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HomeArts & CultureMohamed Abdo's towering performance at Abu Dhabi Festival – in pictures

Mohamed Abdo's towering performance at Abu Dhabi Festival – in pictures

Abu Dhabi Festival kicked off its major concert program with a performance by Mohamed Abdo.

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Popularly known as “Fanan Al Arab” or “Artist of the Arabs” (a title he was given in the 1980s during a concert in Tunis by then president Al Habib Bou Rakiba), the Saudi Arabian singer, composer and oud player’s sold out show at Emirates Palace served to only cement his status as a legend in the Middle East and a cultural treasure in the kingdom.

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The 67 year-old was backed by near 40 piece orchestra consisting of musicians from his native Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The two hour program saw him present an over-view of his six decade career with tracks ranging from the Khaleeji pop of Abatather (I Would Like to Apologise) to more operatic numbers such as Al Amakin (The Places) and spiritual odes Lana Allah (In God We Trust)

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Abdo’s impact on khaleeji music is similar to what Bob Marley did for reggae: he made the genre mainstream with artists such as Lebanon’s Najwa Karam and Tunisia’s Saber Rebaï now composing khaliji songs complete with the accent.

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Before the performance, Abdo went on stage to receive the 2017 Abu Dhabi Festival award from Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Huda Ebrahim Alkhamis, the founder and artistic director of Abu Dhabi Festival. According to the Abu Dhabi Festival announcement, Abdo was awarded for “his esteemed career spanning more than six decades and his status as one of the most prominent musical pioneers in the Arab world, dedicated to the development of culture and arts.”

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Abdo was typically low key when accepting the award. He thanked the Abu Dhabi Festival for the recognition before returning on stage minutes later to deliver his lauded set. For more details go to www.abudhabifestival.ae

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