Will controversial Egypt TV host Tawfik Okasha make a comeback?

Egyptian TV host Tawfik Okasha could be making a comeback. (Screenshot on YouTube)
Updated 12 March 2018

Will controversial Egypt TV host Tawfik Okasha make a comeback?

CAIRO: Recent news reports in Egypt have claimed that controversial Egyptian TV host Tawfik Okasha will be making a comeback soon, following a two-year absence, attributed to his illness.
Social media users have been sharing posts linked to the TV channel Okasha had worked at — also owned by him — claiming that he will make an appearance on March 14, as part of a program called “Kalam Gedid” (New Talk).
His son, Mohamed Tawfiq Okasha, recently told a newspaper that his father will address audiences through a YouTube video on Wednesday, regarding his alleged comeback.
He also told Al-Masry El-Youm that his father has suffered from health issues due to a stroke, adding that Okasha has lost lots of weight as result.
Okasha had his Parliament membership withdrawn in 2016 after holding an an unauthorized meeting he had held with the Israeli ambassador to Cairo.
He was also sentenced to one year in prison and fined LE5,000 for forging his PhD degree.
Owner of television channel El-Faraeen at the time, Okasha established himself as a strong voice for the underprivileged.
He was reportedly “forced to go off the screen” after criticizing President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his cabinet, and for calling for early presidential elections.

Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

Updated 25 September 2018

Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

  • Cirque du Soleil created a spectacular show in Riyadh
  • They paid tribute to Saudi culture and heritage

RIYADH: The circus — a place that is almost synonymous with joy and delight. Since time immemorial, circuses have been places of celebration and glee, and few as much as the premier name in the industry: Cirque du Soleil.

The show has had a devoted fan in me since 2006, when I attended a performance of their production “Quidam” and my definition of the word “circus” was turned upside-down. Their unique approach to art, performance, costumes and music has secured their status as a household name and a benchmark for all other circus shows to be measured against.

On Sunday night, Saudi Arabia’s National Day, the circus brought their incredible acrobatics to Riyadh’s King Fahad Stadium and it turned out to be a night to remember.

Prior to the event, Cirque’s Vice President of Creation Daniel Fortin offered little in the way of spoilers but hinted that we would see something the likes of which we never had before. With the promises of exclusive new acts, music, costumes and stage tricks piquing my excitement, I joined a throng of green-and white-clad spectators flooding the stadium. Performing to a sold-out crowd, the show kicked off at exactly 8.30 p.m. and the magic truly began.

Barely five minutes into the show, something stole over me as I settled into the rhythm of the music, something I saw flickering over the faces of those in the crowd around me: Recognition. We were seeing ourselves, our identity, echoed back at us, but with a twist. We saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes — someone respectful and admiring.

As a Saudi youth today, it has become an unfortunately common occurrence to face negativity from various outsiders, born of ignorance or fear. It has become dreary and repetitive to have to continually defend my people and my culture from those who have no wish to understand us.

But at this show? I saw my country once more through the eyes of an outsider, but this time, it was different. I saw my culture and my heritage lauded, celebrated, delicately fused with that tangible Cirque du Soleil flair. The attention to detail was careful, almost loving, but also daring and outlandish. It was a glorious fusion of classic Saudi aesthetics with the ethereal, bizarre beauty of Cirque du Soleil.

The symbolism was not always obvious, sometimes it was subtle, constrained to the beat of a drum or hidden in a snatch of song. Other times, it was blatant and bold, in the sloping hump of an elegantly clumsy camel costume, or the billowing of the Bedouin Big Top in the gentle breeze. And yet, unmistakeably, I felt the Saudi influences in every note of the performance. It felt like an homage, and yet it did nothing to diminish its own identity. It remained unquestionably a Cirque du Soleil performance, only below the usual circus frippery, there was a ribbon of something else that lay coiled beneath the surface. Something bright, vibrant green. Saudi green.

The spectacle rounded off with an astonishing display of fireworks, so plentiful that for a moment, the sky glowed bright as day. To me, each one felt like a promise fulfilled. A dream achieved. A miracle witnessed. Here, on my own home soil, it was the perfect tribute to a rich and vivid culture.