Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” (Arab News photo/Ali Itani)
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Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

  • “I was transported into a completely different world”: Jay Kay

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”


Saudi halts tourist visas for countries worst hit by coronavirus

Updated 13 min 55 sec ago

Saudi halts tourist visas for countries worst hit by coronavirus

  • Tourist visas will still be available electronically or upon arrival to citizens of other qualifying countries

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism announced on Friday that it has temporarily stopped issuing tourist visas to people in certain countries particularly badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

The affected nations are China, Italy, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Kazakhstan. The decision applies both to electronic visas obtained online and traditional visas issued upon arrival. In addition, tourist visas previously issued to residents of the listed countries will be temporarily suspended.

Tourist visas will still be available electronically or upon arrival to citizens of other qualifying countries, but as a precaution they will not be allowed to visit Makkah or Madinah.

People in countries that are not eligible for electronic visas can check whether they can travel to the Kingdom by calling a helpline on 0096 692 000 0890. Residents of the US, the UK and Schengen nations can call the same number to check whether they can obtain a tourist visa.

The Ministry of Tourism said that the restrictions were designed to protect citizens, residents and tourists, in line with recommendations from health authorities.

“These procedures are temporary and are subject to continuous evaluation by the competent authorities,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

The latest restrictions come a day after Saudi authorities announced temporary bans on Umrah pilgrims and visits to the Prophet’s Mosque. They also said that holders of tourist visas from the countries worst affected by the virus would be refused entry to the country.

Also on Thursday, the Saudi health ministry said there are still “no known cases” of the coronavirus in the Kingdom.