Straight from the Ithra theater located in Dhahran, an unforgettable tribute has been taking place, giving an ode to one of the Arab world’s greatest performers. A play has swooped the audience back to 1960s Egypt, and left them in awe. The show, titled "Umm Kulthum and the Golden Era"pays tribute to the iconic Egyptian singer, and it’s safe to say, it has not disappointed at all.
This performance is all thanks to creative Saudi national Mona Khashoggi. She has been and is still a theater producer and playwright for 20 years now. These types of art shows are her own personal passion projects. She brings elaborate cultural storytelling grounded in the MENA region to an international audience, all with great attention to detail.
This specific play first premiered at the London Palladium in 2020 and then at the Dubai Opera in 2022. Now, the play has made its debut in Saudi Arabia and is being hosted at Ithra, marking the first time it has been performed on a stage in the kingdom.
To Khashoggi, Um Kulthum is one of her idols, and stemming from her love of art and her childhood, she has chosen to honor her through theater.
According to Saudi creative, Umm Kulthum's ability to perform the same sentences all over again with varying emotions is something that she deeply appreciates. She views the iconic singer as a symbol of all qualities that women should aspire to, from self-confidence and fashion sense to authenticity and drive.
Khashoggi talks about the plot in details, saying, “The play is about the great lady who came from humble beginnings and became the most important woman in the Arab world. It’s also about the era of other powerful women. It is all about women’s empowerment and all of us who looked up to Umm Kulthum from a very young age. Her music is timeless.”
During "Umm Kulthum and the Golden Era”, we see the earlier journey of the iconic figure in Arab pop culture. It is quite interesting to see her career and the different stops she had to make before she became Umm Kulthum.
Everything we know and love about her is reflected in the play, even the smallest details. Remember her iconic darkened sunglasses? Her famous hair up-do, the dresses, the chandelier earrings. And of course, who could forget the handkerchief hanging loosely from her side? Get your tickets asap because this play is one of the most anticipated theatrical productions currently in Saudi Arabia.