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Moroccans Celebrate Cultural Pioneers at Leila al-Rouad

Source : | 2 July 2016 |  Arts & Culture | 439 views

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Rabat – Moroccans young and old filled the Mohamed V Theater in Rabat on Thursday to enjoy Leilat al-Rouad (The Night of Pioneers), a night of cultural performances honoring leading figures in art, sports, and music.

The Youth Organization of Independence, a group associated with the Istiqlal party, has hosted Leilat al-Rouad annually for the past eight years. This year, Secretary General of the Istiqlal party Hamid Chabat attended the event and presented the awards.

When the performance began, the theater was filled to the brim. The Secretary General and the honorees sat in the front rows, surrounded by journalists and fans. The rows of seats were full, and Moroccans lined the walls to watch the performance.

As the lights dimmed, famous television host Atik Benchiguer took to the stage to introduce the musical acts. An Andalusian-style band performed first, followed by renowned Moroccan singer Hayat al-Idrissi. Per the request of Secretary General Chabat, she performed two of her famous pieces.

Alongside the Secretary General, Mr. Benchiguer then presented awards to nine Moroccan cultural pioneers. Omar al-Abassi, head of the Youth Organization, announced that Mr. Chabat will sponsor umrah (a trip to Mecca outside the month of Ramadan) for the honorees as a sign of his appreciation for their impact on Morocco’s modern cultural landscape.

The awards ceremony was followed by musical performances that brought audience members to their feet. Touching upon the themes of religion, spirituality, and patriotism, the singers performed famous Moroccan songs. Dancing on stage with a Moroccan flag draped about his shoulders, one singer held out his microphone to the crowd during the chorus.

The audience responded enthusiastically, chanting in unison and jumping up and down. Elderly women in hijabs waved their hands in time with the music, groups of teenage boys danced in the aisles, and small children, bobbing up and down to the rhythm of the drums, rose above the audience on their parents’ shoulders across the theater. Moroccans celebrated the honorees with musical performances until the early hours of the morning.

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