Saudi Arabia’s Attempts at Fostering Entertainment

Saudi Arabian men hit the tabla. (Aisyaqilumaranas / Shutterstock.com)

Saudi Arabian men hit the tabla. (Aisyaqilumaranas / Shutterstock.com)

A press conference was held at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce on Monday to discuss details of the tourism and entertainment forum in Jeddah that begin on Oct. 9.

The press meeting was attended by Prince Abdullah bin Saud, chairman of the Tourism and Leisure Committee and the chairman of the forum; the secretary-general of the chamber, Hassan bin Ibrahim Dahlan; the director general of the General Authority of Tourism in the Makkah region,Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Amari; and representatives of the General Authority for Entertainment in the Makkah region.

The Jeddah Tourism and Entertainment Forum, sponsored by King Salman, and Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, will be held over the course of three days at the Jeddah Hilton Hotel, and will be attended by more than 30 experts and specialists. Eight scientific sessions and a number of workshops will be held to address the most important challenges facing investors in the tourism and entertainment sector in the Jeddah area.

Prince Abdullah said during the conference that the tourism sector will lead all other sectors contributing to national income in the coming years.

The forum will be held under the auspices of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the General Entertainment Authority, Jeddah University and King Abdul Aziz University.

The tourism and entertainment forum, which is being held for the first time in Jeddah, will focus on the diversity of the Saudi tourism product from marine and desert tourism, adventure, fishing, exhibitions and conferences.

The conference focused on the city of Jeddah, and how special it is compared to other Saudi Arabian cities because it occupies a coastal area.

With a sea coast extending about 1,800 km on the Red Sea, the Jeddah Chamber can play a key role in increasing the number of tourism activities that will help diversify the tourism product and enhance the status of the Jeddah city

Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Omari, director general of the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage in the Makkah Region, said that “the tourism and entertainment sector is capable of providing more than 1 million jobs according to official statistics.”

Official figures confirm that 300,000 jobs will be provided directly in the tourism sector, and 800,000 jobs in support of tourism and entertainment, he added

“The opening of King Abdul Aziz International Airport in the middle of 2018 will help increase tourism traffic to the city of Jeddah dubbed the ‘Bride of the Red Sea,’” Dahlan said.

The “Tourism after Umrah” program will allow people of more than 65 countries to recognize the additional tourism components in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dahlan added.

“We would also like to attract the attention of those who are interested in investing in the flourishing tourism sector in the Kingdom,” Prince Abdullah bin Saud concluded.

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List: 5 Awesome Arabic Shows to Binge-Watch this Eid (For Free!)

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From “Sunset Oasis.” (El Adl Group)

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Well, it’s the second day of Eid—and it’s finally the afternoon. The visits are done. The goat is eaten. And if you have a job, you’re poor as all hell because you’re on the wrong of the eidiyeh.

So what’s there to do apart from catch some awesome stuff on TV?

Here’re some five great shows you can watch over the rest of your weekend. They’re all online, too.

So kick back, take a swig of tea, and settle in with:

Above: Don’t Extinguish the Sun. (CBC Drama)

The story of a family reeling from the death of a father, Don’t Extinguish the Sun is (very) loosely based on the novel by Ihsan Abdel Quddous. It won hearts, minds, and even acclaim for being the only godforsaken show this Ramadan with a stable couple—a love story between two men, of all things. How lovely.

Where you can watch it: MBC Shahid, which does cost money, but also YouTube.

Above: Qomrah 2. (ARAM TV)

The original Qomrah, from Khawater creator Ahmad Shuqairi, requested footage from everyday filmmakers based around topics: marriage, Islam, terrorism. The result, which cut different footage from different films to create thematic cohesion, was mixed, so for this year they went with scripts from amateurs filmed by professional filmmakers. The result is a much stronger second season.

Where you can watch it: It’s all for free on YouTube.

Above: Sunset Oasis. (El Adl Group)

Based off of Bahaa Taher’s beautiful, International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning novel, Sunset Oasis is about a punished Egyptian soldier sent out with his wife to the middle of nowhere as punishment for his involvement in an uprising against British imperials. The job means almost certain death. Culture and civilization clash in this fantastic adaptation of the novel.

Where you can watch it: YouTube has you covered.

Above: To the Highest Bidder. (El Adl Group)

Starring the indomitable Nelly Karim, To the Highest Bidder is the story of a ballerina who is broken and humiliated, and the burning passion she kindles in pursuit of revenge against her husband. The show struck a chord with Arabic women, who identified with the misogyny it depicted.

Where you can watch it: YouTube, once again, comes to the rescue.

Above: Kafr Delhab. (ON Ent)

In ancient Arabia, a village of sorcerers fights for its survival when one of its members, a young girl, becomes possessed by a djinni. But the djinni decides to fight back, plunging the village into chaos. The show won acclaim and earned high ratings—not only because it was decidedly different, but because it did different well.

Where you can watch it: On YouTube. Isn’t it just the best?

Eid Mubarak, everyone.

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Shop ’til You Drop: The Amman International Summer Festival for Shopping is Here!

It's time for the Amman International Summer Festival! (Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com)

It’s time for the Amman International Summer Festival! (Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com)

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The Amman International Summer Festival for Shopping 2017 will kick off Thursday with the participation of around 100 local, Arab and foreign companies.

The 10-day festival, which will be opened daily from 4pm until 12 midnight at the Expo Land near Airport road, will host local companies as well as other companies from Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

The festival, which is organized by the International Promoters Company (IPCO), will include stalls displaying food, furniture, clothing, accessories, plastic and chemical commodities, antiques and gifts.

The festival, sponsored by the Islamic International Arab Bank and Al Emlaq Industrial Group (GIG), is one of the most important events organized in the Kingdom due to its economic, commercial and promotional importance.

IPCO General Manager Raed Abu Saadeh said that the entry to the festival will be free of charge, adding that the event will provide direct sales service for visitors, distribute gifts and hold competitions in addition to games for children.

Published by the Petra News Agency.

Woman from Saudi Arabia Wins Best Director at Madrid International Film Festival

A frame from

A frame from “Wake Me Up.”

Saudi director Reem Al-Bayat won an award for her film Wake Me Up in the Best Director of a Short Foreign Language Film category at the Madrid International Film Festival.

The film revolves around a woman, Salam, who is experiencing a mid-life crisis. As she tries to revive her artistic hobby, she feels judged by society, and a sense of guilt.

Ibrahim Al-Hasawi, Samar Al-Bayat and Ahd Kamel also appear in Wake Me Up.

The film premiered last year at the Dubai International Film Festival as part of its Muhr Gulf Short category, which features compelling films that reflect life in the Gulf. The program aims to foster the growth of regional talent and place Arab cinema in the international spotlight.

Wake Me Up was supported by Enjaaz, the Dubai Film Market’s program that provides post-production financial support to Arab filmmakers.

Arabian Elegance: The Most Stunning Outfits of Summer 2017

Ola Al Fares is an inspiration for girls worldwide, for her academic and journalistic success as well as her style. (Facebook: علا الفارس Ola Alfares)

Ola Al Fares is an inspiration for girls worldwide, for her academic and journalistic success as well as her style. (Facebook: علا الفارس Ola Alfares)

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What better time of year to show off your wardrobe than summer, and what better a place to step out in style than the Middle East.

We know that keeping up with the latest trends is tough, so in order to make your summer shopping a little bit easier, we have compiled a list of our favorite summer outfits to give you some inspiration! Whether it is small-time fashion blogger Bana Abujaber (@sidenotebanaa), or the always-elegant Queen Rania (@queenrania) herself, let these ladies of the Middle East show you how it’s done!

Here is our summer 2017 collection:

 

Queen Rania (@queenrania) stepped out in this gorgeous dress while continuing her advocacy work promoting education. 

 

 

Ola Al Fares (@olaalfares) could not be more stunning even if she tried. A floral dress like this is a summer must-have!

 

 

Lebanese-Romanian fashion icon Farah Abdel Aziz (@fafiabdelaziz) is fabulous in this polka dot beach kaftan.

 

 

Nancy Ajram (@nancyajram) in a black dress shows us how to win the fashion game on a summer night.

 

 

Say hello to Bana Abujaber (@sidenotebana), showing off her eye for style in Amman.

 

 

Be bold this summer, like Haifa Wehbe (@haifawehbe) in this eye-catching striped dress.

 

 

Saudi girls know what’s up – don’t forget to follow @theabduls for some serious inspiration. 

 

The Art Inspired by Letters to a Young Muslim

A piece by Nasser al Salem. (Arab News)

A piece by Nasser al Salem. (Arab News)

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Art has many forms and can be interpreted differently by different people. The latest exhibition at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery plays heavily on this concept and features the work of 36 artists responding to author Omar Saif Ghobash’s book, Letters to a Young Muslim.

In the book, Ghobash gives advice to his son in the form of letters. The missives are especially poignant given the current political climate, international misconceptions about Islam, financial worries, and ongoing wars. The art show, which is set to end on Aug. 30, features artists’ interpretations of the letters and allows the audience to make their own deductions too.


Above: A piece by Dana Awartani. (Arab News)

Of the myriad subject matters dealt with in the exhibition, Islam is a recurring theme. In the book, the author vehemently and passionately explains the many misconceptions about Islam that have spread globally. It is a touching attempt by a father to steer his son toward a clear path. The letters also act as a guide for today’s youth and call on readers to empower themselves through open and honest discussion.

The artists on show have responded with beautiful pieces that are awe-inspiring, confusing, beautiful, intense and larger than life.
These artists include Abdulkarim Qasim, Joseph Rodriguez, Jowhara Al-Saud, Lulwah Al-Homoud, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Sara Rahbar, Ushmita Sahu, Manal Al-Dowayan, Mohannad Shono, Ayman Zedani, Ahmed Mater and many more.


Above: By Nasser al-Salem. Note how dot on top of the ayin lights-up. (Arab News)

Athr Gallery divided the artists’ work into categories, starting off with “Fragments of Memory,” a section in which all the pieces hint at globalization making its mark on a conservative society. The pieces are emotional, nostalgic and romanticized.

The next section is “Youth and Other.” Here, all the pieces on show touch on taboo issues in society — the artists deal with sensitive and sometimes shameful subject matter in a wonderfully delicate and perspicuous manner.


Above: Ahmer Mater’s “Cowboy Code II.” (Arab News)

Visitors can walk around the gallery and connect the dots between each section of the exhibit. There is a plethora of different mediums on show, from pop art to photography and everything inbetween.

The next section, “Probable Questions,” sees artists attempt to answer a range of existential questions about identity and purpose.
Athr Gallery has created a marvelous platform for the artists to showcase their work; it is almost as if they are translating the letters in the book into their own artistic language.

The rest of the sections include the “Power of Language” and “The GreyArea,” both of which explore further questions and issues about our everyday lives. Each subsection complements the next, accentuates the message and places further emphasis on the deep hidden agenda that the book is based upon.


Above: Manal al Dowayan’s work. (Arab News)

Athr Gallery has taken its time and arranged the artists’ work in the exhibit in a way that allows viewers to realize how the art pieces speak to them and about them. The power of the image forces a conversation, one that may not be easy, but one that is necessary.
The gallery has provided QR codes for each piece on display so viewers can not only look at the art piece in front of them but also delve deeper when the code is scanned.

A visit to the gallery, which is located at the Serafi Mega Mall in Jeddah, is worthwhile if you are hungry for powerful art that asks questions many are too afraid to tackle head on.


Above: A piece by Zahra Ghamdi. (Arab News)

What if Spider-Man was Rihanna?

Nobody can quite believe it. (Spike)

Nobody can quite believe it. (Spike)

Spider-Man, Spider-Man

Does everything a spider can!

Can he sing? Maybe not

But he will lip-sync with all he’s got

Look-outttttttttttt!

It’s a singing Spider-Mannnn!

Look: we’re all on a Rihanna kick right now, and Tom Holland is all for it.

All for it.