Muti conducts Syria musicians in memorial concert amid ruins

In this Jan. 1, 2018 file photo, Italian Maestro Riccardo Muti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra during the traditional New Year's concert at the golden hall of Vienna's Musikverein, Austria. Nine musicians from the Syrian diaspora in Europe are playing in the 24th friendship concert conducted by Riccardo Muti, this year at the Paestum archaeological site in southern Italy, but the coronavirus pandemic blocked others from arriving directly from Syria. (AP)
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Updated 05 July 2020

Muti conducts Syria musicians in memorial concert amid ruins

  • Nine Syrian musicians in Europe are playing in the 24th friendship concert conducted by Riccardo Muti

RAVENNA: Nine musicians from the Syrian diaspora in Europe are playing Sunday in the 24th friendship concert conducted by Riccardo Muti, this year at the Paestum archaeological site in southern Italy, but the coronavirus pandemic blocked others from arriving directly from Syria.
The concert Sunday by the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra founded by Muti, part of the Ravenna Festival summer series, is dedicated to Syrian archaeologist Khaled Al-Asaad and Kurdish-Syrian politician Hevreen Khalaf, both of whom were slain during Syria’s ongoing civil war.
“These concerts give to Ravenna the possibility to be an important ambassador of peace and brotherhood from Italy,” Muti told The Associated Press earlier this month in Ravenna. Khalaf was killed by Syrian fighters trained by Turkey 2019, and Al-Asaad was beheaded in 2015 by fighters of the Daesh group after he refused to aid their destruction of the ancient Roman city at Palmyra, a UN world heritage site.
Muti launched the Roads of Friendship concert series in 1997 in Sarajevo, shortly after Bosnia’s 1992-1995 civil war ended, and has since traveled to cities wounded by war, including Beirut, as well as in ancient and historic sites to “reestablish ties” with places that have made history, including the ancient Roman amphitheater in the southern Syrian city of Bosra.
“We can build bridges between civilizations, between people, with music,” said Karoun Baghboudarian, a cellist living in the Netherlands who is playing in Sunday’s concert and who sang in the chorus during the 2004 concert in Bosra — before Syria devolved into war, a period when she said musicians’ lives flourished.
Her brother, Missak Baghboudarian, conducts the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra and had hoped to travel to Italy to conduct a concert in Ravenna and attend the Paestum concert of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, known as the “Heroic,” but was unable to travel because of travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus. Instead, the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra streamed Beethoven’s “Heroic” from Damascus on July 2.
Karoun Baghboudarian said she hoped the concert would renew attention on Syrians’ suffering.
“We hope that Syria will come through the war and all the difficult situations as heroes, and that they can live normally,” she said by phone from Paestum.


Dubai gets a taste of kosher

Updated 18 September 2020

Dubai gets a taste of kosher

  • The Habtoor Group has partnered with Elli’s Kosher Kitchen to become the first UAE hotel operator to offer kosher meals

When Elli Kriel moved to Dubai from South Africa eight years ago, she was determined to maintain her family’s kosher Jewish diet and quickly sought out shops serving kosher products in the city.

“At the time we thought we were the only family that kept a kosher diet, but when word got out that we were a kosher family living in Dubai, many Jews who were traveling to the UAE would contact me for food,” Kriel told Arab News.

“I started sending food out from my home to help Jewish travelers and as the community started growing so, too, did the need for more kosher food.”

In 2018, a group of rabbis arrived in Dubai for an interfaith conference and the organizer called Kriel in a panic not knowing how to feed them. Once again, she cooked and prepared kosher meals for the numerous attendees.

“At the time the idea of kosher food outside the Jewish community was strange — something unknown,” said Kriel.

After the conference, word of her services spread quickly, and she received requests from hotel managers, concierges and others who needed to serve food to Jewish guests. In 2019, Elli’s Kosher Kitchen was born.

With the UAE normalizing ties with Israel, a number of hotels and restaurants across the emirate have begun preparations to introduce kosher food and beverages. The first is the Habtoor Group, which will offer kosher meals at several of its hotels, including the Hilton Dubai.

Habtoor Hospitality has partnered with Elli’s Kosher Kitchen.

“There has been great demand since the normalization process with Israel started, and we have had several requests for groups that require kosher food, as well as from tourists from Israel and other parts of the world who would like to visit the UAE now,” Fredrik Reinisch, general manager at Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City, told Arab News.

Hotels offering kosher catering will include Hilton Dubai, V Hotel, Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotel and Resorts, Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection LLC, Metropolitan Hotel and Habtoor Polo Resort.

“Kosher food is prepared in accordance with religious laws, the laws of the Jewish religion,” said Kriel. “It has to have kosher ingredients, follow specific methods of cooking and be served in a particular way. But it also applies to the way in which you eat the food. The basic principle is not to mix any dairy or meat products.”

Kriel ensures that all meals are prepared in accordance with OU kosher certification (Orthodox Union), believed to be the most trusted form of certification globally.

Guests with specific kosher preferences will also be able to choose from tailored menus. Meals will be packaged and sealed with an OU certified stamp.

Kosher food is similar to the concept of halal food, which adheres to Islamic law and follows religious rules in production, service and consumption.