Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

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The event focuses on highlighting different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each region during different parts of the year. (AN photo by Mo Gannon)
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The event focuses on highlighting different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each region during different parts of the year. (AN photo by Mo Gannon)
Updated 28 March 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

  • Dammam Corniche event celebrates Saudi heritage; more ‘seasons’ to come
  • The festival is being held at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free

DAMMAM: People in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have had no shortage of things to do during the Sharqiah Season. From pop concerts featuring international artists to massive sporting events, there is something for everyone among the 83 different events planned.

However, it would be remiss not to celebrate the heritage and culture of the country itself. The Enter East Coast Festival, an open-air marketplace with plenty of activities for locals and tourists to enjoy.

The festival is being held along the Dammam Corniche, at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free.

It features stalls with craftsmen beavering away. At one, a potter is bent over a wheel as he makes vases, lanterns and small toys. At another, carpenters fashion chairs and tables out of planks of wood. A weaver hums as he plaits together palm fronds to form baskets and fans.

The vendors are mostly from Saudi Arabia, but there are other countries showcasing their work too. 

Fishermen and sailors from Oman display pearls still in their shells, delicate replicas of traditional fishing boats, and stretches of fishing net. The stalls from Kuwait feature items from the past and vendors from Bahrain offer local sweets, handmade items and clothing.

There are Saudi dances and musical performances too. One stage, resembling a ship, features performers dressed as sailors singing traditional sea shanties. Another stage has drummers and a singer. A huge area in the middle of the space is allotted to dancers, flag-bearers, and even armed officers participating in a traditional Ardah, or Saudi dance.

Those looking to eat something can chow down on Saudi offerings including jareesh, margoog, or qursan. There are food trucks selling Western fare such as burgers and tacos. 

The festival runs until March 30, when the Sharqiah Season ends. 

The season is a collaborative effort between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority. It is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country for 2019.

Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city, and different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Decoder

What is Sharqiah Season?

The festival features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Read our reports on the Sharqiah Season festival here: http://www.arabnews.com/tags/sharqiah-season


Saudi-UAE $200m pledge for Yemen wins UN praise

Updated 19 April 2019
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Saudi-UAE $200m pledge for Yemen wins UN praise

  • Transgressions by Houthi militia will not stop us from supporting Yemen, says aid Saudi chief

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council has commended Saudi Arabia and the UAE after the two countries pledged $200 million in humanitarian relief assistance for Yemenis for Ramadan.

Council members voiced their concern that agreements between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Stockholm four months ago were yet to be implemented and called for their immediate implementation.

In a press statement, the council affirmed its support for the Stockholm agreement, and its backing for the special envoy of the secretary-general to Yemen and the chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Redeployment.

The relief assistance has been allocated to UN partners: $140 million to the World Food Programme, $40 million to UNICEF to address sanitation issues and malnutrition among children and mothers, and $20 million to the World Health Organization to tackle cholera and provide intravenous feeding fluids.

“Transgressions by Houthi militia will not stop us from supporting Yemen, especially with the holy month of Ramadan upon us,” said Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).

“We must recognize that the Saudi-led coalition forces (supporting Yemen’s internationally recognized government) ensure the assistance reaches ports or land. However, when the aid reaches militia-controlled regions, there are obstacles preventing beneficiaries from gaining proper access to humanitarian aid. That starvation method is a political tool that the Houthis use to control Yemen,” he said.

Those responsible for these abuses must be held accountable, Al-Rabeeah added.