RIYADH: Riyadh’s Bakr Al-Sheddi Theater laid out the lavender carpet to welcome some of the biggest stars in entertainment to the third annual Joy Awards on Saturday night.
The ceremony took place in the presence of many Saudi celebraties, media professionals, and several international stars such as Georgina Rodriguez, Mel Gibson, Sofia Vergara, Michael Bay, and more than 200 Arab stars from various artistic fields.
The ceremony honors artists and influencers who spread joy in the Arab region and the world, with 15 awards in fields including television, cinema, social media influencing, sport and music. It also focused on new faces in some categories to support and motivate young talents.
Colombian American actress Vergara accepted the Person of The Year Award, calling it a “beautiful” surprise.
“I would like to dedicate this award to all the amazing ladies in the Kingdom and in the Middle East for building a better future,” she added.
American film director and producer Bay received his Honorary Entertainment Makers Award from the chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh.
“In Riyadh, there is true power in entertainment, and it has magic abilities to reach other cultures, and you can give joy back to the world,” he said. “Hopefully tonight I hope I made you smile, so thank you very much.”
The Joy Awards, part of Riyadh Season, are hosted by the GEA in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. The event is billed as the largest celebration of entertainment creators in the Arab world.
American actor and director Gibson also received an Honorary Entertainment Makers Award.
“I want to thank GEA for the award, specially the head of GEA, Turki Al-Sheikh. I’ve never been to Saudi before, I’ve never been in Riyadh for sure, but I was surprised how culturally open (it is) so for me, I’m very proud of you, it’s fantastic.”
Rodriguez, partner of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in a record-breaking deal, said she felt as if she were in a dream, expressing her love for the Kingdom.
The model walked down the lavender carpet in a form-fitting gown complete with a veil, alongside her friend Vergara, who opted for a bedazzled look.
The pair turned heads throughout the event, alongside actresses Hend Sabri, Rym Saidi, and Mila Al-Zahrani.
Mohammed Alshehri, a young Saudi actor, told Arab News that the awards were amazing, comparable with the Emmys and the Academy Awards.
“This event holds all celebrities from the Arab world and worldwide and gathers them in one place, and it’s amazing,” he said.
Madeeha Ahmed, the Syrian actress nominated for Favorite New Face Award for a TV series, expressed her happiness and excitement.
“It feels so good to be appreciated in a country that I call home. I’m really happy that it’s my first time to be invited and hopefully not the last,” she said.
Saudi actor Fahad Albutairi said that the film industry in the Kingdom is witnessing rapid development.
“This is thanks to the facilities that were provided to us in the recent period that contributed to the growth of the sector, especially this award that greatly stimulates creativity and helps us to continue,” he said.
The event also hosted Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, Turkish actress Demet Ozdemir and her countryman Engin Akyuarek, and Spanish actress Ester Exposito.
The mechanism for selecting the winners was based on public voting through an application launched by the GEA, and the list included 50 candidates in various categories, carefully selected from specialized committees based on their efforts and work in the past year.