Middle Eastern and North African Music Stars to Unite With Western Celebrities in Las Vegas for Benefit Concert


MGM Grand and Dawn Elder World Entertainment will present the world premiere of Sahra on Saturday, November 21, 2009, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas – an unprecedented concert spectacular to celebrate Middle Eastern and North African culture and its children. International celebrities and Hollywood’s elite, along with more than 100 master musicians and dancers from 12 countries, will join forces in recognition of International Children’s Day with all profits benefiting children’s charities in the Middle East and North Africa.

International recording artists Khaled, Assala, and Rida Al Abdulla are the first to confirm performances. Algerian-born Khaled is recognized for popularizing the music genre known as “pop rai” with the 1991 release of his song “Didi,” which swept the world music scene and made this homeland icon an international sensation.

Assala, considered the heir apparent to legendary Arab singer, Fairouz, was born in Syria and launched her career in 1991 with the album “Law Ta’rafou” – an instant hit with heartbreaking songs presented in the oriental classical tarab style. Today, this pop diva performs khaleeji (gulf) style, which draws on the unique rhythms of the Persian Gulf.

Iraqi Rida Al Abdulla has been singing since the age of eight, but had his career interrupted in 1993 by forced military service, imprisonment and torture under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Following a daring escape in 1997, Rida relaunched his career in Dubai where his first three albums went gold. This year, he released a long-awaited fourth album that breaks new ground in integrating Western and Arabic instrumentation, rhythms and production style.

Joining these international recording artists on stage will be a host of recognized performers from North Africa, the Middle East, France and the United States. Palestinian oud and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen, and Lebanese flute master Bassam Saba will join an orchestra that encompasses musicians from 25 nations. Members of the National Dance Companies of Morocco and Algeria will participate. The evening will also include guest appearances by American celebrities, including Grammy-winners India Arie, K.C. Porter, and Don Was, and Grammy-nominated rising star Karina Pasian. A dozen more special guests will be announced soon.




We are thrilled to host a unique Middle Eastern concert for such an important cause,” said Gamal Aziz, president and chief operating officer of MGM Grand. “This event allows us to continue our tradition of providing a stage for the top names in worldwide entertainment while supporting charities that assist refugee children in various communities around the world.”

In recognition of International Children’s Day, all profits from Sahra will benefit children’s charities serving the Middle East and North Africa. Funds will go to the NAAMA Foundation (National Arab American Medical Association) and ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services). NAAMA’s efforts include support for Iraqi refugee children in Jordan, sending medical supplies to Palestine, as well as training, medical treatment and disaster relief in targeted communities throughout the Middle East. With its membership of medical professionals of Arabic descent, NAAMA is among the most respected charitable organizations operating in this part of the world.

For the past 35 years, ACCESS has been an award-winning social service organization committed to developing the Arab-American community. Its initiatives include Detroit’s acclaimed Arab-American National Museum (opened in 2005) and over 90 programs serving Arab-American communities from seven locations.

Both ACCESS and NAAMA have agreed to waive all administrative fees and target proceeds from this event to initiatives serving children. The evening will also honor the great women in the region who have contributed their time and resources to uplifting the lives of children.

Ticket prices and on-sale information for the event will be announced in the near future.

Sahra is produced by Dawn Elder who is recognized in the American media landscape for her expertise on the cultural interplay among American, Middle Eastern and North African societies. Elder is a composer, producer, director, artist manager, public speaker and creator of more than 1,000 events, including some of the most ambitious cultural festivals and conferences in the United States. Elder’s wide-ranging achievements are unified by a fierce humanitarianism and a dedication to the principle that culture – especially music – has a vital role to play in resolving hostilities between nations, faiths, and ethnic communities.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena is home to concerts, championship boxing and premier sporting and special events. The Arena offers comfortable seating for as many as 16,800 with excellent sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics, lighting and sound. Prominent events to date have included world championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson as well as Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather and George Foreman vs. Michael Moorer; and concerts by The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler, George Strait, Janet Jackson, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, U2, ‘N Sync, Sting, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Jimmy Buffett and the Barbra Streisand Millennium Concert. The MGM Grand Garden Arena also is home to the annual Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMA), Frozen Fury NHL pre-season game and the U.S. Open of Motocross.

Buy Khaled’s latest recording:

MGM Grand Las Vegas is located at 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109, www.mgmgrand.com

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central


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