Fans of classic Middle Eastern music were treated to a magical night that paid tribute to Lebanese legends Assi and Mansour Rahbani  at a concert held at Emirates Palace on Monday night.
The concert, produced by acclaimed composers Oussama and Ghadi Rahbani, featured a collection of songs that were composed by Assi and Mansour -- known as the Rahbani Brothers -- from 1950 until Mansour’s death in 2009.
With Oussama playing the piano, the Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra, a 20-member choir and seven singers, the audience was given an authentic taste of Lebanon, where music has been deeply influenced by the brothers.
As the Brothers had a celebrated history of collaboration with Lebanese singing legend Fairouz, singers performed some of her most popular dabke songs, love songs, national songs, and stanzas, including Nassam Al Ayna Al Hawa; Sahar Al Layali; Boukra Enta W Jayie; Baadak Ala Bali; and Betetloj Al Ddeni.
With Fairouz’s warm, yet powerful and rich voice stuck in the audience’s minds, it was quite a challenge that the singers had. However they managed to pay a fair enough tribute to her and the audience was caught up in the feelings of romance and patriotism that Fairouz is known to evoke.
“It was a great concert and definitely a must-see. We just got our tickets because we were on the waiting list but it was worth it,” said Carole Saliba, a Lebanese audience member. “The songs they performed are all songs that I adore and listen to very often.”
While she had previously watched live performances of plays by the brothers, she said she enjoyed the concert as it brought a sense of her home country.
While the concert was purely a celebration of Lebanese music, the audience included non-Arabic speakers.
Londoner Elizabeth Metwali was in the audience even though she did not understand Arabic well. She said others had encouraged her to attend the concert while she is on holiday in Abu Dhabi.
“The concert exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I thought I would come because I heard a lot about it from my daughter [who lives] in Abu Dhabi and I generally enjoy Arabic music.”
She added that she especially enjoys music by classic singers such as Fairouz, Sabah, and Abdul Haleem.
By Sarah Diaa