Lebanese icon hits right notes in Saudi debut

Wael Kfoury croons his way to the hearts of his Saudi fans on Sunday night. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 16 July 2019

Lebanese icon hits right notes in Saudi debut

  • Wael Kfoury has the audience enthralled during the show

JEDDAH: Lebanese singer-songwriter Wael Kfoury, dubbed “the king of romance,” charmed his Saudi audience on Sunday in his first concert in the Kingdom, which was held at King Abdullah Sports City as part of the Jeddah Season festival.

Kfoury, who has been active for more than 25 years and has 17 albums, won Best Arabic Male Singer at the Arab Nation Music Awards in 2017.

He gained popularity in 1996 after releasing the song “Min Habibi Ana,” a duet with Lebanese pop singer Nawal Al-Zoghbi.

At Sunday’s concert, Kfoury modified his song “Yis’id Sabahak” to pay tribute to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Kingdom’s people.

The audience was extremely enthusiastic, chanting Kfoury’s name, cheering with excitement and singing along to every song.

Fans said they were very happy to have the Lebanese icon perform in the Kingdom for the first time, and thanked the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) for its efforts to provide high-quality entertainment in Saudi Arabia.

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Wael Kfoury won Best Arabic Male Singer at the Arab Nation Music Awards in 2017.

“We’re so happy to have him here. I’m one of his biggest fans. Many thanks to the GEA, which brought us events that we really wanted in Jeddah,” said Dima Rasheed.

Abdullah Qabel said: “We were raised listening to Kfoury’s songs when were younger. We’re very happy to be here and attend his concert in our country. Many thanks to the GEA for making all these events available for us. I look forward to more.”

Ebraheem Moawad said: “It was an amazing experience. I’d like to thank the GEA because I never thought I could see these artists in Saudi Arabia. I always thought I should travel to see them, but seeing them in my country is amazing.”

Mona Abdullah said: “I never thought I’d attend a Kfoury concert in Saudi Arabia. I’d always imagined I had to travel to attend his concerts. I was very excited to attend. Kfoury has been one of my favorite artists since I was 10 years old.”

Lamya Ajaj said: “Kfoury is one of the most significant artists to me, and he has so many fans here. I was so happy he came to Saudi Arabia. 

“Jeddah Season’s efforts are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, from the various exciting shows and organizing, to the professional and helpful volunteers.”


‘Arabs Are Not Funny’ comedy show just the opposite

Taking the stage at London’s lavish Royal Albert Hall were mixed Arab-Western comedians. (Supplied)
Updated 22 February 2020

‘Arabs Are Not Funny’ comedy show just the opposite

LONDON: Don’t let the name fool you, Friday night’s “Arabs Are Not Funny” comedy show was filled with nothing but quick-witted, snarky and overly-relatable quips. 

Taking the stage at London’s lavish Royal Albert Hall were mixed Arab-Western comedians Wary Nichen, Leila Ladhari, Mamoun Elagab and Esther Manito, with Iraqi-Scottish Sezar Alkassab hosting. 

The sold-out show started off with the host forcing the zaghrouta (a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound of joy) out of the audience, after encouraging them to “laugh at our culture and enjoy yourself.”

Sudanese-Irishman Elagab, who was recently nominated for BBC New Comedian of the Year, kicked off the night with a comedic look back at his upbringing in the UK, dealing with extremists in class, and the struggle of explaining stand-up comedy to his Sudanese uncle.

The sold-out show started off with the host forcing the zaghrouta. (Supplied)

Lebanese-Brit Manito humored the audience with stories of the struggle of taking her British husband to Beirut to meet her relatives, raising two children as an Arab mom, and having her Lebanese father living with her family yelling and cursing at the TV and on the phone. 

Tunisian-Swiss-Austrian Ladhari joked about her boyfriend’s father trying to bond with her by trying to sympathize with Daesh and letting her know that he “too doesn’t like eating pork.”

The highlight of the night was Algerian-Frenchman Nichen, who spoke of his job as a fulltime immigrant and the racism he endures in daily life in Paris. 

The show was organized by Arts Canteen, an organization that curates and produces events, exhibitions and festivals that support emerging, mid-career and established artists from the Arab world and surrounding regions, bringing their work to new audiences in the UK and beyond.