- Title: American glow-in-the dark performance wows audiences in Saudi Arabia
- Date: 10th October 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PERFORMERS
- Embargoed: 25th October 2016 10:21
- Keywords: Saudi Arabia iLuminate glow-in-the dark performance Riyadh
- Location: NATURAL WITH ARABIC AND ENGLISH SPEECH
- City: NATURAL WITH ARABIC AND ENGLISH SPEECH
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Music
- Reuters ID: LVA00553FA4ID
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An American glow-in-the dark dance act wowed a rare mixed gender audience in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday (October 6).
Artists from 'iLuminate' took the audience of nearly 2,000 people on a musical journey of wireless technology and dance at Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University theatre in Riyadh.
The dance-in-the-dark group were finalists on NBC's "America's Got Talent," with show judge Piers Morgan calling them "The best new act in America."
Audience members appeared enthralled by the performance.
"I feel very wonderful. It's something special to find international bands like this (iLuminate) come to us in Riyadh and certainly this is something to bring happiness to us, the people of Riyadh and the people of Saudi Arabia and we hope to see more bands and more entertainment, God willing," said one Riyadh citizen, Abdulaziz Bukhari.
The show attracted many Western and Arab ex-pats living in the city, who also appeared to have enjoyed the rare public spectacle in a country where cinemas are banned, mixing between sexes is discouraged and breaks from cloistered lives are anxiously sought.
"It sounded very exciting. It's great to have stuff like this in Riyadh, and you know, the crowd's very excited and dynamic and it's been a great time," said Wendy, a US citizen living in Riyadh.
An economic reform plan announced earlier this year, referred to as "Vision 2030" aims at boosting job opportunities and the quality of life of Saudi citizens by introducing more entertainment and leisure activities.
The UK ambassador in Saudi Arabia was amongst one of several diplomats attending the events.
"We er, are strongly supportive in the United Kingdom of the Vision 2030 of the changes that are coming with that. I think the establishment of the, er, er, this new erm, er, approach to entertainment in er, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is, it's a very positive development for young people. It will generate income, it will create jobs, people will be happier er and we er, would be delighted to participate in that," said British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis.
This is the first time iLuminate is performing in Saudi Arabia with live shows in both Riyadh and Jeddah.
Chairman of the General Authority for Entertainment, Ahmed al-Khatib who was present at the event laid out the goals of his team following this rare performance.
"The Entertainment Authority is part of the program of Vision 2030 and has been announced in the Vision and the goal was to create jobs for Saudi young men and women and that the Saudis raise the contribution of entertainment in the country and to increase its contribution to the gross domestic product in the Kingdom from 3% to 6%, and draw a smile as you can see tonight, and to organise some shows and programs for the Saudi citizen who deserves the most," Khatib said.
Cinemas are still officially prohibited in the Kingdom, but Khatib said this was being reconsidered.
Founder of iLuminate, Miral Kotb said the Riyadh show had been a big success.
"The audiences is in Saudi Arabia have been incredible, so welcoming, so energetic, they really get the show they really applaud to all the different illusions we have in different moments. And we just feel like we've made a difference in their culture and it's such an honour to get to be a part of this new theatre in Saudi Arabia," she said.
iLuminate will be performing in Jeddah from October 12-22, and the Kingdom's General Authority say they expect attendance to exceed 10,000.
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