Saudi Arabia To Spend Billions On Entertainment

Saudi Arabia announced plans Thursday to spend billions on building new venues and flying in Western acts, in a total overhaul of its entertainment sector that would have been unthinkable not long ago.

Long known for its ultra-conservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a wide-ranging programme of social and economic reforms driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

At a glitzy press conference in Riyadh, General Entertainment Authority (GEA) chief Ahmad bin Aqeel al-Khatib told reporters the kingdom is set to invest $64 billion in its entertainment sector over the coming decade.

“We are already building the infrastructure,” Khatib said, adding that ground had been broken for an opera house.

Khatib said hundreds of new companies have sprung up over the past year, registering for licences to take advantage of the budding sector.

“God willing, you will see a real change by 2020,” the entertainment chief said, adding that more than 5,000 events were planned for the coming year.

The funding for new infrastructure and entertainment offerings will come from both the government and the private sector, he said.

Behind Khatib, a screen teased the names of international acts like Maroon 5, Andrea Bocelli and Cirque du Soleil.

Neither a breakdown of how the money would be spent nor a schedule for the cultural programme were provided.

But it follows a series of events in recent months including concerts, a Comic-Con festival and a mixed-gender national day celebration that saw people dancing in the streets to thumping electronic music for the first time.

Authorities have also announced plans to lift a decades-old ban on cinemas this year, with some 300 expected to open by 2030.

Senior GEA official Faisal Bafrat said the past year had already seen exceptional development in the entertainment sector with more than 2,000 events involving 100,000 volunteers and 150 small and medium businesses organised in 2017.

– ‘Don’t travel’ –

The newfound openness, which includes plans to allow women to drive from June this year, has been hailed by some as a crucial liberalisation of Saudi society.

Critics have pointed to continued restrictions however, especially on women who remain under a strict “guardianship” system that gives male relatives significant control over their lives.

Yet even that could be changing.

With the lifting of the driving ban on the horizon, Riyadh announced Sunday that women can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative.

The reforms are part of Prince Mohammed’s ambitious “Vision 2030” programme, which seeks to diversify the Saudi economy as it reels from a slump in energy prices, with the entertainment sector seen as a key potential source of growth.

Saudis splurge billions annually on movies and visits to amusement parks in the neighbouring tourist hubs of Dubai and Bahrain, which is accessible by a land causeway.

Khatib vowed turn around that trend.

“I went to Bahrain. The bridge is being reversed,” he said, adding that Bahraini nationals were now coming to Saudi Arabia for events — accounting for 10 percent of ticket sales in recent months.

The goal to keep Saudis — more than half of whom are under 25 — spending their disposable income at home is part of a wider campaign called “Don’t travel”.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has been struggling to cope with persistent budget deficits that began in 2014 when crude prices plummeted.

The kingdom withdrew around $250 billion from its financial reserves in the past four years.

Authorities have also increased fuel prices, introduced a value-added tax and cut subsidies in an effort to reduce costs and boost non-oil revenues.

The shift has been a painful one for many Saudis accustomed to a generous welfare system.

In December, the government announced a budget with record spending as it seeks to stimulate growth.



Libya Slave Trade: Ali Baba Reveals What Will Happen If Buhari Airlifts Stranded Nigerians Back Home

Ali Baba, veteran standup comedian, has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration to airlift stranded Nigerians abroad back home.

Following the alleged sales of Nigerians into slavery in Libya, Buhari had on Tuesday promised to evacuate stranded Nigerians in Libya and other countries back to Nigeria. 

Reacting to Buhari’s announcement, the comedian said if all Nigerians abroad were airlifted back home and there is no job for them they will leave again.

In a post on his instagram page, he wrote: “Why did they leave? Don’t answer. I will help you. They left because Osahon who made it abroad, in less that 2 years, has gotten a job (albeit illegal) that allows him live well, while arranging his permanent stay.

“If he who does not have formal education, has become a nurse in 3yrs and he is earning more than a banker.

“Uche don marry one foreign passport. Bola who was a hair dresser here, now works in a hairsaloon and sends money home.

“Not to mention Monday, an ordinary boy at a car wash in Lugbe, Abuja, who made it across and now works at the back of a restaurant and lives better than he used to here in Nigeria.

“Much as we should discourage these Nigerians from travelling, if we want to be honest with ourselves, the lure is too tempting. Don’t forget that those who traveled will lie through their teeth to I justify why they left.

“Then you have the matter of prostitution and organised crime. The people who survive on these illicit businesses, will continue to require fresh hands.

“The 16 year old girl that was fetching the idiot 50 euros every other night, from wear and tear, may not provide the same amount of cash haul after a year. So, they will need new call girls.

“People are shouting slavery! Slavery!!. Is this new? Nooop. ONCE YOU FAIL TO EMPOWER YOUR POPULACE, THEY ARE BOUND TO USE THAT STATE OF IGNORANCE AND LACK OF EMPOWERMENT to survive anyhow they can.

“Illegal or otherwise. Ok so we bring them back from Libya. So What? We will manufacture jobs before the chartered flight lands? Or would we have done anything to engage those who had not made the trip just still could? What do I know Sef? Shebi I am just a comedian?”


Wizkid Speaks On MOBO Awards As Best International Act

Nigerian superstar, Wizkid has finally opened up on his big win at the just concluded MOBO Awards, where he emerged Best International Act.

The singer has been receiving encomiums from prominent Nigerians like Goodluck Jonathan, Atiku Abubakar other fans for making the country proud.

In appreciation, he wrote on his social media page, “Big up the whole @MOBOAwards family for the love! this one is important for Africa! Blessings and love forever.

“Africa moving up! Jah bless!

“Wizkid Fc go so hard! Awon militant! Lol Love una die! 2018 dem go hear am!



I Didn’t Date Adesua Etomi, Says Actor Kunle Remi

Nollywood actor and winner of Gulder Ultimate Search Season 7, Kunle Remi, has debunked the allegation that he had romantic relationship with (now Mrs.) Adesua Wellington, nee Etomi.

Kunle said he was slow to respond until after Adesua’s wedding as a sign of respect to the couple.

For a while, there were different allegations on the social media that Banky W snatched Adesua from the cute actor.

 Kunle, however, cleared the air with a long Instagram post where he explained that he only featured with Adesua in a movie entitled, ‘Falling.’

He wrote, “My name is Kunle Remi and not Adesua’s ex. Silence, they say is golden. I have been silent, but some people have taken this as an invitation to take the piss!! I have chosen my words and thought this action through, so read carefully, yes, pay attention. I will only say this once.

“I am not a bitter person, neither am I a sadist. If you know me (if you don’t, ask about me from those that do) you would know I am very positive and I radiate good vibes only, I am not here for any form of negativity whatsoever.

“My name has been used inappropriately, and it is time I set the records straight. I intentionally waited till after the festive of the beautiful wedding ceremony had come to a natural halt out of respect for the couple.

“I have not till this present day said to any blogger, or mentioned on any social media platform, or granted any interview admitting or confirming that I was ever in a relationship with the former Miss Adesua Etomi who as well all know tied the knot over the past weekend, neither do I recall her doing the same.

“Yet some jobless people cooked up stories and sold it to other jobless people and then jobless readers and commentators believed it and hence the rumors started circulating with no proof other than pictures of us on a Movie set titled (FALLING. A great film by the way, It’s on Netflix if you haven’t seen it.).

“Contrary to the opinion of people who feel theirs matters, I don’t have to congratulate the beautiful couple publicly to prove anything. Some of us would rather do our things privately. You can’t believe all you see on social media (some people will still not understand).

“Take, for example, recently I posted a picture of my Beautiful Nephew on my Instagram and as expected, rumours started again without any confirmation that I have a baby. (Quote me) I never confirmed to anyone that he is my Son.

 “So there you go!!. Not all you see or read on social media is the gospel truth. Having said that, this is my advice to those this may concern; Just for your sanity try to be sure about the rumours and gist before you tongue-lash people or judge people. Sometimes not everyone is strong enough to handle it.”

Banky W and Adesua had their white wedding this past weekend in South Africa while the did their traditional and court wedding two weeks ago in Nigeria.



Jonathan, Bruce React To Wizkid’s Win At MOBO Awards


Former President Goodluck Jonathan and Senator Ben-Murray Bruce have sent congratulatory messages to  Ayo Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, for winning the Best International Act award at the MOBO Awards.

At the 2017 edition of MOBO Awards, Wizkid beat Jay-Z, Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar and others to clinch the award on Wednesday.

The two who could not hold back their excitement took to the social media to celebrate Wizkid.

 Jonathan wrote, “When Nigeria does well, I cannot help but feel well. My happiness is tied to the happiness of Nigeria and when Nigerians break records and take the name of Nigeria to greater heights it exhilarates me. Thank you Wizkid for raising Nigeria’s flag high for the positive, not the negative. Your emergence as the Best International Act at the #MOBOAwards is a proud moment for Nigeria. And the fact that you emerged over JAY-Z and Drake makes it even more celebratory. WELL DONE. GEJ.”

Senator Bruce  said, “Dear @wizkidayo, I‘ve been in the entertainment business as an investor since 1980 and one of my proudest moments for Nigerian music is the day you defeated both Jayz and @Drake, two of the biggest stars in the world, to win the Best International Act at the #MOBOAwards well done



Davido, Wizkid Beat International Rivals To Win MOBO Awards

Nigeria was duly represented at the 2017 MOBO Awards as Wizkid and Davido both won honours at the event held at the First Direct Arena, Leeds England.

Wizkid, real name Ayo Balogun, beat Jay-Z, Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar and others to clinch the best international artist award at the event on Wednesday.

David Adeleke popularly known as Davido, beat Eugy, Sarkodie, Wizkid, Maleek Berry, Mr Eazi and others to clinch the Best African Act award.

 Stormzy was the biggest winner at this year’s event as he clinched three awards: best male artist, best grime act, and best album.

However, Maleek Berry, Tiwa Savage, Tekno, Wande Coal were also nominated but they did not win any of the categories.

Jay Z finally Admits Cheating On Beyonce

American rapper, Shawn Corey Carter, otherwise known as Jay-Z has finally agreed cheating on his wife, Beyonce.

In an interview with New York Times, Jay Z disclosed that therapy kept them from getting divorced.

American rapper, Shawn Corey Carter, otherwise known as Jay-Z has finally agreed cheating on his wife, Beyonce.

In an interview with New York Times, Jay Z disclosed that therapy kept them from getting divorced.

You have to survive. So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode, what happens? You shut down all emotions. So, even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect. … In my case, like, it’s deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity.

“The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.

“We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together.

“But the best place in the hurricane is in the middle of i“The best place is right in the middle of the pain. And that’s where we were sitting and it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations.

“I was really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released.

“And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another’s craft. I think she’s amazing.

“You know, most people walk away and divorce rate is like 50 percent or something cause most people can’t see themselves.

‘The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.

‘”I grew so much from the experience,” he said.

He also talked on his difficulties with Kanye West, ‘I talked to Kanye the other day, just to tell him, like, he’s my brother. I love Kanye. I do. It’s a complicated relationship with us.’

“Kanye came into this business on my label. So I’ve always been like his big brother. And we’re both entertainers. It’s always been like a little underlying competition with your big brother.

“And we both love and respect each other’s art, too. So it’s like, we both – everyone wants to be the greatest in the world. You know what I’m saying? And then there’s like a lot of other factors that play in it. But it’s gonna, we gonna always be good.’

“In the long relationship, you know, hopefully when we’re 89 we look at this six months or whatever time and we laugh at that.

“There’s gonna be complications in the relationship that we have to get through and the only way to get through that is we sit down and have a dialogue and say,

“These are the things that I’m uncomfortable with,these are the things that are unacceptable to me, this is what I feel.

“I’m sure he feels that I’ve done things to him as well. I’m not a perfect human being by no stretch.”



I Own A Thriving Business In US –Olu Fajemirokun

olu fajemirokunLovers of juju music got what can be described as a surprise a few days ago, when sweet-voiced artiste, Olu Fajemirokun, returned to Nigeria.

The O Lomori singer had spent 21 years in the United States, leaving the Nigerian musical scene at a time he was still enjoying stardom.

In an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, Fajemirokun, who has since begun rehearsals, recalled that he left the country shortly after he emerged the Best Juju Artiste of the Year. According to him, the reception he got abroad was so good that he decided to stay back to get the best of it.

“I started playing from one event to another and from one state to another,” he said. “Even, I played at concerts with Nigerian artistes such as Shina Peters and Adewale Ayuba,” he said.

Throughout his 21 years sojourn abroad, however, Fajemirokun did not record any album, leaving him with the two main ones he did in Nigeria — O Lomori and Samba. He said the money and fame that he got from performances meant more to him than producing albums. Besides, he said, he eventually established a business that thrived in the country now governed by Donald Trump.

Ostensibly refuting the insinuation that he did menial jobs abroad, he said, “I was lucky to get a contract with a big pharmaceutical company — Omnicare.  This kept me busy. My company delivers medical materials to hospitals. I have 33 people working for me there because I also combine it with a janitorial business.”

He added that he developed the confidence to leave the business behind in the US because one of his children, said to be 42 years old, recently joined him there. He is the one in charge of the venture now.

“We talk every day,’ he noted. “Also, while I am back in Nigeria permanently, I can go and come back at will because I have a blue passport now.”

Although the music scene is no more where he left it, Fajemirokun believes that he can still catch a fair share of the market. He is enamoured by the fact that his fans have begun to patronise him.  At the weekend, he performed in Ifewara, Osun State, while he also played for a former Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Alao Akala.

He added that from November 3, he would enter the studio to start recording for his upcoming album, Laju e (Open your Eyes). According to him, he will, through the album, tell his listeners why they need to always open their senses.

While giving our correspondent some verses of the song over the phone, his voice still came out as compelling as it used to be. He too is proud of it. He said, “Music is a gift. It is important to have the gift of a good voice because that is what largely makes a musician. Some people have the ability to compose songs and even sing, but have a bad voice. The best is to have both. If you have a good voice and you cannot compose much, yours is better than someone who can compose without having a good voice.”



‘In Nollywood, People Get Roles Based On Their Looks’

Sam Anyamele,Nollywood actor, Sam Anyamele, never thought that film acting would become his primary means of livelihood someday. As a teenager, acting was just his favourite pastime.

The actor, in an interview with our correspondent, revealed that although his passion for the arts and entertainment was nurtured through music, by the time he had left secondary school his eyes were already fixed on starting a career in music.

He could play the guitar very well and  had, at different times, had short stints with different music bands around Lagos, including the popular DKB band – well-known for backing up most of the popular musicians in the country.

Also, Anyamele used to play in Sammy Needle’s band as a bass guitarist and backup singer.

Going down memory lane, he said, “My contemporaries were people like Mike Aremu, Wole Oni and Kunle Odutayo. Wole, Kunle and I used to be in the same band. I have forgotten the name of the band,

“At a point, I wanted to join Femi Kuti’s Afrobeat band as a guitarist, but the Christian in me couldn’t cope with the kind of lifestyles that members of the band led. I couldn’t imagine myself performing on stage alongside half-naked female dancers.

“I just couldn’t bring myself to play in such a band where people smoked a lot. I felt that, as a member of the Assemblies of God Church, I shouldn’t be seen in that kind of company,” he said. And that was long before he decided to focus on film acting.

Like most people, he was lured into film acting by the prospect of getting rich, getting famous and enjoying a glamorous lifestyle. But he did not get a break until he joined the cast of Wale Adenuga’s Superstory.

Ayamele was on the set of a new movie in Lagos last week. The film, tentatively titled, Mistake of a Night, is currently in the post-production stage. But it appears that his involvement in the work-in-progress was all about staying relevant in the fast-growing movie industry, which has evolved considerably over the last two decades.

To keep up the appearances, the actor had to squeeze out time from his tight schedule as a postgraduate student and graduate assistant at the University of Lagos, Akoka Campus to do this.

He explained why he decided to stay off the screen for a while and go back to school. “I have always thought about the next phase of life. So when I discovered in Nollywood that decisions were generally driven by sentiments and prospective actors were given roles on a movie simply on the basis of their looks, I decided that it was not the kind of place I should depend on for the rest of my life. As a pragmatic Nigerian, I had to think seriously about doing other things,” he said.

Also, recalling a certain period in the history of Nollywood when film marketers and distributors, who were also the major financiers of the movie industry at the time, decided to punish some popular actors and actresses by ‘banning’ them from participating in movie productions, he said, “That was when my fears about Nollywood were confirmed and I made up my mind not to tie my future to the industry.”

Still reflecting on the weaknesses inherent in the movie industry, Anyamele added, “I found out that many of those who made decisions for the industry, who spoke to the government on our behalf in those days, were not really core practitioners. That encouraged me to go back to school and get more education.”

Anyamele’s talent extends to drama productions, a surprisingly difficult terrain for many so-called screen idols in Nigeria. But he claims to be as comfortable when acting on stage as he is behind the cameras.



`Fashion Police’ Ends After 20 Years

fashion policeAfter more than two decades, Fashion Police, the iconic series on E! Network, an American basic cable and satellite television channel, would end its run with a special finale on No. 27. According to People, the special will reveal never-before-seen footage including a previously unaired 80s-themed episode featuring the late show co-creator and long-running host late Joan Rivers, the legendary comedian. Fashion Police covered every major award show and fashion event through the lens of Rivers’ comedic commentary. The network announced Wednesday that the series hosted by Melissa Rivers, Joan’s daughter, will sign off with a special episode, “Fashion Police: The Farewell’’. Late Host Joan Rivers (second right) flank by Kelly Osbourn, George Kostiopolous and Giuliana Rancic (PhotoTimothy White/E!) Fashion Police was helmed by the legendary comedian since its inception in 1995, covering every major award show and fashion event with Joan’s signature sharp wit. After the demise of Joan, 81, in September 2014, the franchise continued with the blessing of Melissa, 49, as executive producer who also became a co-host in 2015. Other hosts include Giuliana Rancic, Brad Goreski, NeNe Leakes and Margaret Cho. “Thank you to E! for having the vision to see the potential of Fashion Police which changed both the entertainment and fashion industries,” Melissa said in a statement. “I am truly proud to be part of this legacy.” “For the past 20 years, Fashion Police has been part of the pop culture zeitgeist and it’s definitely been a fun ride for the hosts as well as the viewers across the globe. From celebrity appearances and never-before-seen moments with the late, great Joan Rivers, the finale is going to be a show fans won’t want to miss as we all celebrate the great run the show has had. “I can’t wait!” Rancic, 43, also said in a statement. The special will revisit some of the funniest and most beloved segments, such as “Bitch Stole My Look,” “Guess Me from Behind,” and “Starlet or Streetwalker.” It will also feature surprise celebrity guests, taking viewers behind-the-scenes with insider scoop from cast and crew. NAN