The 10,000 crowd at the Fez festival of world sacred music were ecstatic—some literally so—when Mohamed Abdou (left) took centre stage on 15th June. The Saudi Sinatra is virtually unknown in the west, but in the middle east he is a multimillion-selling superstar. Backed by the magnificent syncopated strings of Abderarahim Mountassir, with a full mixed choir and desert percussion, the white-robed crooner rocked the casbah, or, more accurately, the magnificent gates of Bab Makina, surely one of the world’s most exotic venues, with a selection of hits old and new. His repertoire deals poetically with the poetry of the desert, sand, night and palms, but mostly Allah.
Non-believers were thin on the ground, perhaps because the event was unhelpfully billed as “Monotonous Chants of Heijaz,” but Prospect contributor and world music expert Joe Boyd and myself were converted. File under “you had to be there,” but George W needs to know that Islam has some of the best tunes.