Jeddah Season presents Saudi Arabia’s multi-cultural experiences to the world

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Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH —
Recent years have witnessed a sea change in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom continues its path of economic and cultural diversification in line with the goals of Vision 2030, the government's inspiring roadmap for the future.

At the heart of these plans is the further development of the travel and tourism sector, with the Kingdom making bold moves to explore its untapped potential as a destination for leisure travelers. Having traditionally attracted a steady flow of international visitors via its thriving religious tourism industry, Saudi Arabia is now positioning itself as a leading global destination with universal appeal through the introduction of exciting attractions and world-class entertainment events.

Long regarded as Saudi Arabia's cultural capital, the coastal city of Jeddah is currently at the vanguard of this drive to strengthen the Kingdom's position as a tourist destination with diverse offerings for visitors from around the world.

Traditionally serving as the main gateway for pilgrims visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, Jeddah boasts a stunning location and rich cultural diversity, and is affectionately known as the 'Bride of the Red Sea'. This vibrant destination is now extending its international appeal to a wider audience through the Jeddah Season, an exciting program of events that celebrates the best in music, art, and culture.

Running from June 8 to 18 July 18, 2019, the Jeddah Season is one of the distinct seasonal programs taking place across the country this year as part of the 'Saudi Seasons' initiative, a year-long series of events that aim to place the Kingdom firmly at the center of the global tourism map. Inspired by the city's reputation as a top destination for water-based activities and its history as a multicultural hub for international travelers, the festival is being held under the theme 'Sea and Culture'. Visitors and residents alike have the opportunity to enjoy an exciting array of experiences ranging from live concerts, theatrical performances, and art exhibitions to stand-up comedy and major sporting events.

More than 150 events are taking place across five key destinations within the city; Obhur, where visitors can enjoy water sports, public beaches and other coastal pursuits; Historic Jeddah, the city's beloved old center and UNESCO World Heritage site that captures the rich, authentic atmosphere of classic Jeddah; Al-Johara, a cutting-edge international hub for sports; the Jeddah Waterfront, which is home to parks, restaurants and water activities; and Al-Hamra, known for its beautiful corniche filled with boutiques, shopping malls, restaurants, and the Jeddah Fountain — the tallest of its kind in the world.

Sports fans can look forward to basketball and beach volleyball tournaments, together with a boxing event featuring the world professional boxing champion Amir Khan.

Meanwhile, 'Le Teatro Circus' is bringing a fascinating mix of acrobatic circus, western theater and live music to Saudi Arabia for the first time. Additional attractions include open-air cinema screenings, a daily Car Parade show, and the 'XJED Festival' on Jeddah Waterfront, which features a lively feast of pop-up restaurants, entertainment and activities.

The season's line-up includes a host of international artists including the iconic American group Backstreet Boys, K-pop stars Super Junior, and EDM DJs such as Martin Garrix, Afrojack and Marshmello. The caliber of international artists involved reflects the Kingdom's drive to offer world-class entertainment for visitors, while also catering to the evolving expectations of local audiences.

Despite its groundbreaking nature, Jeddah Season is about more than just globally themed attractions; the festival is also emphasizing the Kingdom's unique culture and traditions through events such as daily Saudi folklore show parades and performances from local artists. This juxtaposition of the traditional with the modern illustrates how Saudi Arabia is successfully managing the introduction of global entertainment while, at the same time, celebrating its proud heritage.

In a move that further strengthens Saudi Arabia's appeal to international visitors, recent changes in visa requirements have made it easier and more convenient for tourists to discover the charms of the Kingdom than ever before. Visitors traveling to Saudi Arabia for Jeddah Season 2019 can now obtain their tourist visas directly through the Sharek e-visa website (sharek.sa), which allows attendees to process their e-visas in just three minutes or less. This fast and simple procedure is symbolic of a more open approach that is poised to attract record numbers of visitors to the Kingdom.

By focusing on the advancement of travel and tourism while maintaining its own distinct heritage and traditions, Saudi Arabia is unlocking exciting opportunities for vibrant cultural exchange and accelerated economic development. Initiatives such as Jeddah Season show the world that guests from all corners of the globe are welcome and herald the dawn of a new era for the Kingdom, as it looks to the future with confidence and charts a course to enduring prosperity.


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