Former French first lady enthralls at Beirut’s Beiteddine festival

Carla Bruni performs at the Beiteddine International Art Festival on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018

Former French first lady enthralls at Beirut’s Beiteddine festival

  • Singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's performance was one of the most anticipated at this year’s festival
  • Among the French singer's audience were Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and former French PM Sarkozy

JEDDAH: Singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the former French first lady, wowed the Beiteddine Art Festival near Beirut, Lebanon, in a concert on Monday.

Carla performed songs from her fifth album, “French Touch,” to a crowd including  Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, former Lebanese president Michel Suleiman and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is her husband.

On Tuesday, the singer-songwriter posted on Instagram alongside a photo from the concert: “Thank you beautiful Beirut for your warm welcome.” Earlier, with an image of the Beirut sky, she wrote: “Beirut, my heart burns for you already.”

Another image she captioned with: “Looking forward to playing for you tomorrow @beiteddinefestival and so happy to finally discover the beautiful city of Beirut.”

Dressed in black pants and a sequined jacket initially and then a blue jacket, Bruni was seen belting out one number after another in videos posted by her and the festival’s official account on Instagram. She also performed on the piano and guitar.

The French singer’s performance was one of the most anticipated at this year’s festival, which is held every summer at the Beiteddine Palace in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains, south of the capital Beirut. The 200-year-old Beiteddine Palace is a marvel of Lebanese architecture, with its many courtyards, monumental gates, elegant arcades and levelled galleries. 

The former French president and his wife landed in Beirut on Sunday. They were greeted at the Beirut airport by Beiteddine Art Festival president Noura Jumblatt and the French ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher.

Sources said Sarkozy met with a number of Lebanese officials, including Suleiman and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt at his Mukhtara residence.

Since her first album, “Quelqu’un m’a dit,” in 2002, Bruni has sold five million albums and toured the world, including New York, Rio, London and Moscow, singing classic rock, country and jazz standards in English from her fifth album.

The former supermodel married Sarkozy in 2008. The marriage is her first and Sarkozy’s third. In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked Bruni-Sarkozy as the 35th most powerful woman in the world.

The 33rd annual Beiteddine Art Festival, one of the leading ones in the Middle East, began last month, showcasing a series of performers and aiming to draw spectators from around the country and beyond. The festival was launched in the summer of 1985.

This year’s performances include German singer Ute Lemper, Arab composer and singer Kadim Al-Sahir and Montreal-based troupe Cirque Eloize. Shows will continue until August 11.


’People who love life and music’ — dance parties return to Baghdad

Updated 18 August 2019

’People who love life and music’ — dance parties return to Baghdad

  • The Mongols Motorcycle Club dance circle was one of several at the Riot Gear Summer Rush event
  • Friday’s was the first open to the public

BAGHDAD: Members of rival Iraqi biker gangs, clad in studded leather and black berets, burst out of their semi-circles to break dance, their tattoo-covered arms waving neon glowsticks.
The Mongols Motorcycle Club dance circle was one of several at the Riot Gear Summer Rush event, a car show and concert held at a sports stadium in the heart of Baghdad.
The scene was a far cry from the usual images broadcast from the city of violence and mayhem. But nearly two years since Iraq declared victory over the
Daesh, the capital has been quietly remaking its image.
Since the blast walls — a feature of the capital since a US-led invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein — started coming down, a less restrictive way of life has emerged.
“We held this party so people can know that Iraq has this kind of culture, and has these kinds of people who love life and music,” said Arshad Haybat, a 30-year-old film director who founded the Riot Gear events company.
Riot Gear has thrown similar parties in Iraq before, but Friday’s was the first open to the public.
The day started with young men showing off imported muscle cars and motorcycles. By nightfall, it had turned into a pulsating electronic dance music (EDM) show.
Iraqi hip-hop collective Tribe of Monsters played a mix of EDM and Trap music as young men, clasping elaborate vape pens, danced through strobe lights and smoke machines, livestreaming their moves on Snapchat and Instagram.
It was a heady mix of Baghdad’s burgeoning subcultures: bikers, gamers, EDM enthusiasts. What most had in common was they’d never been to a party like this in Iraq.
“We have only ever seen this kind of concert on TV and films,” said 21-year-old Mustafa Osama. “I can’t describe my feelings to see such a thing in Iraq.”
Though dominated by young men, lots of women attended, with some dancing near the main stage. But event organizers ensured a “family section” was available, so groups of women, families and couples out on dates could dance, away from the lively crowd.
“All the young people are happy here,” said Ain, one of the female partygoers who declined to give her last name. “I hope there will be more and more of these events in Iraq.”