THE DARK HORSE OF LE­BANON’S FES­TI­VAL CIR­CUIT

2ND TRIPOLI IN­TER­NA­TIONAL FES­TI­VAL

Executive Magazine - - Executive Life - Words by Olga Habre

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.

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