Syrian songbird Mayada El Hennawy to perform at Dubai Opera

The singer will be joined by Lebanese artist Nermeen Wahbaa at November 12 concert

Mayada El Hennawy is coming to Dubai Opera on November 12.

This will be the Syrian singer's debut performance at the Dubai Downtown venue, which forms the perfect backdrop for her evocative and nostalgic tracks written by some of the Arab world's greatest composers and lyricists.

Joining her on stage is Nermeen Wahbaa, the Lebanese singer and former The Voice: Ahla Sawt contestant.

That cross-generational billing should be reflected in the audience.

El Hennawy's career has spanned four decades, with songs ranging from epic classical Arabic balladry to Levantine folk and patriotic songs.

Born in Aleppo, El Hennawy has built a slow and steady career as a performer throughout the region after being discovered by Egyptian music superstar Mohammed Abdel Wahab at a 1978 show in the village of Bloudan.

Aged merely 18 at the time, El Hennawy took Abdel Wahab's advice and moved to Cairo for songwriting sessions with some of classic Arabic music's most illustrious names.

One of these names was Baligh Hamdi, the key architect of Umm Kulthum's sound, and together they went on to release a string of Mena-wide hits including Ana Ba'sha'ak, El Hob Elli Kan and Sidi Ana.

You can hear why Hamdi took a chance on the then little known El Hennawy.

Like Umm Kulthum, the Syrian talent has the expressive and vocal prowess to match his lavish orchestrations.

El Hennawy went on to perform in some of the Arab world's biggest music events, including Tunisia's International Festival of Carthage and Morocco's Mawazine, and reached new audiences with successful collaborations with the next generation of pop stars such as Lebanon's Assi El Helani and Tunisia's Latifa.

After an almost decade-long absence, El Hennawy returned to live performances in 2014 with sporadic shows, including a sold-out concert at the Damascus Opera House in 2019.

In an interview with Syrian radio station Sham FM in June, El Hennawy described the satisfaction of seeing a diverse crowd at the shows. “You don’t take anything for granted, of course, but this has been really a wonderful thing to see people young and old from the stage,” she said.

“I look at each show as an opportunity to remind people of the beautiful times of the past and show a new generation some of the qualities of that music period.”

Mayada El Hennawy and Nermeen Wahbaa perform at Dubai Opera on Friday, November 12. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets are from Dh295; dubaiopera.com

Updated: October 18th 2021, 11:38 AM