hotels offer glimpse into bygone era
  • Launched by the Historic District Program, the restored houses fuse region’s rich history with contemporary comforts

JEDDAH: Nestled in the heart of Jeddah’s historic district are heritage hotels launched by the Jeddah Historic District Program under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and in partnership with Al-Balad Development Co.

These hotels, including Beit Jokhdar, Beit Al-Rayess and Beit Kedwan, have been meticulously restored while preserving their architectural features to provide guests with an authentic glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

The restoration and rehabilitation of these heritage hotels was carried out in alignment with the highest international standards and the guidelines set out by UNESCO, which designated Jeddah Historic District as a World Heritage Site in 2014.

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage. (Instagram/jeddahalbalad.sa)

Tariq Omar Al-Saggaf, the project manager, told Arab News about the extensive work involved in reviving about 600 heritage buildings in the area. “These buildings are not only being restored but also repurposed for various functions ranging from hotels to residential, administrative, commercial and cultural purposes,” he said.

Through a harmonious blend of historical restoration and modern hospitality, these hotels offer guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich history and architecture of one of Saudi Arabia’s most iconic districts.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The recent agreement between the Jeddah Historic District Program and Al-Balad Development Co. signals a new chapter in the operation of the heritage hotels. • Beit Jokhdar has one of the largest wooden facades in Al-Balad and distinctive elements such as stained glass. • Beit Kedwan, facing Beit Nassif, stands out for its wooden rawasheen and mashrabiyyas.

During an exclusive tour at Beit Jokhdar, Milica Markovic, the general manager of Al-Balad Historic Hotels, told Arab News that the restoration process aimed to maintain the original charm of the buildings: “80 percent of the building has been restored to how it originally was. This building has the biggest roshan window in Jeddah. It has nine rooms and suites and it’s the biggest out of the three that we have.”

She added: “So, that’s why the architecture is actually very unique. It is very important for us to reflect for the guests, although these are hotels (they have) a very homey, elegant vibe.”

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage. (Instagram/jeddahalbalad.sa)

The attention to detail in preserving elements such as the roshan window, wooden ornaments and oil lamp hooks gives guests an insight into the heritage of the region. Local craftsmanship and artistry are also integral to the interior design and ambiance of the hotels, reflecting the cultural richness of Saudi Arabia.

“The ceilings are also original with wood ornament carving that is handmade. We even preserved the old hooks, where they used to put the oil lamps to lighten up the room. Most of the art and furniture you see … most of it has been done locally, so we really try to showcase fully not just the interior design and architecture of Saudi Arabia but also ... the work of the artists,” Markovic said.

Each of the three heritage hotels showcases a different architectural design that highlights the historical and aesthetic value of the buildings.

Beit Jokhdar, for instance, has one of the largest wooden facades in Al-Balad and features distinctive elements such as plaster decorations, arches, stained glass and ornate wooden interiors.

Beit Kedwan, facing Beit Nassif, stands out for its wooden rawasheen and mashrabiyyas, while Beit Al-Rayess is celebrated for its location and architectural features both internally and externally.

Markovic said: “The whole renovation process, I believe, took a little bit more than two years. But to set it up at the hotel and the hotel operation … it’s been only actually three months so we’ve been hardcore working to set everything up for the year.

“The most beautiful thing about these hotels is we don’t have to come up with a fancy marketing strategy or anything, we can just embrace them and share this beautiful history story,” Markovic said.

“Prices go usually from SR5,000 ($1,333) and more per night, but depending on the seasonality event in Jeddah, it can go a certain percentage lower or higher depending on the occupancy.”

Hospitality and dining in all hotels is inspired by an authentic Saudi flavor, “We have hired fantastic young chefs that are basically developing dishes that are inspired by Saudi cuisine, but with a bit of a more modern fine dining and elegant twist,” Markovic said.

The recent agreement between the Jeddah Historic District Program and Al-Balad Development Co. signals a new chapter in the operation of the heritage hotels.

With 34 heritage houses set to be managed under this partnership, Al-Balad Hospitality aims to offer authentic hospitality experiences that celebrate the culture of the region.

The commitment to preserving the history and providing enriching experiences positions Jeddah Historic District as a sought-after destination for visitors worldwide.

The opening of the first three heritage hotels in Jeddah Historic District marks a significant milestone in efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage.

 


King Saud University pioneers in metaverse technology

The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)
The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)
Updated 01 March 2024
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King Saud University pioneers in metaverse technology

The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)
  • Unveiled on the inaugural day of the “Fomex” exhibition at the third Saudi Media Forum which was conducted earlier this month, the virtual space meticulously mirrors the intricate details and units in the media department

JEDDAH: In a transformative leap towards technological integration, the Department of Mass Communication at the King Saud University has harnessed the power of metaverse technology and artificial intelligence tools to create a groundbreaking virtual space that encapsulates the essence of the university’s communication landscape.

The genesis of this project traces back to a collaborative effort by Majedah Alsewaiah and Khadeja Moraished, both from the Department of Mass Communication.

The first Metaverse space at the level of Saudi universities for the Department of Media at King Saud University. (Supplied)

Inspired by their training in AI journalism and the metaverse, the duo conceptualized a virtual environment that would serve as a dynamic showcase of the department’s achievements and milestones.

Unveiled on the inaugural day of the “Fomex” exhibition at the third Saudi Media Forum which was conducted earlier this month, the virtual space meticulously mirrors the intricate details and units in the media department.

HIGHLIGHT

The metaverse’s virtual space enhances immersive learning by enabling students to actively engage in their education, such as participating in historical simulations or real-time language practice with avatars.

From the head of the department’s office to the various cutting-edge studios and centers, such as the digital and visual media lab, electronic journalism lab, and the university’s newspaper headquarters, every facet is intricately woven into this digital tapestry.

Moraished, who is a Ph.D candidate in digital media at the Mass Communication Department at KSU, told Arab News: “After earning our diploma in AI journalism and the metaverse, Dr. Majedah Alsewaiah, an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication, and I developed a project for our final submission, showcasing the accomplishments of the media department. This led to the conception of utilizing metaverse technology to craft a virtual environment.

“We proposed the idea using metaverse technology for a virtual space to Dr. Faisal Al-Oqail, head of the media department, and the project was refined to mirror the department’s various units and key university landmarks, including the iconic book roundabout, emblematic of the KSU,” she said.

Moraished said that the metaverse’s virtual space enhances immersive learning by enabling students to actively engage in their education, such as participating in historical simulations or real-time language practice with avatars.

“Virtual reality allows for hands-on interaction with complex concepts. It facilitates global collaboration by removing geographical barriers, connecting students and educators worldwide for joint projects and exchanging teaching methods. This fosters cross-cultural learning and prepares students for a future where global cooperation is crucial.”

Alsewaiah credits the media department of the KSU with pioneering innovation in the metaverse sphere.

Embracing Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse as “the future of the internet,” she said that “the university’s virtual space supports its commitment to digital advancement and knowledge dissemination.”

Central to the project’s success is the seamless integration of AI tools in editing, designing, and production.

Looking ahead, Alsewaiah envisions further expansion and enhancement of the metaverse project, propelling educational excellence and fostering creativity in communication and media realms.

“The transition to the metaverse will spark competition and primarily enhance education by facilitating knowledge transfer and interaction between professors and students. Utilizing the metaverse and AI for creative outputs will also advance communication, and media, and elevate Saudi media’s effectiveness and distinction,” said Alsewaiah.