Sharqiah Season’s opening weekend electrifies Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

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Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend as part of the first of 11 festivals planned across the Kingdom in 2019. Festivities are set to run until March 30. Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center
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Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend as part of the first of 11 festivals planned across the Kingdom in 2019. Festivities are set to run until March 30. Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center
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Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend as part of the first of 11 festivals planned across the Kingdom in 2019. Festivities are set to run until March 30. Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center
Updated 19 March 2019

Sharqiah Season’s opening weekend electrifies Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

  • Visitors to the first of 11 Saudi Seasons were treated to skateboarders, stilt walkers, concerts, forums and fireworks
  • The 17-day festival features more than 80 entertainment and sporting events and continues until March 30 

ALKHOBAR: You could feel the electricity in the air, and not just from the lightning on Thursday night. Visitors at the first Sharqiah Season turned out in their thousands all along the East Coast, despite high winds and the odd sprinkling of rain, and were treated to everything from skateboarders and stilt walkers to music, motorbikes, fireworks and concerts on the first weekend of the 17-day festival.

Sharqiah Season, featuring more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, is the first of 11 festivals planned for the Kingdom in 2019, organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, with the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority. 

It was impossible to miss the buzz in Alkhobar on the opening night, with searchlights in the sky marking the sites of two large areas set up on the Corniche: One for entertainment, the other for a cultural village. 

“What’s happening in Sharqiah is humongous, to tell you the truth, and it’s only the first day,” said Labeed Assidmi, a vendor in the Crystal Market zone near the entrance. “Saudi is changing for the better, and everyone is so excited.”

Assidmi said he had watched big events elsewhere in the Kingdom with anticipation. “I’m a huge fan of music, so when the concerts in Riyadh and Jeddah happened, like those at Formula E, I was  jealous. It feels so good to finally have Sharqiah recognized.”

While international music acts Pitbull, Akon and DJ Tiesto perform next weekend, big-name Arabic singers Mohammed Abdo and Rashed Al-Majed entertained the crowds this weekend.In Dammam’s Life Park, the Montreal troupe Cirque Eloize played to a packed house on opening night.

Strong winds put off the fireworks planned the night of the opening, but the crowds were still treated to a light show on the Khobar Water Tower. Hind Mubarak, who had come to the Corniche with her family, said: “It is a little disappointing, especially for the kids, but the light show was fun
to watch.”




Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend . (Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center)

See more photos from Sharqiah Season’s opening weekend here

Those who came out to watch the fireworks in Al-Ahsa on Friday night were not disappointed. Ghuneim Abdelatee, 57, was there with his granddaughter.

“She has never seen fireworks before,” he said. “In fact, there are many firsts that she is experiencing here now in Saudi. You can say the same for me, too. The music concerts, the cinemas, so much to see and do here now.

“People used to go to Bahrain for entertainment. Now I think they will be going less.”




Sharqiah festivities drew crowds from far and wide on its opening weekend . (Arab News photo by Essam Al Ghalib/EP Media Center)

Also taking place at King Abdullah Adventure Park was the FISE “Battle of the Champions,” bringing together the top 12 skateboarders in the world, all vying for the number one position.

“To practice on a ramp like this is a dream come true,” said Moaiyad Al-Salmi, 20. “We need a proper skate park built here, something that would bring the community of Saudi and non-Saudi skaters together. If we had events like this every weekend, and skate parks like this everywhere, we would find a Saudi competing for the World Series.”

The Ithra Forum, organized in various cities throughout the month, will provide people with more intellectual pursuits.

“Curiosity” was the opening

topic at Dhahran’s King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture, where speakers included Faisal Al-Saif, founder of TechPills, filmmaker Hakeem Jomah, and “Telfaz11” personalities Faris and Sohayb Godus.

While not all the events went as planned — Friday’s Naseer Shamma concert in Al-Ahsa’s Ibrahim Palace was rescheduled at the last minute — one thing is certain. If you were wondering what to do at the weekend, the coming weeks will give you plenty of choice.

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Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.


UAE embassy in Riyadh launches virtual exhibition to bring people closer together 

Updated 31 min 35 sec ago

UAE embassy in Riyadh launches virtual exhibition to bring people closer together 

  • The exhibition is titled “Closer Through Art” and began earlier this month
  • It brought together 25 artists in a virtual experience that imitates the experience of a gallery

JEDDAH: In an effort to continue supporting artists in the region and further enhance bilateral cultural ties, a virtual art exhibit is bringing artists and art enthusiasts closer.
The UAE Embassy in Riyadh launched a virtual exhibition, gathering together young and prominent artists from the two countries as an invitation to the community to get closer through art. 
The exhibition titled “Closer Through Art” began earlier this month, joining 25 artists from different backgrounds and ages in a virtual experience that imitates the experience of the gallery in an attempt to feel close when physically distant during the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted the Kingdom and UAE to close its borders for travel. 


The exhibit also allows art enthusiasts to enjoy such experiences and engage with artists from their homes as it helps visitors to connect with artists through their social media accounts. It also invites the public to explore the arts and realize their importance in the lives of nations. 
Abdulaziz Alabdulaziz, a Saudi artist and photographer, participated in the exhibition with his work titled “Cocoon,” which represents connection and coherence. 
“Participating in this exhibition at such a time is very important because arts played an essential role in bringing us together during the pandemic when we had to stay apart as a means of treatment,” Alabdulaziz told Arab News. 
Saudi artist, Tagreed Al-Bagshi, has always represented the values of peace, hope and determination in her work. And at times like this, Al-Bagshi believes artists play an important role in documenting the current historical, cultural and societal moment, a mission which she took on herself. 


She participated with a painting that aimed to freeze the current historical moment and express the current behavioral interactions in society and its impact in the long term while employing her higher values of hope and peace.
“I also wanted to send a message of hope and remind others that all that’s happening today will soon become part of our memories,” Al-Bagshi told Arab News.
Artist Asrar Al-Qarni participated with a painting titled “Can you see me?” to express feelings of loss. “In these circumstances in which the entire world lives in, we need art as a means of comfort and consolation, even if it is not tangible,” she told Arab News. 


“In my work, I wanted to remember the losses and say that even when people leave, their souls and memories remain with us,” she said.
Al-Bagshi thanked the UAE embassy for organizing the exhibition. “I am really thankful for them giving us the opportunity to create something beautiful, innovative and educational out of nothing,” she said. “This initiative is introducing new horizons to our art scene and our perceptions about arts and galleries.”
The virtual exhibition can be accessed on the link https://artconnects.mofaic.gov.ae

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