x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Warda Al Jazairia, the Algerian Rose, sang unforgettably

As is the tradition of the most renowned Arab - and perhaps world - divas, she starred in a few forgettable movies but sang unforgettably about those prickly things of the heart, commonly called love.

Arabic music diva Warda performs during a show in Algiers in 2009.
Arabic music diva Warda performs during a show in Algiers in 2009.

She is one of the five or six singers to earn the status of diva in the collective consciousness of a musically fussy Arab world, and she faded last week.

The word "faded" here doesn't serve much of a metaphor. Warda Al Jazairia easily translates as Algerian Rose, and, at least in the public eye, she lived up to that name.

She died from a heart attack at the age of 72 in Cairo, her city of residence.

As is the tradition of the most renowned Arab - and perhaps world - divas, she starred in a few forgettable movies but sang unforgettably about those prickly things of the heart, commonly called love.

"I will love you no more" she famously warned her imaginary lover in one song. "The fire of jealousy is all yours now" she informed him in another.

Her death has made the front pages of Arabic-language newspapers and websites, competing with the usual spread of war and conspiracy to which Arab Spring readers have grown tragically callous.

A dense crowd of Egyptian and Arab television stars, composers and regular fans attended her funeral, before her body was flown to her home country, Algeria, for a state funeral.

Saying that what's left of her now is much more than tapes and discs would be cliché. Yet clichés sometimes are just stubbornly true.

* Achraf El Bahi