Streets of AlUla are alive with music as Winter at Tantora festival gets under way

Saudi superstar Majid Al Mohandis performs at Maraya as part of month-long event

Majid Al Mohandis performs at AlUla's mirrored venue Maraya.
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The Saudi National Band took to the balconies of AlJadidah in AlUla for a series of spontaneous performances during the opening of Winter at Tantora on Thursday.

People visiting AlUla’s Old Town were surprised to find themselves in the middle of an impromptu show, which featured singers and an orchestra performing some of the best-known songs from the Arab world.

The band, who formed in 2019 as part of Vision 2030, played nine songs from the '70s, '80s and '90s over the course of one hour.

“It was a beautiful experience,” said Emad Zaree, conductor and music director of the Saudi National Band.

The performance was enjoyed by residents and tourists, including Maha Ahmad, who was visiting from Riyadh.

“My son loves the band,” he said. “He is only three and I am so happy he’s experiencing our rich culture at such a young age.”

AlUla resident Swaliha, 62, spent the evening clapping along to the performance.

“The streets suddenly came alive with the sound of music from the past,” she said. “I was so moved by the performance.”

The Shorfat AlJadidah performances, as they are known locally, took place on Thursday and Friday, kickstarting a season of events and performances at the World Heritage Site.

The Winter at Tantora celebrations aim to educate, entertain and inspire visitors with a host of activities that include 200 performers showcasing the essence and history of the region.

As well as cultural events, several big-name stars will perform at Maraya, the stunning multi-purpose venue, which is the world's largest mirrored building.

Saudi megastar Majid Al Mohandis commenced the concerts on Friday.

“I am a huge believer in the power of music and the role it plays in spreading culture,” he said ahead of the show. “Performing at Winter at Tantora in AlUla is an opportunity to add to Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning musical and cultural scene and an opportunity I relish being a part of.

“AlUla has been always close to my heart and I am thrilled to perform again at Maraya to my beloved audience.”

Fellow Saudi star Mohammed Abdo will take the stage at Maraya next Friday, while Syrian star Assala Nasri will perform on January 13.

All concerts at Maraya will be broadcast live on MBC TV and the AlUla Moments YouTube channel.

Winter at Tantora runs until January 21. More information is available at www.experiencealula.com

Updated: December 24, 2022, 2:06 PM