Timeframe: When Fairouz enchanted Abu Dhabi in 2006

Concert at the Emirates Palace hotel was conducted by Karen Durgaryan

Lebanese diva Fairouz performs at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. AFP
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Music lovers in Abu Dhabi were treated to an unforgettable experience on May 18, 2006, when the 'Voice of Lebanon', Fairouz, performed a concert at the Emirates Palace hotel.

The historic concert came during a time of looming unrest in the Middle East, as Lebanon went to war with Israel a month later.

Fairouz’s music was a moment of perfect harmony and a beacon of hope. Her performance included songs from her celebrated oeuvre, including two songs which had rarely been performed live; Ya Rayt and Am Yil’abou El Wlad.

The programme featured two long sessions, separated by an intermission, rounded off by the singer’s more adored songs, such as Zourouni and Ughniat El Wada’a.

The legendary singer glowed on stage, with the lights making it a very intimate experience for those in attendance. The concert was held to raise money for autism research.

Conducting the orchestra accompaniment for the concert was Karen Durgaryan, who at the time was the principal conductor of the Armenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. Durgaryan had been conducting Fairouz’s concerts since 2000.

Many dignitaries and diplomatic representatives attended the concert, including Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, who was Minister of Education at the time.

The appreciative and excited audience roared and applauded as the diva took to the stage, with the first song, Kan Enna Tahoon, setting the scene for what would be a night of nostalgia and yearning.

The set list included an eclectic selection of Fairouz’s songs, some of which were from films, while others took on a political flavour, calling for unity and harmony in the Arab world.

The setting, the Emirates Palace hotel, had opened its doors a year earlier after much anticipation. The hotel became the capital’s focal point for luxury, culture and the arts, hosting a series of classical music concerts, art exhibitions and film premiers. It is now known as Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental.

Fairouz was no stranger to UAE audiences, having performed two months earlier in Dubai at the American University.

Fairouz first performed in the UAE in 1979 as part of the opening ceremony for the Expo Centre Sharjah and returned to do more than 50 shows spanning the next 40 years.

Updated: May 03, 2024, 6:02 PM