Saudi holds first Riyadah concert since Covid-19
Hundreds gathered Thursday for the first concert in the Saudi capital since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to watch performances by Syrian diva Assala Nasri and Kuwaiti crooner Nabeel Shuail.
undreds gathered Thursday for the first concert in the Saudi capital since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to watch performances by Syrian diva Assala Nasri and Kuwaiti crooner Nabeel Shuail.
Before stiff rules were brought in a year ago to stem the spread of coronavirus, the ultra-conservative kingdom had started to ease decades-long restrictions on entertainment, as part of efforts to improve its image and attract tourists.
“This is the first concert to take place in Saudi for a very long time,” said one spectator at the concert, held in a restaurant of a large Riyadh hotel.
“We are delighted to come from Kuwait to attend the concert,” said a Kuwaiti tourist.
Saudi Arabia has officially recorded more than 454,000 coronavirus infections, including 7,408 deaths.
It was not the first concert — Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang in April at the ancient Saudi city of Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Saudi Arabia has hosted international musicians — from Janet Jackson to 50 Cent and Korean pop group BTS — for concerts that were unimaginable in the conservative country just four years ago.
The pandemic put a brake on the country’s ambitious push to revamp its global image and draw tourists.
But the country continues to face recurring criticism of its human rights record, notably a relentless crackdown on dissenting voices, including several feminist activists.