Algerian-French singer Rachid Taha dies at 59

Rachid Taha, who blended Arabic music with rock and techno and at times wore blue contact lenses to protest anti-Arab prejudice in France, where he made his home, has died. He was 59. (AP Photo)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Algerian-French singer Rachid Taha dies at 59

  • The singer who thrillingly blended Arabic music with rock and techno died overnight after suffering a heart attack at his home in the Paris suburbs
  • Taha was scheduled to film the music video for one of the new songs, Je suis Africain, this weekend

 JEDDAH: French media reported on Wednesday the death of the Algerian-French singer Rachi Taha at the age of 59.

Taha died from a heart attack he suffered early on Wednesday in Paris, according to a statement by his family sent to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“It is with regret and immense sadness that his son Lyes, his family and relatives, his friends and his record label Naive, announce the death of artist Rachid Taha, following a heart attack overnight at his home in the Lilas (near Paris),” the statement said.

Rachid Taha, an Algerian singer and activist, was born in 1958 in Sig, a town on Algeria’s northwest coast. At the age of 10 he moved with his family to Lyon in France.

He is known for his unique mixture of music; he merged traditional Algerian rai music with electronic rock.

In the 1990s, Taha released a remixed version of the song Ya Rayah (You, The One Leaving), a traditional Algerian song by Dahmane El Harrachi in his album “Diwan,” which featured Algerian Chaabi songs. The song hit number 11 on the French music charts and earned Taha international fame.

Taha was preparing to release a new album “Believe” in early 2019, according to Le Parisien.

Lebanese singer Elissa (@elissakh) said on Twitter, “I am so saddened to know about the death of Rachid Taha. Such a unique artist. May he Rest In Peace.”

Anissa Bouziane (@AnissaBouziane) tweeted, “Heartbroken to hear of Rachid Taha’s untimely passing. When in 1998, I interviewed him for WBAI NYC — he said: “Well my music is like a pair of “baboushes” that traveled (from the coast of North Africa) and then became American boots, Taha, your inspiration lives on. #RachidTaha"


Traveling back thousands of years by reviving KSA's Al-Ula

Archaeological treasures in the northwestern region of the Kingdom are older than Saudi Arabia itself, and barely known to the world. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Traveling back thousands of years by reviving KSA's Al-Ula

  • The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition

JEDDAH: Bathing in the scorching sun of Saudi Arabia for the past 4,000 years and sitting among the sandy dunes of the northwestern region of the Kingdom, lie the country’s archaeological treasures. These treasures are even older than Saudi Arabia itself, and barely known to the world.
The area covers about 52 hectares of well-preserved land in which there are tombs handcrafted out of the rocks, relics from ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and the Romans, archaeological riches dating back 4,000 years and other priceless artifacts from the Ottoman Empire.
The somewhat forgotten land is going to be brought into the spotlight by the year 2020 as a historic collaboration takes place between Saudi Arabia and France.
France excels in the art of preserving history so it is the perfect alliance to meet the goals of making Al-Ula a tourist attraction.
Saudis are cooperating with France in preserving and promoting culture and archaeology.
The French consider this project so prestigious that Gerard Mestrallet, a special envoy of the president, has been appointed for Al-Ula. Both countries share a common approach to national heritage; that culture transcends all borders and should be accessible to all who seek to observe history.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as Al-Ula governor, the special envoy to Al-Ula and France’s foreign minister. Against the walls of Paris’s Musee De Arts Decoratifs — a wing of the Louvre Palace — sit the illuminated sandstones for the French to experience a sliver of Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage. The Royal Commission of Al-Ula (RCU) has signed an agreement with Campus France, described as the leading international academic and vocational public institution in France, to train young Saudi women and men to become aspiring archaeologists.
The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition. Public transport, hotels and restaurants are also part of the plan.
More than 2,100 people applied for traineeships: 200 young Saudi men and women will be trained by the most prestigious institutes in the world; part of the 1.2 million new tourist jobs are expected to be created under Vision 2030.
Cutting-edge technologies and methods such as aerial LiDAR (light detection and ranging), scanning and photos taken from light aircraft, helicopter and drones will also be used.