THE DARK HORSE OF LEBANON’S FESTIVAL CIRCUIT
2ND TRIPOLI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
in September 2016, Lebanon’s second largest city hosted the rst Tripoli International Festival, a commendable milestone in its history that featured concerts by Ragheb Alama, Assi Hallani, and Kadem alSaher, as well as a special performance by Tripoli’s own Walid Tou c. This year, the festival is even bigger, with shows by six major Lebanese stars between June 29 and July 8, and special Ramadan celebrations held from June 9 to 18.
A er witnessing its fair share of turmoil and an onslaught of negative coverage by international and local media, the historically rich northern city continues to su er a slump in tourism and a shattered image. Local residents, tired of the media’s skewed portrayal of Tripoli’s extremist neighborhoods, are increasingly trying to create and showcase a di erent side of their city — its lively citizens and bustling city life, as well as positive initiatives by individuals and the likes of peace-building N O MARCH.
The festival is another step in the right direc-
tion for the city’s social and cultural scene, launched with the aim of empowering locals and bringing entertainment and business to the city. Salima Adib Ri , president of Trablous Hayat the newly-established organization behind the festival and wife of former Minister of Justice, Ashraf Ri , said in a statement that she considers the inaugural event a victory for Tripoli, especially as it drew positive media coverage. Last year’s concerts drew in crowds from di erent parts of Lebanon, including Beirut, Deir al amar, Marjayoun and Saida, as well as some Iraqis who ew in to watch their fellow countryman Kadim Al Sahir.
Now in its second year, the festival is helping to further restore and reinforce a sense of faith in the metropolis. In addition to the fact that the big names attract visitors and purchasing power to the city, locals are also employed to work on productions. The festival’s rst-time Ramadan celebrations at the central Khan al Askar saw the historic, but run-down courtyard transformed with lights, greenery, and holiday decor. The celebration was held in collaboration with Lebanon’s famous traveling food court, Souk el Akel, with the food stands incorporating Tripoli specialties into the usual food options. Meanwhile, crowds enjoyed nightly programs of live music, singing, dance troupes, and Mawlawi dance performances, staged by local talent.
Speaking on television, Ri said the location of these festivities in such an underdeveloped area was aimed at dispelling the public’s fears about that neighborhood, and showing them its charm.
In July, the second portion of the festival features another star-studded series of concerts at Rashid Karami Stadium. A er last year’s success, Walid Tou c returns to the stage in his home city, accompanied on the same night by songstress Yara. In addition, there will be a performance by father and son duo Elias and hassan Rahbani with several other singers and an orchestra. Wael Jassar and Michel Fadel form a double bill, and the nale is Lebanese favorite Wael Kfoury, plus a surprise additional performance not in the current schedule that will feature talents from Tripoli.