Italian opera star hits the high notes in world-first AlUla concert

The performance will see Andrea Bocelli, 62, perform against the backdrop of Nabataean tombs in the ancient city of Hegra. (Supplied)
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The performance will see Andrea Bocelli, 62, perform against the backdrop of Nabataean tombs in the ancient city of Hegra. (Supplied)
Andrea Bocelli with family, including son Matteo, at Hegra, AlUla. (Supplied)
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Andrea Bocelli with family, including son Matteo, at Hegra, AlUla. (Supplied)
Andrea Bocelli with family, including son Matteo, at Hegra, AlUla. (Supplied)
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Andrea Bocelli with family, including son Matteo, at Hegra, AlUla. (Supplied)
Andrea Bocelli with family, including son Matteo, at Hegra, AlUla. (Supplied)
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Andrea Bocelli with family, including son Matteo, at Hegra, AlUla. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 April 2021

Italian opera star hits the high notes in world-first AlUla concert

Italian opera star hits the high notes in world-first AlUla concert
  • Only 300 people will be allowed to attend the concert in person
  • Performance is being live-streamed live on Bocelli's YouTube channel

ALULA: Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli enchanted an audience in AlUla on Thursday in what is believed to be the first-ever performance within the walls of the ancient desert city.

In his third performance in the Kingdom, Bocelli serenaded a limited number of concert-goers at the heritage site due to social distancing measures, but the concert was no less mesmerising than his previous shows at Maraya Concert Hall as part of the Winter at Tantora Festival.

The biggest surprise of the evening was the tenor’s 9-year-old daughter Virginia Bocelli, making a Middle East debut with her father on the stage playing the guitar and singing the lyrics the iconic Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah”.




The master tenor delivered a stripped- back set with musicians from the Arabian Philharmonic, and special guests Loren Allred, Matteo Bocelli, soprano Francesca Maionchi and Eugene Kohn at the piano.

The spectacular backdrop to the concert and the response of the audience left him eager to perform in other Saudi cities.

“It is rare to perceive such a strong empathy such as that experienced in your land,” Bocelli told Arab News.

“At each concert, I am amazed by the warmth with which I am welcomed, and I feel alive and privileged to witness the brotherly power of music,” he said.

Bocelli’s performance to fewer than 300 people is believed to be the first within the walls of the ancient desert city of Hegra.
 
Recalling his previous concerts in the Kingdom, the master tenor said that is happy to see how popular his music is among Saudis. “It is a nice surprise that keeps on increasing every time I return.”




The spectacular backdrop to the concert and the response of the audience left him eager to perform in other Saudi cities.

Bocelli said that he has heard about the “refined culture of hospitality” that distinguishes Saudis, but experiencing it firsthand was overwhelming and “exceeded all expectations.”
 
The tenor shared a few tips for professional and aspiring Saudi opera singers, reminding them that a beautiful voice is only one of many “necessary ingredients.”

“To be able to sing well, in a convincing way, you need to have a passion. If you want to excite those who listen to you, you need to have something to tell, values to communicate and share.

“It takes determination, frankness and discipline, but always proceeding with optimism and confidence in one’s passions,” he said.




Andrea Bocelli with family, including son Matteo, at Hegra, AlUla. (Supplied)

Bocelli advised Saudi opera singers not to be intimidated by the challenges, but to “treasure any accidents along the way, and do not give up, do not stop believing in your potential.”

AlUla’s captivating beauty and serenity, and the welcoming nature of its locals were among many memories the musician said he will take home.

“I think of the splendor of the clear air that dominates your views. Having to choose one favorite thing about Saudi Arabia, I cannot fail to mention the enchanted place that is AlUla, a spectacular and magical witness to man’s quest for beauty.”

The master tenor delivered a stripped-back set with musicians from the Arabian Philharmonic, and special guests Loren Allred, Matteo Bocelli, soprano Francesca Maionchi and Eugene Kohn at the piano.




Bocelli performed against a backdrop of 20 carved tombs of Al-Khuraymat.

Hegra, built in the first century by the Nabataean kingdom, is an ancient desert city home to thousands of tombs cut into sandstone mountains. At least 100 tombs have elaborate carved facades, a signature of the skilled Nabataean craftsmen.

Bocelli performed against a backdrop of 20 carved tombs of Al-Khuraymat.

Archaeologists say the tombs are among the best preserved in Hegra, and feature elegant gynosphinxes (spirit guardians with women’s heads, lions’ bodies and wings) adorning the pediments.

 


Iranian TV slammed for interrupting football to prevent fans seeing female referee’s legs

Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screenshot)
Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screeshot)
Updated 14 April 2021

Iranian TV slammed for interrupting football to prevent fans seeing female referee’s legs

Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screenshot)
  • Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on screen, the broadcaster cut away
  • Iranian women’s rights group: ‘Censorship is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic’

LONDON: Football fans in Iran had to endure state TV cutting away from its broadcast of Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League match against Manchester United on Sunday to avoid showing the legs of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.

Each time Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground.

According to Iranian women’s civil rights group My Stealthy Freedom, the decision was to prevent viewers seeing her bare legs.

“The television censors were rattled by the presence of a female referee in shorts,” the group said in a statement.

“Their solution was to cut away from the action to views of London’s backstreets, which made a mockery of the game. At the end of the game, one of the commentators joked that he hoped the viewers enjoyed the geographic show,” it added.

“Censorship is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We should not normalise this practice. This is not our culture. This is the ideology of a repressive regime.”

In 2018, an Iranian state TV channel blurred out AS Roma’s badge during coverage of their Champions League quarterfinal with Barcelona due to it containing an image of a female wolf feeding the mythical founders of the city, Romulus and Remus.


Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip
Updated 14 April 2021

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip
  • Prince Philip died at the age of 99
  • The royal family is observing two weeks of mourning

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II has returned to royal duties, four days after the death of her husband, Prince Philip.

The 94-year-old British monarch attended a retirement ceremony for a senior royal official on Tuesday, according to the Court Circular, the official record of royal engagements.

The royal family is observing two weeks of mourning for Philip, who died Friday at the age of 99. The palace has said members of the royal family will “undertake engagements appropriate to the circumstances” during the mourning period.

The queen attended a ceremony at Windsor Castle for Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel, who has retired as the royal household’s most senior official. He oversaw arrangements for the funeral of Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, until handing over to his successor days before the duke’s death.

Philip’s funeral will take place Saturday at Windsor Castle, with attendance limited to 30 because of coronavirus restrictions.

Servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force will take part in the funeral procession, and Philip’s coffin will be borne to St. George’s Chapel at the castle on a specially adapted Land Rover, which he designed himself.


LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid
Updated 14 April 2021

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid
  • Despite the fact that Ramadan has been observed each year for more than 14 centuries, a few companies are still mistaking the holy month of Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr
  • The picture attached with the LEGO congratulatory Ramadan tweet displayed a text showing “Eid Mubarak” instead of Ramadan Kareem

LONDON: Every year just before Ramadan begins, congratulations and greetings are widely circulated to family, friends, employees and the general public to celebrate the commencement of the holy month. 

Some businesses make use of this celebratory period by sending out Ramadan greetings while simultaneously marketing their products. Yet, despite the fact that Ramadan has been observed each year for more than 14 centuries, a few companies are still mistaking the holy month of Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.

 

 

Indeed, on the first day of Ramadan this year, the toy company, LEGO, tweeted what is likely intended to be a Ramadan greeting that reads: “Make it a celebration to remember with a LEGO set and open the door to quality family time spent together.” 

So far so good, right? Well not necessarily, because the picture attached with the tweet displayed a text showing “Eid Mubarak” instead of Ramadan Kareem, or any other traditional Ramadan greeting. 

Although people were not hugely disturbed by the mistake, most comments on the greeting acknowledged the effort from the part of LEGO, but highlighted that Eid is not due for another 30 days. 


‘Not during Ramadan!’ Fans disappointed as K-Pop’s BTS announce virtual concert during Holy month

“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)
“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2021

‘Not during Ramadan!’ Fans disappointed as K-Pop’s BTS announce virtual concert during Holy month

“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)

DUBAI: K-Pop boy band BTS has announced that they are set to perform an online concert event on April 17. 

However, some fans are not quite happy with the timing of the concert, titled “Bang Bang Con 2021,” that happens to be during Ramadan. 

Instagram users quickly took to the platform to comment on the South Korean band’s post saying: “Please don’t make it in the time of RAMADAN because Muslim armies can’t watch it (sic).”  

 

“Not during Ramadan,” wrote one fan, while another said: “We as Muslims have to fast in the month of Ramadan, sorry I can’t follow, later.” 

However, not all fans were left disappointed. Some took to social media to express their delight.

“I change my dentist appointment. The power of BTS in my life. April 17 block off in my calendar (sic),” said one user on Twitter. 

Another fan tweeted: “April 17 ARMYS - aren't we all so lucky to have @BTS_twt?”

This event is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

“Bang Bang Con 2021” will be streamed on BTS’s YouTube channel.    

In April 2020, the seven-member band presented a two-day streaming event that featured an online performance and clips from fan meetings.

Two months later, in June, the group held their first paid online gig “Bang Bang Con: The Live,” which attracted more than 756,000 fans from over 100 countries. They achieved a new Guinness World Record title for the most viewers for a music concert live stream due to that event.


Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan
Updated 12 April 2021

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

DUBAI: Restaurants in Dubai will not be required to screen off dining areas during the fasting hour of Ramadan, state news agency WAM reported.

Restaurants will be allowed to serve customers without putting in place curtains, dividers or facades as has been the mandatory practice previously, a circular issued by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development on Sunday said.

Restaurants will not be required to obtain a permit for serving food to customers during Ramadan fasting hours.