Arabian days and nights for KL

TRAVELLERS from the Middle East are back in Kuala Lumpur as the heat of the summer drives them for their annual vacations throughout the region.

In welcoming these foreign guests, the Samrah Festival Kuala Lumpur 2009 was recently launched at Lot 10’s main entrance in Jalan Bukit Bintang, which has become a shopping and tourist haven over the years.

The festival is jointly organised by the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Action Council and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and supported by VisitKL and Tourism Malaysia.

This is the third year the festival is being held and it will end on Aug 1.

For this year’s festival, nine Samrah concert performances are being held over the weekends of July 10 and 11, July 17 and 18, July 24 to 26, and July 31 and August 1.

Among the artistes performing are Kiki Amelia, Salleh Al-Habsee, Haykal Harra, Fahmi Al-Makkawi, Irfana, Mustafa Alhadar and the El-Sahara group accompanied by Samrah professional musicians from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Tourism Ministry deputy secretary-general (tourism) Datuk Abd Ghaffar A. Thambi, YTL Land Sdn Bhd executive director Eric Eoon, and Kuala Lumpur Tourism Action Council general manager Datuk Yew Teong Look launched the event recently.

Abd Ghaffar said the festival was well-liked by Middle Eastern tourists for its Arabian-styled music while the atmosphere made them feel welcome and at home in Kuala Lumpur.

According to Yew, the inaugural festival in 2007 managed to attract about 30,000 tourists from the Middle East.

“Then last year, I was told that the statistics rose to 40,000 people, and we are expecting the about same number of visitors this year,” he said.

The term Samrah or Samr refers to the Arabic cultural performance combining Zafin and Syarah, which is accompanied by singing and music.

The Kuala Lumpur Tourism Action Council, in a brochure, describes the instruments used during these performances as an ensemble of strings and percussion like the gambus, the marwas, the violin, the darabuka, and bongos and the keyboard.

It further adds that Samrah is usually performed during weddings and other social gatherings.

Other than to entertain, Samrah is said to strengthen family ties and friendships within the community.

The concert performances will be held from 8.45pm to 11.45pm.

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