Top UK band Jamiroquai lauds ‘magical’ concert venue for Saudi festival performance

We can’t wait to see how our funky sounds work in what looks like a truly one-of-a-kind venue — Maraya Concert Hall. Jay Kay
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Updated 04 February 2020

Top UK band Jamiroquai lauds ‘magical’ concert venue for Saudi festival performance

  • Jay Kay: “We were delighted to be invited to this ancient and unique city and are eager to learn more about its culture and history”
  • During their career, Jamiroquai have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide

ALULA: The lead singer of world-famous band Jamiroquai has said he “can’t wait” to perform at AlUla’s “magical” concert venue this weekend.

The award-winning English funk and acid jazz group will be taking to the stage at the Maraya Concert Hall during the second Winter at Tantora festival.

Singer-songwriter and the band’s lead vocalist, Jay Kay, said: “We were delighted to be invited to this ancient and unique city and are eager to learn more about its culture and history.

“We also can’t wait to see how our funky sounds work in what looks like a truly one-of-a-kind venue, the magical, mirrored Maraya Concert Hall. It is a privilege to be able to play around the world and look forward to bringing the party to AlUla.”

The hall is the largest mirror-constructed theater in the world, can hold 500 people, and is fitted with a high-quality sound system. The event, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla, is being held in the city to showcase its unique location, scenic landscapes, history and culture.

Jamiroquai, from London, will perform a selection of their greatest hits which helped define music in the 1990s and beyond.

Fronted by Kay, the group was formed in 1992, and is best known for hits including “Canned Heat,” “Virtual Insanity,” which won video of the year at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, and “Deeper Underground,” which topped the charts in the UK. All eight of their albums made it into the British top 10 charts with three reaching the No. 1 spot.  

During their career, Jamiroquai have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide. Their third album, “Traveling Without Moving” (1996), was named in the Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling funk album in history.

The band also won the Ivor Novello Award for outstanding song collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, in addition to a Grammy, two Billboard Music Awards, and 16 nominations for The BRIT Awards. The Winter at Tantora festival includes many other attractions including local markets, a winter garden, farms and the Old Town of AlUla.

Over the course of 12 weeks, the festival is presenting a range of activities merging Eastern and Western culture, embodying AlUla’s heritage as a meeting point for different civilizations from around the world.

The event takes place every weekend until March 7, and visitors will get the chance to tour the historic heritage sites before they close to the public until October this year. Musical and artistic performances by some of the most respected Arab and international artists will also be staged.

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Saudi Arabia’s reform drive empowering women, US diplomat says

Updated 23 February 2020

Saudi Arabia’s reform drive empowering women, US diplomat says

  • Few outside Kingdom understand the scale of female empowerment, top US diplomat tells Arab News

RIYADH: Few people outside Saudi Arabia grasp the scale of the Kingdom’s reform drive, especially in empowering women, a leading US diplomat has told Arab News.

“I was reminded of this … by a prominent Saudi woman, who is happy and proud of the reforms,” said US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

“She made the excellent point that Saudi women have been strong, capable and educated for a long time.”

The woman told Ortagus that Saudi women wanted their peers in the US to understand them, not feel pity for them. “Saudi women are not in need of being rescued,” Ortagus said,

READ FULL INTERVIEW: Saudi-US bond will last another 75 years, says US State Department spokesperson

Ortagus lived in Saudi Arabia for almost two years after she was appointed deputy US Treasury attache in 2010, and has been revisiting for the first time since then.

“It doesn’t even seem like the same country,” she said. “I didn’t recognize it. I couldn’t believe that it was the same diplomatic quarter that I used to live in 10 years ago — it is totally transformed.”

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Washington would always welcome Saudi input on Middle East issues, she said. “We’d love the Kingdom’s help on things like the peace plan and vision that Jared Kushner has laid out. It may not be a perfect plan, but if we’re ever going to have peace in this region, it’s going to come from Saudi Arabia getting in and being involved.”