After 20 years of performing exclusively outside of their homeland, playing shows in more than 20 countries including at the Abu Dhabi Festival and London's Shubbak Festival, Asil Ensemble performed in Cairo on Thursday for the first show since their formation in 2003.
The concert was held at the Sultan Al-Ghuri Complex, the 16th-century mausoleum, built by one of the last of the Mamluk rulers, Sultan Al-Ashraf Qansuh Al-Ghuri.
The group's glaring absence of a concert in Egypt is generally attributed to the non-commercial nature of their repertoire. It was something Said alluded to during the performance.
“What we do here is trying to bring to life this essential form of Arabic arts and literature,” he says.
“To be here in Egypt with all of you, with thanks to the Arabic Language Centre in Abu Dhabi, fills me with the kind of gratitude I really find hard to describe.”
For those in the audience, the magnitude of the event was overwhelming. Cairo resident Souad Al Sharif said she was in tears throughout the show. “This music and this art form is very important,” she told The National.
“Not everything has to be for a commercial benefit. We have to safeguard the arts and I am glad there are organisations out there that can invest in putting these shows together because of its importance to Arabic culture.