Renowned Iraqi singer Kathem El Saher and his British colleague Sara Brightman kicked off the first night of the weeklong Souk Ukaz cultural festival - currently taking place at the Roman Amphitheater in the heart of the Jordanian capital - Amman. The opening event was marked by strong performances amid traffic jams and poor organizational arrangements, which deprived hundreds of people from attending the opening act.
The third annual event - appropriately entitled “Dialogue of Cultures” and held under the patronage of Queen Rania al Abdullah - will include performances by renowned Arab and Western musicians and artists.
According to the festival’s chief organizer, Iman Hindawi, “this year will include a mix between Arabic and Western music, and should witness real dialogue between the two deeply rooted civilizations.”
Monday night featured the top attraction – joint performances by Kathem El Saher and Sara Brightman, a previous performer at London’s Phantom of the Opera. While large audiences gathered at the Roman Amphitheater to enjoy Saher and Brightman’s performances, hundreds missed the opportunity – partly due to the traffic jams downtown and partly due to the fierce scramble at the doors. Many people who were not able to attend the inaugural ceremony said they had to return home although they bought tickets to attend the festival.
“I reached the site after one and a half hours due to the traffic jam in the streets leading to the Roman Amphitheater, but I preferred to return home when I saw people pushing each other at the doors. The police had to use force in order to prevent some people from jumping over the walls and fences,” a citizen told Al Bawaba.
Shocked and disappointed at the disarray, the gentleman said he will be expressing his frustration at the festival’s organizers – Middle East Center for Culture and Development - by seeking to get fully reimbursed for the money he paid for the tickets.
A source close to the festival told Al Bawaba that the reason behind the festival’s poor administrative arrangements was mainly due to the low level of ushers and security personnel. The same source added that the festival’s management squeezed its budget to generate higher profits, and due to this, recruited fewer workers than needed.
As to the festival itself, considering logistics are in place and functional, it should prove to be a superb experience for those that choose to attend. Tuesday night, the events second night, will observe Lebanese performer Hanine and her Cuban band perform a cultural fusion of Middle Eastern and Cuban music, while Tunisian Aminah Ennabi will perform her concert Wednesday night.
Rai music lovers will get a chance on Thursday night to listen to Algerian Rai king - Cheb Mami – dazzle fans with his Eastern melodies and Western rhythms. For Jazz listeners, Friday promises to be your night as the festival will play host to Nigerian saxophone player Kiyod Ulajeedi along with his troupe.
The festival will be concluded next Saturday night with a closing performance by the “East West Dialogue” orchestra, conducted by Maestro Emmy Flamer. His troupe will include 21 players, five of whom will be from Middle Eastern musical backgrounds.
On the sidelines of the music festival, workshops will also be taking place, including a conference scheduled for the World Music Center (headquartered in Vienna) on media financing. There will also be a meeting for the Executive Committee of the World Music Bureau (headquartered in Paris). –Albawaba.com