Egyptian opera takes Jeddah audience on a musical journey

Egyptian singer Sabreen Al-Nijain performs at the Cairo opera in Dar Al-Hekma University, Jeddah. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 07 July 2018

Egyptian opera takes Jeddah audience on a musical journey

  • The show began with an instrumental version of “Zai Al-Hawa” (“Like the Wind”) by Abdel Halim Hafez
  • I have listened to a lot of Egyptian songs and coming here I was not disappointed: fan

JEDDAH: An Egyptian opera performance delighted a Jeddah audience on Thursday with a blend of music and tradition in the Dar Al-Hekma University auditorium.

University students were among the audience gathered in the auditorium. The show began with an instrumental version of “Zai Al-Hawa” (“Like the Wind”) by Abdel Halim Hafez.

Singer Sabreen Al-Nijain took to the stage to deliver a stunning performance.

The music fused traditional forms with modern instruments. After Al-Nijain, another singer, Ahmad Effat, won a standing ovation for the quality of his performance.

The orchestra played an instrumental version of “Alf Leila Wa Leila” by the late Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.

The show ended with an eruption of applause, cheers and whistles as the performers came on stage to bid their final goodbye.

In an interview, Al-Nijain said: “I am very very happy to be performing here, the crowd is great, and the people are great. The one thing I found common between here and Egypt is that people are thirsty for good music, and they love songs that are old and traditional.

“We thank the organizers here because I feel honored. I want to perform again for the amazing crowd in the future.” 

Effat told Arab News: “Ever since I was a child I learned how to sing. When kids are supposed to be learning how to speak, I learned how to sing, so later when I received encouragement I worked harder. In the time I spent here what touched me most was the standing ovation. An artist doesn’t take money from a performance — they take the appreciation and respect they get.”

He said: “Opera is the only place that encapsulates the traditions of the Arab world, it is respected around the world.”

The orchestra’s conductor, Mustafa Hilmi, greeted the audience after the show. “I did two shows last month in Riyadh. We try to make different choices in the show, things we have never done before. People here are passionate about music and they sing along to Egyptian songs which is amazing.

“We choose songs based on trends and traditions. We try to preserve our old Egyptian songs and add something new so that the listeners of this generation don’t get bored by the same old songs.”

Sarah Ahmad, 23, who attended the opera said: “I have listened to a lot of Egyptian songs and coming here I was not disappointed. The music was great, the singers sang beautifully and the song choice was amazing.”


COVID-19 lockdown brings out hidden kitchen talents of Saudi men

Updated 10 April 2020

COVID-19 lockdown brings out hidden kitchen talents of Saudi men

  • Curfews have provided opportunity for men to show off their kitchen catering abilities by cooking up some tasty meals

RIYADH: The famed home cooking skills of Saudi women have found a surprise challenger during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown — with men revealing their hidden culinary talents.

Curfews set up to help stop the spread of the virus have provided the opportunity for men to show off their kitchen catering abilities by cooking up some tasty family meals.

Quality auditor Ahmed bin Ibrahim has been staying at his family’s house during quarantine, and told Arab News that he had enjoyed pitching in on kitchen duties.

“I like to help my mother while she is cooking by cutting some vegetables, but I learned how to cook years ago when I was a student in the US,” he said.

His mom and YouTube became his culinary instructors during his time in America and his favorite dishes are kabsah, steaks and quesadillas.

“Lately, my dad has been cooking a lot and grilling in our back yard, so I’ve been helping him,” he added.

Ammar Albarakati, owner of Ammar Restaurant and TV presenter on Sabahcom on SBC. (Supplied)

Faris Al-Harbi, a college student from Tabuk, has been putting lockdown time to good use in the kitchen trying to create new recipes for his family to lighten the mood.

“Since home isolation started, I have cooked five dishes — mandi (a traditional meal with meat and rice), broasted chicken, pizza, grilled dishes, and pasta with pesto sauce.”

He said that it was only since the COVID-19 restriction measures had been put in place that his talent for cooking healthy food had emerged.

“My family really admires my cooking and loves the taste of my dishes.”

Al-Harbi added that he intended to continue cooking once the COVID-19 health crisis was over, but in the meantime had introduced a kitchen challenge for his cousins and family.

“Every day, a member of the family has to cook a dish and is evaluated by experts — my mother and father. This creates a bit of a competition which is nice. Everyone wants to cook something that is delicious and creative, which makes us excited to cook again.”

Abdulrahman bin Kasem, Saudi chef and food blogger. (Supplied)

He pointed out that under the current situation it was sometimes hard to find an alternative for some ingredients not available in the home. “It is also difficult to estimate the right amount of ingredients for the family. Preparing the dough and forming it is also hard.”

Al-Harbi’s brother Abdulrahman, an architect, had been challenged to cook madghout — pressure-cooked chicken and rice — for the first time for his family.

“It was the first time I had cooked, so I couldn’t say whether I was talented or not, but it definitely needed some focus,” he said, adding that his creation was well-received. “YouTube has a lot of cool Saudi chefs and their videos are so simple and easy to execute. It helps anyone who wants to try to cook.”

Al-Harbi’s sister Shahad told Arab News that she was surprised to see her brothers’ talent in the kitchen and would struggle to compete with them.

Speaking about her younger brother Khalid, who is currently studying in the US, she said: “He likes to try international foods and he uses fresh ingredients and different spices. He likes to make avocado toast, steaks, cheesecakes, exotic juices, and risotto.

Although a mess is inevitable in some kitchens as male family members go through a trial-and-error phase, most mothers will undoubtedly be proud and happy with the help they are receiving under the current difficult circumstances.