by Fatima Aruri
RAMALLAH, July 9 (Xinhua) -- A week-long cultural festival starting on Saturday night, is bringing together Arab and local bands from from Palestine, Golan Heights, Jordan and a Tunisian singer at an open-air theater in the city center of Ramallah to celerate the traditional Arab culture.
These artists are scheduled to fill the breezy nights of Ramallah with their songs, mostly from the 1980s, to create a nostalgic atmosphere for Palestinian expatriates visiting the city during summer.
The theme of the 10th annual cultural festival in Ramallah, known as Wein 'A Ramallah, is "As wide as home gets," designed to send a welcoming message to the expatriates who returned home and demonstrate the city's openness and cultural diversity.
On the first day of the festival, a massive parade featuring large puppets and toys marched across the city, inviting its residents and visitors to attend the opening at the city's historical Rashid Al-Haddadin Square.
Muna Khader, a Palestinian American who took her family to attend the festival, said she felt refreshed amid the loving and warm atmosphere in the city.
"I'm here with my children and my granddaughters to tour around different parts of Palestine, and what I want for them is to listen to the music, feel the culture and become more involved with their own homeland, and this is why those festivals are so important," she said.
Home of Music, a classical music band, performed songs to pay tribute to Lebanese musician Ziad Rahbani, whose music represents a modernized Arabic music genre calling for self-criticism as well as cultural and political openness.
Amer Nakhleh, head of Home of Music, told Xinhua that it is meaningful to promote the values of openness and diversity to the audience of Ramallah.
"What we would like to do in our performance to salute Rahbani's music, is to extend his passion and aesthetics to the audience here in Ramallah, the most important cultural center of Palestine," Nakhleh noted.
Yellow festive lights, which were placed in the city's historical old town, added a sense of warmth to city and conveyed a message of welcome to its visitors.
Meanwhile, a number of volunteers were scattering among the crowd, responding to different inquiries.
Dana Maseer, one of the volunteers, is a student of city engineering at Birzeit University.
She believed that the festival could help spread the Palestinian folk music, an important heritage of the Palestinians, which could take people back to the 1980s and older times.
On the sidelines of the festival, a number of workshops and seminars will be organized to spark more dialogues about the past, the present and the future of the city, according to the Ramallah municipality.