Monday, November 12, 2007

Saudi Arabia makes first music video

I missed this report when it first came out in August.
"You Only Have God to Count On" uses upbeat music to tell the story of a successful man who had strayed from the path of true Islam. He smokes, flirts with women even though he's engaged and doesn't join his colleagues at work in performing the five daily Muslim prayers.

Things slowly start to go bad: He has a flat tire and problems at work and his fiancee leaves him when she sees him talking to another woman. He then has a serious accident while recklessly driving his motorcycle. After he recovers, the man starts to pray, stops smoking, wins back his fiancee and excels at work.

Significantly, the man sports a hip goatee and doesn't grow the big, bushy beard favored by fundamentalist Muslims. He still wears T-shirts and jeans and sticks to his old friends, including a man who favors the much-frowned-upon ponytails.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Khalass! - Together to Save Lebanon

Interesting article from The Daily Star about a concert organized to try to promote dialogue and to downplay sectarianism (leaders of the Khalass! movement don't give family names). Oumayma al-Khalil is renowned as a vocalist who has sung with Marcel Khalife for years. (I think it's Oumayma who is pictured below.)

Open-air concert sends message to politicians

Event aims to stimulate will for consensus
By Dirk Schoenlebe
Special to The Daily Star
Monday, November 12, 2007

Open-air concert sends message to politicians

BEIRUT: Khalass!, an emergency campaign to awaken Lebanese citizens to the dangers of state collapse and the use of violence, organized a concert in a parking lot on Hamra Street on Friday night. Khalass! - "enough" in Arabic - chose the venue, a parking lot next to Antoine's bookshop and beneath Ta-Marbouta, for its symbolism. A free concert in an open place in a busy quarter of Beirut seemed an appropriate venue to garner interest in their cause.

"Only days away from the election of a new Lebanese president, we want to show the people, that we still can have fun, despite politicians and politics being the number one in every day life," one of the organizers said.

More than 100 supporters and spectators enjoyed the evening with Lebanese musicians Oumayma al-Khalil, Tania Saleh, Hiba Mounzer and the band Blend. People waved from the balconies of neighboring buildings and pedestrians and motorists slowed down and watched with curiosity, some of them holding up traffic in an effort to see what was going on.

The young Lebanese activists in Khalass!, easy recognizable by their white Shirts with the slogan "Khalass! - Together to Save Lebanon," busily explained their aims to the visitors.

"People want stability, security and a national dialogue - that is the least people can ask for," explained Zeina, a senior Khalass! member. "We are here to make this demand publicly."

All the activists refused to be called by their family names "because it is not about us, it is about Lebanon," Zeina said.

She added that the difficult situation in Lebanon should be no excuse for the politicians to further divide the nation.

"Because if there is a will, there is a way," Zeina said, "and we want the politicians to show us that they have the will."

Whoever is selected as the new president, "we will not stop to push them. We don't have the luxury to stop."

Many of the concert-goers agreed with Zeina's sentiments, including Raed, 27.

"We are sick of the whole situation. It is time to tell them," he said.

Many people unfamiliar with Khalass! also filled the parking lot, which was decorated with a huge Lebanese flag. Some were simply attracted by the spectacle.

Nada, 25, who heard the music and came with her sister said, "We are happy for such a public activity in Hamra ... Hamra needs this."

She did not know about the aims of Khalass! but asked for information. So did Hamad, 20, who was on his way to a party when he heard the music.

"I like it," he said. "People have to love Lebanon. All Lebanese people."

Despite the joyful atmosphere, the gravity of the cause was not lost. As Blend front man Jad Souaid said on stage: "If we end this situation, we will be the winners. But if we don't, we will be the biggest losers. All of us."