Riyadh anticipates return of Diriyah Season

Diriyah Season cultural showcase includes immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, and culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine. (Diriyah Season)
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Updated 06 December 2023
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Riyadh anticipates return of Diriyah Season

  • Three-month cultural calendar is full of surprises that will take you through Kingdom’s culture and heritage

RIYADH: The 2023-2024 Diriyah Season is set to begin on Dec. 12 with a curated three-month calendar of events that combines arts and culture, and live performances and experiences that showcase nearly 600 years of history and heritage.

The season is off to a musically spectacular start with an exceptional lineup of cultural concerts. Tickets for the first cultural concept, featuring the Saudi music legends Rabeh Saqr and Ayed performing in Mayadeen theater, will go on sale on Dec. 10.




Diriyah Season cultural showcase includes immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, and culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine. (Diriyah Season)

This year’s theme honors Diriyah’s story and celebrates Al-Awja in a rallying call for all Saudis to unite and celebrate their shared culture and identity.

The season will be set in five distinct Diriyah locations: Wadi Safar, which will feature a Diriyah cultural basecamp; the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif; Bujairi Terrace; the Mayadeen theater; and Diriyah district.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Diriyah Season is set to begin on Dec. 12 and will conclude in March.

• The theater will also host a theatrical equestrian show and cultural concerts.

• For the first time, Bujairi Terrace will feature a themed escape room called ‘Journey to the Future.’

• For more information, check diriyah.sa/season.

The season “blends the old with the new and takes us on a journey of self-discovery as we reconnect with our authentic selves. This is not just entertainment; it’s entertainment with meaning,” said Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

“We want people from all over the world to see 300 years of our music, our food, our tents, our costuming, our storytelling, our poetry, our calligraphy,” Inzerillo said.




Diriyah Season cultural showcase includes immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, and culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine. (Diriyah Season)

The Diriyah E-Prix championship, immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, plus culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine, are also planned for the season.

The Culinary Arts Commission of the Ministry of Culture will present Shetana, an outdoor winter-evening Saudi culinary experience, every day for four weeks at the Mayadeen theater. There will be a theatrical equestrian show and cultural concerts at the theater as well.




Ahmad Alnuaisri, Diriyah Company assistant manager of media relations

Bujairi Terrace, the fine dining destination, will include an expanded return of Layali Diriyah, which sees one of Diriyah’s heritage farms transformed into an open-air illuminated wonderland, showcasing the best of local and international contemporary art, design, cuisine, dance, live music, poetry and theatrical performances.

For the first time, Bujairi Terrace will also feature a themed escape room called “Journey to the Future,” which will test players’ escape skills and explore the Kingdom’s historical narratives.

What is special about the Diriyah escape room is that it will carry a cultural aspect and requires reviewing your cultural and historical information to solve the puzzles at hand.

Ahmad Alnuaisri, Diriyah Company assistant manager of media relations

“The themed escape room is a unique experience. It is an activity that requires one to be a quick thinker, and quick at making decisions and solving puzzles,” said Ahmad Alnuaisri, assistant manager of media relations at Diriyah Company.

“What is special about the Diriyah escape room is that it will carry a cultural aspect and requires reviewing your cultural and historical information to solve the puzzles at hand,” he said.




Jerry Inzerillo, Diriyah Gate Development Authority CEO

This season’s events planned for the At-Turaif historic district include poetry pop-ups, workshops, a retrospective, an exhibition, Souq Al-Mawsim, and more.

The At-Turaif retrospective explores and embraces the values of At-Turaif’s continuing influence on the Kingdom while bringing Diriyah’s stories and memories together in a multimedia installation. The “Diriyah Doors” exhibition explores the significance and history of the vividly colored, intricately patterned and engraved doors in Diriyah and Najd.

We want people from all over the world to see 300 years of our music, our food, our tents, our costuming, our storytelling, our poetry, our calligraphy.

Jerry Inzerillo, Diriyah Gate Development Authority CEO

The season, which ends in March, is predicted to strengthen the Kingdom’s tourism sector by bringing in both local and international visitors and generating 178,000 jobs for young Saudis.

“Even though we’re a 2030 project, we opened assets in 2022 including our UNESCO site … we’ve already had 1 million visits,” Inzerillo said.

“And now the numbers are growing, and we’ll have a million people that will visit us … until Ramadan when this Diriyah season concludes,” he said.

The 2023-2024 Diriyah Season is presented by Diriyah Company in partnership with Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

 

 


Dhahran Art Group presents diverse works at 70th show

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Dhahran Art Group presents diverse works at 70th show

  • Themed ‘Araaqa: Deep Rootedness,’ the artists presented works in various media inspired by their culture, heritage

DHAHRAN: For four days this week, the lavender carpet was rolled out in front of the iconic Ad Diwan Hall in the Aramco compound leading into the 70th annual Dhahran Art Group show which concluded on March 2.

During the show, the Aramco community came together to listen to live piano, enjoy tasty hors d’oeuvres and mingle with local artists showcasing. This year’s theme was “Araaqa: Deep Rootedness.”

Among the participants was Jordanian artist Suad Sami, a familiar face in the local art scene. Armed with a degree in interior design and an insatiable desire to further her creative passions in every form and medium, she completed a jewelry design course 13 years ago, which inspired her to create a small collection of carefully-curated and thoughtfully sourced stones.

Jordanian artist Suad Sami is among the artists who presented works at the 70th annual Dhahran Art Group show which concluded on March 2. (AN photo)

After teaching art classes locally for a time and realizing she would rather make art than teach it, Sami took a leap of faith and invested in herself by become an entrepreneur.

Arab News spoke to Sami a decade ago when she was only a few years into her jewelry business. At that time, she was known for her horoscope pieces.

As an artist, you always want to sprinkle in a bit of your essence into your pieces, something that is distinctly you.

Suad Sami, Jordanian artist

“I design pieces that can be worn on an everyday basis which is simple yet extravagant, casual yet fancy, simple yet extravagant enough to complement women’s beauty and enhance their style,” she told Arab News in 2014.

Serene Rana. (AN photo)

Fast-forward to 2024, she feels she has evolved and improved on her craft — but her inclination to design elegant bespoke pieces in a sort of curated capsule collection remains. She unveiled two necklaces at the Dhahran Art Group’s annual fine art show.

Discussing one of her jewelry designs on display, she told Arab News: “The sword has been a well-known tangible symbol of strength for Arabs. I designed this one specifically for Founding Day and wanted to bring in something new to the table — not something already available in any shop.

“I always strive to design something timeless and unique, not something the eye has seen. As you know, the gold market in Saudi Arabia is huge so I needed to make something to stand out. As an artist, you always want to sprinkle in a bit of your essence into your pieces, something that is distinctly you.”

Art by Serene Rana. (AN photo)

Also, in an artful symbol of solidarity, Sami showcased a series of paintings she crafted showcasing tatreez, the Palestinian-style stitch. She also showcased paintings of birds perched on a bench.

The Dhahran Art Group show is a cornerstone of the local art community, and to Sami it is about more than just showcasing her works. “I love art in all its forms. My daughter is also a designer and used to display her work alongside me at this show in the past. She moved to Dubai now and became a mother and couldn’t be here today — but I’ll keep the tradition going,” she said.

Because of my heritage — I’m from Afghanistan — I wanted to make art that would reach people and would give meaning and change the way people think.

Serene Rana, Artist

Serene Rana, a towering eighth-grader, found out about the show through her mother, who bought her a small set of acrylic paints and a fresh white canvas a few summers ago. Rana found it to be a fun way to pass the time and to express herself.

Jordanian artist Suad Sami is among the artists who presented works at the 70th annual Dhahran Art Group show which concluded on March 2. (AN photo)

At 13-years-old, this was her first big show. She told Arab News: “I think I’m the youngest one here, so it’s kind of intimidating, but at the same time, it feels like I belong here.”

The self-taught artist proudly displayed multiple paintings as people stopped by to ask her about her process and what each piece meant.

“I had a dream and it kind of looked like this — it was in the galaxy so I painted that,” she said of one of her paintings.

Jordanian artist Suad Sami is among the artists who presented works at the 70th annual Dhahran Art Group show which concluded on March 2. (AN photo)

Her early works were mostly void of people but soon after, she started to insert more of her emotions into the pictures.

“I first painted a landscape; it was like a fairytale almost. But as I kept progressing in my art, I realized that because of my heritage — I’m from Afghanistan — I wanted to make art that would reach people and would give meaning and change the way people think,” she explained.

Her pieces, inspired by pop art and surrealism, represent her journey navigating the delicate and dramatic space balancing teen angst with female empowerment and everything in between.

“I was influenced a lot by the pop art style. I feel every color has a certain emotion, so when I want to convey sadness and when I want to convey anger, I use a different color,” she added.

It took Rana about a year to paint the canvases on display, and she is already planning for the next show.

“I think a lot of these pieces hanging here were influenced by my culture — the cultural richness — but I want to go back to solidifying that one idea. I think in my next painting, I would want to go to my heritage more,” she added.

There were also a wide variety of artists on display of both genders, some seasoned figures like Sami and others new-time artists, like Rana. The diverse works ranged from paintings, large and small sculptures to accessories and mixed-media pieces.

As in the previous 69 iterations, the group show was curated locally by the Dhahran Art Group and each participating artist had the option to include a for-sale sticker on their displayed work.

 


Saudi Arabia’s antiques museum in Tarout unlocks bygone eras

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Saudi Arabia’s antiques museum in Tarout unlocks bygone eras

  • Mahdie Maylw told Arab News: “At the age of 15, I started collecting paper currency and amassed notes from up to 190 countries around the world

RIYADH: Visitors to Al-Dirah Asalah Museum on Tarout Island, Eastern Province, can travel back in time and admire Saudi Arabia’s rich history and cultural legacy.

Mahdie Maylw, the museum’s owner, took a chance when he built it, as the space once used to be his grandfather’s house on the verge of collapse.

Today, the museum is licensed by the Ministry of Culture and stands tall as a renovated building designed in a traditional Saudi style.

Visitors to Al-Dirah Asalah Museum on Tarout Island can explore rare and valuable items that provide insights into past civilizations and cultures. (Supplied)

Maylw says he grew up with a love for vintage items that reflect his heritage. He told Arab News: “At the age of 15, I started collecting paper currency and amassed notes from up to 190 countries around the world. I continued this hobby for 15 years, before shifting my focus to collecting traditional artifacts that delve into the lives of our ancestors. I have acquired some rare pieces, such as manuscripts and ancient items used by sailors.”

His museum has a range of documents from manuscripts of the Holy Qur’an to vintage newspapers and notes.

I present heritage for educational purposes, to teach generations to preserve the heritage ... I haven’t even started yet, and the best is yet to come.

Mahdie Maylw, Museum owner

Maylw buys his collection of antiques through auctions across the Kingdom, including Dhahran, Al-Ahsa, and Riyadh. He also exchanges valuable items with collectors, and sometimes he even buys from eBay.

The museum is divided into several areas, including a pottery corner, an electronics room, a book and text corner, a vintage watch corner, and a toy room, among others.

Visitors to Al-Dirah Asalah Museum on Tarout Island can explore rare and valuable items that provide insights into past civilizations and cultures. (Supplied)

The “Bride’s Room” is one of the museum’s most popular sections, displaying various items used in preparing a bride prior to her wedding. The room contains Indian-made furniture as well as a collection of cosmetics ranging in age from 50 to 100 years.

The “Divers Room,” or tawashin in Arabic, is dedicated to the ancient method of pearl extraction. The area contains vintage instruments such as a rope box and a compass which were once used to dive for pearls. The tools are about 70-150 years old.

“The tawashin are pearl traders who, after a journey that may last up to three months, return and open the shells to extract the pearls. They then gather in gatherings to exchange buying and selling,” the museum owner explained.

To preserve the museum’s antique items, Maylw ensures that they are stored properly in climate-controlled and secure facilities, “We make sure to preserve the pieces and do some maintenance on them, and I myself do a complete cleaning of the museum,” he said.

Visitors can also explore a collection of rare and valuable items, such as traditional pottery, manuscripts artworks and household items that provide insights into past civilizations and cultures.

Maylw added that the museum has seen visitors from all over the world such as Spain, Azerbaijan, South Africa, and more. “Within a year, the number of visitors reached 6,000. I receive visitors from all over the world. This is an achievement for myself and for the people of the region.”

Speaking about his future plans, he added: “My ambition is greater than this work that I have done. I present heritage for educational purposes, to teach generations to preserve the heritage ... I haven’t even started yet, and the best is yet to come.”

 


MDLBEAST launches Beast House for music enthusiasts in Diriyah

MDLBEAST on Sunday inaugurated Beast House, a members-only club in Diriyah, Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2024
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MDLBEAST launches Beast House for music enthusiasts in Diriyah

  • As part of its overarching strategy, MDLBEAST aims to venture into music venues, strengthening the Kingdom’s music ecosystem
  • Beast House, an innovative hub in Jax District, fosters talents, offering a creative space for artists and music enthusiasts

RIYADH: MDLBEAST, the leading Saudi music entertainment company, on Sunday inaugurated Beast House, a members-only club in Diriyah, Riyadh.

As part of its overarching strategy, MDLBEAST aims to venture into music venues, strengthening the Kingdom’s music ecosystem. This includes boosting production capabilities, empowering talents, and curating immersive musical experiences globally.

Beast House, an innovative hub in Jax District, fosters talents, offering a creative space for artists and music enthusiasts.

The club includes a cutting-edge recording studio, production rooms, designated spaces for workshops and music seminars, and a versatile stage for concerts and musical events.

Beast House provides four membership tiers, each with unique benefits. The studio membership, designed for creative individuals, grants access to recording studios and specialized programs to enhance musical skills, fostering engagement with the vibrant creative community.

Ramadan Al-Haratani, CEO of MDLBEAST, said: “Our aim is to establish innovative spaces and a supportive community that (empowers) musical talent and cultivates production capabilities, providing creative individuals with an inspiring environment to transform ideas into captivating music experiences.”

MDLBEAST will unveil new music venues, showcasing innovative ideas and pushing boundaries in the music scene while fostering creativity. In collaboration with NEOM, the company is creating a modern beach club on Sindalah Island, and additional venues are slated for 2024.


Saudi date industry targets East Asian markets, says official

The value of Saudi Arabia’s date exports increased by 14 percent in 2023. (NCPD)
Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi date industry targets East Asian markets, says official

  • Kingdom’s date exports hit $390m, marking a 14% rise in 2023

RIYADH: The value of Saudi Arabia’s date exports increased by 14 percent in 2023, reaching SR 1.462 billion ($390 million), compared to SR 1.280 billion in 2022, according to a report released by the National Center for Palms and Dates.

By the end of 2023, the number of countries importing Saudi dates had reached 119. The total value of date and date by-product exports increased by 152.5 percent since 2016, from SR579 million in 2016 to SR1.462 billion in 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.3 percent.

The rate of increase in 2023 compared to the previous year and the market entry of about 120 countries “mean a lot to us,” while the cumulative annual rate (12 percent annually) — compared to the base year 2016 — indicates that “we are steadily entering global markets and expanding steadily as well,” said Dr. Mohammed Al-Nuwairan, CEO of the center.

Date exports to Singapore recorded an 86 percent increase in 2023, while South Korea saw a 24 percent increase, and France experienced a 16 percent increase.

Currently, more than 20 Saudi companies are approved by Chinese customs, and this is reflected in the expansion of the Kingdom’s exports of dates to China. There is a focus on East Asian markets more clearly than other global markets, Al-Nuwairan added.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Nuwairan, CEO of the National Center for Palms and Dates. (Supplied)

He told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is not limited to exporting dates only, “but rather the export extends to include date derivatives such as molasses, pastes, and others, which enhances the presence of exports from the sector outside Saudi Arabia.

“East Asian countries are receiving attention from Saudi exports of dates, especially to Singapore, situated in the heart of countries targeted for exporting dates and their derivatives, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and also China in particular. What supports this is the high demand for Saudi dates, which possess high nutritional values and production quality,” Al-Nuwairan added.

He expects the growth rate of date exports to increase, “or to remain stable at least,” in the next five years.

Al-Nuwairan pointed out that there is a significant trend from local and international partners to invest in the sector, especially concerning plastic wood derived from palm trees, and date products such as powder, molasses, pastes, and vinegar that can be derived from dates.

The date derivatives can be used in various products such as dairy, bakery, ice cream, and confectionery factories.

“We are currently engaged in serious discussions with large international food companies to include date derivatives in food industries,” Al-Nuwairan said.

He affirmed the concerted efforts between Saudi date producers, exporters, and government sectors to support marketing activities in targeted countries. This includes participation in local and international exhibitions, trade missions, facilitating export procedures, and collaborating with the private sector under a joint strategy, all under ambitious and supportive leadership.

Al-Nuwairan emphasized that efforts are ongoing to enhance the presence of Saudi dates worldwide, noting that Saudi date exports have witnessed significant increases in many countries. He pointed out that date exports to China increased by 121 percent last year compared to 2022.

Through its strategy and partnership with the private sector, the National Center for Palms and Dates aims to achieve its strategic objectives, with Saudi dates being the first choice for consumers globally, according to Al-Nuwairan.

The center implements several initiatives, including increasing national exports of dates and their derivatives, improving agricultural and industrial practices to enhance production quality, providing marketing services, and necessary information about the sector, and empowering the sector, he added.


Saudi authorities seize 1.3m Captagon pills in Jeddah

Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi authorities seize 1.3m Captagon pills in Jeddah

RIYADH: Maj. Marwan Al-Hazmi, the Saudi General Directorate of Narcotics Control’s spokesperson, has announced that the Kingdom’s authorities have seized about 1.3 million Captagon tablets in Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The directorate’s officials, in collaboration with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, thwarted an attempt to smuggle 1,298,886 highly addictive and illegal amphetamine pills, which were concealed within a shipment of electric ovens at Jeddah Islamic Port.

Authorities apprehended the intended recipients of the shipment in Riyadh and Jeddah, a Sudanese national and a Saudi citizen.

Initial statutory procedures have been completed, and both individuals have been referred to the Public Prosecution.

The Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority also thwarted two attempts to smuggle more than 63,000 Captagon pills hidden in two vehicles coming into the Kingdom through the Al-Haditha border crossing.

One vehicle contained more than 41,000 pills and the authority, coordinating with the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, arrested five intended recipients.

The authority said that it was enhancing customs control over the Kingdom’s imports and exports, in coordination with the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, as bodies concentrate on cracking down on smuggling operations.

The authorities have called upon the public to report all information regarding drug smuggling or selling by calling 911 in Makkah, Riyadh, and the Eastern Province, and 999 in the rest of the Kingdom. Alternatively, contact by email at [email protected].

Reports of suspected cases of drug smuggling are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for information leading to arrests.