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Liza Minnelli, Ricky Martin to sing at Lebanon festival

BEIRUT - AFP | 5/12/2006 12:00:00 AM |

US superstar Liza Minnelli and Latino heartthrob Ricky Martin are among the stars taking part in Lebanon's Beiteddine Festival, held despite the country's political uncertainty, organizers said on Wednesday.

U.S. superstar Liza Minnelli and Latino heartthrob Ricky Martin are among the stars taking part in Lebanon's Beiteddine Festival, held despite the country's political uncertainty, organizers said on Wednesday.

Martin, the Grammy award-winning singer who has sold more than 50 million copies of his sound recordings, is due to hold his first concert in the Arab world on May 27 at the Biel seafront hall in Beirut, said festival president Nora Jumblatt.

The festival at the 19th-century Beiteddine palace in the picturesque Shouf Mountains will continue with a July 16 ballet production led by Royal Ballet of London star Sylvie Guillem.

The event will also feature the first concert in the Middle East of Minnelli, who won her the best actress Oscar for her role in 1972s "Cabaret" and made a successful comeback in February in Paris that received 30 curtain calls.

It will also feature performances by the percussion group Stomp, African sensations Angelique Kidjo and Cheikh Lo, jazz virtuosi Ravi Coltrane and Shimeka Copeland, famous Lebanese band Blues Quest as well as rising Algerian star Souad Massi, who won the BBC Artists of the Year in 2005 and France's prestigious Victoires de la Musique in 2006.

Lebanese diva Magida el-Roumi will hold a concert at the festival, which is due to close with two days of performances by Cuban dance sensation Carlos Acosta.

"We are looking forward to a great festival. We are being contacted by people who want to come from many Arab countries, mainly Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan," said Jumblatt.

"We are used to uncertainties, as we started the festival in 1987 in the middle of the war," which ended in 1990, said Jumblatt, hoping that "Lebanon will remain a prime tourism and cultural destination."

Political rows continue to mar Lebanon which witnessed a traumatic year in 2005 due to a series of bomb attacks targeting anti-Syrian figures, including the bomb blast that killed former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Lebanese Tourism Minister Joe Sarkis said on Monday that Lebanon was expecting a tourism boom this summer in the event of continued stability, with the number of tourists due to reach a record 1.5 million this year.  

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