Fujairah Al Bader Festival celebrates Al Maled's spiritual legacy and artistic brilliance

Oman Areej Ensemble, Fujairah Maled Group and Dubai Traditional Arts group take centre stage for theatrical delight

Dubai Folk Band perform at  Al Bader Festival in Fujairah. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, Al Bader Festival returned to the Ministry of Culture Centre in Fujairah for a five-day event that ends on Saturday.

The festival celebrates Al Maled, which honours the spiritual and socio-cultural significance of Prophet Mohammed's birth in 570, through religious songs, art, and culture.

Al Maled holds a rich tradition in Emirati heritage and is typically observed on the Prophet's birthday, but also finds its place of honour on other significant occasions, including the anniversary of the Isra and Mi'raj, the night of the middle of Sha'ban, and joyous wedding ceremonies.

On Friday, Oman Areej Ensemble, Fujairah Maled Group and Dubai Traditional Arts Group delivered a captivating performance, aptly themed "In the Love of the Prophet”.

The bands graced the stage with their enchanting religious dances and soulful Islamic songs, creating a dazzling experience with visual effects through slow flowing and graceful movements that exude serenity and reverence, aligning with its spiritual essence.

The performers donned Arabic traditional attire, such as kandoras, and moved in harmonious synchronisation, all while delivering a visually captivating spectacle in acapella.

Omar Albreiki, an Omani chanter and the head of Areej Ensemble, told The National that most of the vocalists of Areej Ensemble have been involved in chanting since their childhood, inheriting this tradition from their ancestors.

Albreiki added: "The ensemble was founded in 2012, and it's important to note that Omani culture is predominantly centred around religious occasions due to the country's conservative society. Omanis also incorporate religious rituals into weddings and when celebrating the purchase of a new house. A prayer known as maled is recited to invoke blessings and share joy, often mentioning the Prophet."

Mayed Alkayyani, 11, from Fujairah, has an enchanting and mellifluous voice and is a member of the Fujairah Maled Group. Gracing the stage alongside four other young performers, Mayed transported the audience to a place of deep reflection and devotion with his soul-stirring voice.

He shared his excitement with The National by saying that this was his first experience with the group, and he had diligently been practicing for the performance for the past two months.

"It was a truly special occasion to commemorate the birth of Prophet Mohammed. On stage, I felt detached from the world, fully immersed in the presence of the Prophet," said Mayed.

Continuing with his heartfelt dedication, he added: "I have a strong desire to participate with the group each year, making it a cherished tradition in my life."

Besides the theatrical performances, Al Bader Grant associated with the festival welcomed more than 200 submissions from 27 countries around the world, such as from China, Turkey, Iran and Egypt.

The grant aims at supporting writing projects and publishing new books about the biography of Prophet Mohammed or studies about his life and virtues.

"The winning and qualified works will be printed in Al Bader publications, which will be showcased during the festival next year," said Hessa Al Falasi, the director of the festival.

"The Bader grant aims to enrich the Arabic library with engaging and contemporary publications, especially for youth, in the field of the Prophet's biography, and to encourage talents in writing."

Updated: September 23, 2023, 3:49 PM