The quiet desert night and clear sky set the perfect background for one of Dubai's most spectacular shows - the premiere of historic musical play Zenobia - on Wednesday at Dubai Studio City.
Over 150 actors, actresses, singers, dancers and horses told the story of the adventurous queen of Palmyra, who ruled the East and had ambitions that did not match her abilities.
"I'm the first voice of freedom from this Arab land... I'm the one who has defied, and given her blood to freedom," chanted Carole Samaha to the cheering of her audience.
The Rahbani family, writers, composers and the director of the play, have a long history in Arabic theatre, and everyone was expecting this play to be an extension of their other great historic plays, such as Petra and Al Mutanabi, when history is related to the present and its events. They were not disappointed.
"If the East had won the war, civilisation, dialogue, knowledge and love would have prevailed, but the West won. Rome and the culture of war won, and there will always be a new Rome, a new state of weapon and destruction, until the end of time," said the queen of Palmyra.
Mixing history with fantasy and comedy has always been the trademark of Rahbani plays and films, and Zenobia, written by Mansour Rahbani and directed by his son Marwan Rahbani, was no exception.
Througout the play, Zenobia talks to Cleopatra, queen of Egypt and one of Zenobia's ancestors, and consults her about her life and her kingdom. People watched as the cunning queen seized power, took her people to war and resisted the love of her life for the sake of her ambitions.
Only the Rahbanis could reveal the woman inside one of the most outstanding symbols of Arab history, and talk about her weaknesses and evils as much as her achievements and character.
The passionate performance of Carole Samaha, supported by other great actors like well-known singer Ghassan Saliba and Antoine Kerbaje, who has appeared in almost every Rahbani play, including the older ones with Fairouz, was met with matching excitement by the audience, who also enjoyed the many amazing dances performed by the talented Daniele Rahbani and dozens of other dancers.
The play's décor took the audience from Palmyra to Roma, Lebanon and back , while the fireworks and the horses of Dubai Police added an artistic touch to the play, and enhanced the atmosphere.
After the show, dozens of people gathered to greet the stars, who appeared equally pleased with the attention and the success of their play, which runs until tomorrow at Dubai Studio City.