x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Mohammed Assaf cancels Abu Dhabi concert due to Gaza conflict

Mohammed Assaf has cancelled his Dubai concert because of Gaza.

Mohammed Assaf. Courtesy Flash Entertainment
Mohammed Assaf. Courtesy Flash Entertainment

Mohammed Assaf has cancelled his Abu Dhabi performance on Thursday night due to the on-going Gaza conflict. The 24-year-old Palestinian and Arab Idol winner was due to headline the Arab Stars Showcase concert at Emirates Palace alongside fellow Gazan and speed painter Mohammed Al Dairi and Saudi Arabian illusionist Ahmed El Bayed.

Due to the cancellation, Emirates Palace have released a statement confirming the event to be postponed for a later date. Assaf announced his no-show on Facebook last night.

“Due to the current political crisis in Gaza, I deeply regret that I will be unable to perform at the Arab Stars Showcase at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, August 14,” he said. “I look forward to performing for my fans in Abu Dhabi in the near future.”

Both Al Dairi and El Bayed will take part in the new date, which they were told will be towards the end of the month. According to El Bayed, organisers are seeking a new singer to round off the bill.

“This is what the organisers told me,” said El Bayed. “As far as I know, I will still be performing in Abu Dhabi. It’s just a matter of organising a new date. I heard there are speaking with a couple of Arab singers for the show, so let’s see.”

Al Dairi, who is a friend of Assaf, confirmed the singer was deeply affected by the latest Israeli army assault on Gaza. “He is like a brother to me,” he said. “I would like to pass a message to him to say please, be strong. We all love you, we are there for you and he is an inspiration to many of us in Palestine and the whole Arab world.”

Where other Arab stars hide their national allegiances to broaden their appeal, Assaf has always showcased his Palestinian patriotism.

His sets are infused with famous Palestinian dabkas (folk songs) and he is often seen on stage wearing the checkered national scarf, the keffiyeh.

Amidst the heavy bombardment of Gaza last month, Assaf released a new song in support of Gaza’s besieged residents. Translated to Raise Your Head, he urged his countrymen to “lift your head high, it’s your weapon.”

In an interview with The National last year, he said one of his career aims was to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle. “I will never forget the suffering of my people,” he said. “I live the Palestinian cause everyday. I lived in a refugee camp in Khan Younis, trust me, I know how that feels. I am determined to use my music and fame to give justice to the Palestinian cause.”

Assaf’s next Abu Dhabi performance is slated for November 20 in Yas Island’s Du Arena as part of the F1 concerts. He is scheduled to share a bill with Egypt’s Tamer Hosny, Lebanon’s Carole Samaha and Emirati singer Fayez al Saeed.

sasaeed@thenational.ae