DUBAI: As the year draws to a close, it is fitting to look back at the Arab icons who died during 2017 — from Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussain Abdulredha to Egyptian singing sensation Shadia, the Middle East lost some of its brightest stars this year.
On Dec. 12, Veteran Saudi singer and a pioneer of Khaleeji music, Abu Bakr Salem aged 78 after a prolonged battle with a disease.He was last seen during the Saudi National Day celebrations in September but could not sing then due to his illness.
Originally from Hadramout, Yemen, a young Salem moved from Traim to Aden where he met several poets, singers and musicians, namely, Lutfi Jafar Aman, Ahmed bin Ahmed Qasim and Mohammad Saad Abdullah, and eventually started singing.
One of his first famous songs was “Ya Ward Ma7la Jamalak.”
In 1967, Salem left Aden for Jeddah, where he pioneered a new genre of music, called Khaleeji music, along with others such as Tariq Abdul-Hakim and Talal Maddah.
On Nov. 28, Egyptian actress and singer Shadia died at the age of 86.
Born Fatimah Shaker but known throughout her career by her single stage name, Shadia suffered a stroke and later went into a coma.
Shadia has more than a 100 films to her name and hundreds of singles in a career that stretches back to the late 1940s.
Her film roles ranged from those depicting country girls, career women, to comical portrayals of emotionally disturbed women and hopeless romantics.
Her iconic songs have defined the entertainment scene for decades, mostly with hit singles in Egypt’s distinctive vernacular Arabic.
In August, renowned Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussain Abdulredha died in London after he fell into a coma.
The 78-year-old was perhaps best known for his role in the 1981 play “Bye Bye London” in which his now ironic first line was “get off my back, I’m in London to have fun. I’m in London to change scenery and enjoy myself. I’m not in London to be put in hospitals or surgeries.”
The actor also played Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in a play in the 1980s, a role for which he gained critical acclaim.
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