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23 April 2024

Sheikh Mohammed's poems take the stage: 'Al Faris' opens tonight

‘Al Faris’ is produced by Brand Dubai and directed by Marwan Rahbani. (Wam)

By Bindu Rai

‘Poetry in motion’ perhaps best describes the grand theatrical production ‘Al Faris’ (The Knight), as curtains rise on this epic fantasy play based on the sonnets penned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The musical, which opens today (Wednesday) for a four-day run at the Dubai World Trade Centre, promises all the ingredients for a historical fairytale, transporting audiences into an era of knights and princesses, of philosophical contemplation and the proverbial battle between good and evil.

Mona Al Marri, Director-General of the Government of Dubai Media Office, said the production of ‘Al Faris’ is a source of pride for Brand Dubai and a key project that aims to highlight Dubai’s rich cultural and creative facets.

Mona Al Marri, Director-General of Government of Dubai Media Office (Wam)

Al Marri said: “Innovation has always characterised Dubai’s initiatives, which are inspired by the vision of the emirate’s leadership and its constant pursuit of the highest excellence. We were keen to present a creative production that reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the noble values he has always stood for.”
Al Marri expressed her sincere appreciation for the cooperation and efficiency displayed by the production team. She highlighted the role of the Emirati team, which made significant contributions to the success of the project.
Produced by Brand Dubai and directed by Marwan Rahbani, the makers call ‘Al Faris’ an allegory comparable to modern-day Arab leadership, serving as real-life heroes in today’s turbulent times.

The makers reveal the play combines cinema with live theatre, with the musical odyssey starring theatre veteran Ghassan Saliba in its title role, with GCC songstress Balqees making her theatrical debut as Shomoos.
In a media interaction earlier, director Marwan Rahbani said: “We have been working on this production for nearly a year now. And I will say this to all those who want to see this epic melodrama come alive on stage: do not miss the first three minutes of this one-act musical. Because if you do, you will not be able to understand the rest of the play.”

Describing the play, he continued: “It is a fantasy, but you can't really say who is who. The characters are fuzzy, but it unfolds like a dream sequence in parts.

“We have also used cinema to compliment the live theatre, yet staying true of theme underlined by His Highness' poems.”

Salem Belyouha, Director, Media Development in the Government of Dubai Media Office, revealed that the idea behind ‘Al Faris’ was Brand Dubai's efforts to provide qualitative avenues to reflect Dubai's efforts as a multicultural city.

The poems, which form the backbone of 'Al Faris', have been selected by Sheikh Mohammed in part, said Belyouha, while a specialised team shortlisted the rest.

The story itself spins the journey of a noble warrior who puts on his armour to fight the good fight in a bid to protect his people in a world surrounded by violence and hatred, while rescuing the one he loves in an epic romantic odyssey.

The Arabic language musical will not be limited to Arabs alone, with the makers also revealing English translation will ensure ‘Al Faris’ and its epic journey reaches a wider audience base.

The production, which has seen its makers travel from Dubai to Beirut, London, Kiev and Kuala Lumpur, encapsulates a cast of 100 actors, with another 700 serving across as its crew, musicians, composers, technicians and more.

Doors for the show open at 6pm every day while curtains rise at 6.30pm.

Tickets for 'Al Faris' are on sale, available on Platinumlist starting at Dh195.