RIYADH (Xinhua) – “Great work presented by Lang Lang and the orchestra … I especially love the Chinese melody,” Lama, a Saudi music lover, was amazed by world-renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang’s performance at the historic city of Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia.
As part of the ‘Winter at Tantora’ festival, Lang and the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra dazzled music lovers last Friday night at the UNESCO World heritage site in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
“It is my first time coming to Al-Ula. It is a beautiful area.” said Lama, who travelled to Al-Ula from Riyadh. “Tonight’s performance is impressive.”
‘Winter at Tantora’, starting from December 20 until February 9, is a local music event in Al-Ula, a small town next to the ancient Nebatean site of Madein Saleh, where a number of weekend cultural and musical events are held. Al-Ula, one of the most fascinating relics in the kingdom, is some 380km north of the Islamic holy city of Madinah.
More than 2,000 years old, the city was carved out from stones by the Nabataeans, the tribe that also built Petra in Jordan.
“It feels incredible to listen to classical music while having the mountains in the background. I am looking forward to watching more performances here, especially from the East,” said Sarah Alfayez, who also travelled to Al-Ula for the first time.
“This is my first time coming to a concert played by Chinese musicians. I have seen Lang Lang’s performances online but seeing him play live is really something unique. The orchestra is also very talented,” Alfayez said.
“We really admire Chinese people and Chinese culture. It’s a perfect ending to a very beautiful day,” she added.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has made an effort to preserve and reinvigorate Al-Ula into a beacon for Arab tourism, a place that embraces local and international visitors to experience Saudi Arabia’s unique culture.
Lebanese singer Majida El-Roumi, who performed here on December 28 last year, said it was an honour for her to perform at the event in Saudi Arabia, adding that the world was eagerly waiting “for the kingdom to open its doors”.
Other stars who have performed in the kingdom since 2017 include Algerian musician Cheb Khaled, United States (US) rapper Nelly and country singer Toby Keith.
Such music shows have gradually become part of the cultural life of Saudi Arabia, which was unimaginable two years ago, thanks to the Vision 2030, a comprehensive plan to reduce Saudi dependence on oil and develop its public service sectors.
Many of these music performances were sponsored by the General Entertainment Authority that was set up to organise, develop and lead the entertainment sector and to provide diverse entertainment options to Saudis.