Idan Raichel joins Andrea Bocelli in Dubai


DUBAI – After one of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s members tested positive for COVID-19, it seemed that the secretly planned Celebration of Peace Performance at Dubai’s Opera on Tuesday was on the brink of cancellation. The evening’s special guest, Andrea Bocelli, was already confirmed, and what was now missing was the Israeli side.Then Idan Raichel, one of Israel’s most internationally celebrated artists, stepped in, and within 48 hours, he managed to gather some of Israel’s finest musicians to join him on the Dubai stage. “We organized the team in record speed and got on a flight” said Raichel. Among the artists joining him were Nasrin Kadri, Mark Kakon, Avi Wassa and Maya Avraham.Hosted by the Israel Export Institute – in partnership with the Economy Ministry and Bank Hapoalim, and in coordination with Dubai Tourism – the event was attended by Israeli delegations that had participated in GITEX Technology Week, and coincided with the launch of three commercial flights from Israel to Dubai.The evening emcee, Dubai Tourism’s Aida Al Busaidy, spoke in Arabic, English and Hebrew, welcoming the Israeli guests to their “second home.”Her remarks were met with a cheering applause, and the artistic program took off in what felt like another historic cultural milestone following the Abraham Accords.It’s not every day that an Israeli artist gets to perform at Dubai’s Opera alongside superstar maestro Bocelli, and it’s equally exciting to have a sea of socially distanced Israelis and Emiratis in the audience.“I am happy to have been able to give my modest contribution through the universal language of music” said Bocelli.

Accompanying the maestro was the Arabian Philharmonic, featuring musicians from the United Arab Emirates and the UK. Bocelli sang some of his most-loved songs, including “La Donna e Mobile,” “Amazing Grace,” “Nessun Dorma” and “Time to Say Goodbye” – which Raichel accompanied by piano.Haim Bibas, the head of Israel’s federation of local authorities, said he looks forward to future cultural exchanges.“If anyone had told me half a year ago that 400 Israelis and 300 Emiratis will attend an event organized by the Dubai government and Israeli Export Institute and will watch a show performed by Raichel, Nasrin Kadri and the great Andrea Bocelli during the coronavirus, I would [have] suggest they wake up from their dream… It is not a dream it is reality. The peace with the emirates is real, based on mutual respect and a desire for partnership that seems to have always been there,” said Bibas.


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