Thursday, November 19th, 2009
No matter which Arab country you happen to visit, there is no avoiding the dark and powerful voice of Fairuz.
Whether sitting in a bus or being more or less forced to listen to a neighbor’s radio, the Lebanese diva with the golden throat, who is now 73, sweetens every Arab morning, singing full of passion and romantic about the beauty of her homeland, celebrating the holy city of Jerusalem or remembering wistfully life in the countryside.
Her mixture of European rhythms and traditional Arab music culture delights and inspires millions of Arabs – be they Moslem, Christian or Druze; be they Palestinian, people in the Gulf Sates or Moroccans. And even we in the distant West, far away from where she is famous, profit totally unnoticed from the art of her singing. For example, the pop singer Shakira reflected on her Lebanese roots and undoubtedly surprised some fan in 2008 with her confession of love for the Arab icon.
Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
When most people hear the word Casablanca, they think automatically of the film classic with Ingrid Bergmann and Humphrey Bogart rather than Morocco’s largest city. That great film made the city famous and bathed the whole country in Hollywood’s magic glow.
But while almost every tourist visiting Morocco gets carried away searching the streets of Casablanca for Rick’s Cafe, true film fans today are more likely to be drawn to the south of the country. At the edge of the Atlas Mountains, in a small town with the unpronounceable name of Ouarzazate, a true mecca for film enthusiasts has emerged.
And there is not even one public movie theater there. But then who wants to waste their vacation time here sitting in front of a movie screen? Movies – they mean either work or money, or an interactive family album in the video recorder, not only to the film crews that come here, who appreciate Morocco’s beautiful landscape and low labor costs, but also to the people of Ouarzazates, who often earn their livelihood the year round as film extras. Tourists as well would prefer learning more of the film business in Ouarzazate by way of a sightseeing tour through the local movie studios than the simple pleasure of watching a film on the screen.