Plenty to do while waiting for Saber

ABU DHABI // Naila Ahmed, who calls herself the "world's biggest Saber Al Robai fan", broke out in spots when she found out he was coming to the capital for a free concert.

"I got so many, look!" the Tunisian said. "Usually my skin is so clear."

Here on vacation, Naila, 20, overheard a group of people chatting at a cafe a few days ago about the famous Tunisian singer coming to the Corniche for Beats on the Beach.

"Then I searched everywhere online and asked everyone I know when he was coming and where, exactly," she said. "And when I found out, I got a new outfit and everything, and because I was so excited I got spots."

But that did not stop Naila from being one of the first to arrive last evening at the beach, wearing a black summer dress and flip-flops, several hours before Al Robai was scheduled to appear at 11.50pm.

She was joined at the front of the crowd by five of his other fans, all of whom waited from 6.30pm.

But so much was to be seen before his arrival on the last of the four days of free concerts, which have featured 20 international musicians and attracted more than 200,000 people since Wednesday night.

Raouf Saeed, 26, did not know who was playing last night but said he had so much fun the previous three nights he did not care.

"The atmosphere and the weather is great," Raouf said. "It's so great to just party on the beach."

Next to him was a fan of Desert Heat, the first act of the night.

"I just came here to see them and show my support," Rashid Mohamed said. "I am a big fan of the two brothers' rap music."

At 7.20pm, Illmiyah and Arableak, the Emiratis who make up Desert Heat, stepped on stage. The hundred or so people in the audience cheered.

"How many of you are hungry? I'm so hungry. I drove all the way from Dubai to Abu Dhabi," they shouted as they introduced their song Mendi.

The crowd soon grew into thousands and after warming them up for 30 minutes, Desert Heat left for DJ Dave Crane to take over and keep the audience dancing on the beach.

The Moroccan sensation Hasna Zalagh was up next.

Then, with the first line of Arab rappers and singers done, the crowd changed.

Westerners flowed in to wait for the arrival of Eliza Doolittle, the singer-songwriter from London.

Only after Doolittle departed did the much-awaited Al Robai make his appearance to wrap up this year's festivities.

Forced Deportations

While the Lebanese government has deported a number of refugees back to Syria since 2011, the latest round is the first en-mass campaign of its kind, say the Access Center for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization which monitors the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“In the past, the Lebanese General Security was responsible for the forced deportation operations of refugees, after forcing them to sign papers stating that they wished to return to Syria of their own free will. Now, the Lebanese army, specifically military intelligence, is responsible for the security operation,” said Mohammad Hasan, head of ACHR.
In just the first four months of 2023 the number of forced deportations is nearly double that of the entirety of 2022.

Since the beginning of 2023, ACHR has reported 407 forced deportations – 200 of which occurred in April alone.

In comparison, just 154 people were forcfully deported in 2022.


Instances of violence against Syrian refugees are not uncommon.

Just last month, security camera footage of men violently attacking and stabbing an employee at a mini-market went viral. The store’s employees had engaged in a verbal altercation with the men who had come to enforce an order to shutter shops, following the announcement of a municipal curfew for Syrian refugees.
“They thought they were Syrian,” said the mayor of the Nahr el Bared municipality, Charbel Bou Raad, of the attackers.
It later emerged the beaten employees were Lebanese. But the video was an exemplary instance of violence at a time when anti-Syrian rhetoric is particularly heated as Lebanese politicians call for the return of Syrian refugees to Syria.

Company profile

Name: Maly Tech
Started: 2023
Founder: Mo Ibrahim
Based: Dubai International Financial Centre
Sector: FinTech
Funds raised: $1.6 million
Current number of staff: 15
Investment stage: Pre-seed, planning first seed round
Investors: GCC-based angel investors

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

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