The Egyptian X Factor

Posted on 09. Feb, 2013 by in art, Culture, Current Affairs

Marhaba (مرحبا)! In this post, I would like to share a small excerpt from an article on recent developments in show business and entertainment in Egypt. This article was published on the website of Al Akhbar, an Arabic newspaper based in Lebanon that covers different political, economic and cultural developments in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. After presenting an excerpt from this article, I will pose some questions for you to answer. It is an exercise that allows you to reflect on the material you have read. Also, to provide you with some hints, I have added a YouTube video that covers the core theme of the article excerpt that I have presented. I will give you all some time to work on your answers and then I will post the answers to the questions and the translation of key words in the article.

«اكس فاكتور»: مصر تحتضن المواهب رغم كل شيء

أحمد جمال الدين

رغم الظروف المضطربة التي تشهدها، احتضنت القاهرة أول من أمس المؤتمر الصحافي الذي أعلن خلاله عن إطلاق النسخة العربية من البرنامج العالمي، بحضور كل من: إليسّا، وائل كفوري وحسين الجسمي، وغياب كارول سماحة.

القاهرة | يبدو أنّ الفنانين الذين رفضوا سابقاً المشاركة في برامج المواهب، عادوا ليجلسوا على كرسي لجنة تحكيم X   Factor. إليسا ووائل كفوري وحسين الجسمي وكارول سماحة، أربعة فنانين سيطلّون في البرنامج الجديد مرتين أسبوعياً، أي مساء الخميس والجمعة عبر 3 محطات تلفزيونية هي CBC وMTV و«روتانا خليجية»، ويشارك في تقديم البرنامج يسرا اللوزي والإعلامي باسم الزرو.

  رغم الاضطرابات التي تشهدها مصر حالياً، إلا أنّ الأخيرة احتضنت أول من أمس المؤتمر الصحافي للإعلان عن إطلاق البرنامج. بعدما كان مقرراً إقامته في «دار الأوبرا» كي يسير نجومه على السجادة الحمراء، انتقل إلى أحد فنادق المحروسة القريبة من المطار والبعيدة عن وسط القاهرة. حضر الحدث لجنة التحكيم، وغابت عنه كارول سماحة بسبب وجودها في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

البرنامج الذي ينطلق في 21 شباط (فبراير)، ستكون مهمة أعضاء لجنة التحكيم اختيار المواهب لتكوين فرقهم التي تتنافس في ما بينها، ليفوز واحد باللقب، فتتولى شركة «روتانا» إنتاج أول البوم له.. صاحبة «أجمل إحساس»، أرجعت موافقتها إلى الظروف الحالية وقلّة الحفلات ورغبتها في الانشغال بأعمال جديدة. فيما رأت سماحة أن البرنامج سيكشف جوانب مختلفة في شخصيتها لم يتعرّف إليها الجمهور من قبل. أعضاء لجنة التحكيم الأربعة استعانوا برفقاء لهم لتدريب المتسابقين. هكذا، لجأ الجسمي إلى الفنان محمد عبده، واختار وائل نوال الزغبي لتكون معه، بينما استنجدت إليسا بصديقها الملحن محمود الخيامي. كانت إليسا حديث المؤتمر لأنّها المرة الأولى التي تحكي فيها عن أزمتها مع «روتانا» بسبب منع كليبها «أسعد واحدة» من العرض، لكنها ظهرت مقتنعة بأن سبب توقف عملها هو خلل فني، كما كتب سالم الهندي رئيس الشركة على تويتر.

Questions

1. Who are the 4 singers participating in the new program as coaches/judges?

2.  Which TV stations will be broadcasting the show and who will be hosting it?

3. Where was the program intended initially to be filmed before the location was moved to a more secluded hotel outside Cairo?

4. Who did each of the celebrity judges chose to help them in their coaching?

5. Why was Elissa the talk of the press conference?

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Stay tuned for upcoming posts.

Have a nice day!

نهاركم سعيد

Abbas Mahmoud Al-Aqqad (1889 – 1969)

Posted on 07. Feb, 2013 by in Arabic Language, art, Culture, Current Affairs, History, Language, Literature, Pronunciation, Vocabulary

      In today’s post, I am going to tell you about a famous Egyptian figure; Abbas Mahmoud Al-Aqqad عــبــاس مـحــمـــود الـعــقـــاد . Al-Aqqad was a famous writer كــاتــب , novelist روائــي , poet شــاعـــر , journalist  صــحــفــي and  critic نــاقــد .  He was also a member of the Arab Academy الأكــاديــمــيـــة الــعـــربــيـــة .

     Al-Aqqad was born in Aswan أســـوان ; a city in Upper Egypt صــعــيــد مـصــر , in 1889. He had a little formal education تــعــلــيـــم as he completed only his elementary education. He used to spend all his pocket money on books. He used to read about everything; religion الــديــن , geography الــجــغـــرافــيـــا , history الــتـــاريـــخ , and many other subjects. He was also, excellent at English and French.

       Al-Aqqad wrote more than 100 books about philosophy الــفــلــســـفـــة , religion and poetry الــشــعـــر . He founded a poetry school with Ibrahim Al-Mazny and Abdel-Rahman Shokry called Al-Diwan الــديـــوان . His most famous books are Al-Abqariyat الــعــبــقـــريــات , Allah الله and Sarah ســـارة . Some of his books were translated into English, German, French,  Russian, Urdu, and Persian. He was best known for his use of flowery and complicated prose نــثــــر style. He died in 1964 in Cairo.

       Al-Aqqad was honoured by the College of the Arabic Language in Al-Azhar when they gave his name to one of the halls in the college.  Also, his name was given to one of Cairo streets in Nasr City; Abbas Al-Aqqad Street.  In the early 1980s, an Egyptian television series مــســلــســـل was produced about the life of Al-Aqqad, which was titled “The Giant” الــعـــمـــلاق /Al Imlaq/. It starred the late Egyptian actor Mahmoud Mursi مــحــمــود مــرســـى .

      Al-Aqqad experienced two romantic relationships عــلاقـــات that deeply affected his life. The first was with a Christian Lebanese whom he called Sarah in his novel of the same name. The second was with the Egyptian famous actress مــمــثـــلـــة ; Madiha Yousri مــديــحـــه يــســـرى . He himself ended that latter relationship because of Madiha’s career. Al-Aqqad wrote a poetry book about his relationships called Cyclones of a Sunset.

        * Here is a list of some of Al-Aqqad’s works:

–          Al-Abqariyat الــعـــبـــقـــــريـــــات

–          Allah الله

–          Sarah ســــارة

–          The Genius of Muhammad عــبـــقــــريــــة مــحـــمــــد

–          The genius of Abu-Bakr عــبــقـــريـــة أبــى بــكــــر

–          The genius of Omar عــبــقـــريـــة عــمــــر

–          The Genius of Othman عــبــقـــريـــة عــثـــمــــان

–          The genius of Ali عــبــقـــريــــة عــلــىّ

–          The Life of Christ حــيـــاة الــمــســـيــــح

–          Hours among Books ســاعــات بــيـــن الــكــتـــب

–          The Noon Glow وهــج الــظــهـــيــرة (poetry volume)

–          Ghosts of the Afternoon أشــبـــاح الأصــيـــل (poetry volume)

–          Sorrows of the Night أشــجـــان الــلــيــــل (poetry volume)

–          The Strong Hand in Egypt الــيــد الــقـــويـــة فــي مــصـــر

–          The Absolute Rule الــحــكـــم الــمــطـــلـــــق

Check us back soon

Peace  ســــلام /Salam/

Zajal el Zajjalin

Posted on 06. Feb, 2013 by in Arabic Language, art, Culture, Current Affairs, History, Language

Marhaba (مرحبا)! As promised in an earlier post, today I would like to introduce you all to Zajal (زَجَل), one of the most popular iconic and cultural traditions of many Mediterranean countries. In a nutshell, zajal is a traditional form of oral poetry  (شعر) in colloquial dialect (اللغة العاميّة ) . Most notably this form of oral poetry has roots in a number of Mediterranean cultures (ثقافات البحر المتوسط). In the Levant, it is popular in Lebanon and Palestine. In North Africa, zajal is popular in Morocco and Algeria. Zajal is in part semi-sung and semi-improvised (مُرتَجَل) and in fact reflects a debate between zajjalin (زجّالين). These zajjalin are the poets that improvise the zajal, which is usually accompanied by percussive musical instruments (أدوات موسيقية ايقاعية). In addition, to the different percussive musical instruments, in some places like Lebanon, the ney  (ناي)– type of wind instrument – is also used in zajal. In addition to the zajjalin going back forth among one other, there is usually a group of men that sing parts of the verse or repeat the chorus throughout. In new forms of zajal in Lebanon and Palestine, women have also joined the zajal by repeating parts of different verses or the main improvised chorus.

 

There is a degree of consensus between historians that zajal goes back to pre-Islamic times. However, many recent accounts have traced zajal back to 10th century and specifically to Cordoba, Al-Andalus (الأندلس) in Southern Spain. The different conquests between Arab countries, Spain and parts of Europe, and the different historical linkages through wars, invasions and conquests between Western and Eastern cultures has led to the preservation and continuity of zajal in various forms and in different countries. Countries like Greece, Italy and France (parts in the South) still have a form of zajal manifested in semi-improvised and semi-sung colloquial poetic traditions (تقاليد شعريّة).

One of the most recognized and modern forms of zajal is to be found in Lebanon. Lebanese Zajal like other forms of zajal is also semi-sung and semi-improvised in the colloquial Lebanese Arabic dialect. Many claim that its origins in Lebanon began within religious seminaries (مدارس لاهوتية) and orders of Maronite monks (رهبنة مارونية), and was at first sung and improvised in Syriac (سرياني), rather than Arabic.

 

In most cases in Lebanon, zajal is performed during lunches and dinners. These meals include traditional Lebanese mezze dishes and platters. It is also performed in urban villages between different men that engage in musical debates (حوارات موسيقية) on a variety of topics ranging from love, food, patriotism to married life. In some instances, zajal is performed at wedding parties and could go on for hours and hours. Zajal usually begins with the famous ‘off..off…off…’ marking the beginning of the poetic duel. The Reddadi – the chanting chorus of men – accompany the verbal duel between the zajjalin. The derbake (دربكّة) and other traditional percussion instruments like the Daf  (دَفّ) usually accompany a Lebanese zajal session.

In Lebanon, zajal has evolved and changed over time. Its heyday in Lebanon was before the Civil War which erupted in 1975. However, in the recent years, zajal has made a comeback to the Lebanese cultural scene. Zajjalin in Lebanon are reviewed as top rated poets that are genuine artists with their ability to express pure feelings of love and patriotism. The advent of the internet has popularized older shows and performances of prominent Lebanese zajjalin. It has become a national sensation and has been a great influence and point of convergence for many people. As a matter of fact, several Lebanese TV programs are hosting zajal tournaments (مباريات), where different individuals are invited to improvise and sing on spot in front of thousands of people.

I have added two YouTube videos from two different eras.

The firstvideo features Zajjalin from Mairouba, including the famous Mussa Zgheib.

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The secondvideo features the Nightingale of Damour with new young artists which include women performing zajal in a competition on a national Lebanese television. (Listen to how she begins with the ‘off..off…off…’

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I hope you enjoy these videos and stay tuned for more upcoming posts.

Have a great day!

نهاركم سعيد