Carole Samaha returns to GNRD
Lebanese singer backs mysterious rights organisation
Following the birth of her baby daughter in August, Lebanese singer/actress Carole Samaha has announced that she will be resuming "professional activities" in December and returning to the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) where she serves as Goodwill Ambassador.
GNRD is a quasi-NGO based in Norway but with mysterious funding which comes almost entirely via the United Arab Emirates. Last May, Norwegian police raided its offices and the home of its founder, Loai Deeb, on suspicion of money-laundering. There were further raids in October and the police investigation is continuing.
Also in October, Innsamlingskontrollen, the Norwegian organisation that monitors charitable fundraising placed GNRD on its Watch List, saying that GNRD had "completely failed to respond to repeated requests" for key information about its finances and organisation. (More background about GNRD and its activities can be found here.)
Samaha, whose singing career has brought her several music awards, became GNRD's Goodwill Ambassador in June last year. In her GNRD role she has visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, an orphanage in Lebanon, slum areas of Cairo and an Egyptian hospital treating injured Palestinians from Gaza.
Samaha and GNRD also collaborated in an extravagant video recording of a song, Al-Sharq al-Azim ("The Great East"), which was released last January. Its producer was none other than Loai Deeb, founder-president of GNRD, and Samaha reportedly performed free of charge "as a gift to the Arab world".
According to GNRD, the video (see clip above) is "simulating an advanced drama commemorating victims who were killed in the Arab world recently, the glory of the Levant and its religious and ethnic unity, and underlines the nobility of its deep rooted tradition culture".
Judging by GNRD's account, it was a particularly elaborate and expensive production:
The video clip was directed by French Director, Terry Verne, and differed from Ms Samaha’s previous works, particularly in terms of cinematic vision, production cost, special effects, and the filming techniques which involved three advanced cameras, the Phantom, Canon 5D and Arri Alexa.
Filming took place over two days in Tunisia, where a special set was built in the studio; the team consisted of 60 technicians from Paris and Tunisia. More than 100 extras participated in the filming and the post-production process took place over roughly two months under supervision of 10 workers.
A professional trainer supervised the practice of Carol and the warriors, while designer Gaby Shrbashi created the costumes. Hamada was responsible for make-up and Joe from Tony Ibrahim Salon supervised hair design.
The song's lyrics and music was originally created by the artist Marwan Khoury, and distribution by Michel Fadel. The orchestra music, Alvilarmoniket kiev, was led by Maestro, Vladimir Siranko.
GNRD denies money laundering and claims the allegations against it have been cooked up by the government of Qatar.
Singing the same tune? Loai Deeb and Carole Samaha