RIYADH: People across Saudi Arabia are still looking forward to the New Year’s Eve celebrations, despite the introduction by the government of fresh safety measures to help fight the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
While some events have been canceled, in Boulevard Riyadh City the musical show Trio Night is set to go ahead. The Dec. 31 event at Mohammed Abdu Arena will feature 13 of the best Arab singers.
One of Riyadh Season zones, Boulevard Riyadh City will also host a fireworks show on New Year’s Eve, and similar events will be held at other zones across the city.
The Season zones are also home to many restaurants, where friends and family can celebrate the dawn of 2022. However, because of the new social distancing measures, no more than five diners will be allowed at any one table.
Several venues, such as LPM and Roka, are offering special menus to mark the occasion. At the latter, visitors will also be able to enjoy music from a DJ and a midnight toast.
Deem Aqeel, a 30-year-old Riyadh resident, told Arab News that she and her friends have a New Year’s ritual.
“Every year, we pool together in one car, buy some take-out food and drinks and pick a spot in Riyadh to sit and enjoy the night,” she said.
“This year we will definitely do the same. We found this amazing spot in a neighborhood near Riyadh City Boulevard where we will sit and enjoy the fireworks away from the crowd.”
Those who fancy something a little different should head to Al-Thumama, which is offering private camping sites for groups of friends and family, as well as a host of entertainment, including barbecues, camel rides, music and dancing.
There will also be dancing at the Hotel Cartagena restaurant in the U Walk shopping center. On its Instagram page, the venue invited visitors to, “Unleash your body language and let’s dance.” DJ Kio will be in charge of the decks.
There are also lots of events being held in other parts of the country. In Jeddah, on the coast of the Red Sea, the cooler temperature means people are likely to be celebrating in the open air, while there are plenty of restaurants and live music to enjoy.
For those in search of something out of the ordinary to do on New Year’s Eve, there is stargazing in the desert and even hiking trips.
The latter are organized by travel agency Destifind, which promises to take guests on a hike during the day, before providing them with a night of food, live music and fireworks.
“We had 550 tickets and we’re sold out,” Destifind CEO Abdulrahman Al-Saati told Arab News. “Demand has been really high and we’re still getting requests to release more tickets.”
He added that during last year’s event, even the bad weather did not dampen people’s spirits.
“It was a blast as we enjoyed opening a new chapter toward 2021,” Al-Saati said. “During the event it rained, which left a beautiful memory in people’s minds.”
The Kingdom began introducing initiatives to encourage people to celebrate New Year’s Eve in 2019, and Dec. 31 is now a key date in the calendar for many people.
For those looking for a little luxury on New Year’s Eve, the Assila hotel in Jeddah might be a good choice. It is home to several restaurants, including Pampas for Argentinian cuisine, Aubergine for a taste of the Mediterranean, and Twenty-Four for a variety of international dishes. The hotel also offers spa treatments and a rooftop pool.
But fireworks and fancy food are not for everyone. Jeddah local Hala Al-Hamad said she is looking forward to spending time with her nearest and dearest.
“I’m used to traveling abroad during New Year, but due to COVID-19 we have been celebrating at home with the family, and our plans are the same this year,” she said.
“My siblings, nieces and nephews are planning to play some board games. We’ll watch a movie together in my parents’ backyard, and my mother will make her delicious manakeesh.”