WITH the start of 10-day mid academic year vacation on Friday, major cities and towns across the Kingdom are witnessing an array of recreational and cultural festivals and activities aimed at providing edutainment for all segments of society.
Apart from showcasing the rich heritage and culture of each region, these festivals are also expected to bring about an economic boom with a boost in domestic tourism and seasonal jobs and thus becoming a huge bonanza for the locals.
For the first time in the Kingdom’s history, the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah on Friday opened its doors for Saudi women to attend the professional league game between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin clubs. The fifth level of the stadium, also known as the Jewel, was dedicated to women and families. Around 1,200 tickets were sold out in the first few hours after starting registration for a total of 10,000 seats available at Jewel. Families and women fans are expected to attend the Saudi derby match between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad on Saturday at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, which had already opened its doors for women for the first time during the National Day celebrations.
The General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which is vigorously spearheading the Kingdom’s entertainment reforms, is launching more than 45 recreational events and activities, including cinemas, in as many as 18 cities across the Kingdom. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), in collaboration with its partners, is hosting more than 50 tourism festivals during this season. These include a wide variety of programs and activities in tourism, heritage, cultural, social, environmental, sport and recreational fields. There are also shopping and desert festivals as well as handicraft and agricultural fairs.
Jeddah boasts of having a golden feather in the cap of these festivals and cultural fiesta with the opening of the largest ‘Cultural Garden’ at Al-Nawras Square, on the Jeddah Corniche seafront.
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah and advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, on Thursday opened the 10-day activities of the garden, which was conducted on the sidelines of the second edition of Makkah Cultural Forum, showcasing 10 diverse cultural activities. The garden’s activities include a science contest, organized by the Ministry of Education, for students of all phases of public education in robotic designing, programming and control to disseminate the culture of robot among students and associating their knowledge in theory with practical.
Also on Thursday, four major festivals kicked off in Jeddah. The 6th edition of ‘Haya Jeddah Shopping Festival’ was inaugurated at Red Sea Mall. There are around 150 activities being held as part of the 30-day festival at 70 fun cities, 360 commercial centers and 105 traditional souks spread all over the city. The annual Spring Festival opened at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport. The Jeddah Tourism Promotion Council and Society for District Centers organized ‘Our Spring is Sweeter’ Festival, which is meant mainly for productive families.
The performance of well-known singer Mohammed Abdu will be a major highlight of the “Kingdom’s Festivals,” to be organized by SCTH in Jeddah. Famous singers Abadi Al-Johar and Rabih Saqr will also be performing in musical concerts. ‘European Recreational Shows’ and international film shows will be held at the extended new Corniche.
Jeddah Food Festival and the ongoing Basta Market Festival are also drawing huge number of visitors.
In Riyadh, the festivals saw a glittering launch on Thursday with the 4th edition of the Saudi Aviation Forum, organized by the Saudi Aviation Club (SAC) in cooperation with SCTH at Thumamah Airport. The opening ceremony witnessed spectacular air show.
In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 that envisages creation of a vibrant society through providing exciting entertainment options aimed at improving and enriching the lifestyle and social cohesion in the Saudi society, the GEA has introduced some international recreational events for the first time. It’s entertainment calendar in the mid vacation includes staging of the “Seventh Art” series of cartoon films at the theater of the Media Center of Saudi Press Agency in Riyadh. The people of Riyadh are also getting an opportunity to experience the marvelous global circus show called ‘Cirkopolis’, with breathtaking performances to give a mix of circus, theater and dance at King Fahd Cultural Center. ‘Balloon Talk’ show and horror comedy show titled ‘Al-Bait Bait Aboona’ will be other major events in Riyadh. King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Rimah, and Heritage Festival in Wadi Dawasir also include among the activities in Riyadh region.
Emir of the Eastern Province Prince Saud Bin Naif on Wednesday opened the 5th edition of the Al-Ahsa Dates Shopping Festival titled “Dates are Sweeter 2018.’ GEA’s recreational activities in EP include show of famous comedy film ‘The Haunted House’ in Jubail and Hofuf, Cirkopolis show at Mall of Dhahran, Duet performance of Abadi Al-Johar and Kuwaiti singer Abdallah Al-Rowaished in Dammam, and carnivals in Dammam and Al-Khobar.
Cultural activities associated with the Hail Nissan International Rally 2018 also kicked off on Thursday. There are around 40 recreational and cultural activities for youth and families at various venues in the city. Film show about Hail’s history, visit to heritage sites, museums and recreational cities, tourism exhibition are some of the highlights of the event. There are five major activities under Jazan Winter Festival. SCTH in Al-Jouf is operating free trips for visitors from Qurayyat, Dawmat Al-Jandal and Tabarjal to the Olive Festival, which will begin in Sakaka on Monday.
Most other regions also hosting festivals. They include Taif Handicrafts Festival; Layali Hejaz Recreational Festival Makkah; spring festivals in Buraidah and Umlaj; spring festival and Strawbery Garden Festival in Bukairiyah; Banana Festival in Mikhwah; National Citrus Fruits Festival in Najran; Falcons Festival in the Northern Border Region; Tourism Festival in Usfan; Yanbu Festival; ‘Care Peers Festival’ Abha; ‘Red Carpet’ show Buraidah;Ghada Festival Unaizah and Tabuk Recreation Festival.