RIYADH: The Saudi capital was on Wednesday gearing up for an extraordinary evening of musical entertainment at the opening ceremony of this year’s Riyadh Season.
Taking place under the title Imagine More, the event will be staged near to the extended Boulevard zone and broadcast live with more than 2,760 drones capturing every moment.
Tickets for the ceremony, starting at 7 p.m., were sold out within one hour of going on sale and the lucky holders will be treated to a global parade including more than 1,500 costumed participants performing the traditional folkloric Samri dance.
Shows will include a Harley-Davidson custom bike display, fireworks, and a concert performed by the Cuban-American rapper Pitbull.
An estimated 7 million people visited the first Riyadh Season in 2019 and this year’s festival of activities will offer more than 7,500 events held on an area covering 5.4 million square meters.
Viewers in New York, London, Newcastle, Dubai, Kuwait, and Doha are expected to be among those watching the opening ceremony.
Flying drones shaped the phrase “Welcome to Riyadh Season” in different languages in the sky and Turki Al-Sheikh, CEO of the General Entertainment Authority and chairman of the Season welcomed the audience on stage.
“Our slogan in the first Riyadh Season was ‘Imagine’ and in this second season our slogan is ‘Imagine More,’ do you believe it now? Of course, you do,” he said.
“As long as we have inspiring leaders that support each Saudi to raise their ambition limits and achieve their dreams… in the end, welcome to Riyadh Season.”
Just before the big event, Reem Abdullah, who works in business development, came with her friends to attend the opening ceremony and expressed her excitement and joy for this year’s season.
“I’m looking forward to the parade, mostly the fireworks. I also heard that there’s going to be Pitbull, really looking forward to that because I know most of his music” she told Arab News.
“My favourite zone in the season is Winter Wonderland. I love winter festivals, I love the weather, the design, and the décor, it’s really magical,” she added.
Ema Muradavic from Montenegro and her husband Yasin Ghali from Syria came together for the evening and were surprised how organized the event was.
“It looks like the event is going to be spectacular tonight, and everything is going to be just fine and I hope that the event will measure up with our expectations,” Muradavic told Arab News.
She mentioned that this is her first time to visit Riyadh season “It looks like it’s going to be very fun…it looks awesome.”
As for Ghali, he is most excited about the car shows that will take place in Riyadh this year as he considers himself a lover of speed cars.
“I’m excited to see the McLarens, the Audis and Ferraris in one place,” he said.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Wednesday held talks with his British counterpart, Liz Truss, to discuss Yemen, Iran, and the wider Middle East region.
Truss arrived in the Saudi capital earlier in the day as part of a Gulf tour aimed at boosting economic and security ties. The trip followed a free trade agreement the UK began with the Gulf Cooperation Council as part of its deals to develop trade after leaving the European Union.
The two sides discussed the Kingdom’s efforts and initiatives to reach a political solution to the conflict in Yemen in a way that supports development and stability for the Yemeni people, the Saudi foreign ministry said.
They also discussed the most prominent developments regarding the Iranian nuclear deal and the ongoing negotiations in Vienna.
An honour to meet my Saudi counterpart His Highness @FaisalbinFarhan in Riyadh today to discuss:
Working together on infrastructure in Africa and Asia
An even stronger UK-Saudi trade relationship pic.twitter.com/re6NZ2HDzP
Tehran has been holding up negotiations aimed at reviving a landmark 2015 accord that scales back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief since before Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as president in August. Iran has stopped honoring some of its commitments and increased its uranium enrichment, which sparked concern from the UN nuclear watchdog agency and the international community.
During the meeting, Prince Faisal and Truss “reviewed the strong and historical Saudi-British relations, and opportunities to strengthen them in all fields,” the foreign ministry said.
They also discussed Saudi-British efforts to lay the foundations for peace, security, and stability in the Middle East and the world. They also exchanged views on several issues of common interest.
“An honor to meet my Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh today to discuss working together on infrastructure in Africa and Asia, security, and an even stronger UK-Saudi trade relationship,” Truss said in a tweet following the meeting.
Saudi Ambassador to UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar also attended the meeting.
The reception was attended by H.H Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Al Saud, Ambassador of the Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, Deputy Minister for Political and Economic Affairs, Ambassador Eid Al-Thaqafi, and Mr. Sultan bin khuzaym General Director of the European Department.
ALULA: Important sources of Saudi heritage in AlUla, Taima, and Khyber will be better protected as part of a new deal between the Royal Commission for AlUla and King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives.
It comes as part of efforts by the RCU to protect heritage material in the Kingdom.
The three-year agreement includes the establishment of a center to preserve manuscripts affiliated with the Al-Mamalek Institute, which launched last April as part of the Journey Through Time Masterplan.
The Masterplan is an international center for archaeological research, the preservation of historical sites, the documentation of history and oral heritage, and skills training.
The agreement aligns with the RCU’s objectives to promote the archaeological, tourism, culture, education, arts and environmental sectors by promoting the region’s historical landmarks.
Eng. Amr Al-Madani, CEO of RCU, said that the commission is playing its role in promoting and developing its works through agreements with various sectors, and is increasing its impact in the fields it supervises.
He added that the agreement will focus on historical perspectives, including people, their stories and the heritage of all three locations. The social lives, authenticity and cultures of AlUla, Taima and Khyber will also be represented, and will boost the profile of the trio as tourist destinations.
Al-Madani said that RCU is proud of its role in strengthening and developing the performance of nonprofit institutions, promoting their activities and boosting their impact in the development field for AlUla residents.
Through works, programs and agreements with various sectors, RCU aims to achieve AlUla’s vision and increase sustainable development.
Inspired by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its three pillars — “vibrant society, thriving economy and ambitious nation” — RCU’s heritage sector forms a central part of AlUla’s mission.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed three new COVID-19 related deaths on Wednesday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,770.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 47 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 548,065 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 84 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 14, followed by Jeddah with 10, Makkah and Taif recorded three cases each , and Tabuk confirmed two cases.
The health ministry also announced that 58 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 537,095.
Over 44.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 20.9 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani announced on Wednesday that lawyers and beneficiaries are now able to enter courts without the need for a prior appointment.
The ministry said that the decision coincides with the government's easing of health precautionary measures, but added that anyone entering the judicial headquarters must have received two doses of the vaccine. It also said that the decision will be evaluated within 30 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 242 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.93 million.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Wednesday held talks with US envoy to Iran Robert Malley in the capital, Riyadh, on ways to curb Iran’s violations and destabilizing regional activity.
During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom and the US on the Iranian nuclear deal and ongoing international negotiations to revive the agreement.
Tehran has stopped honoring some of its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal and has been holding up negotiations aimed at reviving the landmark accord that scales back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, sparking concern from the UN nuclear watchdog agency.
Prince Faisal and Malley also spoke about intensifying joint efforts to address Iranian violations of international agreements and treaties.
The two sides also discussed the importance of strengthening joint action to stop Iranian support for terrorist militias that threaten security and stability in the Middle East and the world.
Earlier on Wednesday, Malley met with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.
JEDDAH: Saudi border patrols in Jazan, Najran, and Asir on Tuesday thwarted attempts to smuggle more than one ton of cannabis and 66 tons of qat into the Kingdom.
Border Guard spokesman, Col. Misfir Al-Qarni, said 150 people were arrested in connection with the smuggling bid, 47 of them Saudis, and 103 illegal immigrants of which 89 were Ethiopian, 10 Yemenis, three Somalis, and one Eritrean.
Al-Qarni said that the border guards will be not lax in carrying out their duties to confront anyone who tries to endanger the security of the Kingdom or transfer such substances through its borders illegally.
Saudi authorities, in cooperation with their UAE counterparts, recently prevented an attempt to sneak 1.5 million amphetamine pills into the Kingdom through Batha port hidden in a truck carrying grain.
A Saudi citizen, and a resident of Syria were arrested in Riyadh.
In May, Saudi authorities foiled a plot to smuggle almost 1,000 kg of hashish into the Kingdom through its southern borders. Twenty-four people — 18 Ethiopians, four Yemenis and two Saudis. were arrested. AN Jeddah