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The Gathering brings winter wonderland to Riyadh

Over the past ten days, more than 50,000 people have attended Winter Day Out, an event sponsored by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), at The Gathering in Riyadh’s Masharef Hills development complex.

Now in its second year, Winter Day Out is one of around 5,000 events either organized or sponsored by the GEA planned for 2019.

Running from Jan. 3 until Saturday night, thousands of people arrived daily, braving the cold winter weather to walk through the scenic gardens, and enjoy the food, shopping and entertainment, including the Frank Sinatra Orchestra, featuring a Dutch Sinatra tribute act.

“This is my first time in Saudi Arabia, and hopefully not my last,” said Frank In Person, the Sinatra lookalike. “It is amazing how people here have responded to us.

“It was a very flattering experience I did not expect. People here are very polite and friendly. It’s new for the Kingdom and I am honored and privileged to be a part of it.”

Dutch ambassador Joost Reintjes was one of the thousands in attendance, who watched the performance and chatted with members of the Dutch orchestra.

“Everyone here is very excited,” Reintjes said. “The members of the band are very proud to be here. It is the first time; they’ve heard stories about Saudi Arabia, and when you’re abroad and come here for the first time, it is always different to what you thought.”
Winter Day Out is one of around 5,000 events either organized or sponsored by the GEA planned for this year. (AN photo by Essam Al Ghalib)

Reintjes also said there were plenty more Dutch-Saudi events being planned.

“The Netherlands has had magicians and acrobats perform here in Saudi Arabia. There are many things that we can do in Saudi Arabia and the other way around, not just business and investments. There are the entertainment, sport, and cinema sectors – we have a very big cinema event in April with Saudi movies. Culture and entertainment provide a lot of possibilities.”
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