Saudi rooftop event Fowg takes Riyadh nightlife to new heights

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MDLBeast’s rooftop music event Fowg features local and international musicians and is one of the popular nightlife spots at Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. (Instagram/mdlbeast)
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MDLBeast’s rooftop music event Fowg features local and international musicians and is one of the popular nightlife spots at Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. (Instagram/mdlbeast)
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Crowds rolled into a sold out show at a scenic rooftop this weekend in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), boasting lights, dance, and music headlined by Italian DJ Laher. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 December 2023

Saudi rooftop event Fowg takes Riyadh nightlife to new heights

  • Music fans dance the night away at rooftop event featuring Italian DJ Lehar
  • Saudi music events company helps build loyal community

RIYADH: At the weekend in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District, a rooftop event featuring dancing and music with Italian DJ Lehar at the forefront attracted a packed house.

A handful of years ago, a scene like this was only a distant possibility in Saudi Arabia, but today MDLBeast and local creatives have left no stone unturned to make it a reality.

“It’s something beautiful when you have this impact … It was a dream, and now we see it on the rooftops,” Ayman Al-Zurayer told Arab News. He is the founder of the local music events company Desert Sound Entertainment, which brought the festivities to life.

Italian DJ Lehar headlined at Fowg during his third visit to Saudi Arabia. (Instagram/leharmusic)

Lehar, the well-known Italian DJ and producer who grew up in Venice and has performed at events like Tomorrowland, debuted some new tracks as well as ones from his labels. Having performed in Jeddah and Riyadh during his third visit to Saudi Arabia, Lehar said that even Europeans can learn from the booming music scene in the Kingdom.

“In just three years, I have to tell you I see things changing, especially the electronic music scene. It’s become one of the top capitals in the Middle East,” Lehar told Arab News. “The crowd understands everything; they can’t wait to dance. It’s a fantastic crowd.”

For the past few months, MDLBeast, the region’s music and entertainment platform, has made Thursdays a staple for weekly nights out at a unique location overlooking skyscrapers and eye-catching architecture through its first small venue activation Fowg, the Arabic word for “up” or “above.”


• Fowg music venue by MDLBeast is a unique location overlooking skyscrapers.

• For event updates check the Instagram and @mdlbeast.

Rayan Al-Rasheed, senior artist booking and operations manager at MDLBeast, told Arab News: “We’re really trying to show that there’s a nightlife here in Riyadh … it’s been amazing. We collaborated with a lot of local brands to make this happen. We really wanted to integrate rather than compete with small businesses that are already on the ground and have communities.

“Desert Sound’s reputation (precedes them) — the amount of activations, the quality, the standard that they deliver. It just made sense to have them as the closing of this edition of Fowg.”

While MDLBeast has been pushing the envelope in the region to host international names, such as headlining its flagship annual music festival Soundstorm, this event sheds light on the locals, Al-Rasheed said.

Rayan Al-Rasheed, MDLBeast senior artist booking and operations manager

Desert Sound champions the same goal through smaller venues that host various artists within the EDM (electronic dance music) genre.

Unlucky partygoers were turned away at the gate of the sold-out show due to the enormous turnout, despite the event only being announced five days previously.

But it was not by accident that the house filled up. The majority of participants are ardent fans of Desert Sound, which distinguished itself by refusing to limit itself to a single-sound brand.

We really wanted to integrate rather than compete with small businesses that are already on the ground and have communities.

Rayan Al-Rasheed, MDLBeast senior artist booking and operations manager

Al-Zurayer added: “Since day one we’ve been trying to provide different experiences for people to trust the brand itself. No matter what we bring, where we go they will follow, and come because they know they’re going to have fun.”

Inaugural event Mars Escape headlined Dutch artist Satori and transported around 1,000 attendees to another dimension made distinct by live art, festival makeup and fire performances within a valley in Riyadh.

Reema Al-Saud, the brand’s co-founder, told Arab News:  “We started small (with) whatever we could handle in order to make people safe, so we could control and see the community and make girls and guys feel safe. You can’t do that with a big number so we started there and slowly evolved until we reached 2,500 — and it’s not going to stop there.”

Al-Zurayer added: “Music is education. It connects people from different languages, different cultures, and here in Saudi Arabia developing our culture in this way … that’s such an amazing way to use music.”

Desert Sound’s next event will take place on Jan. 5 in yet another distinct location. The company champions bringing new names, whether local or international, to the stage through the platform it has created.

Al-Saud said: “We want to orchestrate every preference … Every day someone new comes up but they don’t get the chance because they’re not famous enough, or whatever. But when you give them the opportunity, they exceed in every way.”

Artist and DJ Joj was looking for a medium a year ago to focus on and she eventually found her calling to music. At Desert Sound’s milestone Fowg event, she opened up the night.

“I was going through a tough time and I needed this thing (music) to keep me going ... Tonight, I loved that there were a lot of women on the dance floor who gave me the push to go further,” she told Arab News.

Her set preceded musicians ANT. and Misha Saied, who played back to back before handing gears over to Lehar.

Desert Sound brings the underground scene to the public. It built its brand by hosting acclaimed international names, who are also part of the change to leverage the local scene.

Al-Zurayer said: “This is one of the keys to unlocking internationals to seeing Saudi Arabia as a country that has love and peace. We’ve been a secret country for many years, but now is the time to show them this love. Come and discover us.”

While Fowg has just concluded its gleaming nightlife series, Al-Rasheed said that other experiences will soon surface, including one to be held in the abandoned Irqah Hospital.

To keep up with updates and upcoming events, check the Instagram

Riyadh to host first international sand and dust storm conference next week

Updated 10 sec ago

Riyadh to host first international sand and dust storm conference next week

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Meteorology will host the first International Conference on Sand and Dust Storms from March 4-6 in Riyadh.

The forum, organized by the World Meteorological Organization’s Sand and Dust Storm Warning Regional Center, is expected to draw wide international participation and aims to address the growing global challenge posed by dust and sand storms.

Over 200 researchers, experts, and specialists from around the world, including WMO representatives, will gather to share the latest advancements in dust and sand storm research, said the center.

The conference is slated to discuss a wide range of critical topics, including sources of dust aerosol formation, dust-climate interactions, health impacts and mitigation strategies, monitoring and predictive modeling, and economic, infrastructural, and environmental consequences of dust storms on various sectors.

The conference will underscore the urgent need to combat dust and sandstorms, in view of their significant impacts on the environment, public health, and economies.

Such storms can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, disrupt solar energy production, degrade air quality, alter weather patterns, and disrupt biogeochemical cycles.

This international conference serves as a crucial platform where scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders from around the world exchange knowledge and collaborate, paving the way for a more coordinated and effective approach to tackling the global challenge of dust and sand storms.

International and regional initiatives have been taken to study these impacts and come up with mitigating strategies.

The Middle East, with its vast arid and semi-arid landscape, is a major source of dust particles.

The increasing frequency and intensity of dust storms in the region, attributed to changes in land use and vegetation cover degradation, needs further comprehensive research to fully understand their far-reaching effects.

Saudi Arabia has taken important steps to mitigate climate change and combat sand and dust storms including the Saudi Green Initiative launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021, which aims to address local and global environmental challenges.

Established under Saudi Vision 2030, SGI is an ambitious plan focused on combating climate change, protecting the environment for future generations and improving the quality of life.

It unites all the efforts towards Saudi Arabia’s mission of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 through the creation of a circular carbon economy. The Kingdom has also pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually by 2030.

By 2030 Saudi Arabia plans to plant 600 million trees, restore 3.8 million hectares of land and champion biodiversity conservation as part of the SGI’s 10 billion trees goal.

In March 2019, the Kingdom established the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification with the aim of increasing green areas and rehabilitating degraded vegetation sites.

Moreover, the Kingdom launched the Middle East Green Initiative in April 2021, the most comprehensive program of its kind in the world, as a support for the SGI.

The aim of launching the MGI is to plant 50 billion trees, equivalent to 5 percent of the global afforestation goal.

All of these efforts will help in mitigating desertification, reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and enhance biodiversity. It also shows Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainable development and addressing the challenges of climate change and sand and dust storms.

Hiking unites adventurers in peaks of Baha

Updated 13 min ago

Hiking unites adventurers in peaks of Baha

RIYADH: The scenic landscapes, unique terrain, and enchanting ambiance of Baha’s mountains have attracted thousands of tourists, both local and international.

Among the prominent attractions for hikers from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf are the upper and lower Mount Shada.

The region does not only cater for walkers, but it also attracts adventure sports enthusiasts taking part in activities such as paragliding.

As winter unfolds, many visitors have started heading toward the region, particularly the Tihamah sector.


Head of the Southern Travelers Team, specializing in long-distance journeys, Abdulrahman bin Ali Al-Ghamdi, pointed out the adoption of the Baha peaks trail for hiking.

The 175-km trail takes in heritage villages with special architectural character, various museums, tourist attractions, and several parks.

Baha’s natural and sporting attractions make it a standout choice for many tourists.

Saudi foreign minister warns of ‘catastrophic consequences’ if Israel attacks Rafah

Updated 47 min 24 sec ago

Saudi foreign minister warns of ‘catastrophic consequences’ if Israel attacks Rafah

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday warned against the 'catastrophic consequences' of any Israeli attack on Rafah, south of Gaza, during his speech at the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council. 

“In this light, we warn against the disastrous repercussions of an attack on Rafah, as the last refuge for civilians, who are there due to the displacement by the Israeli army.” 

Bin Farhan denounced the double standards adopted by some countries toward the crisis in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. He also reiterated calls for an immediate ceasefire. 

“We call on the international community to bear its responsibility to put an end to escalation and war, protect civilians, in order to pave the way for a clear and legitimate peace process that includes all parties.”

Saudi Arabia launches first international music academy in Taif

Updated 26 February 2024

Saudi Arabia launches first international music academy in Taif

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s first international music academy, the Nahawand Center, was launched in Taif on Sunday. A cooperation agreement was signed between the Nahawand Academy of Arts and the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music.

The Gnesins Academy is among Russia’s most important international academies and one of the oldest globally, having been established over 120 years ago. It also has branches in the US, the UK, France, and other countries.

Abdullah Rashad, general supervisor of Nahawand Center, said that the cooperation aims to enhance the competency of those working in the music field in the Kingdom. “It also seeks to support talents and practitioners in music and arts, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030,” he said.

The objective is to ensure that the “music sector contributes to the local economy and creates job opportunities,” he added.

Ahmed Al-Shamrani, executive director of Nahawand Center, stated that the academy will focus on developing educational programs and musical research, accrediting official certificates for international trainees, and exchanging teachers, students, and joint academic work.

The partnership will also involve the organization of cultural events between the Kingdom and Russia.

Angie Zadan, representative of Gnesins Academy, welcomed the partnership, adding that the exchange of expertise and qualitative experiences will refine people’s musical taste, as well as develop creative content.

She added that the impact of the partnership will reach both practitioners in the field and enthusiasts, noting that it represents a significant opportunity to introduce people to the history and musical arts of both countries.

During the ceremony, a band performed the folk dance known as majrour, popular in Taif. An art exhibition was also held on the occasion.

Attendees toured the academy’s various departments, including the piano and vocal warm-ups department where some students performed, the oud and oriental singing department, and the content creation pavilion.

The event also included several musical performances by a number of the Nahawand Center’s students.

The Nahawand Center is accredited by the General Authority of Media Regulation and the General Entertainment Authority in the arts, talents and music sector.

Saudi interior minister meets with Tunisian counterpart

Updated 26 February 2024

Saudi interior minister meets with Tunisian counterpart

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdulaziz met on Sunday in Tunis with the Interior Minister of Tunisia, Kamal Feki.

During the meeting, a number of topics of common interest were discussed, in addition to reviewing the agenda of the 41st session of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, scheduled for Tunis on Monday.

The meeting was attended by a number of members of accompanying delegations of the Saudi and Tunisian ministers, and representatives of Arab security and police organizations.