Iraqi superstar Kadim Al Sahir will be bringing strains of Arabic music to Auckland, performing a one-night-only concert here next weekend.

Sam Siddawi, event organiser, said his show will be one of the rare occasions which attracts fans from different Arabic backgrounds.

"Kadim is one of the most respected artists in the Middle East and his concert is expected to be the largest Arab cultural event here, drawing fans from a wide variety of Middle Eastern backgrounds," Siddawi said.

"We also hope to showcase to New Zealanders that the region is also not just about war."
Siddawi described relations between Arabic nations and its people as "complicated".

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Al Sahir has established himself as one of the most successful and celebrated Arabic singers since his first solo Ya Ward Al Ishiq in 1981.

With 24 albums released in over three decades, he has also performed hundreds of concerts including at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House.

This is the singer's second visit to Auckland, and his show here will conclude a world tour that covered Canada, the US and Australia.

"Kadim is one of the greatest, if not the greatest Iraqi vocalist, and sings the lyrics of top Arab poets," Siddawi added.

Iraqi-born Auckland taxi driver Farrokh Abbas, 45, said he is thrilled that his hometown superstar was coming.

"His voice always reminds me of home and my growing up years," Abbas said.

"Kadim's singing will take me back home, to a place where I have not been since I came here as a refugee nearly 20 years ago."

Al Sahir was the only Arab artist to feature on the BBC World's Top Ten, and sings lyrics by Arab poets like Nizar Qabbani, Farouq Jwaidah and Manea Saeed Al Ottaibah.

The concert on November 19 at the ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, is expected to draw a big Middle Eastern audience.

At the last census, 20,406 people identified with the Middle Eastern ethnic group in New Zealand.

Nearly nine in 10, or more than 18,000, lived in the North Island with almost 13,000 in Auckland.

Of those living in Auckland, the majority lived in the local board areas of Howick (13.2 per cent), Manurewa (11.2 per cent) and Kaipatiki (8.7 per cent).