Zenobia

The First Cry of Freedom

Yesterday night I was among the honored who attended a late night show of Mansour Rahbani’s Zenobia. The event took place a little far in the desert, in an under construction area called Dubai Studio City. The air was cool and crisp, gently dancing with over 2000 torches that lit the road that connects the outside world to the stage. A crescent moon slowly faded into the distant city lights as we were submerged in darkness, with the only light being from the stage and an unusually bright 10 PM sky.

A woman’s robotic voice announced to the attendees in the course of 20 minutes that the show would start in a few moments. Many, many moments later, the show started, the delay being explained without words as a Sheikh walked in with his wafd and took a seat amongst the crowd, after photos and hand shaking.

Strangely, there was no anthem. But I can’t blame them. It is a Lebanese play on Syrian history acted on a UAE stage. There was no need for anthems.

Drums, trumpets, lights, fog, and 3 hours passed away without anyone noticing. We were all mesmerized by the play. Perfect execution, well-written script… my god, the script… the most powerful words were spoken on that stage that night. You could not know if it was a tragedy play, or a comedy, or a musical, or a dance… it was all yet not one exclusively. I have never attending anything like it.

And yes… they did make fun of Hayfa Wahbe, the Arab leaders, Rome, politics, money, and camels (figuratively).

At 1:30 AM in the morning I lay in my bed, happy that Syria was honored with such a queen. And the final words that were spoken on that stage would remain in my head forever.

“I am the first cry of freedom,
the first cry from an Arabian land.
I am to give my blood for freedom.” – Zenobia

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