‘Spirit of the Dance’ stars dazzle audiences in Riyadh with Irish, Falmenco fused rhythms

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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
Updated 10 March 2018

‘Spirit of the Dance’ stars dazzle audiences in Riyadh with Irish, Falmenco fused rhythms

RIYADH: Music-lovers took a dazzling journey from past to present at the King Fahd Cultural Center as “Spirit of the Dance” fused traditional Irish song and dance with fiery flamenco and sultry tango rhythms.
The award-winning dance performance — now in its 20th year — has been seen by more than 30 million people around the world and has broken box office records in more than 20 countries.
“Spirit of the Dance” is being staged in the Kingdom for the first time by the Knight Group together with the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which last month announced an entertainment bonanza, with more than 5,000 events scheduled this year.
Knight Group founder and CEO Fouad Halabi told Arab News: “The GEA has been very helpful showcasing this world-famous show. For us, as an organizer and producer, it was not feasible at the beginning to bring such a great show here, but the GEA was instrumental in understanding how the show should be organized to respect both the local and Irish culture.
“Now we are very excited about this breathtaking show. We hope after seeing the performances, people will learn about the Irish culture,
about this art.”
The GEA was established in line with the goals of Vision 2030 to diversify the entertainment sector and broaden the range of entertainment options. Opera and jazz have been featured recently.
“Spirit of the Dance” will travel to Jeddah for performances on March 15-16 at the King Abdullah Economic City.
The Irish ambassador in Riyadh, Tony Cotter, one of several diplomats at Thursday’s show, said: “I am happy to see the amount of social change taking place in Saudi Arabia — it is fantastic to see famous Irish dance being performed on stage in the Kingdom.”
Commenting on the Kingdom’s growing entertainment sector, Cotter said: “There is a huge development in this area. The GEA is doing a superb job bringing different forms of entertainment to the Kingdom — we have seen opera, jazz concert, now this ‘Spirit of the Dance’ show. I can see a bright future for the entertainment sector here.”
The “Spirit of the Dance” stars mesmerized their audience, delivering the powerful rhythms of Irish dance combined with the passionate Latino rhythms of tango, flamenco, and red-hot salsa.
Jameela Balahmar, a marketing specialist with Mobily, told Arab News: ” I am a big fan of the Irish dance, and was really excited to watch this event. Now, seeing it live, is truly an amazing experience for me and my generation, especially for women in Saudi Arabia.”
The show coincided with International Women’s Day.
“Earlier, we were having to watch it on YouTube and television or travel to experience it. Thanks to the GEA and the Knight Group for bringing it here — making a dream come true to watch it live in my hometown.”
Abdullah Ramadhan, a project manager with the IT giant Dell, said: “This show is absolutely amazing. Everybody applauds the efforts of the GEA. For a long time, we were not exposed to different cultures and lifestyles in the world, so it makes a lot of sense now as the world moves closer to be more and more connected. It is good that our authorities are now inviting famous groups from various parts of the world so we can experience their culture and learn about their society.
“Assimilation of cultures from different parts of the world with our local heritage is important. If you are exposed to different cultures, it is a good learning experience,” he said.


The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

Updated 30 October 2020

The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

The Hajjana — fearless camel riders who patrolled the Kingdom’s borders — helped pave the way for the establishment of the modern Saudi state.
Their story goes back almost 90 years when a Hajjana border patrol was established during the reign of King Abdul Aziz in 1933.
After the Kingdom’s founder reclaimed Al-Ahsa, he ordered sea and land patrols to be carried out to tighten security in the region’s border areas.
Patrols were led by camel riders, so a military sector was formed at that time known as Hajjana. Its name was derived from their means of transport — camels.
Now, nine decades later, the Camel Club has established the Royal Hajjana to commemorate the group’s distinguished cultural heritage.
Since its creation in April, the Royal Hajjana has been preparing to take part in official reception ceremonies for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s guests as well as national festivals sponsored by the king and crown prince.
It will also perform in Saudi heritage shows and represent the Kingdom in local and international camel festivals.
Hajjana officers became famous throughout the country after acquiring their name from the “hejin,” or camel. They protected the Kingdom’s residents from the south of the Empty Quarter to north of the Nafud Desert.
One of the founding king’s priorities was to provide security and protect the nation’s borders, so the Border Guard was among the first military sectors created.
The Coast Guard’s budget also included allocations for Hajjana officers, known as the Hajjana patrol commanders, whose role was part of the Frontier Corps.
Patrols continued to operate in southern regions until recently. However, the memory of the Hajjana remains fresh in the minds of the Kingdom’s border guards.