The Dhahran Poetry Group, an assemblage of Saudi Aramco employees and their families with a love of literature, presented melodic “ghazal” and poetry in English, Arabic and Urdu at a colorful evening recently.
Traditions from the Subcontinent took the spotlight as the night at the majestic Ad-Diwan hall inside the Saudi Aramco compound was dedicated to Pakistan’s Mehdi Hassan and India’s Jagjit Singh — legendary singers who died early this year.
Pakistani national Imran Sehar performed wonderful selections from both singers and was accompanied on tabla (a percussion instrument) and harmonium. Members of the audience appeared spellbound as they swayed to the hypnotic blend of words and music.
The musical scores took them down memory lane and sent them into the world of romance and youthful exuberance. The choicest “ghazal” that Imran Sehar sang reminded them of the magic of the music. They were swaying and crooning as Sehar’s mellifluous voice took them into a magical realm.
The highlight of the evening was the presence of distinguished Saudi and Arab poets who shared their own works as well as reciting some famous verses. Bahraini-Saudi poet Thuraya Arrayed recited two of her most exquisite and touching poems in English entitled “The Sun Can See” and “Silk Butterfly.” Her flawless delivery punctuated her lines with emotion and brought her poetry to life for members of the elite audience.
Mohammad Ali Al-Khalfan, superintendent of security operations at Saudi Aramco, delivered two of the most famous works of the late Saudi poet Ghazi Al-Gosaibi; and Abdullah Al-Sayel shared two of his Arabic poems with an appreciative audience.
Arrayed and Al-Khalfan received thunderous applause for their presentations.
There were many guests at the evening. Notable among them was Abdullah Al-Dabbagh. Their presence added glitter to the evening and provided the much-needed encouragement to the organizers.
Arrayed was thrilled beyond words.
“I enjoyed this evening very much, and it is always wonderful to see people celebrate their identity and culture and art,” she told Arab News. “Since I understand a bit of Urdu, I could follow what was being said, even though not completely.”
Arrayed’s father, an internationally known Arabian Gulf poet, was born and raised in the Indian city of Pune (near Mumbai) where he mastered several Indian languages before he learned Arabic in his home country Bahrain.
“My father translated Omar Khayyam, and has his own volume of Urdu poetry, entitled Gulbahari, and many volumes of Arabic poetry,” she said.
DPG members, led by President Adil Mustafa, were clearly delighted by the success of the event. “This was our mid-year poetry event, and it was made possible due to the meticulous efforts of our volunteers,” he said.
Mustafa expressed gratitude to Saudi Aramco Recreation Services Division (RSD) for supporting the group’s literary activities. He specially thanked Mohammad Janahi, Aziz Khazaei and Saeed Obaid of RSD for extending all help to the group in organizing its various cultural events.
Mustafa said there were two key objectives of the event.
“One was to allow non-poet DPG members to share their favorite poems with the audience because without their outstanding involvement, DPG would not exist today. And, two, to provide local poets from Saudi Arabia share their best selection of poetry with DPG members,” he said.
DPG Vice President Sheikh Yousaf and treasurer Hassan Abidi came in for special accolades for their organizational skills.
One of the key segments of the evening was the mushaira. It was presided over by Zafar Chowdhry of Saudi Aramco. The mushaira included some of Saudi Arabia’s best-known Urdu poets such as Naz Muzaffarabadi, Shaukat Jamal, Shiraz Mahdi Zia, Asif Muzaffar Sahel, Rafeeq Akolvi and Ashar Afzal.
Muzaffarabadi and Shaukat Jamal were the pick of the evening. They received rapturous response from the highly appreciative members of the audience for their meaningful and hilarious couplets.
Syed Nadeem, Naveeda Abidi and Shiraz Mahdi anchored the various segments of the evening with aplomb, poise and panache.