1st time in 40 years: Israeli orchestra plays Middle Eastern music in Egypt

The Israeli foreign ministry stated that the orchestra’s visit and performances seek to help expand connections between the Israeli and Egyptian peoples.

By Sharon Wrobel, The Algemeiner

For the first time in 40 years, an Israeli orchestra performed in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, as part of Independence Day festivities at the Israeli embassy in the Arab country.

Firqat Alnoor, an orchestra of Jewish, Muslim, Druze and Christian musicians from across Israel, performs classical Arabic and Middle Eastern music.

Established in 2013, the musical ensemble has come to represent the religious and social diversity of Israel.

Under conductor Ariel Cohen, a Haredi Jew, and the management of Hana Ftaya, it is considered one of the few existing orchestras to play music from across the Arab world to preserve the Arab classical musical tradition and Jewish culture.

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Amira Oron, who hosted the festivities at the embassy in Cairo and her residence, said that “events such as these express the way that the words peace and stability, which diplomats use so often, can become a practical reality.”

“Every day, the staff of the Israeli embassy in Cairo creates more peace with the help of our Egyptian partners,” Oron said during her speech.

The orchestra was welcomed with great enthusiasm by the guests, which included Egyptian and foreign dignitaries alike, Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement. The orchestra’s visit and performances seek to help expand connections between Israeli and Egyptian peoples, the ministry added.

The first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel in 1979, Egypt served as a key mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Oron spoke of “meaningful growth” in economic cooperation and relations between the two countries over the past year.

Gas exports from Israel to Egypt last year amounted to 4.5 billion cubic meters and we expect them to reach 6.5 billion cubic meters this year,” Oron said. “Bilateral trade increased by 63 percent in 2021 compared to 2020 and reached $330 million.”

Since the beginning of the year, 166,000 Israelis have visited the beaches of Sinai and Sharm El-Sheikh, as direct flights between Tel Aviv and Sharm El-Sheikh were launched and routes between Tel Aviv and Cairo were renewed, she noted.

The Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement, which Israel and Egypt share with the United States, generated $1.2 billion in textile exports from Egypt to international countries.