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Finding Aladdin’s secret treasures
An Arabian adventure – that’s what Freej Folklore, a new theatrical production opening in Dubai claims to be.
January 7, 2009 4:24 by Aarti Nagraj
We arrived very late, but managed to catch the last bit of the media preview of Freej Folklore, a theatrical show produced in Dubai, which opens to the public on Thursday.
And that was enough to impress us. Remember Ali Baba, Sindbad and Aladdin and all those Arabian stories you heard as a child? Well, the show brings them all to life.
Freej was originally a cartoon about Emirati grannies. In Freej Folklore, the four main Freej characters, Um Saeed, Um Allawi, Um Saloom and Um Khammas will join more than 100 performers to present the show which, according to its producers, mixes live, virtual and acrobatic performances with animation, film, and light. The storyline takes you through the past and the present, and brings to light the mythical and cultural tales of Arabia.
The show, which is produced by Lammtara, the company behind the animated television series Freej, in partnership with Dubai-based production company JBM and presented by Nakheel, has involved 24 months of production work, with a cast and crew of 250 people. Right now, they are all keeping their fingers crossed and waiting to go on stage.
The best part about the show though, is its strong reliance on digital; we were allowed to peek backstage, where we saw screens, projectors, foil and only a few prop pieces. The digital dependence must have been costly, (while the producers refused to reveal the cost, we presume it must run into the millions of dirhams) but it means great effects (the genie was very real) and greater mobility. After all, the producers hope to take the show across the world after its run in Dubai.
“The show is a great step forward in the Arab entertainment industry, and it will change the way people perceive Arab theatre,” says Mohammed Saeed Harib, the founder of Lammtara and the director of the show.
If you want to catch “the largest Arab theatrical production in the Middle East,” as the producers call Freej Folklore, it’s on from January 8 to 17 at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena. The show is available in Arabic and English, and tickets are priced between AED200 and AED1,200.