Many entertainers in the Arab world cancelled their New Year's celebrations as a show of solidarity with Palestinians under siege in Gaza following five days of a ruthless Israeli military offensive against the already beleaguered Strip.
New Year events scheduled to take place in Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and many other parts of the Arab world have been either postponed or cancelled.
Five days of air strikes on the blockaded Strip yielded 390 dead and over 1900 wounded the majority of whom were civilians, prompting angry demonstrations world wide that have extinguished the normally festive mood around New Year's Eve.
Abdel Moneim Kamel, head of the Cairo Opera House told AlArabiya.net on Wednesday that Egyptian singer Mohamed Mounir's concert scheduled for New Year's Eve has been postponed till late January.
Mounir expressed his sorrow over the massacre in the Gaza Strip, explaining in a statement that "delaying the concert is a message sent to the whole world, so that it would move forward and help the people in Gaza."
The Egyptian government also announced the delay of events organized to celebrate the New Year, including an Egyptian operetta set to be recorded for the festive season and the debut of a new TV channel, Nile Comedy, initially scheduled for Thursday.
"We postponed the launch of Nile Comedy and instead of festive shows, we are airing documentary films," Osama al-Sheikh, head of Egypt's Nile Thematic channels, told AlArabiya.net.
Telelvision and concerts
Jordanian Television ordered the cancellation of all festive shows and many concert planners announced cancellations and delays, which are depriving Arab singers from cashing in on the New Year.
Singer Kazem al-Saher is said to have cancelled his Bahraini concert in support of the Palestinian victims of Gaza.
In Turkey, grief overtakes the New Year festive mood as well, as the Istanbul municipality cancelled celebrations in Taksim Square, citing the deadly Israeli offensive in Gaza as a cause of mourning.
"The New Year celebrations program organized by Istanbul municipality in Taksim Square on December 31, 2008 has been cancelled due to the latest developments in our region," the statement said.
Yet, the mourning mode is not restricted to concerts alone, but also to hotels and venues in Cairo, Beirut and Dubai, cities which compete to attract the most famous singers at key times of the year.
In the UAE, Dubai's ruler Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum called off "all forms of celebrations" around the New Year because of violence in Gaza. The order called on Dubai to mark the new year "with a somber tone as a token of solidarity" with Palestinians and Gazans, the Emirates news agency WAM said on Tuesday.
The royal announcement has caused hotels and the entertainment sector in Dubai to reschedule their New Year's plans. Managers of some hotels in Dubai were reported as saying that no music or dancing will be allowed although restaurants and bars will remain open.
A Amr Diab New Year concert in Dubai was recently cancelled while a Shakira concert, to be held in Abu Dhabi, may very well be postponed, according to Gulf News.
"I stand by the decision to cancel festivities at such sad times. The New Year is something we all look forward to, but we would be heartless if we go on with celebrations as if no one is being massacred," 29 year old Heba Mohsin, a hardcore concert goer, told AlArabiya.net.