Akon makes Saudi Arabia debut: 'I've been waiting a long time to get here'

The singer performed at the Asharqiah Music Festival on Friday

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31:  Akon performs live on stage Konvict Kartel at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on October 31, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Ollie Millington/WireImage)
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The entertainment scene in Saudi Arabia has evolved exponentially in recent months, and it enjoyed a particular boost this month with the launch of Sharqiah Season.

The arts-filled programme is the first of 11 seasons of cultural events planned for the Kingdom, as part of the nation's Quality of Life 2020 initiative. With a 17-day itinerary jam-packed with more than 80 happenings, cities across the country have welcomed everything from the Saudi Film Festival to a Red Bull Air Race demo as part of the line-up, which draws to a close at the end of March.

On Friday and Saturday, which formed the second weekend of Sharqiah Season, several international acts took to the stage as part of the Asharqiah Music Festival.

Canadian DJ Deadmau5, Egyptian singer Amr Diab and American-Moroccan rapper French Montana were among those who performed for crowds at Dammam’s Life Park.

American rapper Pitbull also treated fans to a performance, after having to originally cancel his Thursday night slot due to technical difficulties with an aircraft.

Lonely singer Akon also gave an energetic performance, sharing several clips from his set with his 4.8 million Instagram fans.

"This is my first visit, I'm very excited," the American-Senegalese star later told the media of his trip to Saudi Arabia, in clips posted to his Instagram Stories.

"I never thought there would be festivals in Saudi. So this is big."

The star performed hits such as Gunshot on the night, later thanking the people of Saudi on Instagram for an "amazing night".

"I've been trying to get to Saudi for a long time," Akon added on his Stories, revealing he will also perform in Jeddah next month.

Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with attractions including the Formula 1 H20 boat race, shows from Cirque Eloise and multiple art exhibits.


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