Sofia Essaïdi to play Umm Kulthum in biopic

Updated 15 September 2015
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Sofia Essaïdi to play Umm Kulthum in biopic

BEIRUT: Iconic Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum is getting her own biopic, and Sofia Essaïdi has been chosen to play the role of one of the most memorable singers in the Arab world.
The French-Moroccan singer-actress was deemed to bear the most resemblance to Umm Kulthum. But that’s not all, this hottie can sing too.
As a former contestant on the talent competition Star Academy, the Moroccan singer of a French mother is the ideal artist to star in this film, fittingly titled “The Voice.”
“It’s a huge challenge,” the singer said. “I grew up in Morocco in a more Europeanized family because my mother is French, but despite that, we couldn’t miss Umm Kulthum’s songs,” she said.
“My mother always told me stories about her. Thanks to Umm Kulthum, she learned Arabic phonetics.”


The Royal Wedding’s ‘zaghrata’ mystery — who was ‘ululating’ as Harry and Meghan left the chapel?

Updated 21 May 2018
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The Royal Wedding’s ‘zaghrata’ mystery — who was ‘ululating’ as Harry and Meghan left the chapel?

LONDON: As the dust settles on the weekend’s royal wedding extravaganza, Arab interest has switched from speculation over Meghan Markle’s dress to a more pressing mystery — who was ululating as the couple emerged from the chapel?
The high-pitched celebratory noise traditionally reserved for major celebrations in the Middle East were clearly audible as the newly weds paused at the top of the steps outside St. George’s Chapel in Windsor on Saturday. They again rang out as the couple descended the steps into the sunshine and the welcoming embrace of the crowds.
Was there an Arab guest in the crowd expressing their excitement for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their own inimitable fashion?
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office tweeted a video on their Arabic account of the supposed ululations, saying: “Maybe you can hear the ‘Zaghrata’ at the moment Harry and Meghan leave the church after the wedding?”


Zaghrata is a form of ululation practiced in the region.
Rima Maktabi - London bureau chief at the Al Arabiya News Channel, who was covering the wedding - told Arab News: “I heard it first when Harry went into the church and then when Meghan went inside, I didn’t understand what it was.
“The commentators were saying that they heard ‘international sounds’, and then as they came out, it was clear.”
However, the Arab claim to be the source of ululation is facing a challenge from a grandmother from Lesotho who told British media that Harry had pointed out to her and smiled as she made the noise.
Malineo Motsephe, 70, traveled from the African nation for the wedding, having met Harry through her work with one of his charities.
Ululating, it turns out, is as common a cultural phenomenon in parts of Africa as it is in the Arab world.