Live Nation chief: Saudi Arabia is writing a ‘new story’

James Craven, president of Live Nation. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 13 October 2019
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Live Nation chief: Saudi Arabia is writing a ‘new story’

  • Ticket sales of show sell out in 3 days in KSA as opposed to 3 months around the world

RIYADH: “You know two years ago, no one would have ever expected us to bring in international touring artists into Saudi. It’s a new story, and we are spending a lot of time explaining what is happening (in Saudi Arabia) and talking about Saudi,” James Craven, president of Live Nation, told Arab News. “So, I’m trying to get some of these guys to come and see for themselves.”
“I want the people in the industry to come and see the changes, come and see what’s happening and meet the people.”
As for Craven, he has seen the true potential of Vision 2030 and the changes which have taken place in the Kingdom, “I’m hoping to encourage the guys we work with in the music industry from the US and London to come and see because I think they will be staggered at the scale and the operation behind the Riyadh Season.”
“It’s something that I’m really keen to let more people see, to get them excited and engaged in what’s happening in Saudi; to me that’s really important.”
“There is nothing more hospitable than the Saudi people. That’s a reality. We have a big team of people working now and they are from all over the world, including 10 Saudi interns.” he said
The interns were part of a summer program that witnessed first-hand the festivals, music and large public events in the UK. These interns are now engaged in working with Live Nation for the Riyadh Season.
Riyadh Season kicked off with the BTS concert, the largest BTS concert in the region with an audience of about 40,000. “Getting BTS is a huge win, because they are the most in demand.”
Craven recalls when they first announced the concert, he was in Spain and it started trending in Spain about the Riyadh show.
“I went on to look at that tweet and I saw 3k retweets in literally 3 minutes into the announcement and it just kept on going and going.”

I’m hoping to encourage the guys we work with in the music industry from the US and London to come and see because I think they will be staggered at the scale and the operation behind the Riyadh Season.

James Craven, President of Live Nation

Still on the hush and not yet announced, more international concerts are coming to Riyadh, “There are going to be some great shows coming in work, but nothing can be bigger that the BTS!”
However, he remarked that “absolutely fantastic shows” are to come for Riyadh Season, which will appeal to “different ages and demographics.” An announcement of the next Western show can be expected in the coming couple of weeks, he said.
In other countries around the world the sales cycle for concerts would run 3 months before a show to see it sold out, while in Saudi Arabia in a matter of days shows will be sold out.
He said that is “unusual and not typically how it works” around the world. However, this has proven true in Saudi, whether for last year’s Formula E or Jeddah Season.
“There is no doubt that in Saudi, you can actually put it out on sale three days before a show and have it sold out.”
“It (Saudi) seems to change weekly at the moment. I’ve been coming in and out of Saudi for almost nine years. To see what’s happening now is extraordinary. Just to see the joy that all the changes are bringing too, particularly to the young people, is phenomenal, whether that be music or theater or cinema or even just women driving, these changes are profound and you can see how it impacts on people’s daily lives.
“We play a small part by bringing some content and music and it makes people smile, that’s a good thing. It’s an exciting time.”
Riyadh Season has been announced as the biggest season Saudi Arabia has had yet, outstripping the Jeddah and Sharqiyah Seasons. With the opening of tourism visas and the huge range of activities, Riyadh Season expects to attract 5 million visitors.


Guests of Riyadh forum visit marvels of AlUla

Updated 16 sec ago
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Guests of Riyadh forum visit marvels of AlUla

  • The guests were taken on a tour of several archaeological sites
  • The forum organized the visit in partnership with the Royal Commission for AlUla

RIYADH: Guests at the Saudi Media Forum had the opportunity to visit AlUla Governorate over the weekend on a fascinating journey through time.
The guests were taken on a tour of several archaeological sites, including the city of Al-Hijr, the first Saudi site to be included in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s list of World Heritage Sites.
They listened to an introductory explanation of the sites and saw each monument’s impressive and intricate details.
The forum organized the visit in partnership with the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Saudi Broadcasting Authority.
Its purpose was to give guests a unique opportunity to discover the Kingdom’s landmarks. They learned about the area’s history and the various civilizations that left their mark on the region.
The beauty and cultural significance of AlUla have made it a focal point for visitors from around the world.
The third edition of the Saudi Media Forum convened last week to address the evolving landscape of global media. Against the backdrop of rapidly changing trends and challenges, participants delved into discussions surrounding innovative media management strategies and the pursuit of sustainable approaches in the sector.
The forum’s agenda included dialogues on re-evaluating media flow sources and harnessing innovative solutions to meet evolving audience expectations.
Amid accelerated efforts in media modernization and incentives, AlUla has emerged as a pivotal partner in fostering productive cooperation and knowledge-sharing within the media sector.


Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition

Updated 13 min 30 sec ago
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Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition

  • Sara Al-Abdali explores life, death and transformation in her solo show at Hafez Gallery
  • The exhibition explores her personal experiences of loss, drawing inspiration from the plant as a symbol of renewal

JEDDAH: Contemporary Saudi artist Sara Al-Abdali is presenting her second solo exhibition, “Growing Vines of Sodom,” at Hafez Gallery in Jeddah, marking a significant milestone in her artistic career.
In her second solo show, Al-Abdali delves into the intricate relationship between life and death, skilfully using artistic juxtaposition as a medium to explore this profound interplay. The collection showcases a series of paintings and multidisciplinary artworks that prompt viewers to reflect on the delicate balance between existence and departure.
Speaking to Arab News about the inspiration behind her works, Al-Abdali said: “The main inspiration was driven from a personal encounter with a plant that suddenly grew in front of my house, symbolizing resilience and life. The Apple of Sodom plant became a powerful symbol for loss and rebirth, encapsulating the transformative journey I wanted to convey.”
Al-Abdali’s choice to focus on the plant and incorporate motifs like the moth, symbolic of death and transformation, reflects her deep exploration of life’s complexities.
“The exhibition works around metaphors and symbolism surrounding life, death, and transformation, with mediums like hand-prepared pigments emphasizing the theme of new life emerging from death,” she said.
The exhibition explores her personal experiences of loss, drawing inspiration from the plant as a symbol of renewal. Transitioning into a deeply introspective body of work, the collection centers on her three-year exploration of self-portraiture, capturing emotions of loss and despair following her father’s battle with cancer.
Reflecting on her hopes for the audience, she added: “I hope viewers will see the raw and daring nature of my work, delving into themes of mourning and loss often overlooked in society. By normalizing discussions around pain and suffering, I aim to provide a space for contemplation on both life and death.”
Regarding her artistic evolution since her first solo exhibition, Al-Abdali discussed the shift from traditional techniques to experimental approaches in “Growing Vines of Sodom”: “I challenged myself to break from tradition, experimenting with scale and medium, such as charcoal and oil, alongside gouache paintings. This departure from traditional techniques allowed me to delve deeper into personal concepts and work on a larger scale, symbolizing growth and rebirth.”
Her unique perspective continues to shape her creative vision, pushing boundaries and exploring new artistic territories, while staying true to her personal truths as a painter.
“Looking ahead, I am excited for future projects, aiming to expand on the themes explored in my current exhibition. I envision my work evolving into series and larger works, emphasizing the power of painting as a medium of artistic expression,” she said.
Contemplating on art as a full-time career, the Saudi artist added: “Despite the challenges of pursuing art as a full-time career, I remain dedicated to my craft, finding motivation in building a supportive community of fellow painters and maintaining a dedicated studio space. Perseverance and trust in the artistic process are key, and I find the journey of overcoming challenges and painting my truth to be truly rewarding.”
Qaswra Hafez, founder of Hafez Gallery, said: “We’re very happy to host Sara’s second solo. Sara is an exceptional visual instigator and no one captures the soul of this region of Saudi quite like she does.”
The exhibition is open to visitors until the end of Ramadan.


Mawhiba prepares 35 young innovators for global science fair

Updated 24 February 2024
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Mawhiba prepares 35 young innovators for global science fair

  • Mawhiba said that the selected students will join more than 1,800 peers worldwide specializing in science and engineering
  • Mawhiba said that the selected students will join more than 1,800 peers worldwide specializing in science and engineering

JEDDAH: In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) has inaugurated the qualifying program for the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2024.
The program, held at the Mishkat Interactive Center in King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Riyadh, seeks to identify and prepare 35 outstanding individuals from a pool of 45 talented participants. The selected students are poised to represent the Kingdom at the prestigious Regeneron ISEF 2024 in Los Angeles in May.
Mawhiba said that the selected students will join more than 1,800 peers worldwide specializing in science and engineering. They will not only compete for ISEF awards, but also participate in international innovation exhibitions, such as ITEX in Malaysia and TISF in Taiwan.
As part of the program, mentors will review the students’ projects, developing work plans to strengthen and enhance each project before the final submission deadline to ISEF.
Workshops on presentation skills, project display, and understanding the judging mechanism at ISEF are also included in the agenda for participants.
Additionally, the Scientific Ethics Committee will have a crucial role in reviewing specific forms related to scientific ethics followed during experiments for each project. Statistical analysis of selected projects will be conducted to ensure accuracy, with specialists overseeing the development plans for each student.
Toward the end of the workshop, an independent judging committee will make the crucial decision of selecting candidates to join the Saudi science and engineering team. These chosen individuals will then proudly represent the Kingdom at ISEF 2024, competing for its coveted awards.
Mawhiba emphasized the success of previous efforts in fostering a culture of scientific research and innovation in education. This has led to the Kingdom achieving commendable global positions in international participation.
Earlier this month, Mawhiba hosted the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity, Ibdaa 2024, to select students for the Regeneron ISEF 2024 event.
Mawhiba said that the number of students participated in this year’s Ibdaa 2024 has surged by 40 percent, reaching 210,000 compared to 146,000 students last year, who submitted projects in 21 scientific fields.
The foundation selected 180 projects from a pool of 210,000 submissions
The projects included 30 in the energy sector, 26 in materials science, 24 in chemistry, 17 in environmental engineering, 11 in biomedicine and health sciences, and nine in plant sciences.
The Ibdaa 2024 Olympiad aims to discover and support Saudi Arabia’s talented students, fostering their skills and advancing scientific projects.
The annual event provides an innovative environment for collaboration between educational supervisors, education departments and researchers, with a goal to support students.


Kingdom launches heritage metaverse initiative

Updated 24 February 2024
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Kingdom launches heritage metaverse initiative

  • Users can discover cultural attractions in simulated environment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture has launched an initiative in the Metaverse, supported by an artificial intelligence system for Generative Media Intelligence, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The dynamic digital environment allows users to discover the Kingdom’s heritage by taking part in simulated activities.

The collaboration with droppGroup utilizes Hyperledger Fabric 2.5 blockchain technology.

The Saudi heritage Metaverse platform offers a blend of cultural shows, performances and digital innovation.

It includes cultural attractions like the History Walk, dedicated sectors for music, art, history, culinary arts and crafts, as well as mini-video games.

The platform is a fully immersive, web-based experience accessible from a range of devices. (Supplied)

Events will also be streamed on the ministry’s Metaverse platform, such as a symphony concert for Saudi Founding Day.

The platform is a fully immersive, web-based experience accessible from a range of devices, including mobile phones, VR headsets and desktop computers.

The Ministry of Culture scheme aims to encourage global audience to explore Saudi Arabia’s heritage and culture.

Millions of people within the Kingdom will be able to take part in Metaverse events remotely.

Those interested in participating in this unique virtual experience can register via the following link: https://cup.moc.gov.sa/.


Kingdom arrests 19,431 illegals in one week

Updated 24 February 2024
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Kingdom arrests 19,431 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 19,431 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 11,897 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 4,254 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 3,280 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 971 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 39 percent were Yemeni, 57 percent Ethiopian, and 4 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 36 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 15 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.