Tag Archives arts

Jazz and Blues on a full moon lit night

So there IS potential in Bahrain for enjoying oneself! That’s the biggest revelation to me over the last couple of nights where we both enjoyed and soaked in cultural experiences which will last with those present for a long time to come.

The moon was full, the Arad Fort setting was beautiful, the weather tolerable, though cold, the selection of events gorgeous and even – for the most part – the audience was appreciative, especially on the Jazz night.

Two nights; the first a fusion of Cuban and Arab sounds, whilst the second was Jazz and Blues which without a doubt was the best live event I have ever attended! The Pitt Jazz All-Stars was an experience that will never be forgotten, and has re-kick-started my appreciation for jazz and blues, even the children enjoyed the two evenings, the latter much more than the former to them.

It is impossible for me to put into words my feelings of the event last night, but let me tell you this: I enjoyed every single jam session, and every single solo for every single musician that was on stage last night, especially the electric and eclectic performance by the base guitar god: Abraham Laboriel, who again defies description, however put into your mind the coolness of Baloo the bear and Tigger after a couple of espressos, now put both characters together and you will share the mental image I have of Abraham! Truly electrifying performance.

Pitt Jazz All-Stars

The only disappointment I had was I couldn’t buy their CDs on the way out because they disappeared in no time at all!

Thank you very much indeed EDB for bringing these events to us, I hope that this will not be an isolated incident but will over time become the rule.

Let me leave you with how the EDB described this particular event and provide you with links to the musicians:

The final performance on Thursday March 12th during the FORMULA ONE period will feature the “PITT JAZZ ALL STARS” for a memorable experience with some of the best world-renowned Jazz musicians will be featured during the Bahrain premiere of the Pitt Jazz All-Stars: Queen Nethree Bey (vocals), Maurice Brown (trumpet), Nathan Davis (tenor & soprano saxophones and musical director), Amina Figarova (piano), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Weinard Harper (drums), Eric Johnson (guitar), Abraham Laboriel (bass), Claus Reichstaller (trumpet).


Got the tickets!


tickets originally uploaded by malyousif

For a price of ONE Formula 1 grandstand ticket, I bought TEN tickets this afternoon for the family and I to soak in art and culture over the next couple of nights at the Arad Fort where I am sure we will enjoy both the Hanine Y Son Cubano and the Pitt Jazz All-stars festival.

I was so sorry I missed the excellent recitation by the eminent poet Mahmood Darwish, and by all accounts it was a thrilling experience; however, we had our own event in another cultural experience at Al-Bareh Art Gallery where we made new friends, enjoyed excellent food, and were transported on an artistic journey in Arabic caligraphy when we visited the “Contemporary Huroof” exhibit at the gallery.

I fell completely and utterly in love with these two paintings, which the Lebanese artist interpreted a couple of verses of one of Mahmood Darwish’s poem in painting. Alas, I can’t afford to buy them just yet.. But the pleasure of seeing them, and other paintings at the exhibition will stay with me for life.


International bloggers meet

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We were fortunate enough to meet fellow bloggers last night at Dar Al-Bareh Cafe where we had a simply scrumptious dinner AND had quite a nice discussion going about blogging experiences as well as had the wonderful opportunity to attend the opening of “Contemporary Huroof” Arabic caligraphy exhibition.

Contemporary Huroof exhibition at Dar Al-Bareh Art Gallery, Bahrain

Notes were compared between Bahraini and Belgian bloggers where we found that we do have more common ground than we anticipated, even though most Belgian bloggers present belonged on a single “ShockLog” as they termed it, and we cannot and should not base this experience to generalise as to what the Belgian blogging scene is like.

The wonderful thing about the evening is that we did exchange points of view, the Belgians were genuinely interested in our culture and were trying to find common-ground as well as trying to decipher differences between our Muslim culture and theirs. The only regret is that we didn’t have enough time in the real world to explore all of the points and questions raised.

This was also the first bloggers’ meeting where we actually had a semblance of formal structure where every person present was invited to share his or her thoughts on the basic questions bloggers always get asked: why did you start? when did you start? and what’s keeping you going? The answers received were as varied as those present. The “glue” between all of these answers however was invariably curiosity to explore, and exposition to invite exploration.

The impressive thing to me about the meeting was the points shared than those contended. The Belgian blogosphere is far more advanced that we have in Bahrain, or the Gulf for that matter. Two of those present have gotten married because of blogging! More power to them, even though the husband, due to “real life” had to give up blogging to take care of business, the wife continues to participate in the Belgian blogosphere and continues to create waves. She is not alone there, at wadda.be she is joined by some 40,000 unique visitors a day discussing various topics of mutual interest. Those distill to about 16 TERABYTES of transfers per MONTH! Thank goodness that the main blog is owned by Cain Ransbottyn (yes, that’s his real name!) and he is joined by 25 moderators to keep the main site ticking.

Technically, Cain told us what to expect if and when we reach his particular blogging stratosphere: he uses 42 (yes, forty-two) servers to serve his site, fronted by 4 other servers for distribution of load balancing, and backed up by several 40,000 Euro-priced database servers! Sure the equipment costs quite a lot, but Cain says that they are actually turning a profit due to the advertising (whom one person on this site had taken offense by) which is not always porn related.

War stories were exchanged of course. But those are not interesting. The interesting part of the evening; however, was to seeming convincing (finally) of Tariq Khonji to start his own blog! He hasn’t decided completely yet, so please encourage him to do so. It would be nice to have another accredited journalist blogging!

After a fantastic dinner, we adjourned to Fredrick’s house for a few hours where he proved that Arabs do not have the exclusivity on hospitality.

Fred the Belgian!

I really hope that we repeat these events more. What is blogging but exposing your thoughts and interacting with people? These gatherings are a perfect venue for doing so and I will work diligently now to involve other blogging groups in the Gulf with us in Bahrain.

This is our 17th or 18th bloggers’ meeting so far, we have tried a lot of formats and a lot of venues in order to get together. We have tried coffee shops, bars, and a restaurant in order to find a venue were we can sit and talk without loud music or inhospitable waiters. I really think that we have finally found the place and the format for our forthcoming meetings last night: Dar Al-Bareh Cafe incorporates everything we were looking for: a cultural place where we can breath and experience art, simply excellent food (the lemon hamour and couscous was to die for* and every single person at the table last night was lauding the cook!) and the place was quiet enough for us to actually hear each other talking!

Therefore, I propose that we adopt Dar Al-Bareh Cafe for our next meetings: it is central, it is unique, it is accessible, it is quiet, it is flexible (as far as seating is concerned), it is very reasonably priced and most important of all, the food is quite scrumptious!

Finally, thank you Fred for organising the Belgian bloggers visit to our fair Isles, and I hope that we will continue to meet and make new friends and pollinate our minds with new and wonderful ideas.

Thanks to all who attended last night, and those we have missed too, because they are part and parcel of the sphere, without whom we are not complete. So here’s to the Silly girl, the Silver girl who is more like pure gold, Abu Rasool and that doctor living currently near Anchorage of all places!

Next dinner meeting is on April 6th, at 7pm, at Dar Al-Bareh Cafe in Adliya.

* Since ancient times the Bahrainis have been excellent seamen, famous for their trade up and down the Gulf and for fishing. There is a wide variety of fish in the Gulf, but none is as prized as the hamour. The hamour or ‘hamour epinephelus tauvina’ is a member of the grouper family, but unlike many other groupers it can grow to two meters long, making it an outstanding sport fish. Prized for its firm white meat there is no end to the ways Bahrainis prepare this delicious fish. The meat absorbs the traditional spices perfectly and combines to create some remarkable and very memorable dishes. Fishing is carried out on the traditional sailboats called dhows which have been made by hand on Bahrain for dozens of centuries and are still made today exactly as they always have been. – from MouthfulsOfFood


Filmmaking Rebels

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Ok, I got fed up waiting for the board of the Bahrain Cinema Club to respond to my proposal to start a videography/filmmakers group under their auspices, so I’m going it alone, starting immediately. If you would like to join, register at the Rebels site.

videography photo

Is your video camera ready?

There are so many devices available today that a person can use to shoot video and make a movie: mobile telephone, still cameras (oxymoron?) and of course video cameras. Every single person with or without these devices can tell a story… so why don’t we have many filmmakers in Bahrain then? Is it just because they are shy? They think that they do not have the venue to display their creations?

Well, fear no more, as with the advent of this club: The Bahrain Filmmakers Club, you shall have the audience that you crave!

We don’t care about your camera model, or even the format you use. If it moves, you’re more than welcome to join us in our endeavour to create Bahraini storytellers!

Please consider signing up, we want to hear your voice, and see your movies, as do thousands from all over the world.
Bahrain Filmmakers Club


Cultural and Culinary Bloggers’ Meeting

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This is a reminder of our meeting tomorrow night, please make sure you attend.

Location: Dar Al-Bareh Art Gallery Cafe, Adliya
Time: 7.30pm
Date: 8 Mar ’06

Price: approximately BD 5 per head
(yes, we’re actually having dinner this time!)

The agenda is:

Fred and I have prepared a few questions and short presentations on the blogging scenes in both Belgium and Bahrain and maybe then we can talk about our individual experiences and what we see for the blogging spheres in Bahrain and Belgium going forward.

My questions (if you wish to prepare a short presentation about you and your blog it would be highly appreciated)

    1. Why did you start blogging and how did that affect your life so far?
    2. Do you see your blog effecting change in your chosen topic or the sphere you chose to blog about? Did it achieve any change so far?
    3. Do you intend to “turn professional” at any point and following on to journalism or somehow make money out of your efforts in blogging?
    4. What are your reading habits like? What are your favourite blogs/sites?
    5. Is there a specific topic that you will not blog about? Why?

You can choose to answer any or all questions posed above, the more the better. However; as we only have 90 minutes (interspersed with eating) and that we anticipate 15 – 20 people to attend, maybe I suggest that everyone limit their presentations/talks to no more than 2 – 3 minutes each? We can of course carry on discussing these topics at Fred’s after dinner if you are attending.

9.45+ Fred’s residence to sample some Belgian hospitality and more discussion and intermingling.

address and map after the break


Spring of Culture

This is the first time that I remember something like this is to happen in Bahrain; a month packed with cultural events: music, poetry, dance, art exhibits and theatre all happening back-to-back in breath-taking venues all around Bahrain.

I will do my best to attend as many as I could, especially the Jazz, Tango Flamenco, Hanin Y Son Cubano and the Huroof exhibit at Dar Al-Bareh Art Gallery. I know that Frances and the children would like to join me for some of the activities and it would be a pleasure to have their company.

These events, to me at least, are actually much more important than the Formula One! So it won’t be too hard to choose which event to actually go to… I’ll make sure that I record the F1 though to watch it at a later stage!


Al-Fanan’s Radio

Listen to Hashim Al Alawi’s original music compositions. Music that touches your soul and takes you to another world. A beautiful mixture of Arabic, Ambient, and Experimental music brought to you directly from the Artist himself. I’ll be posting some of my music here, you’ll find clips from my previous two albums, Desert Beat and Theraputica, as well as few songs that I’ve worked on during the past few years. You’ll be able to find more of my recent work from my studio’s website.
Alfanan’s Radio

I met Hashim over a year ago when he returned to Bahrain from the States, we discussed a few audio requirements he had in mind and he told me of the equipment he already had while studying in the States.

Since then I haven’t spoken to him much, so it is a very nice surprise to learn that he has established his audio studio and is doing well through another Bahraini artist, our own novelist Ali Al-Saeed.

I’ve been browsing his site as well and am very impressed by his music abilities and some of the excerpts he has generously put up for us to enjoy. He could easily create complete podcasts with the wonderful environmental fusion he has created and I think he will be very successful with his art.

GarageBand.com has a nice write-up about Hashim’s first album:

Born in Manama, Bahrain, Alfanan started playing music at the age of 6. After coming to Texas to further his studies, he composed and produced his first album, Desert Beat, at the age of 20. He now resides in Lewisville, Texas, where he is composing and producing his own music, as well as producing music for local artists. His first solo album was mainly distributed in the Middle East, but has gained critical acclaim since October 1999 through the Internet, mainly on MP3.com and IUMA.com. The album has consistently maintained a high ranking on the top 40 charts in both the world music and ambient genre classifications. Alfanan’s album delivers the intellects of all cultures into one world through the words of music. You will not be able to escape from this journey.

The first part of the album captures you with its Arabic and contemporary beats, hypnotic rhythms, and soothing melodies. The second part of the album, he says, “takes your mind on a psychedelic musical journey”. The third part of the album includes a couple of Arabic songs that he wrote and composed.

Articles and reviews have been written about his music including an article in the November 2000 issue of Sada magazine (an Arabic magazine), the February 2001 issue of Electronic Musician magazine, and in an upcoming issue of The Sound magazine.

as for his second album, Theraputica, this is what another reviewer said about it:

“This music is deep and rich, often morphing Middle-Eastern themes and traditional instrumentation with modern electronics and effects. Hashim is a producer and musician with a magnificent ear whose music creates multiple moods and dazzles the spirit. Get comfortable and listen with patience, you are certain to be satisfied,” Riffage.com.
Garageband.com’s review

Please do visit his site and enjoy his offerings. I’ve also added his blog to the bahrainblogs.org aggregator.

Ali, thanks for mentioning him in your post and good luck to you too on your film project. Let me know if I can help in any way.


The Challenge

We’ve just come back from the opening ceremony of my father’s exhibition at Dar Al-Barih Art Gallery in Adliya with a renewed sense of awe.

Although we have lived with his art throughout our lives, and have come to take his paintings as something rather normal, seeing 36 of his recent block-prints hung in the art gallery atmosphere tonight and the excellent turnout of people who have come to view and appreciate them, make you look at them in a fresh light. An appreciative light.

These are works of art dependent on pure memory of a man who is enamoured in the love of his country, his people and his environment. These are engraved memories, literally, of a man who has lost his vision, but most certainly not his sight.

These are memories of bygone eras, of peace and tranquility, of good neighbours, of a much simpler life that has nurtured the imagination and soul.

These memories might be over 50 years old, but are anything but forgotten.

My father, Nasser Al-Yousif, might have lost his vision over 12 years ago, but he most certainly has not lost his inner sight.

I love you my father. Thank you for sharing your sight. May you live for ever.