Google celebrates late Arab soprano Ratiba Al-Hefny with doodle

1 / 2
Google Doodle marked the 86th birthday of Ratiba El-Hefny.
2 / 2
Ratiba El-Hefny
Updated 03 December 2017
0

Google celebrates late Arab soprano Ratiba Al-Hefny with doodle

JEDDAH: Search giant Google marked what would have been the 86th birthday of late Egyptian opera singer Ratiba El-Hefny on Saturday with a Google Doodle featuring the famed artist.
The doodle showcases famed Arab soprano’s “love for the piano, her encouragement of young musical talent, and her excellence in Arabic and classical music,” Google said.
In 1961, Cairo’s Khedivial Opera House opened its doors to the general public for a special performance — Franz Lehár’s “The Merry Widow,” translated into Arabic and performed by El-Hefny.
The performance opened the world of opera up to every Egyptian and was the launching pad for a career that saw El-Hefny complete more than 500 operatic performances, winning fame and recognition at home and abroad.
El-Hefny learned to play piano at a very young age, achieving professional proficiency.
She was also adept at traditional folkloric instruments including the qanun and oud. Her fluency in classical and Arabic music led to operatic performances in Egypt and across Europe.
German lieds were another of her specialties. She was one of those rare artists to have mastered both Arabic and Western music.
She was the first chairperson of the new Cairo Opera House when it began its activities in 1988, a position she held until 1990.
El-Hefny died on Sept. 16, 2013.


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 16 July 2019
0

Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

  • The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April
  • Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’Young again’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.