RIYADH – A commotion broke out during the Ghazal and Zapin dance performance at the Malaysian Pavilion at the Riyadh International Book Fair (RIBF) 2017 here today.
It began when an unknown local man suddenly appeared and threw the microphones and musical instruments onto the floor in protest of the show.
The incident occurred at 8.50pm local time on Thursday when 12 students of Sekolah Seni Malaysia Johor were performing the dance on the request of RIBF organiser, which is the Saudi Arabian Culture and Information Ministry, as part of the cultural events.
Many visitors who had flocked to the pavilion and patiently waited for the show, however, objected to the man’s outrageous antics.
The Ghazal and Zapin dance performance was first showcased at the opening of the RIBF, which was graced by Saudi Arabian Minister of Culture and Information Dr Adel Zaid al-Toraifi, on Wednesday.
Malaysia is the Guest of Honour Country at the RIBF 2017, which will end on March 17.
The Malaysian Education Ministry in a statement said the Saudi Arabian government had issued an apology for the commotion, saying that it was an act of an individual and investigation was being done to identify the man.
“The show at the Malaysian Pavilion will proceed as scheduled following the warm response from the Arab community for Zapin and Ghazal, but as a precautionary measure, the security control at the pavilion will be tightened during the show,” the statement said.
One of the students, Aizat Azhar, 17, said he was shocked and dumbfounded when his musical instrument, which is the ‘gambus’, was taken by the man and thrown onto the floor.
“I did not see it coming because during the previous shows, the visitors seemed to love it,” he told reporters here.
The Pahang-born student, however, said the incident did not dampen his spirit to keep performing and promoting the Malaysian culture to the world.
“Hopefully our parents will not worry too much as we are all fine and everything is now under control,” he said while expressing gratitude that his ‘gambus’ was not damaged during the commotion.
Another student, Osama Yamani Jamal Ubaidillah, 16, also said that the incident had somehow boosted their spirit to continue the show.
“This is indeed a valuable experience for us and we will take it as a challenge,” said the son of pop singer, Datuk Jamal Abdillah.
Meanwhile, their music teacher, Mohd Dzurri Bachok, said he wanted to stop the show after the commotion, but was advised by chief executive officer of the Malaysian Institute of Translation and Book Mohd Khair Ngadiron to continue the performance to fulfill the request of the organiser.
“We will continue performing until the last day of the book fair, but we might tone it down a little,” he said.
The Ghazal and Zapin dance performance is being showcased at the Malaysian Pavilion at the ongoing RIBF on the request of the Saudi Arabian government, which views arts as a branch of knowledge that supports the development of human civilisation.
The Malaysian delegation, however, was compelled to ensure that only male dancers were involved in the twice-a-day performance.