Radio has its history and legacy in the Kingdom

Updated 14 February 2013
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Radio has its history and legacy in the Kingdom

As the World Radio Day was celebrated yesterday across the world, radio continues to evolve in the digital age and remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide.
In the Kingdom, it is quite popular. The arrival of online radio stations has boosted its popularity even further. The history of radio in Saudi Arabia goes back to 1949 when airwaves were filled with the recitation of Holy Qur’an that won the heart of millions across the Kingdom. In earlier decades, large wooden box radios were confined to the elite. Later, transistor radios reached masses. Now, radio in Saudi Arabia has been completely reshaped by the various private players that entered the sector after the government opened up licenses to them.
In the new digital era, TV, cellular technology and social media dominate the field of information and entertainment. Yet radio stations in Saudi Arabia have persevered. Many broadcasters thought that the time for radio is over with the introduction of social media. However, the reality is quite different. Many listeners tune in to online radio stations nowadays. A large number of radio listeners tune in while driving. Broadcast experts say that radio listenership consists of more than 60 percent in vehicles. Over 70 percent of the listeners are men. The lions’ share of listeners is young.
Saudi Radio has a prominent role in the Kingdom. The station traditionally broadcasts Qur’an reading, Islamic lectures, news and entertainment. In 1994, MBC FM has made significant inroad into Saudi listeners.
In 2011 five new FM stations were allowed to operate that expect to have an audience of 25 million. All FM stations are targeting youth and offer a variety of info and entertainment programs.
As the number of stations grows and the competition stiffens, the content of a broadcast has become questionable with some broadcasters. The competition leads to attempts to monopolize music and barring others from broadcasting it. Saudi-based radio programs have received a wide acceptance, not only at home but also across the Arab world.
Though there is a wide range of choice available to Arabic listeners, English listeners have little choice in the Kingdom. Only a few stations offer broadcast services in English.
Radio Riyadh FM is popular with English listeners. Football-loving English speakers turn to the English service of Jeddah Radio. US Armed Forces Network is available on different frequencies and is largely appreciated for their Western music. Aramco’s FM also has a sizeable audience.
Many Asian expatriates living in central and eastern region also listen to the broadcast services of their choice from various stations in neighboring GCC countries.
Jeddah Radio’s Urdu service broadcasts in the afternoon and has a large following. The programs of Jeddah Radio are quite popular during Haj season, as the programs contain a variety of topics supported by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Saudi Radio broadcasts programs during Haj season in English, French, Urdu, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Swahili, and Turkish. Programs in Urdu and Bahasa Indonesia remain the most popular due to the high influx of pilgrims from the subcontinent and Indonesia.
Apart from drivers, a vast majority of people who work in remote areas cannot access satellite television while at the job. They are also unable to read newspapers, so they depend on radio service. Print media reach an educated audience in an office environment. Radio reaches across deserts in all parts of Kingdom.


Spectacular shows celebrate Saudi National Day in style

Updated 21 September 2019

Spectacular shows celebrate Saudi National Day in style

  • Public will be treated to festivals, concerts and firework displays

RIYADH: With the celebrations for Saudi Arabia’s National Day is in full swing this weekend, there is no shortage of events taking place across the Kingdom.

Among the most interesting and spectacular are three international shows being staged in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, including a special performance by the world-famous Cirque du Soleil.

“Tariq Al-Himma” will take the audience on a unique and extraordinary artistic journey through the past, present and future of Saudi Arabia, in a show filled with national pride. You can catch the hour-long performance at the Green Halls in Riyadh from September 21 to 23, starting at 9:30 p.m. each night. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Al-Hamra Corniche in Jeddah is the location for “Star Island” on September 23 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thousands of fireworks will paint the sky with dazzling colors, accompanied by sounds, light effects and laser beams.

The world’s most popular circus show, Cirque du Soleil, presents a specially created hour-long show for Saudi National Day at the Dhahran Expo in Dammam. Featuring 40 artists performing a variety of acrobatic routines, the show begins at 9 p.m. each night until September 23.

The season of events marking the celebration of the Kingdom’s National Day, which falls on September 23, includes more than 40 entertainment, cultural and sporting events and activities across the country. They include festivals, concerts, firework displays, youth forums and public celebrations.