March 6, 2012

Bahrain, sea of culture

Arab news

March 6, 2012

Bahrain, sea of culture

Last week I attended part of the “Second Forum of Festivals in the Arab Countries” held in Manama. As elegant as always, Culture Minister Sheikha Mai Al-Khalifa gave a warm welcome address.

She did not have to say much, Bahrain is recovering and moving on full speed. The purpose of the forum, which brought together art protagonists, festival organizers and enterprises — is to discuss and explore new ways to improve and advance the standard of festivals in the Arab countries.

Most of the speakers provided valuable insights into the business of festivals. Organizers promised a rich and diverse program with more than 35 events, one-third of which are aimed at families. This is not the first time Bahrain acted as a platform for intercultural communications, every year the Island hosts the annual cultural festivities with a wide range of colorful performances.

The same evening I attended — with the other guests — a wonderful tribute performance to Arab world’s legendary singer Umm Kulthum, by Egyptian diva Riham Abdul Hakim, accompanied by maestro Selim Sahab and the Arab Music Ensemble as kick-off of the month-long Spring of Culture Festival.

The showcase includes performances by top Latin singer Julio Iglesias, and a debut performance by legendary opera singer Andrea Bocelli. Who has not heard of Julio Iglesias, he is the best-selling Latin artist and one of the top 10 best-selling artists in history. He has sold over 300 million albums, in 14 languages, released 80 albums and has given concerts on all five continents.

Princess Bari will finally be told truth of her identity. This is an amazing opulent Korean production with embroidered and colorful costumes, skilled dancers and musicians, led by Korea’s most exciting contemporary choreographer, Eun-Me Ahn.

Dan Zanes and Friends come all the way from New York with their wild sounds of electric guitar, fiddle, drums and trumpet. A little bit of hip-hop with lots of acrobats in an astounding mash-up of gravity-defying maneuvers is also coming to Manama. In addition, Canadian Tom Tom Cew will present an astonishing beat-boxing show with improbable contortion and dynamic drumming.

The well internationally renowned band, Osiris, will rock Bahrain inside and out. This is a group of Bahraini musicians known for its complex compositions and symphonic melodies that blend progressive rock music with Bahraini rhythms. You will enjoy a wonderful combination of traditional instruments and percussions reflecting Bahrain’s heritages and traditions.

That’s not all, Knuffle Bunny will also present an adventure of song and dancing. If on the other hand you are interested in Martial Arts, you will enjoy Chan Shaolin Temple Group which had performed many shows around the world. A show of kungfu, Wushu and of Chan Zen will be presented in a harmonious way. In addition, Tap Dogs show will present high-energy dance, theatrical performance and live music in unstoppable theatrical spectacle.

The Grammy awarded Peruvian singer Susana Baca will present an inspiring show. Baca’s style is a combination of elegance, cumbia, plena, son jarocho and other types of music in her own Afro-Peruvian style.

There is no doubt that Culture is becoming more and more visible as an industry. The European Commission of the European Parliament is a good example, it described the cultural sector as “an engine of development” to show the growing correlation between culture and economy.

We need to place more emphasis on cultural events in Saudi Arabia. Culture is a very effective economic force of change, it could boost our economic growth in addition to introducing some spiritual meaning to life.

Tweet: A painter paints pictures on canvas, but musicians paint their pictures on silence. Leopold Stokowski

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