The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced its plans to launch a new institute dedicated to the study and performance of music. Turki Al Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, made the announcement at a memorial concert in honor of the late singer Abu Bakr Salem Belfkih at the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh.
The Yemeni singer, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 78-years-old, performed during the special memorial concert by way of hologram technology. The digital three dimensional rendering of the singer performed a rendition of his song “Ma Alina,” which was followed by a lineup of Arab stars paying tribute to Abu Bakr, including Mutref Al-Mutref and Fuad Abdel, Nabil Shuail, and Abu Bakr’s son Aseel, among others.
According to Al Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s The General Authority for Culture is in the process of issuing a license to establish the new institute. At the moment, information pertaining to the forthcoming establishment is scarce. Meanwhile, Warner Music Group is reportedly keen on investing in the largest record label in the Middle East, Rotana Music.
However, the dedicated music institute won’t be the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia. Back in January, Egyptian violinist Mahmoud Sorour launched a musical institute in Riyadh, with support and sponsorship from the kingdom’s government, that focuses in providing violin classes and houses a recording studio available for artists and students alike to record their music. At the request of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Sorour plans to train 50 Saudi violinists who will go on to perform at a new opera house in Jeddah, due to be completed by 2022.
Saudi Arabia is undergoing a mini musical renaissance of sorts. The exciting news comes amid a slew of concerts and music festivals that have taken place in the Kingdom over the last several months thanks to the loosening of restrictions on leisure activities and efforts to modernize society by the kingdom’s Crown Prince. In December, the Gulf country hosted the biggest-ever music festival that the kingdom’s ever seen, with performances from the likes of Jason Derulo, Enrique Iglesias, and The Black Eyed Peas. Just weeks later, a drove of superstar singers, including Mariah Carey descended upon the Saudi city to perform their biggest hits as part of the country’s first-ever international golf tournament in Jeddah. Meanwhile, the Winter at Tantora Festival, which recently wrapped up, featured musical performances from some of the world’s greatest artists.