By Shane McGinley
'Do They Know It's Christmas?' is one of the biggest selling charity records ever released
Irish musician and philanthropist Sir Bob Geldof said it was unlikely he would do an Arab version of his bestselling Band Aid charity "Do They Know It's Christmas?" as he doesn’t have the same level of contacts in the region and he’s not sure how it would be received by Arabic musicians.
Band Aid is a charity supergroup featuring artists from Europe and America, which was founded in 1984 by Geldof and Scottish musician and songwriter Midge Ure.
The single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?", was released on December 29, 1984, to raise money for famine victims in Ethiopia and was a huge success, going to number 1 and selling over three million copies in five weeks.
New versions were recorded, with new artists included, in 1989, 2004 and 2014. For the English language Band Aid 30 version last year, which was to raise money for Ebola victims in West Africa and went to number 1 in 69 countries, German and French versions were also released.
However, Geldof told Arabian Business he was not sure an Arab version of the single will be released any time soon.
“No, because I don’t know anyone here. I could but I don’t know the artists and I’m not sure they get the plot and I don’t know what the culture is here about that sort of thing. They say ‘we don’t do that’. When you have a large number of popular artists you have a large audience and unless it is steered well it gets out of control,” he said in an interview in Dubai.
An attempt at a similar project for the region was showcased in a documentary released last year tracking the production of a charity song and music feature, featuring legendary Grammy Award-winning music producer Quincy Jones.
Premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) on December 17, 2014, ‘Bokra The Film’, directed by Emirati filmmaker Ahmed Abdulqader, and also featuring social entrepreneur Badr Jafar and Emirati director Ali F Mostafa, it traced the development and production of ‘Tomorrow-Bokra’ and includes behind the scenes footage filmed in Morocco and Jordan.
“I am enormously proud that the people of the Middle East and North Africa so warmly embraced the themes expressed in ‘Tomorrow - Bokra’ and I can think of no better place to premiere the film of the making of this historic recording than the Dubai International Film Festival. As with the recording of the ‘Bokra' song and music video, I know that Bokra The Film will continue to prove my belief in the power of music and the arts to bring people together for the betterment of mankind,” said Quincy Jones.
‘Tomorrow-Bokra’, an Arabic re-adaptation of Jones’ Grammy-award winning song ‘Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me)’, was released in November 2011 debuting at number 1 on the charts and went on to become one of the fastest selling Arab songs of all time viewed over 11 million times on You Tube.
The charity single featured 24 of the region’s top artists from 16 nations across the Middle East and North Africa singing with one voice for a better tomorrow, including Majida El Roumi, Kadim Al Saher, Marwan Khoury, Sherine Abdel Wahab, Tamer Hosny, Saber Rebai, Latifa, Fayez Al Saeed and many more. International superstar Akon also lent his vocals to the track while Shakira, who is of Lebanese descent, recorded a special introduction to the music video.
All proceeds from the song were donated to various charities and initiatives that were targeted to towards the regions youth; with a special focus on developing culture and arts. The beneficiaries included the World Food Programme, Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation and Save the Children’s innovative HEART program, which stands for Healing and Education through the arts.