ALULA: American DJ, producer and rapper Swizz Beatz performed at AlUla on Wheels this weekend, hosting a listening party from a DJ dome overlooking the temporarily installed ice rink.
“Send the movement good intentions from the building, my partner Noor – everyone here. I did this in two weeks. This is the Saudi way. The Saudi way is “Tomorrow”. We have a compilation called “Moya” and we’ll be playing some exclusives from that album. I have one request: if you know how to skate, get on the dance floor and skate,” Swizz Beatz told the crowd.
Good Intentions is a Saudi Arabian creative consultancy launched in partnership with Swizz Beatz and Noor Taher.
Over the past few weekends, an abandoned outdoor school playground in AlUla has been used to educate locals and visitors, both young and old, about the importance of movement and incorporating sound into their spaces. Fittingly, the album’s name, “Moya” — which means “water” in Arabic — also has to do with flow and movement.
The space is home to disco balls, camel-shaped neon lights and a DJ dome. It brought overseas visitors alongside local residents exploring what was on offer in their own backyard.
“I heard about this event on Snapchat and honestly I think it’s really fun,” local resident Fayz Alqaeetiu told Arab News with a laugh. “It’s my second time coming… I came last week but I haven’t skated yet, I like to support everyone. I’ll try to skate maybe sometime in the future.”
His friend, Swilem Al-Blwie is also a native of AlUla and both attended a school not far from the location.
“AlUla is known for its culture and history and has changed a lot recently. Now, we have festivals and events. It is the flagship of tourism in Saudi Arabia and is the face that represents the Arab and Islamic world. Ice skating is one of the best activities offered this season. I hope to learn how to skate one day, God willing,” said Al-Blwie.
REXCHOUK from Saudi Arabia, known as Rex, was there wearing his signature “screaming mask” to hide his identity. The New York-educated artist who created the mural that served as the backdrop for the ice rink is well established in the Saudi Arabian art scene, and his vibrant Saudi-centric art and use of color set the mood in a humorous and relevant way locally. .
“This artwork is inspired by AlUla. It was inspired by skating, inspired by music, inspired by disco, inspired by Swizz Beats and the kind of music he’s going to bring here, and the ‘Moya’ album release party. I love hip-hop, so when I heard it was going to be here, I was like, “Yeah, I have to be there!” The artwork is inspired by everything we will go through and experience this weekend,” Rex told Arab News.
This event and the upcoming album were created in close collaboration with the Kabsa Boys, Adel Al-Ghamdi, Terki Shalhoub and Mohammed Al-Shamsi from the popular “Pass the Kabsa” podcast.
“Moya”, which was played in public for the first time at the rink, was co-produced by Saudi Nawaf Alalyan – aka Ntitled – and other Saudi artists whose names have yet to be revealed.
Swizz Beatz also served as producer. The album is currently being finalized and should be released soon.
Taher was delighted with the results of the collision of subcultures and the combination of Eastern sensibilities and Western practices that make up AlUla on Wheels.
“I was surprised that people stepped out of their comfort zone. I saw walls torn down. I saw an engaged community. I’ve seen a grandfather hip-hop and I’ve seen his grandson skate. I’ve seen women fall, laugh and get back up. I saw little girls doing loops around older adults. I saw confidence in the children. I saw what it was about. It’s really about movement, freedom, wonder and music, and it’s amazing that we got to bring it to AlUla. I can’t wait to bring it to other cities,” said Taher.
“This is the first project that Good Intentions has really directed, managed and curated. And I’m super proud of the impact. Skating is a love for Swizz and I honestly can’t say I’ve shared it, but just being here has opened my eyes,” she said. “I got it, I got it now.”
According to experiencealula.com, AlUla on Wheels will return on October 27.