Sunday, 1 July 2012

أيُّهَا السَّاقِي إِلَيْكَ المُشْتَكَى

من أجمل ما سَمِعت فقرأت وربّما أوّل موشّح أتعمّق فيه... "أيّها الساقي إليْكَ المُشتَكى" مغنى بصوت "فاديا طنب الحاج" العَذِبِ. ألرّابط وهذا توزيع أبطأ هنا

أيُّهَا السَّاقِي إِلَيْكَ المُشْتَكَى
Oh cupbearer, our laments are for your ears
قَدْ دَعَوْنَاكَ وَ إِنْ لَمْ تَسْمَع ِ
We called you, but you hear us not

وَ نَدِيمٍ هِمْتُ فِي غُرَّتِهِ
A drinking companion in whose friendly face I fell in love
وَ شَرِبْتُ الرَّاحَ مِنْ رَاحَتِهِ
and I drank the wine from his palm
كُّلَّمَا اسْتَيْقَظَ مِنْ سَكْرَتِهِ
When he awoke from his drunkenness
جَذَبَ الزِّقَّ إِلَيْهِ وَ اتَّكَا
he drew the bota to him and sat up
وَ سَقَانِي أَرْبَعًا فِي أَرْبَعِ ِ
and served me the wine four times, in four goblets

غُصْنُ بَانٍ مَالَ مِنْ حَيْثُ اسْتَوَى
A (slender) willow branch curved from its straightness
مَاتَ مَنْ يَحْيَاهُ مِنْ فَرْطِ الجَوَىَ
He who lived it died of his passion
خَفِقَ الأَحْشَاءِ مَوْهُونَ القُوَى
Trembling in his heart; weakened in his strength
كُلَّمَا فَكَّرَ فِي البَيْن ِ بَكَىَ
When he thought of separation, he wept
وَيْحَهُ يَبْكِي لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقَع ِ
Mourn for him who wept for something which happened not

مَا لِعَيْنِي عَشِيَتْ بالنَّظَر ِ
Why did my eyesight weaken
أَنْكَرَتْ بَعْدَكَ ضَوْءَ القَمَر ِِ
After you, my eyes deny the light of the moon
وَ إِذَا مَا شِئْتَ فَاسْمَعْ خَبَرِي
If you so desire, listen to my tale
عَشِيَتْ عَيْنَايَ مِنْ طُولِ البُكَا
My vision has weakened, having wept too long
وَ بَكَىَ بَعْضِي عَلَىَ بَعْضِي مَعِي
A part of me wept with me about another

لَيْسَ لِي صَبْرٌ وَ لا لِي جَلَدٌ
I possess neither patience nor endurance
مَا لِقَوْمِي عَذَلُواْ وَ اجْتَهَدُواْ
Why do they blame me so
أَنْكَرُواْ شَكْوَايَ مِمَّا أَجِدُ
They reject my complaints of that from which I suffer
مِثْلَ حَالِي حَقُّهُ أَنْ تُشْتَكَىَ
My condition is lamentable
كَمَدُ اليَأْسِ وَ ذُلُّ الطَمَع ِ
the sadness of despair and humiliation of want

كَبِدٌ حَرَّ وَ دَمْعٌ يَكِفُ
A burning heart and flowing tears
يَعْرِفُ الذَّنْبَ وَ لا يَعْتِرِفُ
Understands the sin but refuses to accept
أَيُّهَا المُعْرِضُ عَمَّا أَصِفُ
O you that idly sees all that i describe
قَدْ نَمَا حُبُّكَ عِنْدِي وَ زَكَا
My love for you has grown and grown
لا تَقُلْ أَنِّي فِي حُبِّكَ مُدَّع ِ
Do not say that I am, in my love for you, an imposter

Monday, 29 June 2009

The festive summer of Lebanon 2009

An informational summary of the main musical festivals due to take place this summer in Lebanon.

[Note: I have only dealt with the main festivals. There are further individual performances incl. Michael Bolton, Paris Hilton and Fatman Scoop. For a full listing, try]

Deir el Qamar Festival 2009 (17 Jul - 8 August)
10th Anniversary
program: PDF download
  • 17 July (Fri) Al Foursan Al Arb3a
    إفتتاح المهرجان مع الفرسان الأربعة
    35east: You can listen to their hit "الزعما فلو من لبنان" here:

  • 18 July (Sat) Raphaelle Ivery (Mezzo Suprano)
    حفل موسيقي لرفايل افيري

  • 19 July (Sun) "Kan Ya Makan Loubnan" for Souk el Tayeb
    كان يا مكان لبنان" لسوق الطيب"

  • 23 July (Thu) "Golden Tree" with Friends of the puppets
    "L'Arbre Doré" avec les Amis de Marionnettes;
    الشجرة الذهبية" مع أصدقاء الدمى"

  • 24 July (Fri) ** Eliya Francis (Tenor)
    حفل للتنور إليا فرنسيس

  • 24 July - 2 August (Fri till Sun the week after) "Let's Read Under the Moon Light"
    "خلينا نقرأ على ضو القمر"
    within the framework of UNESCO's nomination of Beirut as World Book Capital for 2009 and including an expo with the participation of Scholastic

  • 25 July (Sat) Competition de Tric-trac
    "زت زهرك و تعا اركل على الميدان"

  • 26 July (Sun) "Azur et Asmar", film projection in open air
    "Azur et Asmar", projection de film en plein air
    عرض فيلم "Azur et Asmar" في الهواء الطلق

  • 7 August (Fri) "Notre Dame de Paris", film projection in open air
    "Notre Dame de Paris", projection de film en plein air
    عرض فيلم "Notre Dame de Paris" في الهواء الطلق

  • 8 August (Sat) ** "Beirut Rocks on the Moon" featuring Scrambled Eggs, Youmna Saba, Mashrou3 Leila and The Incompetents
    35east: All four groups are part of Lebanon's underground scene. I've personally taken a very strong liking to Youmna Saba and Mashrou3 Leila. You can listen to some of their music on their respective MySpace pages here: Scrambled Eggs, Youmna Saba, Mashrou3 Leila, The Incompetents. What's missing is Soapkills... see the YAS entry in the Byblos Festival below

  • 15 August (Sat) ** Charbel Rouhana
    35east: As they say in Arabic, Charbel Rouhana "غني عن التعريف" (although that's been debated as an expression to be used only in reference to God, this agnostic doesn't really care). Charbel's another favourite and up there with the likes of Ziad Rahbani and Marcel Khalife (he is the latter's protege afterall).
All events of the Deir el Qamar festival enjoy free entry except those marked with double asterisk ** Tickets for those events can be bought at:

Ivoire Center (Bloc B) - Horch Tabet
Moussa Nammour Street
Sin el Fil
Bierut, Lebanon
T: +961 70 225 007

(Google) map to get there. As you'll see, it's incredibly close to Beiteddine, which is the next festival below.

The festival is supported by Deir el Qamar Municipality and is in co-operation with the French Cultural Centre in Muhafazat el Shouf, Deir el Qamar. Sponsors: BankMed, Kettaneh, Bank Audi, Fransabank, BBAC, DHL, Nobrand, L'Orient Le Jour, Dewar's, The Talkies, Virgin Ticketing Box Office, Mission Culturelle Francaise au Liban

Beiteddine Festival 2009 (2 July - 15 August)
  • 12 June (Fri) "Liban Traces" exhibition, a poetic installation of sculptures and patings by Sybille Friedel - scenography by Nabil el Azan

  • 2 July 9pm (Thu) Tribute to Oum Kalsoum "كوكب الشرق"
    Amal Maher Interprets Oum Kalsoum

    There will also be a photo exhibition during the day, courtesy of L'institut du Monde Arabe-Paris, that follows Oum Kalsoum's fabulous career during Egypt's Golden Era

  • 9 July 8.30pm (Thu) Charles Aznavour

  • 13-15 July 8.30pm (Mon-Wed) Gad El Maleh, acclaimed French stand-up comedian
    CANCELLED... read more here

  • 18 July 8.30pm (Sat) Emir Kusturica and the No Smoking Orchestra

  • 22 July 8.30pm (Wed) Madeleine Peyroux, contemporary jazz artist

  • 25 July 8.30pm (Sat) Gabriel Yared & the Budapest Concert Orchestra
    35east: Gabriel Yared is a Lebanese Oscar winner and composer . Read more here (wikipedia)

  • 31 July 8.30pm (Fri) Hanine Y Son Cubano
    35east: Fusion of Cuban rhythms and traditional Arabic vocal. Beautiful voice. Listen to her re-interpretation of Abdelwahhab's Ala Bali on youtube - beautiful. She was pretty much discovered by Michel Elefteriades

  • 9 August 8.30pm (Sun) Guy Manoukian, accompanied by the Armenian Philhamonic Orchestra and Special Guest Mario Reyes from the Gypsy Kings Family
    Arabic and Armenian fusion
    35east: Guy started off as a pianist and then joined the REG project which produced great hits like Yasmina, Catwalk (a mix of which is my phone's ringtone), Harem (probably his most famous) and al-Urdun. Listen to Harem here:

  • 12 August 8.30pm (Wed) Marcel Khalife and the Palestine Youth Orchestra
    A poetic opera, Ahmad Al Arabi, written by Mahmoud Darwish (RIP) and composed and performed by Marcel Khalife, soloists Omeyma Al Khalil and Reem Talhami along with a 100 piece orchestra and choir. The concert celebrates Jerusalem Arab Cultural Capital 2009
    35east: Probably some of the Arab world's most delicate music is Marcel Khalife's. Another favourite artist and Ahmad al Arabi is great. Here's a piece, "Hands of Thyme and Stone"

  • 15 August 9pm (Mon) Kadim Al Sahir, singing Nizar Kabbani's poetry
    35east: Nizar Kabbani, also ghani 3an el ta3reef. Renowned poet. Kadim el Saher along with Majida Al-Roumi stand out amongst artists in adopting Nizar Kabbani's lyrics for their songs.
Tickets can be bought at:
Virgin Megastore, Beirut, t: +961 1 999 666 ext. 101,
Starco Center, Beirut, Ground floor, t: +961 1 365 186, m: +961 70 277 276
Itihad Bookshop, Saida, t: +961 7 722 430
Houssam Bookshop, Baakline, t: +961 5 304 050

The festival organisers have also organised transport by bus from Starco Centre for LL7000 (c.$5)

(Google) map to get there

Sponsors: BankMed, SGBL Group, Warde, Cafe Super Brasil, TV5Monde, Bank Audi, Fidus Wealth Management, Emaar, GS, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC)

Baalabeck Festival 2009 (4 July - 13 August)
  • 4 July (Sat) Béjart Ballet Lausanne
    at the Courtyard of the Two Temples

  • 10 Jul (Fri) Medea-Phaedra Monologues
    at the Temple of Bacchus

  • 11 Jul (Sat) David Fray, piano recital
    at the Temple of Bacchus

  • 16-18 Jul (Thu - Sat) Caracalla Dance Theatre
    performing "The Villagers' Opera" at the Courtyard of the Two Temples
    35east: For me, this is the highlight of the Baalbeck festival this year. I last saw Caracalla in 2003, when they staged "Two Thousand and One Nights" here in London at the Peacock Theatre - absolutely delightful! More (wikipedia) info here

  • 25 July (Sat) Deep Purple, the British rock group
    at the Courtyard of the Two Temples

  • 1 August (Sat) Ron Carter Quintet (Jazz & Bossa Nova) and Eddie Palmieri Sextet (Latin Salsa)
    Two concerts in one night at the Courtyard of the Two Temples

  • 13 August (Thu) La Traviata, produced by Choregies d'Orange (part of the twinning between both festivals) at the Courtyard of the Two Temples
    La Traviata is one of Guissepe Verdi's most famous and immensely popular operas
Buy your tickets at:
Virgin Megastore, Beirut, t: +961 1 999 666 ext. 101,
Baalbek Acropolis, Baalbeck, t: +961 8 376912, m: +961 3 891695

(Google) map to get there

Sponsors: Bank Audi, Mission Culturelle Francaise au Liban, Banque Libano-Francais, Dar Al-Handasah, Fransabank, Life (Lebanese International Finance Executives),Cafe Super Brasil, TV5Monde

Byblos Festival 2009 (20 June - 8 August)
program: on the homepage

Byblos festival is a rising event that is increasingly well organised
  • 20 June 8.30pm (Sat) Loreena McKennitt
    35east: Obvioulsy I'm a bit late with this blogpost! Rest assured, this is the only one.

  • 6 July 8.30pm (Mon) Keane

  • 14-18 July 8.30pm (Tue-Sat) Grease, the Musical

  • 19 July 8.30pm (Sun) Jethro Tull

  • 21 July 8.30pm (Tue) Misia

  • 23 July 8pm (Thu) Gonzales - CocoRosie - Y.A.S.
    35east: Y.A.S is Yasmine Hamdan's new project with Paris-based record producer and songwriter Mirwais. Yasmine originally performed as Soapkills, a duo with Zeid Hamdan which was great. Soapkills is no more for reasons well known but alas, such is life. You can listen to Y.A.S on MySpace here, Soapkills here and Zeid Hamdan (ShiftZ) here

  • 8-12 August (Sat-Wed) Saif 840, a historical epic musical play for the Rahbanis (written and composed by Mansour Rahbani, directed by Marwan Rahbani)
    35east: Saif 840 is a great Rahbani theatrical. I can just about remember going to see it at one of the Beiteddine festivals what seems eons ago. It features the renowned Ghassan Saliba and Antoine Kerbage. Definitely one to watch!! Youtube clip
Buy your tickets at:
Virgin Megastores: Downtown, ABC Achrafieh
BHV Jnah
Dar el Chimal, Tripoli
City Mall, Dora

The Byblos Festival is produced by Buzz Productions and supported by Byblos Bank

(Google) map to get there

Further to the main festival, there are further performances (mainly in Byblos' new and old souks and mostly free):
  • 3 July 9pm (Fri) The Hessian State Youth Jazz Orchestra (LJJO)
    at Byblos Harbour

  • 4 July 9pm (Sat) Sami Hawat
    Free performance at Byblos new souk
    35east: Sami Hawat! Jeez.. long time. He performed with Ziad Rahbani in his great album Houdou2 Nisbi and then played an acting role in Tayf el Madina for Jean Chamoun. I wonder what he'll perform! Below is Bala Wala Shi for Ziad Rahbani (Houdou2 Nisbi) sung by Sami Hawat back in 1985

  • 5 July 9pm (Sun) Joe Kdeih: "Hayatt al Jagual Se3be"
    Free performance at UNESCO square, Byblos old souk
    35east: great comedian. Lots of his shows on LBC.

  • 10 Jul 9pm (Fri) The 4 Musketeers
    Free performance at Byblos new souk

  • 11 Jul 9pm (Sat) Guitarist Jihad Weheb and Libra Band
    Free performance at UNESCO square, Byblos old souk

  • 24 July 9pm The duo - Carla and Carine Ramia
    Free performance at UNESCO square, Byblos old souk

  • 26 July 9pm Moves Dance Studio and Zajal Night
    Free performance at UNESCO square, Byblos old souk

Tyre & South Festival 2009 (2 July - 8 August)
tickets online:

  • 2-4 July (Thu-Sat) My Dream
    Spectacular show presented by China Disabled People's Performing Art Group (CDPPAT)

  • 10, 24-25 July, 7-8 August (Fi, Fri-Sat, Fri-Sat) Karim Dakroub
    Puppet show by the renowned Karim Dakroub

  • 3, 5, 24-25 July, 7 August (Fri, Sun, Fri-Sat, Fri) Rafic Ali Ahmad
    A unique writer and a one man show theatre.
    35east: Quite well known in Lebanon, he acted in Chadi Zeneddine's 2007 film "Falling from Earth"

  • 10 July (Fri) Ornia Tawk al Yasamin
    42 artists will perform Tawk al Yasamin, a show representing Damascus as a flesh and blood character that was born with wisdom and brought up with forgiveness, even though it was occuipied by many invaders... music, dance and light

  • 11 July (Sat) Lotfi Bouchnak, the famous Tunisian singer, oud player and composer who has worked with famous Egyptian composer Sayed Mekawi

  • 15 July (Wed) Japanese Night of Poetry & Music
    The second time at the Tyre & South Festival, Japanese Poet Mrs. Keiko Koma and international musician Idaki Shin collaborate in this promising performance
    35east: I must say, The Tyre & South festival offers quite the alternative to the other, mainly Western, performances showcased at the other venues

  • 16 July (Thu) Poetry Night
    Six splendid poets from Lebanon and the Arab world express Agony and Love in their own words. El Mir Tarek Nassereddin (Lebanon), Nawal Alayan Al Hiwar (Syria), Mohamed Al Ashaary (Morocco), Jaber El Jabery (Iraq), Abdel Qader Housni (Syria), Jassem Al Sahih (Saudi Arabia)

  • 17 July (Fri) Zajal Night
    Lebanese spoken poetry including six legends: Zaghloul el Damour, Talie Hamdan, Ali Farroukh, Adel Khaddaj, Antoine Saade and Nadim Choueib
    35east: Zajal... yes, a very Lebanese thing, but they're great folklore and are amusing at the least. Here's a clip for Talie Hamdan (though bewarned - it's not always to everyone's liking!)

  • 18 July (Sat) Marcel Khalife
    35east: The inspirational Marcel once again. Marcel hails from Amchit, just north of Byblos, but made his fame through his socialist leanings and tributes to the Palestinian and Lebanese causes. He will be very welcome in Tyre

  • 19 July (Sun) Melhem Zein - Traditional Wedding
    A public wedding where 20 Lebanese couples will celebrate their special night

(Google) map
to get there

Sponsors: Lebanese Canadian Bank, Abou Merhi Group, NPO KOMA, Bank of Kuwait & The Arab World, International Group Holding sal, S Mokbel & Partners, Finance Bank sal

Zouk Mikael Festival 2009 (3-31 July)
webiste: none

  • 3 July 8.30pm (Fri) Garou

  • 17 July 8.30pm (Fri) Yves le Coq

  • 23 July 8:30pm (Thu) Sugar Ray

  • 31 July 8.30pm (Fri) Nancy Ajram

(Google) map
to get there

If I'm missing anything, let me know!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Back to basics Arabic - a midnight guide

[35east: Pretty much straight after I posted this, Google Ta3reeb upped their ante and released a much better, and worryingly more similar, service to Yamli (which now has a bookmarklet) and in the biggest move on the transliteration scene, Microsoft released Maren, which is a lower level service that works in all windows - it sets itself up as an input language, as if you're changing your keyboard from the language bar in the Windows taskbar. I will try to update this post as soon as possible to reflect these changes.]

It's simple. You and I might read and write Arabic (if that), but nothing has opened up access to the language, especially on the internet, like the tools below. A complete set to get you started, and in order of importance (you only need to read up to the "Alternatives" section):

1 - Yamli
First off, this site is a miracle cure to what's probably been the biggest obstacle facing the proliferation of Arabic on the net. In a nutshell, it's a transliteration service and tool. So "a7innu 2ila khubz 2ummi li Ma7moud Darwish" in shorthand is correctly written in real time as أحن إلى خبز أمي لمحمود درويش

How do you use it? Three ways:
  1. Visit to search Goolge* in Arabic**

  2. Use websites that allow you search them in Arabic, and which utilise the Yamli interface (API), e.g. (the Amazon of Arabic books),, (Arabic youtube), (Arab IMDB), etc. etc.

  3. and the best complement to those two is to install the Yamli Firefox Toolbar. If you're not using Firefox, then you should. This add-in allows you to type Arabic into any form on most websites using Yamli's transliteration engine

* searching Yamli is better than and not the same as searching a Google site (e.g. by typing Arabic in the search box since it searches different combinations of different spellings, e.g. um kalthoum, umm kalthoom etc...
** An official vid of the Yamli site in action

2 - Sakhr lexicons and dictionaries
If you're like me, and have to remind yourself of the Arabic alphabet every time you pick up the mu3jam (Arabic dictionary) :-o, then you'll love these. They're best used with the Yamli Firefox Toolbar add-in installed

Sakhr provides two services: digitised Arabic - Arabic dictionaries and a translation service

Sakhr Lexicons
Allows you to search several key reference dictionaries in the Arab world: (المحيط - محيط المحيط - الوسيط - القاموس المحيط - لسان العرب - نجعة الرائد - الغني- تاج العروس)

Sakhr Dictionaries
Worst comes to worst, you can try translating it to another language (English, French, Turkish and German)

3 - Viewing Arabic
Arabic can sometimes be a b*tch hard to read on screen, so be prepared to zoom into some of the websites you visit. This is easiest done by holding down the CTRL button and using the scroll on your mouse.

Arabic is also best read in Tahoma font (a sans serif font unlike Times New Roman which is usually the default). To set Firefox to use Tahoma:
  1. In Firefox, go to Tools | Options

  2. Under the Content tab, choose Tahoma in the Fonts & Colors section
    Note, you can choose that Firefox uses Tahoma only when viewing Arabic pages in the Advanced setting. This is somewhat redundant, as Firefox's default is to allow pages to choose their own font if specified, instead of any selection you make


4 - Al Baheth
This is another great site which uses the Yamli API (you don't need to have the Yamli Firefox add-in installed) but I've found the Sakhr Lexicons easier to use / understand

5 - Google Ta3reeb
Google has it's own service of Arabic transliteration, and like all big a$$ corporates has figured out that what Yamli's onto is big. Google also has an API which websites can use to allow users to type in Arabic, but the service is inferior to Yamli's, e.g. doesn't offer a drop down of words, no toolbar etc. Either way, watch this space since you never know what's up Google's sleeve!

For the power users out there, you can purchase Arabic keyboard stickers on Ebay, add an Arabic Keyboard to your input method in Windows XP and learn to touch type Arabic :-)