Working and housing conditions of the 1.5 million migrant workers constructing buildings in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup have been heavily criticised.
Qatari singer strikes Black Gold
Qatari singer Fahad al-Kubaisi has every reason to be on cloud nine. The first Qatari to sing for an international film is overjoyed to have worked with the acclaimed Hollywood composer James Horner.
“The biggest honour is that I am introducing to the world the sounds, voices and rhythms from the region,” he said yesterday.
Thirty-year-old al-Kubaisi, who took to singing as a hobby when he was 16, has sung the opening track and another song for the Arabian film epic Black Gold, co-produced by Doha Film Institute (DFI).
The Jean-Jacques Annaud directed film starring Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong and Liya Kebede will have its world premiere and open the 3rd Annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival on October 25 in Katara, the Cultural Village.
Al-Kubaisi, who released his first album Lesh (Why) in 2005, got in touch with DFI’s executive director Amanda Palmer when he heard about the search for a Qatari vocalist to sing for the film.
“Initially, my song, which Horner subsequently chose as the opening track, was intended for some night scenes towards the middle of the film,” he recalled.
The nearly three-minute-long humming was composed by compatriot Abdulla al-Mannai, whom al-Kubaisi holds in high esteem.
After listening to the recording Horner declared he is making it the title track apart from using it intermittently in the film.
So impressed was the composer of blockbusters such as Titanic, Avatar, and Troy that he told the singer that he would have added one more song had the schedule been not so tight.
“It was a completely new experience for me to work with international film personalities such as Horner and Annaud and I learnt that doing music for films is a totally different scenario,” al-Kubaisi said.
Yet another reason for the Qatari’s joy is that the recording took place at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London, most closely associated with the Beatles, who recorded almost all of their albums and singles there between 1962 and 1970.
The opening track, which al-Kubaisi describes as bit sad, but mixed with anticipation about some upcoming events, portrays the feelings of Arab soldiers.
The other song which the singer rendered for the film is a traditional one and goes with the scenes of a Qatari wedding.
Al-Kubaisi believes that his style straddles the traditional and modern rhythms and he has attempted to give the opening track an international flavour as well.
The singer was shown excerpts from the film so as to help him render the emotions of the visuals through matching vocals.
“But from what I have seen I am sure that it is going to be a great film,” he said while urging everyone to come and watch the film, which also happens to be Qatar’s first in the international movie arena.
The Qatari singer, who released his second album in 2008, followed by a third in 2010, is now working on his fourth album, scheduled for release in December.
Coming from a family with hardly any background in music, al-Kubaisi underwent formal training in Cairo once he decided to pursue a career in the world of music.
“Once my family realised how passionate I was about music, they began to support me,” said the soft-spoken singer who plans to combine Arab and international careers and continue to be dedicated to the traditional style of music.
“I would also like to thank DFI and Sheikha Mayassa for putting Qatar on the global film industry map,” he added.
Co-produced by DFI and Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications, the film was shot jointly in Qatar and Tunisia. Set in the 1930s Arabia, Black Gold tells the story of two warring Emirs, who make a truce that binds them through family and mutual respect of a no man’s land that lies between their kingdoms.
However, after oil is discovered in the barren sand, the stage is set for control of the area and riches it promises to yield.