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Here’s What Went Down At The Joy Awards 2023 In Riyadh

International and regional celebrities gathered on the lavender carpet for the third annual Joy Awards over the weekend at Riyadh’s Bakr Al Sheddi Theater.

Saudi celebrities, media professionals, influencers and globally renowned names including Georgina Rodriguez, Mel Gibson, Sofia Vergara, Michael Bay, and more than 200 Arab stars from various artistic fields were all in attendance.

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So what are the Joy Awards? The annual event honors influential people and artists who quite literally spread joy across the Arab region and beyond. 15 awards are given across the television, cinema, social media influencing, sport and music sectors. Emerging faces in some of the categories are also honored in order to encourage and support younger talents finding their way in these fields.

Colombian American actress Sofia Vergara was awarded the Person of The Year Award, calling it a “beautiful” surprise as she said in her acceptance speech, “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.”

American film director and producer Michael Bay also received his Honorary Entertainment Makers Award from the chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh and stated, “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. Hopefully tonight I hope I made you smile, so thank you very much.”

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Infamous American actor and director Mel Gibson also received an Honorary Entertainment Makers Award. He said in a speech, “I want to thank GEA for the award, especially 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.”

The Joy Awards is part of Riyadh Season, and is hosted by the Saudi General Entertainment Authority in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. The event is billed as the largest celebration of entertainment creators in the Arab world.

Georgina Rodriguez, life partner of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in a record-breaking deal, expressed her feelings about living in the kingdom and described it as being in a “dream.” She walked the lavender carpet in a stunning figure hugging gown, accessoried with a sultry veil. As well as Vergara, regional actresses Hend Sabri, Rym Saidi, and Mila Al-Zahrani were also in attendance. 

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Syrian actress, Madeeha Ahmed was nominated for Favorite New Face Award for a TV series, shared her delight and love for the kingdom as she said, “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.”

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, Turkish actress Demet Ozdemir and her countryman Engin Akyuarek, and Spanish actress Ester Exposito were also hosted at the spectacular event.

Saudi actor Fahad Albutairi also added, that Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning film industry is developing and progressing at a rapid rate, as he said, “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.” 

The winners for these awards are selected via public voting through an application launched by the Saudi General Entertainment Authority. The list included 50 candidates in various categories, carefully selected by board members based on their work and achievements over the last year. 

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