Israeli singer proves surprise hit in Yemen

By Yoav Appel

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli singer has become an unlikely star in Yemen, an Arab country where his hit songs blare from cafes and taxis.

Zion Golan's parents were born in Yemen, but like other Israelis, he is banned from travelling to the conservative Muslim nation, which has no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Known in Yemen as Ziyan Joulan, his songs - whose Arabic lyrics are written by his mother-in-law - are distributed on bootleg CDs and downloaded from the Internet.

"Yemeni music is in my heart and in my soul," Golan told Reuters.

"My big dream is to go to Yemen. My parents told me many stories about Yemen, about Sanaa, about Aden, all about Yemen, so I felt it was right to write, to perform songs in a Yemeni style, which I feel is part of me."

In Sanaa, Waddah Othman, a doctor, grinned as he displayed an array of Golan's songs on his mobile phone.

"I adore this singer," he said.

Abdullah al-Haj, who owns a video and music shop in Sanaa, said music of Yemeni Jewish singers was in high demand by local youngsters, who increasingly are getting music off the Internet.

Golan said he receives no royalties for his music in Yemen, where the late Israeli singer Ofra Haza, who was also of Yemeni Jewish descent, was once popular.

"Ziyan Joulan is the greatest Yemeni singer,' said Sanaa resident Ali al-Kinei, 43. "Jewish singers have kept the Yemeni musical traditions and developed them by introducing modern instruments ... I follow his songs on YouTube."

Between 1949 and 1959, most of Yemen's 50,000 Jews were flown to the newly founded Israel in a secret operation dubbed "Magic Carpet". Today, fewer than 200 still live in the Arabian peninsula state.

Golan, who learned Yemeni Arabic as a boy, is one of about 140,000 of Israelis descended from Yemen's ancient Jewish community, and he said that he was pleased his popularity there provided a bridge between two peoples.

"I enjoy that they are enjoying my songs, it makes me feel good," he said. "I wish there will be peace and then we could connect, that would be the best dream for all of Israel."

(Reporting by Yoav Apple in Jerusalem and Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa; Writing by Maayan Lubell, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alistair Lyon)

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Latest News

  • 'Entourage' revives Hollywood exploits with more glitz on big screen
    'Entourage' revives Hollywood exploits with more glitz on big screen

    By Alicia Avila LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The pool parties, glamorous girls and fast cars of "Entourage" are back in a movie spinoff of the hit HBO show. Entourage, due in U.S. theatres on Wednesday, revisits the bromance between a group of friends from Queens, New York, who become high-flying Hollywood power players. "The theme of friendship is universal and really doesn't change," said Entourage creator and director Doug Ellin. …

  • Eddie Redmayne to star in Harry Potter spin-off 'Fantastic Beasts'
    Eddie Redmayne to star in Harry Potter spin-off 'Fantastic Beasts'

    Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne will enter the world of magic in Warner Bros' anticipated "Harry Potter" spin-off movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," the studio said. Redmayne, 33, who won a best actor Oscar this year for his role as Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything," will play magizoologist Newt Scamander, "who in his travels has encountered and documented a myriad of magical creatures," Warner Bros said this week. The tale is set in New York, 70 years before the …

  • Fashion's rehabilitated Galliano proves himself in new job, boss says
    Fashion's rehabilitated Galliano proves himself in new job, boss says

    By Astrid Wendlandt BREGANZE, ITALY (Reuters) - John Galliano, the star designer sacked by Dior for a drunken anti-Semitic rant, has been successfully rebuilding both himself and the Maison Margiela fashion brand since he took over its helm in October, said the man who gave him the job. Diesel founder Renzo Rosso, chairman and main shareholder of Maison Margiela's parent OTB group, said sales were already up 20 percent at the fashion house even though only a few of Galliano's pieces had so …

  • Google demands movie studios comply with subpoenas
    Google demands movie studios comply with subpoenas

    By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc has asked a federal judge to require three major movie studios to comply with subpoenas it believes may help show they conspired with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood as he investigated the Internet search company. In a request made public on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Google said Viacom Inc, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal "have produced nothing" in response to the March 12 subpoenas, and cannot …

  • Sotheby's withdraws sale of Russian painting alleged stolen

    The international auction house Sotheby's withdrew from auction on Tuesday a painting by a famous Russian artist that Russia's Interior Ministry said last week had been stolen in 1997 from a private collection in Moscow. The auction house said "Evening in Cairo" by Ivan Aivazovsky had been withdrawn from the London sale at the request of the consignor, or seller. The Russian Interior Ministry, which had asked that British police block the auction, said in a statement on Tuesday the painting …

  • Satyajit Ray's widow Bijoya Ray dead

    Kolkata, June 2 (IANS) Film maestro Satyajit Ray's widow Bijoya Ray, a lifelong inspiration for the master, died at a private nursing home here on Tuesday following an acute pneumonia attack, a nursing home spokesman said. Bijoya Ray, 98, left behind her filmmaker son Sandip, daughter-in-law Lalita and grandson Souradeep. "She was admitted to our nursing home on Saturday noon following an acute pneumonia attack. …

  • Israeli families fleeing rat-race revive once-doomed kibbutzim
    Israeli families fleeing rat-race revive once-doomed kibbutzim

    By Maayan Lubell DEGANIA ALEF, Israel (Reuters) - This year's harvest was especially merry at Degania Alef, Israel's first kibbutz, founded in 1910 on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Twenty-five years ago kibbutzim, collective communities traditionally based on agriculture, seemed all but doomed. The kibbutzim were hit hard by financial crisis that gripped Israel in the mid-1980s and youngsters abandoned the communal dream and headed to cities. …

  • World Chefs: Jenn Louis shares love of Italian pasta in new book

    By Richard Leong NEW YORK (Reuters) - American chef Jenn Louis puts her own spin on 65 types of pasta and Italian dumplings such as gnocchi made from potatoes, cheeses and other ingredients in her first book "Pasta by Hand." Louis made her mark with Lincoln, the restaurant she started seven years ago in Portland, Oregon, where hand-made pastas are made in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures. The 43-year-old chef, who was born in Pomona, California, spoke to Reuters about her first bite …

Loading...