Woody, Buzz and most of the rest of Andy’s ex-toys take a road trip. (Supplied)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Tony Hale
Where: OSN Movies, April 27, 11:40 (Saudi time)
Woody, Buzz and most of the rest of Andy’s ex-toys (who are now Bonnie’s toys) take a road trip, along with a new addition to Bonnie’s toybox, Forky. Woody meets an old friend on the way, who makes him reassess his sense of duty — to himself and others.
“Tigertail” is on Netflix. (Supplied)
Starring: Lee Hong-chi, Tzi Ma, Christine Ko
The story of Pin-Jui, a Taiwanese factory worker who decides to leave his homeland — and the woman he loves — to seek a better life in America. Years later, after a miserable arranged marriage and a hard and unsatisfying career, he struggles to connect with his past and his daughter.
Love, Wedding, Repeat
The film stars Sam Clafin, Olivia Munn and Joel Fry. (Supplied)
Starring: Sam Clafin, Olivia Munn, Joel Fry
Ever wished for a remake of the time-loop comedy “Groundhog Day” but set around a wedding instead? No? Well, someone did. So now we’ve got this film, in which Jack tries to ensure his little sister has the perfect wedding day, and gets multiple goes at it.
The Innocence Files
This docuseries covers eight cases of wrongful conviction uncovered by non- profit organization The Innocence Project. (Supplied)
Creators: Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Roger Ross Williams
This docuseries covers eight cases of wrongful conviction uncovered by non- profit organization The Innocence Project. Netflix says the show “exposes difficult truths about the state of America’s deeply flawed criminal justice system.”
The Main Event
Leo discovers a wrestling mask that magically grants him superhuman strength. (Supplied)
Starring: Seth Carr, Tichina Arnold, Adam Pally, The Miz
In yet another WWE spin-off, 11-year-old Leo discovers a wrestling mask that magically grants him superhuman strength. With the support of his feisty grandma, Leo sets about becoming a pro wrestler.
Influencers may play a significant role in helping to combat the spread of the virus. (File/Getty)
DUBAI: As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to afflict thousands worldwide, influencers have been forced to rethink their perfectly curated aesthetics. Gone are the brightly filtered snaps of avocado toast and ‘Outfit-of-the-day’ posts. Instead, quick workout videos and makeup-free selfies are flooding our social media feeds as people practice social distancing in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
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“It’s time for us to utilize our platforms to voice concerns, spread awareness, share lighthearted humor, engage with our viewers and create content to lift people’s spirits,” Dubai-based Zeynab El-Helw, known as “Fashion Pirate” to her 1 million Instagram followers, told Arab News.
UAE-based fashion influencer Ola Farahat, who boasts 1.2 million followers on Instagram, agrees. “I think there is something empowering about sharing positivity, especially because the world is so saturated with depressing news at the moment,” she noted.
According to Dr. Stephanie Alice Baker, lecturer in sociology at City, University of London, influencers may also play a significant role in helping to combat the spread of the virus by using their platforms to enforce the worldwide stay-at-home mandates.
Indeed, a big part of the fight against COVID-19 is getting information regarding government guidelines and regulations out to the public as quickly and efficiently as possible — and encouraging audiences to adhere to them. Just last month, a fitness influencer was detained by Dubai police for mocking the UAE’s stay-at-home rules on Instagram.
“Influencers play a particularly important role in encouraging the younger demographic to comply with lockdown rules and social distancing measures,” Baker said.
“Given that younger generations appear to have a relatively low risk of mortality from the virus, social media personalities are instrumental in using their influence to communicate the importance of such rules and measures,” she explains.
Social distancing rules mean that people are required to spend large amounts of time at home physically isolated from others, so those with a large social media following can also provide some much-needed entertainment while encouraging their followers to comply with the rules.
On the whole, social media consumption is soaring as more and more people around the world go under lockdown.
“We are seeing a move towards posts that portray how influencers are coping during the lockdown, which can be both informative and a source of entertainment,” explains Baker.
“Influencers have been able to turn these restrictions into opportunities to market products related to the domestic sphere including home workouts, DIY beauty, and cooking and cleaning items. The influencers who have stood out during the pandemic are those who use their brand to provide strategies for their followers to cope during the enforced lockdown.”
Baker went on to provide examples of public figures who have adapted their social media strategies during the pandemic, such as fitness guru Joe Wicks who is using his platform to provide free at-home workouts to children amid school closures.
“Fitness and wellness influencers have used their fame to promote health and diet advice on how to improve the immune system, for example, and avoid being more susceptible to the virus. There have even been instances of beauty bloggers and fashion influencers providing health advice.”
Korean beauty blogger Carey gave his followers practical COVID-19-related tips, including which disinfectant to use to kill the virus and how to choose a face mask.
Hady Hajjar, co-founder of the Dubai and Beirut-based Humanagment, coined the term “edutainment” — a portmanteau of the words education and entertainment — to describe how influencers can provide valuable information to their followers in an entertaining, lighthearted way.
“If you only take the entertainment route, you will potentially garner negative feedback,” Hajjar said. “On the other hand, your followers might get bored if your feed is solely dedicated to educating them on the pandemic. You have to balance it out.”
Hajjar believes that it is those who are able to generate creative content amid such uncertain times that will remain relevant after the pandemic.
Meanwhile, as the virus rages on, anxiety is rendering people increasingly susceptible to misinformation, with a flurry of conspiracy theories gaining traction in recent weeks. In particular, a conspiracy theory linking 5G wireless technology to COVID-19 has been spread by celebrities, including singer Kerry Hilson, as well as other known influencers.
Zaineb Al-Hassan, co-founder of Dubai-based PR agency Pop Communications, believes that those with large followings must use their voice to tackle misinformation and prevent the spread of baseless and often dangerous theories to a wider audience.
“Influencers can also be helpful in advocating for campaigns against fake news, especially if the majority of their audience does not consume news through traditional mediums,” Al-Hassan said.
“Ultimately, influencers need to work together to initiate supportive campaigns to share useful and correct information as much as we can. It’s our responsibility to our community, to ourselves, our families and our global network,” El-Helw said.
“We can use our platforms to share information from WHO and other trusted organizations for kids following us,” Farahat added.
One thing is for certain: Whether you love them or hate them, with the ability to communicate instantly with millions of people worldwide using a single hashtag, the role of an influencer is more important now than ever.
JEDDAH: Ever since streaming services became available in the Middle East, leading online sites have been dictating people’s tastes and preferences, their mass media effect influencing Saudi Arabia as it does the rest of the world.
Sara Al-Rifai, an English instructor in Jeddah, believes that streaming services are gaining influence in mainstream culture simply because younger people are unwilling to watch cable TV and sit through ads, or wait a week or more for new content.
“Competition on quality and cost is another factor in favor of streaming services. Neflix’s monthly subscription is affordable. The quality of its shows is rapidly improving, and many of its films and series have won prestigious awards such as the Oscars,” she told Arab News.
Renad Flimban, 26, from Jeddah, said that movies and TV shows have the ability to set mainstream culture in areas ranging from food to fashion and even hairstyles long before streaming became available.
“New streaming services have just made it easier to consume the media and the culture behind it,” she said.
The popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” is perhaps the best example of pop culture “spread,” with local fans joining a global audience in their love for the show. Many viewers in the Arab world watched the series on OSN, while it was also available on HBO.
New streaming services have just made it easier to consume the media and the culture behind it.
“I think it blew up here even though it was on HBO, which isn’t that popular here, because people seemed to really like/dislike the characters and the writing. They had extremely strong feelings on both ends of the spectrum,” Flimban said.
Popular shows in the 1990s and early 2000s have been reinvigorated after streaming services acquired the rights to reshow them for viewers. Many popular shows that used to air on MBC2 and Saudi TV, such as “Friends,” “Full House” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” have won new fans following recent exposure.
“Most of these shows’ themes — friendships, families and relationships — are still relevant today, and having easy access to these shows on current media platforms certainly helped to introduce them to a new audience and reconnect with an established audience,” Flimban said.
Al-Rifai agrees, saying these shows have become more popular among a younger generation due to their availability and a desire to understand the hype surrounding them.
“‘Friends’ is still the most-watched show on Netflix, yet it has been criticized for tolerating sexism and body shaming,” she said. “The generation gap and viewers’ beliefs affect the way they perceive a show, no matter how popular it was in the past.”
• Fans of popular shows and films in Saudi Arabia behave just as worldwide fans do.
• Young Saudis collect merchandise and organize character-themed parties.
For Razan Sijeeni, a Jeddah university graphic design instructor, the pinnacle of pop culture in the Kingdom would be “Tash Ma Tash,” which aired every Ramadan for 18 years, often tackling conservatism and racism, among other controversial social issues.
“Unfortunately, there is very little authentic representation of our culture in our own media nowadays, and whatever there is, even when it’s well executed, it is being Westernized and viewed through a Western gaze,” she said.
However, Sijeeni has Netflix to thank for her favorite series, “Star Trek,” which she discovered on the streaming site.
“It was fascinating to me, watching the visuals of an explosion or space in the 1960s, and how the series progressed and improved considerably as the years went by,” she said.
Sijeeni said that online streaming also offers people from around the world an introduction to different cultures, languages and beliefs at the press of a button.
“I’ve seen a Saudi influencer meet the cast of “Money Heist,” and people were reacting to it — it’s like they know these people and it isn’t just a show.”
She said that in an age where the internet has a growing place in people’s lives, even individuals who don’t watch shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Friends” still know who the characters are, and go as far as creating memes to help cope with the coronavirus crisis, for example.
Fans of popular shows and films in Saudi Arabia behave just as worldwide fans do, collecting merchandise, holding character-themed parties and recreating recipes from fictional universes.
Flimban’s favorite show since 2010 has been “Gilmore Girls,” and she admits to owning a few show-inspired items and attending a “marvelous” Gatsby-themed party.
Sijeeni had not been as lucky with her “Star Trek” obsession, however, and said that she was envious of fan events she saw happening worldwide. “My favorite mug was given to me by a friend,” she recalled. “It has the main ‘Star Trek’ six and they transport as you fill the mug with boiling water.”
Now she is on the hunt for a “Star Trek” pilot jacket. We recommend Etsy artists for fan-replicated items.
In part four of the popular Spanish crime drama, the gang is in chaos. (Supplied)
It starrs Andy Samberg, Terry Crews and Andre Braugher. (Supplied)
Where: OSN Comedy
Catch up with the seventh season of this popular Emmy-winning cop comedy on OSN. NYPD detective Jake Peralta continues to demonstrate his crime solving chops and wind up his colleagues with his childish humor.
Coffee & Kareem
It starrs Ed Helms, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Little Gardenhigh. (Supplied)
Helms plays police officer James Coffee in this action-comedy. Coffee is happy in his new relationship with Vanessa, but her son — Kareem — isn’t impressed. He tries to break them up by hiring thugs to take Coffee out. The plan goes badly wrong.
It starrs Ursula Corbero, Itziar Ituno, Alvaro Morte and Paco Tous. (Supplied)
In part four of the popular Spanish crime drama, the gang is in chaos. The Professor believes Lisbon to be dead (the gang use the names of cities instead of their real names). Meanwhile, Rio and Tokyo have blown up a tank and Nairobi is in serious trouble.
It starrs Nicola Byer, Jacques Torres and some terrible bakers. (Supplied)
In an amusing twist on reality-TV baking shows, ‘Nailed It!’ invites
some shockingly bad home bakers to try and recreate edible masterpieces in front of the camera — competing for $10,000. The results are some of the ugliest food you’re ever going to see.
Sunderland Till I Die
The second series of this compelling docuseries delving behind the scenes at Sunderland football club in the north of England. Can a new owner save the club?
In a recent interview with British Vogue, the singer and beauty mogul told the magazine about her fresh perspective on life. “Since I turned 32, I’m realizing life is really short,” she stated. “You don’t have a lot of time to tolerate sh*t, you know? You put so much on your plate. When you’re overwhelmed, you need to start cutting things out. And I’m overwhelmed too much. What’s happening now is that I’m going back to black and white. My grey area is shutting down.”
In the piece, journalist Afua Hirsch confirmed the break-up, writing “her long-term relationship with the Saudi billionaire businessman Hassan Jameel (conducted largely away from the media’s obsessive gaze) recently ended.”
According to US media reports, Rihanna and her Saudi beau reportedly went their separate ways in January, after nearly three years of dating.
Rihanna gave no indication of an upcoming break up in a 2019 conversation with “Ocean’s 8” co-star Sarah Paulson for Interview Magazine. Paulson grilled the Fenty owner about her personal life, at one point asking her who she was dating, which she answered: “Google it.”
Paulson then asked her if she was in love, and she said “Of course I am.”
During the interview with British Vogue, Hirsch asked the singer about the possibility of having children, to which the multi-Grammy Award winner revealed she wanted “three or four” children — with or without a man in her life.
“I feel like society makes me want to feel like, ‘Oh, you got it wrong…’ They diminish you as a mother if there’s not a dad in your kids’ lives,” she explained. “But the only thing that matters is happiness, that’s the only healthy relationship between a parent and a child.”
The singer added, “That’s the only thing that can raise a child truly, is love.”
dmg events launched the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement expo in April 2019.
Saudi Arabia’s announcement to invest $64 billion into developing its entertainment industry over the next decade as part of Vision 2030 has energized the sector as the Kingdom follows its planned social and economic reform programs spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In line with the Kingdom’s zealous plans, dmg events launched the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement (SEA) expo in April 2019 in Jeddah and interest in the event has almost doubled in size this year with the event due to be held from Feb. 3 to 5 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.
Nathan Waugh, portfolio director at dmg events, said that dmg events got SEA out to the market at a time when the entertainment and leisure sector in Saudi Arabia is blossoming with the aim to make the country a leisure destination not just locally but globally. “From a start of practically zero, there are things like cinemas booming across the country, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment complexes, so the focus is there on getting the big banner attractions. Relaxing social rules, especially for women, and encouraging entertainment and leisure activities is helping hugely, moving the country toward modernization. All this puts us in a great position to bring international businesses that are looking at Saudi Arabia as a new and thriving market.”
Ready for its second edition, SEA expo has achieved 75 percent growth overall and the number of exhibitors has increased by 30 percent. The reach for exhibitors is global, with companies from the US and peaked interest from Europe, particularly from Italy. There’s also a delegation from the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry taking part along with two other international pavilions. In total there are exhibitors from 23 different countries. A growing list of exhibitors including Whitewater, Ropes Courses Inc., Polin, Warehouse of Games, Amusement Services International, Embed, IdeAttack, Vivaticket and Vortex is expected to increase visitor numbers this year from last year’s 4,000 plus.
The Kingdom’s biggest entertainment season yet had more than 100 events taking place over the past few months
Saudi Arabia’s capital hosted the Kingdom’s biggest entertainment season yet, with more than 100 events taking place over the past few months, from international music legends performing live to local theatrical shows. It’s been an amazing first year for Riyadh season, as our selected highlights show.
Riyadh Season saw a multitude of music stars visit the capital city. From superstar Arab acts including Amr Diab to international artists including K-pop legends BTS, US rapper French Montana and Belgian DJ duo Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike. But the headline attraction was the three-day electronic festival MDL Beast, which will long be remembered as the biggest party Saudi Arabia has ever thrown. Local stars including DJ Dish Dash got their opportunity to shine in front of thousands, while legends such as David Guetta, Steve Aoki (complete with remix of tracks from Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu), Tiesto, Martin Garrix and Sebastian Ingrosso brought a Soundstorm to Saudi.
October 31 saw the first female professional wrestling match to be staged in Saudi Arabia when WWE Crown Jewel took place in Riyadh. Natalya and Lacey Evans faced off in a match “clearly put in place to break barriers” according to Heavy.com. “And for that I have to give it the utmost props.” Elsewhere on the bill, British boxer Tyson Fury defeated Braun Strowman, Saudi wrestler Mansoor defeated Cesaro, and the WWE’s largest tag team “turmoil” match — with nine teams participating — saw The O.C. emerge victorious.
In November, the South American super classic football match between Brazil and Argentina was played in Riyadh for the first time, and local fans got to see Lionel Messi — arguably the greatest player of all time — up close and personal. And the Argentinian legend didn’t disappoint, scoring the only goal of the game to give his team bragging rights over their rivals.
Aside from all the talent on show at Riyadh Season’s myriad events, a whole host of famous names came over just to visit the country and take in some of the entertainment. US actors Armie Hammer, Wilmer Valderrama and Ryan Phillippe all visited the Kingdom’s capital, as did Egyptian-Jordanian actor Bassel Alzaro, Lebanese designer Eli Mizrahi, US singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor, and numerous well-known models including Megan Williams, Stella Maxwell, Neels Visser, Irina Shayk, Romee Strijd, Joan Smalls, Winnie Harlow, and many more. And sure, an all-expenses-paid luxury trip is rarely going to upset anyone, but they all seemed to be having a good time.
Riyadh had its coolest winter yet thanks to the importing (and expanding — according to the organizers, it was twice the size) of London’s Winter Wonderland — the famous Hyde Park Christmas attraction. The huge theme park proved a hit with visitors, thanks to its blend of simple kid-friendly shows, including clowns, and more thrill-packed rides and stands. It also included the Middle East’s largest ice rink.
The Riyadh Safari brought the African savannah to the heart of the Saudi capital. Visitors got to see elephants, giraffes, antelopes, wolves, parrots and a whole lot of other animals in the flesh, surrounded by lively animal-themed entertainment, rides and music.
HISTORY & HERITAGE
Nabd Al-Riyadh was the event to visit if you wanted a taste of some more-traditional Saudi Arabian culture. Every day, it showcased the cultural heritage of a different region of the Kingdom through a mixture of cutting-edge technology and old-school artisans. You could see folk dances and traditional music performances, handicrafts that have been passed down through generations, but also digital displays and laser shows. All based around the historically significant Al-Masmak Fortress.
There were some top theatrical performances during Riyadh Season too. The highlight was probably Cirque du Soleil’s “Bazzar,” inspired — as the name suggests — by the sights, sounds, colors and interactions of a bazaar. The performers wowed audiences with astonishing acrobatics, stilt-walking, dramatic fire-breathing and more.
“Thriller Live” brought the ever-popular magical music of Michael Jackson to the capital and was — as expected in a region where Jackson’s popularity remains sky-high — a huge hit.
The season closed with a performance of “Leila: The Land of Imagination” — a show in which a young girl dreams of travelling around the Kingdom in a single night. Elsewhere, Saudi comedian Nasser Al-Qasabi’s play “Al-Theeb fe Al-Gleeb” proved popular with audiences.
The Riyadh Motorshow 2019 brought together some of the world’s most-remarkable cars in the Saudi capital — including the electric GFG Style 2030, which was bought at auction for almost $855,000. From vintage vehicles and classic muscle cars to the latest supercar models, the motorshow was a huge draw for petrolheads from across the region and further afield.
The Quality of Life Program (QLP), a major component of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, aims to improve people’s lifestyles by developing an ecosystem to support and create new options that boost citizens’ and residents’ participation in cultural, environmental and sports activities.
The QLP aims to create jobs, diversify economic activity, and raise the status of Saudi cities so that they rank among the best in the world. One of the program’s main objectives is to develop and diversify entertainment opportunities, including electronic games facilities, family entertainment centers, water parks, cinemas, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, public parks, theaters and an opera house.
To support the QLP, the government created the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) in 2016 for the purpose of organizing and developing the entertainment sector and support its infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
With the support and cooperation of various government sectors and private entities, the GEA has managed to improve quality of life in the Kingdom. It has also managed, in a very short time, to diversify and enrich entertainment experiences nationwide.
The great success of Riyadh Season is a good example of the GEA’s outstanding ability to enhance the entertainment industry in the Kingdom, as evidenced by the 10.3 million people who visited the festival. Riyadh Season was able to generate more than SR1 billion ($267 million) for the GEA, and indirect revenues via the Saudi payments system Mada exceeded SR4 billion during the official period of the festival (Oct. 15 to Dec.15, 2019).
Riyadh Season was not only successful in attracting visitors to the capital, but also in creating 34,700 direct jobs and 17,300 indirect (seasonal and volunteer) jobs for Saudi men and women. Riyadh Season’s success is expected to be replicated in the series of current and upcoming festivals in the Kingdom.
I believe that Saudi Arabia can easily establish a strong entertainment industry that can support and diversify the economy, especially as the government is striving to reduce dependence on oil. A strong entertainment industry in the Kingdom will be able to support the growth of the gross domestic product, improve local content, support small and medium-sized enterprises, increase foreign direct investment and create jobs.
Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view
The festival’s star-studded list of performances includes the big-league DJs Steve Aoki and J. Balvin, who performed their sets in five stages that attracted fans of different sorts who were free to dance to their hearts’ desire.
The ‘Big Beast’ stage was the main attraction of the festival, pulling in the biggest crowd even on the second day, and with good reason. The stage opened with Dish Dash hyping up the crowd, and followed by Camelphat.
The second day of the MDL Beast music festival attracted about 150,000 visitors, with big-league DJs playing for the mammoth crowd on Friday. (Supplied)
J Balvin, whose piece ‘Me Gente’ is the most remixed song of all time, also had the audience running to the stage when his name announced.
David Guetta meanwhile opened his stage appearance with the line: “Tonight we are going to celebrate the present and the future,” followed by a roar of cheers from the crowd.
“He is my most favorite DJ, I can’t believe I saw him perform live,” said Mohammad Harthi.
The night concluded with a collaboration stage that brought together iconic names in the industry, Steve Aoki and David Guetta, whose performances worked up the crowd, and managed to get a promise from Aoki to come back on the last day of the festival.
Sayidaty’s lifestyle show ‘Girls Know’ on Snapchat targets modern Arab women.
Sayidaty’s lifestyle show “Girls Know” on Snapchat has amassed 2.1 million unique views from around the world, and 16 million overall views. The show targets the next generation of female readers of Sayidaty, a popular weekly Arabic and monthly English women’s magazine published by the Saudi Research and Publishing Company.
Known to be digitally savvy in its approach of engaging with its readers across all social media channels, Sayidaty discovered a huge untapped audience online and found a way to connect with them through this series.
Launched in November this year, “Girls Know” is the latest in Sayidaty’s portfolio of successful shows targeting young Arab women, between the ages of 18 to 25, providing them with light-hearted, bite-sized content on the issues that most affect them today.
The show prides itself on understanding exactly what the modern Arab girl wants, and covers everything from social issues, female health, fitness, lifestyle, mental health, empowerment, to education, relationships and much more.
“‘Girls Know’ is an essential show for the generation of Arab girls who will inherit Sayidaty’s core values and heritage. This further demonstrates the need for such a show for the next generation of Arab women as well,” a statement said.
The first five episodes have attracted 1.38 million views to date, with the number of unique views from Saudi Arabia on the rise. Some of the most watched episodes revolve around health and fitness.
“Sayidaty plans to continue producing the next season of ‘Girls Know’ in January 2020, as it looks to remain emotionally in touch with its valued audience — the strong Arab women of the future,” the statement said.
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