Riyadh: Renowned Pakistani singers Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan brought an audience of 20,000 Pakistani and Indian music lovers together on Friday night as part of Riyadh Season. Fans were united in their praise for Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) for organizing the concert.
The concert was part of the Riyadh Season which kicked off last Friday with a much-anticipated concert by K-pop boyband BTS. The performance, the first of its kind for Indian and Pakistani expatriates in the Kingdom, delighted many in the audience.
Atif Aslam performed a string of hits before telling the crowd: “I’ve missed you all these years. And I really want to thank Turki Al-Sheikh (GEA chairman) for making this happen.” The singer’s two-hour performance ended with a hymn as he paid respect to the Holy Cities. The celebrated singer Atif Aslam also recently became the first Pakistani to win his very own star at the Dubai Walk of Fame. He was recognized for his remarkable career in the music industry in both India and Pakistan.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performed Qawwali hits with a live orchestra.
“This is such an honor. I respect the Saudi government for honoring us. There has never been anything on such a large scale for expats living in the Kingdom,” Azhar Ali, an Indian national living in Riyadh, told local Arab News.
“We’re grateful to have our stars come and perform here. It makes us feel more integrated in society,” Maqsood Ali, a Pakistani expatriate, said.
The performances of Pakistani music start come as part of Riyadh Season, one of the Kingdom’s 11 festival seasons that occur throughout the year, and will run from October 11 to December 15. The seasons aim to transform Saudi Arabia into a tourist destination, and provide the country’s residents and visitors with year-round entertainment events, in line with the country’s Vision 2030 economic reform plan.
Each season features a different theme to highlight different aspects of Saudi Arabia’s heritage and culture. It will include a wide range of artistic, sporting and cultural events, including theater, music performances, and fashion shows. Recently, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan along with Jackie Chan, Jason Momoa, Jean-Claude Van Damme took part in Saudi-government backed summit to promote the Kingdom’s entertainment projects.
Two days ago, Saudi Royal Court Adviser and Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority in the Kingdom, Turki Alalshikh announced the show on his Twitter account.