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Culture: Mawazine festival ends on high note in Rabat, record 2.5 million attend

    Lebanese singer Assi El Helani gave memorable performance during 12th Mawazine festival in Rabat. Naoufel Cherkaoui

Lebanese singer Assi El Helani gave memorable performance during 12th Mawazine festival in Rabat. Naoufel Cherkaoui

*” I am very happy and proud to be present in Morocco… We hope that the rest of the Arab people follow the Moroccan example of affection, unity and rejection of violence.”

— Lebanese singer Assi El Helani*

Magharebia, by Naoufel Cherkaoui (Rabat, Morocco, June 3, 2013) — The 12th edition of the week-long Mawazine festival ended on Saturday, June 1st. A record number of 2.5 million spectators of all generations attended this year’s event, organisers said.

French DJ David Guetta and Lebanese singer Assi El Helani, who were on stage in Rabat last Wednesday, were shining examples of the presence of different cultures for which Mawazine has come to be known.

The immensely-popular David Guetta performed on the OLM Souissi stage, dedicated to international artists. Nearly 185,000 spectators came to see him in action. “It is an honor for me to be with you today,” Guetta told his audience. “We must do something special for this evening. I was not expecting such wide attendance.”

Guetta entertained the public through an hour and a half concert. His audience sang along “Without You” and “When Love Takes Over,” and waved their lit phone screens in appreciation. “Despite preparing end of year exams, I came to attend Guetta’s concert, like many other young people who love the French DJ’s music,” university student Salwa said.

El Helani was also a great success among his audience, for which he sang some of his most beautiful songs. “I am very happy and proud to be present in Morocco, a country loved by all Lebanese, and to participate, in my opinion, in one of the most important international festivals,” he told the press.

“To be part of this festival has become the dream of any artist, whether Arab or foreign, as evidenced by the number and quality of artists participating,” El Helani added. The festival’s organisers successfully combined “the West and the East,” the Lebanese star said. El Helani chose old and new songs to honour his audience, among which were “Ya Mima” and “Ya Nakir el Maaroof.”

“We hope that the rest of the Arab people follow the Moroccan example of affection, unity and rejection of violence,” he stressed. “I hope that the region will be void of sectarian wars, and I thank the people here for their hospitality and warm reception.”

Mourad Bouriki, the Moroccan winner of the Arab version of “The Voice,” performed alongside El Helani that evening. “I am proud to be performing on the same stage as the great artist Assi,” he said. “Also, I am very excited to perform in my country Morocco and in my first public performance since the contest.”

Several other free performances took place every day along some of the city’s large avenues. Morocco’s Nomad Company Theatre and the Azalaï Parade delighted spectators last Wednesday, while at the other end of town, Senegalese troop Tapha N’Diaye and Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian group Fanfare P4 performed for a charmed audience.

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