A?R Rahman performing in Dubai. Courtesy Purple Vogue Events
A?R Rahman performing in Dubai. Courtesy Purple Vogue Events

AR Rahman delights a capacity crowd with a night of classic Sufi favourites



When A?R Rahman performs, people come out in droves . and they wait for him, even if they have to do so for more than two hours.
Scheduled to start at 8pm, it was almost 10.30pm on Thursday when his concert at Dubai World Trade Centre, the first night of the city's Sufi Weekend event, finally began.
Due to the delay, the members of the audience were getting restless waiting for the maestro to appear on stage, but as his voice, singing "La ilaha illAllah", started to echo, a hush fell over the hall, which was jam-packed with fans, as the screen behind the stage lit up with beautiful graphics.
As Rahman stepped out on stage amid applause and cheers, he introduced the choir performing that evening, who were all students of the KM College of Music & Technology - a college founded by the maestro. They have been practising for more than three years, and this was their first big concert.
The line-up included many of Rahman's own compositions as well as some by the renowned Pakistani qawwali Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Rahman performed the lead vocals for some, but many were sung by the members of the choir or by the singer Javed Ali. Sivamani, a long-time friend of Rahman, was on ­percussion.
After the first few songs, Sivamani came on stage, followed by a very upbeat Mast Kalandar - one of the high points of the night.
It seemed like many in the audience were not prepared for the pace of the show, expecting Rahman to play more of his popular and commercial pieces - some in the crowd left long before the show was over.
The night started to gain momentum when Rahman did switch to some of his more popular songs, such as Piya Haji Ali from the movie Fiza, Arziyan from Delhi 6, Laal Meri Pat and Khwaja Mere Khwaja from Jodhaa Akbar and Kun Faya Kun from Rockstar.
Audience expectations aside, for someone who enjoys Sufi music, the night was a memorable one.
The students delivered a fantastic performance, and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the Sufi lovers in the audience.
ajhurani@thenational.ae

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How to play the stock market recovery in 2021?

If you are looking to build your long-term wealth in 2021 and beyond, the stock market is still the best place to do it as equities powered on despite the pandemic.

Investing in individual stocks is not for everyone and most private investors should stick to mutual funds and ETFs, but there are some thrilling opportunities for those who understand the risks.

Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, says the 20 best-performing US and European stocks have delivered an average return year-to-date of 148 per cent, measured in local currency terms.

Online marketplace Etsy was the best performer with a return of 330.6 per cent, followed by communications software company Sinch (315.4 per cent), online supermarket HelloFresh (232.8 per cent) and fuel cells specialist NEL (191.7 per cent).

Mr Garnry says digital companies benefited from the lockdown, while green energy firms flew as efforts to combat climate change were ramped up, helped in part by the European Union’s green deal. 

Electric car company Tesla would be on the list if it had been part of the S&P 500 Index, but it only joined on December 21. “Tesla has become one of the most valuable companies in the world this year as demand for electric vehicles has grown dramatically,” Mr Garnry says.

By contrast, the 20 worst-performing European stocks fell 54 per cent on average, with European banks hit by the economic fallout from the pandemic, while cruise liners and airline stocks suffered due to travel restrictions.

As demand for energy fell, the oil and gas industry had a tough year, too.

Mr Garnry says the biggest story this year was the “absolute crunch” in so-called value stocks, companies that trade at low valuations compared to their earnings and growth potential.

He says they are “heavily tilted towards financials, miners, energy, utilities and industrials, which have all been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic”. “The last year saw these cheap stocks become cheaper and expensive stocks have become more expensive.” 

This has triggered excited talk about the “great value rotation” but Mr Garnry remains sceptical. “We need to see a breakout of interest rates combined with higher inflation before we join the crowd.”

Always remember that past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Last year’s winners often turn out to be this year’s losers, and vice-versa.

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