Cultural Program draws thousands
Thousands of people continue to flock to Summer Program grounds throughout the Kingdom, guests of Saudi Aramco.
On July 14 — a Thursday — 400 volunteers were out in force to help the crowds who visited the Cultural Park opposite Dhahran Industrial Training Center. Among the visitors were children participating in the Summer Program’s sports clubs — al-Ittifaq Club in Dammam, al-Qadissiyah Club in al-Khobar, al-Khaleej Club in Qatif and al-Fateh Club in al-Hasa. Twelve-year-old Qassim Ali of al-Hasa said the Heritage Village tent reminded him of a “mini Janadriyah,” referring to the festival that takes place at Janadriyah Village on the outskirts of Riyadh.
The tent features displays representing five regions of the Kingdom with a variety of handmade goods such as leather sandals, leather dagger guards and sword scabbards, worry beads, wooden boats, models of ancient forts and places from the Kingdom’s history, and fresh-picked dates.
Young visitors also met some of their favorite characters from Iftah Ya Sim Sim, the Arabic version of Sesame Street, at the Kids Town tent. There, they played educational games and learned while being entertained.
After so much activity, many wanted to take something away with them. Some bought souvenirs, but one group liked the Food Court so much, it took home 80 vegetarian pizzas. It may have seemed like a frontal assault to the employees of Sandella’s Flatbread, but they turned the order around in less than 40 minutes. To do so, supervisor Yazan Samara coordinated with other branches in the area and served the order without interrupting service to other customers.
Pizza may not have been for everyone, but visitors could also indulge in ice cream and frozen yogurt, Arabic flatbreads, waffles, milkshakes, full meals and fruity snacks from the more than 20 food vendors.
In Jiddah, the Summer Program got under way, drawing more than 4,000 visitors on the opening day. A laser show filled the air and reflected off the structures of al-Arab Mall. An exhibit includes 25 displays, including highlights of Saudi Aramco’s operations.
Company representatives are educating the public on such matters as fire prevention and the history of the oil industry in Saudi Arabia. There is an art show of Arabic calligraphy and paintings, and recreational activities will continue for a month.
First-day visitors sang along with the song “Baba Abdullah,” dedicated to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Special activities were designed for about 100 orphans from various charitable groups.
Nabil A. Baashan, manager of Saudi Aramco Affairs in the Western Province, said the objective of the program was to put smiles on visitors’ faces, including orphans and special-needs visitors.
In al-Hasa, Russian circus acrobats stunned standing-room-only crowds at the Performing Arts Theater.
But another performance that got a lot of attention was that of local students, who were recognized in a celebration closing the year on school and opening the way for the summer. Clowns and cartoon characters help spread cheer as more than 500 chanting boys, girls and parents expressed their appreciation of the unexpected gesture. Then, they helped cut and eat a 3-meter-long cake.
Five students from Osama Bin Zaid Elementary School at al-Fudoul, which is renowned for its math prowess, stunned spectators by doing six-digit multiplication problems without paper and pencil or calculators.
Other attractions included the Fullah World tent, where fun and games were also educational; poetry from al-Hasa and the Gulf region; and a tourism map, sponsored by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.
For more information, visit www.saudiaramco-cp.com.
This story was reported by Ali Sultan and Aref Younis.
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