Alkhobar’s Bohemia brings music to Saudi Arabia’s capital

1 / 3
Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)
2 / 3
Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)
3 / 3
Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 08 March 2024
Follow

Alkhobar’s Bohemia brings music to Saudi Arabia’s capital

  • Music cafe has carved out a new space for creative Saudi voices to be heard

RIYADH: Alkhobar-based Bohemia Art Cafe and Records has opened a new branch at The Warehouse in the Kingdom’s capital where visitors can enjoy coffee, buy vinyl records and vibe with live music.

Overlooking the picturesque rocky hills that showcase the beauty of historic Diriyah, the standalone vinyl shop and cultural music hub is situated at the end of a trail of warehouses. Approaching on foot, you’ll see the neon sign drawing you into the space. The cafe is smaller than the Alkhobar branch and has the same cohesive energy with a vibe that is all its own.

Co-founders Fawaz Alsulaim and Mansour Alhmaid met at university in the UK, where they studied mechanical engineering. They each had different tastes but both loved music. They opened Bohemia Art Cafe in Alkhobar in 2018 and it has become a sonic refuge for them and their clients.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

Alhmaid, who is from Riyadh, told Arab News about the significance of the new location: “We are very proud that this (Riyadh location) attracts the right clients. The client base in Riyadh is way bigger than Alkhobar; they enjoy different genres of music here — it’s all types, a bit of everything.

“We don’t have many walk-in clients, most follow us on our social media channels,” he said. As if on cue, several people arrived — all were enthusiasts from the Alkhobar branch.

The second branch was a long time coming. The Bohemia Art Cafe name has become synonymous with creatives in Alkhobar, a place for like-minded people to congregate and a space to amplify the Saudi talent brewing within.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

Building on the creative community, pulling from the nostalgic, retro vinyl culture was something the founders strived for.

Before COVID-19 put the world on hold, they had tried to open up a second branch in Riyadh.

“The plans were there since before COVID. Unfortunately, with COVID, the financial situation became tough. We had to delay it. And then when things settled, it became a good time to go there,” Alsulaim told Arab News.




Co-founders Fawaz Alsulaim and Mansour Alhmaid met at university in the UK. (Supplied)

Carving out a space for creative Saudi voices to be heard is the goal that unites the two branches. Open-mic events are one way to do it.

Alsulaim, who greets people at open mics in the Alkhobar branch, is always welcoming.

“We just had (one of) our last open mic in Alkhobar before Ramadan; we were very excited about it. First time for The Pineapple Jam Project, led by Sawsan, who has always been opening for people, so it was amazing to see her finally be a headliner in a show,” he said.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

Sawsan, who performed a medley of melodies at a recent show in the Alkhobar branch, said that she was elated that the cafe had blossomed recently.

“I can’t describe my feelings because it (had) been a year since my last gig. It feels amazing. These are my friends,” she told Arab News after her performance.

As a child, Sawsan would sing using a bottle of perfume as a mic in her bedroom and would belt songs out in the shower. Now, Bohemia Art Cafe is letting her voice flourish on a bigger stage.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

“The vibe at Bohemia is so good. I mean, I was so scared. Everyone here came to support me — half of the people here are my friends, the other half got to hear me sing so they might be my future friends — or something like that,” she said.

Both branches aim to foster local talent such as Sawsan’s and to serve as a hybrid space to collectively promote local voices.

“We have a great strategic partnership with The Warehouse. It works great for us and great for them. The shows are on the weekend so our work is done for us, in terms of shows,” Alsulaim said.




Bohemia Art Cafe is vinyl shop and cultural music hub that is now bringing together music lovers and musicians in Saudi Arabia’s capital. (Supplied)

“I’m surprised that records have been selling in Riyadh more than coffee — which is the opposite of what’s happening here in Alkhobar. People have been coming for the first weeks just for our records.”

Both branches have a “pre-loved” section in which clients can sell their records, something the founders are proud of.

Alsulaim plans to go back and forth between both locations. No matter what, he insists that the Alkhobar branch, which he calls “the OG” (or original), will remain.

During the month of Ramadan, Bohemia will be open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m in both Riyadh and Alkhobar. Artistic types in the Jax district will be able to step into Bohemia and enjoy their late night coffee and study, chill or listen to music — or all of the above.

“We plan to open a branch in Jeddah in the future,” Alhmaid said. “At Bohemia, we sell happiness.”

 


Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

  • High-profile pilgrims join the millions embarking on the spiritual journey

RIYADH: Every year Muslims from across the world gather in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey for many.

With Hajj beginning on Friday, June 14, pilgrims will congregate in the tent city of Mina, near Makkah.

Among the worshippers will be celebrities taking time out of their busy schedules to connect with their faith.

High-profile figures performing Hajj this year include former Indian professional tennis player and doubles world No. 1 Sania Mirza; UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev; New Zealand heavyweight boxer and former professional rugby player Sonny Bill Williams; Malaysia-based Indian Islamic public orator Zakir Abdul Karim Naik; Pakistani television host and former actress Nida Yasir; and Pakistani actress, film director and producer Reema Khan.

Mirza took to social media to express her hopes and preparations for this “transformative experience,” one of the five pillars of Islam.

In a message on X, she sought “forgiveness for any wrongdoings and shortcomings,” saying that her heart is “filled with gratitude for this chance to seek redemption and spiritual renewal.”

She added: “I pray that Allah accepts my prayers and guides me on this blessed path. I am deeply fortunate and feel immensely grateful. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I embark on this journey of a lifetime. I hope to come back as a better human being with a humble heart and stronger Imaan.”

Mirza will be accompanied by her sister Anam, a fashion curator, entrepreneur and vlogger, and Anam’s Indian cricketer husband Mohammad Asaduddin, son of cricketing legend Mohammad Azharuddin.

Taking to Instagram, Anam wrote: “As I embark on the most significant journey of my life, the pilgrimage to Hajj, I wanted to share a few words with you. This journey is not just a physical one, but a deeply spiritual experience that I’ve been preparing for, both in heart and mind. It’s a time for reflection, repentance, and renewal of faith.”

Makhachev, just days after defeating Dustin Poirier in their UFC title clash, said that he and his family are heading to Makkah to perform Hajj.

Hasib Noor, a scholar with Islamic Relief UK, posted a photo with the fighter on X, writing: “In Madinah — The City of True Humanly Brotherly Love. Allah uses him for the benefit of Islam & Muslims, guides others through him.”

Sonny Bill Williams posted a video message on X with the caption: “I’ve been invited to perform Hajj, Alhamdullilah.”

Williams is only the second person to represent New Zealand in rugby union after first playing for the country in rugby league, and is one of only 43 players to have won the Rugby World Cup twice.

Naik, the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV, praised the Hajj arrangements.

In a message posted on X on Tuesday, he said that his family were invited by Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj minister.

It added: “Dr. Zakir Naik landed in Jeddah this morning. Alhamdulillaah 3 officials were there to receive him. On entering the VIP lounge he completed immigration & came out of the airport in less than a minute. Never did Dr. Zakir Naik experience such a fast and prompt service in his life & that too during Hajj.”

Pakistani television host Nida Yasir wrote on Instagram as she departed for Saudi Arabia: “Duaon me yaad rakheaga (remember me in prayers). Leaving for Hajj. Kaha suna mauf (Apologies for any wrongdoings).”

Pakistani actress Reema Khan was in Madinah ahead of Hajj.

Sharing a picture of herself on Instagram, she wrote: “Allhumdullilah arrived in Madinah on Friday morning.”


Riyadh doctors working remotely save Jordan pilgrim from stroke in Madinah

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Riyadh doctors working remotely save Jordan pilgrim from stroke in Madinah

  • The pilgrim, who has a history of chronic illness, was treated at the Madinah General Hospital

RIYADH: Doctors working remotely from Riyadh helped a 72-year-old Jordanian pilgrim in Madinah survive a stroke this week, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The medical team specializing in telestroke medicine is affiliated with the Seha Virtual Hospital in Riyadh, the SPA reported.

The pilgrim, who has a history of chronic illness, was treated at the Madinah General Hospital.

In a joint effort, doctors from the Ministry of Health, the Seha Virtual Hospital, and the Madinah General Hospital located a brain clot and performed a cerebral catheterization procedure.

The pilgrim is recovering, the SPA said.

A total of 5,466 volunteers, in over 16 locations in Madinah and Makkah, are helping with first aid and emergency care for Hajj pilgrims this year.


Elderly Malaysian pilgrim fulfils decades-long Hajj dream

For years, Safwan applied for Hajj believing the opportunity would coincide with his retirement plans. (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Elderly Malaysian pilgrim fulfils decades-long Hajj dream

JEDDAH: Malaysian pilgrim Mohammed Safwan, 66, is finally achieving a decades-long dream of performing Hajj.

Hailing from Johor in the south of the country, Safwan worked as an aviation safety technician for Malaysia Airlines, but after retirement had little savings because he had continued to support his family.

When Malaysia’s government approved Safwan’s Hajj request, his children collected $26,000 so that he could fulfil his dream. 

“Nothing compares to the unity and strength of a family, and no joy can match the elation of realizing a dream cherished by the closest of people,” Safwan told the Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday.


Awareness campaign on animal sacrifice launched in Madinah ahead of Eid Al-Adha

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Awareness campaign on animal sacrifice launched in Madinah ahead of Eid Al-Adha

  • The campaign is a project of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture's Department of Animal Wealth

RIYADH: A campaign on how to choose the proper animals for sacrifice and ensure that it is free of diseases has been launched in Madinah province ahead of Eid Al-Adha. 

Dubbed "My Sacrifice,” the awareness campaign is a project of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture's Department of Animal Wealth, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

"The campaign, which is supervised by a number of specialists and veterinarians, shows the most important and sound methods for preserving meat and keeping it safe from poisoning," SPA said.

MEWA's awareness campaign on animal sacrifice include field visits and tours to livestock markets and an exhibition in one of the commercial complexes in the region. (SPA)

The activities include field visits and tours to livestock markets "to guide beneficiaries on the most important health requirements that must be met by the sacrifice," it added.

Experts will explain how to choose good sacrificial animals, particularly the age.

An awareness-raising exhibition will also be held in one of the commercial complexes in the region, and a children’s studio, the report said.

Eid Al-Adha this year falls on June 16. 

 

 


Saudi minister inspects National Guard Hajj preparedness

Updated 13 June 2024
Follow

Saudi minister inspects National Guard Hajj preparedness

MAKKAH: Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, the minister of the National Guard, inspected the readiness of ministry forces for the Hajj season, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

This inspection is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure the security of the Hajj, following the directions of the country’s leadership.

During his visit to Makkah’s Al-Shara’i district, Prince Abdullah watched a detailed military parade under the theme of “Ease and Reassurance.”

The parade demonstrated the preparedness and abilities of the ministry’s forces responsible for keeping pilgrims safe during their journey.

Lieutenant General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami listens to a briefing. (SPA)

Separately, Lieutenant General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, the director of Public Security and Chairman of the Hajj Security Committee, inspected the security forces, and the military support authorities participating in serving the pilgrims at the holy sites.

Al-Bassami confirmed that his organization has prepared the required security and organizational plans, which aim to ensure the security, safety and comfort of the pilgrims.

He stressed that the security forces will respond firmly and forcefully to thwart any action that might affect the safety of the pilgrims or whatever hampers facilitating their rituals.