By Hanan Alnufaie
THE Malaysian pavilion at Riyadh International Book Fair has many cultural activities that introduce the Malaysian culture and lifestyle to visitors.
One of these activities is a boy band that includes a singer, musicians and performers of folklore dance. They all came from the same school. The band scheduled 26 traditional songs distributed throughout the days of the book fair. The visitors received the performances with applause.
Saudi Gazette sat with 17-year-old Mohammed Alef Naiem, a leading dance performer of the boy band. He expressed his happiness to be part of such a cultural event. “I am very excited to perform Malaysian songs, music and folklore dance here in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
There are two sessions every day — one in the afternoon and one in the evening. In every session, the performers present five or six songs and three folklore dances to traditional music.
Naiem said preparations for the event took an entire month for the band. He expressed satisfaction over the support they received from the visitors.
“People are very happy and they enjoy our music and dance performances. In the last song of our sessions, we always teach the visitors how to play our music and perform our folklore dance,” he said, adding that everyone expressed their happiness in visiting the show. This encouraged the teenage talent to learn Arabic language in future.
Mohammed Hazim is a harmonium player in the band. “We are performing Ghazal music along with Zapin dance,” said Hazim, who is also 17.
He added that people are very happy to see the Malaysian culture on their doorsteps. “They accepted us and liked our performances,” he said, adding that Saudis are very a nice and friendly people.
Hazim said he started playing harmonium at the age of 14. It is his first time to play outside Malaysia. “I am very happy for this very enjoyable experience,” he said.
Azef Jafny, 17, is the band’s lead singer.
“I sing traditional songs. I will sing nearly 26 songs throughout the book fair,” he said.
This teenager believes that cultures and songs can unite people. He expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to come to Riyadh and tell visitors about Malaysian traditional songs. He has a dream of singing traditional Malaysian songs traveling all over the world.
“I am very glad to start this dream from Saudi Arabia,” said Jafny.