New anthem for World Cup 2022 features Emirati singer Balqees

The Qatar tournament has three official tracks performed in various genres and languages

Emirati singer Balqees is one of a number of international artists recording official songs for the Qatar World Cup. Ruel Pableo / The National
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The latest official anthem of the Qatar World Cup has a UAE twist.

Released on Friday, Light the Sky features Emirati-Yemeni artist Balqees and is produced by RedOne, a Grammy Award-winning Moroccan-Swedish producer who lives in Dubai.

As the tournament's executive director of entertainment, RedOne — real name Nadir Khayat — has been responsible for all three official tracks released so far.

The eclectic songs are in various languages ranging from English and Arabic to French and Spanish, all reflecting the excitement and communal spirit the Qatar World Cup hopes to inspire when it kicks off on November 20.

Here, The National takes a closer look — and listen — for all three.

1. 'Light the Sky'

The latest track is the kind of euphoric dance pop RedOne specialises in.

Light the Sky is all about creating a party vibe and comes with the kind of walloping and easy-to-chant chorus fit for stadiums packed with international fans.

Unfortunately, the verses — while competently sung — are forgettable and don't really address the competition at hand.

Balqees encourages us to party "like a VIP", Iraqi singer Rahma Riad urges us to "open up our hearts and let our love run free", while Morocco's Nora Fatehi references 16th-century astronomer Galileo when encouraging us to aim for the stars.

The World Cup vibes really come into play in the accompanying video, featuring the trio performing in front of the Lusail Stadium.

2. ‘Hayya Hayya’ (Better Together)

Released in April, the first World Cup anthem is a lovely fusion of styles and cultures.

Qatari singer Aisha teams up with Nigerian Afro-pop star Davido and US singer Trinidad Cardona for this breezy ode to unity.

Powered by Khaleeji percussion and a reggae groove, all singers put in a charismatic performance.

More than the rousing chorus, Hayya Hayya (Better Together) has the kind of ear worm melody that will stick in our heads — for better or worse — during the tournament.

The music video also packs a strong local flavour with scenes shot in the Qatar desert and the Doha corniche.

3. ‘Arhbo’

Released in August, this is another deft mix of cultures with Puerto Rican reggaeton star Ozuna teaming up with French hip-hop artist Gims for this club-ready track.

Sung in Spanish, French and English while featuring an arresting Arabic vocal loop in the chorus, this banger is about building bridges and putting differences aside.

It also shows that Ozuna and Gims should team up more, with the former’s silky vocals blending well with Gims’s uncompromising booming tenor.

RedOne, once again, shows his pedigree with another intoxicating fusion of Latin pop, Afro-pop and Khaleeji sounds.

Whether heard in a stadium or a club, Arhbo is a winner.

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Updated: October 07, 2022, 12:12 PM
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