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.”

Shoppers seek solace online amid coronavirus lockdown

Updated 02 April 2020

Shoppers seek solace online amid coronavirus lockdown

  • Using internet for shopping is fast becoming an essential part of human life in the times of crisis

RIYADH: Under normal circumstances most people do not give much thought to online shopping. However, with the closure of malls and shops because of coronavirus curbs, online shopping has become essential. But are people going overboard?

Many people are buying unnecessary items, such as clothes, bags and shoes, online despite knowing that they will have no use for these items during the pandemic. It seems that through online shopping they are seeking some kind of mental satisfaction or emotional release during house quarantine or self-isolation.

According to Rana Taha, a coach in school planning and management, shoppers who admit to buying unnecessary items online “are trying to break their routine of being quarantined.”

Deema Al-Tammami, an event planner, said: “Online shopping has increased by 100 percent during quarantine. For me, nothing sounds as much fun as online shopping these days.

“Most of our purchases are home appliances because we love to change things around, renovate, and reorder and organize our homes, which helps to relax and release stress,” she said.

“Online prices are significantly lower than normal shopping in stores,” she said.



Amazon has hired extra staff to keep up with worldwide demand and plans to take on an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers through April, according to media reports.

Al-Tammami said that online shopping offers the pleasure of choosing an item with care, reading the reviews and tracking the shipment.

“There is a kind of enthusiasm in it that is totally different from normal shopping.”

Amazon has even hired extra staff to keep up with worldwide demand and plans to take on an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers through April, according to media reports.

However, some who were accustomed to shopping online before the pandemic are avoiding the problem of “going overboard” with excessive

Alanood Al-Alsheikh, a government employee, said that she did 90 percent of her shopping online.

“I usually buy everything — clothes, creams, bags and house supplies — but I always buy from websites that I trust. Pharmaceutical products are much cheaper from international online websites than local ones. And, lately, I have been doing some grocery shopping online, too.

“I don’t know how much I spend online shopping these days, but it’s less than before the quarantine. Now I’m not buying clothes and bags, only creams and beauty products,” Al-Alsheikh said.

Al-Tammami said that she sees little difference in the amount of money being spent online compared with shopping from stores.

“The money we used to spend on restaurants and outdoor activities we are now spending on grocery shopping and games to play at home,” she said.

Maha Al-Nufaiei, a senior analyst, used to shop online before the pandemic, but said that she has stopped because “sanitization of packages is not guaranteed and countries are stealing from each other’s medical supplies.”

“I only shop from local websites,” she said.

Munirah Al-Ajlan, a standardization analyst, said that online shopping has advantages, such as saving time by using filters. “But it certainly has some flaws — usually the shipping might take longer.”

Defective or poorly fitting items also can be hard to return. “I usually don’t send them back and they become useless,” Al-Ajlan said.