The incredible rise to fame of Abla Fahita

Egyptian puppet Abla Fahita is all set for its first live performances in Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Season festival. (Instagram photos)
Updated 11 July 2019
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The incredible rise to fame of Abla Fahita

  • As the controversial puppet star from Egypt performs in Jeddah, we look back at her career

CAIRO: Fans of the controversial Egyptian puppet Abla Fahita can catch the star’s first live performances in Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Season festival this week.

The satirical character first appeared in 2010 in an online commercial for a telecoms company. She proved so popular that she was given her own TV show, “Abla Fahita Live from the Duplex,” appeared in other commercials and released a number of songs.

In 2013, Abla was embroiled in a controversy when Egyptian Ahmed Spider accused the character of conspiring against Egypt after appearing in a commercial which he claimed contained a coded message about a planned attack. The claims were investigated but no action was taken.

“Abla Fahita Live from the Duplex,” which began in 2014, was welcomed by many Egyptians as a replacement for Bassem Yousef’s satirical news program “The Show” after it ended, and many members of the team from the Yousef show worked on Abla’s program. 

Big-name guests who have appeared on the puppet’s show include Egyptian composer Amr Mustafa, actor Asir Yassin and singer Hani Shaker.

Abla also joined forces with Arab Idol judge Hassan El-Shafei in 2014 to write and record the song “Ma Maestlhoshi.” It was a huge online success, racking up more than 20 million views on YouTube.

The Jeddah performances are not the puppet’s first appearances outside of Egypt; Abla appeared at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In March 2018, Egyptian channel CBC announced that Abla’s TV program was being indefinitely suspended. It has yet to return.

Of course, the question everyone wants an answer to is who is the puppeteer behind Abla’s success? A member of the TV show’s production team told Arab News that the person is not famous or a known name, but refused to reveal any more information.

“Yes, we know the person but we swore we would not expose the character to people,” he said. “The program has been very successful in Egypt, and as a team we were working like a beehive to make it work.”

Abla’s appearance has changed over time as new versions of the puppet appeared. At one point she announced that she would travel abroad for plastic surgery. She then appeared in a few videos with her face covered, before unveiling a completely new look and style.

Saudi journalist Mees Hammad said that Abla’s performances in Saudi Arabia are good news in light of the increasingly open attitudes in the Kingdom to the performing arts, and Arab arts in particular.

“Fahita will be a great success in the Kingdom, because she is a very funny puppet and has a lot of popularity in the Arab world, especially after her appearance in her previous shows and on the red carpet at the Dubai Film Festival.”


Muslim World League chief honored for strengthening ties between Islamic world, Russia

Updated 24 July 2019
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Muslim World League chief honored for strengthening ties between Islamic world, Russia

 

MOSCOW: The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences has awarded the secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, an honorary doctorate in recognition of his efforts to strengthen the relationship between the Islamic world and Russia.

Prof. Vitaly Naumkin, the director of the institute, who represents one of the most well-known academic institutions in the world over the past 200 years, talked about Al-Issa’s career, noting that he has contributed to the promotion of cultural rapprochement among nations through his visits to countries and his connections with different cultures and religions.

Naumkin said that the principles of moderation adopted by the MWL and its secretary-general contributed to the establishment of security in the world, noting that these principles addressed extremism and violence.

The honorary doctorate was given to Al-Issa for his services in the development of Islamic jurisprudence and improving official and popular relations between Russia and the Islamic world, he said.

The MWL secretary-general said that he was proud to receive the honorary doctorate from an institute that is well-known for its dedication and neutrality.

He also praised the Russian Federation’s care for Arab and Islamic culture and its keenness to communicate with the Muslim world, learn its language and understand its culture.

Al-Issa considered the award to be motivation to work on promoting cultural communication and exchange between the Islamic world and Russia.

He said that the institute has contributed to changing the stereotype of Orientalism in the Muslim world and has encouraged cultural communication between nations and peoples.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Russian presidency, the Duma and the Senate, as well as high-ranking diplomats, senior academics of Orientalism, religious leaders and a group of researchers and students.