Alicia Keys champions Saudi fashion designer as AlUla trip comes to an end

US singer performed at Maraya Concert Hall and took part in a women's leadership conversation

Alicia Keys wore an ensemble by Dubai-based Saudi label Abadia during her performance at Maraya Concert Hall in AlUla. Photo: Al Ula Moments
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Alicia Keys has been swanning around the desert all week as she visited Saudi Arabia's historic town of AlUla for a concert and conference, along with her husband, Swizz Beatz.

The Empire State of Mind singer, who is a known art collector and aficionado, began her trip by visiting the opening of Desert X AlUla 2022 on Thursday and dancing on her own amid the artworks.

Keys and her husband spent two hours touring the show, and it's the work of American artist Jim Denevan that was a clear favourite with the celebrity pair. Angle of Repose is a large expanse of 364 hills of sand, arranged in concentric circles that grow progressively smaller. Keys walked to the middle of the artwork and, her arms aloft, let the wind ripple through her flowing white dress and then twirled in the centre.

See more photos of works at Desert X AlUla here:

She then performed a sold-out show at Maraya Concert Hall on Friday night as part of AlUla Moments' One Night Only series, before joining Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the first female Saudi ambassador to the US, in a Town Hall-style conversation called Women to Women that took place on Saturday.

The concert was presented by Good Intentions, a creative consultancy in Saudi Arabia co-founded by Keys's husband, real name Kasseem Dean, who is an American record producer, rapper and businessman.

Keys wore two outfits during the concert, both by Saudi label Abadia, which operates out of Dubai. The first was a two-piece white set with shirt and loose-fitting trousers, topped with a gold net crop, while the second was a mustard jumpsuit with a floor-length cape fitted around her waist.

Keys paid tribute to the label, which was co-founded by Shahd AlShehail and her aunt Naeema Al Shehail and puts the focus on the kingdom's traditional techniques. "I had to make sure that I put on a second Abadia outfit," Keys said on stage, referring to the brand as a "local magnificent designer".

Keys went on to perform hits such as New York and Un-thinkable, ending the night by saying "thank you AlUla" in Arabic.

The next day, Women to Women, also presented by Good Intentions, took place at the art and design centre Madrasat AdDeera, with Keys, Princess Reema and a whole host of other creative women, including Saudi actress Fatima AlBanawi, taking part.

It took on a Town Hall-style format, where audience members were invited to ask questions.

“I would love for you to teach me and continue to be allies together," Keys said. "We are all very special and very important in this room and nobody is more important than anybody else."

Princess Reema highlighted the importance of women supporting women, and "how men recognise that when they create a space for us, magic happens".

“If you were not inspired, be the one that inspires," she said. "If you did not have a mentor, be the mentor. If you didn’t have the resources but have access to them, give them. Because your generosity and your kindness of spirit is what is going to make the community we all deserve."

The Saudi Arabia trip follows a successful visit to Expo 2020 Dubai in December, where Keys debuted her new album, Keys, co-produced by Beatz.

See photos of Alicia Keys live at Expo 2020 Dubai here:

Updated: February 14, 2022, 12:41 PM
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