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RIYADH: Riyadh’s Bakr Al-Sheddi Theater rolled out the purple carpet on Thursday, welcoming some of the biggest names in entertainment to the second annual Joy Awards.

“It’s an honor for me to be a part of something that helps spread the ultimate feeling: the feeling of joy,” said American actor John Travolta on receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award. “And being here on this stage tonight in this incredible celebration of culture; to be surrounded by these immense talents who are able to please millions of people through their music, their art and, above all, their passion.

“I’ve worked with thousands of talented people – people who create movies and have made the world laugh, cry and smile as hopefully as this evening filled with joy,” he continued.

Travolta, best known for his performances in “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction,” received his award from Saudi General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Al-Sheikh.

“Four years ago, I visited Saudi Arabia. It’s my second visit and I’m really impressed,” Travolta said.

The star concluded his speech with an inspiring message for young Saudis.

“All I want to say to the Saudi people, especially the younger generation, is ‘Keep dreaming and dream more and more,’ because – from what I can see – your dreams can come true.” , did he declare.

The Joy Awards – which are part of the Riyadh season – are organized by the GEA, in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. It is billed as the biggest celebration of entertainment creators in the Arab world.

More than 200 Arab and international artists were invited to the ceremony, which honored artists in 13 distinct award categories ranging from television and film to social media, sports and music.

The show kicked off with dancers and aerial performers decked out in gold putting on an extravagant theatrical spectacle.

The awards began by celebrating the first category of Best Male Television Actor. Saudi star Yacob Alfarhan took home the top prize of the evening, Best Male Television Actor.

“I thank everyone involved in making the Joy Awards happen, especially Turki Al-Sheikh,” Farhan told Arab News. “I am happy to have such an event that connects us all.”

Saudi singer and YouTube star Zena Emad has won the coveted Favorite New Face in Music award. Fellow Saudi nominee Ayed Yousef told Arab News: “Being part of the Joy Awards and being part of the Riyadh season is a huge honor for me. Tonight, I saw all the stars of the Arab world.

Yousef was not exaggerating. Some of the biggest names in Middle Eastern music took to the stage to perform at the ceremony, including Kadim Al-Sahir, Hany Shaker, Mohammed Abdu, Elissa, Majid Al-Mohandis and Assala Nasri.

Among the international winners was Bollywood star Salman Khan, who took home the Personality of the Year award.

“I’m excited and I’m happy. That love you get from fans all over the world? I really appreciate and cherish that,” Khan said.

“It’s been a very long, but very fast journey,” the 56-year-old actor said of his career. “I think I was only 18 or 19 when I signed my first film.”

After an In Memoriam section, posthumous awards were given to Egyptian artist Samir Ghanem and his wife, actress Dalal Abdel Aziz, who both died last year. Their daughters, who are also actresses, received the Al-Sheikh awards.

Saudi actor and writer Khalid Abdulaziz told Arab News he will never forget the night.

“Being part of the Riyadh season for the first time was a huge step in my career and the things I see at the Joy Awards tonight are amazing,” he said.

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