Saudi Arabia holds first Riyadh concert since Covid-19 crisis eased

Syrian diva Assala Nasri and Kuwaiti crooner Nabeel Shuail perform

The first concert in the Saudi capital Riyadh since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. AFP
The first concert in the Saudi capital Riyadh since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. AFP

Hundreds gathered in Riyadh on Thursday for the first concert in the Saudi capital since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fans watched performances by Syrian diva Assala Nasri and Kuwaiti crooner Nabeel Shuail.

Before strict rules were brought in a year ago to stem the spread of coronavirus, the conservative kingdom had started to ease decades-long restrictions on public entertainment – part of efforts to improve its image and attract tourists.

"This is the first concert to take place in Saudi for a very long time," said one spectator at the concert, held in a restaurant at a large Riyadh hotel.

"We are delighted to come from Kuwait to attend the concert," said a Kuwaiti tourist.

Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 454,000 coronavirus infections, including 7,408 deaths.

The kingdom hosted international musicians from Janet Jackson to 50 Cent and Korean pop group BTS, for concerts that were unimaginable just four years ago.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang in April at the ancient Saudi city of Hegra, a Unesco World Heritage site.

The pandemic put a brake on the country's ambitious push to revamp its global image and attract tourists.

Updated: June 4, 2021 05:11 PM

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