Arab arts given a boost by Quincy Jones and Bokra track

Plans for an Arab version of Live Aid were revealed yesterday by Emirati businessman Badr Jafar.

Music legend Quincy Jones has joined forces with businessman Badr Jafar for the charity single Tomorrow/Bokra.
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DUBAI // The team behind the charity single Tomorrow/Bokra have announced plans to stage a concert featuring some of the Arab world’s biggest stars.

The plans for an Arab version of Live Aid were revealed yesterday by Emirati businessman Badr Jafar, who joined forces with music legend Quincy Jones to release Tomorrow/Bokra, an Arabic version of the American’s Grammy-winning song Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me) last November.

The single was recorded by 24 leading Arab artists, including Majida El Roumi, Kadim Al Sahir, Saber El Rebai and Asmara Lmnawar, and sales of the song raised Dh1.5 million. Partners and sponsors also contributed a further Dh7.5m.

Mr Jafar, from Sharjah, said more money would be generated by the planned concert and a documentary about the making of the single by Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa, the director of City of Life.

“We don’t have specific dates or venues but it will most likely be in the [Arabian] Gulf in 2013,” said Mr Jafar. “It won’t be just the original artists on the single – any musician who wants to stand on stage as a beacon of solidarity and hope is welcome.”

The initial Dh1.5m raised by Tomorrow/Bokra will be used to support music, arts and cultural educational programmes in the UAE, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories.

The money will be distributed among the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (Admaf), the United Nations World Food Programme and Save the Children. Admaf said it would use the funds to provide arts education sessions to hundreds of orphans and youngsters with special needs across the UAE.

“The Tomorrow/Bokra project brought together 24 of the biggest recording artists from throughout the Arab world to inspire these countries and the world to create a better tomorrow for the youth of the region,” said Mr Jones, 79, a musician, producer and composer who has made music with some of the greatest names in entertainment history.

He produced Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album of all time, and collaborated with Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Ray Charles and Duke Ellington.

“I’m a vocal proponent of music and the arts being a great asset in building bridges between people and cultures. It’s my true belief that the arts and arts education are important components for building the foundations for a better tomorrow. The arts are food for the soul.”

Hannah Henderson, of Admaf, said: “The arts enable children with special needs, in fact all children, to broaden their imagination, stimulate their creativity and find their own voice.”

Jones and Mr Jafar, 33, who were both in Dubai yesterday, said the Tomorrow/Bokra project grew out of their 14-year friendship.

The two met when Jones and his daughter visited Cambridge University in the UK while Mr Jafar was studying there. They recorded the charity single in Morocco and Qatar, with hip-hop star Akon contributing vocals and singer Shakira providing the introduction to the video.

The track went straight to the top of the charts across the Middle East, and the video has been viewed seven million times on YouTube.