Exhilarating Sharjah World Music Festival Tribute to Iconic Egyptian Singer Abdel Halim Hafez

  • Stunning step-back-in-time performances at The Flag Island Amphitheatre

In a magical night of musical nostalgia that tugged at the heartstrings of every fan in the audience, the fifth edition of the Sharjah World Music Festival (SWMF 2018) yesterday (Sunday) celebrated the rich legacy of the late iconic Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez at The Flag Island Amphitheatre.

The sensational second night of the festival, organised by Furat Qaddouri Music Centre and presented by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) in a strategic partnership with Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) and Al Majaz Amphitheatre, highlighted why one most adored musicians in the Arab world still has such an influence on modern culture.

Abdel Halim, also known as ‘Al Andaleeb Al Asmar’ (The Great Dark-Skinned Nightingale), ‘The King of Arab Music’, ‘The Voice of the People’, ‘The Son of the Revolution’, and ‘The King of Emotions and Feelings’, won the hearts and minds of millions during the 1950s and 60s, and the audience at last night’s stunning tribute showed the extraordinary passion his music continues to evoke.

Three Egyptian artists, Ahmed Effat, Mai Hassan and Mohammed Metwalli, accompanied by the Cairo Opera House Orchestra conducted by maestro Mohammed Ismail Al Mouji led the homage, performing some of Hafez’s most stirring music to a crowd of hundreds whose reaction to every piece reflected not only the musicians’ immense talent, but their own obvious love of the icon’s work.

With sublime renditions of songs such as ‘Awel Marra Teheb Ya Albi (The First Time to Love), and ‘Ta’ali A’olek’ (Come to Tell You), which was initially performed by Hafez along with Egyptian singer Shadia in the movie ‘Lahn El Wafaa’, the audience was taken back in time to an era that aroused powerful emotions with a potent combination of lyrical brilliance and musical genius.

With a legacy that is very much alive and thriving, the fans joined in the singing and shouted out their favourites for the artists to perform. Ahmed Effat did not disappoint, treating them to some of Hafez’s best hits such as ‘Mawood’ (Destined) and ‘Gabbar’ (Strong).

The trio concluded the tribute night with the love song ‘Ana Kol Ma Agol El Toba’ (Every Time I Repent) which was met with thunderous applause and cheering along with a unanimous standing ovation.

On January 18 (Thursday), the Flag Island Amphitheatre welcomes renowned Hungarian violinist and singer Katica Illényi, one of the nation’s most versatile and popular musicians, who will perform in the ‘Magical Classic and Jazzy Night’, accompanied by the SWMF orchestra conducted by accomplished Maestro Mohammed Othman Siddiq.

Today (Monday), Al Majaz Water Front will host ‘Enchanted Chords’ band, While Al Qasba will host the ‘Alwan’(Colors) band, featuring Bassam Abdelsattar, who will bring various styles of Arabic and Turkish music to the audiences.

SWMF 2018 features a total of 14 concerts, five of which are ticketed and being held at Al Majaz Amphitheatre and The Flag Island Amphitheatre. The remaining nine will take place outdoors at Al Qasba and Al Majaz Waterfront, and will offer free admission. The free outdoor concerts will take place from 8:30-9:30 pm throughout the event taking place which runs until January 19.

SWMF 2018 features a stellar line-up of artists and musicians from a host of Arab and foreign countries, including Kuwait, Spain, Hungary, Ukraine, Argentina, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Spain, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iraq.

By organising this first of its kind festival, Furat Qaddouri Music Centre seeks to boost the cultural and art presence of Sharjah and the UAE on the global arena, introduce the world’s various musical cultures to the UAE community and add a new gem to the emirate’s rich portfolio of tourist, art and culture attractions. Concert tickets for SWMF 2018 are available online at: www.ticketmaster.ae and can also be purchased at customer service counters at Al Qasba Theatre, The Flag Island Amphitheatre, Al Majaz Amphitheatre and Al Majaz Waterfront.